"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, December 06, 2003
un-like Function: adjective
Date: 13th century
1 : not like: as a : marked by lack of resemblance : DIFFERENT [the two books are quite unlike] b : marked by inequality : UNEQUAL [contributed unlike amounts]
2 : me, compared to those around me.
I've felt I was somehow different since the first time I compared myself to anyone else.
What I did not know until later was what for that difference would take. I think that we are all seeds that have to grow, presents that remain to be opened, cakes that have to finish cooking. Some of us turn into rose bushes, diamond rings, or birthday cakes. The rest can turn into weeds, costume jewelry, and twinkies.
There are a lot more weeds than rose bushes.
Fugu is the name of a pufferfish that lives off the coast of Japan. The fish may be the most ugly creature on earth. Its primary mode of defense is that it can inflate itself into an ugly bulbous mass of mottled skin and spines that looks about as appetizing as a sand burr. The secondary mode of defense for this creature is that some of its internal organs are highly poisonous.
Which is why it is remarkable that this fish is eaten raw in vast quantities each year, even though over 100 people die from the experience in Japan alone. One can only imagine what was in the mind of the first person to ever try this stunt. "Wow, this is REALLY ugly! Let's rip it open and try a bite!"
Fugu is definitive proof that God does not make the outsides match the insides in a lot of cases. Such as mine for example.
In my last post I was writing about the end of the 7th grade. Now, lets go to the 8th grade, which was a seminal year for me.
I'm still in the same run down filthy school, but this year there is a huge difference. Someone in the higher up areas decides that they need to have an "experimental" class of students who learn at a "self-paced" rate. I'm one of the ones that gets picked.
And I love it. My grades return to the level they were at in first and second grade. I'm zooming along. But there is a rock in the road.
Its a guy named Peter Testes. Yeah, what an unfortunate name. But he fit it perfectly. He was this little brat of a kid who lived to make other people's lives miserable. And he was one of the most insistent bullies in the school. Even though he was smaller than me, he did his level best to terrorize me all the way through the school year.
Except, this year was different.
This was the year I took Karate.
Karate was different from the other sports I had done as a child. It appealed to me from several angles. The whole philosophy of it, with its powerful pacifism, I really liked. And without really realizing it, with each lesson I was getting stronger and quicker. None of my classmates realized this, because none of them were in the classes.
Eventually, the two worlds collided. With a bang.
One day I was sitting at my desk minding my own business, I think I was doing a test or something. Peter kept getting up to sharpen his pencil, but the only reason he did it was so he could pop me on the head when he passed me on the way to and from the sharpener.
He'd get up, of course he sat behind me so I would not see it coming, and POW on the head when he walked by. Everyone behind me thought it was quite funny. And he did it over and over...
...until I finally, after all those years of being so pent up and frustrated, crossed the line. When he thumped me, I slammed him in the solar plexus with a backhanded swipe he never saw coming, tossing him into a table, knocking his breath out and sending him to the hall choking back tears.
He kept mouthing "I'm going to kill you for this." Everyone was laughing at him. I was cool with that.
I just kept looking at him with a determined stare. I'd had enough and both of us knew it. Bring it on and I'll eat you for lunch.
I never had a problem with him again.
That spring, I met a girl at Myrtle Beach named Marlene. I don't remember her last name, but I do remember that she was very, very pretty and extremely nice. And we wrote back and forth for a few months. How incredible, to have a girl actually interested in me!
I learned an important lesson. I believe the Bible says it as a prophet not being accepted in his own country. It seemed that in my case, I would be far better off living those parts of my life outside of the area I was raised in and the people I was raised around. No problem, I could do that.
That summer, my parents thought it would be a capital idea to send me to the summer camp at the Citadel. So I went. Of course, they roomed me with one of the worst bullies I ever knew, a guy named Drew.
Drew had the top bunk. At night he would spit all over the floor over and over so I would step in it. And he never kept his area clean, so we always flunked inspections every day and had to "sit in the quadrangle" in the noonday sun for 30 minutes. He would sit there and pretend to sunbathe, I would just stew with rage.
And they are teaching me stuff like how to shoot rifles. There was so much preteen testosterone floating around you could have ignited it with a match. Fortunately, we never got to bring any firearms home to practice with.
Finally one day, I crossed that line yet again.
We were going to our morning roll call, and I was heading down the stairs at the same time as Drew. We got to the tile area at the bottom and he made some filthy remark about my mother or something, and I just flipped. So I swung at him as hard as I could....
...and missed, the momentum of my swing carrying me into a sliding fall to the concrete. I looked up and Drew was pointing, laughing at me.
I now know what it is like to literally "see" red. Rage really is that color.
I reached out and grabbed the closest body part I could get my hands on, which was Drew's foot. I stood up holding it, Drew was still laughing. I began swinging him around until I was literally swinging him in an airborne circle by his foot. He was still laughing.
Then, I just let him go.
Zoom. Pow, he landed on the concrete. Now, Drew was crying. I guess broken ankles hurt.
No one felt sorry for him, no one at all.
Except for Drew, we all went to breakfast.
I never had any problem with him again. After that, he seemed quite scared of me. Every so often, I talk to people who know him in the town where he lives. Apparently, last I heard, he was no rose bush.
When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)