Monday, September 18, 2006

JUMP AROUND


one would.
Originally uploaded by antimethod.

“Look, I really don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you're alive, you got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death. And therefore, as I see it, if you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively.”
-Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks. American Actor, Writer, Producer and Film Director. b.1926.

A few months ago, inspired by an obituary about a woman who drew people to her with her whispery voice, I wrote a piece praising the calm, the self-possessed, the soft spoken everywhere.

Noisy people disturb the neighbors with their ranting, shatter more light bulbs singing in the shower, blurt out things crazy things they don't mean, and are probably more likely to drop dead of a heart attack. And just who do you think starts all the barroom brawls in the world? Not the quiet guy nursing his beer in the corner.

From then on, I vowed, I would speak more softly, breathe more evenly, live at a more soothing volume. If I sat beside you on the train, you could sleep all the way to your destination without ever knowing I was there.

Unfortunately, my resolution, like all the other ones I make in the course of a week, didn't work out all that well. I'm still easily roused to the impassioned response, the flash enthusiasm, the shout of joy or exasperation. I still like to jump around.

So who's right? Mel Brooks who says that only those who make some noise are really living? Or the seductive woman from the obituary who made every conversation feel like a shared confidence?

Both probably. Or neither. But this week, I'm resolving to go with Mel. This week I'm going to flap my legs and arms.

*********************************************************************

MEANWHILE, IN BLOGLAND:

Robin Andrea searches for the perfect rye bread and taps into the magic of childhood....

Damian McNicholl recalls a moving encounter with a truly holy man...

Andi Buchanon gives a FIERCE and inspiring reading in Brooklyn...

And Dave Bonta takes my links post a step further and dreams up some pretty innovative blogging tools...

29 comments:

chiefbiscuit said...

I guess it's to do with being true to yourself - I tend to be the reserved type but i get a lot of joy out of others who like to flap their arms!
Whew! What a lot of comments you drew from your prev post. I thought I'd add my comment here ... just a short one to say how did you know? You said it exactly as it is for me - including the high school feelings ... but then, do we ever leave the high school class? (I would wear black too, but it's truly not one of my colours (I'm a fair and freckled spring - would brown do? I do brown.) ;)

chuck said...

Maybe it is a 'both/and' rather than an 'either/or'...whatever makes you feel most vibrantly alive?

rdl said...

Yes, i guess you need to do both in this world ; but like you i vote for flapping arms this week.

zhoen said...

Nothing like a quiet person suddenly shouting or breaking into song. Or a loud rambunctious person going very still and gesturing subtly.

It's all a matter of providing enough contrast. Being oneself, and having a range.

Fred Garber said...

Rest and activity...that is the whole story.

The Curmudgeon said...

I'm an arm flapper, a fast talker; the glasses go everywhere but on my nose. But I always try to remember to modulate, to tone it down... hoping it draws the listener in... before I wind it up again. Because I can't help myself.

But one of the most effective lawyers I've ever seen is one of the quietist. I saw him argue a case in front of the Illinois Supreme Court as every justice leaned forward in their seat, straining to hear his voice, one finally asking him to speak up. Which he may have. Maybe. But not much -- because they were listening.

------------------

Nice link selection today, too, although I spent too much time by far this morning trying to unravel the mysteries of Technorati and BlogPulse. And the readings will be fun, I hope.

Melly said...

I think it's personality and as long as you don't alienate yourself, your personality, who you are, then you'd be fine either way. Me? I'm sometimes like this, and sometimes like that. :)

Left-handed Trees... said...

I think I am also very mercurial in terms of my volume...I want to be silent, feel so much more at peace this way--but, in a house filled with my (3) children--this just isn't realistic. I think it's true of life, too...you have to go with what the situation demands. Meditating on a mountainside? Well, silence all the way...Trying to be noticed in the "industry" and otherwise--don't just sit there, start singing!

Patry Francis said...

chiefbiscuit: "Being true to yourself"
is the best advice. But "I can contain millions" as some brilliant famous person said (Walt Whitman?) I'm the kind of person who walks out of a movie theatre acting like the main character.

As far as colors go, I've never yet met a rebel in brown. Maybe you could get a tattoo?

chuck: How do you feel when you emerge from the river where you swim? Are you flapping your arms? Or are you quiet and meditative?

rdl: Better not flap too much with that tendinitis. Loved your post abuot Michael.

zhoen: A very good point. A person who screams and flaps their arms over every minor event eventually drains those responses of meaning. How do they tell you they're really happy? Or really angry?

fred: A wise summation.

curmudgeon: Thank you for two great images--the first of you, talking fast with your glasses all over your nose, and the contrasting story of the soft-spoken lawyer who stilled the courtroom with the power of his quiet voice.

BlogPulse was a new one for me, too. I look forward to checking it out, but I'm afraid I'll lose half a day if I click on the link.

melly: I think that describes me, too. A sometimes this, sometimes that person. But there was something about that Mel Brooks quote that made me want to be more of a jumper.

Patry Francis said...

left-handed: (me, too, by the way) I can hear the joyful sound you and your 3 kids make every time I visit your blog. How's that for reverberation? And you're right: it's all about balance. Seems we humans need both: noisy exurance and perfect stillness

floots said...

to update an old one - speak softly and carry a big vocabulary
nice post patry
thank you

Patry Francis said...

floots: I suspect that's what you do. Speak softly and carry a big vocab--and a powerful camera, too.

Sustenance Scout said...

After spending a few hours with two dozen kindergartners this morning (I give teachers so much credit!), I agree with the need for balance, Patry. After running and jumping around the playground, those kiddos were definitely ready for a little quiet time (and so was I...!). Luckily they were headed to the school library, a perfect place to unwind.

Loved your selection of links, btw....

Patry Francis said...

karen: Sounds like fun! Glad you enjoyed the links. If I'm going to spend so much time surfing blogs, I might as well share some of the great things I find along the way.

paris parfait said...

I for one don't think flapping one's arms - or wings - has to be loud. Some people can be exuberant in their softspokenness. If we were all the same, life would be just too too dull. As for me, sometimes I'm loud, usually not (although sometimes my words are louder than my physical voice).

Carmen said...

Huh. I like this. It took me a while to realize that being calm and calming was a virtue, although I wonder if I ended up this way because I'm not very good at being loud. Rather, I'm good at sitting with loud people when they feel like being quiet.

Patry Francis said...

paris: Your words are definitely loud and powerful--probably made more so by a soft voice.

c-love: Extroversion is probably overrated--particularly in this culture. A calming presence is surely a virtue.

Bernita said...

Have been known to clear the coffee table with a single sweep...

P. A. Moed said...

I think there's a time for both, but the question is knowing when!

Patry Francis said...

bernita: That says it all!

patti: You're right. Maybe Mel should have said that to be fully alive, you've got to know how to do both: flap your arms and shout AND sit beside a river and listen.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

The older I get, the more I subscribe to the living life as noisily as I want philosophy. Maybe it's just a matter of personality and age, and understanding that what I think is the only thing that really matters.

robin andrea said...

I am quiet by nature. I am drawn to quiet people, people who can walk through the woods and not scare the wildlife with their voices or flapping arms. I am intrigued by people who live large, make a lot of noise, and leave an impression in every way possible. I might miss out on such exuberance, but I always see the rare bird sneak out from the brambles and take a dip in the marshy waters.

Patry Francis said...

sharon: Maybe it's all the fun you're having with those two little girls. How can you help but make some noise?

robin: Righteous anger from a quiet person is particularly powerful--as your fans well know. And I for one, am so grateful for your stillness in the woods. The photographs you capture speak with their own voice.

Sara said...

Yes, I agree with everyone who said to just be yourself, and to realize that this includes allowing that self to express herself differently at different times.

Some days are for reflecting. Some days are for running around screaming and flapping your arms. On occasion, you might even find it perfectly suitable to do them all in the same day, all the while never betraying your own true nature for an instant! Yes!

I just finished this loooooooong (and verbose, of course) series on walking up and down hills in a transfemoral prosthetic. After four gigantic posts and eight zillion illustrative photographs, you know what my advice really boiled down to? Practice an assortment of skills until they are second nature. Then pay attention to the path in front of you, and use whatever you've got to suit the step you choose next.

It works in other contexts, too, this advice. :)

Patry Francis said...

Sara: Thanks for demonstrating exactly why I missed your presence here.

Marilyn said...

My mate is very soft-spoken...and that's probably a good thing. I can be quite a loner when I'm in the mood...but I do come from a crazy Italian/Portugese family...and we tend to, um, beat a point to death at times. So my vote goes to the soft-spoken. ;)

Coll said...

I think the answer lies somewhere in between. I tend to be on the quiet side .. but I do enjoy my life.

Patry Francis said...

My wild Irish father was the master of beating a verbal horse to death. He used to send me running for cover when he got started. But now that he's gone, I'd give anything to hear one of his rants.

coll: Mel did a great job of celebrating the noisy arm-flappers of the world, and really, where would we be without them? But I think he was way off-base when he said that quiet types like you (and usually me) are less alive.

Anonymous said...

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