A Quest...
To Find a Heart of Gold

Several months ago, I wrote about my adventure on an extension ladder while painting the bricks on my house.  I was up on the ladder basically painting the bricks of a second-story bedroom.

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While I busied myself as a 21st century Michelangelo, even though my project wasn't quite as massive as was the Sistine Chapel, nonetheless, it was a similar level of effort for both Michelangelo and me.  As I worked with due diligence, Maureen, a neighbor down the street, passed by while walking her two dogs.  She yelled, "Al, get down from that ladder.  You nearly killed yourself several years ago when you fell off a ladder."

I obeyed Maureen and climbed down.  However, I then walked over to another neighbor, Chuck, and asked him to hold the ladder for me while I painted.  While back on the ladder again, I told Maureen and Chuck to do me a favor in case I fell.  I wanted them both to remember my last words if I fell off the ladder and croaked.  Both of them agreed, and I told them my 4-last words, which had to do with someone who I met over three decades ago and haven't seen or talked to that person since then.  Essentially, it was a story of unrequited love dating back several decades. 

A couple years ago, I called that person and left a message on her answering machine.  I told her that I wanted to sit down with her at a restaurant and talk.  If she was interested, she could call me back.  If she didn't want to go out for dinner with me just don't return my call. 

Can you believe that this lady didn't take me up with my offer for dinner?  Hey, I look like I am in my late 30s and have a body a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Besides that, I am nearly as rich as the Donald but smarter.       

In the past couple years as I bike around the subdivision to remain toned and in good cardiovascular shape, both Maureen and Chuck assure me that they haven't forgotten what my 4-last words were even though they know that this gal never returned my call.  All three of us still laugh at my interest in having dinner with her.  It didn't seem like too big of a deal.  All that I wanted was dinner and a couple of hours of talking.

At one level, I failed like Don Quixote failed while he joisted with windmills in his life.   Nonetheless, my last words go beyond that obvious failure of a dinner for two.  What is more true is that my last words are more applicable to me.  Teddy Roosevelt said to the Man in the Arena and me, "...if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."  My words also reflect Don Quixote's advice concerning Dreaming the Impossible Dream. 

My joisting with that windmill goes beyond failure to have dinner with someone.  Essentially, it is about my honesty even though I failed.  The dinner date is secondary.  The prime issue of importance was my being honest.  Regardless of whether she wanted to have dinner, it was my dream.  However, I remained true to myself.  Besides, she was not the first person to reject me. 

In response to this gal's indifference, I didn't then say to Maureen and Chuck to forget my last words.  If she didn't care enough about me to have dinner together, I still would have dinner with her and my last words remain...forever.  Yes, I failed in my quest for a dinner-date.  Nevertheless, I still care about her.  I failed regarding the dinner, but I remained honest.  At least, I remained true to me.  

Interestingly, there is another woman around my age with whom I would like to have dinner.  Her name is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is referred to as the Lady in Myanmar (Burma).  I'll be as equally honest with you as I was with Maureen and Chuck.  I want to interview the Lady and talk with her about the last half of her life since the 88 Uprising near Sule Pagoda, a decade and a half of house arrest for involvement in that 88 Uprising, and her work for human rights.

If I can sit down with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, that will be the greatest experience in my entire life.  However, in a less formal setting, I would like to sit across from the Lady over dinner.  I would like to talk to her about how she functioned as a political prisoner of the military junta as well as her life in more recent times.  That dinner would be even more priceless. 

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The Lady

As I set pondering how to write the remainder of this essay, my CD of Neil Young played in the background.  When I noticed, he was singing Heart of Gold.

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Neil Young

Heart of Gold

I want to live, I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
I've been to Hollywood, I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching and I'm growing old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
I've been a miner for a heart of gold

I quickly went from pondering to just sitting and listening to one of my favorite songs from many decades ago.  Back then, Neil Young and I always thought about finding a heart of gold romantically.  We wanted find a lover.  He and I were young in the 1970s but neither are young today.  Then came the one-liner: "You keep me searching and I'm growing old."  If Young sang that song today, he isn't singing about romance.  He is talking about finding a person that possesses a heart of gold and so am I.

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