Friday, March 25, 2011

Fortune Telling

To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth, is potentially to have everything.

Joan Didion
A palmist can look at your hand and tell you things about your life. A Greek mystic can do the same thing with your coffee grounds. A gypsy mystic does it with a crystal ball. An astrologer will cast your life according to the stars. A Muslim mystic will draw a circle on the ground and make you see images in the circle. Or you can bypass the clairvoyants and cast I Ching or read the Tarot. In every case what you learn is something that is already in your own mind that you didn't know was there.

At some point in my life I have consulted all of those sources of esoteric knowledge in hopes of finding solutions to my difficult and troubled life. And did I get any solid answers? I don't know.

I grew up in a poor family. We became authorities on "making do." Making do is a tactic for survival. Making do requires struggle and sacrifice and is inevitably accompanied by some suffering. Millions of people in this country and others are making do while, ironically, billions upon billions sit in Swiss banks, billions owned by people who don't know what to do with it.

I saw my mother go off to typing jobs with her arthritic fingers. When I was old enough to take care of myself she worked in the evenings as a baby sitter.

When I was a teenager a neighbor gave an old bicycle. I fixed it up and took a paper route. I knew a rich guy who didn't need the money. His paper route was in a tenement. He just took an elevator to the top and walked down dropping papers at apartment doors. Mine was outside. There were winter days with so much snow I couldn't deliver the papers by bicycle, I had to walk them through the neighborhoods carrying the heave bag, in the freezing cold. I didn't complain much. I had a job. One summer day, while I was delivering the papers, our house burned down. Then we lived in a wealthy couples glassed in porch, with no privacy at all.

When you are poor you are automatically insulted by the rich, even when they think they are being compassionate.

From an early age I loved classical music. I bought a small $11 plastic radio so I could listen to the only AM station playing good music (a station I became an announcer for many years later). My schoolmates and teachers thought I was pretending, putting on airs, showing off, trying to make an impression that I was superior somehow. But I genuinely loved the music. So when the insults flew I just kept quiet and stayed by myself.

There is a point to this sad tale and it is that I finally got the respect I deserved when I stepped on the stage as an actor. Then and there I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. I found there the answers to a lot of questions I never got from I Ching or the crystal ball.

Where did the artistry of my acting come from? Was it born in the great music I loved or in the struggle of poverty? Was I tempered by the freezing snow, taught to be comfortable being seen through the glass window of a porch? Was it all homelessness and the product of the mighty lesson of making do?

And did I carry the silent sense of my own self worth through all the troubled years of growing up, the sense that gave me permission to go on the stage and to be at last at home there? I don't know.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
The Ball Game
a story in 7 parts

Part 6

So Jimmy played for the Brooklyn Hawks for several years. He was a dependable third baseman, his hitting was improving and so was his RBI average.

When the Hawks were playing home games Jimmy stayed with his mother. It was a simple subway ride away. His mom liked to hear all about the games and the other players.

One evening after the game he was standing on the subway platform waiting for the train. Suddenly he heard his name called "Jimmy." He looked down and saw a man in a white lab coat and glasses, pointing and not smiling. He looked where the man was pointing and saw a baby carriage that had rolled to the edge of the platform tumble over onto the tracks. Jimmy heard the sound of the approaching train growing louder. He jumped down onto the tracks and saw the headlight of the train entering the station. He saw it coming toward him gradually and gracefully like a huge, bright bubble on the breeze. He grabbed the carriage with a crying baby in it and hoisted it up onto the platform into the hands of a panicked mother. The he threw one leg up onto the platform, then the other one and rolled out of the way just as the train came roaring and screeching into the station.

The next day there was his picture on the front page of the Sports section in the New York Times with a story about the event and a headline that read SPORTS STAR BECOMES SUBWAY HERO.

His mother was impressed. His teammates were impressed. So now he was a "sports star." He hoped he would have a chance to prove that some day.

(Part 7 tomorrow)


NASA has planned to send a two man mission on an 18 month trip to the planet Mars. It would take 6 months for the astronauts to get there and after 6 months of exploration another 6 months to return.

Should they do it and why, and if not, why not?

2 answers so far

I eagerly await your answer.


1 comment:

pacifica62 said...

Likely the trials and tribulationss of your growing up years made you a better actor. Difficult to portray the darker side of life in a character unless you had lived through it yourself. I think the circumstances of your youth prepared you well for the life of an actor. I sense that you spent a lot of time 'inside yourself" trying to make a world that you wanted, rather than the real life you had to live.