“For a bottle of water, Brandon?”
“What’s in it? When I was a girl we used to drink rainwater for free. From a vat! If I had told my mother my son would one day be buying water by the bottle to drink she would’ve called me crazy. But $3.25, Brandon?”
“He paid it.” Brandon said, pointing to me. “He gave the teller four dollars. She gave him back seventy-five cents, and he said, I actually got back change.”
We were in Wichita Falls, Texas. Brandon, Peter, Polly and Karina were there to compete in the USTA Major Zone. And water wasn’t free. One of the lads wilting under Brandon’s barrage of blistering ground strokes threw his jug of water over the fence – SPLASH! WATER EVERYWHERE! He wilted that much faster.
“Did you see that?” Brandon’s mom, observing the lad, said to me. “I bet he didn’t have to pay for it.”
I’m betting he did: he lost.
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!
Karina came away with the Girls 18 trophy. She’s fit. She’s playing smart and winning way above her age range. Sven, Baby, SVEN. A few months back, standing beside her adoring dad, I told Karina I’m looking forward to the day she is competing in the US Open. Her under-the-brow nod suggested I’d better have my bags packed and ready. No pressure! “The difference between a successful person and others,” Vince Lombardi said, “is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Karina has a drive, dedication and will I seldom see in practice at her age. The heat is on.
Crew Commander Judah Epstein, himself once a competitor on these very courts, joined us on The Journey (Listen Here) and escorted us through his Mars Mission research, his experiment on water filtration, and plans to travel to Mars.
At first, I could hardly believe we’re still piddling around with that dead planet when there is so much other more exciting stuff swirling through our expanding universe, you know: dark matter, black holes, millions of other galaxies, thousands of earth-like planets, and who knows, probably a band of vastly superior intelligence twirling their brows at us, wondering when, if ever, earth-bound humans will give up their pissing contests and climb out of the primordial soup. Well, that’s just my imagination; they’re probably not even noticing us.
We Are Going To Mars. When Brandon heard that announcement, he exclaimed, “Count me in. I’m definitely interested.” Then he whispered to me: is this for real? Yep. Space travel is fascinating. The more I listened, the more I delved into the research, that much more I came to realize that Mars is telling us something; egging us to pose the questions. Ask what happened to my water. You’ve made deserts fertile and turned wastelands into gorgeous plains. You’re making exceptional technological strides men of yore merely dreamed of. Ask me. Ask. Ask why you and I are so different today. Ask me.
Looking from here, I wouldn’t want to be stranded out there, though? Would you?
Got Triple A?
It does bring to mind The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which I was called upon to learn when I was ten. And ever since, for the imagery it branded in my brain, I’ve never forgotten its most frightening – if prophetic – lines: (listen here – 27.00)
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
Then it dawned on me, the number of humans there are on earth. Seven billion! Yes, that’s seven billion brains!
A light bulb lit up. Seven billion brains – a sprawl of powerful gray matter vaster than the size of our oceans gifted to the realm of earth. How many Einsteins, Ann Franks, Mattie Stephaneks hidden, shut-off, blocked and tackled? Muted? I’m told each of us use less than ten percent of our brains. Nevertheless, seven billion brains available to just this pinhead portion of our universe. Seven billion brains, if allowed to rise to their full potential! – I’m thinking – Seven billion brains unshackled – I’m still thinking – Seven billion brains freed from the morass! Wow. Earth – so lit – we would be spotted and hailed from every curl of the universe. Wouldn’t we?
Okay, that was my imagination gone wild again – just me, here, basking on this balcony’s breeze with a scoop of ice cream nearing my lips: it tickles the brain, you know. But far better that wild run, wouldn’t you say, than it ever have to be written of us on earth:
Matter, matter, everywhere
But not a brain to think.