Saturday, August 30, 2008

a nation on speed

okay, gas has dropped below four dollars a gallon (in britain it costs twenty-seven dollars a gallon) and we may feel relieved. not me. i know it will go back up. already, sixty dollars to fill the tank of my ranger xt.

this led to a lot of research on the internet. people have invented and marketed all kinds of gadgets supposed to save gas: voltage regulators, tornados in the air line, instruments that allow you to run on half gas, half water. what should i buy, i thought? maybe those platinum bosch sparkplugs. they sound pretty cool.

of course, all the evidence indicates most of these gas-savers bogus. if the object is to save money, sixty dollars for new sparkplugs doesn't sound so good.

then there are the advocates of driving habits. coast to stop signs, catch all the green lights, don't sit and idle, start slowly, let yourself slow down going up hill (it's natural). the advice i liked the most: "drive in your socks and be gentle." then i read, it takes 30% more gas to go seventy-five than it does fifty-five. this made all the gadgets in the world moot.

so around town and on the way back to the lookout it tried this out. and i must say i enjoy driving at fifty-five. even forty-five in the canyon seemed relaxing. somehow not pushing it brought a kind of sanity.

my mother told me when i was about three my new tricycle got stuck off the sidewalk. i wailed and gnashed my teeth cause it wouldn't come loose. that tends to be the story of my life. i've hurried through everything, afraid to miss anything. for example, installing more ram in my computer i couldn't get the stick to fit. i sweated. i cursed. i got more impatient. finally...

and speaking of the computer, i've always felt mine too slow. so i installed a 64 bit vista on a new drive, upped my ram to four gigs, and have begun using safari to browse. what a difference. it's a pleasure to play around with art again (i did it all day yesterday.) speed does have a place, but not on the road or in the arm. and i've heard that farmers survive by keeping a steady, slow pace they can keep up all day long.

slowly, adding to the summer's pictures:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

no substitute

albert camus, the french existentialist, wrote, "there's no substitute for a long life." alas, the youngest winner of the nobel prize, he died in a car accident at 51.

and somewhere else i read, concerning dieting, "if you want chocolate cake, eat it. otherwise you'll drink a gallon of carrot juice and then eat the chocolate cake. substitutes don't work."

how are these related? i don't know. concerning the statement by camus, i always thought it meant, "live long enough and you'll understand what it's all about." unfortunately, older and no wiser, i'm much less certain of my beliefs though not of my observations.

what i have discovered about living awhile is that you have the chance to have lots of experiences, of all kinds. you have time for your priorities to change and to explore different paths. a friend once said, "happiness is realizing your potential." well, we certainly have a lot of different potentials. d.h. lawrence wrote, "find myself? which self are you talking about? i've many selves."

true, i have discovered people's personalities do not change unless they have brain damage. hopefully, they learn to expand and expound on their possibilities and adventures. that said, the child of five is the child of eighty-five.

as i said, i thought i was pursuing understanding. now i know what really interested me was experience, a great variety. theater, romance, travel, writing, it all has led me by the nose. and luckily i've been able to switch from one to the other as my inclinations and desires decided. for example, twenty years of the sexual dillemas which took me many places and moods ended (pretty much) just about the time aids appeared on the scene. i'd never been particularly careful; all my encounters turned out to be hetero but that would not have protected me in the long run.

or theater. at least i pursued that rainbow until i could write and direct plays well, having a few minor successes. i enjoyed the process, as i never did with movie-making. i lived long enough to have a few delightful satisfactions, especially the one of feeling i could finally do it.

jack of all trades, master of none? yes, you can look at it that way. however, the real luxury in life is in being able to realize many potentials, many selves. the first psychic i ever went to see, gloria, said, "evolution is speeded up. we're living six lifetimes in one." perhaps that will console you for feeling you've never been able to make your mark because you get too bored with any particular endeavor.

many people i've known have died young. i think of everything my friend renate, a doctor in berlin, has missed by commiting suicide at thirty-one in 1971. and those hit by cars, bullets, and cancer at twelve and twenty-three. hopefully, they're back with a different name and another chance.

so, don't accept substitutes and wish for the most important thing: good luck.

ps. speaking of the return to childhood, i did it again last week, playing with the automatic pictures in paint shop pro, doing what i did in the first grade:

and i've doubled the number of pictures in this summer's lookout gallery: