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September 30 at 8:15am

When I Was 8 Years Old On My Birthday

By Ted Hope

On September 30th, 1970, Dennis Hopper appeared on the Johnny Cash Show and recited a poem by Rudyard Kipling, “If” — or as he named it: “the middle word in life”.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied to, don’t deal in lies, or being hated, don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise. If you can dream — and not make dreams your master; if you can think — and not make thoughts your aim; if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same; if you can bear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build them up with worn out tools: if you can make a heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss; if you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone. And so hold on when there is nothing in you, except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none too much; if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and what’s more, you’ll be a man, my son!! 

I think he was talking to me.

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  1. Daniel Bertorelli / Sep 30 at 8:15am

    Dear Ted,
    It also reminded me of “When Nature Wants A Man”, by Angela Morgan. I guess (or want to believe) they were talking to me as well.
    Keep up the great work. Sending you good vibes from Brazil, DB.

  2. cj / Sep 30 at 8:15am

    “Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop to build them with worn out tools,” a prophecy.

  3. Liz McGrath / Sep 30 at 8:15am

    thanks for sharing; clip doesn’t work but the words are perfect by themselves. love it.

  4. Thomas Patrick O'Connor / Sep 30 at 8:15am

    Thanks for this, Ted. Kipling’s poem speaks to all of us. You, however, seem to have embraced it judging by your extraordinary films and your book “Hope for Film.” I just ran across this book and plan to use it this summer when teaching a university class in Los Angeles on the entertainment industry. Many thanks!
    Thomas Patrick O’Connor​

  5. venkat / Sep 30 at 8:15am

    Thanks sharing such a past to recollect .

  6. Kristin Streiff / Sep 30 at 8:15am

    Yes, Ted…these words became my guide to live by when I saw Dennis Hopper recite “If” on Johnny Carson. I was a Freshman at the Univ. of Oregon. That February a friend from the dorm and I went to see the Grateful Dead— and my life changed significantly; not due to the Dead but because she and I became lovers!!
    I’ve now published a book “Ages and Stages: The Adventures of a Young Lesbian in the 1970′s”. I think it could be the next “Carol” film (with songs from the ’70′s & ’80′s)
    I’d like to chat with you about it. It’s available on Amazon, eBook, soft or hard cover.

    Hope to hear from you

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