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Monday, July 21, 2014

IN MY OPINION, BUT GRACIOUSLY

alexander calder
 
It's early Monday morning, first light. An appointment to repair a brake line in the car that has a rusted hole in it. The fluid in the left front brake holds enough to operate brakes enough to stop when necessary. I carry a quart of brake fluid for this purpose. The line broke Thursday. No problem staying at home. The appointment is for ten o'clock. I have an affliction that makes me worry about getting up on time when I have a morning appointment. I can't get to sleep the night before. The alarm system on the clock radio is so complex I've never attempted to figure it out. Went to sleep early last night to insure I'd get up early. Often when I lie down too early, I'll be awake all night. I turn the radio on down low and let it play while sleeping. I hear BBC news that is mostly African in the night, Nigeria and Kenya, the British colonies. The volume is down to where I can only hear what they're saying by listening closely. Mostly, it's just white noise. I use it when mind is racing. The white noise acts as a scrambling device for mind's ongoing activity, thoughts quit attempting to compete with BBC, mind shuts down and here comes sleep. I'm reminded of a quotation I wrote down from a utube interview with artist, Agnes Martin. She said, I don't have any ideas of my own, and I don't believe anybody else's. That leaves me with clear mind. I say, thank you, BBC, for clear mind. I've come to get used to hearing news from Africa. Like news from everyplace else, it's about killing. This bunch killed that bunch. And that bunch killed this bunch. African killing is up close, in your face with machetes and machine guns mounted on the beds of Nissan pickups, operated by hyper-stoned pre-teen boys. It's a totally different attitude toward life and death from mine. American news comes from a different attitude toward life and death from mine, as well.
 
 
alexander calder
 
That's a presumptuous saying, implying I know what my attitude toward life and death is. I ask self what I mean and get no answer. Even implying I know what their attitude is toward life and death. It's just different. Maybe the difference can help me to define my own. Like it takes darkness to define light and the other way around. Duality. Warlord mentality is medieval. Kings and castles of old Europe were warlords. China before unification was six provinces ruled by warlords. It looks like Africa is attempting to bridge the gap between the medieval and the post-modern world in a few decades. It's six decades after the civil rights laws in USA, and American racism has not diminished the least little bit. It went underground. Nothing like a black president to surface the racist submarine. American racism is out in the open where it can be dealt with out in the open. The black people are hunkering down, keeping a low profile, flying below the radar, staying out of white man's cross-hairs the best they know how. Many are not successful. Here, concerning my attitude toward life, racism never made sense to me. I came up in a racist family in a racist white baptist culture where racism was a natural law, like gravity. I learned in the Navy and from then on that regarding black people with the same respect as white people makes me a nigger-lover. Oh well. I'd rather be a nigger-lover than have a white robe in my closet for special occasions. I can't help but think the shrinking globe of our time has something to do with the clash of cultures going on all over the globe. Also, the USA has its tentacles in every country on earth, and the world is turning against us for it. Even Germany is now insulted by American arrogance. My attitude toward life does not want to dominate any country. It doesn't want to dominate anybody. I asked my friend Pat, who goes to Costa Rica for a month every year, how Costa Rica can exist without a military to protect itself at least somewhat from USA. She said Costa Rica has nothing USA wants; no oil, no minerals, no gold. They have nothing to fear.
 
alexander calder
 
One bit of sound counsel came to me from daddy in childhood. Because he barely made it through school after the sixth grade, he told me, your education is one thing nobody can take away from you. Last week I was asked why a man would want to take philosophy courses in college, you can't do nothin with it. A volcano of wind exhaled from my lungs, "For your life!" It can be very important in your life. I know a guy majored in philosophy at Chapel Hill working as a welder. He also has a fairly even temperament because he's a thinker, even reads books. He's not jumping up and down inside, waiting for the chance to fight somebody that looked at him wrong. Nor does he carry a "nine" in the back of his pants in case somebody who wants to kill him turns up. I can't help but feel like one's attitude toward life is a basic driving force. I've used my adult life to improve my own. Early on I had a fairly sour attitude toward life. Therefore, what I gave out was sour and what I got in return was sour, reinforcing what I believed about the world around me, a projection of myself. As my attitude toward life changed, the world around me changed, the people around me changed. My attitude toward life includes compassion and kindness in these years; therefore, I have plenty to draw from when needed. I've honed it down to what I call the gospel in a fortune cookie: Love God and treat others right. My next art object will have these words on it. My personal interpretation of others includes non-human others; the four-legged, the winged, the six-legged, the no-leggeds. When I treat others right, including donkeys, others tend to treat me right. I've "trained" the donkeys not to kick me by their own will, not by fear. I treat them right; they treat me right.

alexander calder
 
In the column of quotations on the right is one I hold to myself by Meher Baba as a reminder: (I paraphrase) Opinions reside in a superficial layer of the mind, having no affect on the core of personality, wherein resides one's attitude toward life. I have opinions, though I do not regard them truth. The Worthington coat of arms motto: In my opinion, but graciously. It reads like something in my horoscope. This was back when the name was in northern England, before anybody crossed the Atlantic. John Worthington, the original one to cross the water in my line, lost eight kids and his wife during and soon after the crossing. He had an inn in Philadelphia and a cattle ranch outside the city, in the same time Ben Franklin was there. He was a Quaker exiled from England for his faith. He found a second wife and raised several more kids. I didn't know any Worthingtons of the past, not grandfather, greatgrandfather, not even cousins. Of the Worthington third and fourth cousins I've met, I can see "in my opinion, but graciously." I can see it in photographs of distant relatives. It's a firmness in the face like standing on both feet, yet not aggressive. About ten years ago I met a 4th cousin at Ninemile, Tennessee. On sight, he said, "I can see the Worthington in you." I believe it is that attitude he saw in the set of the face, the eyes. I saw it in him too. For my part, but graciously amending in my opinion says I do not take my opinions for natural law. They grow out of my limited experience. I don't have a problem talking with somebody whose opinions are different from mine, though find few able to do the same in turn. It's like the old country sayin, Opinions is like assholes; everbody's got one. An attitude toward life I'm glad I entertain is that everybody has their own way of seeing by way of individual experience. No two can be alike. It's how it's meant to be. It's in the very life force itself. I feel much better about self when I fall in line with understanding we all have our own experience, our own minds, our own selves. The beauty is, like shells on the beach, no two are alike.   
 
alexander calder himself
 
 
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2 comments:

  1. Love your philosophy TJ and that you share it with us through your writing and art! I love the one: Kindness is my religion and of course the golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. I can get behind: Love God and treat others right. I'm just now getting caught up on computer work now that I'm a little "settled." Looking forward to reading more of your blogs - I've missed them! -C

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    1. Thanks, Christine. I've missed you too. I'm guessing you're on the verge of moved in to the new location, making a house into a home. Glad you're back.

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