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Tony Grist

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Ambitions [Nov. 7th, 2005|10:20 am]
Tony Grist
I've been looking for a line (I think it's from the Ingoldsby Legends- but deuced if I can find it) which declares that a man has fulfilled his duty to the ages if he has

1. Produced a child
2. Written a book
3. Planted a tree.

I've done all three- the first in triplicate. So, please sir, can I be excused, now?

When I was a very small child I wanted to be a farmer. Well, having just spent an hour mucking out the rabbit and the guinea pigs, I reckon I've fulfilled that ambition too. P.S. There's a reason why guinea pigs are called "pigs" and it's not just because they squeak.

Do I have any ambitions left? More pertinently, is it proper for a person in their mid 50s to still have ambitions?

Except to grow old with dignity and grace- and not to hang about too long.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dakegra
2005-11-07 03:55 am (UTC)
I think that when we stop having ambitions, it's time to call it a day.

You could always write *another* book. The first was jolly good.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 04:26 am (UTC)
Thank you.

I have thought about writing another book- but if I did, it would have to be something substantially different. I wouldn't want to repeat myself.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-11-07 04:30 am (UTC)
Or plant another tree. The world can always use more trees.

(And how about that? I've done all three, as well.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 04:36 am (UTC)
I don't have any space on my property to plant more trees.

But Ailz and I belong to something called the Woodland Trust and give money so that trees may be planted, day in and day out, all over the place.

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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-11-07 05:49 am (UTC)
That counts! Here in Philly, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has developed a Tree Tender program whereby volunteers acquire, plant, and maintain street trees in their neighborhoods. I occasionally hook up with a group of them to help plant trees.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 06:08 am (UTC)
That's a great idea.

I love trees.
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[User Picture]From: dakegra
2005-11-07 05:06 am (UTC)
indeed. Trees are rather wonderful things. Can't have enough trees.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-11-07 04:09 am (UTC)
is it proper for a person in their mid 50s to still have ambitions?

God, I sure hope so. I'm 55, busy planning my emigration from Sweden to the UK next year, finding a new job, all kinds of neat stuff. I haven't seen India yet or learned to scuba dive either.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 04:34 am (UTC)
I haven't seen India either- and I suppose there was a time when I wanted to- but these days- naah.....

I'm world-weary.
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2005-11-07 04:31 am (UTC)
Only random chance with sperm bank dispersions will allow me to fulfill (1).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 04:38 am (UTC)
These days- what with the population being what it is- I can't see a whole lot of virtue in #1.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2005-11-07 05:20 am (UTC)
Perhaps phrasing it as "raised a child" would be better? Firstly because producing one (especially for a male) is just a biological process and not really any big deal and secondly because it means that it doesn't have to be a child of one's own that one raises or helps to raise. It could be a nephew or niece, child of a friend, adopted child etc.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 06:02 am (UTC)
Yes, I like that. To raise a child- and to raise it well- is the most important work in the world.
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[User Picture]From: suzilem
2005-11-07 05:21 am (UTC)
I briefly googled and found that particular triad variously attributed to the Talmud, Jose Marti, and Balzac. Hemingway also said it, but added "fight a bull" to the other three.

I've got a few ambitions left. Most of them would be much easier to accomplish if I were to become unexpectedly independently wealthy. :-)

Sticking around for a few more years is a worthy ambition.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 06:06 am (UTC)
I guess the Talmud has priority over the other contenders. Also it sounds like rabbinic wisdom.

Maybe I'd aquire a few, fresh-minted ambitions if I suddenly came into a lot of money.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-11-07 08:15 am (UTC)
I've planted a tree. There is no hope of the first one.

Does the book have to be published?

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 09:26 am (UTC)
I don't think the book has to be published. Writing it is enough.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2005-11-07 08:47 am (UTC)
I thought that was the Talmund
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 09:29 am (UTC)
It probably is. I came across it in The Ingoldsby Legends where it is cited as a piece of proverbial wisdom.

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[User Picture]From: seaslug_of_doom
2005-11-07 11:05 am (UTC)
I have done none of the above, to my knowledge. Guess I better get busy.

You are aware, of course, that guinea pigs are on the menu in some parts of South America? When one has lemons, one makes lemonade. When one has guinea pigs, one makes BBQ.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 01:02 pm (UTC)
I'm a vegetarian myself, but I can see that Guinea-pigs might well be tasty. Ours are lovely and fat....
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-07 12:42 pm (UTC)
We've been watching documentaries about life before the dinosaurs and life of humans in the early days.

It's hard to see The Meaning of Life back there, and it feels like hubris to force meaning into our lives now.

God, what hard lives we live when it's all about predator or prey. And everybody's muddy and covered with flies.

I wonder if anybody ever cried. How to choose what to cry about? Life was so awful, just finding a mudhole or not getting gored to death meant a good day.

And I complain because I don't have a new sofa. Sheesh.

Ambitions are, I think, a way to force us to feel we are doing something for the hive. Just being--as you say, with dignity and grace--is surely enough.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 01:12 pm (UTC)
I don't know, maybe early humans led full and meaningful lives. They had art and story-telling and religion- and disposed of their dead with respect (which implies belief in an afterlife....)

We assume the past must have been worse in every way- but it ain't necessarily so. For instance I was reading the other day that our image of medieval peasants having bad teeth is simply not true. Some archaeologist who specialised in medieval peasants was saying that s/he had never found a medieval peasant with even a single dental cavity. They didn't have access to sugar, see....
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-07 01:50 pm (UTC)
What you say has a nice ring of truth to it, and is rather comforting.

Of course people found meaning in their lives. They loved their families, they had celebrations when they got a musk-ox or whatever, and they probably had many good days.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-07 02:23 pm (UTC)
I guess people a thousand years from now may look back and think, "how on earth did our ancestors cope with life back in the 21st century?"
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-07 03:40 pm (UTC)
I wonder myself how we cope here in the twenty-first century. I'm hearing right this minute on the news that "the wagons are circling around the Bush administration" as they yell ever louder that they refuse to give up their right to torture prisoners!

God.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-08 01:30 am (UTC)
That a modern administration should have the gall to demand the right to torture- it beggars belief.

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