WHEN CERTAINTY IS IN DOUBT
by David Sisler
Once upon a time, if something could be considered an absolute certainty, you might invoke the old cliche, "as certain as death and taxes."
I've been thinking about some things that each, once upon a time, might have been considered a sure thing.
** Old Faithful
The world's largest geyser, located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, gained its name for being, well, faithful. For a century and a quarter Yellowstone National Park's most popular attraction spurted 8,000 gallons of water into the air once every 66 minutes. Today, the average is once every 77 minutes. Thanks to vandalism and geological shifts, one day soon, Old Faithful may not erupt at all.
The naturally hot water travels through layers of porous rock and into funnels. Eventually, pressure and heat build up and it erupts as the geyser. Earthquakes, too small to be felt by the human visitors to the park, can shake loose enough soil to plug or re-direct underground water channels that feed Old Faithful. Add to that the desire of some tourists to see if, what goes down, will come back up, and the geyser has another attack on its renown faithful behavior. Park workers have installed a septic system to clean out debris, but not all of the debris can be suctioned out.
Geologists say that there is a good chance that five years from now, or five days, or maybe in 500 years, Old Faithful may cease erupting altogether. It is already becoming noted for its unpredictable behavior. Yellowstone geologist Rick Hutchison said, "Hey, nothing is forever."
** Wrigley Field
From Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, exit at Belmont, go over to Clark and take Clark to 1060 West Addison Street. If it wasn't as certain as Old Faithful, or as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar (which is being slowly dissolved by wind, rain and sea), at least it could be counted on as an enduring axiom, as in, "I'll do that when they turn lights on at Wrigley Field."
Opened on April 23, 1914, as the home of the Federal League's Chicago Whales, and the home of the Cubs since April 20, 1916, you could always count on baseball being played at Wrigley Field the way Abner Doubleday intended it to be played -- on grass and in the sunshine.
You can still count on fans throwing back an opposing player's home run at Wrigley. They have never done "The Wave" at the stadium Charlie Weeghman built for $250,000 and Harry Caray still leads "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" loud and off-key at all Cub home games. But after 6,852 consecutive day games, the lights went on the night of August 8, 1988 for a game with the Philadelphia Phillies. The ghosts of baseball tradition had the last laugh -- the game was rained out after three and one-half innings. The next night, the Cubs beat the New York Mets 6-4 for the first official game under the lights at the stadium that would never play night baseball.
** Hulk Hogan
Born on August 11, 1953, Terry Gene Bollea has always been fanatical about the choreographed entertainment known as professional wrestling. In 1976 he persuaded legendary wrestler Hiro Matseda to become his mentor. He wrestled first as Terry Boulder, then the masked Super Destroyer, next Sterling Gordon, but it would take a note from Sylvester Stallone and later a bout against Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III to make Hulk Hogan a household name. People who know nothing else about ‘rasslin,' know the Hulkster.
Along the way to transforming, some say saving professional wrestling, he made commercials for Toyota, Hitachi, and Right Guard, but it was his representation of goodness and caring that put his likeness on 250 Hulk Hogan products. Everything from bicycles to slippers to vitamins to underwear were sponsored by the man who exhorted, "train safely, say your prayers, take your vitamins and believe in yourself."
Slightly more than a month before his 43rd birthday, that all changed. Wrestlers have a habit of changing personas, it's part of the fun. Evil workers become fan favorites, and good guys turn bad. But the Hulkster will always be someone little Hulk-a-maniacs can look up to, right? Not anymore. At a recent pay-per-view, Hulk sold out.
Old Faithful isn't faithful. Wrigley Field has lights. Hulk Hogan switched sides. There is nothing you can count on any more. There are no certainties. Everything changes. Because of time, money, or a thousand other reasons, there is nothing we can count on. If you discount God's Word, that is.
Jesus Christ is the same. Yesterday. Today. And forever.
On that certainty you can stake your eternal future.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 7/20/96
Copyright 1996 by David Sisler
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