Monday, February 16, 2009

Things have a way of working out...according to Somerset Maugham

Listening to the news of the economy, people losing jobs and looking at the diminishing pay when one is on commission...all these things are ripe to ruin a good day. But I believe in the idea that all things work together for our good.

I like to reference Somerset Maugham in his short story, 'The Tobacconist' in which the aging janitor is fired for not being able to read; in his depression he takes a walk and looks for a tobacco shop to buy some smokes. When he cannot find a shop, he decides (along with his wife) to take his savings and open a cubbyhole tobacco shop--it is successful and he repeats the pattern 10 times. Sitting with his accountant reviewing his books, his accountant reports his amazement at the fact of his multimillionaire success and that he is unable to read or write. "Just think where you'd be if you could read or write!" his accountant notes, to which the man replies. "If I could read or write, I'd be a janitor."

To that end, I believe things will work for our good. Have a great day and keep hope alive. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


While serving on the USS America, my colleague was training a new sailor on how to announce over the P.A. system that the ship’s Captain was leaving. The protocol involves broadcasting the name of the ship (synonymous with the Captain) followed by the words, ‘departing’. In anticipation, the officer required the sailor to practice the singsong formula: "America, …Departing"; "America, …Departing" until the Captain was ready to leave and his aide called to say that he was on his way. My colleague whispered, “The captain is leaving” to the sailor who in turn announced: "CAPTAIN ... AMERICA ... IS LEAVING."

Finding myself

Visiting at the First Presbyterian Church, Monterey CA with its baby boomer congregation; we encouraged our preschoolers to sit around Pastor Jay when he gathered the young around him to hear the weekly “children’s sermon”. He emphasized our need to worship together each week—that it was something we couldn’t do alone and used the analogy of playing ‘Hide and Go Seek’. Encouraging children to think for themselves, he asked. “Can you play ‘Hide and Go Seek’ by yourself? What would happen if you did?” My four year old son, piped up clearly for all those former hippies to hear, “Well, I’d have to go hide,” and after a thought-filled pause, finished, “…and then go find myself.”

Where Lonely Socks Go

Holding up my dirty sock, and smelling the stinky toe, I stop. It drops. I think it winks at me!

“Where is your other sock?” my mom asks for the third time tonight.

“Dunno.” Looking down at the one in my hand and then at the floor for the match. No, it’s not there.

“Do you know where my other sock is?” I whisper to the sock in my hand. I hope that no one knows I’m talking to my sock.

The sock says nothing but sags down low, looks sort of sad; not bad exactly, more twisting its toe—or is it a head—in a shrug? I let go and it falls to the rug.

I lean down low and creep up close, bending my head till I scrunch my nose and eyes and ask again. “Can you tell me where lonely socks go?” Wrinkling my nose from the smell of its toe, I’m not sure if it’s friend or foe. I wait for more, but it chooses not to say; so, I’m stuck with a puzzle. Can I learn today, the secret place where lonely socks go?

Perhaps, some sock can explain how lone socks know to start on a journey and go where they go. There must be one who’s been there and back who will tell its tale; I just have to find it and follow its trail; back to the place where lonely socks go.

So many of mine have gone away that I am certain there must be a special space that lonely socks gather to meet up with others as they travel the world or search the earth; a place where they might need my help to come home.

I seek the one that’s been there and back but I mix up whose’s whose and which’s which, so I’m not certain I’ll track which of my socks has come back from that space where lonely socks go. ...

There's more to the story, it's plain to see, each has lost a sock, maybe two or three. For this explorer the where is revealed yet a question remains though the solution is found. A conundrum exists in the story, as in life. The fun's in the journey more than solving the plight.