Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Wednesday, December 31, 2003day link 

 New Year
picture Another year is walking by. I guess it was a pretty eventful year. We moved and live in another country now. Different circumstances, different stuff, different people. But some engineered external change just makes it easier to notice the stuff that is more permanent. Consciousness, exploration, learning, sharing, warmth, laughter, love. The things that one cares about in life, no matter the circumstances. The continuous finding and re-finding of that which makes life worth living. For me there's a red thread going through all of it. Often a rather elusive thread. I know it is always there somewhere, but I might lose it or forget it for a while. Which is easy to do because it always changes. It is never a thing or a place or an idea or a label or a system. Never something you can just grasp and hold on to. Maybe it is a quality. I notice the thread as a feeling. A sense of being in the flow, where something both new and familiar is happening. Where you have a sense of recognition, despite being on an adventure you've never seen before. Where you wake up a little, and realize how life is really simple and mostly joyful, while at the same time vast and mysterious. It is an amazing thing. To life!
[ | 2003-12-31 12:44 | 27 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Significant Experiences
picture Somehow, as I was thinking of new year resolutions, this came to mind. Well, I'd like to have an interesting and meaningful life, and creativity is always a way of getting the juices flowing. A fellow named Hugh Gallagher wrote the following when he was seventeen, as an answer to a question in a college application.
QUESTION 3A: ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE HAD, OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS THAT HAVE HELPED DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON?

"I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing. I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook 30-minute brownies in 20 minutes.

I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello. I was scouted by the Mets. I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire.

I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life, but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven.

I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But, I have not yet gone to college."
The essay also won him a Scolastic Writing Award in 1990, appeared in Harper's and has been very widely circulated in e-mail since then, often without author attribution. In case anybody should have heard this is an urban legend, he insists he did send it to colleges.
[ | 2003-12-31 14:34 | 9 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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