Thanks for visiting this site to get the latest misinformation about the election of the next Pope. He is in Rome now. Actually I had a dream about the puff of white smoke, so I know the winner.
This is the second blog I’ve written in the past week on the Pope, a subconscious act triggered by my desire long ago to be a priest. I was caddy at the time. A caddy carries golf clubs for a fee, usually at a private golf course that practices some form of discrimination–this was true back in the 1960s but given all the awareness afoot these days, discrimination has become a subtle act, so not all private golf clubs discriminate, unless you consider paying exhorbitant fees for the right to chase a white ball to be inappropriate. But I digress–you want to know about the next Pope, or maybe why I didn’t become a priest. Simple. I flunked the interview. But obviously the Pope-to-be didn’t.
The post office that played a key role in my upbringing is on the list of buildings that may be sold by the cash-starved U.S. Postal Service. The memories of the brick building on the Morristown, New Jersey square remain rich, even after 50 years. I’ve read there is a movement to protect this architectural treasure.
Here is where I stood on a marble floor and gazed at the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, where Christmas cards tumbled to the floor from the box that was nearly out of my reach, where I clutched my acceptance letter from Rutgers and where I got my draft notice.
But the most famous letter by far was from a girl from Rhode Island. She was attending a private college in New Jersey and I was to be a senior at Rutgers. We met at a wild apartment party a week before summer break . One date later we sensed we were something special–this is probably not accurate but with the passage of time, emotions get smoothed or roughed and I choose the more posiitive memory. I said I would visit her over the summer and she said she’d write me a letter. I somehow (really) lost her phone number, but waited for the letter that never came.After a month passed I cursed on the marble floor each time the box failed to produce the letter I had already written for her. Three months later, at summer’s end, the letter arrived. It was postmarked in May but it had been put in the wrong box, so said the clerk, where it aged beyond the point of a reasonable explanation of why I didn’t call her.
I don’t remember her name but I can still see the envelope neatly addressed to me and the enclosed promise of fun we would have when I visited her.
Some things can’t be sold.
Luck in life is being able to enjoy sunsets, to get to know how they evolve, to enjoy their beauty and to move on when all is dark. The best sunsets occur when clouds disperse shades of red, orange and purple in the sky after the sun drops below the horizon. I’ve seen people turn their backs on this magical lighting–they hurry off to the next agenda item while others give thanks for the majesty of another day’s end.
Our dogs are always more than filler for those moments when I’m relaxing at doing nothing and my mind is without focus. Today, Sammy, weighing in at 90-lbs, is poured into an oversized leather chair, dreaming of walks, cats, food or something of that nature. Daisy, his compatriot with the unmistakeable countenance of a fox, is on alert at the front door in anticipation of spotting the gopher that has tunneled into the nearby rose beds.
We have two dogs and they have the two of us. The dogs are actually one dynamic fluctuating between the pure joys of their life and the ordeal of waiting for a joy to happen. Sammy and Daisy produce an energy field even at rest and that is why they will never be domesticated filler and why I must rise now to let them out.
I was eating lunch yesterday when the Pope quit, the first pontiff to step down since the Middle Ages. The news here is that the media rarely rarely references the Middle Ages, a time of stake burnings, religous wars (we still have those)and the high risk of death associated with childbirth. But this year we’ve had two hits for the Middle Ages. Recently the remains of King Richard III were found under a parking lot in England. He was a ruthless monarch who ruled from 1483 to 1485 before he was killed in battle.
Pope Benedict and King Richard the III are an odd historical pairing. Of course, there are people who think of the Middle Ages as someone reaching their 45th birthday. Life marches on.
I sometimes deal with today’s global turnmoil by watching “Perry Mason” shows from 50 years ago. Today’s show featured an elderly woman who says “swell” when agreeing to a suggestion from Perry. You don’t hear “swell” anymore and if you do, it is usally doesn’t mean what it did in the 1950s.
Today people say “sure,” a lazier, if not unfriendlier version of “swell” but at least it is a step above “whatever.” In the good old days “swell” was actually considered slang for a perky positive, but over time with reduced usage, it became a sarcastic version of “yes,” meaning: “what you are asking me to do stinks, but I have no choice but to do it.”
The metamorphis of our language is important because new social medai shortcuts to meaning are accelerating the evolution of the written and spoken word. And like the effect of fast foods on our health, quick talk cheapens our intellectual digestion which leads to misunderstandings between people.
The downgrading of our vocabulary started in the 1950s when “swell” was popular. Today’s replacement words are appearing in rapid fashion. Inhale and try “certainly” next time.
Figuring out the meaning of life is tiring, but it should be attempted. Why else are we here? There are two extremes involved in this debate: (1) there is no correct answer because any response is a human contrivance subject to human error; and (2) God will take care of it, just try to be good and you’ll be close to the meaning; i.e., don’t sweat it! Of course, sandwiched in between these extremes are the manifestations of organized religion.
Here is my favorite follow-up question: does knowing the meaning of life get you points in the hereafter? Buzzer time! What if there is no hereafter? Is that the real meaning: 72 years and you’re outtta here?
Actually, I know the meaning of life. But knowing is not like winning a lottery. In fact, knowing, or believing I know, is damn right frustrating. And tiring.
Last night the President delivered his first State of Union address of his second term while police cornered and presumbably killed an fugitive ex-cop who killed cops and their loved ones. The speech ended dramatically with a challenge to Congress to at least vote on a gun violence prevention bill. The President’s refrain was “deserve a vote,” issued after he cited each victim, each shooting horror of recent times. Meanwhile a forest cabin in California was burning, presumably again, with the cop killer inside.
I see the undeniable stain of gun violence dotting the the red, white and blue of our flag. Network TV was torn betwen a speech and a manhunt. Congress is torn by mutually exclusive ideals that translate into stalemates. A revolution without guns is required.