In this world the person I want most to meet is Buzz Aldrin.
And by wanting to meet him, what I mean to say is that I would want to interact with him long enough for him to get to know me, which is to say I would want Buzz to find something about me he would like.
I would like Buzz to say to me: "Joe, did you know that this thing you did was really great?"
And I would say, "Well, gee, Buzz. I'm flattered you'd say that."
And then he'd say, "Well, this other stuff really sucks, but this here made my day."
See, it wouldn't be all Walter Mitty, because there'd be some harsh criticism in there for me. But coming from Buzz, I'd just accept it. When a man who has walked on the moon gives you the time of day you welcome it, because you've become part of his life just like the moon was, which makes you as important as stepping on the surface of another world.
In some sense.
I had to give up my radio show to move back to California. My show was called, "The Whittier Street Cafe" and I produced exactly one episode for NPR. In it I interviewed Ted Scambos and riverrun and a local Juneau poet, who is kind of like an Alaskan O'Henry.
They never aired the show, as far as I know, because airing only one of a weekly series isn't satisfying for the radio audience. On the plus side, if they hate it, they're not going to have to listen to it again but if they like it, they're not going to get any more. So why risk them liking it?
I have the show on CD. I can prove I did it.
It's not often you get offered a radio show. Even less often a person without a radio show walks away from one. Though, I'm experimenting with a way of life that measures success not in exploited opportunity, but rather, in the refusal of incredible possibility. Once I turned down 2 million dollars in cash and automobiles (Ferrari 360 Spyder). It was the counter offer made to me to stay at my company and not leave and start another company.
Of course, I did the sane thing which was to turn down the offer and start my company.
Then 9/11 happened and the high tech world went into recession.
Now I work somewhere else. I drive a Jeep. I listen to other people on the radio.
When I was living in Alaska, I missed California. Mostly, I missed my children but I also missed being able to go to Fry's and buy a bare 3Ghz Pentium processor, a pair of boxer shorts, and a bag of Fritos, a 200 millimeter vibration stabilized Nikon lens, and a replacement lithium hydride battery for my VTech cordless phone - all at the same cash register.
I wonder what those Fry's check out clerks think of customer's purchase choices. I know when I was a drug store cashier I held silent judgment for every customer. For instance, a guy would buy a carton of Marlboro, a box of condoms, a Snicker's bar, a copy of Hustler, and have a prescription filled for nail fungus medication.
I would think: dude, you're out of control. But I would say: "$23.98", because threading a story between non sequitur items is called fiction and it's not fair to wrap people up in your personal mental fiction.
Sometimes I can't help it.
The older I get the better I understand the things my parents told me, and the better I understand that not understanding what older people tell you is a part of the growing process.
Older people will tell you: "it's not the destination, it's the journey," or some variant of that old chestnut. When you're younger, it's all about answers. Is it this or that? Can I have it, yes or no? Can I do it or can't I? Why is it? What is it? When is it?
And there are actually answers that can be provided, because most of the time a young person asks questions that have been asked before lots of times. They're practical questions and rarely the "nobody knows" type.
When you get older you have little left in your brain but the, "nobody knows," sorts of questions. Then your questioning has no finite terminus, except that you're brutally aware that someday you will die, and most likely, your remaining questions will go unanswered.
Inevitably, you come to the conclusion that for your existence to have much meaning there must be an inherent correctness to unanswerable questions, and that it may have been that all along your life has been about the search for unobtainable results. If you are a zen buddhist you give up searching at this point and become content to simply "be". If you do not discover zen, you become distraught, or worse, a habitual Walmart shopper.
Through your personal journey for the Holy Grail you turn lots of the "I think it's this way," into the, "I know it turned out this way for me," sort of thing. This is the essence of learning. The process of learning may be all there is.
I considered that possibility while I was in the shower this morning.
And then I forgot all about it.
Because in growing older you become comfortable living with a lot of uncertainty. Many times even if there were answers, you'd rather not know.
The truest way to head straight into writer's block is to worry yourself with the idea you have to create something worth reading.