Clanging              March 2017


Twinkling lights and peppermint candy stripes,

musical sounds with things twisting and spinning round,

a fragrance wafting in the air for the moment,

and suddenly the time for the great event has arrived.

Did I just describe Christmas morning? Did I instead depict something else? What I just portrayed was a train crossing a city street. Isn’t it easy in life to see or hear a dire warning that sometimes seems exciting. It might be that gambling opportunity that will make us rich or that person at work who flirts. Could it be that desire to buy something, which we don’t need? All of these and more should have train warning signs. There ought to be bars that drop into place, flashing lights, a rumble in the ground, whistles, bells, and each inspire a sense of caution.

When the adrenalin is up, or the testosterone, or we salivate, there should be something that overrides the chemical/muscular part of us and says “whoa – let’s take a moment to think about this.”   We need to think before we act at least 99% of the time.

Here is an odd example.   When toothpaste companies were first advertising on television they felt they needed to show an example of how to put the goop onto the toothbrush. The output backlooped onto itself and went from one end of the brush to the other and then looped back again. This was approximately ten times as much as you actually needed. Today my dental floss has a colored marker every sixteen inches to let me know how much they want me to use each time. I get envelopes in the mail that are marked “Personal” and “Important.” They may be personal and important to the company that sent them but they rarely are to me. We are surrounded by entities which want us to consume, consume, consume and they do not care a whit about what that consumption will do to us. We need to think.

They are no different than the workplace flirt, the casino ad that shows happy laughing losers, or the Double Super Lotto change-your-life lottery ticket. High up in the Clubhouse at the Del Mar Fair one year there were displays of people’s collections. One of the glass cases held beautiful fans of stapled-together lottery tickets. MANY lottery tickets. In the middle was an engraved brass plaque and this is what was inscribed upon it.   “Total tickets – $34,862.   Total winnings $3,115. STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID.”   It won a blue ribbon. We need to think about that.

Somewhere between the beauty of the advertisements and the blaring of the warning signs, we must find a safe ground. We need very little, especially in the modern Western world, and being satisfied with what has been given to us should be the foundation of our thinking.   A perpetual desire for more, for better, and for faster will put us in a constant state of impatience and longing.

As Louis trekked the two miles in the Chicago heat from work to home, he wished he had a bicycle.   Sandra rode by on her’s, and she was thinking things would be better if she had a car. Pete passed her and he was considering upgrading to a Lexus from his GMC. Then Carl and Natalie drove by in their Bentley and continued the conversation about their son who was in rehab for the fourth time. Each of them passed Timothy where he sat in his wheel chair, wearing his Gulf War Veteran hat and he prayed that each of them would just realize how fortunate they were. He had had no warning lights, no bars dropping into place, no sounds of the rocket propelled grenade before it hit. There were a few buses he could ride and he was grateful when the bus took the time to stop at railroad crossings. The driver looked both ways, even when no signal was showing, just to be sure there was no danger.


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