Old Mack’s Tales

June 6, 2011

Sententious Maunderings on Monday Morning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 4:43 pm

Sententious Maunderings on Monday Morning

By OldMack June 6, 2011


On this day I would normally remember D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy in 1944 (I have a friend who is there today guiding tourists), or recall my participation in the staged landings on the beach at San Florenz, Corsica for the landing scenes in the movie based on Cornelius Ryan’s book, The Longest Day (directed by Daryl Zanuck of Fox Studio).  But not today; today I’m coming to grips with a discovery or revelation which came to me in last night’s vivid nightmare.

Dreaming:  I’m deep under water inside a cave at the bottom of a deep blue hole, wearing my old diving gear—an Aqua-Lung regulator attached to an old CO2 fire-extinguisher bottle with those damned corrugated rubber hoses blocking my peripheral vision.  Overhead is a shelf of coral covered with creatures; it is lit by sunshine reflected by pure white sand on the floor of the cave and I’m awed by the sights and enjoying the experience.  But then a dark cloud passes over the sea above and blocks out the sunlight and I’m suddenly swimming in total darkness, trying to avoid rising against the overhanging shelf with its fire corals and stinging sea anemones and scorpion fish.  Terrified, I realize how I got myself into this predicament: by lying.  I’d been in this place before; I recognized it, but I’d been snorkeling the first time and had never swum under the ledge.  And I’d exaggerated about my diving experience and been invited to come along by a group of more experienced divers.  In short, I’d let my mouth overload my ass again.

Awake: Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” leaked into my conscious mind.  I know not why, other than  the fact that in my dream I was losing my head when all about me were keeping theirs; the antithesis of Kipling’s sententious poem.

While having Coffee with my wife I recalled several instances of having let my lies overload my ass and get me into perilous situations.  That I survived in all cases I attribute to pure luck and “If.”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


1 Comment »

  1. Nice one Mack. Had read the poem long ago and was glad for the opportunity to reflect on it again. Good message you have here.

    A friend of mine, in his nineties and a resident of the nursing home where I work recently passed away. He was one of the ones who stormed the beaches of Normandy and survived to tell the story. He told me, “boys didn’t die in the ones and twos, but in the tens and twenties.” I’ll miss him. Not many of his kind left in the world anymore.

    Comment by train-whistle — June 6, 2011 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

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