The other day I was trying to discuss
the idea of being a Progressive with a woman named Beverly on
Tribe.net. It was difficult because her attitude was to discount
anyone else – she assumed the role of expert on every subject.
It's not just her even though I took my frustration out on her, it's
all of America. No one believes anyone else, no one credits anyone
else, and no one respects anyone else. We're all experts on
But everyone has hidden talents and
past lives, don't they? Each and every person in the world is the
best at something. Have you ever sat and watched people walk by on a
busy sidewalk? I have and I wonder about each person, if I got to
know them what would I find out about them that would impress me?
What passions did they walk away from and for what reasons? What do
they do that puts their mind at ease?
When I was in high school, I used to draw. I used charcoals, and I was pretty good – probably the best in my school. I studied perspective and space and technique. I once designed an image for an avionics convention for my uncle. Another time I won a national education contest for an illustration appropriate for the book, Jonathon Livingston Seagull. My work was displayed as the Grand Prize somewhere in Washington D.C. It's one of my hidden lives. Despite the encouragement of my art teacher and a couple of scholarship offers, I decided not to pursue it and the reason was simple – art was a parlor trick for me, and I knew it.
I'm creative “enough” to get by, but I just don't have the eye for it, and I wouldn't be satisfied being an artistic craftsman. What I did was I drew things that I saw, I copied. I'd take magazine photos and stills and images out of books and I'd combine pieces of them into composite drawings, but I wasn't drawing from my mind, it wasn't a natural thing. I didn't need a Simon Cowell to tell me that I was just good enough to get by, but not star material, I could see it myself before anyone else. I had other talents and pursued them. It's fun to see the reaction on people's face's, though, when I whip out a quick sketch of something. Often it's an obvious, “I didn't know you could draw.”
On the other hand, Medium can draw. She has it in her mind to create images out of nothing. The craft will come and techniques will be mastered, but she has the special eye that I didn't.
The man who lived across the hall from me for eight years was Dean Carr. He was in his sixties, thin, and friendly to a fault. If I could express one summation of my experiences with Dean, it would be that he never complained, he took everything in stride.
Dean had a bicycle shop in the basement of our building. He'd repair, rebuild, and restore bikes. He loved classic bikes and he collected tools and he and I would talk for hours about tools, parts, and bikes and all of the wonderful places he'd ridden. He didn't own a car and didn't see any need for one, although he could repair them. Between doing favors for friends and giving bikes to the needy, Dean didn't make much money. He was often behind in his rent and management kept threatening to shut down his bicycle shop. For Dean, it was no big deal. It'd work itself out.
Besides, we all knew that they couldn't kick Dean out. He was an institution.
Dean died in the hallway outside his shop, December 2005, of a heart attack. Hundreds of people came to memorialize him. He'd touched everyone he'd known in some important way.
The service was rich with folk music and I didn't understand the connection until later.
Dean had a hidden life. Maybe not hidden from everyone, but it never came up with me. Dean had been a folk singer in the sixties and seventies and he'd been really good. For some reason, he'd walked away from the music business, pursued his love of bikes, and lived a life he was happy with.
So, I found some of Dean's songs. Who would've known that this bicyclist with a raspy speaking voice was such a rich vocal talent? Who'd have known that those hands, with their talent for wrenches, could also bring forth powerful music from a guitar?
It's just wrong to assume superiority over people. You can't know what they're capable of, and how shamed you might be with incorrect assumptions.
The artwork is Medium's and the songs below are Dean's.
We who knew him will miss him.
- rick, respectful