July 07, 2004

There are days, and weeks, and years which hold me to something barely a crawl, when I could write and act and do and be the resistance of a gnat between the millstones of the world - when, if I have enacted any shift for mutual compassion, it is utterly invisible or even negatively visible - when any hopeful tease into understanding (let alone willingness to apply) drowns in a vast sea of indifference, or perhaps reluctance, or perhaps even fear of the possibility of being seen to misstep (or worse, reflected as wrong, or worse yet, humiliated) - when any hope of positive change is slammed against the inertial wall, and even those who claim a desire for innovation stray not from the acceptance of the accepted inertia for a second.

I am a pebble on the tracks of accepted truths. Less than visible. Kicked aside. Gravel. Become dust. Become, perhaps in time, fertile soil? I can hope. One day - if what I speak drifts at all into orthodoxy - but would that be a "win", I wonder? The largest demonstration of which I have ever been a part had something under a quarter of a million people. (It was not in this millennium. For what it is worth, for once: it might actually have served its intended purpose. So few demonstrations do.)

There are days when I function on something near automaton, driven to act only by what burns within me and endlessly drives me: for if I were to seek outward change, need visible results, I think I would collapse in black despair.

There are times I come very close.

Smile of the day:

Many versions of this one are known, dating from at least the 1920s, but among the best is this one by Gerard Hoffnung - KA

The Bricklayer's Accident Report

Dear Sir:

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block #3 of the accident reporting form. I put "Poor Planning" as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-storey building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over which when weighed later were found to weigh 240 lbs. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 240 lbs of bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is 135 lbs.

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3, accident reporting form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground - and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs.

I refer you again to my weight. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations of my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six storeys above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind ... and let go of the rope.

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