ANOTHER TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
More than a dozen years ago I wrote the following epistle as a commentary which the editors of the Daily Pilot very kindly published on their pages. I thought it might be time to reprise this. A couple of the references show their - and my - age, but the core message remains. Enjoy...
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
now, a few words ...
By Geoff West
August 24, 2004
I've been thinking
words lately. Now, don't get all excited, I'm not talking about
four-letter words, the ones that seem to have saturated casual
more and more in the last decade or so. I'm talking about some
Four years ago, as we
ramped up for
the last presidential election, there was a little joke going
matter who wins the 2000 election, we're going to end up with a
word for a president." I smiled then, and I'm smiling now. Among
four-letter words I've been contemplating lately is "work." It's
of the few four-letter words many of our kids don't seem to use
especially when combined with another four-letter word, "hard."
Seems to me that too
many of our young
folks just kind of skate by, willing to drift with the tide
rather than work
hard to accomplish their goals — academic and otherwise. Of
course, not all of
them are set on cruise control. There are many outstanding
this neck of the woods. There seem to be many on the other side
equation, though, and it's a problem.
I don't know why.
Maybe it's because
the levels of academic achievement have been so ratcheted out of
avoid damaging self-esteem that even accomplishing a straight-A
not to be enough. How can we expect our kids to keep their eye
on the ball,
when we keep changing the target?
A couple other
four-letter words I've
thought about recently are "love" and "hate." Both of these
seem to have gotten diluted. Hate is a word that has gotten
watered down by
overuse. People will say they hate someone when what they
actually mean is,
"I don't like your opinion," or "You're different, and I don't
understand you." They hate the dress, when they actually mean,
don't like that color much." Heck, I use the word — among others
I'm tied up in traffic. It's an easy word to use, although not
accurately. I do know what real hate is, though. Hate is what I
felt as I
watched the airplanes hit the World Trade Center towers on Sept.
11, 2001 and
viewed the aftermath later. I hated the cowards who conceived
the plan and
those who fulfilled it. Almost three years later, that feeling
subsided, and I still find myself contemplating appropriate
Drawing and quartering
is one of the
more mild solutions I've considered. That is hate.
"Love," on the other
seems to have gotten confused with another four-letter word:
Believe it or not, I was actually a teenager once — a long time
ago — so I
still remember lust. It was easy to confuse the words back then.
difference is quite clear to me. Lust is seeing Halle Berry in a
black cat suit
and Sharon Stone in a white pants suit, frolicking together on
screen. Love is what I feel for my sweet wife of 37 years every
hour of every
day; it brings a smile to my face and makes my heart skip a beat
when she walks
into the room. Love makes me ache when we are apart.
"Fear" is another
four-letter word I've thought about, usually in close proximity
"hate" in my thought process. Fear is what the Sept. 11
have given to this country. I guess I do hate them for that.
Fear exists in our
community for other reasons, too — fear of the new, the
different, the unknown.
There are those who use that fear to fan the flames of hate and
try to convince
us that their way is better. Sadly, sometimes that plan seems to
have worked. I
think we all need to do a better job of overcoming that fear and
around in my skull lately is "best." You know, as in "be the
best." Lance Armstrong's recent win at the Tour de France has
made me think
about this word. Can there be any doubt that he is the very best
at what he
does? Even if you ignore his successful battle with cancer, his
is without equal in sport.
In this Olympic year,
we are seeing
young people from around the world become the very best and
marvel at their
accomplishments. We sometimes let "be the best" overshadow "do
your best." In the Olympics, for every winner there will be
will not stand on the top step of the podium and hear their
national anthem played.
Many of those individuals will have done their very best and
still not win the
Being the best is an
achieved by very few. Doing your best can be attained every time
and in everything you do. In my mind, it's OK if you are not
best" as long as you do your best.
The last four-letter
word on my mind a
lot in recent months is "life." There are many aphorisms that
describe views of life, but I've discovered one thing at my
age: Life is usually not what you anticipated. This message was
driven home to
me, loud and clear, last winter when I spent 45 days at the
bedside of a man
who had been my best friend since we were 5 years old. He didn't
expect that he
would crash his motorcycle, but he did. I certainly didn't
expect to be the one
to tell the doctors to stop trying to bring him back at the end
of his life,
but I was.
So, I leave you with
It is hard work to lead a good, happy, productive life, but it's
effort. A little lust is OK, but not at the expense of deeper
let fear of the unknown overcome you. Don't let others turn it
into hate. If
you do your very best, that's good enough.
Finally, learn what
true love is — and
WEST is a resident of Costa Mesa.
Oh, yes... In case you're wondering, we'll get to the loaded City Council meeting in our next post... I have to pound myself on my shoulder pads and get pumped up for that one...
Labels: Daily Pilot, four-letter words, Geoff West