2 Notes for the New Year

Cartoon by Harry Bliss from the December 30th L.A. Times:

A cat wearing spectacles is sitting at his writing desk scribbling in his journal.

Dear Diary,

Finished writing the novel, got a bit or weeding done, had ‘The Big Conversation’ with the wife …

HA! Just kidding.

Slept.

(The actual cartoon says, “Finished reading the novel.” I tweaked the text for our own special group.)

The second story comes from the ancient world:

The Games sacred to Zeus were held every four years at the city of Olympia in Greece. The stadium is still there. You can walk through the tunnel that the athletes took to enter the arena and even wriggle your toes into the stone grooves that served in ancient times as starting blocks for the races.

In those days, the spectators sat city-by-city. The Athenians took their seats all in one section. Same for the Corinthians, Argives, etc.

The stadium was packed on this particular day, when an elderly gentleman entered seeking a seat.

No one would get up for him.

The old man crossed painfully through the Theban section. Nobody stood. The gentleman next entered the Achaean section; again no person vacated his seat. By now the full stadium had noticed the elderly fellow’s ordeal. They began jeering and mocking him. The man worked his way through the sections of two more cities. Still no one stood. The laughter and derision now dominated the entire field.

The old man next stepped toward the Spartan section. As soon as his foot crossed the margin, every single Spartan stood, offering the gentleman his seat.

At this, the entire stadium burst into applause. The ovation lasted for minutes. When the cheers finally died down, one spectator turned to his neighbor and observed, “See? The Greeks all know what is right. But only the Spartans practice it.”

Happy New Year!