Not My Fault

“Men at some time are masters of their fates,” says Cassius.
“The fault, dear Brutus,” Cassius continues, “is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

sheep

Oz was out to dinner with two retail store owners.

A young African-American approaches, introduces himself as our waiter and says his name is Cassius. Only Oz finds this name unusual. The waiter politely takes our drink orders and leaves us to mend for ourselves.

The drinks come, a vodka tonic, a scotch, and beer for Oz.  A couple of swallows later the two retail owners commence bemoaning the economy. It is a fact, they say, that recently many more retail stores had opened. This, they said, cut their “piece of the pie” down to nothing.

Oz tried to explain that it is not about the competition, it is about oneself.

Hardly hearing Oz at all, they continued, “Times are tough,” they continued. “How do we compete against so many when we are one?”

Oz wanted to throw a little Nietzsche into the conversation, i.e. competition makes you stronger, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, etc…, but by this point the two were wringing their hands and casting their eyes to the sky in divine supplication.

Oz wanted to explain that the internet was a new tool that gave everyone the opportunity to reach new markets, to expand and grow, but his audience was commiserating in abject sorrow.

“Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” Oz muttered to himself.

evening-milky-way

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Not seen but felt

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII, William Shakespeare

Ba, ba, bah

“Ba, ba, bah, ba, ba, bah.” Oz can’t remember the words spoken, just the sting of the words meant to hurt, said by children too young to know of things not seen but felt.

Oz closes his eyes and remembers a school yard, a bully, and childhood taunts that stung like the bitter wind of winter. Then as now, young Oz dealt with it by chanting the mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Were that true… winter’s wind would never sting, and happily we would live in the forest of Arden where girls dress as boys, fools give wise advice, and royal courtiers behave like Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men, and nothing is as it seems.

ROSALIND: Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as
well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why…

snow-cabin

a man hears what he wants to hear

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. Paul Simon

sparrow

True then, true now – a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.

A sparrow lights on a branch outside my window, momentarily there, he looks up and down, in stoccatatic movements, he shakes his wings, he swings his gray-brown rump to and fro, like a man who is late to work and waiting for a bus, his head ever alert, wondering has he missed something; now thinking, where shall he go; the sky above is gray and white, a cold and bitter wind blows about him, about us all. See him and the image is stamped upon one’s mind. Now he is gone.

And yet, there he still is, forever on the branch, giving one pause to wonder endlessly where birds go in the rain and the snow.

Are You There?

newport-lighthouse-poster

The daily question the Wizard of Oz asks is, “Are you there?”

The question is directed at those who stumble across his blog and glance at a word or two before moving on. Where they are going and where they have been do not interest Oz because those places are unknowable. Oz is curious about the gentle reader who comes across his story and then moves on.

Are you there?

The search for intelligent life in the universe is an ongoing process that has yet to produce any results. Oz learned that SETI (the funded project) was suspended a few years back due to lack of funds, and, dare we say, interest?

All this reminds young Oz of the times when he traveled with dear old dad in the family car.

When he asked his father, “Are we there yet?” Dad would reply, “No, but we are here.” Dad could have replied, “Wherever you go, you are there.” No, he would leave that bit of nonsense to Buckaroo Banzai. For Dad lived in the moment. He was patient. He was kind and understanding. Now dad is gone and Oz is left with only the memory of an old man who liked to travel, who liked to walk here and there, who said many things a young Oz did not understand then, but does now.

And now Oz wants to know, “Dad, are you there?”

It is, at times like this, when Oz is melancholic that he pulls out an old and worn copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. On a dog eared page is the quote by the forever befuddled Arthur Dent:

You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”

“Why, what did she tell you?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

Oz returns to his thoughts of his father, to the walks along the Oregon coast and the conversation.

‘I am listening,’ he wants to say to his father, ‘it is just that I don’t understand.’

signs-oregon

5 Subtle Ways Political Parties Intimidate the Other Side

Blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah!

Oz is frustrated with the the state of politics today. Maybe that is why Oz is leaving. Just where Oz is going to, he is not sure.

sheep
Blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah!

Oz is not taking a political stance here. Not Republican, not Democrat, not Libertarian or Green, just American, if that is still a possibility.

Here is George Washington speaking of political parties. Oz will give the quote and leave it at that.

“[Political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Opinions or opinionated

We all have opinions.

Obviously, some are right and some are wrong. It is just that all opinions, with the exception of racist and sexist rants, need to be heard. Instead, it seems to Oz that a fence has been erected and both sides are yelling at each other.

We have become opinionated, which means, ‘firmly or unduly adhering to one’s own opinion or preconceived notions’.

Nobody is listening.

Which leads Oz to thinking about five ways both sides intimidate the other:

  1. Hear me roar. There is a sense of power and exhilaration in yelling. There is a simplicity in the fact that we can speak and not listen.
  2. We parse words. When we do listen the words we hear become weaponized. Words matter, for sure, but the thought and meaning behind them is obscured by the meaning that is attached to them. Potato, potatoe, let’s call the whole thing off.
  3. We dissect others with the cold sharp scalpel of our own raw intellect, feeling justified when we know ourselves to be in the right, and others to be in the wrong.
  4. We act and speak reflexively. Like cattle, or worse, like lemmings, we march on to the precipice where there is no return, no hope of understanding, no commonality.
  5. We have met the enemy and he is us. Walt Kelly’s observation in the comic strip Pogo is true today.
pogo-we-have-met-the-enemy
Walt Kelly, Pogo, comic strip, Earth Day 1970

That ‘s the way the year ends

sparkler

“I don’t think…” then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.” Just type and blog and pray it doesn’t matter.

Alice had a crazy thought. If she talks to herself, is that a conversation?

That’s the way the year ends, not with a bang but whisper. If thoughts turn into words then conversations never end. Hoping that it matters. Here’s to another 365 days of chatter!

Oz wishes you, my friend, a very happy new year.

evening-milky-way

From where I sit, it looks much the same. The world is a wild and wonderful place.

But I feel I am going round in a circle. Or, I wonder, is it circling me?

“That depends on where you sit, and what you see, and nothing else,” said Oz.

So, said the Mad Hatter: “In Wonderland, we only go around in circles, but we always end up where we started.”