True Minds

I wouldn’t bring an outsider into the web of my family to extend it and make it grow. I remember too well what happened to Julie when she married Ed and she was incorporated and enmeshed with us. It was too much for her. Polly is the president of the system, calling herself Granny and trying to keep everyone together. But it’s the very togetherness that suffocates me. It’s claustrophobic and airtight. There’s no breathing room for the members. Again I say no to a dysfunctional family. Is this audacious and unheard of? I got enough of family drama after Mom died. All I ever wanted was to be free. Poor Mom would’ve wanted us to stick together. I just don’t see a good reason for it. The new baby was born with scoliosis and some other defect. His father had been a leukemia survivor. I don’t feel like protecting a family I have little connection with. I don’t know why I feel this way. I’m just a rogue. Thirteen years ago I told a coworker I agreed with Epicurus on the importance of having friends. Likemindedness was more important than blood relation. She took the opposite position. What motivated my belief I don’t remember. But it probably had to do with the marriage of true minds. It was a spiritual and intellectual thing. Very Greek, very Platonic, and I feel disinclined to apologize for it. The paradox of Ulysses is that the Jewish Poldy and Catholic Stephen should come together as spiritual father and son. I’ll never forget the experience of reading James Joyce when I was but twenty two. It was when I realized I had a brain. After that I only wanted to meet kindred intellects. This to me was fulfillment enough. It was rational love, the supremest kind.


Denise the Menace

95B705AD-EF50-4D95-8C16-AE64D0AEE28A.jpegSeven o’clock. I begin to think my old suspicions of my sister were founded. I remember for sure that Polly gives bad advice, and gives it like a command. Unfortunately, she isn’t very smart. I could talk to her of something as basic as symbolism and she won’t comprehend. She is a Dennis the Menace in female shape. Maybe it’s not her fault. She may even mean well. But she does tend to meddle in my life, and her ignorance makes her a real problem. Moreover I wonder why, after a two year hiatus, she suddenly had the curiosity to check on my situation. Is it just curiosity? This can be toxic. Perhaps she came back in order to mess me up? The house is underway and things are going pretty well— and now enter a femme fatale. How much of my suspicion is realistic and how much paranoid?… I’ve observed many times that my family system is toxic. If any individual member shows signs of leaving the family, an alarm goes off. I took great pains to extricate myself and start over on my own. I was very deliberate and cautious about making my escape… No, I have serious forebodings about this fortuitous drop in from my sister. It’s too much like a well constructed novel plot. I have a good thing going the way I’ve set it up. I won’t let a menace like my sister foul it up…

“We Are Family”

Ten thirty. My sister Polly and nephew Jeff showed up here five hours ago. They’d been worried because they couldn’t get ahold of me, and no one seemed to know anything about my whereabouts or wellbeing. Polly almost filed a missing person report. Finally they came and investigated for themselves. She even tried calling our brother after a silence of a year… The two of them looked healthy. I hadn’t recognized Jeff with a full gray beard. Polly’s hair was white as snow. What impressed me about them was not only their genuine concern about people but also their honesty. They had their feet on the ground and their heads tuned in to reality as it is. I showed them the interior of the house in progress and how and where the fire had started. They told me I have a new great grandnephew, aged eight months. Polly suggested getting a hamburger somewhere, maybe next week. She might swing by or I can give her a call…

From an Armchair

Quarter after two. Writing is a good thing. It gives us a voice when we need power over our lives. It overturns oppression and liberates all who believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. Sometimes writing is good just for clarification of our feelings and thoughts. With insight follow growth and change and direction. My favorite writer is still Emerson, despite his detours and wrong turns of thought. To write is to think; the two are inextricably linked. I had a professor once who missed the connection. But if your thoughts are unclear then your writing will communicate incoherence. I am thankful now for my mental clarity, courtesy of the medication. The mind is a great synthesizer, putting theses together for processing, then spitting out a product, creatively changed. The raw materials we feed the mind do not resemble the result. The same for writing: what you read will come out transformed.

But what directs the process? What constitutes the self that integrates information and shapes it as it wills? Indeed there is a Will that shapes our thinking a certain way, one that desires and approaches, and fears and avoids. With no Will there’s no aim, and the thinking and writing we do will be aimless and disturbing. The Will may be subconscious and revealed latently. The more the words produced, the more the Will emerges. It is the Will that summoned us to write in the first place…

I wonder how a fairytale like “Hansel and Gretel” originates? It is just like a dream, the perfect childhood fantasy. Destroy the witch in the dark forest and take away the treasure of precious gems and metals, for this is psychic energy and potential. What use does a dreamer have for literal loot? But psychological riches are beyond compare. And so from Emerson to Jung we trace the evolution of psychology from wandering words to the concrete entity termed the collective unconscious. What will be the next stage in the development of human thought? Whither is psychology going? Only historians in times hence can say…


Ten thirty. It was a beautiful wet fall day in retrospect. Good to get out for a while. I should do that more often. My vendetta against Laurel Hill is gradually going away, mainly because Heidi is so nice. Denise the receptionist is too. My fight with old ghosts is relaxing as I realize that everyone has learned something in the interim. We all have the capacity to learn from experience, even as goldfish do. I gazed around the lobby and wondered about the etiology of mental illness, and about nature and nurture. And to what extent is it curable? Some would argue for behaviorism, others for biology, but really it’s the interplay of both. I only know that blaming people for sickness is ignorant. Dr T was at the end of his rope when I last saw him. Somehow within myself is a great chasm, an emptiness, where old friends and alcohol used to be. Every day is gray to me. Perhaps nothing will ever fill that void or paint it with bright hues. But it did give me a lift to see Heidi this afternoon… Aesop just went outside without barking at me, so he might be learning. I rewarded him with three Milk Bones… It’s not so bad living in a low place and seeing the woes I’ve seen. Wednesday’s Child is full of woe in the old nursery rhyme, and it seems to obtain for me. It only brings me closer to the line between life and death, and this makes a person philosophical in a feeling way, a genuine way. I see people living and dying all around me. The news of those who have gone affects me deeply. Someday it’ll be my turn. No traveler returns from its boundary. The amazing thing is our ability to know and remember and make life larger than life. Our traditions and monuments tower over mere physics. Our gods and heroes are immortal and transcendent. What force could ever bring down this creative power? Can time conquer eternity?

Love and Loss

Quarter of three. I’m back from Laurel Hill. I told Heidi about the cynic. She said I should tell the adjuster about him. She was very tired, barely awake. She works ten hour days and goes to school and does homework. Sleeps only five hours… The autumnal colors are beautiful, changing leaves everywhere. My oak is all red now. Maple is gold. It reminds me of past fall seasons, even the ones when I still played in rock bands. Like when I met Marc and Tim in October 2002. My religious delusions were bad back then. Every day was Halloween. I could never tell where the Christian ideas came from, but my sister was an evangelical almost from birth. It’s maybe genetic, but I couldn’t stand being around Christians. In that year they were everywhere, living the myth, making it real. I didn’t want to be menaced by hellfire. It seemed to be the Baptist way, and they all were white. At least the Lutherans have a diversity of colors… The other Octobers I remember because I was at Laurel Hill this afternoon. It’s almost as if I’d never met Kate when I walk into the agency building. It’s like the old days of Serenity Lane across the street. Looking back, I was a good guy in my thirties. Something steered me wrong before 2004 was over. Later I learned that my boss drank and smoked weed every day. But the toughest thing was grieving for my mother. That wound was still fresh and deep. Took ten years to heal. Whatever happened in the past, I’m glad I won’t die of alcoholism. That’s what killed James Jamerson of Motown fame. I was certain I didn’t want to go that way when I got to that point… And my existence today is a parallel world, as if I’d sloughed my skin, stepped out of my shoes. I’m not supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be gone like Jamerson. I feel like I’ve left my body, to be a wandering spirit. So much of my life has been this way. I grow attached to people who die and leave me stranded. To love is always to lose, but the loving is for the better…

Verbal Taxi

Phenomenology of word by word

We take our time regarding not the sword

Not the sacrificial lamb and not the slide rule

Nor what is known: but what a baby sees…

How nice it were without the prejudice

Of biblical or philosophical stone

And having for authority our eyes

Our ears our senses rhythm of the words

Original thought expressed in living verse.

We say the night is rainy and pitch black

No word may pierce but feels wet on our skin

Cold and wet and nakedly alive

Put up our hood and duck inside the taxi

To take a ride to nowhere anywhere

And wait the leaden sun and ruddy leaves

Ears open for the railroad tracks beyond

Celestial railroad when we ought to walk

Sowing word by word a crop to reap

And share all revelation evermore.