LUCKY GARVIN: VIGNETTES [from over the years]

Lucky Garvin

I waste a lot of time re-learning; forgetting things I’ve known and having to learn them all over again. Today I was angry with someone. Usually, swept up in such tumult, I try to figure out what’s going on inside of me. Inwardly, I am usually quite serene. Today however, I luxuriated in the anger; I took it out on him [and, it turns out, on myself].

Two hours and three later, I realized I was still rehashing the event, like some cud-chewing jackass tethered to a turnstile plodding round and around the same fixed, unmoving point. Something else came to me: anger takes up a lot of room. I could have had some wonderful thoughts or enjoyed the specialness of those moments. I chose instead to waste them in a non-productive rage. I knew that anger takes up too much room, but I learned it again today.

An old saying purports ‘It all works out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.”

A friend is someone who dances with you in the sunlight and walks beside you in the darkness.

Yesterday, it rained. Hard. Looking out the window, something caught my eye: a small bump on my telephone line. I squinted. A hummingbird! seemingly battered by the storm, but unafraid. I can never remember seeing a bird in such weather. No limbs overhung him, no cover from the tempest. Why not just fly to the nearby trees, little one? This was a downpour as had set other birds and mammals to a sensible flight. But, yesterday, just beyond my window, I saw a little hummingbird – the last creature you would suppose courageous – head up, out in the driving rain.

“I’ve never understood why women love cats. Cats are independent, they don’t listen, they don’t come in when you call, they like to stay out all night; they come home and expect to be fed and stroked, then want to be left alone and sleep.

In other words, every quality that women hate in a man, they love in a cat.”

We found evidence of some mice in our home, so I dropped by the exterminator’s shop, and for twenty minutes, he filled me with the knowledge of his craft garnered over forty years. No charge. I purchased some special lethal baits from him, and I was gone. In this day and time, he could have charged me for his wisdom, but he chose not to. And that put me in mind of an old story: A man had his large boat washed up on shore, and try as they would, they could not budge the boat. A stranger happened by, watched them a while, then volunteered, “I can get that boat back in the water, and do it by myself too.”

The men were doubtful, but he seemed so assured, he was given the task.

He soon returned with some pulleys and ropes, and sure enough, the boat soon rode again on the waves. He said to the owner, “That’ll be a thousand dollars.”

“A thousand dollars?! Just to pull a boat off the shore?!”

“No. No,” the man replied. “It’s just one hundred dollars to pull the boat. The nine-hundred dollars is for knowing how to do it.”

Knowledge has value.

In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?”

“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied, “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?” asked the acquaintance.

“That’s right,” Socrates continued, “Before you talk to me about Diogenes let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it.”

“All right,” said Socrates, “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “If what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?”

The man was bewildered and ashamed. This is an example of why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

In this age of electric books, I write the old-fashioned type for those who relish the feel, the smell [yes, sometimes musty – all the better] and the fact you can make margin notes and underline in them. Try doing that on your Kindel!

Definition of forgiveness [Mark Twain. “Forgiveness is the scent the violet leaves behind on the heel that crushed it.

During Hurricane Sandy, a power crew was agreeably surprised to find their lunch had been paid for by a man and wife who had no electricity and no home.

Lucky Garvin