Lucy, Margate, NJ, USA

Lucy is one of those roadside attractions from another era. A giant elephant that looks out to sea in Margate, New Jersey.

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Fun for the whole family, this type of thing is. On the afternoon I was there, it was closed. Still something to see. Enjoy the journey.

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Published in: on October 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ask Your Past About The Future

Go back to the September after you graduated high school. Think of yourself at that time and place and all that you thought you knew. Now, if someone described your life as you now live it, would you have believed them? This question is about facts. A person simply tells you, “This is what your life will be like.” There are no judgments, no explanations, no clarifications. “This is it.”

I don’t think I would have believed that person, not even if I, myself, had come back to tell me. (Not sure on the grammar of that sentence but you know what I mean.) Seriously, my life has taken more detours than an alley cat, and all the while I was damn sure I was reading the signs correctly, but I never ended up where I thought I was going. Yes, life can be like that. It’s not necessarily bad. In fact, I think it’s good. There have been many more happy accidents than bad incidents, a fair number of good finds, and just a few encounters with tragedy and disaster.

Still, it makes me wonder just what’s in store for tomorrow, or next week, or ten years from now. I know people who are singularly driven toward a specific goal. They’re like a running back who’s headed for the end zone with the football. There are all types of obstacles in his way, but he’s focused on the touchdown. My question for people like this is not what happens if you don’t make it but what happens if you do make it. Then what? It’s sort of the old be careful what you wish for, you might get it – type of thing. Sure, you could head out for another score, maybe even another game, or retire to the stands. That’s fine. Just the same, sometimes the thrill of playing greatly exceeds the joy of winning.

I’ve thought about the great artists of history this way. When Michelangelo finished the Sistine Chapel, did he sit back with a cappuccino and think that he’d done the best work he ever would? I’d guess not, but then again, I’ve heard stories about people who realized their best work was behind them. I suppose this is true for athletes because eventually their bodies wear out. What about writers? Or painters? Or businessmen? Do you have just so many arrows in your quiver and when they’re gone, they’re gone?

I’ve strayed away from the premise of my original question. Coming back to it now, I’m imagining in the present that my future self has come back to tell me what my life is like twenty years in the future. I’m listening closely, nodding my head, accepting it all. The only thing I can conclude is that I’ll have to leave room in the schedule for plenty of unpredictable occurrences if I’m going to get to the place I will be twenty years hence.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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John Irving’s A Widow For One Year

John Irving’s novel, A Widow For One Year, takes readers on a life-long journey through the lives of several characters. What struck me about this book was the story’s common threads of psychological dysfunction and how one person’s damage profoundly affects others.

In the first part of the book, a sixteen-year-old aspiring writer named Eddie gets his dream job of working with a famous writer, Ted Cole. Upon arriving at the Cole residence, Eddie is soon seduced by Cole’s wife, Marion, who has retreated from life due to the death of her own teenage sons some years earlier. Marion has had almost nothing to do with her four-year-old daughter, Ruth, at this point. Finally, Marion abandons her family, leaving Eddie and Ruth wrecked.

The story then shifts forward in time and focuses on Eddie and Ruth, both of whom have become writers. Eddie struggles with his craft as much as he does with being abandoned by Marion. Ruth is more accomplished but finds herself in Amsterdam’s red-light district working out her own demons. This part of the story was a bit strained but in the context of the first part makes sense.

Finally, Irving brings it all together in the last part. Marion returns after her long absence. The ripples she created come home to roost but in an articulate way for all involved.

What I enjoyed most about this book was Irving’s ability to relate the cause and effect of a tragedy’s consequences. The Marion character is not a sympathetic one, yet she earns respect along the way. At the same time, the other characters plow through life carrying burdens that were placed upon them by others only to realize that at some point they can put them down. There’s a lesson there, one that sadly many people learn too late.

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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