It seems that everyone I observe is out of contact with reality. Perhaps I’m the worst! There was a saying even when I was a child, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” How right they were and I knew it from the beginning. I had numerous opportunities to make big money, but it always seemed like a distraction. To be a commercial airline pilot would have been a top-dollar job, and with my Air Force pilot training all I had to do to get that job was say … yes. But after flying cool airplanes I didn’t want to be a bus driver in the sky. I could have kept my job as a college teacher, and probably moved up the salary scale, but one of my lunch companions who was older and teaching different but similar subjects was bored stiff. I didn’t want to go where he was and moved on. Then I had a business in downtown San Francisco and knew some of the right people, but that wasn’t for me either. A few of my 1960s buddies became wealthy in the tech world, and a few famous too. Nah.
And much more. As I look back on it my problem was that my interests were too esoteric. Who would waste years trying to save the world from the H-bomb, or years trying to be unquestionably peaceful in my affiliations with the Unitarian folks and Channing Club? Ah yes, in the radical 60s the goal was peace, and almost all the protesters were amazingly peaceful even in riots. I did have my run-ins with the Berkeley police, but after my various associations with the City Council, the Chief of Police actually had the political pull to get me into Boalt Hall law school and a political career. I don’t think I could have handled that, but the opportunity was there to get started if I had said yes.
I spent a huge amount of time pursuing Sir Francis Drake’s relationship with the West coast which led to the Drake Plate of Brass hoax. After I figured out that the hoax was perpetrated by Conan Doyle it precipitated a couple of years of successful pursuit of his many other crimes. That was engaging of my mental facilities. Pursuing the most famous writer of all time—he has more movies and TV shows of his works by far than Shakespeare—gave me opportunities for intellectual fun that no other human has ever experienced. I have fond memories of several ah-ha moments … the exact time and place, and the instant realization that I was right about some peculiar thing. That is how I used my time and life.
Among the people I know, some this morning were talking about their near-death experiences mountain climbing, climbing vertical sheets of ice hundreds of feet up, surfing in dangerous waves, others whose children have followed in their path and were repeatedly so badly injured that they were unconscious for over a month. Here in Bend, there are lots of people into extreme sports, and other bizarre things too. It appears to me that if you are not doing something appallingly dangerous or stupid you are not considered as living. Mention someplace, anyplace in the world, while in a group and someone will instantly pipe up with the incredibly dangerous experience they had there.
Of course, I’m the stupid one because if I made money I could have done those things too.