Some believe and some say, and some even teach, that each of us is the captain of our ship, steering it and our lives through the gentle swells of calm seas and crashing waves of gale-lashed waters across oceans, some dotted with tropical islands and others filled with icebergs. The analogy of our journey through life as the master and captain of our ship is exemplified by this poem: Invictus Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from … Read More
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This posting was originally made in January of this year. I am reblogging it for five reasons—it’s timely, it’s well written, Word Press makes its reposting possible, reposting makes it more readily available to newcomers and finally—I like it!
Some believe and some say, and some even teach, that each of us is the captain of our ship, steering it and our lives through the gentle swells of calm seas and crashing waves of gale-lashed waters across oceans, some dotted with tropical islands and others filled with icebergs. The analogy of our journey through life as the master and captain of our ship is exemplified by this poem:
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley, 1849–1903
Rather than the captain of a ship, I consider myself to be the engineer of my train. I have no helpers—no switchman, brakeman, signalman, fireman, conductor, oilman and no mechanic. I am the sole occupant on the train, controlling its freight and its movements through life with the various switches and gauges and handles available to me—and trust me, they are many and varied.
My travel through life is not limited to any existing railroad lines or tracks. My train is capable of laying its own roadbed. No matter where I choose to go, the track will always be there and I travel on it at my own speed, without regard to other traffic or intersections or crossroads.
Rumbling and swaying behind me on the track is a string of railroad cars, a string that lengthens as life goes on. In that line are railroad cars of every description and function—coal tenders, box cars, flat cars, hopper cars, passenger cars, cars of every description and every color, cars capable of holding and hauling anything and everything ever owned, including businesses and cars and houses and pets and airplanes and even islands.
Those railroad cars hold everything ever taught, everything ever learned, every job, every action ever taken, every thought and every deed done, whether good or evil. They carry every love ever found and every love ever lost, whether love for a person or a place, or for an animal or an idea, and they carry every friend ever made and lost, every enemy ever made and every antagonist ever faced.
I’m reasonably sure that you, dear reader, have already deduced that my train is my brain. The cars that I haul are the compartments of my brain, and in those compartments repose every thought I have ever had—memories of everything that I have learned and done are being hauled by the railroad cars. They are always there, although sometimes some of them are not always available to me—that seems to be a condition that increases in direct proportion to age.
The poem that follows pertains to those that do not understand or are unwilling to accept the responsibilities of an engineer, believing that their own train is run—engineered, so to speak—by someone other than themselves. Since all life ultimately ends, those folks may possibly—with emphasis on possibly—be in for a surprise! The poem’s origin is unknown, at least to me, but it could well be titled:
Plaint of a Non-engineer
I’m not allowed to run the train,
The whistle I can’t blow . . .
I’m not allowed to say how far
The railroad cars may go.
I’m not allowed to let off steam,
Nor even clang the bell . . .
But let the damn thing jump the track
And see who catches hell!
After awhile—eventually, ultimately, inevitably, inexorably and conclusively, we will hand over the controls of our train and its cars, loaded with the thoughts and deeds of our lives, to the Central Dispatcher and we will arrive at our final destination—no, make that our penultimate stop, the one next to the last.
Our freight—our baggage, so to speak—accumulated over a lifetime will be off-loaded, weighed, categorized, tabulated and compared to established factors in order to determine our ultimate destination. Some of us may protest the final decision, but bear in mind that the deciding factors will have been available for consideration, beginning with our first breath and continuing to our last.
A brief postscript:
I have been criticized, constructively of course, for the length of my postings. Evidently some viewers are so busy loading their train and maneuvering it around various obstacles, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, that they have little time for reading. This posting is relatively short, so I’ll close it with a metaphor, an apology for the length of my stories.
In my writings I am somewhat similar to the drunk—similar to, mind you, but not the drunk—that made a bet with another drunk in the bar, with the loser agreeing to take a drink from one of the bar’s cuspidors, commonly called a spittoon.. The loser raised the spittoon to his lips and emptied it, and the shocked winner told him he didn’t have to do that. The loser replied that he had no choice because it was all in one piece—as are my postings.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
A few minutes before I started this posting I suffered, and on a certain level enjoyed, my first exposure to a Hooter’s television commercial touting its More than a mouthful Monday offering. The commercial showed a closeup of a tray loaded with a prodigious amount of food laughingly termed a hamburger and served to Hooters’ customers on demand every Monday. This image does not show the Monday special—this appears to be chicken wings—but the shirts worn by the waitpersons reflect and effectively showcase the name of the restaurant chain—Hooters.
The More than a mouthful Monday slogan is a not-very-subtle reference to a sexual adage, one born in the mists of antiquity and one that exists in our lexicon to this day. Some women—those probably not eligible to be Hooter’s serving persons—maintain that in the matter of breast size, more than a mouthful is wasted, and some men support that adage—not many, perhaps, but some.
And here I must digress to report that there are some men that apply the same adage to themselves, namely that more than a mouthful is wasted, and some women support them in that belief—not many, perhaps, but some.
Picture this: A Hooter’s girl, one that has appeared in various commercials for the company, walks toward the camera with a heaping platter of food—the More than a mouthful Monday special. She holds the platter with one hand, on a level with her breasts, while in the background a beautiful buxom blond belle bellies up to the bar in a blouse that bares both breasts (how’s that for alliteration!). Her breasts are not completely bared, of course, but enough flesh shows to prompt a viewer to formulate an image of the entire area, a rather substantial plot whether defined in square inches, weight or lingerie size.
Projection: That which lies ahead of us is not just a matter of speculation. Soft-core pornography exists now, both on regular and cable television (cable pushes the envelope farther than does regular network television, but the gap is closing rapidly). I believe that hard-core porno, now available only on cable channels on a pay-per-view basis, will in the no-so-distant future be routinely aired, available to anyone of any age or gender. That availability will be limited only by their access to the television and their ability to select channels, either by pushing buttons on the television or by using the remote control.
Ultimately we will ascend to a society that protects free speech to its utmost limits, or we will descend into a cauldron of filth. We will ascend or descend depending on our individual preferences, but regardless of how we view the movement, it will be permitted and sanctioned by the First Amendment to our constitution. That amendment prohibits Congress from making laws infringing on certain rights, including a prohibition against infringing on our freedom of speech.
Hey, porn producers, directors, camera men, writers and perhaps most important, actors, cannot indefinitely be denied freedom of speech by being limited to pay-per-view cable channels. They view their products as art, and constantly seek to upgrade and improve their pubic—oops, I meant public, image. Such people and their products are protected by the First Amendment and its guarantee of free speech—they have a constitutional right to practice and purvey their specialties in all venues.
It will happen—it’s in our constitution, and it’s only a matter of time. I probably won’t be around to see it (bummer!), but most of our current population will be subjected to such television fare, whether willingly or unwillingly. And on further thought, perhaps I may be able to see it, either looking down on it or up to it—as the Spanish-speaking folks say:
“Quien sabe?” (who knows?)
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.