Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be

If a good AC/DC song doesn't rock you, well...pretty much nothing does.  And if you ever get a chance to see a 'Rockumentary' type salute to the band, check it out. A story of a hard life, near immolation and resurrection.

The band took off in 1974 with Bon Scott as the front man, but it was the brothers Angus and Malcolm Young that were the real engine. When Bon Scott died at the age of 33, his official cause of death was listed as "acute alcohol poisoning" and "death by misadventure".

Angus and Malcolm had the wisdom to learn from the misadventures they had witnessed. They came Back In Black.

Today we travel to the far-off Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan to see the fiery Darvaza gas crater, also known as "The Door to Hell". Legend has it that Russian geologists tapped into the cavern in 1971 and watched their rig collapse into a 30m deep pit that was leaking methane. What to do? Set it on fire of course! 40 years later, you still can't get within 2m of the 100m wide crater. It emanates a steady hum as the flames burn.

If it is indeed the door to hell, it's Hades house. Here's a guy who generally got the shaft in the image department. But he was actually pretty cool and doesn't deserve to be considered a villian. Sure he's got issues, but don't we all? Was it his fault he drew the short straw when Zeus and Poseidon drew lots? He's actually known for a lot of positive qualities and does his job well. AND he's got the cool Helmet of Invisibility, one reason why he is known as the Unseen One.

But did you know he was also known as The Good Counselor? Hades was responsible for helping the dead make a successful transition into the afterlife, introducing them to the riches of a life lived subjectively and internally, away from the distractions of the external world. Almost like the monastery. Hades teaches us to be quiet at times, listening carefully to the inner voices that direct us to the hidden riches buried deeply within the soul.

Of course you can do that without his help, and without paying the ferryman. Live a full life and learn from the misadventures of others. Rock on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thank You Sir May I Have Another

A couple of years ago I got this most excellent birthday card from Cerrena. It had this old lady on the front, and when you open it up, you got the audio track from Animal House - Thwack! Thank you sir may I have another? Thwack! Thank you sir may I have another? Thwack! Thank you sir may I have another? Becoming more strained each time. I keep it in my office today and am surprised by how often I'm compelled to open it up.

And then it occured to me. We're brought into this world like that. Kicked out of a nice, comfortable, safe and warm place, only to get the bright lights, cold air, and Thwack! And so it starts.

Sometimes life can seem like an endless series of Thwacks. And for some strange reason, we keep coming back for more. We might endure the hardship for some ethical or altruistic reason, or for some bizarre reason we've convinced ourselves we deserve it. But typically, it's all for a reward of some kind at the end. And it's true, the rewards that come after expense of effort are usually the only ones that feel earned.

Sometimes we do it for acceptance. Like the hazing in Animal House, we truckle to the will of others for some twisted reward. We trust them. We stand at the edge of the roof, cinder block in hand. One end of the rope tied to the block, the other to our testacles. We trust the rope is long enough to reach the ground as we toss the block over the edge. And you REALLY hope you miss the open manhole on the ground.

I take comfort knowing the birthday card delivers only three Thwacks, and all thwacking comes to an end sooner or later. Occasionally though, it's good to step back and ask if you really want another.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Riding the Big Wheel

I noticed recently a dearth of posting material occurring in the daily activities of Your Humble Narrator. Nothing could be done about it. It just was. That usually means nothing out of the ordinary was presenting itself (although it most certainly was occurring). But this is not to say the wheel has not been turning, nor the hamster dead.

I have been cultivating. My son revealed to me The Modern Library, where one can find the list of the 100 Best Novels - as judged by The Panel, and a second list prepared by The Readers.

I decided my lack of literary exposure was yet another "symbol of a misspent youth" (a favorite phrase of my father's) and it was time to rectify the situation. I have embarked on a quest to read them all. Recent conquests include Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, The Sound and the Fury, Slaughterhouse Five, As I Lay Dying and Brave New World. Next up: The Great Gatsby.  So I'm making headway...on the list at least.

I've also been spending a little more time at work the last couple of weeks following a promotion. Just an hour here and there, but I have come to value those hours above all the others. I'm past the point where I feel the need to continue seeking 'higher employment' but I recognize that with complacency comes stagnation, so I stepped on the wheel yet again, but this time committed to do so on my terms.

So the antennae are extended against the resurfacing of some of my basic character defects: Obsession. Isolation. Detachment. Preoccupation. Aha! Probably the very reason I haven't noticed anything worth writing about.