Thursday, April 15, 2010
Unfortunately, they’re always there.
My friend jinksy in England wrote a post a couple of weeks ago entitled “Spaces In Between” that reminded me (okay, my mind works in odd ways) of one of my all-time favorite stories:
During the Great Exhibition of 1851, places to stay were scarce in London because of the great crowds who came there to see the exhibits. Many Londoners began to advertise that rooms in their homes were available to rent. One woman, hoping to influence a potential client to rent her space, showed him a large window and said, “You could see the Crystal Palace if it were not for the houses in between.”
“Yes,” replied her visitor, “perhaps you could. But unfortunately, they’re always there -- the houses in between.”
Dr. William C. Finch, president of the university I attended, told that story in an Orientation Week speech welcoming us first-year students and exhorting us to strive for excellence in our studies during our stay. At several places in his speech, after having pointed out our own personal Crystal Palaces and reviewing several possible houses that might come in between, he repeated the exchange between the landlady and the potential lodger. It made such an impression on me that I still remember it after 52 years.
As I read jinksy’s post (which was really on another topic altogether), I thought again how “the houses in between” in our lives can turn into seemingly insurmountable obstacles that too often prevent us from achieving our goals and deter us from reaching our desired destination.
Unfortunately, they’re always there -- the houses in between.
That photo up there is not London in 1851. It is New York City in 2010 and it was taken by Micah Sloan, the son of a school friend of mine. Micah, who has lived in Manhattan for seven years, recently posted this photo on his Facebook page because he is proud of the view from the roof of his apartment building. I asked for and received his permission to use his photo in my post because it illustrates perfectly my point about the houses in between. Micah’s rooftop view includes the Empire State Building. See that big building with the shiny gold top in the center of the photo? That’s not it. I will let Micah tell you in his own words: “You see that needle sticking up on the right side of the building with the gold top? That’s the very tip of the Empire State Building.”
Your honor, I rest my case.
Now, to end this post with a marvelous example of how even the most unlikely person can overcome formidable obstacles, Lord Yorkshire Pudding of Pudding Towers, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, has kindly consented to entertain us with a lovely little song, accompanying himself on none other than a long-sought Banjo of Mass Destruction that was smuggled out of Alabamistan by his daughter Frances, who is pretending to be studying there.
I’m so pleased that Pudding is finding ways to stay active in his retirement.