Saturday, September 08, 2007

Numbering The Days

There are 114 days left in this year. The day after that 114th day, I become eligible for some enhanced benefits. Things come due. I will have served the state for long enough. That day will be 1 January 2008.

Many of those I have served have asked me this question (or variants thereof): "So, will you stay on in harness after that?"

To the older ones who should know better, I have said the obvious things: there are few who can serve as I have, and fewer who will; I have a greater stake in the fortunes of the apparatus than some of the apparatchiks; I have enough to not care how little I am paid (save that I have enough for giving); nobody is indispensable, but some are pensionable; and I really have no interest in playing silly games like 'treat me better or I will quit'. I live for the challenge of my gifts, and that is really it.

To the younger ones who cannot know better, because of the accident of their youth, because they have no access to relevant knowledge, I will say the less obvious things: simplicity is not a gift, but a cultivated state of mind; service is the natural state of the gifted – and all have some gift(s); senility is not a necessary consequence of time; intelligence is merely the ability to pay attention and craft understanding; spoonfeeding is for babies. I love my students; they are the future and I am not.

I am going for a long journey someday. This I know to be true. But before I go, I must do a few more things. Here is a link to a poem that might help. It is one of the greatest human works of all the years. To save time, I will quote part of it that I seldom quote:

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

My ancestors never really retired; God took them in their elder prime and I trust that I will follow too that way. I was brought up in the spirit of the last few lines of this poem (you might see them scrolling by below, if your browser works that way). Go and read, if you will.

Who am I? Is that a valid question for a time like this? I am fortunate; I am blessed at least that I can answer the question, "Who am I not?" The answer is here, in yet another great poem of the age:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

At the end of the play, when the great are ended too, what is left but to applaud the playwright? And perhaps, give thanks that you had a part at all.

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4 Comments:

Blogger JeNn said...

If life is a play then we're all acting blind.

Sunday, September 09, 2007 7:50:00 pm  
Anonymous ~autolycus said...

No. There are two possibilities.

Either

1) it is a tale told by an idiot, in which we strut and fret our hours upon the stage and then are heard no more (see Macbeth, V, v); or

2) it is an interactive play and the guidelines for participation are so simple that we keep botching it by over-complexifying it (see Ecclesiastes 7).

Sunday, September 09, 2007 10:17:00 pm  
Blogger JeNn said...

I think Shakespeare echoed that concept in Merchant of Venice, somewhere.

Anyway, I'd rather it not be a play. I won't like to think that I'm here to entertain some higher entity.

Monday, September 10, 2007 3:31:00 am  
Blogger Albrecht Morningblade said...

To JeNn - I believe you have it wrong. Tis not the Powers that we strive to entertain but far lower senses. The higher entities would weep an ocean of tears at our self-destructive antics.

So should we all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 1:15:00 am  

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