“The Individual is Nothing”

I had a dream some nights ago, in which………:

……..I’m about to enter a park of some sort. At the entrance there’s a large amorphous machine made of seemingly tangled metal (rather like a crashed car). It is issuing a message – either verbally or psychically – that says “The individual is nothing”.

I assume, while in the dream, that the machine is implying that it is the family and society that are everything. A friend, who I’ll call Tom, is either with me, or just inside the park. I say to him, “that machine is saying what you’ve always said”.

I continue walking with Tom into the park – I think to join up with his wife, who I’ll call Tess, and some other people. I know I’m late, and think Tess won’t like this, and will be angry. Tom says don’t worry, because he knows I’m coming from doing something else (or am coming from elsewhere). So Tess will understand.

Tom – who is one of the few people here who isn’t spooked out by very old men like me, and who I meet up with occasionally – is of the Chinese culture, and has reminded me, in fact, many times that in the Chinese culture, the importance of the individual is as nothing, compared with the importance of the family and society.

Upon waking from this dream I wondered if it was of any significance, for, despite being a retired General, I interest myself in things that Generals aren’t supposed interest themselves in – like our dreams. I felt instinctively that this dream – coming, I thought, from deep within my psyche – was telling me something about myself that I’ve been ignoring.

So, why was it telling me that “the individual is nothing”?

Clearly, it was because, in clinging tenaciously to this earthly life for so inordinately long, I’ve been tacitly saying to myself that the individual (my individual self) is everything – so much everything that I can’t “let go” of it. My dream was telling me to “let go” and to just go gently into that good night, where all my family and old friends have already gone.

What, then, about the “…… large amorphous machine made of seemingly tangled metal (rather like a crashed car)…..” in my dream?

Since such a badly damaged car implies death, my own forthcoming death was another of this dream’s important themes. Perhaps, then, the park I was entering into in the dream, represented the Realm I’ll enter when I breathe my last.

In my dream, I was late in entering the park, in the way I’m already late in going gently into that good night where my family and old friends understandingly await me, as understandingly as Tess awaited me in the park in my dream.

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The Cross of Loneliness

For the umpteenth time since I began this blog in early 2006, I’m confirming I haven’t died yet, and so am very much alive. Were I merely a 70 year-old or an 80 year-old, I wouldn’t feel I have to keep reiterating – after a long absence away from this blog – that I’m still alive.

The fact is, however, that I’m now a 120 year-old. This makes me arguably the world’s oldest man. I’m prepared to admit, though, that I may not be the world’s oldest person, because, as anyone who isn’t a half-wit knows, those of the fair sex – which is to say, women – live much longer than us men.

This is because women have always had it much easier than us men, even though today they go out to work more than they used to. When I was a boy they (women). had it particularly easy. When at school a girl didn’t have to worry about studying hard in order into to pass exams so she could get a good job when she left school. She just had to look pretty and learn how to charm young men, the better that one of them would take her to wife.

On becoming a wife she would just stay home and have babies and look after them, and visit with her friends everyday for nice talks about babies and cooking and whatnot, while her husband went out to work every day and worked so hard that he died much earlier than she did.

If her husband didn’t die from having to work so hard so she could stay home and have a good time, he died on some battlefield somewhere. Men have always found a way to die early, and women have always found a way to die late. Even today, when lots of women are going out to work and working as hard as us men do, they (women) are still finding ways to die later than us.

Why is this? The answer may lie in this passage from *a book by a psychologist* I’ve just read, in which he said:

“……When speaking to women’s groups, I have suggested that women should look at men this way: if they took away their own network of intimate friends, those with whom they share their personal journey, removed their sense of emotional guidance, concluded that they were almost wholly alone in the world, and understood that they would be defined only by standards of productivity external to them, they would then know the inner state of the average man……..”

Even though, as a 120 year old man, I’m necessarily very alone because my family and friends are all long dead, I have always felt very alone. I know my fellow men well enough to know that this goes for all of them too. From the moment we’re born, we’re condemned to stagger under a cross of loneliness that those of the fair sex – which is to say, women – can’t even imagine.

Living In The Past

I had *written before* of my love for “Mad Men”, the ongoing television serial about men and ladies working in a large advertising agency in America (New York) during the 1960s. I myself lived in America in the 1960s, not in New York though, but in Washington DC, where I was posted as British military attache. However, I used to visit New York often. So, whenever I watch “Mad Men” I’m transported back to the New York of my memories.

I’m still only on “Mad Men’s” fourth season (I have the DVDs). I’m stretching the time between its episodes, for I fear my life won’t be worth living once “Mad Men” ends. Can there be other Generals like me, over whom “Mad Men” has cast such a spell?

Feeling more and more removed from today’s world with each passing day, I live more and more in the past. Hence, in the “New Age” parlance, “Mad Men” is a “safe place” for me to be. I also like “Mad Men” because its ladies are as important and as powerful as its men. This seems to me quite rare in American television, as well as in American films.

I was happy, then, to see my perception confirmed in this *newspaper piece*. It says in so many words that in your average American film of today, seventy percent of the speaking roles are male, and that this state of affairs has hardly changed in more than seventy years.

While this piece talks of American films, I feel sure this includes American television films, to which genre “Mad Men” belongs.

Since you know I’m a General, albeit a retired one, you may find it surprising that I like films in which the ladies are as important and as  powerful as the men. Generals, after all, are supposed to like films dominated by strong manly men. If these films do of necessity have ladies, they should be weak and compliant, although of course pretty.

Well, were I still an active General, with aspirations to be a Field Marshal, I of course would proclaim that I like the sorts of films that Generals are supposed to like. But, being now retired, I’m free to say what I feel.

Getting back to “Mad Men”, its lead character, Don Draper, is the paradigmatic ladies man with lots of “conquests”. Your average General would therefore normally approve of Don, except that he seems particularly attracted to ladies of the strong independent type. They are hence the more difficult to conquer, and when they do at last surrender, it’s all the more satisfying for Don, and no doubt for the conquered ladies too.

I’m attributing these feelings to Don, for they’ve been mine whenever I myself have conquered – or was conquered by – strong, independent and consequently fascinating ladies. I’m thinking now of………*Dolores*. Why now? Why Dolores? Is it because I’ll always associate her with the ‘sixties – when I was in Washington, and Don Draper was on Madison Avenue………?

Getting To Be a General

Today I’ll do something I don’t normally do on this blog, which is to speak of a recent happening that the Popular Press is discussing to no end. In this case it’s the vanishing from the sky over the Far East, of a rather large aeroplane filled with people. You, too, may have read of it.

I’ve become consumed with this, for it’s an extremely puzzling puzzle, and I like to solve puzzles. I have an acquaintance who is equally puzzled, so we’ve been exchanging views.

My most recent missive to him was about certain devices attached to this aeroplane, called Electronic Locator Transmitters ( ELTs), that are designed to send distress signals automatically should the aeroplane crash. The ELTs on this aeroplane appeared not to have sent any distress signals, leading one to think that it didn’t crash.

What I most recently said to my acquaintance, was:

I’ve happened upon *this article* that you just may find illuminating.

The important thing to keep in mind, is that the chances of an ELT not working if this aeroplane crashed, were very small. So the chances of all four ELTs not having worked, were smaller still.

It’s reasonable, then, to conclude that this aeroplane didn’t crash.

The complete radio silence from this aeroplane immediately after it changed course, has been ascribed to a comprehensive electrical failure. As with the putative failure of the ELTs, the chances of a total electrical failure (unless deliberately caused) was very small, because the electrical system in this type of aeroplane is powered from four sources independent from each other. While one or two sources could reasonably have failed, the chances of all four sources failing, were extremely small.

Hence, the chances of a comprehensive electrical failure, and the ELTs all failing too, became infinitesimally small.

That Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen caused this aeroplane to vanish, seems the likely explanation. Think of the fact that electrical failure in cars, missile sites, and planes, often happens when Flying Saucers are near. Think also of the known instances of military jets vanishing after chasing Flying Saucers.

Because the technology at the disposal of these Extra Terrestrial gentlemen would likely be hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions, of years ahead of ours, it follows that taking command of a large aeroplane – like the one that has vanished –  through remote control, would be as easy for them, as feeding ducks is for us.

Having remote-controlled this aeroplane plane down to the southern Indian Ocean, they put it on board a giant Flying Saucer mother-ship, or caused it to vanish into a parallel-world portal.

Remember, it’s as though this aeroplane was plucked from the sky.

The scenario I’ve sketched, is either not even mentioned in all the speculations I’ve encountered, or, if it’s mentioned, it’s in a jocular tone. What does this say about the obtuseness of the Human?

As a retired General who was once in on the world’s most sensitive military secrets, I should tell you that these Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen and their Flying Saucers are real, and visit us often. The top Military Men of our world accordingly take them seriously, while accepting there’s nothing they can do about them. I can say this now, only because I’m retired. Had I said this when still a serving officer, I would never have got to be a General.

While I don’t know for sure what these Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen want from us Earthlings, I do know for sure that if they did take this large aeroplane, our leaders – if they learn of this – will reveal nothing.  So we’ll carry on as before, unless the Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen wish otherwise…………

The Importance of Boxing Ernest

You will remember from last time, that I spoke of an evening in 1946 when I defeated Slugger McGee to win the middleweight boxing championship of the British Army. Today, I’ll speak of an afternoon in 1928 when I boxed no less than Mr Ernest Hemingway.

I was visiting Paris in the course of one of those extended Home Leaves I was entitled to as an army officer overseas. A friend who knew important men, introduced me to Mr Hemingway who was then still living in Paris. Upon learning I was a good amateur boxer, Mr Hemingway invited me to spar with him at the American Soldiers and Sailors Club, which had a gymnasium with a boxing ring.

Flattered that the famous Mr Hemingway wished to box me, I was nonetheless apprehensive, for I had heard the stories that he boxed as well as he wrote. And the six-foot 200 pound Mr Hemingway was in boxing terms a heavyweight, whereas I was a mere middleweight.

I thought also of the fact that my boxing skills had atrophied considerably over the previous decade, the years when I should have been in my physical prime. Unfortunately, when in the trenches during The Great War, I had received wounds which sent me to the hospital for many months, and which still took me several more years after, to recover completely from.

After the Armistice – throughout the ‘twenties and ‘thirties – I was continually posted from one torpid, fly-buzzing out-of-the-way garrison to another throughout the Empire, where training facilities by means of which to hone one’s boxing skills to the sharpest, just weren’t there. Then the war, which you know as the Second World War, came, in which for a further five years I was totally otherwise engaged, and so couldn’t box at all.

So, now you know why it was only as late as 1946, when I was 51, that I could at last have the chance to win the middleweight championship  of the British Army; and now you know also why I’d been so apprehensive when I’d climbed into the ring – nearly twenty years earlier – for my three-round sparring session with Mr Hemingway, who, by the way, awed his hangers-on so much, that they called him “Papa”. I would normally have thought this odd, for Mr Hemingway was not then thirty. But, in his mien, he seemed much older, notwithstanding that he still looked physically imposing. I wasn’t therefore comforted.

I needn’t have worried. The stories that “Papa” boxed as well as he wrote turned out to be……….well……..stories. Although strong, he was slow. The more his would-be knock-out blows missed, the wilder they became. I easily got inside his round-house swings, and dug counter-punches deep into “Papa’s” ribs and stomach. He gasped, I assumed from pain, each time my punches dug.

I knew I could easily have taken him out. I thought it best not to, though, for I had sensed his excessive masculine posturing was merely a facade, behind which a feminine vulnerability hid. To be knocked out by a much smaller man like me, in front of his servile retinue, may have been more than he could bear.

At the end of the third and final round “Papa” raised his arms. I assumed he thought he’d won. I felt chagrined, and regretted not knocking him out. But I grinned (sic) as a gentleman should grin after a world-famous man has accorded him the privilege to box him.

It Happened One Night

Although I regularly hike through forests and up and down mountains, the better to stay in shape and thereby delay Crossing Over to the last possible moment, I also do other things to delay The Crossing, like boxing.

This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, for, here on the Pacific Rain Coast, there are almost no men for me to box because they would rather play ice-hockey than box. However, they do like to fight, but only with bare hands, often in bars, or while playing ice-hockey. I, on the other hand, like to fight only with boxing gloves, and under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

So, instead of landing my boxing glove clad fists on other men’s heads, I land them on a heavy punching-bag and a speed-bag, that I’ve hung in my back garden where no other men can see. They mustn’t, else they’d talk, and the police would hear, and would come looking. I just can’t have this.

I also skip rope, lift weights, do pull ups on a tree branch, do squats and stomach crunches, and other things of this ilk. I shadow-box too. But, throwing fists in thin air is no substitute for landing them on men’s heads. To throw a left hook that lands on the point of a man’s jaw – so he drops as limply as an anti-Hitlerite at the end of piano-wire – is to experience an experience like no other.

Why the lure of boxing for me, and for all true men? It’s that we men have always fought each other, right from when we emerged from our caves in Paleolithic times. We’ve always done it. It’s in our blood.

There are, of course, other forms of fighting, but boxing is the most gentlemanly. So I regret that it seems now to be dying. No doubt those effete doctors have convinced you all, that being punched on your head isn’t good for your brain. I know this to be rubbish because there’s nothing wrong with my brain, despite my head being punched regularly throughout the 100 years since I began boxing as a boy.

That my brain still works well, is because my head has been punched so many times. Each time my brain ricocheted against the wall of my skull, it was developing new protective tissue. Hence it’s now about the toughest brain inside the head of any living man.

Had I not decided to enter the army full-time I would have entered the ring full-time. Consequently I may well have become a world champion, and I would today be as much a household name as any of the great boxing champions.

This is no idle boast, for I was always thought very good as a boxer, even though a mere amateur. In 1946, when old even for an amateur (I was 51), I won the middleweight championship of the British Army.

I remember the fight as if yesterday. It was at the Royal Albert Hall in London on a humid July night. My opponent, a 21-year-old corporal, Angus “Slugger” McGee, was as tough a man as you’ll ever meet, and totally unawed that he was to fight a general. He had won by knock-out all his bouts leading to this one. I, on the other hand, had eked out only close decisions, for, because I was relatively so old, my timing wasn’t what it once was. Slugger was therefore favoured by most as the bell clanged for the first round.

I’ll not go into the minutiae of the fight, except to say that I fought it with the objective not to be knocked out, and to win only by decision. I was confident that the judges, being not only army men, but officers, would see it in their interest to award their decision to me as a general, rather than to a corporal, should the fight be close. It was, actually, and the judges did the right thing.

I could see in Slugger’s face that he was angry. However he congratulated me, and bared his teeth that I took as a smile, after the referee raised my hand. I later let it be known to my fellow generals that I hoped Slugger’s magnanimity in defeat would be acknowledged. I heard, but only many years after, that he had been almost immediately promoted to sergeant, and rose to be a regimental sergeant-major.

Slugger, do you still live or have you Crossed Over? If the latter, I do hope I’ll see you there, and we can fight again if you wish.

The Blue Island

Even though today is dank and dreary, I’ll still do my daily hike through the forests and hills that surround my little house – as good a place as any for hiding from policemen. As I’ve said in previous postings, I do these hikes to stay in shape, so to delay to the utmost the moment when I must Cross Over.

How will it be when I Cross Over? I ask myself this well-nigh every day, since, at 118, I can expect to Cross Over at any time. Will I continue in another form, or will I simply no longer be, and will therefore go back to how it was before I was born?

There was a man, a quite well-known journalist, who was on the Titanic when it sank in 1912 – an event I still remember reading about in the newspapers, and listening while my Mater and Pater and the other grownups excitedly talked about it. Anyway, no more was ever seen of this man, this journalist, so he must have drowned. However, a spiritualist in London some years after, began getting telepathic messages from this drowned man, that told of his life after he drowned.

This man, after he plunged into the cold inky waters of the Atlantic, suddenly felt like he was whooshing swiftly upwards. He found himself in a very pleasant place, a land enveloped in a faint bluish haze. He appropriately called it The Blue Island. There, he met again his dead father and other dead men he had known when he was still bodily alive.

All in all, this drowned man when he sent his telepathic messages, was loving it on the Blue Island, and wished not ever to go back to Earth, even though he had had a good life. I’ll not speak more of this drowned man’s life on the Blue Island, for, if you’re interested, you can read about it elsewhere on the Internet. And if you do, you’ll see that the Blue Island is the sort of place you’ll be happy to go to after you yourself finally breathe your last.

Where I now live, on the Pacific Rain Coast, I often find myself during my daily forest hikes, high up on mountainsides where I can look down on the world far below, which is usually beneath a bluish haze, much as described in The Blue Island of the drowned Titanic passenger.

So, should I myself go to the Blue Island when I Cross Over, I may find things there not much different to how I find things now, except I’ll not likely have policemen looking for me, for, if the drowned Titanic passenger is to be believed, the Blue Island is so peaceful, it wouldn’t need policemen.