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Last week, I recalled that, during my many visits to the desert (you’ll ask: “metaphorically speaking?” I’ll respond: “does it really matter?”), I met a wise man named Buck O’Neil – a prophet, if you will – and, asked him the secret to a long, successful life.

“Good genes,” was all he said, at first.

Buck left us all behind October 6, 2006 – the day before my birthday, just like Dad. There is a rhythm and pattern to life with that. But, we’ll discuss it some other time.

His hair was white and his face was mahogany, calling pleasantly to mind a pint of Guinness. “I’m ninety-years old,” he continued, then pressed his fingertips to unlined cheeks, which shone like polished apples.

“Good black don’t crack”, he mused (I’m not sure he actually mused, but that word works, here).

With that, I was fully prepared to move on, and thanked him. In fact, I was already rising halfway from my seat, like a bluffing panelist on To Tell the Truth, when he said softly: “There is one other thing.”

So, I settled back, curious, I might add, and he said:

“I never fill my stomach. My mother was a great cook, but my father told me, ‘She’s only filling your stomach so another woman never gets to. She’s just trying to hold on to you.’ Ever since, I can eat more, but I never do.”

Look… The stories around Buck are countless. Many of them will bring a tear to your eye. Others will make you slap your thigh with joy in preparation of laughter. He was a black man, and it never mattered to him, even though it did to everyone else. But, everyone respected and loved Buck (Note: That might be a vital difference between men like Buck and Barack Obama. By the way, did you know that  Obama high-tailed it to Asia, pouting over his loss of the House Tuesday? Other than a vital need to drive home a point, here, I’m loathe to include Buck in the same story as Obama. But, the only real difference Obama will make in our lives is he must now change his plans to stay in power).

Let other, more articulate folks tell those stories. Especially those that lived them alongside Buck. I never had that privilege. But, I try to learn from men like him, every day, and any way.

Part of that is my on-going efforts to live the Authentic Life. And, that includes having a life well-lived, and worth remembering by those I’ve lived amongst.

So… What, then, is the secret to a life well-lived?

Here was another hint. “Don’t hate another human being,” said O’Neil, whose father was the son of a slave. “Hate cancer. Cancer took my mother, took my wife four years ago. Hate what happened on September 11. But don’t hate another human being. God made man.”

…oh wow.

I did, in fact, find myself thinking: But God made men who denied you, at various times, a toilet, a hotel room, an education, a living, your very humanity. And, of course, I voiced those thoughts, because that’s what I do (“oh really?[!]”, you exclaim. “Brian has opinions he foists on people?”).

“My parents always told me most people are good,” continued O’Neil. “Even when I was young, (Note: he lived his early days in Carrabelle, Florida), most people were good. The thing was, good people sometimes let the bad people have their way. But who wrapped their arms around Jackie Robinson in his time of need? Pee Wee Reese of Louisville, Kentucky, did. The commissioner of baseball in 1947 [Happy Chandler] was a man from Kentucky.”

With this, his left hand grabbed my forearm, and his right fist rapped his own breastbone as if it were a door.

“It comes from in here,” said he. “Doing the right thing. It takes somebody to change something. My grandfather was a slave. And God saw it wasn’t right, so he sent Abraham Lincoln. And Abraham Lincoln joined hands with Frederick Douglass, who joined hands with Sojourner Truth, who joined hands with Harriet Tubman – and, so on.”

Apparently, and thusly, human progress, in O’Neil’s view, is a chain of men with virtu (the Greek form, mind you) in their hearts (the word virtu always has me thinking of Dr. Nick Pappas at Radford University), linked at the wrist and leading to you.

O’Neil paused, and I could only sit quietly in wonder through what must be churning through that lovely mind, and then he added:

“This is the greatest country on Earth, but we can be better. That is going to be your job.”

He held my forearm like a bat. “In my day we changed some things. Now it’s your turn to change things. And you’ll do it. I know you will.”

I did pause. And, when I confessed that I struggled, with my generation, challenged to change our channels manually, much less to change the world, he invoked the memory of his grandfather Julius, born into slavery in South Carolina, and owned by a man with the surname, O’Neil.

“Grandpa used to tell me he loved Mr. O’Neil,” he said. “And I would ask him: ‘Grandpa, how could you love a man who kept you as his slave?’ And Grandpa said, ‘He never sold off a mother from her children, he never sold off a husband from his wife.’ And Grandpa, this is before all the doctors and all the medicine we have today, lived to be one-hundred-and-two years old.”

Was this good genes, I wondered, or something greater? I was merely seeking the secret of a life well-lived – how to progress – and, felt I was getting closer. So, I asked about that. And when the old man, once again, took my arm in his hand, I felt physically linked in that chain-of-virtu to all who had gone before me…

“Love,” he half-whispered, as if sharing a confidence. “Love, man. This is the whole thing.”

So… You gotta be a “Love Kat”. It’s been awhile since I invoked that one. It’s timely to be sure.

Peace be to my brothers and sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Readers of this Blog understand that, from birth, I was trained to seek my wisdom and whatever fortune that might entail, through a path and study forged by logic and the classics.

This can and has included the of tilting windmills, facing that Kobayashi Maru, and honoring the face of my father by using the greatest of gifts discernment, will all my will and might.

Grandad said he could (and, he certainly did) describe me as: A superior or unusual example of a kind.

…I think that’s good.

Because I’ve lived the balance of my life trying, with all my heart and will, to earn it.

Along the way, understanding Socrates using the minds eye of Nick Pappas at Radford University with Thomas Jefferson and Ayn Rand as the lens.

Mind you… This just might help define me as an “Socalpreneur”.

A Socialpreneur is an individual who recognizes societal problems and then uses entrepreneurial skills to organize and create solutions.

Meanwhile, you might be relieved to know that I am also reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s The Last Stand. I can’t say this books is a classic. However, the story it reveals is founded in such notions, and the harbinger of inspiration. And, I’ll continue to work my way, with naught less than grim determination, and an eye for the bon mot, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

a. Belonging to the highest rank or class.
b. Serving as the established model or standard: a classic example of colonial architecture.
c. Having lasting significance or worth; enduring.
d. Adhering or conforming to established standards and principles: a classic piece of research.
b. Of a well-known type; typical: a classic mistake.
e. Of or characteristic of the literature, art, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome; classical.
f. Formal, refined, and restrained in style.
g. Simple and harmonious; elegant: the classic cut of a suit; the classic lines of a clipper ship.
h. Having historical or literary associations: classic battlefields of the Civil War.
i. An artist, author, or work generally considered to be of the highest rank or excellence, especially one of enduring significance.
j. A work recognized as definitive in its field.
k. A literary work of ancient Greece or Rome.
l. classics The languages and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Used with the.
m. One that is of the highest rank or class: The car was a classic of automotive design.
n. A typical or traditional example.
o. Informal A superior or unusual example of its kind: The reason he gave for being late was a classic.
7. A traditional event, especially a major sporting event that is held annually: a golf classic.
or,

1. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the. a body of literature regarded as great or lasting, esp that of ancient Greece or Rome

2. (Social Science / Education) the. the ancient Greek and Latin languages

3. (Social Science / Education) (functioning as singular) ancient Greek and Roman culture considered as a subject for academic study


Okay… So, finding myself immersed in the exploration of those perilous parallels between the heterodox and existentialist, I’ve decided to garnish those paradoxal thoughts with the views of the skalawag and tory.

These are fearsome days, indeed.

My spirit soars, not only with the test; but, the nurturing of soul, as I explore savor the life of a truly authentic man.

This is only a warning. Think nothing else of it, for the moment. But, I’ll likely spy you in that rearview mirror.

Mind you, I’m delighted to not be surprised, that the combination is fruitful and relevant. I can see Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Thomas Jefferson nodding to Ayn Rand above and toasting their content.

I THINK, certainly feel, this is a fair way to to honor the “face of my father”, and perhaps Dr. Nick Pappas as well.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian patrick Cork

We should always be celebrating something.

I have a lot to be grateful for. Oddly though, when ever I say or write something like that my mind snaps-back to Colorado. Always a filter; a constant reminder; ever, the baring point.

And, perhaps the fountainhead foundation for this post.

I have an anniversary of sorts looming.

I graduated from Radford University in May of 1984. In fact, I’ve been named a “Centennial Ambassador” with Radford’s own one-hundreth year of academic excellence at-hand. All that’s fine and dandy – and, based upon many an adventure tried-and-true. But, the significant event that made much of my college experience valid (relative to today), beyond meeting Dr. Nick Pappas, was me selling a business I ran the last two years of school.

The details are less important than the result. I was able to take care of a family, based upon a solemn pledge, which included putting the sons of another man through college themselves while caring for his widow.

Perhaps the best part, though, was me driving cross country with $300,000  in a simple plain paper bag to give my Grandad (a 6x return on his investment, mind you) back the money he grub-staked me for the business I had turned around and then sold one week after graduation.

Thomas Jefferson and Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged), long my inspirations, remain hopefully pleased and content to be represented. A foundation, if you will for my being a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.

May will be here before I know it. But the memories earned and lessons learned between those distinct months of May are countless, and marked by milestones of inconceivable and incalculable value.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

So…

It’s been nip-and-tuck on this Blog going on two days now over my last post: there might be demons and there are ALWAYS questions.

It’s particularly ferocious doings in the comments sections with my Christian brothers Drew, George and John game-fully wading in, hearts fully exposed (I am not, by definition, a Christian, but they are still my brothers).

However, under his own steam, the inestimable Aaron Masih (a warrior, in any light) has set forth his views on his Blog: A Life of Passion. The post is called: The Struggle Worth Having.

I’ll suggest you consider reading it, within it’s entirety.

Do it!

Just to wet your appetite – following was my own comment, under that worthy effort:

“I think I’m honored.

God issued me discernment. And, with it a keen desire to live my life in a way that glorifies everything that I can recognize around me. I used to refer to this as living my life like Christ. But, as time went by I felt like that was similar to wearing a medal I had not earned. There is, not so simply, a bar, some how set.

So, living by that code, while remaining uncertain about, how and where, I might end-up sometimes feels like standing on the ledge preparing to tower jump.

But, some how I think I’m going to make it – because it wasn’t me that created wind that can be used to offset gravity.”

And, I have such terrific friends, “good men in a storm”, to be sure, standing by to break my fall.

There is virtu, here. And, fortuna! Yes, Dr. Pappas, my worlds converge. My hunger naught but builds to not only learn, but to truly, I say, understand.

Readers of this Blog, rally to me – give me that word! …if it isn’t understanding.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I was corresponding with Andrew Tilghman this morning. He had been reading Undaunted Courage (which must needs be followed up with Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West), and I found myself offering the following:

Keep exploring [Thomas] Jefferson. His mind allowed the outline of our Constitution to inspire the genius of his fellows.

I think this current thinking, on my part, was inspired primarily around Jefferson’s timeless sense of judicial balance measured against his keen sense of curiosity (why), and secondarily, through my mounting concerns that Barack Obama’s leadership and situational awareness might prove flimsy, at best. Obama seems lacking in a list of fundamental qualities consistently demonstrated by leaders. And, he genuinely appears clueless in terms of how things work (but then, of course, he went from being an events coordinator to a raconteur Senator prior to becoming president of the United States).brian cork quote

It’s likely a matter of “home training” (a notion one of my nannies, and of course, my Mom, instilled in me), I believe. He seems less interested in why things should work under best-business-practices, and more focused on them being done his way.

Dr. Pappas would likely have muttered “sophomoric” under his breath.

That runs full in the face of federalist theory, democratic ideals and objectivism – or, the theory, formation and, possibly the best result of the Constitution, assuming you care about such matters.

I do.

I also believe that, once he stopped spinning in his grave, Thomas Jefferson might scold Barack Obama, in public, for putting his own personal agenda before that of the American people, and Ayn Rand would rub-out her cigarette on his blackberry.

As an aside, we have some genuine anguish in-and-amongst the House and Senate regarding Healthcare reform. I sense that both sides have come to the bleak conclusion that Obama is more like a chimpanzee with a shotgun – as opposed to a rally-worthy leader. It does not even matter if “Obamacare” has any semblance of merit. This is not about “We The People” so much as the new Obama/ Pelosi/ Reid rat pack driving a $2.6 trillion debt down our collective throats that will drive this country into bankruptcy to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”.  If he says he wants something, it’s almost as if everyone decides to move to the other side of the room. This is already very different than the Obama-bandwagon of just two hundred fugue-drenched days ago.

If that isn’t how it works today, it certainly will by the end of Obama’s first term.

So… what does Obama do? He takes off for Martha’s Vineyard (he is such a poseur). This guy really believes he can play with the Kennedy’s.

Brian Visaggio once referred to me as a “Randian” – almost as if he were somehow scandalized by the notion. However, that is something I would value providing I distance myself from the associated socialist undertones. Joe Lieberman (“I” for Independent – but caucuses with the Democratic party) – Conn., says that I am a “Federalist”. That is fine by me because I am not convinced he used a dictionary before he said it (for the record, it means I would be a supporter of the Constitution under it’s earliest foundation). I don’t want to be an Obama-basher. I sincerely don’t want to be an Obamacrat. I am, absolutely, a patriot with Jeffersonian ideals.

So… I understand Obama might be in that part of the country (on Martha’s Vineyard) for a photo-op with Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy (D) – Mass. And, Senator Kennedy has been a long-time fighter for broad healthcare reform. But, the irony is that aligning yourself with Obama may be considered political suicide. Or, in Kennedy’s case, a legacy killer (and considering Chappaquiddick, this is saying a lot).

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

i found myself in a tight spot with a client this very day. i could see he was ethically challenged.

there was, and remains, a lot at stake. i felt compelled to intervene and demonstrate an equitable path.

i remembered the face of my father and the words of dr. nick pappas.

socrates understood.

and, i was inspired.

today i changed a heart – if not history. that is a demonstration of the sweetest kind of victory.

peace be to my brothers and sisters.

brian patrick cork

what’s all this about?

I can’t explain what that damn tree means - or, if it might stand for something.

However, here I do discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman.

brian cork by John Campbell

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"Perhaps victory can be realized best when the heart changes."

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about this particular Theme:

I'll warn you now that Tarski is theme of this blog created by Benedict Eastaugh and Chris Sternal-Johnson. It is named for the logician Alfred Tarski. I'll recommend his papers ‘The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages’ and ‘On the Concept of Logical Consequence’, both of which can be found in the collection Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics.