Teeth Of The Enemy

“You lying so low in the weeds,

I bet you gonna ambush me.

You’d have me down, down, down on my knees.

Now wouldn’t you, Barracuda?” (1977) “Barracuda” Recorded By: Heart Composers: Ann Wilson, Roger Fisher, Nancy Wilson, Michael Derosier

He was slithering along the grassy trail he had etched through his life without struggle. He was on his way to his favorite place, his home in the hollow log sitting by the riverbank. It was not much to look at, and that’s why he chose it. It was an inconspicuous place to rest and sleep. Inside, danger couldn’t touch him.

It was a sunny day, with no particular unanticipated activity among the neighboring wildlife. All was as it tended to be on this certain afternoon of fate, with the exception of one thing.

Earlier that morning, he was captured by a curious sight. He found himself staring at a team of men close by, studying one looming oak tree along his path. The men had since left after his excursion into the taller grass during his stalking of prey. They left something odd behind that he didn’t quite understand. It was a bright pink thing tied around the trunk of the tree. He had never seen anything like it before, but with humans, anything was possible. At least, that’s what was reasoned in the tiny brain he had. With snakes, any animal, or human with hands and arms had an advantage in life. Nothing seemed to be out of reach for them. This made him feel disadvantaged, even cursed somehow.

Once he fully contemplated the pink thing wrapped around the tree, he went on with his belly pushing the turf behind him as he made his way closer to where he wanted to be. Until he was stopped cold in his tracks.

His scales bristled as he focused his eyes ahead. Just inches away, blocking his trail through the grassy meadow, was a new enemy, a likeness he had never confronted before. At first glance, he thought it was another alligator from the river. But, no. The coloring wasn’t right. It didn’t have hair like those dreaded possums, but like the alligator and the possum, its jaw was lined with formidable sharp teeth. It was two-toned, like he was, with tan and silver skin and piercing, steely, gazing eyes. Immediately, he drew back into a defensive coil as he perceived the animal to be a dangerous predator.

There was the birth of a standoff. The new enemy didn’t make an aggressive move toward him, nor did it hiss, bark, or growl. Just like the possum, it was playing dead. Obviously, it was a crafty, calculating beast. He wondered if it crawled out of the river, or maybe it was a new kind of fish discarded by a fisherman. A closer look made him aware it was similar to his kind. It had a sleek long body, without fins, arms or claws. After a time of visual analysis, he decided to approach the beast with all caution, inch by inch. His nose didn’t indicate any scent rising from the beast. Closer, and closer he crawled toward the jaws of this new enemy. Still, no advancement did the animal make, not fearing his slivering approach.

As he reached within striking distance, he thought it safe to first circle the mysterious carnivore. With most battles won, his strategy was to flank the enemy in order to strike at its hind quarters. As he began to navigate around the mouth of the animal, he felt the sting of a vicious bite as he was dragging his body toward the back of the threatening creature. Although injured, with lightning speed, he lunged toward the enemy, striking the beast near the jawline. Immediately, he drew back with the astonishment of what he had experienced. This new enemy had skin as tough as a tortoise shell. He lunged once again with his fangs leading the way. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t penetrate the hide. Before the beast could strike back in retaliation, he initiated the only other weapon available to him.

With the power of his tail, and the strength in his belly, he attacked the beast with his entire body, quickly wrapping himself around the enemy’s frame. Strategically, he maneuvered himself around its jaw to inflict his well-known death squeeze until the beast submitted with every ounce of dying breath. The grip he had was tight around the jaw, giving him access to even a better opportunity to strike with his fangs over and over again. Yet, the skin of the animal never broke, regardless of the strength in his jaw. Afterward, he tightened himself around the enemy even more so.

He said to himself, “It must die! It must be squeezed until it can no longer strike at me!”

As he continued to squeeze his victim, he detected no heartbeat, no lung activity, no movement at all from the enemy. No doubt, he had a successful kill.

It was at this point he raised his triangular head to detect if any other beast like him was also in the grass, or approaching him for a rescue operation. But in his 360 turn, he spied nothing unusual around him. But, he did see a sure, unmistakable sign of success. Blood.

In a sense of victory he congratulated himself, “YES! I am bleeding my enemy to death. Soon, I will render this enemy lifeless, and no longer a threat.”

The blood began to run alongside the body of the beast, seeping out from underneath the lifeless enemy in his ever tightening grasp.

Soon, he became tired. He felt his strength waning as he began to ease his grip from around the beast. As he did, he found his chin resting on the body of his now conquered enemy. His vision began to fade as he watched the blood flow down the beaten pathway.

Suddenly, in his exhaustion, he discovered another mystery. The scent of the beast’s blood caught his attention. He recognized the scent. It wasn’t the scent from the blood of a rabbit, a chicken, or a possum. With another slow inhale, he realized it wasn’t the scent of his new enemy. With his long, thin forked tongue, he tasted the fluid of life with a new realization.

With a final breath, he acknowledged to himself, “This…this is my own blood.”

Photo; Facebook

Doctors tell us the medical field discovered long ago that what we harbor in our minds can be even more dangerous than what we put into our bodies. Anger, anxiety, fear, worry, guilt, thoughts feeding on past failures, can literally eat away at our physical bodies. We tend to gnaw away at what we can’t control around us. Emotionally we strike out at those who have hurt us, often over and over again. We beat ourselves up over failures, missed opportunities, and the, “what might have beens”. Sometimes we have been called, “worry wart” for good reason. The list can be long. Am I right?

The danger is, we squeeze these dangerous thoughts as we inwardly attempt to solve them, or find resolution and peace. Somehow we get the idea we can squeeze them to death in search for release. Yet, like the snake squeezing the saw blade, it slowly changes our make-up, or mentality, even our physical organs. Such haunts can even deliver cancer cells. I know, I am guilty of squeezing my own saw.

In the end, dwelling on painful, or harmful thoughts, will have teeth. Beware of the real enemy.

Letting go is a concept taught in fuel for the race.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” Matthew 6:25-28 (NIV)


What’s Tomorrow?

“Why not think about times to come?
And not about the things that you’ve done?
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.”
(1977) “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” Recorded By: Fleetwood Mac Composer: Christine McVie

Looking back, I guess I have always been a newshound. Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed watching the news. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it’s an honest statement.

Here in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex, WFAA has seemingly always been around since the early days of radio. In fact, radio is where WFAA started, only to naturally branch out when television became a new medium. It became an ABC affiliate. Although WFAA kept their radio station buzzing, they eventually opened up a huge three-studio television station in their broadcast building at Record St and Young St in downtown Dallas. The radio station moved to the second floor while the television station, Channel 8, took the first floor. To say it is an historic TV station is to put it lightly. The application for the television station was filed in October of 1944, during WWII. It first signed on the air in September of 1949.

WFAA Ch8, set the bar high when it came to production and talent. If the other three major TV stations in town were to be honest, WFAA Ch8 was/is hard to match. They just always seemed to be a step above the competition. Growing up, we rarely watched any other local TV station.

Photo: WFAA.com

In 1961, radio guy, Bob Gooding was just climbing off the air at WFAA radio. As he tipped his hat goodbye to his coworkers, he made his way down the stairs to the parking lot where his car was waiting for the end of his radio shift. Outside, on the way to the car, Bob saw a line of men stretching around the corner of the building. When he inquired as to what was taking place, he discovered WFAA-TV was in the process of screening open auditions for a news anchor. Right away, he took the script of news copy they were handing out and got in line. Bob auditioned and was hired the same day. I must say, that just hardly ever happens in any competitive talent industry.

Bob Gooding was a natural. He was a no-nonsense newsman, polished, and distinguished. His delivery was a midwestern sound, no Texas accent, with a smooth baritone voice, along with a handsome business-like face. He was super articulate, as well as, authoritative. He was the type that could have accepted a job in New York with one of the big three networks. Walter Cronkite had nothing on Bob Gooding. Bob Gooding could have easily worked alongside people like ABC’s Frank Reynolds, or Peter Jennings.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a kid, when Bob Gooding was delivering the 6 o’clock, or 10 o’clock news, it was drawing to me. He was trusted with the facts, the way news anchors used to be in those days. Back in the 1970’s, the WFAA newscast was called, “The Scene Tonight”. With Bob Gooding at the news desk, those words had an element of realism without filter or slant. Indeed, that was the flavor of news in that time.

I never met Mr. Gooding, but I have worked with a few people who did. Everyone who knew him says the same thing about his integrity. In my radio days, my main jobs had to do with hosting music shifts, and voicing/producing commercials. From time to time, I also did fill-in work to help cover when others were sick, or on vacation. Anytime I worked as a news anchor, although I never considered myself a news guy, I would always think of Bob Gooding’s integrity when the mic was on, or in front of the camera. He set a high standard.

Photo: Bob Gooding WFAA CH8

As top-shelf as he was on the air, as trusted as he was to deliver the facts without commentary or bias, as gifted as he was with integrity of true journalism, it was his nightly sign-off which is the most memorable. After each news hour, or half hour, as he was given the floor director’s countdown to end of broadcast, he had a unique sign off for the viewer. With his final ten seconds, he would look sincerely into the camera, smile with authenticity, and say:

“And that’s the Scene Tonight here at WFAA Ch8. From all of us here, goodnight, and better tomorrows.” – Bob Gooding

Of course, today, if a news anchor signed-off with that phrase, it would sound a bit corny. Yet, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, with a man like Bob Gooding delivering those words with a warm genuine smile, the viewer was left with a sense of, ‘a better day is coming’. One couldn’t help but be left with the idea that even though bad news is hard to digest, there’s always a hope for betterment, a future with a brighter viewpoint, a statement a viewer could lean into as they set the alarm clock, or tuck their children to bed. Looking back, I can see where Mr. Gooding did what he could to leave the TV audience with an uplift in the face of a darkened world each night.

Isn’t that what we all long for as we lay our heads on the pillow? Don’t we all want to look forward to new beginnings, new attitudes, new sunrises? Too often we head off to bed right after turning off the tube, or the internet, which landed a few downers around our hopes and dreams. Isn’t it true, that we turn off our bedside lamp with echoes of searing sarcasm, bad news without a sense of rising from despair, delivered by some news anchor, talk show host, or some talking head opinion broadcast? Far from, “Goodnight, and better tomorrows.”

I am guilty of not allowing God’s voice in my last thoughts just before drifting off. Way too often, I allow the dogma of scary times in our world to dominate in my last waking minutes. How can I expect to rise the following morning with a bounce in my house shoes? When our shirt gets dirty from the elements outside, we take it off and wash it, right? Why not do the same with our thought-life. In the last 5 years, or so, my wife and I read scripture just before nodding off. Sometimes we read a devotional, or a bio of an uplifting life. It’s what makes for better days, better dreams, better outlooks.

I think Bob Gooding’s message to us each night was not to rest on the foulness of what comes over the airwaves, but rather, resist being pushed down by the heavy weight of the vile, the awareness of bad news, or the evil that permeates the world in which we live. In other words, to digest what we have been made aware of, whether good or bad, with the truth that tomorrow holds a hope. For those of faith, it’s about seeing the happenings around us with eyes wide opened concerning Who holds the future.

Bob Gooding was on the air at WFAA CH8 from, 1961-1979. He passed away from a lengthy battle with cancer in 2009.

Thank you, Mr. Gooding.

So, what’s tomorrow? Another day. Another opportunity. Another benchmark. Another chance. Another answer. Another hope. Another blessing unseen today.

Reaching out for tomorrow’s promise can be discovered in fuel for the race.

“‘I the Lord God have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will strengthen thee…'” Isaiah 42:6a (Brenton Septuagint Translation)