Happy Birthday

I was a real prick as a young man.

A muscular 185 pounds, long-haired green-eyed handsome man, I believed the world revolved around me. I painted and wrote, competed in olympic-style weightlifting competitions, bounced at local bars and pretty much could pick and choose what woman I wanted to sleep with. I punched out drunks and my critics and those who just rubbed me the wrong way. Yeah, as I look back on it, I was a first-class ass and a young man headed to an early grave, maybe beaten to death in a bar brawl or shot dead by an irate husband. I had lived so much on the edge that my own father expressed surprise when I turned 30, stating that he fully expected me to meet a violent end long before that landmark birthday.

Well, now I've doubled that 30 and added another four years, having reached the fabled 64 made famous in that long-ago Beatles' tune. The Fourth of July is my birthday, and I fully expected it to be another unremarkable day. I have spent the bulk of my last 15 birthdays pretty much alone. By choice, mind you. Because of my talk-radio career I could probably whip up a big party for myself at some local saloon, and it would be well-attended and people would bring me cards and gifts and probably bake me a cake or two but I have preferred the solitude of my own company on this halcyon day. I had stopped by a local Barnes & Noble the day before and purchased a birthday gift for myself, a book on the founders of this country; not the Jeffersons, Washingtons and Franklins, but those more pedestrian patriots who gave their all for the cause but because of their less patrician profiles have been mostly excluded from the history books. I had planned to spend a contemplative birthday delving into the lives of these forgotten patriots. Like many others of my generation I was raised by parents with almost no formal education but with a deep understanding that if their children were raised in a literate environment they could aspire to lives beyond their parents' modest achievements. For this I am eternally grateful. I believe that my love for reading and therefore understanding allowed me to make it to my thirtieth year and beyond, unlike many of those who I watched crash and burn around me. I attempted one day to count them, and quickly ran beyond my fingers and toes. Drug overdoses, suicides, car wrecks, murders, heart attacks and cancers; there were literally dozens of lives snuffed out too early because of poor personal decisions and reckless behavior. I was in the thick of it and yet here I am, now in my 64th year, still breathing, penning this blog. I have accomplished something important along the way. I have learned. There are others who have made it through the fiery trenches of their youth and who have not emotionally moved beyond their reckless years. They have not learned. I hope some day they experience the epiphany that visited me years ago. I pen these lines for them.

Will Sun The Come Up In The Morning?
Whenever I see young folks agonizing over some petty issue, I always ask them this question. The response is almost always a puzzled look. I tell them that no matter what their issue the sun will rise the next morning, whether they are here or not. A few get it, most don't. I got it. Long ago, and it keeps my uber-ego in check. Most of the time, anyway.

History Is One Long Story Of One Person Trying To Take Another Person's Stuff
As much as I want to believe in the glorious progression of humankind's march to collective self-realization, my studies have brought me to this mundane conclusion. Great battles, social uprisings, religious movements and collective intellectual rip tides are really based in the desire to possess what the other guy has. I thought about this yesterday when I watched "The Longest Day"on TV, musing that the men who hit those deadly beaches were first and foremost doing their best to stay alive and secondly trying to recoup what Der Fuehrer had taken from them and their allies. Hitler had taken their stuff by force. They were forcibly taking it back. I'm sorry and I'd love to paint a more glorious picture of that crucial event, but I cannot.

Great Art Thrives Behind Fortified Walls
The artist in me would like to fantasize that humankind's greatest creative spirits exist in open and free societies that have eschewed militarism and fixed borders, but my studies have shown the opposite to be true. The pyramids, the great Mayan temples, the intricately carved ivories of ancient China, the engineering achievements of ancient Rome, the monumental paintings and sculptures of the western world and philosophical writings of all cultures did not permeate from borderless, enlightened lands but from those societies who clearly defined who they were and what territory was theirs and protected it from those who attempted to violate their boundaries. Artists flourished under these conditions, many times decrying the very nationalism that enabled them to express their aesthetic vents.

Know Who And What Is Most Important To You, And Fiercely Defend It
Primitive societies understand this very well. We more cultured peoples shudder at the thought of cultivating valued intense personal relationships as a throwback to the days of the Dark Ages. We have been poisoned by this "federation of planets" nonsense, and it will be this most of all that will ultimately lead us to our own demise.

Just Because A Lot Of People Accept It Doesn't Mean You Have To
A lot of what society condones is crap. Just because it's the accepted opinion of the day doesn't mean it has to be yours. Today's prophet is usually tomorrow's punch line.

It's Not The Reality, It's The Press Releases
There are great artists, philosophers, religious leaders, generals and others who have been left in the backwash of history because they lacked their Boswells. Or, as Henry Ford so eloquently put it: "History is bunk!"

Science Most Often Is Bullshit
I have learned to ignore science which for the most part is as fickle as women's fashions. It's the facts I keep track of, because as the facts accumulate the science changes. The theories about dinosaurs from the mid-nineteenth century to the present are clear evidence of this. As new and more complete fossils were chipped from rock, the archaeology reconfigured itself. The cold-blooded, plodding, dull-witted behemoths of old have morphed into the swift, intelligent Raptors of "Jurassic Park." The facts, not the science, have enlightened our viewpoint.

A Machine Wears Out Faster With Disuse
Keep working. Keep thinking. Never say die. "Carpe Diem." Always.

Lenny Palmer 7/5/2011

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