Okay, so now I’m officially old. I can start using all those little tricks I’ve been practicing to take advantage of youngsters. Oh, wait, I don’t do that…. well, okay, so now I get to be grouchy, right? No? Why not? I’ve been looking forward a long time to getting old enough to be cranky, whattya mean people don’t do that anymore? 60 is the new 40? What the hell are you talking about? I’m no 40, and if I felt only 40 I’d be doing handsprings, believe me…. Damn it, I’ve waited a long time to be old, why don’t I get some of the perks?…. I don’t get it…..
There are supposed to be perks to this getting old business, you know. Senior discounts, early boarding, special menus, we old ffolkes have done our duty on the front lines of life, and deserve a break or two. When I was younger, there were times I didn’t understand all the fuss about aging, possessing, as I did, the invulnerability of youth; now, I understand, and fully agree that the ffolkes who make it this far really do deserve some time off from the harder aspects of living….
In fact, most of us are looking forward to getting a few breaks, especially if it helps us physically. To my mind, the physical drawbacks of aging are the hardest to deal with…. Yes, the bureaucracies one must encounter and handle are atrocious in their lack of help, but even that pales in comparison to an attack of diarrhea, or pain so bad one can’t walk….. and I don’t know about any of the other seniors around, but I really do miss volleyball, and softball with beer, and martial arts, and regular sex…. of course, the last one might be available, had I an appropriate companion, but….
Ah well, one must put away the toys of youth to live as an adult, and this is just the next stage…. I just thought there would be less stress involved, and that society really cared…. but, the sad truth is that society does whatever it can to keep the issue of age related problems out of the public eye, which means spending just enough on it to keep them quiet, but not enough to really be of help. It is a typical approach in our society to those issues that the beloved ruling class really doesn’t care about at all, but is forced to make concessions to keep the masses from revolting…. There are a number of such issues, but those are tales for pearls, not for this intro….
An intro, which, due to my tendency to ramble on, has grown past all decent proportion into another morass of conflicting, yet hopefully humorous statements, none of which are designed for anything other than typing practice, and mental limbering exercise…. Now that I am limber, so to speak. shall we Pearl?…..
“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” — Helen Keller
I am always struck by the depth of insight that Helen Keller displayed in her words, though, given her background, it shouldn’t be a surprise. For her first decade of life, or so, she lived in darkness and misery, never able to communicate with anyone, or come to any sort of comfortable terms with her environment, due to her lack of understanding and sensory handicaps. But, fortunately for the world, she met the one person of her time who had the kind of understanding needed to bring Helen out of the darkness, and into the light of knowledge and education. The trip she made in those years is an epic story, and one that never fails to bring tears (especially these days… I’m leaking as I write this, and I’m just doing background….) in sympathy for the effort she made to live her life in freedom, rather in self-made chains….
That effort is what makes her wisdom so much more powerful than it would, coming from anyone else. One KNOWS that what she says is true, because she obviously made too much effort to achieve the Truth to ever demean that by lying about anything. And, in the case of this statement, one must accept the truth of it absolutely, for who would know better than she how much bravery and patience are needed in order to be able to feel the joy that is also there. Our handicaps, and the obstacles thrown up for us by the world at large, are those very things that make our joys so sweet, for we know what has been overcome just to experience that feeling.
It would do us all well to pay heed to whatever Ms. Keller has to say about living, but this lesson is particularly important, especially in today’s world. There are so many issues and problems that we are all faced with every day, that finding any peace and joy becomes not merely difficult, but damn near impossible….. until, that is, one remembers the above statement. This allows us the emotional strength, and the space, to step back from our difficulties, and take a new look at what is happening; this often gives us the impetus to find what there is to be found to create our own joy, even if it is only the knowledge that we have struggled against our difficulties with honor and dignity…. In the correct light, even that can bring some satisfaction. And, in the best case scenario, one learns that our patience, and our strength, will always lead us back to those parts of our mind that keep the joyous feelings, and we can go there any time we wish….
Was there a time when dancers with their fiddles
In children’s circuses could stay their troubles?
There was a time they could cry over books,
But time has set its maggot on their track.
Under the arc of the sky they are unsafe.
What’s never known is safest in this life.
Under the skysigns they who have no arms
Have cleanest hands, and, as the heartless ghost
Alone’s unhurt, so the blind man sees best.
— Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), “Was There A Time”
I had hoped to finish the poem I’ve been working on last night, or this morning, but it continues to resist my ministrations…. I’ve got the title and first stanza done, but it stalled there, so I’m letting it percolate some more, and maybe tonight I can open the correct vein so it will leak out onto the screen…. We can hope…. in the meantime, you will have to make do with another of history’s classic poets…. Let’s see what Google comes up with today….
Ah… perfect… I found the quote used in the final of today’s pearls, and it prompted me to look up Mr. Marlowe’s poems, which, as it turns out, are some of the more famous of those we studied in high school. Below I’ve included one of his most famous, and you will be able to see why it has survived the test of time….
The Passionate Shepherd to his Love
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle:
A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold:
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
What we have here is the oldest form of a pearl of virtual wisdom…. When I first started writing the Pearls, I was working in offices for the State of California Department of Mental Health, and the daily efforts were short and to the point, whatever it might be. I’d begin with a short introduction, leading the Gentle Readers into the desired frame of mind to absorb the lesson of the day. This intro, about a paragraph, generally, would then be followed by one, or two, or sometimes, for a deeper lesson, three pearls that would lead in the desired direction….. So, here are two pearls, that formulate one idea, about how mankind approaches life in general, and a life of reason in particular….. It also kind of summarizes my whole belief system, if you squint your eyes just right….. To wit:
“Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good…” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp post, the lamp post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmedieval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, today, tomorrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends
on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.” — G. K. Chesterton, Heretics_, 1905
“There is no sin but ignorance.” — Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
I find myself in a limbo-like mindset; it’s like my whole creative urge is being blunted, by the worry I’m feeling about my psychiatric appointment next week. Pearls are taking forever to find, or, if found, inspiration is lagging behind. It’s a pain, really, and I’ll be glad when that appointment is a thing of the past…. then I can go back into waiting mode, until the federal bureaucracy has finished chewing on my soon-to-be-corpse. I’m not even going to think about how hard THAT will be….
But, my tendency for groundless hope keeps telling me that once that wait is over, all should be well, so I’m buying into that, groundless though it may be…. Meanwhile, I hope these Pearls are not so bad they’re driving ffolkes away…. One of these days, I’ll have internet at home again, and I can take the time to read other ffolke’s blogs, instead of just cruising through and trying to catch up on the reader page…. Ah well, put it all aside, Ned, me lad, and get on with it….. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.