The Path You Take?

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Each of us is a bundle of impulses, ambitions, inclinations and talents that will propel us on a trajectory in life. Pray that you choose wisely, for the path you take may be true and good or it may lead to your own destruction.

Peter Gelb know early on that he would love to work at the Metropolitan Opera. “”The Metropolitan Opera was something I always dreamed about,” said Mr. Gelb, who supervised television productions and radio broadcasts there in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. “I’ve always grown up loving the Metropolitan Opera and thinking about it. For me it was always the epitome of everything exciting and glamorous in the performing arts.” Imagine that while oterh kids were dreaming about being baseball players there was this one kid who fantasized about the world’s greatest opera company.

Or what of Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss? His passion for music took him in an un usual direction Syria by way of Sufism. “THE weekly zhikr ceremony organized by a brotherhood of Sufi Muslims noisily escalates toward its climax, with some 50 male participants in a double circle grunting God’s name repeatedly at an ever faster pace while swinging rhythmically from side to side. Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss loses himself in the choreographed prayers, rocking in a place of honor near a renowned Sufi troubadour wearing a large green turban and long white robe, plus several religious grandees wearing beanies and lengthy beards. These ceremonies – the raw emotion of the music and the trances induced by the rhythmic motion – first drew Mr. Weiss to this city in northern Syria some 20 years ago. Eventually, the tall, kinetic musician moved into a crumbling 14th-century mansion amid the twisting cobblestone alleys and vaulted passageways of Aleppo’s bazaar.”

For Julien the music is his connection to the spiritual, “I guess I have fled a normal life somewhat, all modern forms of slavery like the car, the television, the wife and children, and picnics in the countryside.” ( Instead he tried to create a kind of Oriental fantasy, while recognizing that Westerners who try often find themselves ill suited to either world.) “My spiritual quest is something of an immersion into the imaginary, into the richness of Islamic civilization. I prefer to practice the shaman trances of the Sufis than to practice the ordinary daily rituals of most people. I have another religion, music, which is my form of prayer.”

Another young man’s fantasy took him to the courtroom because his fantasy’s led to the death of a friend according to his attorney. “Planning a friend’s murder was “fun” for 16-year-old Jenson Hankins, his defense attorney said yesterday. Hankins and his friend Joshua Goldman likened themselves to James Bond or characters from “The Sopranos” when they talked about killing 16-year-old John Jasmer, attorney Rachel Levy said. Drunk and high, they carried out their fantasy murder plot in August 2003, and it wasn’t until after they shoveled dirt over Jasmer’s grave that Hankins realized what he’d done, Levy said. “The plans the boys made were drama,” she said yesterday during her opening statement in Hankins’ murder trial. “He [Hankins] can’t believe what happened. It was not what he intended.”

Young Vaughn Meader looked enough like a Kennedy and sounded just like a Kennedy, so his talent took him into a brief, but lucrative career as a Kennedy Impersonator. It was cut short by the assassination of both JFK and RFK. Odd to have YOUR career cut short by the death of another¢â‚¬¦

And then there is the career path of Osama Bin Laden, whose hatred of the West has carried him onto our front-page news earning David Brook’s condemnation, “What we saw last night was revolting. I suspect that more than anything else, he reminded everyone of the moral indignation we all felt on and after Sept. 11. Here was this monster who killed 3,000 of our fellows showing up on our TV screens, trying to insert himself into our election, trying to lecture us on who is lying and who is telling the truth. Here was this villain traipsing through his own propaganda spiel with copycat Michael Moore rhetoric about George Bush in the schoolroom, and Jeb Bush and the 2000 Florida election. Here was this deranged killer spreading absurd theories about the American monarchy and threatening to murder more of us unless we do what he says. One felt all the old emotions. Who does he think he is, and who does he think we are?”

Brooks also took aim at John Kerry, whose ambition since youth has been to be President, “Kerry did say that we are all united in the fight against bin Laden, but he just couldn’t help himself. His first instinct was to get political. On Milwaukee television, he used the video as an occasion to attack the president: “He didn’t choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job.” Kerry continued with a little riff from his stump speech, “I am absolutely confident I have the ability to make America safer.”Even in this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11, Kerry saw his political opportunities and he took ’em. There’s such a thing as being so nakedly ambitious that you offend the people you hope to impress.”

Each of us is a bundle of impulses, ambitions, inclinations and talents that will propel us on a trajectory in life. Pray that you choose wisely, for the path you take may be true and good and it may lead to your own destruction.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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