getting old

01/21/2016 — Leave a comment

The trouble with getting old, if you’re not careful, is coming to believe that you’ve got it all figured out. By the time you get old, the temptation to figure it out has been with you a long time. Once you start believing that you’ve got it all figured out, it feels like a relief…and a reward for all that trying to figure it out.

But you can’t ever figure it out, and you really don’t want to start thinking you can, much less should. Figuring it out takes the mystery and suspense out of living. And the adventure of trying to figure it out. It seems that suicides are people who come to believe they’ve got it all figured out.

A lot of my old friends act as though they’ve got it figured out — their kids, politics, business, the Cubs, relationships, faith, art, the Middle East, economics, the Internet. Sometimes I think I do, too.

But it’s so tempting. There are all these deep and puzzling conundrums that have kept you thinking and worrying for so many years, decades really. It surely must be possible in my “three score and ten” to get something figured out. Doesn’t that seem reasonable?

When I was an angst-ridden college student in the sixties, I thought, “What if I know everything? What if I get it all figured out and it’s all bad? Won’t life be unbearable? Won’t the only option at that point be to end it all? I’m thankful that from somewhere, I got the good sense to realize that there will always be something more to learn. And interesting stuff, too. As long as I could reasonably expect to live, nature and humanity would always be able to provide some new field of thought, area of study, and puzzle to ponder. Whew! I suppose this seems obvious, but you know it’s hard to  see new possibilities when you think you’ve got it all figured out.

 

The GuyCicero.com tagline is personal reflections on politics, society and culture…. What better time to get political in what is shaping up to be a presidential campaign year destined to be among the great ones? Ought to make some use of that poli sci degree.

My track record at predicting who will make a good president is not impressive. As a thirteen-year-old, I was distraught at JFK’s election in 1960. This was the end of life as we knew it, but in a good way, as it turned out, despite the ultimate tragedy of it.

In 1980, I thought, “The country has drunk too much of its own Kool-Aid and elected an actor as president. What can they be thinking?” This was the only year between 1968, when I voted for the wrong guy, and 2008 when I did not vote Republican. My man was John Anderson (This was Hollywood versus the Midwest, in my view.). Of course, as we know now, Reagan made the right economic moves for the times … and was awful good on TV.

This year the only thing for sure is that I won’t vote Republican for the third election in a row, unless someone with an emotional age above 21 is nominated. Then, I probably still wouldn’t vote for them because of my utter disappointment in what it seems to mean to be a Republican these days.

Now, I understand that it’s been a slow news day for the past couple of years. Not. But why is so much time being devoted to coverage of the gang of 17, or however many Republican contenders there are? Well (as the Great Communicator was wont to say), we know the answer to that. Ratings.

Sorry for digressing, but as you see, there is just so much to be put out about this year. The sorry state of American presidential politics. The news media. And so much more. Guy will be busy.

51V4VhwLlBL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_I saw The Monuments Men movie recently and thought it lived up to the promotional interviews on Letterman and elsewhere with its various stars.

Several years ago, a rich Texan named Robert Edsel got interested and then got really interested in the story of the actual “Monuments Men” from World War II. His research and persistent efforts and cash resulted in a book, a PBS documentary, and now the movie and all the attendant publicity for a story we’d never heard before about Americans at war.

If there ever was a great example of why individual freedom must be the ultimate political and social goal for civilization, this is it on a couple of levels. First is the story of the original monuments men, and second is the story of how one person brought their heroics back to life. We should all be inspired and moved to action to help preserve personal freedom wherever we find it under attack.

I’m a lifelong fan of free enterprise. People should have all the freedom they need to try, fail and succeed at their own businesses. If they break the laws of God or man in doing so, they ought be regulated, prosecuted, and otherwise called to account. But they ought to have the chance.

When people are extremely successful in business, they tend to accumulate lots of cash, especially when they sell off their companies. It’s what they do with all that cash that’s the important thing. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Larry Ellison…these are the well-known stories.

Robert Edsel sold his oil business and moved to Italy, where his passion for the Monuments Men story began. You can read about it at MonumentsMen.com. (This isn’t Sony’s site about the movie.) Good for him, and us.

The advent of joy.

The best of intentions.

The rush to get ready.

The brightness of light.

The satisfaction of knowing.

The quiet of night.

The celebration of family.

The silence of contentment.

The starkness of reality.

The triumph of peace.

October

10/01/2015 — Leave a comment

October.
So cool, so nostalgic.
Harvest and harvest moons,
Up in the sky.
The long decline begins with a spiritual ascendancy.
So much to do before the end,
But we may as well go out harvesting joy,
Wherever we find it.
And lift up ourselves up before
The re-birth and new beginnings.

Guy Cicero

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Having reached the age of 68, I seem more and more compelled to think on the past. Mostly, in my time, I have felt like Little Big Man (a book by Thomas Berger and movie with Dustin Hoffman)—a witness to great history, but a very minor player. In telling my stories now, and the stories of others related to my stories, there may be meaning for readers in casting new light on events and trends and people that they knew, too. I hope so, but in any case, I am needy of getting them out of my brain and heart, even if they go no farther. If you feel like this, too, please do the same, for self-therapy if for nothing else.

dylan_headline_65

Flash: Folk music star says, “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm…no more.” Some clapped; some boo’ed; Pete Seeger fumed, but got over it. The rest of us took notice and tried to understand.

It’s embarrassing now to admit that I didn’t really get it. I’d been hanging on every word, exquisite line, image and metaphor in Dylan’s evolving folk music song book since ’62. I’d been to one concert, in Chicago, that was all blue jeans and acoustic: Don’t Think Twice, Masters of War, Only a Pawn in Their Game. While all the other folksters, who I  loved, too, were singing about failed love stories that probably never even happened back in 18th century England, or mythologized criminals from another time and place, Dylan had re-written the American folk genre with his own personal stories and his own takes on current, actual events we’d seen on TV. Not that he was the only one, but only the most creative and prolific one, by many a mile.

Now, enough was enough, apparently. He wasn’t gonna work for Maggie, or her brother, or her pa, whoever they were. Jeez, now what?

Bob Dylan’s 1965 Newport Folk Set Proved He Was the ‘Greatest Poet’ of His Generation | Village Voice.

A must-add to my 2015 “reading” list….

The most popular talks of all time | Playlist | TED.com.

TEDTED is the Chautauqua circuit of today – the best, most intelligent speakers on important topics for today. Well worth your regular attention.

2014-06-03 19.58.31

It’s the wonder of holding your dad’s hand, walking through that dark tunnel, and seeing a huge open space where men play a little boy’s game.
Billy Crystal, in Ken Burn’s Baseball 

Wrigley Field

tea and sympathy

11/17/2014 — 1 Comment

Tea_and_SympathyThis year’s elections are taking shaping as a battle between Tea Party-ers and progressives. One can only hope this means the end of Republicans and Democrats. Probably not.

But I love the more starkly drawn line between this year’s combatants: Progressives vs. Tea Partyers. Continue Reading…