Saturday, September 25, 2021
#268 / Happy Talk?
I have recently discovered that my father's most consistent and heartfelt admonition to me was almost certainly not original with him. Since September 25th was my father's birthday, today seems like an appropriate day to get this matter cleared up. Consider this blog posting as a tribute to Philips B. Patton, my Dad, born on September 25, 1914.
As previously reported in these blog postings (and on more than one occasion), my father consistently advised me of the following: "If you don't have a dream, Gary, you can't have a dream come true."
I have always considered that to be extremely good advice, and that advice goes right along with what I learned from having "majored in utopia," and with that book my father gave me, too, As A Man Thinketh. "Possibility" is my favorite category - and I still hold to the idea that "nothing is impossible." Hannah Arendt, certainly one of the most important political thinkers, ever, is on exactly the same page with my father where possibility is concerned.
Given where I first (and repeatedly) heard that admonition about having a dream (Martin Luther King, Jr. only reinforced a message I had already received), I think it is natural that I believed that my father was the author of that "you've got to have a dream" piece of advice.
While I must, undoubtedly, have listened to the musical South Pacific at some point in my life, I have no real recollection that I ever did, and since my life has been a lot more focused on "reading" than "listening," perhaps I can be forgiven for never having realized that my father got his heartfelt advice right out of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
My wife (who totally remembers musicals of all kinds, from Oklahoma, to The Music Man, to Evita, to The King and I, to Hamilton, etc.), probably got tired of hearing about how smart my Dad was. At any rate, she recently revealed to me that the likely source of my father's "you've got to have a dream" speech is that "Happy Talk" song from South Pacific, for which a YouTube link is provided above. The entire set of lyrics can be reviewed right here, by clicking this link.
I do a lot of quoting of Bob Dylan (to pick my favorite), so I am not offended that my Dad's best advice to me came from a world class songwriter. I do want to say, though, that I am disappointed that what I consider to be a serious, and even profound, advisory has its origins in a song that is titled, "Happy Talk."
The expression "Happy Talk," as that expression is generally used, suggests something that is inconsequential and that is, in fact, an attempt to divert a listener's attention from all that is serious in the world.
My father's advice (and so I will always consider it) is the opposite of "Happy Talk," as conventionally understood. My father's advice is serious advice!
"Possibility" is the realm in which freedom is found, and "if we don't have a dream, people, we can never have a dream come true!"