Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's that time of year again....

As has become my custom each year when another 
birthday rolls around, I take out the following  and read
it again. It's become a ritual. It's meaning remains intact.*

Fisherman's Wharf,  Monterey, acrylic on canvas

On my fiftieth birthday, I walked along a beach in Monterey,
unable to assimilate the impact of living a half century. It was a
lovely morning. The jagged coastline matched its white sand
and massive rocks against the reverential green of the pines
high on the hills behind me, and shifting breakers seemed able
to translate designs of the past into the present. Misery and
mistakes of the past were flushed by the foam into forgiving
visualizations-long, ironic progressions from the Depression
years of the 1930s through the forty years of economic recovery
that followed, almost a historic lottery of opportunity. Out of
all that had happened in the fifty years, war and technology
were the most memorable. In my life so much had come so
soon and often that I was never able to completely assess, only
adjust to change no one seemed fully to understand. I realized
how, decade after decade, in the wake of revolving prosperity
and cultural upheavals, I had come to resent Prophetic
pronouncements that I was entering a glorious Space Age. It
was a promise that permeated everyone's thinking, though few
knew what it meant. Too many forces were beyond public
control and there were too many paradoxes: industrial waste
seeped out of the ground, yet responsible officials often
disguised the cause. Futurists promised extraterrestrial
colonies, yet rail and bus transportation were deplorable.
Trillions of dollars were spent on militarism that afforded less
and less protection; murder rates doubled; school systems went
bankrupt; and farm yields exceeded historical record, while
millions suffered from a lack of wholesome food or any decent
food at all. I could never decide if this was the fallout of
progress or the sins of vested interest. Whatever the source, it
couldn't be ignored. That day in Monterey, I was not only a
disenchanted liberal but a fifty-year-old figure on a beach who
instinctively knew that in order to do more than just survive, I
would have to guard the hope of larger life and avoid the
invisible suppression that threatened to bury me in ambiguous
submission. There on one edge of the Pacific, I realized
ordinary journeys were over. The only new
frontier was within.

* With apologies to the author of the above whose identity 
I have failed to find. It's in a book somewhere in the house.
Should I locate it, I shall properly attribute this piece. ~Dada


Anonymous said...

Is it possible you've forgotten you were the original author? It sounds very much like something you would have said. And it says so much. This I will reread several times.

Dada said...

Thanks Anon: Ah, six hours searching for the author of that -- and it was ME! (Actually, it wasn't, wish it was, but TY!)

D.K. Raed said...

happy b-day month! to you and EK and most* other Julians, too!

(*not to include GWB - ugh, sorry)

ps, I think "the new frontiers" were always "within", but it's only after about age 50 that we have the patience to properly explore that inner space.