The Kazushi

The Candid Imbalance of Dan Walsh

Category: Meditations

Friendship is Never Finished

I’ve lost a few friendships lately. Not through any egregious errors, as far as I can tell, but from negligence. Negligence, that in some instances resulted in irreparable harm. I was hurt in the beginning, then angry. I tried to allow enough time for the emotions to subside so that I might at least profit from a bad situation with newfound wisdom. It’s been about a year now, and I think I’ve found my answers. Read the rest of this entry »

A Decline of Friendship

My friend and I broke up a few months ago. No, closer to a year, now. It’s taken me some time to get the words out.

We never came to blows, or even harsh words – that might have been easier, more repairable. Instead we dissolved our friendship with determined silence. First he. Then me. Read the rest of this entry »

A Prescription for Resolution

“No wound is more cruel to the spirit of resolve than that dealt by failure.”

-Arnold Bennet

I’ve lately been devouring self-help books from the early 1900′s. Many have been on the topic of willpower, creativity, personal development and mental efficiency. They are surprisingly cogent and applicable given that they were written almost 100 years ago. The latest book, Mental Efficiency And Other Hints to Men and Women, by Arnold Bennet, includes a 3-part  prescription for carrying out resolutions which I think is surprisingly still applicable to today’s men and women. Here is my summary. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Reflecting on Literature – Or, More Thoroughly Chewing My Mental Food

I just finished reading “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day” by Arnold Bennett. It was a fun read about time management (sort of), but much more profound than just that. “You wake up in th emorning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life!” Given that no man is richer or poorer in time than any other, the book was really a philosophy for living as meaningful a life as possible. There was a point Bennett made toward the end that I feel is worth repeating, even dwelling on. Read the rest of this entry »

P.T. Barnum’s Rules For Success In Business

P.T. Barnum's American Museum

I’ve written about P.T. Barnum before, but his autobiography had a strong effect on me, and I felt compelled to write again. The following passage was written by Barnum at the urging of Edwin T. Freedley, Esq., who was writing a book about business and wished to include the results of Barnum’s many and varied years in business. It’s a product of the times, so some of the references are out of date, but the advice remains sound. Read the rest of this entry »

I Took a Piss Next to Gerard Butler

I took a piss next to Gerard Butler Monday night. It’s been bothering me all week.

I got lucky and scored free tickets to the screening of his new movie Machine Gun Preacher. I was somewhat interested in seeing the film after watching the trailer, but the flyer for the screening said that both Gerard and costar Michelle Monoghan would in attendance. Of course I had to go.     Read the rest of this entry »

On Vessels

Vessels – bottles, jugs, cups, mugs, and pitchers are all around us. They have been part of human existence almost since we became human. What is our relationship with these items, and how do they influence our lives?

I recently read the autobiography of P.T. Barnum. In one anecdote, he discussed how the customers of his general store would bring their glass jugs to be filled with vinegar, rum, molasses, etc. Necessities of life. What struck me, is that their jugs were precious enough to keep and to reuse. Glass was scarce and expensive. This preciousness has mostly been eroded in our modern culture by the relative cheapness of plastic and glass bottles. Very few people reuse containers anymore.

In The Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond wrote about a mammoth ostrich in Madagascar whose eggs made especially useful vessels for water. The tribes who first discovered Madagascar by way of Africa would steal the eggs in bulk, not so much for the food, but for the jugs the empty shells created. This was made especially easy because the animals on the island had never seen humans before, and so were not afraid of the tribesmen. If an egg-jug cracked they could always just go steal another. They weren’t especially careful with the eggs, as the abundant supply made them a near-disposable commodity. When European explorers ‘discovered’ Madagascar, they found the beach littered with eggshells of the ostrich that had by then become extinct (most of the eggs never hatched).

Vessels and containers are an important part of human existence. They enabled the storage of grain which was the foundation of markets, commerce, and capitalism. They contain the cremated remains of pharaohs and ensure their success in the afterlife. The quality of a good cask meant the difference between eating and starving for seafaring explorers. They are part of human culture, and enable us to do things we couldn’t otherwise do.

So what does it say about a culture when containers become disposable. What does it say about modern American culture? Should vessels be cherished? If so, why? If good quality vessels enable us, make us better, then wouldn’t low quality, disposable bottles and cups somehow make us worse?

Why We Grow Old: An Introduction to Dino Buzzati

I recently finished the short novel The Tartar Steppe, by Dino Buzzati. It is a wonderfully written & rich narrative of an ambitious, glory-seeking young soldier, Drogo, assigned to a remote Italian fort. The fort is the first line of defense against a rumored Tartar invasion that never quite seems to come. Drogo intends to be reassigned but can never quite pull himself away for fear that the enemy will come as soon as he does, thereby missing all the glory.

Buzzati is a master of the written-word, but it was his passage describing Drogo’s imperceptible transition from young to old that really arrested me. Perhaps because it hit too close to home.

So once more Drogo is climbing up the valley to the Fort and he has fifteen years fewer to live. Yet he does not feel that he has changed particularly; time has slipped by so quickly that his heart has not had a chance to grow old. And although the mysterious tumult of the passing hours grows with each day, Drogo perseveres in his illusion that the really important things of life are still before him. Giovanni patiently awaits his hour, the hour which has never come; he does not see that the future has grown terribly short, that it is no longer like in the days when time to come could seem an immense period, an inexhaustible fund of riches to be squandered without risk.

And yet one day he noticed that he no longer went riding on the level ground behind the Fort. In fact he noticed that he had no desire to do so and that in recent months – but since when exactly? – he no longer ran up the stairs two at a time. This is silly, he thought; physically he felt himself unchanged, everything was going to make a fresh start, of that there was not the least doubt. It was quite unnecessary and ridiculous to require proof of it.

No, physically Drogo has not deteriorated. If he started riding again and running up the stairs two at a time he could easily do it – but that is not what is important. The serious thing is that he no longer feels any desire to do so, that after lunch he prefers to stay dozing in the sun rather than gallop about on the stony plateau. That is what matters, that is the only sign of the passage of the years.

If only he had thought of it the first evening he took the stairs one at a time. He felt a little tired, it is true; there seemed to be an iron band round his head, and he had no desire for the usual game of cards; besides, on previous occasions, too, he had refrained from running up the stairs because of some passing ailment. He had not the slightest suspicion that that evening was a very sad occasion for him, that on these very stairs, at that very moment, his youth was ending, that the next day, for no particular reason, he would not go back to the old ways nor the day after, nor yet later on. Never.

Take the stairs two at a time.

P.T. Barnum on Happiness

I’ve almost finished reading The Life of P.T. Barnum (Barnum & Bailey fame), and I’m sure the following passage will rank as one of my favorites. In it, Barnum recounts how he felt at the moment just before departing New York and his family for a 3-year European tour with General Tom Thumb.

At half-past one o’clock the bell of one of the steamers that towed our ship down the bay, announced the hour of separation. There was the usual bustle, the rapidly-spoken yet often-repeated words of farewell, the cordial grip of friendship–and I acknowledge that I was decidedly in “the melting mood.”

My name has so long been used in connection with incidents of the mirthful kind, that many persons, probably, do not suspect that I am susceptible of sorrowful emotion, and possibly the general tenor of these pages may confirm the suspicion. No doubt my natural bias is to merriment, and I have encouraged my inclination to “comedy,” because enough of “tragedy” will force itself upon the attention of every one in spite of his efforts to the contrary; yet I should be either more or less than human, were I incapable of serious thought, or did I not frequently indulge in the sober meditation which become the solemn realities of life.

While, perhaps the sentiment to “always look on the bright side of things” isn’t new, I think his eloquence in expressing why is the important take away. Bad things have, and always will, happen to everyone. It is possible to choose how we combat these situations. Barnum chose comedy, instead of succumbing to tragedy. This choice is available to everyone.

The Importance of Proper Motivation

I have been improperly motivating myself.

I have grown up with a very strong sense that only those who set and actively work towards their goals will ever accomplish them. Yet, it seems that this operational model has hindered me lately. I can’t shake the feeling that I accomplished more (awards, accolades, etc) in my youth with less resources and less effort, than I have in my adult life. But why? Read the rest of this entry »