In the 1935 Broadway musical “Dumbo,” Jimmy Durante was leading an elephant across the stage when stopped by a policeman. Asked what he was doing with the elephant, Durante replied, “What elephant?” As time evolved since that early refusal to acknowledge something as obvious as an elephant on a stage, the expression “the elephant in the room” has come to mean that obvious something that someone refuses to see.
With fall’s commencement, for me, there’s always an urge to take some inventory of what transpired over the summer. There were the positives, such as warmer weather that comes as a welcome relief to all who call Ohio home.
When it comes to acts of kindness, there are indeed so many ways positively to impact others.
On the eve of this Labor Day, a lot will be written about the jobs that have always been the backbone of this country, so I will join the rest of what in another era were called scribes who’ve penned their laborious passages.
In my current line of work, I spend a considerable amount of time behind the wheel and staring through a windshield. These days I do far more driving than I used to do back in my teaching days when I spent no fewer than 10 hours a day in the same room, Room 16, in an old high school building over in St. Marys, a building that no longer blocks the view of Skip Baughman Stadium from West South Street.
For generations, those who mourn the passing of others have tried in some public displays to honor the memory of the departed. The practice goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who constructed monuments similar to those seen in cemeteries today. The markers erected all fall under the umbrella of what has come to be known as funerary art.
Experience has, or at least it should have, taught us some lessons along the way. One, I’ve learned when advancing toward the next landing while going up the stairs, it’s a lot less painful to fall up the stairs than it is to fall down them. While the misstep that caused the fall is pretty much the same, the extra pain of falling backward when we fail to grasp fully the importance of decreasing hastiness and increasing caution has to do with the direction we fall. Falling up the stairs merely momentarily stops us; it doesn’t place us farther away from our next landing.
Had I been able to foretell my future back in the late 1950s and early ‘60s during my St. Charles Redwing days, there’s much that I would have had a hard time believing, not the least of which was that I would spend over 30 years teaching students who behaved a whole lot better than I ever did for the first several years of my schooling. I also would have been incredulous that school calendars would modify so drastically that the first day of a new school year would be weeks before the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Last March I flew for the first time since that whole COVID deal altered so much of what we once knew as life, from Columbus to Fort Myers to spend a few Floridian days with my sis and brother-in-law. While I wouldn’t call myself a frequent flyer, I have flown enough both domestically and abroad in my life to feel pretty comfortable with the whole experience. This time, there were some differences from my previous flights, with the most obvious being the mask mandate that was still in effect, both in the airport and on the plane.
Surely there’s much as we age that reminds us of the rapidity of the years that have passed. For those who enjoy music, you’ve surely noted that songwriters and singers have always used age-related lyrics.