A few weeks ago Jerilyn and I went to Chrysler Hall in Norfolk to watch the Broadway play, “Lion King”. What a wonderful show! It was fairly expensive, but we don’t get the opportunity to see a Broadway play often so we decided to go for it. We were overwhelmed by the complexity of the costumes and the ingenuity of the show’s creators. There are some really talented people in this world. I fear that sometimes I’m mostly impressed with people that create technical and electronic wonders, when in fact, there are talented people everywhere. I have always been in awe of people who write really well, and I have had a few teachers that were impressive. I have three aunts (still alive & well) that were school teachers, so school teachers have a special place in my heart. I read recently that seniors may require as much as 10 times the amount of light to see an object as clearly as their grandchildren but that was not the case with “Lion King”. Jerilyn and I stared intently at every movement on stage, and I doubt that any teenager noticed more than we. Leaving the play that night we had the feeling that we had witnessed a truly remarkable event and that stayed with us several days. Someone once said; “Ability will never catch up with the demand for it”. I’d say the creators of that play caught up with the demand.
I recently started a notebook of words that I encounter during my daily readings that I have to look up in the dictionary. Believe me, even at my age, there are quite a few. I have always looked up words but, most of the time I have forgotten their meaning by the next day. I’m hoping that this effort will help stop that from happeningJ. Maybe, you are like me in that you dislike writers that intentionally use words the average person can’t say and doesn’t know the meaning of. One unknown word per article fits me very nicely and is appreciated. More than two, I become a disgruntled guy and will probably not read anything by that author for many weeks. I find that I enjoy writers that mix in a little humor and try to entertain me with their wit (Gail Collins – NY Times, comes to mind). Some writers impress me with the complexity of their thoughts but, alas, being a simpleton, it doesn’t take all that much. One of my favorite writers (Verlyn Klinkenborg – The Rural Life) has a unique ability to notice everything within eyesight and then describe them in writing effortlessly. I’m often left wondering, with the hectic pace of life today, how someone slows down earth’s spin sufficiently to allow such minute observations. One thing a good writer must always do is instill in his reader the love of reading, hence the old saying; “The more you read, the more you want to read”. My experience tells me this is true. I also know this is true about you, otherwise, you would not be reading this monthly missiveJ.
Samuel Beckett says; “Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hope than the first four hours of a diet”. I know the feeling well. During the holiday season, I was the scourge of the dinner table, eating one serving of everything and returning to eat some more of the best. The problem, as I see it, is that I’m surrounded in life by people that love to cook, and when I’m surrounded by good food I always cave in to gluttony. Jerilyn does her best to keep me on the straight and narrow, but she can’t watch me all the time. I read, a while back, the reason alcoholics continually fall off the wagon has to do with the alcohol killing brain cells in the region that pertains to willpower. I’ll bet a little research would divulge that good food is also killing my brain cells in that very region. I’m dreading the next time I get on the scale to weigh myself. I have a colonoscopy scheduled on the 18th of this month, and I suspect the best time to weigh myself will be right after that procedure is competed. The doctor expects you to stroll into his office looking like you just emerged from a month in the Outback of Australia without food. Two days before the procedure, I am to start eating a bland diet, and then by 6pm on that same day, I have to switch to nothing but clear liquids. So yeah, I’m thinking that right after the procedure is over I’m hopping on the scale. As Amy Tan said so eloquently; “If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude”. J
It has been said that one of the worst reproaches in the world is to be called a coward. Courage, of course, is the ability to overcome fear. There are few people born without fear. The ones that lack fear cannot, in my opinion, be courageous. The fireman that dashes into the burning building is courageous because he overcomes the fear deep inside that says stay in a safe place. As a boy, and then later as a man, I have never known any male that could tolerate his name being followed by the adjective (or is it an adverb?); “coward”. I remember, as a senior in high school (1958), walking with several of my fellow football players (Jimmy, Hubert, Benny, Larry) to the local drive-in restaurant (The Green Dragon) after playing a Friday night football game. The drive-in was about ¾ of a mile from our high school. After our bus arrived back at the school, we quickly showered, donned our clothes, and headed by foot for the Green Dragon. All our roads were nestled in between mountains with a small creek running along beside it. Street lights were non-existent in our small community, so the only light we had emanated from the moon. As we walked, exchanging small talk about the just completed ballgame, a car raced down the road and screeched to a halt beside us. Eight football players from the team we just played bailed out of the car and their leader informed us they were going to “kick our ass”. Since they outnumbered us by 3, it was entirely possible they could accomplish their stated goal. That’s when something totally unexpected happed to me. A little guy deep inside was yelling at me to “RUN, RUN like you’ve never ran before”! The leader of their group shoves a smallish guy toward me (I was co-captain of our team and 5’11”) and tells him, “You have that guy”. I’m a good 4 inches taller than he is, so I know I can whip this guy, but I’m also aware that three of their guys are available to help wherever help is needed. In the meantime, that little guy in me is belting out the same old refrain about running away. My best friend (Jimmy) steps forward and says to their leader, “Look, we realize that you guys can probably whip us, but know one thing, we are going to inflict some damage before this is over.” I would guess that Jimmy was the least courageous of our group, but he overcame his fear and attempted to reason with our aggressors. Not one in our group broke and ran, which is what I suspected they wanted us to do. I grabbed the little guy in front of me by the front of his shirt and was ready to start throwing punches when their lead guy says; “Okay, okay, I guess you are probably right, we’ll leave”! They did, and as 17 year old boys are prone to do, we bragged about scaring them away as we walked slowly toward the Green Dragon. By the time we reached the restaurant, our bravado had quadrupled, and I’m sure we were intolerable the rest of the night. I was proud of the courage we showed that night. If I had fled, like my inner voice wanted me to, the “coward” monicker would have followed me the rest of my life. As Eddie Rickenbacker said; “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared”. As a side note, Jimmy went on to be a leader of men. He sold the company he founded many years ago for over a $billion. If the truth be known, he was probably the most courageous of all on that night of long ago. I often wonder if he and the others remember it.
I read that a dog or cat owner spends roughly $10,000 on the care and feeding of their pet over its lifetime. Dogs cost more per year, but cats make up for it by living longer. We don’t have a pet. Notice I didn’t say, “we don’t own a pet”, for fear of offending my readers that have pets. After all, I would never say I own a son or a daughter. The point being that more often than not, pets are treated as children. I have dear neighbors that dress their dog (Kobe), and talk to him as if he understands everything they say (maybe he does, I dunno). My Aunt Helen has a wonderful dog (Oreo) that keeps her company all day long. My cousin, Harold, has a dog (Little Bit) that’s treated like the head of house and our friend, Joann E has two cats (Patches & Silky) that have the run of the place. Do they know, or care, that their pet is costing them $10,000? I would venture they have never thought of their relationship with their pet in terms of money. Alas, I cannot say the same! When my children were small (early 70’s), they had a cat named Ralph. Well, ole Ralph was a tomcat always looking for a fight (he preferred dogs). I’d let him out the front door every morning, he’d go down the walk, stop at the street, look right then left, and if he spotted a dog, he’d make a beeline towards it. Within a week, I would have him at the vet’s because of an infection from wounds inflicted. Well, after three visits prompted by his fightin’ ways, I’m in the vet’s office and the vet says; “Mr. Hale, Ralph needs an operation and it’s going to cost $300, or we can put him to sleep for $25. Ralph’s a tomcat and likes to fight, and my guess is he will be back here often”. I told him that I’d take Ralph home and hope he makes it. Instead, Ralph and I headed across the James River to a sparsely populated area where I stopped, opened the door and placed Ralph beside the road, encouraging him to head off into the wilderness, and he did. I don’t know what happened to Ralph after that day, but I felt like I gave him an opportunity to live, rather than give into the vet’s offer to put him to sleep. I often wished that I could’ve afforded the operation because my children dearly loved that cat. When asked by them where Ralph was, I said that he had to be put to sleep. They seemed to understand. I know they would have been very upset if they knew what truly happened. I thought about Ralph all the way back across the James River that afternoon, and to this very day, I wish I could’ve done something else. I can remember as a young man my father drowning a complete litter of pups because no one wanted them. He would put them in a sack with several heavy rocks and throw them into the river. I wonder if that influenced me in any way later in my life. Arthur Schopenhauer (German philosopher) said; “ Man is the only animal who causes pain to others with no other object than wanting to do so”. I hope that’s not me.
I hope that wherever you live on this wonderful planet, you are safe from harm, secure in a happy life, and that you have enjoyed this view from, “My Window on The World”. If you get a chance, drop me a line, I would love to hear from you.
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere
without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux