Archive for October, 2011

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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Don’t have a clue who said this originally, but there seems to be a plethora of Americans subscribing to this philosophy nowadays.

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“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

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I wrote this essay for the “Readers Write” section of the magazine, The Sun. The assigned title of essays to be submitted was “Cheap Thrills.” Mine wasn’t selected for publication (darn it), but I like it, so here it is.

Cheap Thrills

My memories of Summer 1969 are vivid snapshots in my mind’s eye. I was 14.

My father had accepted a research assignment which required him to spend a number of months on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. My mother, not to be left behind, plucked my two older sisters and me out of our cocoon in a conservative mid-western city and flew us 5700 miles west to the tiny island in the south Pacific.

It didn’t take long for my sisters, ages 18 and 20, to hook up with one of the island locals—a Samoan Marine recently wounded and returned home from Vietnam—and some other palangis (whites)–university students manning a satellite tracking station. If anyone minded little sister tagging along, no one ever said anything.

That summer was one of firsts for me. I suffered through an unrequited crush on an older man, tasted (and loathed) scotch at a beach party, watched the moon landing on a snowy black-and-white TV, danced to Velvet Underground, bumbled upon a shark while snorkling, slept on sheets damp with humidity, soothed coral stings, scuba dived to eighty feet and climbed Matafao, the tallest peak on the island.

But one memory stands out above the rest.

At that time, only one plane departed the island each day–a Pan Am flight at 1:00 am. I don’t remember why I was allowed out so late, but I do remember, at 1 o’clock in the morning, crouching behind heavy vegetation lining the airport’s one runway. Off to our left, the jet moved into position, its lights brilliant white starbursts in the darkness. The jet lumbered forward, the engines growing louder and louder until it rolled by us. As a group, we ran from our hiding places and lay down half-on, half-off the pavement. The jet made its turn at the end of the runway and surged back toward us for take-off. I pressed my hands to my ears to shut out the screaming engines.

I can still feel the blast of heat and stones from the massive jet engines as the wing passed right over our heads.

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One of my favorite quotes.

Here’s the rest of the quote: “And whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

John Adams, ‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’ December 1770
US diplomat & politician, 2nd President of the United States (1735 – 1826)

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“The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life.”

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