Lonny Cain

Somewhere Inside Me, Look For You

16 hours ago

I begin today with the moral of the story:  It’s not all about you. 


There's A Better Word For How It All Ends

Sep 7, 2018


Conclusion. The end. Resolution. Finale.  


Then Who Are The Good Guys?

Aug 3, 2018

Shouting in a storm is a waste of time. So much anger. So much hate. I usually don’t want to be part of that noise. But now I need to scream.

Because there’s blood on the newsroom floor.

I can see it clearly. I can smell it. I can feel the room aching from the pain. Because this time it’s real. And I’ve been in the room.

I say this time because threats often become a grenade of dark humor that newsrooms kick around between deadlines and headlines. We joke about craziness in the world. Gallows humor. But the mission is always serious. 

Comforting The Caregiver

Jun 29, 2018

My friend Bill is a caregiver -- every day -- because he lives with and loves the person he cares for. Every choice he makes must involve and revolve around the person he cares for.

It’s important to understand that Bill also needs the person he monitors and nurtures. Love has tied a knot that binds them.

Bill recently shared on Facebook a meditation from “Daily Comforts for Caregivers” by Pat Samples. Please listen:

I'm Looking For That Word ...

May 25, 2018

My wife and I talk about moving someday, but I wonder if I can.

This would be like no other move. Likely several states away, to be closer to our boys. Maybe grandkids.

Still … I feel grounded here. Like my feet are anchored with some kind of natural connection.

Roots. After nearly 70 years their grip has grown deep. I feel a tug, like a leash, reminding me where I came from. I have a kinship with this territory.

Could I give it a label? Maybe. The Midwest? Or better, the prairie … but that stretches over many states. I need a better word.

Lessons From Books In Our Past

Apr 13, 2018

  “I have lived a great deal among grown-ups.
"I have seen them intimately, close at hand.

"And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.”

Those are not my words. But they do feel clever … and true. 

I didn’t pull these words from a newspaper or probing essay or a TED talk. They come from a book written for children, titled The Little Prince.

Books for kids tell stories with morals, teach values, and say stuff we should all hear.

A Sculpture Of Time Itself

Mar 9, 2018

There’s a twisted tree outside my window. The bark is peeling. There are gashes, like open wounds. The limbs are gnarled, covered with small, round, bulges.

I see a monument to time and aging and think about how the human frame is much like this tree. Those bumps are like moles and blemishes -- beauty marks some would say, but many still see them as intrusions.

On this tree, however, they are respectful. They add dimension to the mystery and patterns of nature. They add beauty to a living sculpture. Nature’s art.

That's What It's All About ...

Feb 2, 2018

Something must be said about what we are doing right now. You and I … this chatting over the radio. 

I have been doing this with you since December 2015. This Perspective marks No. 50 for me, which I consider a sufficient benchmark to share some feelings about this whole process. 

I record at home and email my voice to the WNIJ station editors and engineers. The technology is amazing.

But, you know what?  I still feel the wonder of those younger, teenager days when I treasured my transistor radio. It was magical. 

Stories That Can Solve Mysteries

Dec 29, 2017

Imagine this: You are in the room you were assigned; nearby is a woman asking you questions. There is a problem she is trying to solve. The problem is you.

For some reason, you panic every time the dinner bell rings in the care center where you live. You can’t explain. You live in a fog, thanks to dementia, or Alzheimer’s, or some form of serious memory loss.

Somewhere there’s pages and pages of data on you, but today the woman holds your “story.” It’s a quick read that highlights important chapters and characters in your life.

The Joy In Breaking Old Patterns

Nov 24, 2017

In the winter, fresh snow on the ground, I know there will be rabbit tracks across my front sidewalk in the morning. 

East to west. I’ve seen them enough to know the pattern is there, whether it snows or not.

The snow records our steps. Our direction. Our patterns.

The world we live and work in is built to guide our movements. Highways. Sidewalks. And much more.

Each day, like that rabbit, we make the same journeys.

What would you see if someone recorded your footprints?

Something Worth Saving

Oct 20, 2017

I have this clear, glass jar, about four inches tall. It used to hold maraschino cherries.

I save jars. I save a lot of stuff in case I might need it someday.

I picked up this habit from my dad and his generation that had to make do with whatever they had, or could find — or had saved.

This jar still can’t be tossed away, because of what is still in it.

The jar was half full of ashes. They were poured from an urn on the day we took Dad to his final rest at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery south of Joliet.

Tests Are Not Just Academic

Aug 11, 2017

“Graduation is an exercise.”

That was the clever headline I put over a storyboard I submitted for a photo class in college. My photos showed the daily grind students plod through to reach the holy grail — a college degree.

Looking back, I’d say the biggest obstacle was passing tests. Lots of tests. I remember cramming for tests … and trying to guess what will be asked.

A Town That Feels Like Home

Jul 7, 2017

I like to say I’m a country boy. That means I like swimming in the small pond. I like small towns.

For years, I struggled when asked: “Where ya from?” We moved so much when I was growing up, my response was, “Northern Illinois.”

Now I have an answer — Ottawa. That’s in LaSalle County … Starved Rock Country. Since moving here I’ve discovered family roots and relatives I never knew.

I came to Ottawa in 1984 to be managing editor of the small town daily. I stayed 30 years … and counting.

There's Something About A Truck

Jun 2, 2017

I have a theory. About trucks.

I think people get spooked around trucks. There’s a fear factor there.

I am not talking about semis. Everyone is scared of those rolling tanks. I’m talking about what my daddy used to call “pick-em-up trucks.”

It was my dad’s pickup truck that I drove around in high school … had a shift on the column and a clutch that enlarged the calf muscles in my left leg.

I was lucky to have the truck, but it was not my dream vehicle. I had no desire to own a pickup. But that attitude, my friends, has changed.

Different Things To Different People

Apr 28, 2017

“Are you happy??

That’s not a simple question. Not for me.

I give my safe answer: “Yeah. Sure.” The real answer is: “I don’t know.”

How can anyone not know? You’re either happy or you’re not. My answer to that is the same, “I don’t know.”

I guess that’s why I collect articles and motivational posters that say things like: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” (Thank you, Charles Schulz.)

A Reminder Of Goodness

Mar 31, 2017

I met Anna in the raging ’60s. She was engaged to Tom, a friend and co-worker on the campus paper at Northern Illinois University.

Her voice and smile made it so easy to slide into friendship. She was a reminder of the goodness in people. Put simply, it just felt good to be around her.

That never changed.

Anna became a teacher. Perfect. That was fate doing the right thing.

I was angry when cancer took her 19 years ago. Fate got it so wrong that time.

Tom recently posted on Facebook that he had visited her school, Lincoln Middle School, in Rockford.

An Alternative To Resolutions

Feb 3, 2017

OK. It’s February. I think it’s safe to say those New Year resolutions have been tucked away — until another New Year rolls around.

It’s OK. Nobody responds well to marching orders anyway. 

Which is why you should try a different approach. Turn that resolution into a “questolution.”

Sorry, I know the word sounds goofy; but it’s a serious concept that is detailed by Warren Berger in his book A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.

Something To Seek In 2017

Jan 6, 2017

I need to laugh. I need to wash away 2016 and start this new year with a smile. 

You’d think it would be easy to make people laugh, but I’m not so sure. Humor’s a funny thing. (Ha-ha-ha — now that was funny. Or was it?)

You can’t get everyone to laugh at the same jokes.

I went online and found the “Top 50 funniest jokes ever told.” But I’ll let you decide. Here’s Number 1:

Oh, The Monuments We Make

Dec 9, 2016

We love to put up monuments. 

That was my first thought after reading a blurb about the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

It took more than 35 years to build — a Civil War and money problems got in the way. 

When it opened to the public in 1888, it was the tallest building in the world. Thousands came to see it.

Perhaps visitors were drawn to a building of such height, or they wanted to see what it was like to ride the steam elevator at the time.

Making Mealtime More Mannerly

Nov 11, 2016

I'm nervous about Thanksgiving this year. It's because of this little book I came across by a gentleman who called himself "Censor." 

His true name was Oliver Bell Bunce, an American publisher and writer. In 1888, he advised people how to handle themselves with dignity. 

His book is titled “DON’T; or Directions for Avoiding Improprieties in Conduct and Common Errors of Speech.” 

It is 80 pages full of "Don'ts." He was not shy about telling people what to do.

An Old Salt Worth His Salt

Oct 14, 2016

My dad would have loved this guy, Ernie Andrus.

On Aug. 26, Ernie finished a little jog across the country in St. Simons, Ga. It took him two years and nine months to run more than 2,631 miles.

Ernie stirred up more than dust with his jaunt that started in San Diego. He ran for a cause that also was close to my dad's heart: the LST -- Landing Ship Tank.

Ernie was a Navy medical corpsman during World War II.

Ernie told a CBS reporter, “I want people to know what the war was all about and what it took to win it.”

Your Job Is More Than Just Work

Sep 16, 2016

Get a job. Punch in. Punch out.

Early on we learn the hard truth of work. Jobs provide income. That’s how we survive.

It seems normal to treat work like a heavy bag that we are forced to carry throughout each day. 

While we tend to moan about that task, I think it’s important, now and then, to look inside the bag. 

It's full of stuff you've done. Your sweat. Your ideas. Accomplishments. It's full of you.

Getting Back On The Bike

Aug 26, 2016

We all had close calls as kids, right?

Were we crazy? Naaaa … just young. No fears. And a bit stupid.

Like that day in Millington years ago.

My aunt lived at the top of a steep hill on a street that rolled into that tiny town. I grabbed my cousin’s bike, eager to sail down that hill. I was young, but way too big for the tiny two-wheeler.

Anyway, I’m on fire. Pedaling as fast as I can. Wind in my hair and face. Feeling the power.

So I decided to stretch out my arms. You know, “Look ma, no hands!”

Salute To A National Parks Hero

Aug 5, 2016

One amazing, driven man — John Muir. His words still echo

He said: “One touch of nature makes all the world kin.”

I feel close to him now, thanks to Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan and the 2009 PBS TV series they produced called “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

The series was repeated this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service coming on Aug. 25.

I was left with these lasting impressions:

Don't Leave This Task Too Long

Jul 15, 2016

I have some letters to write. And I bet you do, too.

I’m talking about goodbye letters.

In September 1979, I wrote a letter to my grandparents. I must have been in a sentimental mood, and maybe feeling the pressure of Grandparent’s Day. Instead of sending a card (sorry Hallmark), I wrote a letter. I had feelings to share.

Memories Of Fathers And Their Day

Jun 24, 2016

It was a Norman Rockwell moment – Americana: A father and son playing catch.

I was young. I had shoved my left hand into a birthday present — a new baseball mitt. I stood there, glove up, ready. How hard could it be to catch a ball?

Well, it was harder than I thought. Even harder was the ball. The spinning cowhide sailed over the top of my mitt, which I held up right in front of my face.

At least I kept my eye on the ball. I think it was the left eye, rapidly swelling shut.

It's Hard To Tell Who's Angrier

Jun 3, 2016

“Good things come to those who …” Go ahead, finish that sentence.

I bet you said, "Good things come to those who wait."

Well, times have changed. The current adage seems to be, "Good things come to those who whine."

Which is just another way of singing the old song: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

Am I right? Isn't the world of work more like the world of whine? Whiners on the inside — the worker bees. Whiners on the outside — the customers.

Just Imagine Making Life Better

May 13, 2016

I'm a bit irritated --- and frustrated -- about an article I just read. 

The topic was interesting: about letting kids pretend and the importance of make-believe play. 

Studies were cited. Good points were made, but my mind wandered. I started remembering my fantasy worlds as a kid. 

I remember such detail. Maybe that's telling in itself.

I don't really care if my childhood fantasies made me a better person. But I do have some thoughts on pretending. 

But first, let's go for a ride.

I think that's my earliest memory of pretending. Horses.

It's About More Than Just You

Apr 22, 2016

You. You. You.

Ever have one of those days?

You're climbing out of a hole, and the voices inside and outside and all around are preaching, "Well, it's up to you."

"Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps."

There's a popular post on Facebook that says, "Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It's not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period."

An Idea Too Good To Be True?

Apr 1, 2016

I've stumbled across something that could be amazing.

My sources, who are plugged in to the social media, are telling me that they are hearing whispers about a miracle in the making.

They are discovering that leaders from across the globe have been meeting secretly since early January, in various locations, with a single purpose: to discuss common beliefs and goals that will be presented in a philosophical manifesto.