Friday, July 23, 2010

Keeping Life's Log

How could I not be grateful for my whole life.

Friedrich Nietzsche
This is a reprint from 3/12/10 with a few minor edits. March 12, 1939. On this day there was a blizzard in the northeast and during the blizzard at The United Hospital in Port Chester, New York a vagabond was born.

When I turned 20 I was free at last to pursue my career, think about a family, go on adventures and try to fall in love. I was opinionated, intolerant and egotistical. I did not know what I did not know. I hitchhiked to California and flew back. And then I was being paid full time as an entertainer. I thought I was hot stuff.

When I turned 30 I had been polished a bit and some of my rough edges had been filed down by life. I became sarcastic and critical. My career was going well and I was respected for my artistry. But I was beginning to learn some things that I didn't like. What was left of my innocence was eroding. I tended to retire to myself when not working. A fellow actor described me as appearing like an old fogy with a blanket over his shoulders and soaking his feet. So I changed my ways. I became a wild man, trying to recapture the adolescence I never fully completed. I overextended myself physically and emotionally. and I had no use for the aged. or for children. That was the decade when I began to realize that my life was not stable, in the normal sense of the term. and probably never would be.

When I turned 40 I thought that at last I knew everything. I was in the prime of my life and my career. I was impulsive, energetic, creative, intelligent and good looking. Now I really was hot stuff, I could do no wrong, I thought. So of course I did wrong. I hurt myself and other people. I was piling up a big stack of nasty regrets. But I knew, somehow, that I was turning a corner. I wasn't ready to admit that I was really an emotional, social and intellectual vagabond, and that I was not going to fit in any mold. But I was still searching for love and not finding it.

When I turned 50 I was now an experienced actor and master at my trade but I began to realize how much I didn't know. I was curious about how I could have lived for half a century without acquiring any wisdom. I concluded it was because I thought I knew. That's what kept my mind closed from actually learning. It was a humbling experience and it was then that I began to learn, to sift through things, to separate the truth from the error and to prepare myself for another 50 years of life.

When I turned 60 I was getting to be the age of many of the characters I had played. I had a big voice that had the sound of authority so I had often been cast as older than I was. Looking back over my career I realized how prejudiced I had been about older people. I had to rethink the whole subject of age. My attempt at a love life was winding down, so was my energy and so was my enthusiasm about some aspects of the work I had been doing. I looked beyond it for the first time into an unfamiliar world of science, philosophy and experimental ideas. I was finally growing up. Somewhere during that decade I retired.

When I turned 70 I had to get used to the idea that I was an old man, a geezer, a fogy. I developed a lot of pain in various places. I actually found myself one day with a blanket over my shoulders, soaking my feet. It was then I discovered finally and completely the things that had sustained me and were still sustaining me through my life. When all the nastiness, sarcasm and egotism are chopped away by the hammer and chisel of the world, what remains are the joy of discovery, a deep appreciation for the finest achievements of the human race, an abiding sense of humor, the great, unfathomable sea of friendship, and the reason and determination to not give up.

Every decade seems to be a transition period, a passage, a retranslation of reality. A lot of old guys get set in their ways, I upset my ways. Now I look forward to what the rest of the 70's, the 80's and the 90's may bring.

DB - The Vagabond


It has been suggested that I start the weekend puzzle on Fridays to give busy people more chance to consider it. So here it is.

Here are some well known issues as if they were reported by the modern news media. What are they?

1. Last night while the occupants were asleep an intruder entered the house somehow and left behind some suspicious looking boxes. The FBI is investigating.

2. Instead of remaining by the river two youngsters stupidly thought they would try their luck further up. They both toppled off a cliff, which served them right. The boy is listed in serious condition. Doctors have not as yet reported on the girl.

3. Responding to complaints police found a man in the middle of town hiding under a tree and making a horrible noise banging pieces of metal together.

4. Police report that a mad man came speeding through the city in the middle of the night shouting at people to load their rifles.

5. Parents in this community are very distraught. An itinerant worker, in a dispute over wages, has been kidnapping their children. Amber alerts have gone out all around the area. None of the children have yet been located.

6. There was a standoff between the two gangs at the stream. Witnesses say it might have ended peacefully except that one idiot shot off his rifle. A fight ensued.

Good luck.
Leave your answer on in case others don't get to it until later.

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