Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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May 6, 2021

Hammer goes deep; Timmons, not so much

I might've mentioned once or thrice that Saturdays are my favorite days in the office. Things are quiet. I flip on what amounts to my eclectic taste in music and I usually get a lot done.
The musical variety goes from Bobby Darin to Uriah Heep. It usually gets loud - the definition of "loud" varies quite a bit from my twentysomething daughters to me. So there I was, singing right along . . . Jenny Diver, oh, Sukey Tawdry. Hello Miss Lot of Lender, and ol' Lucy Brown . . . I was in particularly good voice and even better spirits. Maybe Mr. Darin never intended Mack the Knife to be a duet, but we were doing pretty good, if I do say so myself.
I had just leaned back, ready to belt out the fact that Mack was back in town when I turned around and-
"Holy crap, John! Do you ever knock?!"
There, bigger than a heart attack - which I was quite sure I was having - was the enormous hulk of John Hammer filling up my doorframe.
"Good song, Timmons," he said in a voice as coarse and rough as toilet paper in a gas station restroom.
For those who don't know John Hammer, he's an infrequent visitor who stops by once in a while to share some idea or reaction. It's tough to gauge his age, but he could be anywhere from 60 to 75. He has the wisdom associated with common sense and a hard, yet simple life, which too many of us have forgotten - or at least that's what I thought.
"Epictetus had it right."
He just stared at me. I hated that stare. It meant that it was my turn to talk and, like usual, I didn't have a clue where he was coming from or where this was going.
"John, you'll have to enlighten me. Who or what is Epictetus?"
"Didn't they teach you anything when you went to school, Timmons? Epictetus was a Greek philosopher. Lived a couple thousand years ago."
I stared at the big man.
"Greek philosophers," the Hammer repeated. "You know, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates . . . "
I just stared.
"Uh, sure. Didn't Jackie Kennedy marry that Aristotle guy?"
Hammer sighed.
"Epictetus said that what scares us are not things but our thoughts, our opinions about those things."
I have to admit that while I'm usually in agreement with my large friend, I was completely lost this time. And it was exactly then that Hammer surprised me for a second time in as many minutes. He showed patience.
"FDR said it, too," Hammer explained. "He said the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. We didn't face anything we couldn't overcome - unless we let the fear of it get to us."
I nodded. This was starting to make sense.
"Seems to me," he continued, "that we're getting all worked up about so many different things. The courthouse, the governor and the state superintendent and even now, this terrorist crap about our malls. I'm not going to say what's going to happen. But I will say that whatever it is, we'll be fine. We'll carry on. If we have to pick up the pieces and rebuild, then that's what we'll do. But we've got to stop getting all worked up over the idea of something and instead concentrate on the real stuff."
He turned and started to head out. I sat there, impressed as always. The Hammer seems to cut through all the clutter and see things, well, right.
He stopped and surprised me one last time.
"It's Miss Lotte Lenya, by the way."
Then he was gone.

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