It Comes with the Territory

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
– Thomas Paine, 1776

“It comes with the territory.” We’ve all heard the phrase many times from people – some good, some bad. In any event, when a person delivers the line, “It comes with the territory,” they usually do so with the intent of showing acceptance of the situation they must deal with. They’re the leaders of the tribe, the bosses, the head coaches, the generals and the teachers, amongst others who manage to take charge, either by their own life’s design, or perhaps an act of God which placed them in the position.

By nature… these are not the whiners of the world. Rarely will a whiner ever find himself or herself at the top of the heap, unless said heap is destined to be only a temporary assignment. Please don’t become confused over the fact the whiners appear to be getting what they’re whining about, what they end up getting is usually the worst of everything.

What follows might make my point:

From the time I was a very young man, I found myself enamored with those effectually labeled “junkyard dogs.”

Again, it was my dad who bore the responsibility of introducing me to the term. It was his belief that if you owned something of value, you’d better have a “Junkyard Dog” to watch over it. To Dad, it meant fighting for it. He pointed this out to me at a Dodgers baseball game, referring to their then manager, Leo “The Lip” Durocher. “That guy will fight like a junkyard dog in order to win.”

NOTE: Never consider a “junkyard dog” as a member of a whiner’s club. He or she could be a most purposeful and trusted hired hand.

“Junkyard dogs” bite. They never whine. They accept what goes with the territory. While they are not leaders, they are dedicated followers of such.

When a “junkyard dog” accepts his or her position at the top of the heap, he or she is most likely finding one of two scenarios in place. The yard has been constantly victimized by thieves who manage to break in and steal, or all is serene and calm do to the previous guard dog who had an exemplary work ethic.

In our first scenario, the new “junkyard dog” throws himself or herself into the work, not taking the time to blame or whine about the previous dog. During day one, the community, state, city, town, office, or stage, quickly takes heed of the facts. This dog will bite your ass off if you enter his or her home without first gaining permission from whoever the leader happens to be. Never whine around this dog – he or she will ultimately find out the origin of the whine.

In our second scenario, the “junkyard dog” takes over at the top of the heap and finds all is well. The job called for him or her to keep things status quo, and that’s what he or she does. The leader explains to the junkyard dog that in the event he or she begins to lie down on the job, a dog that can follow the leaders dictates will immediately replace him.

The community is welcome to come in and do business, providing they remain cognoscente of the leader’s rules.

The leader got what they were paying for, in both scenarios. No whining, no blaming, and no fixing what wasn’t broken to begin with. The community had a clear understanding of how the game was being played, and they continued to go along with the rules as prescribed.

At Kalmenson & Kalmenson, we will always endeavor to keep our junkyard running on an even keel. We will accept the credo: “It comes with the territory.” Although we’re not going to become guilty of prejudging a book by its cover, we will however also not be guilty of disregarding the lessons taught to us by experience.

Don’t you just love these dogs? Which one are you? (Which one would you hire?)

The dogs who bite their owners
Soon will not to be found,

Neither resting, nor waiting to be fed

It’s not their fault,
They whiningly expound
Reluctantly giving way

To other dogs

Waiting in a reception room

For their talents to be found.

Here, succinctly stated, is a Harvey Kalmenson feeling: I truthfully do not enjoy having actors who are whiners come in to audition for us. Extremely low on my favorites list: Actors, non-actors, and want-to-be actors who fall into a whiner category. They are of equally little consequence to the ultimate success of human beings, in general.

A non sequitur for me would be man’s inhumanity to man. Being human should have little to do with the infliction of pain administered by one to another. But I guess if we didn’t have some pain to rely on, what would the great Russian playwrights have to write about?

Accordingly, the human characteristic which remains atop our “social dislikes” list: The disdainful posture of reckless indifference. In other words: “Man’s inhumanity to man” — expounded on by the most revered men and women throughout recorded history. Nothing in nature’s realm matches the injustices dealt by man to man. Regardless of our life’s walk (or run), the magnitude of infliction manages to stay with us with never ending divisiveness.

And with each new age reached comes more necessity to count our blessings of good health and all things which, without our control, continue the enhancement of any prosperous living cycle.

While I personally remain duty bound,

To my daily ritual, shamelessly counting my endless blessings, their remains a painful cognizance of all, which is still, left undone.

What were the plays and novels of times gone by are again being reenacted for a new and younger audience’s confusion. The many stories of life’s distortions continues at the whims of the same unknown causes, reviving a testament to the egregious substances which continue
Man’s ability to avoid the moral weakness of inhumanity itself.

Today, the powers that be operate with the advisement: “We’re looking for a younger and new breed of writer.” The younger and new breed enters the arena, putting on a display they deem to be new and fresh. Yet the subject matter remains the same. A man, a woman, a child, a pet, a friend, a neighbor, a stranger in town, a family drinking too much, and one that doesn’t care at all. We have doctors and nurses, guards and prisoners, cops and robbers, and soldiers we call “troops” — some are leaving, while others are returning home. There’s nothing really new as far as I can see. Seems to me I once read about guys who were just like the soldiers the new and young writers are writing about. My dad told me about them. He said they went to Europe during the First World War. Then the writers talked about guys who looked exactly the same. All that was different, I think, was about twenty years between the two of them.

The news reported a story of a Christian church, bombed by a suicide bomber in Egypt.

There’s really nothing new and fresh about people killing one another. I doubt if the age of the writer could bring back any of the twenty-six parishioners who were attending service.

The real chroniclers of our world’s injustices have been around for centuries. Their work remains new and fresh.

Early on, after reaching the age of fifty, I was taken with (Benedict) Spinoza’s simple appraisal of life:
“God is love, we’re all parts of God, that love is the most important thing we have in the world, the most successful thing.
For whoever loves their fellow man will never know the pain of death.”

I doubt if I ever thought about my own death until I reached age fifty. Maybe it was because my attained age was coupled with a variety of what I thought God had no business sending my way. Like the theatre, acting, producing, writing, listening, telling tales, accepting the applause with the unmeasured humility of a needy man. After all, how could a person who is busily accepting what life has lured him into be anything other than caught up in how he was being screwed and tattooed at the same time?

“Did you hear them clap? What an audience!”

“The man is going to read my script tomorrow!”

“People die for screen credits like yours!”

Then, at the end of another long and emotional trip, a relationship ends, and a new one begins.

(Mortality falls into a separate category of all the things totally out of our control.)

Things out of our control should not be contended with. What gives me the right to say that to you? No right and every right are mine to say it. Your’s is the right to listen while not paying attention, not to listen at all, or to say, “Maybe during his extra few years on this planet, he is less encumbered with burdens brought on by a naivety not shared by any other industry than those of the arts.”

“Our Arts Intend To Mend”

Our creativity brings with it a joyous recklessness, bearing no ill will, and stimulating our brainless desire for what stays staged, mostly for the other guy.

Again and again, if you feel the discomfort of the variety of slings and arrows on the narrowness of the road we chose, you might find some comfort by saying out loud: “It was my choice to go for it.” And though it may still remain a distinctive “I don’t know what the hell I want” in many of our artist’s lives, it is enduringly ours.

I wasn’t forced into it. What happened can be simply explained. I awoke one day, or I thought I was awake, and if not, perhaps it was a dreamlike experience. I found myself in this strange, rather large junkyard. Somehow, I was the one who escaped danger by making a long and arduous climb to the top of a heap in the center of it all. There were hordes of people trying to get into the yard. Each time they surged forward, I was somehow able to get them to stay back by threatening to turn my dog loose on them. In truth, I had no dog.

It was coming to the end of a very long day, or was it a year or two? A respite of a few years, perhaps a decade or more disappeared. I awakened and found myself in the same junkyard. Much of the equipment around me performed the same chores, but each machine was different. It seemed like nothing was happening. I heard no sounds of whirring or churning. All I saw were symbols and numbers and waves of light forming lines moving across a huge screen. There remained those same hordes of people trying to enter my yard. An attractive lady, all made up, and carrying a microphone, magically made her way to me. Some light went on as a man signaled her with thumbs up as he moved in with a TV camera. The interview began.

SHE: How long have you been at this?
ME: I’ve been climbing for thirty-five years.

And on the interview went. The praise and idolization was overpowering. She would ask a question and I was in disbelief over why she was even there speaking to me.

And then it mercifully came to its end. I was back asleep and dreaming of tomorrow when some fifty close friends were visiting and entertaining me with antics that could only be found in my kind of junkyard. I was the entertainment committee. One of them was to win a grand prize. The very best interpretation of a talking toilet seat would be the recipient and owner of a great deal of money. The shame of it all was that there could be only one winner. The rest would leave my yard in the hope I might invite them back to try for a prize on another day.

And as they shuffled out, still all smiles as they left the yard, a single spokesman for them was heard to say:

“It comes with the territory.”

(And it also goes with the territory.)

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