Archive for December 5th, 2009

Pain is NOT Production

Like Jews, the World War II Generation talked almost exclusively about how they “SUFFERED.” I used to hear endless tales about how they were REAL MEN because they peeled potatoes and, God knows how often I heard this exciting fact, “The Sarge made me make my bed so tight he could bounce a quarter off of it.”

I was told about the shots they had to take. The few who had actually heard an enemy shot fired told me only they knew what life was like.

They told me that REAL MEN like them could do anything they wanted to do.

It took me a long to realize an amazing correlation. The ones who talked the most about World War II were the ones who had done the least since. I found out after he died that Professor Carlton Coon parachuted behind enemy lines as a spy.

Yes, there is a point to all this bitching. You may not notice the distortions in our thinking that came from this “suffering” crap, but I had my nose shoved into it like a puppy in house training, so before I pass away, I need to tell you what it taught me.

And the one big lesson it took me decades to realize was that output does NOT equal input. Above all, it is NOT true that “Talk is cheap.” The words “Talk is cheap” were precious to those who had accomplished nothing since 1945.

Most of the observations I make are terribly obvious once you think of them. For example, a guy who talks endlessly fifty years later about what he did as a teenager before 1945 is almost always someone who did not make it in the communications-based world he came back to after 1945.

They endlessly quote the fact that Benjamin Franklin would be taking his wheelbarrow to his printing house at dawn every morning. Franklin stated flatly in his autobiography that that was a publicity stunt. “It is important,” he said, “that one be SEEN working hard.”

His point was exactly the opposite of what the Greatest Generation made of it. But they hadn’t read the book because it was “just talk.”

I was raised on the idea that production equaled Hard Work. And now that I have the time to think things out, I realize that this led me to the disastrous idea that what I SAID was incidental, because it wasn’t HARD.

It is painful to realize what I could have done had I realized some basics. The world is not changed by what YOU feel. Effort does not equal results. Lord this seems so obvious now that I say it I wonder whether I should say it.

It is true that if you can’t do anything else, you can get paid for doing what others don’t want to do. There are jobs programming and lifting things and getting dirty, though they are becoming fewer all the time. Those are the jobs that guys who feel the height of their life experience was making tight beds could get.

I want to try to make this sound more profound, and not just reveal how obviously naïve I was most of my life.

But sometimes the best thing an old man who is trying to wow you with his wisdom can do is tell you plainly about the times that he was just plain stupid.