Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Perspective

This  morning I talked on the radio about a village in India where people are terrified to walk the paths between their town and those of their neighbors. When darkness falls they huddle in their homes, fearful for their lives because a leopard has  been stalking and eating humans, twelve victims in the past two years.

Can you imagine having something  like that to worry about?

My partner, Amy, and I also talked about the Islamic terrorists in northern Iraq who have been slaughtering Christians and beheading babies. By comparison that village in India seems like Disney World with a plumbing problem.

In Africa people are dying by the thousands of Ebola, which is highly contagious, rarely curable and never satisfied to simply snuff out lives. It insists on doing so in a long, drawn out, fevered, hemorrhagic horror.

People in their Ebola death throes sweat profusely as their eyes bleed and their minds scream for deliverance.

Here in America, meanwhile, we're all wound up about two very wealthy young athletes who both have apparent tendencies to snap and hit people they love. So far none of the people they love have been seriously hurt and are defending their attackers.

In our house, our dog Amelia has an intestinal virus but the vet gave us some medicine and says she'll be fine.

Carolann and I are also trying to figure out how to save enough money to buy Christmas presents for our family in California.

We're healthy and happy but we do stress about our weight a bit.

Sometimes we're annoyed when the WiFi doesn't work right.

Perspective.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams ended his life this past week and after all the talk of alcoholism, drug addiction, clinical depression and the early stages of Parkinson's -- as we struggle to understand how a man so rich with joy that he can share with the entire world yet be tortured enough to take his own life -- I have finally reached a conclusion:

I don't and can't and will therefore never get it.

Maybe Robin's gifts so isolated him from lesser beings like ourselves that we drove him mad of boredom.

Or maybe the cacophony of noise inside his unfiltered creative genius drove him to throw the off switch just so he could get a night's sleep.

Maybe a lot of other things.

I don't spend much time on questions that have no answers for me. But I think I owe Robin the gratitude and respect of not assuming he is to be pitied.

Enough of the "tortured soul" stuff.

I choose to think Robin Williams was called home because his work here was finished. And his work should never be minimized by the superficial arts of critics and students.

Academics, as Robin showed us time and again, are merely sign posts to self discovery. And unless we are instinctively inspired by a higher source, as he apparently was -- we need to just dive in and live our lives.

 

Friday, February 7, 2014

People who kill themselves

A very famous and talented actor died this week.
 
Philip Seymour Hoffman was discovered on the floor of his bathroom with a needle in his arm and a lot of heroin nearby.

His body was found when he failed to pick up his three kids from their mother.

Five days later the media continues to pick at the story like flies on a carcass while hailing Hoffman as one of the greatest actors of his time; a wonderful man and father. Our cultural loss is apparently immeasurable.

Avoidable death is always tragic. Beyond that, I don’t know what to think.

I understand that addiction is an insidious disease that claims many innocent victims. On the other hand, this guy left three young children to grow up without their father.

I had a treasured friend named Fred who killed himself a few years ago. He put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. His son found him a couple of days later.

I still love Fred and but I also hate his guts for what he did.

As the media fawns over Philip Seymour Hoffman I find myself curiously unmoved.
And, I’ve decided that’s okay. There are some things I just can’t figure out.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I got nothin'

I write less than I used to. As time goes by I am becoming convinced that I don't have anything original or interesting to say.
When I was young I was much smarter. Wisdom came to me so fast I couldn't explain it all.
But, over the years I've come to realize the older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
That was an original thought when I thunk it. Nobody enlightened me. I had never heard or read anything like it. I thought it was a brilliant original epiphany. But now we have the Internet and ego crushing reality is just a search away.
A minute ago I typed "The more I learn..." into Google and here's what popped up:
The more you learn, the more you know. The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know. So why bother to learn? -- George Bernard Shaw
And,
The more you know, the less you understand. -- Lao-Tse
And the real stunner:
The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know. -- Socrates
Socrates had my original thought some 2,400 years before I did and said it more crisply!
AND, in ancient Greek!
socrates-funny-nose
Worse yet, I'll bet he wasn't the first guy to figure this out, either. He just had a tremendous publicist.
I suppose having an idea expressed by one of the great thinkers in history come to me all by itself is cool but there's no point in my passing it along. It obviously occurs to everybody eventually.
Plus, if we all ran around regurgitating every brilliantly mundane original thought we have what would become of the poor philosophy majors who have nothing else to do with their educations?
The other reason I don't write much anymore is because Americans don't read much anymore.
We don't consume information, we spew it.
We Tweet. We text. We spend our days expressing every banal thought that crosses our mind in such a way that we don't have to bother hearing or reading a response.
I could be wrong about this. Or, maybe it's a trend that will reverse itself.
Maybe, but how can I know?
I've learned so much, so fast, I'm rushing toward total ignorance.
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