Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

August 30, 2009

What's the big idea?

With all the Kennedy hoopla in the news lately, I thought I'd add my two cents. I've never cared for the Kennedy lifestyle or politics much, but I did watch Teddy's funeral and felt touched by the many tributes, by his kids' and grandkids' comments, by the glorious music and the interesting gathering of distinguished guests - and I do feel he was a much beleaguered guy as the youngest of nine, had a bigger adversity load than most ever have to carry with all the tragedy in his life, and I salute him as an American who gave a significant part of his life in public service to his country.

As I listened to his niece, Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger, on NPR tonight talk about her uncle and the Kennedy legacy, only recently having lost her own mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, I was impressed by what she said regarding the early Kennedy expectations by the family. Their parents would ask them if they had any ideas. Ideas? Yes, ideas for change, for bettering their station, for improving their society and the people around them, big ideas - like changing the world! Ever had any big ideas?

I know some of my kids have good creative ideas and have expressed them in significant little business, musical and artistic ventures. Very techno savvy! Some ideas are borne of their education, some from just their struggles and tensions with society. I hope they continue to grow intellectually though, read more, be on top of the news and be able to study ideas more - and not acquiesce to some of the shallow, mind-deadening aspects of this brave new world they live in that can deprive them of freedom if they are not vigilant. I appreciate my wife's intellect too, her great work ethic and compassion for her special ed kids.

I didn't use to think I had any ideas in my early life. I was an ADD kid whose mind wandered in class alot - so I must have been thinking of something, but it wasn't usually what the teachers wanted me to think about. As I grew and matured, started having some bigger life experiences, traveling the world as an LDS missionary to Brazil and then to the Far East and Europe as a performer for BYU shows, getting masters degrees in English and American Studies, having some success in the entertainment world, my mind expanded, my questions started forming better, I started having larger interests - and now, at 67, while my body is having more pain and slowing down, my mind races with ideas, too many to write and think about sometimes, almost paralyzing in their volume, some from books, scripture, poetry and prose, newspapers and news magazines, from tv news, from listening to talk radio a lot, though not too many people around interested in discussing them with me.

So I heartily subscribe to the Kennedy prescription for full lives and public service. Get some ideas! Try some ideas out! Think and ponder and write good ideas down - something I learned from an essay by Sterling W Sill many years back, having an idea bank, like a planner or journal or anything you can write on and capture ideas that continue to germinate or jump out at you and save them, think about them, use them.  Some may be worth a lot of money, I thought. But at least, it can give you a "life of the mind", something many Americans today seem to be without, abdicating to toys and technology instead of a mind-expanding  study of history and ideas, among other things.

Yes, I have read a little of Susan Jacoby's book recently, "The Age of American Unreason", in the intro of which she talks about the whole problem of anti-intellectualism in America. She makes mention of John Kennedy, coincidentally, who though an educated Harvard man, had the common touch in his quest for the presidency over Adlai Stevenson, who was a little too polished and even "snooty" to connect with the people. She continues, "The public was right:Kennedy was no intellectual, if an intellectual is, to borrow Hofstader's definition, someone who 'in some sense lives for ideas - - which means he has a sense of dedication to the life of the mind which is very much like a religious commitment." But if most presidents didn't live up to that definition, I want to! That's me! I love ideas, thrive on new ideas, always have my antennae up for new ideas and my radar ready! So think big - what's the big idea today? I'll keep them coming as long as they keep coming to me!

1 comment:

  1. I like this blog entry, daddy-o. I need to write more of my ideas down. I too have thoughts and ideas swimming through my mind constantly, but have never taken the time to jot them down. I shall do it!