Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Up

The basest of all things is to be afraid.

William Faulkner
One of the biggest and fiercest demons to face in the struggle to survive is not wanting to.

I, like millions of other people in the world, have become adept at the fine art of surviving on nothing. It probably has to do with my boyhood. My father died when I was 4. He went believing that his army pension would take care of his family. He was a war hero and had been decorated by General Patton. But because he wasn't on active duty when he went the government declined to grant my mother his pension. She had a nervous breakdown. But she didn't die. In fact she went on to live another 40 to 50 years.

Within two years of my father's death she sold the house and we plunged into terrifying poverty. I can't even remember some of the places I've lived. My mother had been an actress, she had no other skills, She went off to a typing job everyday with arthritic fingers. She was tough.

I know an actor, talented and reasonably well trained, who refuses to give up his night time office job to engange in an acting career. He would rather lose sleep and take roles in small productions for no money than face the fear, that deep knot in the stomach, over financial insecurity. Unless you're a soap opera actor, financial insecurity is the game. We all face it. We learn to live with it.

During the depression of the 20's men who had lost everything leapt to their deaths out of skyscraper windows. Some men were seen sleeping, mid day, in their blue suits on the grass in Bryant Park. Other men found something else to do. There were a few who sold their wife's strawberry jam from door to door.

In this last depression CEO's found a faster way to go by stepping in front of fast moving trains. The fear of loss, of having nothing left, of not knowing how to survive on nothing has caused a lot of death and destruction. It is a terrifying state for anyone to be in. But FDR said it clearly "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Those men died because of a base fear they couldn't face and death seemed to be the best alternative.

I have faced that fear myself many times and came close to thinking that the best thing to do was to pull the plug on myself. But I kept in mind a quote from Shakespeare, "There's place and means for every man alive." But to find that place and means you have to be alive.

It is said that the Donner Party when stranded next to a frozen lake in the Winter while trying to reach California chewed on bark. In my story Brian And Christine, when lost in a frozen wilderness, they also chew on bark just to stay alive. Brian, Christine and the Donners eventually made it out to safety. Some would have given up and died.

Someone once said that success is getting up one more time than you fall. There's no question that falling is a precipice of fear and getting up again is a big struggle.

Does heaven give us any reward for getting up? Probably not. And does the falling and getting up go on in an endless chain of events? Maybe. But as angry, depressed and fearful as I get, I wish to shake my fist at failure, laugh and go looking for the strawberry jam.

DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)

In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.

3 responses so far.

Answers will be published the first day of Summer.

DB - The Vagabond


Janice said...

I don't know any amazing things. I am amazed that I'm still alive after viewing 'heaven'. I was incredibly ill but I got better and am fine now. I, like all other people that have been through such things would love to tell you about it, but I'll spare you LOL. I think you are correct when you say humor is very important, probably the most important. And also getting up one more time than you fall. I was sick so long I lost track of your interesting story so you'll just have to get it published and send it to me. When my children were young and life was hard, I used to use the food that other people threw out. I did that for over a year. I tried to make the best of it. I remember a lot of stores threw out star fruit and now it's one of my favorite things to have for a snack. I hope you are getting outside everyday. I recommend at least twenty minutes. It's such a sad thing when you can't get outside and can only look through a window...although the cold of winter stays away then too.
Do something fun today or in the morning.

Gerry said...

I think a lot of people have to come back from adversity a few times in their lives and as they say what doesn't kill you makes you strong. I never got down to no food in the house but sometimes there wasn't much by the end of a pay period. And it was usually bean burritos or maybe a can of corn supper in the lean times. But this caused me to greatly appreciated the people who brought stability to my life by their industry, who I always knew would not let the wolf too far in the door. It's a very hard scrabble life when a much needed parent dies too soon. Because it is tough for one parent to be the caregiver as well as the breadwinner. I remember how crucial I thought it was that we convince my dad he had to survive, as my mother just did not like kids enough for me to believe she could take care of us. Sounds like the war may have done a number on your dad that took its toll later as it has done with so many men. Which is why I hate war, its toll on lives and on bodies even when it does not kill. I know what a rough time my aunt had after my uncle Crae was killed in the war. Even though she had full benefits from him going down in a bomber. It was still very tough for her daughter and her. She had also been the baby sitter to 7 brothers and sisters after her dad abandoned them and her mom had to work all the time. That woman had a rough life all the way around! But perhaps without poverty as a background you would have feared to live the insecure life of a professional actor as you say. This recession as caused us to see people who had everything lose it all and just die right there almost out of fear. Just before I had to go on welfare was the most terrified I ever was. After that poverty did not bother me. I learned the means from the very poor to survival.

Big Mark 243 said...

You have already recieved a couple of thoughtful comments. I will spare you a long essay here.

What I will say is that I read a resiliency in this entry. Wherever it comes from, as long as it is there, that you have it is the important thing.

Shakespeare, "There's place and means for every man alive."

I like that quote. Very much so. One of those things to be taken to heart.

Indigo said...

I think that those of us who glimpse over the edge from time to time tend to...grow more determined in some ways to survive. I know I went through a time in my life where subconsciously I placed myself in danger, willing the end. What I didn't figure was fighting past whatever the end might have been.

There has to be a willingness somewhere within us - to stand back up again. (Hugs)Indigo

Liz said...

Polonius:My honourable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
Hamlet: You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal; except my life, except my life, except my life.
Hamlet. act 2, sc. 2
W. Shakespeare.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

If we cannot hope, than what else do we have?

krissy knox said...

DB, I do believe heaven gives us a reward for getting up. The Lord rewards us for everything we do that is good. To look at it another way, if you want to, everything we do effects those in the universe, for either good or bad. You proved that in your examples of what went on. I do believe that a Supreme Being (God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit) would reward you if you were trying to help others, and trying to help yourself. It's what the Catholic Church teaches, and it just makes sense. Think about all the good examples that some of those people gave, esp those jam sellers, and the ones who didn't JUMP. They taught others to do the same. Others were ultimately inspired by them. Those who are Christians who are what are called the "Communion of Saints." We are all one, both on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven. we help one another out. I am glad I have my brothers and sisters in the Lord (and in the family of man) who show me not to jump, and to sell strawberry jam. I'm with you! Can I sell some strawberry jam with you, please?

krissy knox :)
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Lori said...

We learn a lot about ourselves when we have to do without. My father was #10 of 12 children and was 5 when his father died in 1925. The oldest children worked and also ran the farm, and my grandmother was a tough old lady. They got by but had a few years of not having anything but bare necessities, yet they never were hungry, and they had what they needed. My father was a hard worker all his life, never missing a day of work unless he was in the hospital.