Saturday, March 16, 2013

Confessions of a hero worshipper

It seems a logical question to ask what a Civil War general, one of the legendary "bad men" of American Western history and folklore, and a fictional Jewish charioteer who went from wealth to slavery to wealth again and finally became a standard bearer of the early Christian church have in common. Well, the man in uniform, Lewis Wallace, knew the outlaw Billy the Kid (inset left) and, as governor of New Mexico Territory, tried to secure a pardon for "The Kid" for his crimes. Wallace also created the fictional charioteer Judah Ben-Hur. While probably few people today have read Wallace's novel about the birth of Christianity, it seems a certainty most would recognize the character from the motion picture which appears on television every year around Easter. Ramon Novarro (inset right) played Ben-Hur in the 1925 version of the film, which was remade in 1959 with Charlton Heston in the lead role. Among the other books written by Wallace is a novel entitled, "The Fair God," which is among my all-time favorite stories.

Lady, when you're with me

A young lady once told me I was a hero worshipper. I have to admit that I am -- in a sense. But, my heroes are not rock stars or film actors or professional athletes. For the most part, they have been men who moved from one place to another, from one type of work or career to another -- or, applying the word I frequently use in terms of myself, from one incarnation to another.

One of these heroes whom I discovered while I was going through a rather difficult time in my life is Lewis "Lew" Wallace. Most people today probably have no idea who he is, or, I should say, who he was. He has been dead more than one hundred years. I think of him mostly as a wonderful writer. Some people might think of him as a graduate of West Point, as a Union general during the Civil War, as the one-time ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey), as a lawyer, as a politician and territorial governor of New Mexico.

Still other people might think of him as a member of the military commission which tried the conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or as the governor who met and tried to arrange amnesty for the outlaw William Henry McCarty. While most people might not be familiar with the name McCarty, I think the majority would recognize the name most people knew him by during the Lincoln County War in 1879-1880 New Mexico: Billy the Kid.

And, while undoubtedly several million people have seen actors Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd in the magnificent chariot race highlighting the film "Ben-Hur," scare few would know that Wallace was the author of the novel upon which the motion picture was based: "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ," written in 1880.

My own favorite book among those composed by Wallace has a somewhat lengthy title: "The Fair God; or, The Last of the 'Tzins: A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico." This historical novel tells the story of the conquest of the Aztecs by Hernan Cortes and his army of Spanish conquistadores. It is the title, the words -- the fair god -- which, at times, are like a hammer striking an anvil in my mind.

Well, enough of that for now.

I am not planning on reviewing either novel here, or even discussing them any further today. I merely am mentioning them because the past few months have been another difficult period in my life and because I am becoming rather anxious to move along beyond them into another incarnation.

I have been melancholy and dwelling on the past much of the time in recent months. That is what one does when he is unhappy in the present, but confined there for reasons beyond his control and cannot move along into the future.

As for the young lady who once told me I was a hero worshiper yes, she was right, in a sense. I wonder where Claudette is today. She was not willing to leave the world she had grown up in to come with me when I left one incarnation and drifted away into another.

I suppose that is why I still think of her at melancholy moments during difficult times -- times when I am longing to slip away from one incarnation to another.

I suppose that is why I still see her as she looked walking along wave-swept, sandy beaches by Lake Superior -- and, why I remember the song that was her and evolved into her presence as it had been in my life once upon a time.

What is life other than memories of yesterday and visions of tomorrow? Today is a room with no windows, no doorways.


Wind said...

It is said that “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
Hmmm....maybe this Mr. Saunders is right.We can not see time passing and and we are not aware of what we are losing daily.
That's life !
I want to open your Today's windows and doors wishing you : Happy birthday , Fram! I wish you to accomplish your dreams, to have power and health! All of this, from my heart!

Fram Actual said...

I once thought it was a disadvantage to have been born on the day between Julius Caesar's death day and St. Patrick's death day. Now, I think it is like I was placed between two impenetrable barriers which protect me from blind ambition and blind religion. Does that make sense? Probably not. No matter, but it seems to me like I reside on sort of a cosmic island due to the day of my birth.

Thank you, Daliana. It is sweet of you to think of me and to send birthday wishes to me. It means a great deal to me.

Life is a mystery, a puzzle, a paradox which few, if any, of us solve before our time has run its course. Some say, follow your heart. Some say, follow your dream. Since your birthday wish includes windows and doorways opening for me on this day, all I must do now is to decide which passageway to follow as I leave today and enter tomorrow.

Something special ....