Friday, May 20, 2011

No Going Back

No endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect.

Edward Teller
Hello Amelia Island, Florida
The first person to be fired out of a cannon was a 14 year old girl named Rossa Matilda Richter, who performed under the name Zazel. That was in 1877 and she eventually toured with the Barnum Circus.

I've seen the cannon ball act a few times and one thing always strikes me about it. Whereas the flying through the air is very impressive, I'm aware that when the performer slides down into that huge tube there's a finality about it, a commitment is made, there is no going back. There are risks, men have died doing it and the flyer has no guarantees. But the decision is made and the act is on.

The basic fact that there is no going back is one of the most fascinating things to me. I can think of many examples, none as spectacular as being shot from a cannon, perhaps, but all requiring a life or death commitment. The skier who pushes off from the top of the ski jump. The boxer who steps up to his opponent for the first time. When the gavel bangs in the court room and the trial is on.

Off hand I remember three occasions from my life and career when I faced the no-going-back.

My last roller coaster ride which was at the Westchester County Fair in Yonkers, New York. I knew it would probably be my last roller coaster and I wasn't sure I should do it, I was getting a little to old for such frivolities. But I sat in the car, pulled the bar forward and waited. In a moment we started the long ascent and I thought "Oh boy, what have you done? You better enjoy this because there's no going back." The coaster had two loops which scared me a bit but when we went over them I didn't even notice it. The ride was over in a flash. I was glad it was over, but I was glad I did it.

For a few years I was the morning DJ for a popular music radio station. The station signed on at precisely 6 a.m. There was a lot of work to do to get ready: turning on and checking equipment, gathering news, choosing records, scheduling the commercials, both live and recorded, reading the meters and cueing up records. At exactly 6 o'clock I pushed a button that played the Star Spangled Banner and I thought "Well, I hope I'm ready." For the next 6 hours I was going to be on the air without a break. There was no going back.

About 15 years ago I played Zorba in the musical. It was a huge role that required a lot of acting, singing and dancing. Zorba is hardly ever off the stage. I used to say it required so much energy it was like running up a mountain. 5 minutes before every performance I would sit back stage with a terrible pain in the back of my neck and wonder how I was going to get through it. It was pushing out onto a ski jump, it was stepping into the ring, it was waiting at the bottom of a cannon. But the music would start, I walked out on to the stage and began. There was no going back. 2 hours later it was over. I was glad it was over but I was glad I did it.

Whatever it is, no matter how complicated, how unpredictable, how dangerous it seems to be, if we make the commitment and go through with it without turning back, the result will not be the monster we thought it was and we'll be glad we did it.

DB - The Vagabond
Never give up.
(This is not a contest)

There's still time to answer the Spring Question, so let's go.

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?

Only 6 answers so far

I eagerly await your answer.


1 comment:

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

Love Amelia Island, it is a beautiful place. Been there twice.