Thought for the Day: The color of your Day.

“So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”

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I awaken in the middle of the night; there has been a power outage, all the clocks are wrong, the one on the microwave is blinking. I cannot remember what time I fell asleep. It is pitch black out. Thought: if it is before 5am, back to bed, after, make coffee and walk out to the shop. To find out what time it is I turn on the cable TV to a random channel: 3:22 am. I almost flick it off before noticing the movie is the 30 year old adaptation of Orwell’s book “1984”. The part of the film is covered by the quote above. I watched 60 seconds and turned it off. I don’t need to see more, I have read the book countless times, much of it lives in my memory. I hold it to be the most disturbing book ever written.

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Yesterday at the gas station I had waited in line behind a man speaking heatedly into a cell phone. He held a 12 pack and asked the person behind the counter for a carton of cigarettes and a number of lottery tickets. His belief in luck exceeds his understanding of statistics; Odds of lung cancer 1 in 5, odds of being a millionaire 1 in 30,000,000. Orwell’s quote brings the man’s image back to mind. It is not a significant coincidence. Had I stood there an hour, I could have seen a near continuous stream just like him.

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I am not better than that man. He evokes no sense of disgust nor superiority in me, just an empathy, a strange sense that I genuinely wish that other elements of his life have rich meaning, but I can’t even pretend to imagine it. I too have allowed myself to be anesthetized by the colorless grind of unmemorable days folding into unmemorable months. I am not better than that man.

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I have the personal perspective that the chain of days in the calendar of life are all delivered in a black and white format. The 1,440 minutes that make up each of them pass in a gray flow unless a genuine effort is made to paint them with color, the color of real life.

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It is 4:12 now. The first cup of coffee is done, I am going to the shop now.  1,188 minutes left in this day. I am going to color them by making things with my own hands that will later leave the ground as parts of a machine that will last many decades. If the weather at sunrise is good, the sky will be full of color, and I fire up a 68 year old plane and spend 15 minutes aloft welcoming the color to this day. -ww.

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Above, Grace hugs old friend Tom Brown in front of his Monocoupe in June 2005 at the SAA gathering at Urbana Ill.  Tom is well known for his 1,500 hour Corvair powered Pietenpol. I took the photo, and I can remember the moment so clearly it seems no longer ago than yesterday.

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