Monday, June 8, 1998

Grand Old Days

"Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work- the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside- the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don't show their effect all at once. There is another sort of blow that comes from within- that you don't feel until it's too late to do anything about it, until you realize with finality that in some regard you will never be as good a man again. The first sort of breakage seems to happen quick- the second kind happens almost without your knowing it but is realized suddenly indeed... The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the 'impossible,' come true. Life was something you dominated if you were any good. Life yielded easily to intelligence and effort, or to what proportion could be mustered by both."

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Well, it was sort of a rough week at the office. Not the least of which was made a bit more stressful by the rumor that I'm not exactly along for the long term. Possible future careers? 1) The father of Madonna's next baby; 2) A Presidential doorstop; 3) A burly security guy on the Jerry Springer show; 4) The next Ginger Spice. And similarities to the plot of Jim Carrey's new movie, The Truman Show in which Carrey's character's life is all one long TV show got me thinking. Could the same thing be true for me? It was a scary thought since the closest thing to TV that my life reflects is an episode of Moesha (is my life more of a comedy or a soap opera these days?). If I don't get my ratings up they will pull the plug which may or may not be the worst possible thing.

Of course a lot of the stress was as always, self inflicted. A wise election official just at the right time shared something that I didn't know. He said that we are all capable of out running a horse, since a horse runs as fast as it can to escape. If you keep chasing it, eventually somewhere down that road the horse will stop running. Perseverance pays off. So after watching another failed Triple Crown effort it dawned on me that Real Quiet is not the same thing as deliberate silence. But to be confused can be the same as to be intrigued. It's all a matter of perspective. I used to live life believing that my soulmate was out there somewhere, that there just might be an angel around the next corner. I've since learned it's better not to believe such things, because it only leads to disappointment when hopes fail to materialize.

The week also included some poor planning and unlucky timing on my part. Typical of this was the little yard work I was able to get done. After much delay and procrastination I finally got my tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and beans planted. The next day the temperature dropped off the scale. There were even some warnings that frost was possible. Figures. Just as my sense of humanity was all but gone down the drain I witnessed a few reminders of the number of good people who are out there if you are willing to look (which pretty much only entails keeping your eyes open). I was at Wednesday night's Twins/ Indians game with my friend Spunky. It was a crisp, well played game won by our local team. A couple rows in front of us sat an enthusiastic elderly lady (who we cleverly dubbed "grandma"). This woman would bolt from her seat and raise her arms toward the roof of the dome every time a Twins player did something well. Her loyalty to the home team was as amusing as it was infectious.

And then there was my Quien Mas Sabe who continues to impress me with her insight and friendship. She told me early on that one of her strengths was knowing what her weaknesses were. I'm beginning to see how important that really is. If you know where you are vulnerable you can either put yourself in situations where you will succeed, or you can make the adjustments necessary to strengthen what you don't do well. Her week too sounded a bit frustrating and I only hope that my reaching out did matter because her inspiration has led to me doing some actual writing for the first time in a long while.

Finally I was honored that my 12 year old niece, Brynna, postponed her birthday party partly on my account since I couldn't make the original date. "We have to talk Uncle Dave," she said. "You better be there..." I even made it out to the mall, my least favorite place to be. After spending many frustrating minutes looking for the perfect gift at the Imaginarium I was approached by a young sales clerk who wowed me with her stellar service. She helped me pick out two gifts and then offered to wrap them. She was personable, funny, and I quite enjoyed her effort. When her wrapping took a bit of time she apologized saying how much she enjoyed wrapping and how she wanted to get it perfect. After some recent frustrating shopping experiences, the timing of this one was much appreciated. And you wanna know the end result of the week's events? Whereas I wouldn't trade my troubles with a monkey on a rock I actually came to the conclusion in the end I still wouldn't want to be anyone other than who I am. Wow.

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