Don’t Mess With My Wabi-Sabi

In contrast to the generally harmonious relationship that Robin and I enjoy, there is one recurring burr under our respective saddles. I possess a wallet that is of uncertain age. It predates our getting together for certain, so it is thirty or forty years old, at least. To me it is now fully broken in, has an excellent wabi-sabi sort of beauty, confirms perfectly to the curve of my right buttock, and holds no secrets from me.

To Robin it is a disreputable piece of roadkill that deserves only an ignominious burial, conducted far from civilization on a moonless night. If we are eating in a restaurant and I take out the offending accessory to get at my VISA card, it is all she can to keep her stomach from rejecting its contents instanter. Clutching at chairs she will stagger out to the street to put enough distance between herself and me that perhaps no passersby will make the connection that we are a couple.

I offer these unretouched photographs of my treasured pocket doodad for you to judge.

Now, be honest, doesn’t this just scream art more than simple utility?

I thought so.

I will inform Robin that you agree that she is overreacting.

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Yesterday I was offered the opportunity to buy caps from some website. which All of them had clever slogans stitched on them, but it was this one that captured the feeling I have nearly every morning when I greet my image in the bathroom mirror.

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A Dick Guindon Cartoon

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SCENE: The Biden Household

DRAMATIS PERSONAE: President Joseph Biden, First Lady Jill Biden

President: Good morning, Jill, did you sleep well last night?

First Lady: Not really … the floor slants too much in that Lincoln bedroom and I kept rolling to the edge of the bed.

President: Let me take a look at it … you know, if I put something under that rear leg on your side, it would help a lot. There, that should do it.

First Lady: What was that you used, Joe?

President: Just some old papers

First Lady: Joe, it says Top Secret on them! What … ?

President: I really have no idea. They were handed to me when we moved in.

First Lady: Maybe you should check them out or give them to the Secret Service or something.

President: Let’s see … the first page says: “Master Plan For Response Of Entire United States Government To Nuclear Attack Originating In The Former Soviet Union.”

First Lady: Joe … what if the wrong people got hold of those?

President: You’re right as usual, Jill. I better find a new hiding place and get something else for leveling the bed. I know, I’ll put them in the glove compartment of my Corvette. No one will ever think of looking in there. And the garage is locked all the time.

First Lady: But do you think we should keep them, Joe? Shouldn’t they be under guard or something?

President: You know … I’m still not happy with how the bed sits. Would you hand me that little gray book over there?

First Lady: This one?

President: No, the one that says “ICBM Launching Codes.

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We Have No Secrets, by Carly Simon

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From The New Yorker

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“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” 
― André Malraux

“A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.” 
― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

“When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy.” 
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

What is missing so far from the discussions (if you can dignify them by that name) about classified documents being kept in insecure places by both of our last two presidents, is what those papers really contained, and whether they were worth classifying in the first place. Over time I have read enough articles about the arbitrariness and occasional downright silliness of the government’s system of classification – i.e. things being denoted as Top Secret when they are already common knowledge, et al.

So if I’m going to really take umbrage, get my dander up, or be well and truly outraged, I would like to have at least the opinion of someone trustworthy as to what category of sin these episodes represent.

  • sins of omission
  • sins of commission
  • venial sins
  • mortal sins
  • pride
  • envy
  • lust
  • gluttony
  • greed
  • wrath
  • sloth

Perhaps I am oversimplifying, but so far both men seem equally guilty of second degree carelessness and first degree dumbassedness. If it is found that we can’t trust them with anything important, then we shouldn’t tell them anything important.

There is precedent for this. During the Second World War, vice-president Truman was kept completely in the dark about quite a few awfully important things including the Manhattan Project, and had to be brought up to speed very quickly when FDR died.

This last word on secrets was first uttered by Benjamin Franklin, a man of many utterances.

Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Benjamin Franklin

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In My Secret Life, by Leonard Cohen

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Going to the gym these days is always worth a chuckle. First there is the resistance of the flesh, which in my case prefers to be that body at rest you learned about in physics class. It seems that without any planning on my part, all of my systems have gone over to the inertia side of things.

Once I get it moving, there are other issues. My body’s manager, wherever that is located, has figured out that it can almost completely ignore gravity as long as I never lift either of my feet. Even better, it realizes, would be that if I would simply lie down on the floor gravity would become irrelevant altogether. So the manager whispers as a steady refrain … lay down, fool … lay down, fool … lay down.

Today I exercised on the walking/jogging track. There are three lanes, clearly marked as to who should occupy them. The walkers in the left lane, the joggers in the right hand lane, and the center lane for passing. The majority of younger users follow these guidelines very well.

Unfortunately, my generation hardly follows them at all, but wanders from lane to lane without ever checking to see whether collisions are imminent. They go from left lane to right lane, willy-nilly, apparently believing those are considerations for mere mortals. Which means that if you are coming up on one of these folks and thinking about passing them you must be hyper-alert to sudden lane changes or you could become involved in an unsightly melee of fractures and dislocations as osteoporotic corpora collide.

This is definitely not in keeping with the mission of the recreation center, whose image of itself is handsome and fit patrons sprinting out the front door. Not a gaggle of stretchers loaded with the wreckage of the golden years.

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