The Thought for the Day/Joseph Wambaugh

…(he) started getting a tension headache, like the one on television.
Joseph Wambaugh
Lines and Shadows


Joseph Wambaugh is an American writer specializing in books, both fictional and non-fictional, about police work in the United States. He is originally from Pennsylvania, served America honorably in the Marine Corps and was a member of the Los Angeles Police Department from 1960-74 when he turned to full-time writing. Today’s Thought is one of the earliest in our quotebook, the seventh, in fact, meaning we read Lines and Shadows in late 1988 or in 1989.

Sometimes funny lines make it into our quotebook. Not too often. We’re pretty serious readers here and the quotes we’ve saved over the decades are generally substantive thoughts from substantive writers, and we will weave a substantive commentary into the end of the column.

Readers of a certain age may, or they may not, remember a TV commercial for, I think, Excedrin, that talked about tension headaches, with an announcer, perhaps, asking a suffering person “what’s the matter, tension headache?”…Dad and I both found these commercials funny, so when I came across this line I wrote it down because the line made me laugh, again. We came across this line later, too, in US Navy boot camp in 1984…We were in a classroom and our Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO) Erich Scholl was having a tough day and the instructor looked at him and said, very seriously, “What’s the matter, RCPO, tension headache?”

…(he) started getting a tension headache…

Headaches, tension or otherwise, have a variety of causes. We’re not doctors, nor have we ever played one on TV, but they can be either be an ailment on their own or they can be caused by an underlying disease.  

Sometimes they are caused by the life we lead. A life spent out of step with the natural order will produce stress that affects the body. This is our mind’s autopilot telling us we are going against our grain. I have this autopilot and so do you. Those that ignore it might well find themselves with tension headaches. Those who trust their autopilot, those who follow their hearts and trust their instincts, often are on a path of good health.

Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quote book, begun in 1988 in a hotel room in Berkeley, California.

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