Be Prepared

Cartoons have decorated my bulletin boards since the early seventies. In one, a vast Roman army is lined up while a Centurian asks a local shepherd, “General Varus’ compliments. Which way to the Teutobergerwald?” In another one, Hagar, the Viking, is shaking his sword at the heavens as his ship burns. He asks, “Why me!” To which the heavens reply, “Why not?”

In Roman history, Varus’ army was famous for its might and the fact that a scratch force of German “Barbarians” wiped it out. Likewise, the Hagar cartoon points out the fickleness of the universe. In both cases, the confidant or overconfident are overcome by the unexpected. There is nothing lyrical in fate. The guides we thought were solid were, in fact, conjectural.
When these were on my bulletin board, I had gone through a thunderous youth and, as I like to say, “been to see the elephant” numerous times. The cartoons were on my wall to remind me of the fragility of the human situation. The comics aged turned brown and disintegrated. But I still recall them.
I knew that I could thunder, “Why me?”all I wanted, and still only get “Why not?” in reply. But being prepared and prudent offered the best defense.
My archaeology professor at Penn ( Bernard Wailes) taught me an old maxim,” Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

It might not proof you against disaster, but it beats being unprepared. Relish the victories you can gain.


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