The Spirit of ’13

The Spirit of 13

The Spirit of 13

     2013 should, if we’'re to follow superstition, be the unluckiest year in
the calendar. Americans have this superstitious thing about the number
thirteen. Ok. Maybe it'’s not an easy number to live with. You can'’t multiply
anything by anything and get thirteen. It’'s clearly not a number that most 
Americans want to get in bed with (there are no thirteenth floors in most hotels).

     On the other hand, of all the numbers in the world, American’s should
be absolutely bowing down to the number thirteen.  They should have special
holidays on the thirteenth of each month, wear thirteen-leaf clovers in
their lapels and spend the day with three extra prosthetic fingers and toes
trying to grasp the meaning of life.   That would, in fact, be more
productive than trying to understand what makes Lindsay Lohan tick.

     I submit to you that Americans don’'t know how to appreciate any more
(unless it’s capital). Maybe if they honored what they THINK is difficult,
they  would learn to appreciate what they have just a little bit more. Not
be just vaunting ambition that o’'erleaps the American Dream and falls on the
other side.
     Let'’s start with poor, discriminated against, abused and neglected
thirteen. I mean, how in the Audie Murphy hell did thirteen wayward colonies
rebel, fight and beat the mighty British empire?  We became thirteen
original states, against all odds creating a way of government that lasted a
good long time before it merged with Wal-Mart.

     You want to understand bad luck? Follow Lindsay, the mistress of bad
causes. Good luck? Stick with thirteen. How about the fact that there are
thirteen full moons every year! Thirteen diamonds on a rattlesnake’'s back!
Thirteen cards in a suit. And four times thirteen is that magic number
fifty-two!  Oh my god, it'’s the natural cycle of things—--fifty-two weeks in a
year, fifty-two stages of boddhisatva practice, fifty-two cards in a deck,
fifty-two men on a dead man’'s chest. Need I go on?

     Artist Archibald MacNeal Willard made a painting in 1875 commemorating
U.S. independence called the Spirit of ’'76. It should have been called the
Spirit of '’13. Willard fought on the Union side in the bloody carnage that
was the American Civil War. He endured locusts, gunfire, and bad medical
advice so that he could paint scenes from the war.  Inspired by a parade he
saw, he used his own father for the model of a white haired man leading a
spirited march in the center of the painting. There'’s a little drummer boy
to his right, direct from playing a one-night engagement for the baby Jesus,
and a man to his left playing the fife. Painted one year before this country's
centennial where it was displayed, it reflects an American can-do,
tough-it-out, soldier-on, never-say-die, pioneering, hang-in-there,
grin-and-bear-it spirit.

     I'’m telling you, you don'’t need a drum and fife to lead the parade. You
have thirteen.  No one should spend this precious year waiting for Godot or
for Congress to pass a bill. No one. The Spirit of ‘'13 is you change it.
Stop waiting around for the ball to drop. Like the “ball” could unleash your
potential. Are you kidding? It’'s a TV show gimmick!

     So pick up your recycled spackle bucket and some chop sticks and fall
in. Others will join you and the Spirit of ‘'13 will live. Pretty soon Rush
Limbaugh will be marching and Jackie Evancho. You can bend your Spirit
towards Rush and believe that the world is a dolby loud preview of coming
attractions of The End of The World, The Movie, with Arnold Schwartzenegger
as a hero with an uzi and scenes of wreckage and destruction from the minds
of adult screenwriters who miss their Tonka trucks, or you could sing opera
with Jackie. Your choice.

     The key is, keep marching. And 2013 will turn out just the way you
thought it would, 365 days later, based on that choice! It will shine like
the finest aria if you put your heart into it like a 13 year-old opera
singer, or it will go to “hell in a handbasket” as my father used to say in
his declining years, and nothing will be right. Your choice.

     It’'s the Spirit of '’13 and you lead the parade.

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