Tuesday, July 14, 2009

enlightened irreverence (pratfalls)

pardon the picture. it's the entree into my theme.

yes, that's me, after i lept, while taking pictures, thinking i'd heard a rattlesnake. the rocks and brush, completely unforgiving, rushed up to hammer me. so much for reptiles.

of course, i'm grateful i broke no bones, avoided blindness, my glasses and camera intact. and perhaps if this hadn't happened, i'd have sat on a black widow in the outhouse five minutes later, though i always lift the seat. thus, disaster saved me from death.

perhaps it's no accident i've been watching marx brothers movies every evening, absorbing groucho's iconoclastic style and and his brothers pratfalls. i've never forgotten my childhood love of 'night at the opera'. i didn't laugh so hard this time, yet i knew here cavorted several of my masters.

you see, i wanted to be a charlie chaplin, dancing around machinery and thumbing my nose at the high and mighty. a clown, that's it, who never managed to join the circus, yet kept jumping in his heart.

i can't tell you how many times i fell on my head as a child, twice breaking my nose. and i danced around my father's churches when they were empty, something no one else ever knew.

even then, i realized, you have to give the devil his/her due. whatever we believe to be true is also false. that's the nature of being a human being.

for example, i say to myself 'all the troubles of love come from asking the wrong questions'. and still, i'm very aware asking any questions at all causes pain and prevarication. ignorance is bliss.

or, let's see, another aphorism. 'don't judge others cause it means you yourself have to be perfect.' however, if we stopped judging others, how bored we'd be on the job. only complaining makes the work we do bearable.

the writer joyce cary put it succinctly. he said, 'the great artist expresses the opposite of what he/she believes as strongly as what he/she professes.' obviously, this means external warfare and inner struggle. without an enlightened irreverence, even for your own convictions, you might as well be a preacher as an actor.

next time you take a tumble, turn it into a pratfall, if only for your own amusement. that's what i've done in the following photos. everyday i try to say to myself, 'everyone else know everything, and i know nothing.' yes, growing older means learning how much you don't know. wisdom at sixteen comes easy. at five we were doing what we were meant to do. at sixty-five we're probably saying, 'i should have embraced failure and forgotten success.'