A Life Worth Living

“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” Mark Twain on Jane Austen

I have a list of people that  I should like to smack with their own shin-bones. Although if I was given the option I would probably choose a large bone, like the femur.  I would say that Twain was a kinder, gentler soul than I but he is responsible for the whole shin-bone to the cranium idea. All I did was refine it. Really, if you are going to go to the trouble of hitting someone you ought to do a proper job of it.

It reminds me of a time in college when I told the guy sitting next to me that his hand smelled like peanut butter. He said really and then when he placed it close to his nose I gave it a “gentle” push. As you might imagine he wasn’t pleased with being smacked in the nose, especially with his own hand. Some might say that there is never an excuse for violence, but I had suggested that he not try to annoy me. What can I tell you, I am 230 pounds of five-year-old.

I just let everyone on Twitter know that my session at BlogHer is going to be standing room only. My recommendation is to bring comfortable shoes. Since I am also known as a master of nonsense I should let you know that I told a spammer to stop writing me or I would scoop out their eyes with a butter knife, because eyeballs are a delicacy in my country.

Have you noticed that sometimes I need to get a running start before I start addressing the topic of a post. Some of you have said that you are annoyed by this. I find comments like that to be somewhat amusing, but not as amusing as the people who tell me that they have unblogrolled me. When I get messages like that I ‘tut tut’ them and tell them that is so 2006.

The Lonely Blogger

I want to live a life that is worth living. That is not to say or suggest that I am not because I am. In fact I just finished speaking with a friend who almost died a few years back. They have a terminal illness and have had to confront the idea of dying prematurely. We spent a few minutes talking about what is going on with them and what is happening with me. I related in some detail the things that I hinted at in the prior post and was told that I have quite a handful. I of course said thank you and then asked if someone had taken pictures of me in the locker room.

There was much laughter and then they suggested that I find some new material. I said that they were right and remarked that when the almost dead person says “that sucks” you might want to take a hard look at your situation because it probably does suck. There was more laughter and guffawing over our juvenile and morbid sense of humor but it was good. It was good because we both needed to laugh and because we can only be solemn and serious for so long. Our time was limited but we did touch upon working hard to identify what makes us happy and what makes us feel fulfilled.

These are serious questions that I have spent more than a few minutes thinking about. It is not my intention, goal or desire to remain mired in muck and misery so I am actively working to correct that. Some might call it a sea change but I prefer to think of it as “getting the fuck out of Dodge.” There is a part of me that is preparing for the major changes that are to come and that means accepting failure. It means letting go of things that no longer work or bring the sort of joy that I need. I kid around a lot about being an old man but I don’t see myself that way.

When I look in the mirror that face and body don’t match my mental image and that is ok. It is ok because I can adjust both. It is ok because I know that I have the will to make the necessary changes and that is important. It is important because there have been moments where my confidence in my own abilities have been shaken. But a person who doesn’t believe in themselves has to work much harder than the one who does. So this post is part of the reminder to myself that I need to believe. I need to have faith that I can walk through the fire and emerge on the other side.

There is a long list of accomplishments that I can be proud of and more to come. I’ll save some of that for later. Right now I have to figure out who needs to be smacked across the skull with their own femur.

(Visited 185 times, 1 visits today)


  1. ExpatDoctorMom June 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Ring Ring, this time I’m calling you!

    Lovely intro, had me laughing 🙂

    I believe in you Jack, you will walk through the fire to the other side! Thanks for a well written piece.


  2. Leon June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am

    G’Day Jack,

    You’re right. The mine has long since been taken over by the corporates. But the price of gold over the last 20 years or more has made it viable. My eldest brother moved to Stawell when he retired. I know the place quite well.

    About ten years ago, my wife Julie was working ifor an engineering company. She was invited to the wedding of a young draftsman. Both he and his fiancee came from Newcastle. The wedding reception was held at The Newcastle Club.

    During the evening, I told some of her work colleagues about Mark Twain’s comment. They were sceptical. They said that I was “puling their leg” to use the Aussie vernacular. I was delighted to find, on my way to visit the bathroom during the evening, the framed copy that I mentioned earlier. As the sceptics wandered off during the evening, I suggested that they “have a look on the wall.” on the way to the bathroom.

    I had that Sgt Bilko feeling; very satisfying. By the way, there’s another MT quote on the bottom of one of my blog emails later this month.

    Best Wishes


  3. TheJackB June 21, 2011 at 7:16 am

    @Leon When people ask me if I have interest in meeting “historical figures” Twain is always on the list. Sounds like that gold mine has a significant amount of gold in it. Must be 100 years or since Twain was there.

  4. TheJackB June 21, 2011 at 7:14 am

    @Faryna One of my favorite movies. Never do get tired of it.

  5. Leon June 21, 2011 at 4:33 am

    G’Day Jack,

    Yet another very good reason to admire Samuel C. Personally, I’d have forced her to read her own novels.

    During a world tour he made he visited Australia and trailed quotes all over the country. He visited the gold mining town of Stawell, about 300 km north west of Melbourne. The Kinsela family owned the mine. MT was given “freedom of the city” and a public reception. At the dinner he stood up to speak and announced; “I’ve been sitting here talking with Mrs. Kinsela. I’ve realised that she makes as much money in a month as I make in a year.”

    He was strapped for cash at the time. Hence the world tour.

    On a visit to the coal mining centre of Newcastle, 150 km north of Sydney, he was feted at a dinner at The Newcastle Club. He announced to the assembled guests that “Newcastle is the only place I’ve ever visited that has a cemetery with no bodies in it at one end and a gentlemen’s club with no gentlemen in it at the other.”

    Incidentally, gold is still being mined at Stawell. I have a nephew who works there. The Newcastle Club still exists too. There’ a framed copy of MT’s quote on the wall. Newcastle is now Australia’s largest provincial city. The regional population is about 250,000.

    Thought you might like to know. As the beatnik said to the nun: “Any friend of Zorro is a friend of mine.”.



  6. TheJackB June 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    @marianne.worley I am with you. I like reading a variety of styles and appreciate being exposed to them. I think that it is a critical component of becoming a better writer.

  7. marianne.worley June 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Since I tend to tell personal stories in my posts, it can take me awhile (sometimes until the final sentence) to get to the point. That’s my writing style and I like it. And I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who like your style (I am one of them). As a reader, I quite enjoy a variety of styles, from the structure of a Shakespeare play to the stream of thoughts from Faulkner. So please, keep doing what you’re doing Jack! I’ll be here to read whatever you write.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like