Send In the Clowns, Eh?

Ladies and gentlemen,

Candidates from the St. Paul, Minnesota mayoral race:

I am not sure which quote is my favorite. So much lunacy to choose from:

“Let the school teachers have a gun…or let ’em have a camera which is a gun stronger than…whatever.”

“And bubble wrap…this is therapy for kids. For me too.”

“I’m good on the computer with PDF files.”

“I’m not Cylie Myrus, but I’m the wrecking ball.”

Sometimes you just have to laugh at how ludicrous our political system has become. And then, of course, you can cry.

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

When I was in high school, I saw a film recommended by my older sister. It was called Point of No Return and it starred Bridget Fonda as a street junkie who commits a random murder and is sentenced to death by lethal injection. The authorities fake her execution and the U.S. government secretly rehabilitates her. She is then trained to be a deadly assassin taking out diplomats and other pre-selected targets. It was based on a French film called, La Femme Nikita.

MSDPOOF EC049What I remember most about this movie is not the constant killing or disposal of bodies in bath tubs of acid, but a single line quoted in the first act: An elegant but sinister Anne Bancroft is tasked with teaching students at the assassin school how to function with manners and grace, especially since they will need to attend embassy dinners with upper crust politicians and arms dealers before they blow their heads off. In her first scene with Bridget Fonda’s character, she says:

“Do you know what ‘nature’s first green is gold’ means?”

She goes on to explain that the line means “that the first is best, that youth is better than old age.”

I don’t know why that line found residence in my high school brain. I am sure most of us feel like fragments of movie dialogue and song lyrics become stuck in our psyches like flies to fly paper. It must have had a lot of resonance for me to remember it this long though.

Being struck by the sentence, I eventually found the source – which was a poem by Robert Frost called “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. It’s actually quite famous in poetry circles, and when I read it, I recalled a conversation I once had with a friend somewhat older than me. I was telling him that as I aged, it was getting harder to find things that felt like “brand new” experiences. He basically gave me the less flowery version of Frost’s eight lines of rhyme: “Well duh, you only fall in love for the first time ONCE, you only attend high school ONCE, you only travel to Europe for the first time ONCE. That’s life, buddy. You can always try to repeat things, but nothing will ever feel like the first time again.”

It was a depressing (but refreshing) reality check. It made me think, “Hmmm…I wonder if there is life beyond death or other lives we’ve had, and we simply chose to forget them as to experience the new all over again?”

I miss the new.

The Gravity of the Truth Ninja

I saw the film Gravity last weekend and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. Even though I have seen more profound (and far better) films in my life, I do get the hype with this one. We live in disconnecting times and despite our level of technological advancement, we are still plagued by the specters of death, adversity and loneliness. I know, I am probably not telling you anything you do not know already, but I think a good metaphor can often reflect an emotion better than just describing it verbatim. Without spoiling the film for anyone, I will just say that there is a scene where a character breaks down the basic choice you have when faced with death. It was so simple and unpretentiously that it snuck up on me like quiet brilliance.

Truth is such a ninja sometimes.

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Botanical Magic

Of all the activities life has to offer, one of my most favorite is traveling. Not the actual getting to and from (which can be sheer hell sometimes), but rather the collection of experiences you acquire when visiting some place new. The older I get the worse my memory becomes, but I notice that traveling to new and exotic locales burns new images firmly into my mental hard drive. This process adds a piece of youth back into my life. It shakes up the status quo, and as Trent Reznor once said, “There’s nothing quite like the feel of something new.”

I had the absolute delight of traveling to Québec and New England last week, and since I do lots of research of my destinations, I was able to catch the very end of the Mosaïcultures Internationales (a horticultural exhibit at the Botanical Gardens in Montréal, Québec). I was treated to a walk into a dream world full of dazzling sights: amphibians made of colorful succulents, horses sculpted from grasses, and Celtic gods come to life in flower beds and lily ponds.

I had really never seen anything like this before in my life. The creativity and vision required to compose each exhibit was truly inspiring.

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Shutdown

Did you know the two “poorest” members of Congress are worth $943,000 and $808,000? One is a California Republican and the other is a Texas Democrat. Everyone else is a millionaire or multimillionaire. And still, if they serve 5 years or more they receive a full pension, free postage, and travel stipend – paid for by all tax-paying U.S. citizens.

If anyone should be working free (shutdown or no), it should be them.

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