Anything Is Possible?
The biggest difference I could see between my generation and our parents was the degree of self- reflection we would entertain on just about any level. Not to diminish the value of the prior generation, but they were more concerned with surfaces and did not involve themselves in the degree of examination of the metaphysical nature of life that we seemed to be absorbed in most of the time.
As Socrates famously said: “All things in moderation.” We didn’t moderate. We still don’t. The Boomers could while away a day in examination of grass growing (usually chemically induced). While this form of reflection had value, I eschewed too much of it because you can’t think and eat French fries with gravy at the same time.
I suspect the earliest influence on my innate ability to scrutinize the broader notions in life came from watching “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits”. Being scared is intrinsically good. Being able to assert the existence of mysterious forces outside the boundaries of nature, however, can present some challenges.
Even though I will forcefully assert that my generation was the last one properly educated through the public school system in this country, our youth obviated the need to put to use the actual science we studied. When more than two of us were gathered in someone’s dorm room, inevitably the phrase “Anything is possible” would be blurted out, and all heads would nod in unison, like little ducklings following their mother into the pond.
The problem with this notion was that anything was not possible, it wasn’t even probable.
We quickly skirted past Sir Isaac Newton’s first three laws of motion as irrelevant and immaterial. When my friend Jeff announced that all people had accumulated 15 pounds of undigested red meat in their intestines by the age of 50, we just nodded in agreement. We were so blithely certain of any uncertainty, we could spend hours of naval gazing to attune ourselves to notions that could never trot past the front door in ‘the real world’.
Case in point: Phyllis and I were both working in the same building in the late 70’s; I for Palm Springs Life Magazine; she was employed by the Milt Jones Agency. One day one of the artists on the magazine side brought in a litter of kittens. We were immediately smitten and decided to take the last two home with us. I had ridden my Harley to work that day, so I fetched the kittens and plopped them down on the rear seat of Phyllis’ Camaro for the 15 minute ride back to Rancho Mirage.
If Mr. Newton had driven a car in his day (anything is possible) he would have added a fourth law to his list: kittens in a car never sit still. By the time I reached our house, only one kitten was visible, the other had vanished. I had not gotten out of the car on the way home, the windows were rolled up, so the only plausible explanation to me was that the kitten had actually vanished.
I didn’t give it a second thought on the ride back to the office to return her car, but when I mentioned this mystery to Phyllis, she became as incredulous as would be expected of any sane person under the circumstances. Obviously, she had not gotten the memo at her university about the universality of any phenomenon, no matter how absurd. I’m certain if there weren’t so many witnesses around, I would have received a good throttling, much deserved.
We closely examined the interior of the car, peering everywhere to try to locate the kitten I was sure now resided comfortably in the Twilight Zone (through no fault of my own, of course). Turning myself upside down over the front seat, I noticed a white, furry blob sitting peacefully up inside the dashboard. He had obviously found his way there somewhere between Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage, probably while I was busy changing 8 track tapes in the car stereo.
My arm was too large to negotiate the tiny compartment, but Dick Mount, the head artist at the agency was able to snake his way up and eventually coax the furball down without injury. Upon seeing the kitten had not mysteriously vanished into the ether, I was perplexed. I wanted to find the nearest pay phone and call Jeff immediately. Apparently, there was a flaw in our universal truth, the universal truth, and I thought he should know about it right away.
No one seemed to want to challenge my understanding of the day’s events, so everyone went back to their work, and I made another trip home with this freshly reappeared kitten, pondering which part of my logic stream was faulty.
White Willie and Juicy Lucy were a precocious pair, giving us much enjoyment over the years. There was a great awakening inside my somewhat addled brain after that, and I systematically began to question the efficacy of my Twilight Zone Reasoning System. While I was somewhat humbled by the notion that television was mostly a fiction, I was still absolutely certain that everything I saw in the movies still engendered the notion that anything was possible.