Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Tea-Bag Tags

In later life it may be counter-productive to do things one has never done before. Until I happened recently to read a tag appended to a tea-bag I had not realized the great loss I have suffered through throwing, thoughtlessly, hundreds if not thousands of tea-bag tags away, unread, in bags of trash or garbage over the years.

For one thing the wisdom of the ages appears to be printed thereon, and I now see that as irretrievable. I have failed to avail myself of that tossed out wisdom. In addition to being left holding the bag, so to speak, bereft of such knowledge, there are the many attendant thoughts these tags might provoke; this maiden reading, as it were, is a formidable case in point. This one contained a quote from the writings of the honorable Booker T. Washington, prior to 1915, succinctly stated, and probably tersely too, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome.” There you have it -- you are your own arbiter of success! Dr. Booker T. surely had more experience with obstacles on the road to those positions in life than most; those positions undoubtedly include being quoted on tea-bag tags. That being, I now understand, one of the more enviable positions to be reached in life, now probably being occupied by the greater, more brilliant writers and thinkers of all time. It is clear that such messages are pitched to intellectual types, the sort of wise thinker I am sure I would have been had I only read all those tags. The idea of measurement is introduced in this quote by Dr. Washington, but not measures in terms of those discrete, objective units or intervals readily available to the popular minds and hearts of everyone else out there. It is apparently a measurement one can use without ending up helplessly judged by those other people, the kind of standard which I think I have been looking for some time.

Other people, I’ve discovered, do not have the faintest inkling of the tortuous obstacles I’ve encountered in reaching my present position of apparent nonentity; they have not walked a mile in my sandals, so to speak, nor would I have inflicted them with an opportunity to do so. This is the old story of rising out of obscurity only to become enmeshed in oblivion. It is immediately clear that the level of difficulty I have faced, the everyday obstacles I have had to contend with, puts me head and shoulders above many of my peers. It is also evident, that they do not recognize themselves as my peers; but they are not the only ones who have encountered resistances on the ladder to success. I too have found the going tough and will henceforth take my place among them, quietly, sans tea-bag fame. This is surely a case of the old wisdom that only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches, and only the sojourner of tribulation knows how badly it pinches –but whose complaining?

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