THE HEART GROWS SMARTER


The human mind is an over-confident machine which gives itself credit for things it really didn’t do. For instance, 90% of drivers actually believe they are above average. They are probably included in 75% of the accidents which “weren’t their fault.”

In the teaching and medical professions, college professors and doctors think they are above average, and it follows that most college students overestimate their chances of getting a high-paying job, even though in today’s job market, they may be holding down two or more jobs just to make ends meet.

When shopping for clothes, middle-aged people buy too-tight clothes—thinking they will take a few pounds off, though the majority of people gain a few each year. You are a different person from who you were twenty years ago. I wouldn’t recognize myself if I met me today. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

As they grow older, many people, me included, feel less sure of what they were sure of twenty years or more ago. Have the rules changed, or is it us? We take on new interests, which take the place of the old ones. Suddenly, an activity which was once so important is replaced and the brain willingly lets the old one go. Rather like cleaning out the junk drawer.

Aging is inevitable, but it is not consistent. There are plateaus of time stretching over years when the faces of friends look unchanged. Then Time accelerates and the metamorphosis takes place. Time has an apparent power to move at different speeds. Of course our own faces remain forever young and unlined, and we are surprised when a forgotten friend doesn’t recognize us.

There is the inevitable blunting of the mind’s keen edge. The connectors of our brain become less efficient. You may find yourself looking at the ocean or into a cheerfully burning fireplace, and longing for something, but you don’t know what. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind, a creative and enchanted place, where most of the brain’s work gets done.

We are capable of change even into our 80’s and 90’s. With a little judicious pruning, we can rewire ourselves and regain the self-confidence of our youth.

We all want to belong; to be assured of our own self-worth. To be selected from the crowd is always gratifying to self-esteem. One feels the need to make some return, a fact which accounts for a number of otherwise surprising marriages. It’s like mistaking beef stew for prime filet.

Growing older is not a roller-coaster ride into oblivion. It can be a grand new adventure because the heart grows smarter.

EVERYDAY TRANSLATING


“The art of wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

Previously I said I was in awe of translators, but heck, we’re all translators. Everytime we talk to our family, our dogs, our friends—we’re translating what they are saying into something we want to hear.

What did your friend really mean with that look she gave you after your third glass of wine? What did your husband mean when he flounced out the door in the morning just because you were a little late getting home from your bridge game the afternoon before?

Your three year old doesn’t really mean he hates you when he says he does, he wants you to set him straight about who really wears the pants around here. It keeps him in his comfort zone.

We all have to live in this family, this community, this world. It behooves us all to darn well get over it and get together.

Get over being miffed at your friend and just give her that recipe she’s been begging for. Friends aren’t all that easy to find anymore. Go ahead and buy your kid that toy he’s whining for (unlkess it costs more than the mortgage payment.), And believe me, your husband will be home tonight and grateful for that special dinner you’re going to fix him. After all you could have called him yesterday.

Don’t make it too difficult for others to translate you.

THINKING AND READING


I’m in awe of the people who translate from one language to another. Granted that some things which are interesting in one language lose much nuance of story in the hands of the translator. But still we feel the essence of the story.

The California School of the Deaf is in our community, and we often see groups of people communicating in a lovely ballet of hands, making me feel again that I need to learn ASL. When there is a hearing impaired person in the classroom, a translator comes if necessary.

Thinking and reading are thrilling experiences. Reading about interesting real subjects can be inspirational as well as entertaining. My great-aunt and uncle had a small library, and since I went to stay often with them, I became familiar with most of the books in it. It was heavy with old-time children’s books, and shaped a steady reading habit which has lasted all my life.

Reading requires that you must think, but when you are in an anti-acquisitive mode, words are just words. If the mind becomes burdened with outside thoughts, you may be reading words, but you aren’t thinking.

My grandson in the painting below is studying his family’s photo album, sorting out where he fits in the stream. His ancestors are mere shadows in the background.

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be continually part of unanimity.


“Tyler Reading” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU



“Plains Warrior” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Belongings can’t go with me. I came into this world with none. Why do I keep them.

From an indigenous perspective a person can never own land, but it is always a person’s responsibility to care for land and protect it for future generations.

The white man believes that sacred land must be left alone. The Indian believes in interacting with the land.

To learn who rules over you simply learn who you are not allowed to criticize.

GEMUTLICHKEIT


NOUN: WARM FRIENDLINESS; COMFORTABLENESS; COZINESS.

The sense of wishing to be known for what one really is is like putting on an old, easy, comfortale garment. You are no longer afraid of anybody or anything. You say to yourself, ‘Here I am–just as ugly, dull, poor, beautiful, rich, interesting, amusing, ridiculous–take me or leave me.’ And how absolutely beautiful it is to be doing only what lies within your own capabilities and is part of your own nature. It is like a great burden rolled off a man’s back when he comes to want to appear nothing that he is not, to take out of life only what is truly his own. (David Grayson, journalist and author)

It’s like being caught wearing no makeup, with shaggy hair, still in your pajamas, and answering the doorbell at 8 o’clock in the morning while restraining your over-friendly Jack Russell Terrier, yet feeling no embarrassment when your perfectly groomed neighbor stops by with a request.

It was like the feeling I had on the first day of teaching at the community college when I entered the classroom with shaking knees, and facing all those fresh young faces, when I realized I really did know more than they did.

LUDWIG’S BORSALINO HAT


My friend’s father in Coberg, Germany, bought a new and quite expensive Borsalino hat of which he was inordinately proud. Each week, after a large and satisfying dinner with his family, he ventured out for a short walk through the town to join his friends at the local Inn for a game of whist and a pint or two. Ludwig was the owner of a factory which made fountain pens, and as such he belonged to one of the Guilds in the town, to which all the local businesses were linked.

His friend Bruno Hauptmann, was the butcher, and was a large burly man with coarse grey untidy hair and an impressive mustache. His substantial midsection strained against his tweed jacket, his face was round and ruddy with an enlarged nose, revealing that he was no stranger to the bottle.

Little Hans Cremer was the shoemaker in town, and was the exact opposite of Bruno. Short and thin, he sported a thin mustache, and a balding head. His suit seemed too large for him, and though of good quality, he seemed to be always rumpled and in a hurry, speaking rapidly, as if he couldn’t wait to get the words out.

The baker, Claus Meier, a large and jolly man, forever bestowing good humor along with his bakery goods, was given to practical jokes, and on their weekly visits, invariably rushed in late, full of local gossip, and after a quick pat on the bottom of the barmaid, settled down for an evening of cards and fun. The four had been friends for many years and all looked forward to their weekly visits.

On the night in question. Ludwig took out his new Borsalino hat, placed it carefully upon his head, and after surveying himself in the hall mirror, he tweaked his mustache, gave a small satisfied smile at himself, and set out along the street to the Inn. The hat had cost a great deal of money, and Ludwig was a vain man, who had waited some time to flaunt his prosperity to his friends.

All the men were successful in their businesses, and all could well afford a Borsalino hat as well, but none seemed as prone to ostentation as Ludwig, who upon arriving at the Inn, carefully and noisily placed his new hat on a nearby hook.

Later, when Ludwig rose to visit the men’s room, Claus quickly whispered to the others that “since he was proud as a peacock” it would be amusing to cut a hole in the front of Ludwig’s hat and see his reaction. When Ludwig returned, the three cohorts were sipping their pints and talking quietly among themselves.

Ludwig being the first to leave, stood, placed his new hat upon his head once more, said his goodbyes and walked away. His friends were amazed that he had not noticed the hole in his new hat, but assumed that he would notice it when he arrived home. Lauging heartily, they drained their glasses, rose and retreived their own headgear. Claus gave the barmaid another pat on the bottom, and picked up his hat only to find that he had cut the hole in his own Borsalino!

Meanwhile, Ludwig had many years of enjoyment from wearing his new hat, and was none the wiser for the practical joke which backfired.

THE SECOND OLDEST PROFESSION


One of the world’s least traveled roads brought about the greatest global transformation. The Silk Road changed history, bringing not only the exchange of goods, but also the exchange of religions, art, languages and new technologies. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t a single “road”, but rather many different overland routes leading west out of China through Central Asia to Syria and beyond. In essence, it became the world’s first trucking route. This modest non-road became one of the most transformative super highways in human history. The first reference to a ‘Silk Road’ was used on a map in 1877.

In 1907 two brothers and a brother-in-law in San Francisco began an ambitious endeavor which in turn became a small local ‘Silk Road’. Fulfilling the need of residents living atop Nob Hill for cigars, whiskey, food and other necessities, they transported goods by horseback, referring to their newly formed business as “The Mustang Express”. As business grew they purchased wagons, and took in a younger brother recently graduated from school. The ‘younger brother’ was my father-in-law. The newly formed company was named RB&S Trucking, for Rasmussen brothers and Svane, Svane being their brother-in-law. The purchase of trucks came next and the name changed again to the “Inter-urban Express Company”, which conveyed merchandise throughout the Bay Area. Their familiar green and yellow trucks could be seen from San Francisco to Oakland for many years. Later Svane’s son, Peter Victor, formed his own small trucking company carrying goods in San Francisco.

Though the principals of the company did no driving of trucks, each of the sons and sons-in-law and a grandson took their turn at not only knowing how to drive the large semi trucks, but also what went on inside them. Many years after the Inter-urban was defunct, I watched Dr. Advice in a business suit help a young truck driver get straightened out when he had managed to jack-knife his truck. The boy was about 20 years old, and panic-stricken, with traffic built up behind him, and he looked about to cry. Seeing the boy needed help, Dr. Advice stopped, climbed into the boy’s truck and set it straight. Getting back into our car, he remembered how someone had helped him at age 16 when he had been in the same fix. I haven’t a doubt that he could still do it today. Some things you don’t forget.

Some years later my father-in-law left his brothers and started his own company named the East Oakland Drayage Company on 10 acres of land in east Oakland. His father had told him that if you took a silver dollar and threw it as far as you could, you should buy it. The trucking company would make a good living, but the real value is in the land not the business on it.

Ten years later my father-in-law retired and sold the company and the land to where the BART station is now located in east Oakland.

As to what the ‘oldest profession’ is, I’ll leave that to you.

WHAT IS ART?


What is art? Like a poem that pushes the boundaries of language to say what is somehow beyond saying, art can both express an esthetic vision and articulate previously silent or unheard voices. It can profoundly change the way we view and think about our world and reflect afresh what we have seen too often or too closely to be aware of.

As Keith Hering said “Art lives through the imagination of the people who are seeing it. Without that contact, there is no art.


Renascence—-w/c by kayti sweetland rasmussen


Fly Me To The Moon—-w/c by kayti sweetland rasmussen

I have done many portraits, and a portrait is a just a picture of a person. Not necessarily art, but perhaps now and then there may be a stroke of genius in execution.

A famous artist was asked when introduced to someone “Are you an artist?” He answered “Sometimes.” And sometimes with luck, we all are.