Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It's a cloudy, chilly, gray day today. Yesterday was colder, but the air was crisp and invigorating, the sky was bright blue with white, puffy clouds. The day before as well. Only the day before my oldest son and his wife and my grandson were all here, with their terrier (my daughter and her family still up in the Berkshires), filling my apartment with the kind of life force I grew up around and my youngest son, here too, hasn't. At least not on a daily basis.

But on all three of those days the economy was pretty much the same, as were the wars going on around the world, not just the ones our troops are fighting in. Whatever basic problems exist in our lives, the daily ongoing kind, didn't change or change much in those three days. Just the weather did, and the configuration of me and some of my progeny's whereabouts.

The better weather brought me pleasure, as did the presence of my older son and his family. The absence of others generated a feeling of nostalgia or even sadness, but that in turn left me feeling good, because to feel is to be alive and I am very very grateful to be alive, especially in order to be there for my little guy and my other children and grandchildren, and friends still around and other family...

My old friend Hubert Selby Jr. used to always say to me when I was going through my usual drama over my love life and finances, "Michael, you can't have up without down, you can't have left without right, so if you're looking for pleasure, you better be prepared for some pain, and if you want success, you have to accept the failure that comes along with it..."

He probably said it better, but you get the idea. Or more importantly, I do.

The idea here being, every day, every event, every person, every every contains the opposites that make up reality. To accept that reality is to know peace, in my experience. To embrace it and be grateful for it, no matter what, is to know happiness. (Woops, I just gave away the secret I meant to put in a book someday!).

Listening and watching the many tributes to Leslie Nielson yesterday had me cracking up in my car or in front of my TV set. As I did from the first moment he appeared in AIRPLANE! and in everything he did thereafter. What a story heh? A guy from a horrendous background, who I had grown up watching and never remembering his name but always thinking him very unappealing in the serious roles he played until AIRPLANE!

And then, by not taking himself seriously and doing it with a straight face, he became one of the funniest movie stars we've had in the sound era. Every line that he said that makes us laugh, or at least smile, to hear ("And don't call me Shirley") is because it was him saying it. What a gift! He'll be sorely missed, but then again not so much, because we can watch his funniest stuff pretty much anytime we want nowadays.

And I can relive moments with people long gone on the physical plane, reread favorite authors and poets many of whom were friends, etc. And I can see the forest despite the trees, as in: the economy fell off a cliff thanks to eight years of Bush/Cheney (with a modicum of responsibility going back to previous administrations, especially Reagan's) BUT it ain't The Great Depression.

And the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even the Congo and Somalia et. al., are destructive and terrible but they don't even compare to the death and destruction of WWII. The Great Depression was started over eighty years ago, WWII over sixty. Things could always be worse and usually have been.

It's a gray day today, compared to yesterday's golden beauty, but I bet as I go out into it, I'll find a lot to be grateful for and even to give me great joy. Like just being alive in it.


Jamie Rose said...


richard lopez said...

thanks for this post, michael. it hits all the right notes. and puts things in perspective. nothing shall get better if there is no joy in being and no love to share.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

I agree with Richard. I don't know economic theory and such, but I know with certainty that the state of our economy is tied to hope, fear and human character (or lack thereof). When there is hope, mindfulness and care, the economy and world situation will improve.