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Of Fables and Unicorns

‘… Well,  now that we have seen each other,’ said the Unicorn, ‘If you believe in me, I’ll believe in you.’
By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. In 1967 the Irish Rovers, a Canadian group audaciously featuring good natured boys from both the Orange and the Green, had a huge international hit. It was called “The Unicorn”, and it caught just the right whimsical note for its subject… and for this article. Go to any search engine and find it now. Then allow the music to do its insidious task… and in a minute, no matter how onerous your cares today, you’ll be smiling. What’s more that smile will grow to a grin when you learn that the unicorn lives…

The Arabian oryx.

Every fable, every legend, every great enduring story, no matter how fabulous or unlikely, has its roots in something real, tangible, actual. And the story of the unicorn, one of the longest running fables on this planet, is no exception. Once upon a time someone, though we shall probably never know exactly who, saw a thing… and imagined more; the tale growing in the telling, embroidered by all, a pleasure to hear, its enhancements eagerly awaited.

In this case, the thing seen was called the Arabian oryx, whose distinctive horns are widely believed to have given rise to the unicorn legend. I have good news about these benign creatures, so much a part of our imagination: they are now classified as “vulnerable”, not “extinct”. Accordingly we should give a cheer, for these days, as one species after another faces oblivion, we must take our good news where we can find it. And this is good news, indeed… for it means the oryx has been given the gift of time…

Extinct in the wild in the 1970s.

The last oryx in the wild was shot to death in the early 1970s… and that, it was thought, was that. But humans, the main predator of the oryx (wolves being a distant second) having wiped out the breed…. then, paradoxically, started strenuous efforts to revive the breed, using stock from zoos, animal parks and private collections. Its enduring legend as the unicorn made these people anxious to help. The objective was to breed enough so they could be successfully reintroduced to their habitat on the Arabian peninsula.

The oryx, glad for the help, responded as hoped to this special effort…and in due course began to return to its harsh wild conditions. It returned to Oman first, later to the deserts of Saudi Arabia.. . Israel, the United Arab Emirates… then, most recently, Jordan. About 1000 of these creatures now exist… and are doing what they need to do to survive…. and thrive, living in reality, not just in stories, no matter how enthralling.

But the stories of the oryx ARE enthralling… because people have an enduring need for the wonder of fables. And if you squint your eyes just so… you will not see a beast, no matter how attractive… you will see a fabulous one-horned creature with the power to engage our mind and lighten our load.

Al Maha

The Arabian oryx (also called the white oryx) is known locally as Al Maha and features widely in Arabic poetry and painting. It can smell water from miles away, has wide hooves that let it easily navigate shifting sand, and lives in small herds of eight to 10 animals.

Have you ever been in a desert at midday, where the heat shimmers and the mind plays tricks? In such a place, at such a time, it is easy to see what you have never known before. No mirage… but an actuality that belongs to you alone. In such a moment the fabulous unicorn presents itself for your inspection, bows its head the better to show its horn… then recedes into the shimmer… going, going, gone… now your quest for life. So the unicorn enchants and makes believers of us all… The legend begins.

Perhaps the earliest mention of the unicorn is by the famed Greek historian Herodotus in the third century BC. He called it a “horned ass”. A century later, spurred by the travels into Persia of the Greek historian and physician Ctesias, tales of the unicorn were widespread, losing nothing in the telling.

Ctesias, who admits he never saw one, quizzed local merchants and other travelers for whatever information they had. These folks, Persians and not above hoodwinking a Greek. fed Ctesias the details he longed for. Bit by bit he got a complete impression of the “wild ass of India”. It was the size of a horse, with a white body, a red head, bluish eyes, and a straight horn on its forehead, a cubit long.

It was the horn, all agreed, that riveted their attention… and while no Persiian seemed to know all its attributes… each one added another, turning the unicorn into a beast of awe, wonder, and power.

The horn, the all important horn, was magical, possessing key ingredients for mediaeval medicaments. It offered protection against poisons (no small thing in a world where a pinch of this, a smidgeon of that, could alter a royal succession or remove a pesky husband, or wife). Worn as jewelry, it protected the wearer from evil.

Burgeoning demand, miniscule supply.

There could never be enough of such potency… and, of course, charlatans, all believability, seduced the gullible and credulous, offering everything, delivering nothing. Other charlatans, all sanctimony and solemnity, arose with the means, so they insisted, of determining whether the horn was real… or not.

Place a scorpion under a dish with a piece of horn. If the scorpion dies in a matter of hours, the horn is real.

Feed arsenic to pigeons, followed by a dose of unicorn horn. If the pigeons live, the horn is genuine.

Draw a ring on the floor with the horn. If the horn is real, a spider will not be able to cross the ring.

Place the horn in cold water. If the water bubbles but remains cold, the horn came from a true and real unicorn.

You get the idea.

Capturing unicorns.

Its potency known… ways of certifying its authenticity at hand… the unceasing problem was how to find unicorns… and how to capture them. Here a magnificent series of tapestries made in Belgium in 1500 hold clues. Bought by John D. Rockefeller, the richest man on earth, in 1922, they are now on display at the Cloisters museum in New York.

There are 7 tapestries in this series which portrays, in fine detail and consummate craftsmanship, a unicorn hunt. The men, nobles all, are chasing the unicorn as if it were standard quarry. And, of course, the unicorn easily eludes them, laughing the while.

In the fifth tapestry, however, the unicorn is captured… by the power of a young maid, who represents the Virgin Mary. She needs do nothing but sit in complete tranquility. The unicorn, perhaps knowledgeable of its fate, advances unforced, puts its head in the virgin’s lap…and so becomes, in the seventh and most celebrated tapestry, a prisoner, chained to a tree within a round wooden fence; its destiny sealed.

In the words of Lewis Carroll (Through the Looking Glass. 1871) “… Well, now, that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” I feel sure she did… and that the unicorn abides, at peace, his head forever in her lap. May the renewing oryx fare as well.

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About The Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 60 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a success. Connect with Dr. Lant at www.drjeffreylant.com

 

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Of Lush Ripe Strawberries and Their Sweet Allure. Ahh! Berries are so fine…

Author’s program note. This is a story about a fruit so rich that once you start thinking about it you cannot rest until you are eating some… popping them into your mouth as fast as you can, crushing them… letting the richness of its sweet, sweet juice drip down your chin… glad to have all you can eat… joyfully careless about what you waste… for there will always be strawberries enough for you… you are absolutely sure of that!

But as Deana Carter knows, the lush abundance of strawberries is not unlimited… and so she twangs her tale of high summer, desire, a taste so sweet it maddens you and never satiates… producing a wine you can never get enough of… a strawberry wine… a wine that you can never forget… though sometimes you wish you’d never come to know.

And so, I have selected for today’s occasional music “Strawberry Wine” by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, released in August, 1996. Nashville record companies found the song overly long, controversial, and not memorable enough. But when Carter sang her heart out about the summer, the boy… the strawberries and their wine… the record won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Go now to any search engine and listen to it. You’ll find yourself remembering… you’ll find yourself craving… you’ll want their taste again… the berries always see to that…. for they are an imperious fruit.

Her Majesty’s strawberry. On a picture perfect summer day one August I was in Scotland, in the Highlands, at Balmoral… a country castle conceived by Prince Albert, the beautiful German prince loved obsessively by Queen Victoria. For an American used to the White House with its layer after layer of security, Balmoral comes as a rather unnerving shock. “Security” consisted of a single guard, unobtrusive, reading a newspaper. There might be, there must be more… but that’s all I ever saw. He barely looked at us.. smiled… and waved. Thus does Her Britannic Majesty tell you she is beloved of the people and doesn’t need a legion of centurions to protect her… unlike the president of the Great Republic who always needs more… and more.

And so in due course, my friend and I found ourselves in the magnificent park, expansive, serene, as lovely a place as Earth provides. And in the park I found a kitchen garden… the Queen’s garden… and in this garden I saw a strawberry, huge, perfectly ripe, ready to be eaten. And so I reached down to pluck it and enjoy… whereupon I felt a strong hand pulling me up and heard my friend’s voice, no longer amiable, but commanding, imperative, stentorian: “Do not touch that strawberry…. that is the Queen’s berry!” And I realized what being a subject of the Windsors meant, whilst I was the child of revolution and lese majeste/. And so the uneaten berry remained… for the delectation of the Queen.

Even dukes get only leaves.

I was crushed but as my friend was driving I had to give way, and gracefully, too — or else.

Then I had a thought that cheered me up. Even the grandest members of the nobility couldn’t eat of the Royal fruit with impunity. They had to make do with the strawberries’ leaves. And no, I am not making this up. A duke’s coronet proves my point. When a man becomes a duke (and there are only 24 such people in the entire realm of Great Britain) he is entitled to a silver-gilt circlet called a coronet. It features eight strawberry leaves — not one more and never a single one less. Thus does the sovereign elevate ambitious members of the aristocracy… and keep her strawberries for herself.

Other gentlemen of high rank and title are also entitled to strawberry leaves on their coronets. And here there is a most curious conundrum: marquesses who rank just below dukes in the peerage of the realm are entitled to four strawberry leaves… but earls, who rank below marquesses, get eight. What can this mean? For peers, as you may imagine, are protocol mad… and scrutinize their inferiors for any indication that they are claiming rank and privilege to which they are not strictly entitled. You can be sure there’s some fiddle going on here… but if the marquesses are in a pet of high indignation, they have but to look far down at the viscounts and barons who have not a single strawberry leaf between them… and that’s just the way these marquesses mean to keep it — “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”. Strawberry leaves mean strawberry tea.

Fortunately, there is more you can do with your strawberry leaves than wait for the Queen to make you a duke. That, after all, could be a long time coming since the last non-royal duke was his grace of Westminster, in 1874. It’s true that her present majesty when a young woman offered to make Sir Winston Churchill duke of London… but he declined and there the matter rests, perhaps forever.

And you’ll agree, this situation could be more than irritating for those who every morning see in their looking glasses, not milord this or the right honorable that but… His Grace the Duke of… resplendent in ermine and strawberry leaves.

These men, well bred for hundreds of years, offer the correct aquiline features, the correct pedigree, with generations of the right fathers and acquiescing mothers, masters of every arcane procedure, the right words and impeccable cravat, these men I tell you are smoldering with rage, aggravation, frustration, worthies all marooned in the wrong time. For them, each of them only the calming propensities of strawberry leaf tea will do… poured in a fragile cup of Minton, delivered by Nannie who always knows just what to do. “Have some more sugar, ducks. There, there, it’ll be all right.”

And so does Nanny, who loves you best, goes out with wicker basket on her arm, to the places she knows well, where the fresh wild strawberries grow or the sweet woodland berries. Take 1 tablespoon of dried rose petals, 1/2 teaspoon of yarrow, 1 teaspoon of strawberry leaves, a pinch of mint or blackberry leaves. Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep. Choler cannot long exist in the presence of such determined coziness.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).

It was perhaps in pursuit of these ingredients that Emily Dickinson, mistress of opaque language, stepped out, “Over the fence” …

“Over the fence — Strawberries — grow — Over the fence — I could climb — if I tried, I know — Berries are nice. But — if I strained my Apron — God, would certainly scold! Oh, dear, — I guess if He were a Boy — he’d — climb — if He could!”

So, let’s leave it like that, for as Deana Carter sang, “It’s funny how those memories they last. Like strawberry wine… (when) The hot July moon saw everything” and the strawberries were there, bright and beckoning, just over the fence.

About the Author Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a success. Connect with Dr. Lant at www.drjeffreylant.com

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Of earmuffs, sissies, bone-chilling cold, and warm ears; thanks to young inventor Chester Greenwood.

Warm ears. Compliments of Chester Greenwood, inventor of earmuffs

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Winter. What a revoltin’ development this is. I often wonder on days so ridiculously cold like this one is why the Puritans stayed here after arriving and sampling the depths of a Massachusetts winter. I suppose it had something to do with their land grants and, of course, their pertinacious natures and obstinacy. For they were of the variety of folks who say they’ll do a thing and then — do it, never mind that their friends and fellow Pilgrims are dropping like flies all around them.

I often think of such folks on days like this, in winters like this. Excuse me if I get too intimate too fast, but I wonder, yes and for long periods of time, too, for I like to be thorough in my cogitations and day dreams, I wonder… about the socks those Puritans wore, what undergarments and undies they fashioned, how they made vests and sweaters… scarves and hats, each and every item needed… and especially the focus of today’s ruminations, how they kept their godly ears from freezing and falling off, tangible victory tokens for Winter itself, who likes you to remember who is boss around these parts once the December solstice occurs.

Theocracies, autocracies, aristocracies, ideas on this and that, may all come and go but one fact of human history remains constant and insistent: if you live in a frigid climate, your ears will get plenty cold… and must be taken care of right away, whatever your other priorities for the day.

Meet the patron saint of warm ears…. Chester Greenwood.

For just such days, Chester Greenwood and his first epochal invention were born. And today we sing his praises…. while capering amidst snow and ice. Because of Master Greenwood we are safe and warm, ready for anything.

Because Chester Greenwood, whom I guarantee you never heard of until just this moment, is the man who invented earmuffs… and he hailed not so very far from where I’m writing you today, in Farmington in the State of Maine, where laconic residents know the answer to this ancient question, “Cold enough for you?” And then laugh their thin, silent laugh, the one that keeps their human heat within, not cast profligate like into the too brusque air. Mainers are like that, and we like them just that way, especially young Chester and his ear-saving invention.

Just 15.

Like everybody else in Farmington, Chester’s young ears got cold and turned all the colors of distress, first chalky white, then beet red, and finally the deep blue that signifies danger for the continued use, indeed existence of the ears he rightly prized and cherished. And being a practical lad, and caring, too, for the ears of his family and friends, he did what all folks of inventive disposition do… he began to dream up a solution, and fast, for his ears were big and therefore even colder than most.

As every true inventor knows, the solution to a pending problem — that “eureka!” moment — can occur anytime, anywhere. And you must always be ready when it happens. For that industrious young Greenwood boy it occurred one day when he was out having fun — or trying to –at Abbot Pond where he was breaking in a new pair of skates.

This was a very big deal for him, because he came from a poor family (as most Mainers did) with six kids… and new skates were like gold, for all that they had to be shared. Greenwood was anxious to try out those babies… but the wind whipping off the pond was just too much, even for this hardy lad. He raced home to his “Gram”, found in her proper place in the farmhouse kitchen and asked her to see what she could come up with to cover his ears. It was the kind of practical question every real Grammie expects, is glad to get, and can always do something about.

Chester didn’t just stand and watch as his Grammie worked; that was not his way, and so they worked together. Chester supplied the idea and the materials; Gram, proud of her inventive grandson, supplied the artistry and experience of her nimble fingers, and so they got on like a house afire.

Chester wanted beaver fur on the outside, black velvet on the inside to shield his ears. Wool would never do; too itchy.

Once the materials had been selected and approved, it was time to fashion the device that kept them secure and in place. To solve this problem, they chose a soft wire known as farm wire, a precursor of bailing wire. Some later accounts say the resulting device was then attached to a cap.

So readied for the elements, Chester returned to the pond where, with the warmest ears in the county, he astonished his shivering buddies with the joyous dexterity of unremitting youth.

Soon, this 15 year old whiz kid was in the business of crafting earmuffs for old and young alike; for Mainers know a good deal when they see it. And as Chester worked… he, like every inventor before him, made adjustments, improvements, corrections, never satisfied, always in pursuit of the perfect muff, which he called Greenwood’s ear protectors and which, like Henry Ford’s auto, you could have in any color so long as it was black.

In due course, in 1873, and just 18 mind, he was awarded U.S. patent number 188,292 thereby launching a business which kept 20 or so of his neighbors in Farmington gainfully employed for nearly 60 years. At its height in 1936, he produced some 400,000 muffs a year, doing well while doing good… which is or at least should be the objective of every inventor and entrepreneur.

Greenwood, by now a celebrity in the State of Maine and beyond, died in 1937, aged 79. He had lead the most beneficial of lives, finding needs and filling them, the time honored path to usefulness and wealth. Amongst his 130 patents are such devices as improvements on the spark plug; a decoy mouse trap called the Mechanical Cat; his own shock absorber, a hook for pulling doughnuts from boiling oil, the Rubberless Rubber Band, and the Greenwood Tempered Steel Rake.

But of all his many worthy and practical ideas, I still prefer his first achievement, those earmuffs in beaver and black velvet, for you see like Chester, and such great celebrities as Clark Gable, I have big ears, too; so big that in the Alphabet Poll in my high school year book, my ears were photographed after my discerning classmates had voted mine the most notable, and so they were. Delicious.

And thus, with ears like Greenwood’s, I had Greenwood’s problem; that is until I discovered Greenwood’s solution in a pair of Greenwood’s muffs, in black, of course. They were a statement, that I was a practical boy myself, always desirous of keeping these pristine ears in fine working order. Besides, I don’t mind tellling you, I looked killing in mine, arresting, handsome, cute to boot. Not like Christopher Ninnis, that wag, who made derisory comments about sissies in earmuffs, keeping his in a box. But then… look how he turned out.

Note: In 1977, Maine declared December 21st “Chester Greenwood Day” to honor the king of warm ears whilst the City of Farmington, Maine kept employed by Greenwood’s genius, throws him an annual birthday bash, complete with parade where police cruisers are decorated as giant earmuffs. It’s the first Saturday in December. He deserves it, all of it, don’t you thinkl

 

 

Not in the mood for Thanksgiving? Then be grateful for what you don’t have!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Rarely if ever have I seen my fellow countrymen so riled up… irritable, angry, rude epithets at the ready, bad behaviors endemic. What’s going on? Try these for openers…

A rotten economic situation that just won’t get better… and you’re afraid it never will. And so you worry (for the umpteenth time) about just how secure your job is. Is there some guy in Mumbai who’ll be glad to do it at half what you get? You’ve raised the subject with your boss… but his answer was not reassuring and now he won’t look you in the eye.

A president whose leadership style gives us no leadership… and nary a Republican presidential candidate who doesn’t cause multitudes to hold their noses, gagging, and wonder why our mind boggling lengthy and expensive campaign produces candidates we can’t stand or respect, much less admire.

Sickening scandals like the one still unfolding at Penn State, scandals that make us wake up in the middle of the night shouting, “What the…… is going on around here?”. Sometimes we wonder, and not just once either, whether anyone is honest, decent, and unarmed anymore… or whether it’s only suckers (you being one) who play by the rules.

Every day we pick up the newspaper and read about another murder in the neighborhood, our neighborhood. Are our neighbors only “good” because we don’t know their secret lives and the home truths that haven’t yet been disclosed?

We read about some drug bust at the school down the street… and are horrified to see the police photo and recognize our kid’s favorite teacher. We run upstairs and check the closet and dresser drawer to see if this has touched us even closer. You’re fortunate today… nothing out of order… but
the word “yet” comes immediately to mind… since these days you expect something bad to happen any time now and aren’t particularly surprised when it does.

We read about… and are as concerned as our busy lives will allow… another species declared extinct… another Web sex scandal… another political official with a skill for theft and plausible denial. You feel sure he’ll get off easy when his time in court comes up. Is that what the bandage over the eyes of the statue of Justice is supposed to mean?

You’re concerned about America’s unending wars in countries whose names you cannot pronounce, much less find on a map, but which you are paying for. You’ve got a friend whose young cousin, proud and handsome in his Marine Corps uniform, was killed by a sniper… a boy just 20 years old.

The thought haunts you all day… You want to believe such early death helps the country in question, America, the world… but you don’t. You see that boy’s eyes and feel them boring into you, asking one question over and over — “Why?”… and you just can’t give a good answer.

You feel increasingly helpless as the barrage of bad news, miseries, muddles, mayhem just won’t quit. You want time off from it all… but these realities, details delivered to us faster than ever compliments of the Web, constitute the unceasing rhythm of our lives.


And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

We wonder if, after a lifetime of contributing, Social Security will be there when we need it… and whether Medicare will provide the level of service we’ll need. A gal from our office had that acute breathing problem and was put on a respirator; the hospital didn’t want to pay for it… and the matter now resides in their legal department. We want care… we get lawyers. It makes us very, very nervous…. and sad.

We wonder how some shady Greek and Italian politicians can have so much influence on our lives so far away. What kind of magic powers have they got that force us (however superficially) to pay attention to what they’re doing… and doing… and doing, all of which threatens the stability and satisfaction of our lives? You want to say it’s “unfair”… but you know no one cares what you think about the matter… and you don’t want people to think you’re a wimp. So you stay quiet and unsatisfied… it’s just the way things are. And so the days pass…

… until the calendar tells you it’s Thanksgiving, the official day, sanctioned by custom and dictated by law, you get together with family and friends to eat too much and give thanks for your ability to do so. But this year, you just don’t feel like it, though you wouldn’t mind a piece or two of pumpkin pie. What’s a body to do?

I’ll share something that works for me… don’t waste your time enumerating all the good things you’ve got, especially when you realize most of them are flawed and superficial. Instead, focus on the myriad of problems, inconveniences, woeful situations and debilitating malevolence you don’t have… bullets you have dodged for another year. This will make you feel really thankful about things that really matter. Here’s how it works…

Preparation and The List

This year I attend my 64th Thanksgiving, so I consider myself a man with some experience in the matter. Put this experience to work by putting aside the usual falderals… don’t just hold hands and ask little Janie to say the blessing. Janie is probably too young to have much insight into the event… and will be unable to perform her helping role to perfection. Thus the end result will be unutterably banal, like all the years before.

Instead, seize this bull by the horns and brainstorm a long list of things you are thankful you don’t have to do, think about, or consider in any way. Be brutally frank.

Item: your boss got fired because of that restroom peccadillo, and you never have to see him again. That was huge!

Item: your estranged cousin Herbie, bete noir of many years, has gone missing, no one knows where. If he never returns, that would be too soon.

Item: Your darling daughter didn’t marry the wild idealist who always played the zither and never bathed. Delicious.

Item: your neighbor’s noisome pooch Mickey, gifted with a piecing yelp and high decibel duration, ran away in pursuit of amorous freedom. He will of course be missed by someone… but not by you.

Keep going! Don’t stint! As you get into the task, you see that the things you don’t have, that you were afraid you would have and forever are the very things you always needed to make this holiday sing.

Now type your list. You will never remember them all and since each adds its mite to the happy event, do not rely on memory. Practice, too, reciting them. Read slowly…. with deliberate cadence and gravitas in your voice.

Having recited this list you will feel, perhaps for the first time in months, truly happy for you have discovered for yourself and shown the world the ample bounty of happiness at your fingertips, Thanksgiving now and forever your favorite holiday.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Lant’s new book: “Thanksgiving: Some Remarks on Turkeys and Their Day”

Available at:  http://www.drjeffreylant.com/store/p55/Thanksgiving-turkey

Summer Ends, Fall Begins, Back To School In The Heartland, Over 60 Years Ago.

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

Author’s Program Note

All of a sudden things are radically different. A week ago, even just a day or so, the implacable summer sun reigned supreme, turning even the most energetic and equitable into sweat soaked complainers, facing even the least demanding task as if it were a firing squad.

Then, on a morning like this one, you know, you sense, you feel that that sun, with all his dictating of every particular, has passed into long-gone history. You remember him without regret, though his leaving brings the incorrigible winter into plain sight. Thrifty housewives catch themselves while sweeping the porch, “My, my Christmas will be here before you know it. How time does fly.” And she shakes her broom with a vigor that no one in the whole town had just the day before.

She shakes again to be sure things will be just so, ship shape. She didn’t feel this way a single moment of the summer. But she feels that way now. She catches herself, “Oh Come All Yea Faithful” her favorite Christmas song; she must check the attic. That’s where she’ll find the seasonal necessities. Then she smiles. It really is good to look early… she can’t help herself. The summer is gone, that’s for sure. And another line of “her” hymn slides out. She’ll check the attic today… just to be sure. It will never do to be unprepared… and she never is. That summer which ordered all just hours ago is gone. Dancing reindeer must follow.

One sure way you can tell the season has changed is the sound. You look quizzical, “Sound”? Yes, summer is full of Apollo’s happy music, the unbridled laughter of the young who pined for the summer, that May a million months ago, and  long ago tired of it; though they must be coaxed to admit to this dark heresy.

Whoops

Summer comes with whoops and shouts and slammed aluminium doors. Summer is boisterous and capable of rebuffing any amount of “Jeffrey, come in NOW!” But in summer no one means it, for everyone wants to linger in the last twilights of sun and nowhere to go. Fall is a very different thing. And so the sound is a very different thing, too.

Summer is pagan, sprawling, pocket full of secret treasures from tree limbs and swamps where the cattails are always just a few inches too far and ingenious methods are required to avoid the mud that laughs at your inadequacies. Fall is disciplined, organized, clean clothes and a new lunch box without a single scratch and extra supplies for trading.

Summer is full of sound and laughter. Fall is muted, quiet, a time of sacred spaces and promises; some of which will haunt you for a lifetime, too precious to disregard, too painful to remember, except alone, head bowed.

Summer slows, autumn speeds.

The summer sounds say “bide a while” and even if we cannot, we know we should. In autumn we are too focused on arranging the remainder of the year now swiftly ending. It is always going somewhere, and never takes us along. This is the definition of sadness, and it is the leitmotif of the season we cannot stop for even a moment of “Once upon a time.”

Autumn returns the people, our friends and neighbors, who slipped away one summer day wearing sun glasses and the battered heirloom that is a grampa’s straw hat with its unexpectly bright riband in a fanciful color called cerulean.

The children who shouted their boisterous adieux as they left the security of drive way for the great imperial highways which take them anywhere; these children are full to the brim with stories of acknowledgement and high adventure, including first love with a broken heart and blurred photos you must promise never to reveal, cross your heart…

Summer may accept no destination as acceptable. Autumn is nothing but destinations, all important, even the least of them. Summer dawdles and saunters. Autumn has a date, a time, a purpose. It is for those who want to move up, move fast, and never tarry.

In summer, we slow down to smell the flowers; in autumn we grab the few remaining flowers as we race by, never stopping to sniff; grabbing because we need to give our hostess a bouquet, thereby enhancing our reputation, even if we rip the blooms from her very own garden, unthinkable in autumn.

Back to School

I’ll become a septuagenarian my next birthday and yet I caught myself just yesterday telling a guest to go to bed at once, after all tomorrow was a “school day”, a day for improvement, dreams dreamed, defined, refined, improved, achieved and new ones launched to continue the process for life.

To so aspire I was taught soundly and well. For this my teachers of yore deserve an encomium they will not get unless from me, for when I was in the schoolyard God was in His heaven, and all was right with the world. And I have always ladled out ample pomp and circumstance to those treasured beings who made it so.

I waited for them impatiently through the days of high summer. Then one day in the dwindling days of summer, all these beings, all women, all graduates of Illinois teaching colleges came back, like so many macaws in flashes of color and insistent chatter. Now their serious endeavors could begin. I, for one, needed no encouragement.

Summer has no standards. Autumn reveals new standards with daunting regularity. My fellow students decry the new destinations, some so they will not be seen as “teacher’s pet”; some because they know these new standards push them down and under, another obstacle to their ever less certain advance. Summer, for these, was better. Then they had only to regale us with new formulations of mischief and frolic, traits in limited demand for the rest of their three score and ten, unmissed by everyone else.

The smells of summer are clean, fresh, the honest scents of the good earth, crucial, good for a thousand years. They are strong, uncompromising, too real for the fastidious whose well being rests on the smells they seek to avoid at any cost. These waft down corridors enveloped in manly whiffs of Old Spice and Right Guard or, for the ladies, perfume like Chanel, No. 5 my mother’s scent.

One day when alone at my grandmother’s, I tried her Coty and understood its power at once. A single drop was enough to envelope you in a crowd of violets, wanton and beautiful, my favorite flower. I never tried this experiment again. I could not trust myself. I have seen the results when it is used without wisdom or restraint. It is where seduction ends and cruelty begins and never leaves.

Ammonia.

Without any effort whatsoever I can close my eyes and smell the workaday smell of mopped floors in the cafeteria where sticky linoleum did not preclude our dance class; boys awkward, girls already proficient at entrapment, perfecting skills they will use for a lifetime. If they married “well”, their parents could congratulate themselves — and the school.

A different smell permeated the floor of the new gymnasiusm, the pride of the parents who bought it and entirely believed that those who engaged in manly sports upon its lacquered surface would never do anything squalid or dishonorable, on the floor or off. We were shocked to the core when we found off differently.

I only remember one such game on that supremely polished floor. It was a basket ball encounter, and I was coerced to be there. The star in that pipsqueak league was Bobby Lucas, who at 13 or so already knew the full power of the word “suave”. Indeed the word and all its moves might have been invented for him.

As usual he dazzled with irresistible footwork, a junior Globe Trotter for sure. And then one of those thrusts calibrated by God himself brought the crowd to its feet, even me.

To celebrate, I threw my head back and hit Bobby’s dad squarely in the face. A trickle of blood ensued, enough to remind me these almost 60 years later of the astonished look I generated when I was young and careless, when everything worked and painful limps and uncertain organs were not my portion. I’d bump old man Lucas again and again if I could bring grace and agililty back, even for an hour. I’d even go to  basketball games and holler.

The trees in summer beguile and snooze under the humidity that slows all, then slows all again. Summer is happy to stay home. Fall can hardly wait for all the tickets it receives to gad about. Summer says “Come by whenever you like.” Fall makes it clear the event begins at 8 p.m. and don’t be late.

Transformation

The last days of summer now demand our full attention, demand but don’t get. All eyes are on the rising sun, where every colored leaf arrests the eye. We cannot remember summer when God’s arbor wafts such allure to our attention. And so the children pile all this windswept moribundity with rakes bigger than they are and jump in, youth and beauty in every jump; their laughter infectious.

Dappled with sunshine, bedecked in only the choisest leaves, life’s acolytes walk to the shrine, from Woodward Avenue, where Mom waves and waves again. “How fast they grow up”, the mantra on her lips and every other mother’s.

From Woodward they move to Prairie, cross Belmont Road to Puffer School, which my grandfather helped to build, brickwork his specialty and where Principal Hefty had been my mother’s teacher and lived across the street from my grandparents. Many a day I ate the mulberries that fell on her sidewalk. Delicious though they were, I was the only one who partook of their richness. Now I’ve always wondered why.

“… And to the Republic for which it stands…”

At last we were all assembled, rooms of Baby Boomers, the pride of the nation, our hope for years to come. “I pledge allegiance to the Flag…” and amongst us some did so with a fervor impossible to disguise.

These were the children and grandchildren of Europe’s internecine destruction, grateful every day to thank God for the Great Republic, “liberty and justice for all.” They more than anyone knew it wasn’t so everywhere. And soon, to our chagrin and peril, it wasn’t true here either. “O, say can you see…?”

Program note

The music for today’s program is the theme song for “Ding Dong School”, which ran on NBC from 1952 to 1956. You will remember Miss Frances (Horwich), the host. She was very low key and talked exceedingly slowly, perfect for small ears and hands and irritating to anyone over 6.

Her approach made her a star. For at the height of her popularity, she had 3 million rapt viewers, one of whom was me. I can remember so very clearly carrying Miss Frances’s messages to my mother, and leaving the television set when she said she had a private message for mom.

This approach was media magic, and led on to Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood, and “Sesame Street”, all gold mines. Now here is a link that will take you back to where it all started. https://youtu.be/VK5xsXa9LMw

Tune in for a special reading by the author.

 

About the author

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant has been a “schoolboy” his entire life, his life ruled by the rhythms of the classroom. Using the knowledge gained and abiding by the commitment that produces results, Dr. Lant has written over 1,000 published articles, and over 55 books of merit and achievment. If you aim for success for yourself or your family, he is the man to connect with. Start with his autobiography “A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.”School,change of seasons,

Get a FREE Copy of “Create An E-Book Today. Publish It On Amazon.com. Profit From It for the Rest Of Your Life!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

How a muscle-bound, sweat-soaked gym rat helped me make my first million dollars.

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

So you, like everybody else in the world, wants a million bucks or more? Well, don’t you? You certainly give a good impression, going around the neighborhood bragging because in your mind, to say you want a million dollars is the same thing as having a million dollars. But that is nonsense.

You say you want that million, so I ask you one simple question: what are you actually doing to get it? And here, this becomes a long, sad saga of “I coulda been a contendah”, Marlon Brando’s famous line from “On the Waterfront” (1954). Just as Terry Malloy had no greater chance of being a contender than the man in the moon, you’ve never done squat to make one thousand dollars, much less a million. And that’s why I’m writing this article.

Through my entire career in business, now going back 40 years or more, I have been observing the habits of those who purport to want the money, and nothing but the money, so help me God. The results are notable, staggering, and really downright pathetic. That’s where Jim Bocci, gym rat, is so pertinent to your life, as it was pertinent to mine when I started my publishing company in the 1980’s.

“Help me, doctah!”

In the days long ago, when I used to go out for lunch, I became a regular at one of Cambridge’s long gone bistros. There, I soon came to know all the staff members, and even some of the regulars who came in less for the pastrami than the chance to socialize (this was of course in the days before Facebook, which is showing all of us that none of us ever needs to socialize in person – what a dumb idea).

Jim and I struck up a conversation, the kind of conversation that distinguishes lunch wagons. “Hi, howaya?” It was friendly, and expected in those dim distant days, when real people mattered.

Meet Jim Bocci

Jim was the kind of person who was often to be found in college towns like Cambridge. He was young, over developed physically, and constantly baffled and confused intellectually. He went to the gym everyday, and soon had more muscles than you could shake a stick at, muscles… but nowhere to put them.

So everytime I came in, he asked me the same question: “Doctah! Have you got a job for me? I know yous is a very important person.” Of course, it was never established what kind of a job I could theoretically get him, but apparently, any port in a storm. He wanted out, he would take whatever there was, at least in theory.

About this time I wrote a book called “The Consultant’s Kit: Establishing  and Operating Your Successful Consulting Business”. I wrote it to accompany my courses on consulting at the Boston Center for Adult Education. The courses were always packed, and the complaint was constant. “Dr. Lant you talk too fast and I cannot keep up!”

Now changing my galloping style of presentation wasn’t in the cards. I talked fast because I had a lot to say. Writing a book was the alternative. So I sat down at my trusty Olivetti typewriter and set to work. The result was predictable: typos, letters that flew off the page… in short, a real home-grown effort. But what to do? Give it away with the course? Or sell it independently?

As a bold, brash, young entrepreneur, I chose packing it between two blue construction paper covers, and selling it for $35, a fortune.

My wise friends all said “You’ll never sell that for $35… You probably won’t be able to give it away.”, which is all the encouragement I ever got. You see, like most people, the so called experts around me didn’t know tutti from frutti, and thought that mouthing off was the end of the deal, and of my dream. But here they were wrong, so wrong.

I took the typescript over to a copy shop in Harvard Square and printed up 40 copies, which was an act of pure madness given the fact I had no publishing experience, had never written a business book, and was operating by the seat of my pants, destination unclear, means of getting there unknown. Well… I was on my way, whatever that meant under the circumstances.

When the copy shop brought out the books, I saw the next obstacle: my name was spelled wrong on the cover. In big black letters, it said “Dr. Jerry Lant.” First, I was aghast, then I wanted to break down and cry… after all the program started in an hour or so. The proprietor, when he looked in his order book, acknowledged that it was his error and would be glad to change those covers. The problem was that it all had to be done in 60 minutes or so.

The proprietor went to work right away and fixed the error, but left the covers wet with black ink. And so, 35 copies or so of this bold adventure were stacked up in the corner of the room waiting for a miracle.

I stood at the front of the room, and with gusto and brass, held up a copy of the book and said “This is the consulting Bible.” And, as if by magic, people started to shove $35 at me. Within 10 minutes, I’d made over a thousand bucks. And folks, this was 1980’s money, which is worth over $100 a piece in today’s money. And you’ll hardly believe this statement and think I made it up, but the God’s honest truth was I didn’t have a single book left!

Now my momma didn’t raise no dum-dums. I knew I saw the glint of gold, and as a yankee doodle dandy, I was duty bound to pursue it. Enter Jim Bocci… muscles gleaming, hair Brilliantined, teeth bright and shiny. That’sa my boy! “Jim,” I said, “I think I may have something for you. Stay tuned.”

Are you an idiot?

Along the way, I had made the acquaintance of a book agent, at least he thought he was. This guy looked like the Cat in the Hat. Mischief was his name, outsmarting everyone his game. He smelled money in “The Consultant’s Kit”, and demanded the opportunity to represent it to major publishers for some quick and easy money.

A quick trip to New York was scheduled, and mega publisher McGraw-Hill headed the list of targets.

“We love you, boy!”

My first and only trip to McGraw-Hill was a love fest… at least it started out that way. The editor was all sweetness and light; cotton candy and chocolate bars all wrapped into one. He lavished praise on me that would make my mother blush, and the Cat just purred and agreed with everything. After all, he was getting at least 15% of the gross. Dollars were flagrantly used as bait… and then the coup de grace. McGraw-Hill’s best whipped out a check for $10,000 already made with my name on it. It smelled like Chanel No. 5. This was the jour de ma vie.

And here’s where it all changed, and the kisses stopped.

I thanked McGraw’s representative, and my representative for their interest, and then said to their offer and that hefty check “No way, Jose!” Whereupon the room grew glacial fast.

Now, I was the stupidest boy they’d ever seen. The boy who knew nothing about anything, probably fraudulently admitted to Harvard with a criminal record to boot. It was all so very different from the moment before. The pressure was palpable, and their arguments, while exaggerated, were not unreasonable. I didn’t know anything about publishing or distribution or anything else. Except that I was that yankee doodle dandy with a taste for fast learning.

Just before we finished the Cat took me to the hall for some major league ass-kicking. “You friggin’ moron!” was about the least obscene of his remarks. And so I headed back to LaGuardia without a friend in the publishing world… except for Jim Bocci.

My first stop when I got back to Cambridge was the restaurant where Jim worked as a waiter. I saw him right away. He used his usual wave and flex number. But this time, I paid attention. I thought to myself, “Why not? Why couldn’t he sell books? He’s got the gift of gab, and wants to improve himself. And God knows my books improve everything.”

So I crossed the floor and for the first time, paid attention. “Jim,” I said, “How would you like to be a publishers representative.” I’d seen more questioning eyes in my whole life. “What does that mean, doctah?” “It means Jim, that you’ll have the important task of representing me before the world.” “No prob!”

The missing link.

Genius takes many forms. Sometimes it’s just dumb luck. Sometimes right place right time. Some, kismet. In this case, it was a yellow t-shirt with killer content. Side one: “This book is better than sex”; Side two: a picture of the book.

The t-shirts were ready in 24 hous, by which time I figured out what Jim should be doing, namely which book stores he should be going to and what he should say when he got there. Nothing could be left to chance. The piece de resistance were those sweat-soaked muscles. When you added the book, the body, and the brawn, you had, voila, a sale!

Now maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but I want you to do well so I’ll tell you the full extent of my ingenuity. I had Jim flex and wink at every dateless boy and girl in Harvard Square, and that was a lot. Imagine if you will, the entry of publishing’s newest representative. Swaggers in, flexes left, flexes right, and the big finale, bounces pecs. And then, the order.

It was sheer genius because, in a matter of 60-90 minutes, my second batch of books was gone. I mean, presto, gone! The representative of Harvard Business School, the citadel of business writing for the entire world, called me up that afternoon and with complete bafflement, said, “I went off to lunch and we had 10 copies of this. I come back an hour later (she actually took a longer lunch than that, but who’s counting?) and they’re all gone! What’s that all about?”

Oh lordy I wish I had someone to dance with at that moment. I would have done a jig around Harvard Square. One business school professor stopped me and said, “I haven’t sold 35 copies of my book in these stores period. How did you do it?” And he didn’t ask the question in friendship. He, too, was baffled. “How did I do it? Sex, man. Sex sells.”

Do what you have to do.

Frankly, I was ecstatic after I was handed the solid evidence that this book would be a big winner. And so it has been from that day to this. But more than that, it proved to me that if you want to make a sale, you act like a salesperson and do the trick. Don’t give in, don’t give up, and don’t over promise.

Well, I’m an old guy now, almost 70, but I have the chutzpah of an out-of-control 18 year old. “How do ya do ma’am? How do ya do sir? How about getting this book?”

In due course.

Over the years, this magic book has netted me over $1,000,000. As for Jim, I hope he reads this article. I’d like to thank you in person, for using your body and your God given talents to help me out and make me rich.

And if you’re one of those people who is yappin’ about making millions, ask yourself one question: would you flex and wear a t-shirt to make the sale? Or would you just sit around and talk about the money you’ll make when you’re doing nothing to make it?

I’ve got to go now. But before I leave, let me tell you one important thing. If you’re one of those yappers, don’t yap in my neighborhood. Do something. And the something that makes the most sense, is for you to get a copy of “The Consultant’s Kit: Establishing and Operating Your Successful Consulting Business”, and the sequel to it, “How To Make At Least $100,000 Every Year As A Successful Consultant In Your Own Field: The Complete Guide To Succeeding In The Advice Business”. You can get them at:

www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Now I’ve got to give you my considered opinion. You’ll probably never do this. But if you don’t, you’re trapped where you are. Just don’t blame anyone but yourself for doing nothing and getting nothing. And isn’t that a chipper thought for the rest of your life.

Musical note

It’s all there in this terrific motivating song. I am a yankee doodle dandy, are you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKeYS1P9j1c

About the author

You know Dr. Jeffrey Lant. He’s Harvard educated, has written over 55 books and thousands of articles, and tells it like it is. For further information about his produces, go to www.writerssecrets.com.

A FREE Gift from Dr. Lant  “Create An E-Book Today. Publish It On Amazon.com. Profit From It for the Rest Of Your Life!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

For a Friend, Grieving.

Reflections by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Many great musicians have written notable funeral music. The need for such music is great when a beloved one passes… because words, no matter how apt, seem inadequate to their soothing task, now urgent; and so we look to music for the solace words cannot give. Thus I have selected Edvard Grieg’s “Funeral March for Rikard Nordraak” composed in 1866 to accompany these reflections.

 

It was written in honor of his friend and fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, who died in March of that year, just 23 years old.

As a posthumous gift to his friend, Grieg wrote this piece at once, writing it as a piano piece in A minor. He so valued it that not only did he travel with it so that it could be immediately available for his concerts… but he directed it be played at his own funeral. And so it was, in 1907, in an orchestration by Grieg’s friend and colleague Johan Halvorsen.

You will find it in any search engine. It is at once sombre, intimate, and, as all such music must be, uplifting. For it is the privilege of music to inspire and guide us to a better place where we can remember uninterrupted and without rush or hurray. As I listen, I feel sure Grieg knew that place, and I want you to know it, too.

My dear friend,

We men of science and education, we men of sophistication and travels, we men of thought and reflection, we think we will be ready when the news arrives… but we are all, despite calm reflections and thoughtful preparations, caught unawares by the unfathomable realities of the death of the person we love.

The news catches you up. Whatever you are doing, no matter how important it was just a moment ago, is important no longer. You r thoughts, all your thoughts are now about the great voyage already commenced by the dear departed.

We know this death. We have seen it before and yet… and yet… this death is unlike any which has come before because it touches you so in the core of your humanity. This is your friend who has died… your friend now gone… your friend in the process of leaving you forever and everything that was his, forever. And you scream, this cannot be… yet you are a man of science and understand when humans die. But science cannot help us here… any of us.

You want to rush to any window and throw up the sash, to see the heavens clearly… to see, though you know you cannot see, the great spirit of your friend ascending… as surely it must be.

You want to run and open your front door, racing out into the courtyard, where in the brightness of autumnal night, an unimagined immensity of stars overhead, you are sure, you are sure some trace of that great ascending spirit can be seen.

Yet you see nothing but what you have always seen… and this will not do, for a great event is occurring, as your friend is leaving you forever… and going where he must go and you cannot. You feel a sense of uncontrollable urgency… that this injustice cannot be, that this friend cannot and must not be taken from you and far away, forever, gone for all eternity. There is panic in your mind and in your heart. Something is happening that sore afflicts you… and yet there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you can do, can think, can say. This is where despair begins… and the pain is unbearable. Now you truly know loss and wonder that any human can bear it.

And yet we humans do bear it… it is the hardest thing we must do… nothing is more difficult for all this occurs to us, in front of us, around us… yet nothing we say or do matters, and this maddens us and reminds us of our immutable limitations and how we, so grand and significant in our own minds, are as nothing set against the immensities of time, space, and of God, whom now we recall and beg for understanding, relief, and serenity.

And God hears us.

And gives us the balm of grief.

And it is this grief you are feeling now and which has brought me to you, to succor and relieve you at this great moment of great loss. For no human should ever grieve alone, burdened by memory. God does not demand so much of us; He recognizes the frailty of our humanity. And gives us each other for comfort.

Thus I shall sit with you a companionable while, no words necessary between you and me. And we shall, from time to time, speak of indifferent subjects, and so break the gloom. And in this amiable silence, you will, I know, think of the one gone before… for that matter is pressing.

Then, for I know you so well, you will remind me of a tale of this friend now gone, a tale you told me once in happier days. A tale of wit and joy and laughter… for your friend departed was clever and had a touch of devilry about him. And we shall laugh together… and thus I shall advance my task, the task of helping you resurrect joyous memories… the memories that bridge despair and make bearable so much unbearable sadness. Such memories offer a lifetime of solace… and it is my task to prompt you to remember, as if you with your great heart ever needed such prompting, much less now. In this room, in the gentle silence, there is healing. There is life and there is vibrant memory. So necessary. So soothing. So peaceful that, for an instant, we forget the sad occasion which brings us together and expect the friend to knock and, smiling, come within.

But just as we must never be overwhelmed by this occasion and the burden of memory, so we must never forget and so push away the bright memories that remain… for in these memories of him are many of the best memories of you. And we must never risk these in our reaching for serenity. For such serenity, if it comes at the cost of memory, was too high bought.

So, remember….

Go out now in the chill autumnal night and now look up again. There, though you still cannot see, there your friend, his spirit, ascends with your love and grief, intermingled for eternity. Look now and in your mind’s eye see all rise together. You a part of him, as all who know him and remember also are, for he traverses eternity with friends, and that, too, is solace.

Grieve! Grieve! This night away… and the day that follows… and let the warm tears flow, for he well deserves this final salute.. yours so rich and freely given.

A life has ended… a dear life… a life beloved, a life which has given and accepted love… this life is complete now and truly gone. But as it ascends unto eternity it calls down to us, the living, for the continuation of our love in memory and stark remembrance.

Look up, for his great and unending spirit speaks to you now… and bids you fond farewell. Give it now… and fully… for if he leaves this part of him with you, so he takes, and forever too, a great part of you with him, and so wherever he is going, you, his friend, are going too for evermore and forever, always remembered, never forgotten, and always loved. For he was rich in that as you have always also been.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

 

On Decision Making, with the Assistance of “Captain Jack”, HMS Surprise

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: I first became aware of Captain Jack Aubrey and his ship, HMS Surprise, while I was undertaking some research on the music of the Spanish Court of the Bourbons. I was surprised, indeed delighted, to discover that Captain Jack was an aficionado of this sophisticated dance music, the best example being Luigi Boccherini and his celebrated suite “La Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid” (1780), and so I became an aficionado too.

This was only the beginning of things I learned from Captain Jack, rightly called Lucky, and his cosmopolitan circle of friends, who seemingly existed in every port on all the Seven Seas. Jack was a sophisticated being… he always knew what to do, and when to do it. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

Still, his precise deliberation and inability to procrastinate were a terrible price to pay – for some.

And at no time was it easy, even when he made it look easy, as he so often did. The decision might come down to “yes or no”, but arriving at that point could be catastrophic. That is why I am writing this article today. We live in a time when people, even our designated leaders, make a positive science of eschewing responsibility. They are in for the photo-op, not for the hard business of actually making decisions. You might call our age the Age of Avoidance, since our entire structure is based on the shifting sands of irresponsibility and postponement.

The gravest decisions in the shortest times

And here we need to put Captain Jack under the microscope, for he was a decision machine, as were all captains in His Majesty’s Service. They had to make decisions, often the most serious of decisions, after quickly sizing up the situation. They didn’t have days, or weeks, or months to decide… they did not have the luxury of saying “I’ll decide tomorrow”. They had decisions to make, sized up their options, and made their choices.

Let us be clear, their decisions were not based on popularity, nor on the basis of how easy these decisions could be made. They had a decision to make… they made it… they lived it… and their sleep was not disturbed because of it.

Tortured by indecision

Now I wish to introduce you to a youngish man of my acquaintance, by which I mean he is still on the sunny side of 40. Like Captain Jack, he was a Navy man, only this time, United States Navy. Captain Jack would have started at the lowest step on the ladder for officers, midshipman, aged about 13. From here, there was no way but up. Of all the things he learned at his induction into the Navy, there was one that trumped all: it was the ability to decide to make a timely decision, and to make it without regret or second guessing.

Leaders make mistakes

Those mistakes were not so clear at the time they were made as when discussed by our “20/20 crew” afterwards. Never wrong, never doubting, always certain.

My young friend was not trained as an officer, and was not given the inestimable education in making decisions which could later prove to be mistakes. Leaders make choices, leaders make mistakes. They need to discover in their conscience if things could have been done in a better way. They are always keenly aware that those “better decisions” were not always available when their decisions had to be made.

In other words, they were willing to admit they were imperfect, that their decisions could have been better, but only in retrospect. My poor friend has not yet come to the understanding of this point. His advance to junior leadership has been painfully slow… he misses job after job because he balks when decisions must be made. He can be asked question after question, but the answers befuddle him. His employers want decisiveness, but they get instead his inability to say or to decide between A or B, or even C.

Thus, instead of leadership qualities, he projects uncertainty and indecisiveness. Thus, he projects a fear that he will do the wrong thing, and so, regrettably… he does. For such a man, upward mobility must be a long, painful, and frustrating journey. That is why when you see him, he seems to tremble. He knows, for he fears, he will be asked the question that has no answer. And of course, he will be… leaders always are.

Instead of facing decisions with bold audacity, he makes decisions that he hopes will please the people. That is the worst policy of all. People may seem to want to be catered to, but what they really want and know they need is severe integrity, knowing the truth, propounding the truth, evoking the truth, and facing every advance upon the truth. Which brings me to the most important story about Captain Jack and the HMS Surprise.

The Straits of Magellan where irrevocable decisions must be made

There is a place on the Earth where water seems to boil and hiss; where mayhem is the order of the day, every day. It is called the Straits of Magellan after the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521). There, the winds are so powerful and contrary, a ship can be trapped within the constant movement of wind and water. You must go when you can, as fast as you can, or you will stay trapped, until the inhospitable elements are hospitable to you for just a moment.

Captain Jack was one of the many whose ship was immobilized, waiting for a moment only an expert mariner could discern, the moment the winds began to change. To take advantage of the slight wind and always turbulent seas, he lowered his small boats to begin the exhausting duty of pulling the HSM Surprise into the wind, called kedging or warping.

 During day and night, his men manned the oars, waiting, hoping, for the tiniest gust of wind that would commence their liberation from their relentless oars. And of course, it came, leaving the men to scramble as best they could back to the HMS Surprise so they could begin their epic escape.

Sadly, two men were left in the small boats trying to hack the rope that bound them to the Surprise, ropes which held them enthralled. Unless these ropes were cut from the Surprise, the weight of the dinghies would capsize her. One of these scrambled to safety. The other, axe in hand, worked to separate his small boat from the majestic warship. Thus, he was never entirely focused on his proper job, because that job had changed with the wind.

 Moments ago, he was separating boat from ship. Now, he was fighting for his life. He needed to get back to his ship, and immediately so. However, here, fate intervened, and everyone realized Captain Jack needed to make a decision, of life and death.

His first option was to slow the Surprise, and extricate the man overboard at the worst possible time: when he was fighting to capture the wind. He needed to focus on that wind, which benefitted all, and not merely the one man overboard. Captain Jack had an instant to decide which of these two immediate options he must choose from. And then, he ordered full speed ahead, man overboard, to die overboard.

Now if you’d like to see a picture that evokes the great seas, their interminable size, and the very definition of hell, call up the scene from the film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”, released in 2003, starring Russell Crowe as Captain Jack. The scene of that sailor bobbing up and down in the inexorable waves is haunting. The image will stay with you forever, as it has stayed with me.

So, Captain Jack made a decision, the decision, and a popular man was lost to the disgust of the entire crew, except for the Captain. The man who was thus lost at sea was friendly with the Captain; none knew him better. Yet despite their friendship, he didn’t pause. The decision rose up in his mind and heart, without challenge or second guessing. This is what leaders do. Leaders do not opt for the easy way. There was nothing more horrifying to Captain Jack than watching his friend pushed to a watery grave in the prime of his life.

What would you have done? Yes, what would you have done? Leaders must operate in the role of uncertainties, but they cannot let these uncertainties dictate policy. They must use what they know, even if to use it is horrifying, as it was horrifying in this instance, man being crushed by nature because the Captain, his friend, chose not to stop and imperil his mission.

Musical note

This scene is horrifying enough without the haunting music, “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”, composed in 1910 by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). With these notes, he transforms a tragedy into an unspeakable reality, all done by his friends, who loved him so, but let him die, all in the name of duty, and because a leader must lead, come what may.

A personal note. Dear friend, I have never told you all I am telling you in this article, and you will perhaps be unhappy with some of my opinions and observations. But if you wish to lead, as you have told me on frequent occasions you do, then do so.

Towards that end, I ask you one simple profound question: would you have used Captain Jack’s first option, cutting the ropes that bound the dinghy and the man-of-war, thereby ensuring the life of the man no longer overboard? Or would you have done what he did, to his own unspeakable horror, lowering neither boat nor more men, but keeping strictly on his mission, thereby rendering death inevitable?

 Now listen to the music, and remember, you have no more than two minutes to make the decision. You must make the decision wisely and well. You must make the decision forever. You must make the decision and never pine upon the answer you gave, for whatever the decision, you are the Captain, and your decisions are as resounding as God’s own.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIhZbvlCjY0

 N.B. Teachers: use this article to teach leadership and decision making. Everyone of your students needs this information. You have my permission to use it.

 About the author:

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is one of the most well-known authors in the world. He writes with a scalpel, on many different subjects, all pertaining to the betterment of Earth, and what you can do to work to improve matters too. Right now, over 100,000 people follow Dr. Lant, and you should too, because his flow of useful information to you is never-ending and enriching. His Twitter handle is @jeffreylant. Follow him now. You will be glad you did.

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When You Meet a Kindred Spirit, reach out to them… especially when they are about saving our threatened language. Meet Huck Gutman.

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

Author’s program note. I’m going to do something different today, something occasioned by my discovery (compliments of The Boston Globe, September 21, 2011) of Huck Gutman. The theme “music” for this article will be an instrument we all have — the human voice — this time wielded by a master of delivery, Robert Frost.

Many years ago, over a half century in fact, I used to ride my bike from the tiny hamlet of Belmont, Illinois into the nearest town, Downers Grove, so I could sit in the cool recesses of the public library. I had many objectives and purposes there, books, of course, always books. But there were the records made by authors and by those very special authors called poets, one of which was recorded, and most memorably, by Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963).

I can recall to this day Frost’s reading of “The Pasture,” a selection from his volume “North of Boston,” published in 1915. It begins so…

“I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away (And wait to watch the water clear, I may); I sha’n’t be gone long. — You come too.”

I doubt I can convey to you now — though I shall try — just how evocative, how thrilling the simple words, powerfully rendered, “You come too”, were to me, for I was a boy who longed to see the world and meet its people, and here was an invitation to accompany this special man who had a simple mission he made seductive…

“I’m going out to fetch the little calf That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young, It tottered when she licks it with her tongue. I sha’n’t be gone long. — You come too.”

Oh, how I wanted to go… and I believe Huck Gutman wanted to go, too. Before you meet him, go to any search engine and listen to Robert Frost read, especially “The Pasture,” then return here for I want you to meet Huck.

Sensitivity and a love of words from an unlikely place — the Capitol.

Huck Gutman is what Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables to you) would call a “kindred spirit.” She, an author too, loved words and would have written Gutman a nice note complimenting his labor of love; she would have deemed it an act of lexicological solidarity to be lavishly complimented… I agree.

Huck Gutman, a civilized man.

Gutman is 67 years old, an age at which many seek the joys of retirement — travel, golf, socially sanctioned sloth subsidized by Social Security… but Gutman has other fish to fry. This long-time professor at the University of Vermont (where I myself gave many workshops in business success) now serves as chief of staff to the Senate’s most “out there” liberal, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. Since the senator has his hands full resurrecting America’s anemic Left, Gutman is kept busier than most of his administrative peers. But he makes time for another occupation, one which keeps him grounded and of good cheer… he is an avatar of words and of words properly read… particularly the diamond-sharp words of poets.

And he has set himself the (perhaps Sisyphean) task of building civil bridges in the epicenter of internecine political warfare through the love of poetry, of words, and of language. Whew! This is truly a labor of love… but one bringing a special joy to the growing cadre of those who like the likable Huck… and appreciate what he is doing. His e-mail list includes 1,700 readers who include all the Senate chiefs of staff, several White House staffers, university presidents, academics, journalists, and former students.

His point is simple, profound, and absolutely necessary to the well-lived life: “It’s to remind them there are other things than the debt ceiling and Social Security.” Amen.

Here’s how he does it…

Every couple of months or so, Gutman, on leave from the university, makes time to find and circulate a poem. It may be from Ancient Greece, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, or William Carlos Williams — there are no limits but one: it must be a poem by a master, a poem that can (if properly read) read well.

Gutman, educator to his fingertips, presents the work with one admonition. “LISTEN to the poem.” “The worst thing to do with a poem is to try to get at its meaning. We have done an absolutely horrendous job in teaching people how to read poems.” I go even farther than Gutman here… we have done the same horrendous job teaching people — and not just students either — to read prose, novels, letters, speeches, too.

Gutman’s solution is to encourage his audience to read for enjoyment, just as they would listen to music. Gutman is right, but reading his carefully considered selections, for all he gives his readers a few directional signals, is not enough. They need to read aloud, one of the great joys our speed-reading culture has left behind, to the detriment of human communication and meaning.

The marvelous human voice.

Most every day I write an article; the subject range is unlimited. Like all authors I like to have these articles (which can easily double as scripts) read and read widely. But I also insist on them being read aloud, each and every word

My experiment in reviving the joys of recitation started in our online Live Business Center where 24-hour-a-day monitors give out effective business advice… and also read my newest article or any of the hundreds of classics. I must confess: there was a universal, almost rebellious opposition to this innovation by the people who had to read the word aloud. What a mess!

They mispronounced words they’d used since grammar school.

Tripped over anything longer than a couple of syllables.

Disdained the helpful dictionary… making even more errors.

Moaned, groaned, complained that they were being “forced” to learn.

Killed every inflection, every intonation, every emphasis and so rendered brilliant prose banal.

Tossed necessary punctuation away… and thus forced the collision of words which to provide full meaning, needed careful enunciation and precise delivery.

It was brutal, excruciating, painful… . But I knew, despite the squawks and maledictions, I knew, I say, what I was about. I insisted on my point and moved forward word by liberated word. To great effect…

Now monitors take pride in reading these articles… and reading them well by mastering the text, individual words they have not previously encountered, including the mot juste which can make or break a composition. This article, starting today, will enter the repertoire… to touch people worldwide who are charmed, enchanted, comforted and enlightened by the human voice properly used.

Last words (for today) for this fellow New Englander and his romance with words.

Thank you… thank you for allowing all the poets you have carefully selected to speak again and anew, profoundly, passionately, resoundingly. For this you have been rightly praised. Let me add these words to your plaudits. They are from Joachim Du Bellay (1522-1560) “Heureux qui comme Ulysse qui fait une belle voyage.” You deserve such a voyage, and with the multitudes of poets who travel with you, will always be welcome wherever you go.

* * * * *

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Watch for his new series “In My Own Voice” Assorted Selection of Readings From My Collected Works.

Dr. Jeffrey Lant read aloud for your listening pleasure.

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Will the reluctant Crown Princess of Japan become the reluctant Empress of Japan sooner than Her Imperial Highness had expected? What then?

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

When you look around the rooms of your home and see this needs mending and that needs tending; when you see the stack of bills growing higher and higher, your ability to pay them diminishing almost by the hour…

When your friends are the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, people of no particular consequence, many of whom you don’t even like very much, it is hard to feel a grain of sympathy for the woman who really does have everything, including her throne, representing the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan, dealing with the business of Emperors and Empresses for over 2,700 years – the longest in the world for an imperial or royal family.

Yes, the Crown Princess of Japan, Masako, has but to wave a magic wand to gather even more things than she already had, things which didn’t make her happy. The story of the Crown Princess has become a fairy tale; a fantasy… but it has never been a happy story for Her Imperial Highness, and all her relatives amongst the Imperial Family.

I have followed the vicissitudes of Her Imperial Highness’s life for many years now, and was therefore not particularly surprised that her ailing father-in-law, the Emperor Akihito, wanted to lay down his duties prior to his demise. After all, he’s had prostate cancer (2003), and heart problems (2012). He is 82 now; more frail than an Emperor should ever be, but still dedicated to his many duties which have not kept him out of the public eye. Quite the contrary.

It is important, indeed imperative, that the head of the Imperial House look like an Emperor, despite his myriad pains and agonies. With the help of his Imperial Consort Michiko, the first commoner to marry into the Imperial Family, he has succeeded in presenting the nation with a record of kindness, consideration, and active involvement in the many difficult affairs of his people.

It was expected that such a paragon would stay in his Imperial office until the inevitable end. However now the Emperor has asked his nation to allow him to have a few years of peace and serenity, and the comfort he so deserves. But of course, in the busy business of politics, things are never easy… particularly when it is the last Imperial Throne on Earth at stake.

Here, the Crown Princess, while not featured in any of the stories that just came from the wire services about the pending Imperial resignation, was in fact a key player – though I’m sure she didn’t wish to be.

A modern Japanese woman finds herself going from her career in diplomacy to the ancient rituals of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

When you look at Crown Princess Masako, you see a modern Japanese woman struggling to come out of a chrysalis, and live the life of any other bright, well-connected, well-educated woman anywhere on Earth. She was never really an ordinary woman. Her father was a senior Japanese diplomat, and they lived the ultra-privileged life that such diplomats and their children so often do.

She went to supremely good schools, where she was invariably selected to offices, and made a supremely good impression on the teaching staff. These schools were like a gilded staircase, starting with the private Roman Catholic girls’ school Futaba Gakuen in Denenchofu, Tokyo.

Up and up she ascended. Following Futaba Gakuen, there was Belmont, Massachusetts High School, just down the road from where I live. Then Harvard/Radcliffe, where I was assistant to the president. Then Balliol College, Oxford, then back to Harvard. Each was carefully considered, carefully weighed in the balance, for she was to be the symbol of the new Japan and its emancipated women. But fate had other plans for the stylish diplomat on the fast road to success.

Enter Prince Naruhito

If there was no Prince Naruhito in the mix, Masako, we can speculate, would have married a senior diplomat or government official, traveled extensively, knowing everyone of consequence, and would have become a model for the burgeoning female sex as they struggled to advance themselves from that chrysalis to the full freedom of a Monarch… Butterfly. But there was a prince, and he did pursue his suit – three times – until at last, reluctant Masako, citizen, became the most reluctant Princess on Earth.

And here’s where the story gets interesting… complicated… sad… for now the woman who had everything, knew just how little that really meant, when your whole life was a cauldron of vituperation, condemnation, criticism, control, and disapproval. Masako had made the devil’s own deal.

It manifests itself in this way: the Japanese monarchy reigns but does not rule. The department of government which most concerns itself with the affairs of the monarchy is The Imperial Household Agency. It rules, whereas the Emperor and all his family does not rule… they reign. Which is to say, they live with the minimal amount of power imaginable. It is a formula for stress, frustration, and aggravation when you, the symbol of the new Japanese woman, are told exactly what to do, exactly how to do it, and exactly when to do it, by the rigid and unyielding officials of The Imperial Household Agency, 1,053 strong. These were Masako’s grave and serious opponents.

And so, in short order, she began to deteriorate. When she did not bear children, except for Princess Aiko, who, as a woman, had no place in the Imperial succession, the woman from whom so much was expected found herself in the most gilded trap in the world… from a self-fulfilled woman doing what she wanted to do, and making real decisions about real issues, she found herself in an instant interned in the most ornate prison on Earth. Her Imperial Highness became a prisoner crowned with the grandest title on Earth.

Prince Naruhito had succeeded in getting what he wanted, and thrust her into a situation where she could not get what she wanted and had expected from life. The whole Japanese nation watched this cosmic melodrama play itself out. Everyone knew the battle for Masako was in fact the battle not just for her soul, but for the very direction of Japan, and a society which was so often crippled by conservative habits. This included the old Imperial system, which now had Masako firmly in its grasp, ancient, rigid, and sternly in control.

Constant visitors from Japan

While this story was in process of evolution and development, an unexpected part of it came to my front lawn and residence. You see, from the grass outside my front door, I can look down Cambridge Street and see Harvard’s Center for International Affairs.

Masako studied there, and I was once their fund raising and development consultant, during the productive years of Professor Samuel Huntington. Then, I could turn my head to the right, and see across the Cambridge Common the headquarters of what was then called Harvard/Radcliffe College, where Masako studied, and where I was assistant to the president.

Thus, inadvertently, I became part of the Crown Princess of Japan’s walking tour. The tourists, Japanese all, would gather of a Saturday morning all under a little vinyl flag held by the guide in the Forbes Plaza. In this place, I had my bank, Cambridge Trust Co., my first Harvard office, in Holyoke Center, and the place where the painting of Governor Forbes of the Philippines was painted by Pietro Pezzati. Forbes was one of Peter’s first commissions, while mine was his very last.

Thus, the artifacts of my life were like the artifacts in hers… or at least of her unique Harvard tour. Each place the Japanese tourists went, flicking wildly, uncovered yet another aspect of my Harvard and its environs. Thus the tourists, concerned only about whether they secured the best shot or not, followed the Princess’s progress through the Great Gate of 1885, up the steps of the Widener Library, the largest collegiate library in the nation, thence to Harvard/Radcliffe College, where I had my office on the 2nd floor of Fay House, thence to the Center for International Affairs… every part of her tour was, in fact, an element in my tour. For where I had gone she followed, and where she led, I followed.

Thus, it was not so very strange when the tourist buses started stopping in front of my front door, where they could see me walking in the Cambridge Common, gathering groceries at the local convenience store, or writing… for I have never stopped writing to this very day.

I came to know just what times the buses would be outside… and there was a puckish humor about my actions… after all, I knew how to wave the Royal wave; I had been tutored at Windsor Castle, where I did my research for my first book, “Insubstantial Pageant” (1979). Thus, I gave the Royal wave, a turning of my right hand, as the cameras clicked, snapping me into Japanese eternity.

I once asked one of them just who they thought they were photographing on my grass, and the response made perfect sense for this “Alice in Wonderland” tale. This tourist turned to me and said, “You look like Prince Charles”. And damn well if I haven’t for most of my entire life. Besides, when I did my work at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle, the Japanese were there taking my picture in the Round Tower, because, after all, I did look like Prince Charles from a considerable distance.

What will happen to the sad little Princess?

The Japanese nation now confronts an interesting dilemma. Should they let their respected, if not precisely loved, monarch go, to the rest he so obviously requires? Or should they say, “Emperor you have been, Emperor you will die”. Masako is caught up in this drama. It’s very likely some formula will be found to give the Emperor what he wants, without outraging the conservative habits of this deeply conservative nation. After all, in the long history of the dynasty, many Emperors were dethroned or resigned, to enable a stronger leader to emerge. It’s not a very radical idea.

Thus, it is likely Prince Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne while his father still lives. But what will happen to the sad little Princess whose dreams were snuffed out with the connivance of her husband, who made her promises he knew he could not keep… not the best way to start an Imperial, or any, marriage. He loved her so much he outraged the woman and her beliefs to get what he wanted.

Last words

I would like to believe, and in the near term, too, that the Princess can secure some kind of balance between the career woman she was destined to be, and the Princess of the old regime that she became. This is the problem that the future Empress Masako, so soon it seems destined to ascend the throne she never wanted, must confront. Ironically, the diplomatic uses she learned as a young woman will now become of the greatest possible value, for it lies within her power to liberalize the ancient institution so that the Imperial Household Agency does not destroy them all with views that are arcane and irrelevant.

I intend to send a copy of this article to the lady of the Chrysanthemum Throne. She has suffered because of the promises her husband made that he could not keep.

She has suffered because of the cadre of over 1,000 blind old men who presumed to pinion royalty and diminish its glamor and effectiveness, blind old men who make up the Imperial Household Agency.

Princess, out of your long suffering can come not just a great lady, the role tailor made for you, but a new and better approach to the very essence of monarchy. You will, during your tenure on the high exalted throne of your nation, stand occupying a position where so many good changes can be made. You have known great sadness, but now your great years of joy and purpose and happy use are at hand.

God save the Empress, for she can do so much good.

Musical note

I have selected for the music to accompany this article “Gagaku”. “Gagaku” is characterized by long, slow songs and dance-like movements. It is the oldest of the Japanese traditional performing arts. It is performed at banquets and ceremonies in the Imperial Palace and in theatres throughout the country, and encompasses three distinct arts.

The first, Kuniburi no Utamai, features ancient Japanese songs, partially accompanied by harp and flute and simple choreography.

The second consists of instrumental music (especially wind instruments) and a ceremonial dance developed on the Asian continent and subsequently adapted by Japanese artists.

The third, Utamono, is danced to vocal music whose texts include Japanese folk songs and Chinese poems.

Influenced by the politics and culture of different periods over its long evolution, “Gagaku” continues to be transmitted to apprentices by masters in the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency, many of whom are the descendants of families with deep roots in the art.

It is not only an important cultural tool in confirming Japanese identity and a crystallization of the history of Japanese society, but also a demonstration of how multiple cultural traditions can be fused into a unique heritage through constant recreation over time.

 

Final question

Can a 21st Century Princess and the usages of an ancient court work together, observe the best of both, and save the essential nature of the  world’s only remaining Imperial Throne? This is what we all await.

About the author

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a well-known author on many topics, including international relations, and the monarchies of the Earth. Go now to see his over 55 books:

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