Sunday, September 13, 2009

These Foolish Things

"Man siehet die im Lichte was im Dunkle sieht man nicht. "

I have tried in my life, as I have identified them, to give up foolish things. My trouble is primarily in identifying them, and then there’s the secondary problem of giving them up. Some patently foolish things are enjoyable.

Sometimes the whole thing is as easy as rolling off a log. Calling Microsoft “Customer Service” for instance. There’s a misnomer for you. A little bit of listening to Radio Microsoft while wasting precious time on hold goes a long way. Then, after an hour or so, you get cut off, or someone comes on the line, listens to you for ten seconds, and says, “I’ll connect you,” you guessed it, connect you back to Radio Microsoft. Red faced and feeling foolish, that’s a call you won’t make again soon.

One problem is that there is no objective delineation for “foolish.” I’m pretty sure that bungee jumping is foolish, but lots of people seem not to think so at all. Same goes for parachute jumping, foolish, unless the plane is in the act of crashing.

“Foolish is as foolish does” may be true, but it just brings us back to the subjective nature of foolishness. One man’s foolishness is another man’s compelling hobby, collecting almost anything for example. I’m on a fence about the guys that spend thousands of hours machining parts and assembling miniature automobile engines that actually run. I do enjoy the results, but I’m pretty sure it’s a foolish enterprise to begin with. I don’t think there’s any money in it. I guess it’s distracting.

Foolishness is also situational. Drinking too much is a foolish lifestyle that puts your health at risk, but if all-day drinking allows someone to make it through the day when all they really want to do is wrap a dry-cleaning bag around their heads without leaving a note, well then it doesn’t sound so foolish after all, now does it? Not a personal example by the way, I’m just thinking out loud here. And what’s too much? I know the answer to that one: drinking an ounce more than you do is too much. Foolish logic, that.

I know lots of people who smoked and drank their ways through long, apparently satisfying lives. Would it have been foolish to give anything up? And wouldn’t they feel foolish if they’d stopped smoking and drinking early in life, for the benefits of it, and then died in car accidents? I know I would. Call it Andy-Kaufman-Syndrome, a non-smoking, health food fanatic teetotaler, killed by irony at 38.

Can we hold this thing up to the light? Most of us do something that another among us considers foolish. Just go out somewhere and take a look around. I’d give examples but just thinking about it was bordering on cruelty. I may be foolish, but I’d rather be foolish than mean-spirited, self-righteous, judgmental or downright cruel.

Me, I take a drink sometimes, my time is usually around five o’clock. If I still have work to do, a class to teach, I wait until it’s done and then return leisurely to my home for dinner and a cocktail. Let anyone who is without sin throw the first stone. You want to call me foolish? Let’s see what you got.

We alcoholics have a saying, but it can’t be printed here, this is a family oriented blog. Think what you will, and tell me if you want to, but I know that I am generally a foolish man and your censorship will not be news to me. Why should my behavior regarding intoxication be an exception to the rule? That would be foolish.

(609 words, three times the recommended maximum for a blog! Foolish! Thanks for your patience. Extra points for getting the source of the German quote. It's from a pretty famous song.)


Anonymous said...

I quit smoking 20 years ago this month, after a 25-year addiction. So it is possible. I daresay I am able to write this paragraph to you today in large part because I dropped that foolish attachment to the "pleasure" derived from sucking on smoldering tubes of vegetable leaves. Come on, it's a stupid thing. And I can be judgemental because I've been there.

Anonymous said...

also: It's from "The Three Penny Opera" by Kurt Weil and Brecht.

Anonymous said...

Family oriented?

fred c said...

Top marks, Ed! It's from "Die Moritaet des Mackie Messers." And you're right about the smoking too, and about your license to say so.

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