Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Movie through the Rear View Mirror...

Yes I want to be creative, I really want to make my mark,
I need to leave my indent like the bite of a great white shark.
I'm sick not being noticed, fed up with going unseen,
just one more of all of those who never, ever have been.

There must be more to my being here, the reason I breathe and think,
it can't all be down to waiting for the next time we have a drink.
No this life should not be wasted, you only get one shot,
and you should use oh so carefully, the ammunition that you've got.

I know that when I was young I had a natural bent,
for creating things artistically, but that would not pay the rent.
So I did what I did not want to do and joined the rats at play,
and jumped on to their treadmill for eight hours every day.

And now so many years have passed, and my treading carries on,
but I've never found my Shangri La and soon I will be gone.
Without having felt the joy of making the life for which I yearned,
too late to take advantage of a lesson cruelly learned.

So be brave and strong you youngsters if you're nurturing a skill,
don't let the pressure to pay the rent drive you on to that mill,
open up your mind, and open wide your eyes,
develop those talents, and reach for the skies,
soar like an eagle, and find your own way,
and don't eat the crumbs from the trap they call pay.
Tom Higgins, "Hindsight"


FreeThinke said...

A clear, compelling message, to be sure. But ROBERT BROWNING said it a great deal better:

_______ Youth and Art _______

It once might have been, once only:
___ We lodged in a street together,
You, a sparrow on the housetop lonely,
___ I, a lone she-bird of his feather.

Your trade was with sticks and clay,
 ___ You thumbed, thrust, patted and polished,
Then laughed "They will see some day
___ Smith made, and Gibson demolished."

My business was song, song, song;
___ I chirped, cheeped, trilled and twittered,
"Kate Brown's on the boards ere long,
___ And Grisi's existence embittered!"

I earned no more by a warble
___ Than you by a sketch in plaster;
You wanted a piece of marble,
___ I needed a music-master.

We studied hard in our styles,
___ Chipped each at a crust like Hindoos,
For air looked out on the tiles,
___ For fun watched each other's windows.

You lounged, like a boy of the South,
___ Cap and blouse—nay, a bit of beard too;
Or you got it, rubbing your mouth
___ With fingers the clay adhered to.

And I—soon managed to find
___ Weak points in the flower-fence facing,
Was forced to put up a blind
 ___ And be safe in my corset-lacing.

 No harm! It was not my fault
 ___ If you never turned your eye's tail up
As I shook upon E in alt,
___ Or ran the chromatic scale up:

 For spring bade the sparrows pair,
 ___ And the boys and girls gave guesses,
And stalls in our street looked rare
___ With bulrush and watercresses.

Why did not you pinch a flower
___ In a pellet of clay and fling it?
Why did not I put a power
___ Of thanks in a look, or sing it?

 I did look, sharp as a lynx,
 ___ (And yet the memory rankles,)
When models arrived, some minx
___ Tripped up-stairs, she and her ankles.

But I think I gave you as good!
___"That foreign fellow,—who can know
How she pays, in a playful mood,
___ For his tuning her that piano?"

Could you say so, and never say
___ "Suppose we join hands and fortunes,
And I fetch her from over the way,
___ Her, piano, and long tunes and short tunes?"

 No, no: you would not be rash,
___ Nor I rasher and something over:
You've to settle yet Gibson's hash,
___ And Grisi yet lives in clover.

But you meet the Prince at the Board,
___ I'm queen myself at bals-paré,
I've married a rich old lord,
___ And you're dubbed knight and an R.A.

Each life unfulfilled, you see;
___ It hangs still, patchy and scrappy:
We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
___ Starved, feasted, despaired,—been happy.

And nobody calls you a dunce,
___ And people suppose me clever:
This could but have happened once,
___ And we missed it, lost it for ever.

~ Robert Browning (1812 -1889)

FreeThinke said...

I found myself tremendously moved by Youth and Art when I was still in high school. Somehow, I understood what it meant, and let it inspire to proceed on a reckless, adventurous course in pursuit of fulfillment, instead of playing it safe, and doing what everyone told me I was supposed to do.

My only regret is that my choice was very hard on my dear parents.

Even so, God has been exceedingly kind to me. I never achieved precisely what I set out to do, but what I learned along the way has made life rich, rewarding and satisfying.

I hope I don't sound smug? I mean to sound grateful, because I am.

FreeThinke said...

" ... Of all sad words from tongue or pen
The saddest are these, "It might have been."

~ excerpt from Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier

-FJ said...

Just call me a money grubbin' settler. ;)

FreeThinke said...

That's fine, FJ, –– as long as you are reasonably contented with your choice.

Mr. Higgins obviously was not content with his, and neither were Browning or Whittier –– at least in the hearts of the characters through which he expressed their poignant sentiments.

FreeThinke said...

"Mama, I'd rather have five minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of mediocrity and boredom ..." [approximated quotation from the film script]

~ Shelby Eatenton in Steel Magnolias

Shelby was a severe diabetic who was warned that trying to have a baby would very probably kill her. She wanted to have her own baby so badly she got married, risked her life, got pregnant, gave birth, then underwent a kidney transplant to repair damage caused by the pregnancy, was delighted for a few months, then died when the transplanted kidney failed.

A sad story to be sure, but we are supposed to be glad the girl reached for the brass ring, even if she wound up breaking her neck after falling off the merry-go-round.

I suppose it's entirely up to each of us to decide for himself whether she did the right thing or not.

-FJ said...

Just call me Lessing's son... ;)

Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense"
In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of "world history"—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it. But if we could communicate with the mosquito, then we would learn that he floats through the air with the same self-importance, feeling within itself the flying center of the world. There is nothing in nature so despicable or insignificant that it cannot immediately be blown up like a bag by a slight breath of this power of knowledge; and just as every porter wants an admirer, the proudest human being, the philosopher, thinks that he sees on the eyes of the universe telescopically focused from all sides on his actions and thoughts.

It is strange that this should be the effect of the intellect, for after all it was given only as an aid to the most unfortunate, most delicate, most evanescent beings in order to hold them for a minute in existence, from which otherwise, without this gift, they would have every reason to flee as quickly as Lessing's son. [In a famous letter to Johann Joachim Eschenburg (December 31, 1778), Lessing relates the death of his infant son, who "understood the world so well that he left it at the first opportunity."] That haughtiness which goes with knowledge and feeling, which shrouds the eyes and senses of man in a blinding fog, therefore deceives him about the value of existence by carrying in itself the most flattering evaluation of knowledge itself. Its most universal effect is deception; but even its most particular effects have something of the same character.

The intellect, as a means for the preservation of the individual, unfolds its chief powers in simulation; for this is the means by which the weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves, since they are denied the chance of waging the struggle for existence with horns or the fangs of beasts of prey. In man this art of simulation reaches its peak: here deception, flattering, lying and cheating, talking behind the back, posing, living in borrowed splendor, being masked, the disguise of convention, acting a role before others and before oneself—in short, the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make its appearance among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images; their eye glides only over the surface of things and sees "forms"; their feeling nowhere lead into truth, but contents itself with the reception of stimuli, playing, as it were, a game of blindman's buff on the backs of things. Moreover, man permits himself to be lied to at night, his life long, when he dreams, and his moral sense never even tries to prevent this—although men have been said to have overcome snoring by sheer will power.

FreeThinke said...

I, of course, many years ago set myself on a determined course to take a view all-but diametrically opposed to the dour, bitter, dreary cynicism so earnestly espoused by your friend Nietzsche.

I am not a Pollyanna by any means, but I AM a Christian –– a state of being almost universally misunderstood by Modern Man and even by many who still consider themselves believers. Not a day goes by when I don't take time –– several times a day –– to express my gratitude for having been given the Gift of Faith.

What sustains my faith?

The very fact that such as the Cave Painters in ancient France, Pericles, Phidias, Sophocles, Aristotle, Socrates, Aeschylus and Euripides, and Giotto, and Michelangelo, Brunileschi, Peri, Caccini, Gesualdo, and Monteverdi, Palladio, Bernini, Ghiberti, Botticelli, Rubens, Rembrandt, Christopher Wren, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Purcell, Byrd, Bull, Gibbons, Shakespeare, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Dickens., Austen, Eliot, the Brontes, James, Wharton, Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cassatt, Ravel, Debussy, Fauré, Messiaen, Capability Brown and myriad others who saw, understood, manifested and made intelligible tiny fragments of the immense, unfathomable, inexhaustible source of WONDER, LOVE and BEAUTY that lies at the very CORE of LIFE who is in fact GOD.