Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | July 21, 2011

This ‘n’ That

Whassup? I’ll say simply: “So”, “Yeah”, and “Ouch”.

That’s what I’ve been up to. Mostly Ouch… which for the Rudapests among us… is a verb where my back comes from and I’m hoping the Advil (now replaced with Aleve) is going. Seems life at 54 and without one of those posh studios of my own type of things… y’know with the body guards, fancy people and (no diet) coke… this seems to be the equation of life:  Have some fun, watch and feel a muscle act up… like it’s an out-of-body experience… and if only it were!!! But unfortunately, it’s decidedly an in-my -ody experience… which at 54, isn’t usually a good thing. I mean, tell me this: Can you imagine that you’re somewhere and something bad happens, you’re on the scene somehow, and doctor comes in to tell you, “Good thing you’re fifty-four, because that means…blah blah blah… I mean like, if you were 24 or something… then it’d be all bad.” Nope. I think that’s one of those impossible scenarios.

But maybe the whole thing comes from a week spent reading a quarter’s worth of Wall Street drivel. Yes, it’s a dreary thing, and someone’s got to do it. I try to put it off as long as I can, but then you go through it all… all those articles you tell yourself, “I really ought to read this… I’ll just put it over here…only it doesn’t seem to get the message that I’m trying to set it free and let it run off like one of those cottontails we’re seeing so many of this summer. “So you’re still here, huh? Hmmm. We’ll have to see about that.”  Only it still doesn’t get the message and keeps hanging around as if it were Bartleby the Scrivener or something equally obnoxious that just won’t go away.  “I prefer not to.” What is the modern world coming to these days? Positively digital and impossible and all sorts of ibles, ills and whatnot we haven’t even invented. “Don’t!” or I should say, “Not!…whichever sometimes just isn’t clear. So then you come to write something and instead of starting with a clean slate… you have all these pieces lying around haunting you with the possibility there might be something useful in them. And so at last you indulge the little buggers… hoping to sound semi-intelligent or at least sufficiently confident in your self-c0ntrol you might calm a jangled nerve, or alternatively fire a despondent imagination… but all the while knowing how much more fun it is to mix the two. “Just toying with ya!”

The temptation to do that teenage thing… y’know what I’m talking about: Call Mom and Dad about 11:30pm and tell them all your college worries. Then while they spend the entire night consulting with each other, diving deeper and deeper into prayerful despair… you pop off for a couple of the best with your friends only to wake with a phone ringing in the midst of the morning head.  And then as a voice starts, “I have a couple of ideas about your problems…” all you can think is “What problems?” And that’s it precisely. The point of these letters is not to lay it out there… but to organize one’s thinking, lay it out there, off yerself a couple of times, but then with intense counselling, lots of medication or whatever, go back to the keyboard and stroke out a couple of simplistic riffs on what you’re doing about these things. Everyone’s always sure we have the answer… “as if”… but increasingly there have been none. And I even had to tell one client – a very good Anglican-to-Roman Catholic convert whose query recounted countless imponderables that sometimes prayer really is the only way. Yes… I’ll probably get fired for that, but seriously… there just aren’t fixes and solutions that can always be discerned and riffed off at a moment… especially when the process of navigation is one turn after another in uncharted waters. Worry about the destination? You’ll never get there. Focus on the details… the stuff in front of our eyes and just take it one step at a time… you’ll be there before you know it.

All of which is say  that when a fop thinks things through, he’s more apt to come up with conclusions from all this material with about as much value as Bertie’s inimitable observation, “Bolivia exports tin”. Clearly, Bertie could have been a broker if only he’d used the right tone, and been willing to work the phones… but when you suffer allergies to work and all that like he did… it’s a little tough. So my thoughts of course tend more toward… America… and its exports…. like the triumvirate of Lawyers, Perps and Victims… which is just to say that rather than descend into the usual lawyer jokes, we need to grant lawyers credit for seeing all the world as a courtroom, and we merely their “played” within it. Still, if we could export all our lawyers… that’s a though isn’t it? Of course, usually a country gets paid for these sorts of things by the importer… rather than the other way ’round. But we might make an exception, just this once, huh?

With this intro, you’re probably wondering absolutely nothing about what I actually wrote to clients, so I won’t go there. What I will do indeed is to leave you with a video clip that formed the basis of the opening lines…and it not only ably sums my current views on politics, the economy, and especially the markets and all that as they bear on prospects for ordinary folks like us… but also because I’m not afraid to credit my two senior strategists, Foghorn Leghorn and George P. Dog (aka Barnyard Dawg), for their good work in setting me straight. You can probably figure out the allusions on your own:

That does it for “So”.

“Yeah” is a lot simpler. Yeah… is corn. Eastern Shore so-fresh-you-can-eat-it-without-cooking corn. It’s corn that’s sweet, Silver Queen and it’s larger kernelled imitators. Together with farm fresh tomatoes, Angel’s potato salad and famous slaw, some cantelope melon… maybe a Gin and Tonic or Dark ‘n Stormy…or even some of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (very nice stuff) who could put together a finer repast? And it’s days sweet in the eighties with Bay waters almost as sweet and winds soft and warm with clear blue skies and puffy clouds big and low, but without those rising cumulus that bode rain and storms… no, these are those days that seem instead of an East Coast sail, you should be sailing on the Prairie on your Connestoga wagon where the clouds turn red, where the moonrakers pass by a moon big and low and clear and full… a moon so bright you can almost read by it… and maybe even see “The Duke” saunter over to say, “… a man could go there… maybe even a gal if she had a mind to”.

But instead, you wished you lived close enough to sail it under the big Chesapeake Bay Bridge’s double spans… and hold the dimly lit barges and tankers off for a while. It’s that kind of summer! A summer when outside can be so pleasant (not now… we’re back to heat wave land)… that just for a while, you can forget the death, the aging, the hardship and all the suffering that awaits you back in this world where cares don’t seem to leave us as conveniently as we’d like either at 4:00pm or 11:30pm or even some mornings at 6:00am. Where there are so many needs and so many demands and so many who suffer the deficits of our lovelessness that those of us blessed with these “things”… these moments and this life can but scarcely imagine the treasures that pass unheeded, so often without gratitude, and without sense before us that one wonders whether we are in fact here or not…. but for now, the whole world seem willing to wait, to give you the afternoon off, to let you go, and in this rest allow each to relish so much, to renew one’s prayers and thanks, and to share one’s fortunes with another. How uncommon all this really is…. how much is almost a fantasy, and how much is scarcely a reality… sometimes we find difficult to separate the two. And yet it is not… but a world you get a glimpse of for a few hours a year. And it is enough, a little slice of what may seems to us one of the puzzles of heaven.

But none of it is nearly as much a gift as resting your head for a moment on the lap of the one you love… the one you can hug and doesn’t push you off. There aren’t many of these, are there? Our moms, our dads, our children… our spouses, our cats and dogs… we are all creatures of God’s green earth and tied to each other even when we pretend that our rest for a moment… even on a day like this, will come in reveries rather than in the place that we know it must… the heart of God. But perhaps this, too, is a vision of God… and intended for our restoration. Then let it come and let it be. Thanks be to God!


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