Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All the time in the world

It is the thought that counts, right? Especially with photographs. I always feel compelled to say that my photos are generally not meant to be a demonstration of skill and ability, but simply an illustration to accompany what I am writing about in a post. I assume the photo here is recognizable enough for most viewers to identify the object and its location. Difficult as it is for me to believe so much time has passed, it will have been nine years in June since my eyes saw this sight from the Seine and my camera captured it. Now that the time for winter hibernation is approaching its end, my thoughts have been focusing on living and traveling and experiencing places alone vs. living and traveling and experiencing places with a companion.

Care to discuss it?

Here we are ....

With all the time in the world ....

I have mentioned these things before, but they are on my mind again.

Until the past few years, I never have lived by myself.

In college, I had roommates. In the Marine Corps, I had fellow-Marines next to me in the barracks and in the field. I have been married twice and have three children. Even when not married, through the years I never have lived by myself for more than a few months until recent times.

In many respects, I like living by myself. When you live alone, no one is there to complain, to argue, to tell you what is wrong with you or to complicate your life in innumerable ways.

Conversely, the primary problems about being alone, I think, are two: One is the lack of opportunity for discussions with another close to you who you (sort of) trust. The second is the obvious fact that for most of us, I believe, it is more enjoyable to go to a film, to a concert, to an antique shop, to a restaurant, to a beach, to a (well, you get my drift) .... with another, with a companion, with someone you like and enjoy and feel happy to be with and simply want to be with .... than it is to go alone.

The discussion part usually is the difficult part. Discussions often turn to arguments and arguments sometimes turn to fights. But, neither do you wish to have a discussion with someone who thinks exactly the same as you do .... so, how do you find a intellectual wanderer to share a bed with who is capable of discussing without arguing? Hmmmm .... tell me?

I do know a few couples who maintain separate residences, but otherwise are companions for films, concerts, shopping, restaurants and vacations. That is one way to get along, I suppose. But, in my mind, these relationships are based on convenience and affection -- not on love. Which renews a question which drifts by in the ethereal world now and then: Is love real? Or, is it an ideal -- the summit of a mountain which men and women dare to climb, but, somehow, never truly reach?

I suppose the last line of this, for me, goes something like this: The discussion is the important element. The film, the antique shop, the view during the trip to the Grand Canyon or to the Eiffel Tower are the more trivial elements of life and are less relevant -- maybe, even without real purpose -- unless they can be shared emotionally and through conversation with a companion.

Care to discuss it .... while we still have all the time in the world?

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.

Something special ....