I have a painfully long drive to work.
On a good day – it is 50 minutes to an hour. On a bad one, an easy, day-light consuming 1 and 1/2 hours. Such lengthy meanderings along our local,traffic choked thoroughfares prompt all manner of entertainments to while away the minutes instead of throwing my sadly empty steel coffee cup through someone’s window or ramming the Lexus in front of me.
Being the sensitive to this, and my daily dalliance with madness, Tammy has been kind, giving, and resourceful, and fed to me a stream of books on CD as little unexpected surprises. Some have been outright awe inspiring (i.e anything from David Mccullough) – and some simple, and fun, like air-fresheners with words.
A week or so ago, she provided me with a copy of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – with a feeling that his positivity-in-the-face-of-daunting-odds would resonate within me – especially in light of the challenges we have all faced these last few years. Apparently, it is now a national best-seller, and as such, speaks volumes (no pun intended) about the state & standards of creative outputs and public consumption. OK – maybe the sheer use of those words in a sentence progression invokes a natural tension – but I do, with all sincerity, believe original works can be reconciled within the context of the mass market.
As a disclaimer, and as a proactive step to ensure people dont think I am so mean as to run a stick through some’s wheel chair spokes while laughing maniaclly….I feel for his family, understand the tragic lottery of terminal illness, and respect the sheer fact that he had a power of will sufficient to even take on such an endeavor so close to death. Personally, I would have gone to Tahiti with my loved ones and soaked my sorrows in 60 gallons of tequila, debauchery, stare at the sunsets and take as many photographs as my waning days would permit – but we are, blessedly, different.
While I was cognizant that I should regale in Mr. Pausch’s wisdom of flexibility and gratitude for each experience and each day – I could not purge, with each of his sing-song pronuncement, the sacchrine tenor of neatly folded & packaged, emotional meticulousness. At its foundation, I wondered, as I do now- whether the readers and listeners would have even given this an ounce of serious consideration in *any* field ~ whether it be literature, philosphy, or self-help – had it not been for the condition by which it was framed. It reeked (as it still does) of commerical manuafacture – not the heartfelt and sincere dispensations of a man soon not to be of this Earth. He presented his “teachings” as distilled via the crystal idyll of suburban perfection lest a few harmless and humorous idyiosycracies.
He was a man of fortunate privelage, in intellect, schooling, opportunity, love, support and seemless transitions from each awkard, evolving age to the next. In fact, as I rambled on to Tammy as she lovingly listened, he was a man of consistent and almost predicatbale trajectory. Randy’s path was defined and documented with thick pencils and construction paper- an uninterupted momentum from point A to point B, C, and D, since childhood. There was no imperfection of change or focus. He did as he wished – wholly aware of his superiour Ozzie & Harriet birthright. Never once did I hear a conviction to help others – known or otherwise. It was the unrelenting torrent of self fulfillment, cleaverely & neatly wrapped as parties gifts at a neighborhood BBQ – to me, an unusual dogma to preach with such success. His growth was defined by an ever expanded reach and girth generating the same tested form~ not the evolutionary wonders bred from those *without* the tools to achieve their aims and dreams – or those that must regrow in light of adversity towards new paths.
Quite frankly, it was all just a little too pristine, comfortable and non-threatening, and as such, just too uncomfortable to try on for size – let alone to wear with any comfort! He is the proverbial man in golf shirts and khakis – and clealy the American public is desperate to cling to sermons from those that have laid each block upon block with such unhurried and unchallenged symmetry. It is the Homogenizition of philiosophy – all so easy to consume (as we do so well)- no problematic words to understand, no ethical dilemmas, no social heartburn of any kind, no thought required in fact! – topped with the thin, enticing charms of talk-show scripting.
Tammy urged me to be patient as she heard my rumblings by the end of disc 1-and I let the polite rains continue through the end of disc 2….But upon the conveyed notion of surmountable crisis in the wake of a failed wedding day balloon ride – it was time to be on my way.
I remain happily unconvinced of the merits of this work – but thoroughly convinced of our in-exhaustive lack of inoculation against the factories of heart string fabrics.