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Morning Sun
  • OKIE IN EXILE: The Eternal Footman

  • I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid.

    — T.S. Eliot




    Before my next column comes out, I will be 50.

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  • I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid.
    — T.S. Eliot
    Before my next column comes out, I will be 50.
    Traditionally, we have the threescore and ten.  My socio-economic status promises me more, but--if God wills it--I won’t live to see this in print. We have no guarantees.
    So, as I know nothing for sure, let me say that the next 20 years ought to be special to me.  They are more special to me now than when I was 30 because now I know how fast they can go.
    At 50, I am now the man I am going to be--however disappointing that might be. At 30 I had plans, hopes, and dreams. They didn’t come true, and I am lucky because I was a fool.  I think that the Preacher said in Ecclesiastes that the one thing that the wise man had over the fool was that he could see what was coming. He took cold comfort in that. You see it, but there’s not a thing you can do to stop it.
    You can try to plan for it.
    You can try. A basic part of the planning is the saving of money. The key of saving money is the delay of gratification. You put off to later instead of enjoying now. You save the money for when you need it later.  And this is good.  It is basic. But it can be taken to an extreme.  If you put off later too long, you won’t be the one spending it, and while I have nothing against leaving it to my kids, I think I’d rather spend it on them while I am alive so I can see it.
    Call me selfish.
    Waiting too long is a real danger. Time takes a toll on strength and health.  Having money can help; it got Steve Jobs a few more years...a few.  But if you save too long, then you can spend all of it to be sick just a little while longer.
    All of this to say, I need to look for some opportunities over the next 20 years.
    Having read that last sentence, I think--maybe--I’ve gained a little insight on why little red cars and blondes in tiny, little red dresses become so attractive to men who’ve turned 50.  Not that I am planning to head down that path, but it make’s me think of that old Jerry Lee Lewis song Middle Aged Crazy.  The fellow in that song was only 40.
    You look at the life you’ve had and you want to do it all over again, only smarter this time. But that’s not the way it works.  There is no going back.  You run into that angel with the flaming sword that blocks our way back into paradise.  Like Anna Nalick wrote in Breathe “There’s a light at each end of this tunnel / You shout ‘cause you’re just as far in as you’ll ever be out / And these mistakes you’ve made / you’ll just make them again / If you’d only try turning around.”
    Page 2 of 2 - You can get onto Youtube and listen to that and see Anna Nalick at the same time.  She’s a cute little thing. I go there to listen once in awhile. More often though I’ve been going there for T.S. Eliot and Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock. He’s not a pretty little thing at all.
    This poem is not an easy. At sixteen, I had no idea what it was about.  I can’t say for sure I do now.  But it’s like the Spanish I’ve been studying lately.  I come back to it and I get more from it than I did before. Eliot sees the end of life ahead as it is. He’s seen the Eternal Footman hold his coat and snicker.
    Yep. That’s about the size of it.  The Eternal Footman snickers. Maybe we ought to do the same.
    Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at okieinexile@gmail.com.

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