The common practice these days of perplexing every labor done in order that sentiments may be exchanged between a dormant mind and one seeking to loot has extended its sinister fingers into every crevice of our daily lives. This and this alone is the greatest misfortune of the 21st century, a time of astounding discovery and opportunity only to be met with social indifference.
Normally when I’m on the radio with Doc Thompson of 700 WLW I have a little fun ripping to shreds the misconceptions of education spending, because the values do not equate, so there is much fodder to be achieved. But on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 my daily ride by motorcycle was met with a wall of mystic fog, and the wind called adventure to my throttle as I stormed into the cool morning on that steel horse headed for work. But upon arriving at my office and turning on the radio I was informed of school delays due to the fog and this sent my mind into a torrent which could be heard in my voice during that talk with Doc. Gone from my intonation is that happy banter, although I tried. The replacement thoughts which rushed back to me from the years past set my mind ablaze with a unifying theory which encompasses much of what is wrong in this modern age.
To understand my views on this one must understand a bit about my life. I purposely ride my motorcycle all year, even in the snow, because I enjoy the discomfort and adventure offered in the dangerous conditions. When I receive a deep cut, I usually tend to it myself including sutures. I have been known to stuff the ligaments and blood vessels incorrectly back under my jagged skin only to have it professionally repaired at a later date because the injury was just too great for self repair. In those times, such as a time I had to have my knee repaired with an ACL replacement, the therapy regiment scheduled me for a 12 week intense recovery program, which would require me to be off work during that time. I had the surgery on a Thursday and was back to work minding my 50+ employees on the following Tuesday, walking around on crutches. My therapists were infuriated with me as I learned that they wished to prolong my recovery to fill their own pockets. When after two weeks I declared myself healed, they protested violently. “Nobody can recover that quickly.”
“I just did.”
If I had listened to the cadence of their concerns I might still be in therapy 4 years later, because I had good insurance that covered my therapy, so they had no idea why I was in such a rush to recover, or get back to work. It was beyond their minds that I was doing it for myself, to teach my body to recover quickly and to not accept a loss of movement, or any dependence on an outside person. Self-reliance is the focus of my every thought of every moment of every day, and I expect that same passion out of every cell in my body. I call out to them like a general on a battlefield to fight off disease faster, to clot up lacerations quickly, and to heal with no time to spare. I have always been like this.
Speaking with Doc I thought of another similar foggy morning when I was a kid, couldn’t have been much older than the 5th grade, and a garbage truck stormed over the hill in front of my house and hit the school bus I was getting on from behind. I was in the isle walking back to find a seat when I saw the truck about to hit through the rear window of the bus, so I quickly jumped off the bus and back into my driveway. The collision was so violent that before my feet hit the driveway, the bus had been pushed down the road and was replaced by the wrecked garbage truck.
My first thought was not whether or not everyone was alright on the bus, or even the driver of the garbage truck. My first thought was that I would now be late for school and was granted by the grace of God a few extra hours of time to myself to read a book, draw pictures and write in my journal while the rest of the kids stepped off the bus holding their heads, rubbing their shoulders and looking for somebody to give them some level of pity.
At fire drills I never followed the directions. “Rich Hoffman, you need to get back in line. If there is a fire I am responsible to make sure you’re safe,” my teacher would tell me. Little did they know that if there was a fire, I’d be anywhere but where it was safe. The demons of the night would not allow my mind to rest if I walked away from danger, so standing in a line like a good little boy was not going to happen.
I remember poking the school bully in the eye with my scissors in first grade because he said he was going to kill me. He was out of school for three weeks due to that injury and I received 10 swats with the paddle, but he never bothered me again until the 6th grade where we had such a bad fight that the principle gave us both a paddling. Mine was worse because that kid had problems that would require him to take more time off school. In fact I received a paddling from so many principals that I can’t even remember them all. I remember making sure to let the principals know that I felt no pain, or that I could take it without flinching, even when I was 6 and 7 years old. You see, it was important to be tough, not only in respect from your class-mates, but it seemed important later in life somehow.
I remember sitting in front of one of my high school principals in his office after I had been involved in an altercation and my right fist knuckle was cut open in several places. The bone of my pointer finger was sticking out from the impact and the ligaments that held the top of my hand together were dangling out of the cut. The damage would require a plastic surgeon to fix. “Who did you hit to get a cut like that?” the principal would ask.
Blood running freely and me trying to fight back the effect of shock, “Nobody, why?”
“Rich Hoffman, you can’t continue on like this. You have to find a groove and get into it, this constant resistance to authority that you are prone to will have to stop one of these days or you will die before you get there.”
Once I was married and had kids life seemed to slow down. There weren’t fights with other kids and high-speed car crashes, like I had become accustom to stimulate my mind. Since we only had one car at the time, I bought a bicycle and rode that to work so my wife would have a car. That took the pressure off having to buy another car. I rode that bike to work every day for the next 10 years, 12 miles each way. I did it because it gave me opportunity for adventure on my commute to work. It put me out in the elements and laid danger at my doorstep daily.
Now that I’ve had a little success in life, I ride a motorcycle instead of a bicycle for the same effect, because I’m busy and need to speed up my commute times. Time these days is very important, so I don’t have much of it to kill.
So I can testify that I am utterly baffled by these overprotective mothers who lug around their large cabooses drowning in perfume as if to compensate for the disaster their bodies have become, who have always pointed at my lifestyle as though it were forged in the image of a devil. To me, dressing a kid in a helmet to ride a bicycle down the street is too much. To not let a kid fall down and bump their head or know what it feels like to see the life blood of your body running out before you, forcing you to act quickly to stop it, those are the experiences that make good, strong adults. Pain builds character, and I’d never consider going back in time to avoid any of it.
“The lawsuit culture, the cry-baby teachers, the political looters” I wrote in my notebook that day at the bus accident would all grow up fat, ugly, and socially neurotic. They spent too much time after the accident looking for someone to pity them for their experience, and they would carry that trait into their adult lives and their kids would hate them for it, because kids want to be stimulated. They don’t want to be safe!
Over the last couple decades as parents have divorced with increasing frequency and father number 2 or 3 move in and out of a child’s life so schools have taken up the extra slack of this cultural breakdown, and the teachers out of fear of litigation from neurotic parents have become neurotic themselves and suddenly we have a culture terrified of any danger, so much so that they will throw enormous sums of money at police, firefighters and the like because they live a fearful life and have no way to understand the value of the danger in those positions. The belief is that money will close the gap of understanding is one for fools.
I knew a kid years ago who wet his pants because a lightning bolt struck a tree near where we were playing. He was one whose parents sheltered him incredibly, to the point of neurosis, and of course that kid had difficulty recovering from those limitations when manhood came calling. I used to feel sorry for him, because he didn’t know what it felt like to live a life without fear, because his fears had been conquered. His parents instead taught him that fear was good, and that if he was afraid, then there must be a good reason for it. Bad advice!
Living without fear is the first aspect of a free existence, even before financial security. It is the obligation of childhood to arrive at manhood with as little fear as possible, but unfortunately our current culture actually celebrates neurosis, and belittles the FEARLESS! What an upside down world.
So I felt a twang of pity for all those poor kids who watched the adults in charge of their lives postpone school because an evil fog had cast itself across the land. I realized that a robbery had taken place, all in the name of “SAFETY.” Those children had been denied a mysterious journey through the masked landscape of their familiar routes to see the world differently, and to compare those differences with their everyday route. For it is an important lesson to see how different something you think you know well can look when the elements upon which you see it change. And those kids were denied that experience. Instead, they stayed safe in their homes waiting for the fog to clear and the opportunity for adventure to pass, as the thief went with it into the rising sun of an autumn morning.
Safety had just weakened the next generation proportionally.
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