Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Never Apologize, Never Explain
The last week of October, I took a little vacation. I took my dad, who is 85, to Galveston, TX, where my parents were married after WWII and where I scattered my mother's ashes in the ocean in 2004. It was great, of course; I found the house from where my parents moved when they moved to Tennessee in 1951, and my dad found one of his previous co-workers from the Southern Select Brewery, which became the Falstaff Brewery in Galveston, from the same period. That guy is now rich, 89, and claims to still drag race. Go figure.
Of course I did some reading while I was there. The first book I read, but probably the most important, was The Gonzo Way by Anita Thompson, Hunter's wife upon his death in 2005. Hunter Thompson's life, like his writing, never fails to inspire me. Unfortunately most of the material on Thompson's life we get presented with, emphasizes his drug use and violence, which was certainly never the main focus of his oeuvre. What Thompson had, amazingly considering all what for most of us would have been extreme chemical distortion, was a dead-on awareness and intuitive perception of exactly what was going on, and he seems to have had it pretty much all the time. Luckily for us he had spent his life developing his skills as a writer and went on to create a new genre to express what he saw. He was also unerringly a man of his convictions who did not hesitate to speak what he saw.
Anita's book on her late husband is a strange little book. It is only about 100 pages long, and she does not attempt a biography of Thompson. More than anything else it seems to be her attempt to distill what she learned from the last few years of his life which she spent with him into lessons. The lessons should be a lesson to us all; they are:
Lesson 1: Learning - That's What It's All About.
Lesson 2: It's Wrong When It Stops Being Fun.
Lesson 3: Politics is the Art of Controlling Your Environment.
Lesson 4: "We" is the Most Important Word in Politics.
Lesson 5: Truth is Easier.
Lesson 6: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
Lesson 7: Never Apologize, Never Explain.
My trip to Galveston in 2004 was at a time of intense transformation for me, dealing with the death of my mother, stepping out to get a fresh perspective, and deciding which people and factors in my environment to keep and which to let go. Less than a month later, I returned to Zen after over twenty years, and began seeking a community of people with similar interests. I have found some very good people during those few years, but much of what I see disappoints me. I feel that to benefit from a genuine attempt to confront reality, one much approach that attempt with the desperation of a man with his hair on fire looking for water. For the most part, I discover weekend warriors. Of course this should not deter me from my own effort, but I find myself getting sidetracked. I must continue my own effort regardless of what others do.
And inspired by Hunter Thompson, for the millionth time, I must be true to what I perceive and speak what I feel. Some people may be offended. But that's why I started this blog a couple of years and a hundred entries ago, wasn't it?