Friday, October 05, 2007


"Did you ever take a good look at yourself in the mirror?"
"No. Why should I hurt my own feelings?"
- Abbott and Costello

Once upon a time, I was employed as a human shield. My job was to protect pampered faculty from the slings and arrows of the outrageous bureaucracy of a large and prestigious university. I was good at it, although it was a lasting disappointment to me that the tenured have about as much respect for mere staff members as a street-sweeper has for a gum wrapper.

Thinking about that today was like a post-traumatic stress flashback. It’s odd that I would recall those stressful days, but for one serendipitous observation that triggered the memory of faculty disrespect for anything other than their own field of expertise. What happened was: I caught the laughing man rock looking up at me from his lowly spot in a dish garden. I think he’s wise to the real order of the universe, and he’s certainly “grounded.“

I recalled the day I bought that stone at a nursery years ago, back when I was still working for a living. I bought him one weekend because I had had a particularly stressful week, and seeing him looking up at me from a display on the counter, I suddenly realized that it wasn’t up to the idiots I worked with to determine who I was. That was up to me. Imagine learning that lesson from a small stone.

It still is up to me to decide my value in the universe. Thanks for the review of that lesson, laughing rock man.

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