Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quick Quackery 12/27/08

It is not the same to talk of bulls as to be in the bullring.

Spanish proverb

I can talk about acting because I have been on the stage. But I won't. Instead I will surmise that almost any occupation in life whether a profession or a hobby, is too often looked upon and thought upon as being much simpler than it is.

I'm not much of a sports fan but I will occasionally watch a baseball game. I enjoy watching the pitcher before the pitch because I know something about the thinking going on. It's a battle of brains between the pitcher and the batter. When the pitcher winds up to throw the ball a decision has been made. There is an agreed upon tactic between the pitcher and the catcher based upon observation, study, intuition and the character of the game up to that point. Many factors come into play with each pitch. But most people are probably totally unaware of the thinking that is going on. Don't talk of bulls

If you go to a tennis match you will see everyone watching the ball. The heads all go back and forth, back and forth, great exercise for the neck. My head goes back and forth in the opposite direction, or more likely I look at only one of the players. I like to watch the thinking of the one who is receiving the ball because it doesn't matter so much if he hits it, it's where he hits it that counts. Don't talk of bulls.

I had a nasty neighbor once who said that I looked tired. I told him I was double shifting. He wanted to know what I did. When I told him I was a radio announcer he said "Oh, well, that's not hard work." I wondered if he had ever been on the air in a radio studio. I think probably not. No doubt there are jobs that are harder than broadcasting but don't talk of bulls. It sounds easy because we make it sound easy.

Ballerinas float effortlessly through the air on their toes. Have you ever seen a ballerina's toes? Don't talk of bulls.

One day a building on my block in New York which was still under construction caught fire. Burning pieces of the building were blowing off and falling to the street below. It was a tall apartment building about 50 stories of it had been completed. The fire was on the top floors. The only way the fire fighters could get to it was by the construction elevator on the side of the building. But that elevator stopped two or three stories above the blazing inferno. I watched in awe as those people jumped into the fire, at the risk of life and injury, not knowing what was underneath them, to put the fire out. Don't talk of bulls.

A well kept garden is a beautiful thing, lush, fecund greenery and many colored flowers, delighting the eyes and offering sweet aromas to the air all the way down to the ground. But what's under the ground, where all the work is being done, only the flower and the gardener know. Don't talk of bulls.

The Vagabond

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Necessary Navigation 12/24/08

I would not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a serving sense of humor.

Horatio Nelson

It took me many years before I learned to laugh at myself and at the absurdities of the world around me. I was a sensitive, serious and somber kid. Not appreciating what others found funny, I was easily offended when people would laugh at me. In spite of the loving attempt by friends to point out the big red clownish bulb on my mental nose, I maintained my right to my own self-importance.
I don't remember exactly what it was or when it was that I finally learned to laugh at life and at myself. But I know that one day, when I was in some serious difficulty and had problems that I thought were too much for me to handle, I suddenly saw the funny side.
Humor is more than telling jokes It is the positive against the negative, the ability to see light where the darkness is gnawing, to spot the subtle thing that's alive in the wasteland, to see the end of the tunnel before you enter it, to breathe fresh air and life into an oppressed and suffocating spirit.
It must seem strange to one who hasn't developed a proper sense of humor to see someone laughing at their own troubles, but humor will minimize the troubles and the sufferer's reaction to them, piling up defenses against the fear and pain and freeing the soul to face up to them and solve them, That is a law of life.
One day in June, several years ago, my phone service went out. It knocked out my phone and my computer. I went to a pay phone and called the company. They said they would send someone around to fix it. That night there was a severe summer storm that caused flash flooding and knocked down phone lines all over the county. I was frustrated and almost in a frenzy. People were trying to reach me, friends, who were used to getting email from me everyday were getting very concerned about me.
It took a whole week for the repairman to finally get to me. When he got my service back up and running, there were two messages from the phone company telling me why they couldn't come to fix my phone.
I could grind my teeth in rage over the stupidity and silliness of that, or I could laugh.
What would you do?

DB The Vagabond

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Careful Crescendo 12/12/08

First you leap, then you grow wings.

William Sloane Coffin

First there was the primitive man peering out from his cave and contemplating a bright light in the sky. Soon his buddies began to worship it. It seemed to have some control over life. Then they gave it a name and as paganism arose it took on the persona of a goddess. Folks knew it was, because they could see a face in it. But it was a fickle goddess, sometimes she was there, sometimes she wasn't and she came and went gradually.

Then came the scientists, the astronomers with their telescopes trying to get a closer look at the goddess. With them it wasn't a goddess at all, but a planet. And since they could tell that it was moving around the earth. the earth must be the center of everything. That made some sort of biblical sense, so people settled for that for a while. Until some uppity scientists tried to suggest that the earth was not the center of it all. in fact it was just another planet like the one they were contemplating. And if that was so then what was the relationship, since the other one hung around all the time, or most of the time? And why did it come in gradually changing shapes? Someone proposed the absolutely prepostorous idea that it wasn't the planet itself that changed but it was the shadow of the earth on it. Now things were getting very confusing.

Then folks thought that if it was a planet like ours then maybe there was life up there. The only way to find out was to go there, but how could anyone do that?

Then Jules Verne wrote a book about going there which depicted the travelers sitting aloft in a Victorian living room. Verne was a science fiction writer. Nobody was going to take it seriously.

But then with the improvement of air flight a few deluded souls did start to take it seriously and tried to think of ways to get there.

Rocket science was born and men tried with some success but mostly failure to put something up there into the vast area which, for want of a better name, we call "space."

Then there was sputnik.

Then there was Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

Then there was John Glenn, the first man in orbit.

Then there was the Apollo Program and trips around to the goddess' backside.

Then there was Neil Armstrong's "One small step."

I think the primitive man, peering out of his cave at the bright light in the sky, is pleased and proud that he took a leap.

DB - The Vagabond