The most popular greeting is “hi”.
The most popular farewell is “bye”.
The most popular pronoun is “my”
The most popular question is “why”.
And there you have it, don’t cry.
Hold your head up high
And, look to the sky
THE XEROIC RESPONSE TO FEAR
(A conversation between Xero Aticus
and the Psychedelic Toad.)
PSYCHO: So tell me XERO, what is it that you fear the most?
XERO: Nada, zilch, double zilch.
PSYCHO: What rhymes with zilch?
XERO: You’re changing the subject.
PSYCHO: It’s my subject. It was I who asked you what you fear; it was I who asked you what rhymes with zilch. The answer is filch, which I believe is a word for theft, which is what you are doing when you beat around the bush.; you’re stealing your own identity…
So tell me; what are the four things you fear the most?
XERO: Why four?
XERO: Okay, okay.
XERO: Four things?
XERO: Okay I’ve got it.
XERO: Toads don’t say “ribbet”; that’s the language of frogs.
XERO: The four things are…
XERO: Baptists, Muslims, Republicans and Democrats.
XERO: Them too.
XERO: Not afraid of Librarians.
PSYCHO: Why is that, XERO?
XERO: It’s okay with them if I think.
PSYCHO: Aren’t you a Lutheran?
XERO: I am.
PSYCHO: Why’s that?
XERO: Martin Luther was a Librarian in his spare time.
Happy Birthday to My Son. His name is Bill.
When my son was a child (he’s a grandfather now), he and I enjoyed taking long, evening walks together during the summer months. When we began this tradition we found we had little to say to each other. Remarkably, we stuck it out, eventually discovering some very creative ways of entertaining ourselves and each other. One evening as we walked, Bill picked up a stick along the way. The discarded piece of lumber was as long as he was tall, (smaller than a one by four and larger than a one by two); I don’t remember how tall he was but he was six or seven years old. We had just arrived in Phoenix from Oklahoma City and everything we did, Bill and I and his sisters Mary and Dixie and his mother, was an adventure of the best kind.
As we approached a metal light pole, Bill raised his stick like a bat and creeping up as if to attack an unsuspecting animal standing there waiting to become dinner, Bill swung the stick and with a resounding ring, the vibration of which traveled back up the stick and through the bones in his small body, landed him squarely on the sidewalk. The greatest stress to my boy was the surprise of an inanimate object fighting back. The second was to the ulna of his right arm with considerable pain centering in the wrist. I removed my shirt and then my tee-shirt, put the outer layer back on, cut and tore the tee into three-inch wide strips using a 200-year old knife that had lived in the pockets of several generations of Broom men, wrapping the resulting field bandage around his wrist. When I picked up the stick, Bill told me in a very firm tone that I should give it to him and I obeyed.
We walked on. He hit the next pole more gently; we listened to the musical tone that resulted from the blow and I reproduce the musical note with my vocal chords. By the time we returned home Bill’s wrist was swollen and we had arrived singing a melody made of the notes that had erupted from the vibrating light poles that my pole playing son had produced with his pole bat.
On the next walk we sang that melody until memorized and eventually created a silly set of lyrics; no need for ASCAP membership yet but it was a lot of fun.
VOICES IN THE CROWD
A crowd gathers ’round the front door of the condominium unit; the trauma team emerges with a zippered body bag; the stink from the apartment quickly drives the curious back again.
As the path widens, the conversations start up, fueled by questions from one who apparently is experienced at gathering information.
“Hello ma’am, do you live next door?”
“Well yes, but he kept to himself; He’s a writer and rarely leaves his unit except to get mail. I work long hours. My cat would have nice things to say about him if he could talk; they are very good friends.”
Turning to the crowd, “How many of you live here at Villa Saguaro?”
Hands raise; voices ring out as one, “I do.”
“You there; any idea when he died?”
“His lady friend is right there beside you.”
“Oh, Hi, I don’t want to seem rude Ma’am, but were the two of you very close?
“Off and on.”
“Are you aware that he had two strokes last year?”
Eye brows raise. A gasp. Hand comes up to mouth. “No I didn’t know; he always seems okay except for the medicine he takes, which appears to slow him down.”
A DOCTOR IN THE CROWD: “Not all strokes have obvious signals but a disabling stroke for one who lives alone could cause the victim to die a gruesome death with no way to eat or drink or go to the bathroom.
Part of the stink you detected was from urine and feces. Does anyone ever call and check on him?”
‘Who found him?”
“He was offered $200 a month rent for his unused parking space and he turned it down so his family would have a place to park if they came by.
“His landlord came by to collect the rent. The rent is usually in the door; it wasn’t there so he came in. The door wasn’t locked. The deceased always left the front door unlocked when he went to bed. That way if he had to call 911 in the middle of the night the door wouldn’t have to be knocked down.”
Another very audible gasp.
QUESTIONER: “If you checked on your friend now and then you might have saved him from all this.”
“Well, it doesn’t really matter.”
“Why’s that Ma’am.”
“Well he brought it on himself; ya know what I mean?”
“No ma’am I don’t know what you mean; what do you mean?
“He was an agnostic.”
“I beg your pardon?”
(A Frown darkens the face of the questioner.)
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“He wasn’t a believer.”
“At the turn of the twentieth century, Srinivasa Ramanujan is a struggling and indigent citizen in the city of Madras in India working at menial jobs at the edge of poverty. While performing his menial labor, his employers notice that he seems to have exceptional skills at mathematics and they begin to make use of him for rudimentary accounting tasks. It becomes equally clear to his employers, who are college educated, that Ramanujan’s mathematical insights exceed the simple accounting tasks they are assigning to him and soon they encourage him to make his personal writings in mathematics available to the general public and to start to contact professors of mathematics at universities by writing to them. One such letter is sent to G.H. Hardy, a famous mathematician at Cambridge University, who begins to take a special interest in Ramanujan.” WIKIPEDIA.
I have watched this DVD film twice now, not because I am a mathematician but because of the way this character apparently received his information throughout his lifetime. Though his mathematical insights eventually proved to be correct they did not arrive in his mind as problems to be solved; they were received in their completed form as inspirations, in much the same manner as artists and scientists throughout history have done.
As Srinivasa pleaded for understanding by trying to explain that these inspirations were gifts from God, I shivered as I remembered using similar words to explain my own mystical adventures.
(I am an agnostic and I say essentially the same thing.)
When my own inspirations begIn, I feel as though there is a circular opening above my head through which flow these ideas – a shower of information from another world.
Sometimes these unnatural experiences last for only a minute or so and l start writing them down in a pocket-sized spiral notebook or by typing in OFFICE WORD, perhaps spending an hour or even a day or more editing the results.