Happy Thanksgiving: Building a new marina

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –


This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –


— Emily Dickinson

I spent Wednesday building this new marina for my fleet of frigates; today I am thankful for all the journeys I’ve taken in them.

Great artists steal, but it’s not theft

There’s something new under the sun … every day.

Each and every one of us is a creator. It’s in our nature.

When we create something, whether it’s a painting or a poem or a store display or a legal brief, we give something of ourselves that did not exist before we gave it.

Picasso or Faulkner — or neither or both — reportedly said, “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal.” But it’s not theft.

They did not “steal” from other creators in the sense that they took others’ property away, but they did take inspiration from others’ contributions and added their own seasoning.

Thousands of authors have written time travel stories, for example. They aren’t stealing from the earlier time travel storytellers; they are adding their vision to the concept and building something altogether new.

I daresay millions of authors have written stories about couples getting together and living happily ever after, or not.

Every day each of us adds to the sum of human endeavor, an ever-growing entity that is always bigger than it was yesterday.

What if you can do it?

What if you CAN do it?

Do you see how that changes everything?

“One of the great discoveries a man makes, one of the great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

I wish I’d said that, but Henry Ford beat me to it, a long time ago, so long ago I hadn’t been born yet, and you know how long THAT is.

Ford is also the guy who said, “Whether you think you can do it, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Mind set is everything.

OK, it’s a big part of everything. You can believe you can do something and still not do it, out of fear or neglect or whatever. I hate to admit how many times I did that, or rather didn’t.

I have a Vince Lombardi quote at eye level at my computer: “When you have a God-given talent, you must use it all the time.”

It’s sort of an obligation (hence “must”). Even back in Biblical times they would say, “To whom much is given, much will be required.”

Set your mind. Believe you can do it. Go and do it. It’s a simple formula. Might take a minute or it might take years, but you can do it.

Why are you still waiting? Go.

Maybe shift the focus

Maybe we’re asking the wrong question.

Maybe instead of asking what we want to write today, we should ask what our readers want to read.

Maybe even that is the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking what we want to read, and then write that.

Someone is nodding and saying to themselves, “Now he’s talking.”

Are they the right Someone? Are there enough of these Someones to make a difference?

Now you’re talking.

The assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher in 1986. Photo © Laurence AgronDreamstime.com

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains general discussion of the fourth season of the television series The Crown, which debuted last week. If you like to watch a program without knowing what happens, come back at a later date after viewing the show.

This Brittanica article describes Margaret Thatcher as “The only British prime minister to win three consecutive terms and, at the time of her resignation, Britain’s longest continuously serving prime minister since 1827,” and the author — a Thatcher biographer —says she became “the most renowned British political leader since Winston Churchill.”

As someone who went through his early to mid adulthood during the 1980s, that’s how I remember Margaret Thatcher — a reformer and strong leader, similar to Ronald Reagan on this side of the Atlantic, and the two leaders became good friends. Much like Reagan, she pushed through a number of reforms over the objections of Chicken Little opponents who no doubt were shocked that the world did not end when they were implemented.

We have enjoyed the Netflix TV series The Crown and understand that all dramas “based on a true story” take liberty with the truth in the name of telling a story as forthrightly and economically as possible, but the version of Thatcher onscreen in the series’ fourth season crosses the line from well-intentioned representation to ill-intentioned fantasy.

Continue reading “The assassination of Margaret Thatcher”

Here’s how it will be when the dust settles

Oh, we go through this in cycles, every four years. Such a fuss, such a lather, and in a few months there’ll be the same old realization that “the most important election of our time” produced yet another dose of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Oh, there’ll be some cosmetic differences, but the vast protection racket will still be in place and we’ll still be toiling away for the privilege of giving a third or more of what we’ve earned to a machine that does not rule over us as well as we can run our own lives. It sounds so bleak, put that way, but it isn’t so much.

After a while you spare yourself some angst and recognize that in actuality your life is your own, your future is in your hands, and you are the boss of you.

Recognizing that you have the power is scary — because you have the responsibility, too — but all told, it’s kind of exhilarating because it’s so, well, empowering.

Did I create the monster?

I have a mantra that I tell Willow The Best Dog There Is™ almost every day.

You’re the puppiest pup of all the pups who ever pupped.

You’re the doggiest dog of all the dogs who ever dogged.

You’re the willowiest Willow of all the Willows who ever willed.

You’re the BEST — DOG — THERE — IS. Yes, you are.

And Willow is the sweetest, gentlest, most regal and dignified dog you’d like to know.

Her little sister, Dejah Thoris Princess of Mars, is something else. I’m more likely to ask, suspiciously, “What are you doing, Dejah?” or “Put it down, Dejah,” or, the old standby, “Dejah, NO!”

She is a mischievous devil who sticks her nose everywhere and often can be seen prancing triumphantly around the house with a sock she has retrieved from the laundry basket, a piece of paper I left too close to the floor, or today’s newspaper carelessly placed on the couch instead of the recycling bin. A month after we brought her home as a puppy seven years ago, she underwent emergency surgery after eating too many pebbles, bits of mulch, twigs, dead leaves and other miscellany, and she continues her nosy ways to this day.

Would Dejah change her ways if I showered her with a mantra more like Willow’s? Or is Willow just a regal animal and Dejah a devil, to begin with?

I suppose there’s only one way to find out …

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