A naturally charming but ability-challenged hang-around wannabe wrote an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that was so unsatisfactory it had to be entirely re-written by another writer, although, in accordance with the company’s policy, the original writer’s name appeared exclusively on the episode’s credits. On the night it was broadcast, the original writer threw a big party at his house, during which he graciously accepted his guests’ congratulations for the commendable episode they had just witnessed. (And he had virtually nothing to do with.)
How much did that bother me?
I still remember it, forty years after the fact.
As I mentioned two posts back…
I just hate it when the bad guys win.
It appears that “President of the United States” is the easiest job in the world. Would you hire a dog walker who had no experience whatsoever walking dogs? Well there you have it. Based on the resume of the victorious candidate, the presidency of the United States is perceived by the people who elected him as being an easier assignment than walking a dog.
Then there’s the matter of character. (Don’t worry. I shall spare you the litany of vulgarities, personal insults and admitted gropings.)
Imagine a candidate for an important position – CEO of a corporation, a big-time football coach, the president of a prominent university who, plucking one example from the list of atrocities, is caught on camera, imitating a disabled person for cheap and gratuitous chuckles.
That candidate would never get that job. (And that’s just from one thing!)
The presidency of the United States, we have recently learned, is the only job you can ascend to, burdened with the baggage that would sink someone vying for any other imaginable prominent position.
So there you have it.
Hail to the Chief, Mister –
Okay, so what do I do when I’m down and troubled and I need a helping hand?
I go to the ocean. It always helps. The ocean has seen it all. It will provide me with the needed perspective.
And it does.
Minus specifics – because eternal bodies of water speak in Delphic generalities – the ocean reminds me:
“This has happened before.”
And it has.
The shuddering horror. The divisiveness. The mistrust. The ominous apprehension.
Problematic American presidents taking office? Andrew Jackson was a dangerous yahoo. Teddy Roosevelt, a “cowboy.” (Though I am not sure why exactly that was bad.) And, of course, the worst catastrophe of all: Abraham Lincoln showed up, and a chunk of the country instantaneously went south. Literally.
Somehow, “This has happened before”, although spiritually resonant and historically accurate… it does not do the trick. This has happened before. But for me, it’s a first.
I thank the ocean for trying, and I go for a walk. I have no clue what it is, but I know I need something more.
I plod listlessly along the beach walking-path till I reach the place where I habitually turn around. I turn around there and I unenthusiastically start back. Though my heart is not in it, it is the only way I can return home.
As I trudge along, I hear the distinct sound of feet scraping successively against the pavement, emanating from the paralleling walking-path to my right. The walker’s effort sounds labored, every step, a detectable ordeal. (The heaviness of the tread says it’s a man.)
When I first caught sound of my ambulatory companion, he was behind me. Since you cannot eavesdrop on a sound – you got ears, it goes in – I was the audial recipient of his steady, inexorable advance.
Then something happened that spurred me to look in the walker’s direction. Although physically challenged, for reasons I could not immediately ascertain, the man – middle aged, noticeably stiff in his movements – whose unslowing pace had been torturously rasping on my periphery…
… had passed me.
And he was barreling ahead.
It wasn’t the ocean this time. It was this struggling stranger, his unstoppable determination delivering the awaited message.
How do you move forward?
You put one foot determinedly in front of the other.
Did it immediately do the trick?
But it was a beginning.
And that, at the moment, is all I’ve got.