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Quiet Desperation

You’ll never get off the ground if you’re trying to avoid the grind


I don't believe in wishing and hoping and praying for things to get better. I don't believe in positive thinking all by itself, or slogans to grease the way.

There's work to be done.

Meditation and tent meetings and retreats and colonic irrigations aren't on my list.

I don't believe that you get there from here by being out there.

I would sooner make summer camp moccasins than sit in a room with hundreds of others and listen to a heap of calibrated phrases.

Most of us are recovering from something.

Bad relationships, job failures, drugs, alcohol, financial woes, the recent election.

We like to be handed pamphlets at the door. Given DVDs. Hear a deep voice say, "Listen without interrupting. Speak without accusing. Give without sparing, but we don't accept American Express."

I take my cues from observation and lots of research, and then I simply roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Others need others.

My friend H. L. Mencken said, "Deep within the heart of every evangelist lies the wreck of a car salesman."

Elsewhere, practically everywhere, it's easy enough to find packaged motivation. Lose-weight-with-this-pill kind of stuff.

No one loses weight by taking a pill, unless it puts you to sleep for 20 years.

Washington Irving wrote "Rip Van Winkle" after filing for bankruptcy in 1818, hoping to write his way out of debt.

He could have gone away just like Van Winkle, and bent elbows at the bar with a bunch of dwarves, just like Van Winkle.

Instead, he got to work.

I watched a film the other night. It was made before they figured out how to blow things up, including people, when films depended upon scripts and directors and good acting, instead of junk in space.

I watched and listened for dialogue and dialogue pauses, editing, lighting, and "Dutch" camera angles.

The soundtrack is unforgettable.

I thought about the director, Carol Reed, who knew what he was doing because he studied film, and got to work.

I'll name it at the end of this, but here are some other clues: zither, postwar Vienna.

I am recovering from something - maybe a number of things - but the main one is the bottle.

There is a lot of work that is involved that others never see, unless you know an alcoholic. And who doesn't?

I can hear Dusty Springfield right now.

"Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, planning and dreaming" won't get the job done.

The point is that I have to do much more than sign up for a seminar.

A long, long time ago, I heard about record albums that you could listen to in your sleep, so you didn't have to do the work when you were awake.

You could learn a foreign language in your sleep.

You could learn about self-help in your sleep.


The film I referred to is "The Third Man." No one watches films like it now. It takes too much work.

It's all substance. It's intelligently made. No one flies without wings.

The galaxy in it is right here on the ground.

My best motivational speaker is myself.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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