"we look before and after and pine for what is not"

FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, March 30, 2006

Looking down the railway track at an oncoming train no matter how distant has always been one of those things that makes me seriously uneasy. I remember as a fourteen-year-old riding the jigger home late one afternoon with a train that I knew was parked in town yet hurling toward that light presented me then and now with uncontrollable fear.

So much of our being, what we are and what we think we are is so wrapped up in the mysteries of our perception and limited understanding of what appears to be our own personal reality.

As I thought about that this morning looking at that on coming train the words of Percey Bysshe Shelley the British romantic poet of who died in the first quart of the nineteenth century, came to me "we look before and after and pine for what is not." The line comes from the reflective part of his remarkable poem, "To a skylark" written two years before his death in 1820.


I would guess that most of us shrugged off the required study of this poem and poet in grade twelve literature. Like most seventeen year olds I did my duty and prepared for the exam without realising that this was one of those remarkable masterpieces. I had to go through Professor Sutherland's ranting about the eccentric Shelley and his playboy buddy Lord Byron and still I did not get the importance of this and other Shelley poems. What did stick was that Shelley's wife, Mary, did up a monster story to present at one of their parties which is today one of the classic horror's stories of all times "Frankenstein"


Shelley became something far more than just an academic task when I began teaching English literature in high school. I can imagine you shuddering at the thought, with my perverse spelling my students needed sympathy, but, I did have passion and those romantic poets and Shakespeare marched out into the minds of any student who had to endure me as their teacher.

On this pages are images of the reluctant spring of 2006 like this one with the sidewalk buried deep beneath ice and snow or the house below in the midst of a complete rebuild.


These images are in sharp contrast to the almost spiritual exuberance of the bird's song that got Shelley thinking about the dull and mundane lives we all live trapped in our shadows of the past and fear of the future.

Let me show you one amazing example; computers have been in many homes for more than twenty years now and yet you will find more than half of all teachers can deal with only the most rudimentary tasks with this expanding technology. They and folks of


of all ages come up with strange explanations for their remarkable backward failure to adapt to the world in which they live and work.

Not like the guy above, he has crunched through the snow to sit on a park bench up to its seat in snow, now that's adaptation. Or, this jogging house fly who can not fly because his or her metabolism needs more heat than available on that snowbank so jogging has to be the course of action.

It may well be an important t part of human design that we are almost always dissatisfied. We complain that a movie is to silly, to serious or falls short this way or that when all it really is, is a simple form of entertainment. I complain about the lateness of spring but just as easily could complain about the excessive run off. Weather is ideal because no matter what it is like we can always wish for something different.

Our human problem is a tricky one. We must have, absolutely can not do without, challenge. If you stop learning new things you are no longer alive. On the other hand that which is our challenge is also our primary source of complaint. All things would be better if . . .

Until we slip on our thinking caps once more, may our good spirits and positive thoughts go to Gus of Mr. Ribs who suffer a heart attack a week or so ago but is steadily making a recover. And, one more oddity in the news, Colin Chupa the consummate workaholic, has actually gone on a two week holiday.



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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