Daylight comes to an overcast morning. I walked to the market an hour ago with the music of Gustav Holst in my ear, from The Planets. It was pitch dark, but well lighted by artificial means. Several times I paused and looked around me. But my mind was really on things years in the past, though similar to the present time. I’m getting onto the spirit of the age, whether others agree with it or not. The newbie at the store, Lisa, wore a triangular Celtic pendant that I mistook for AA. She told me she used to get into Wicca and she distrusted organized religion, etc. I listened to her and said good for you, then turned to go out the door.
The Saturn piece by Holst reminds me of buying King Voltaire dog biscuits for my pug in his old age; sometimes I bought Beggar Dog if I was at the convenience store. There’s probably a reason why this music haunts me lately. I see Aesop getting mellower as he ages, so I just hope for a few more good years together. I remember when he was a puppy and would lick my ear off when we retired to bed, and I’d be breathing alcoholic fumes. Aesop forgave everything. There were times when he was my only family; indeed, my only friend. Meanwhile the sun keeps climbing behind the clouds and never stops chasing its own tail.
The blonde assassin passes on,
The sun proceeds unmoved,
To measure off another day
For an approving God.
Ten o’clock at night.
I wonder if everyone goes through burnout when they reach 55 years old. Only ten years ago I could still experience exquisite pleasure, but now my sensuality has withered up and blown away like a fragile plant in the winter freeze. All that remains of me is purely mental and logical, like a person from planet Vulcan, devoid of heart and soul. Or perhaps this is sobriety at any age in a person’s life? I can say with certainty that it isn’t much fun without the elixir… though the drink is like Mother Kali, giving life with one hand and butchering it with the other. A philosophical temperament gets old and wearisome, but still it goes on and on like a plodding old tortoise alone in his shell. His method may win the race after all, while the rabbit’s lazy complacency never finishes. And he may dally with his pleasures on the way, become stranded with the Lotus Eaters and not know up from down… A coworker long ago told me that persistence pays off, and the historical Aesop would probably agree with him. And Aristotle lectured something about the lone philosopher, as I observe my knuckles growing knottier and knottier with knowledge and logic. I guess that after all, it’s not the sensitive plant that endures, but rather the adamant of the mind, sturdy and stolid as the mountain crags.
I just remembered an old acquaintance of mine who had trouble making friends when he got to be older. Now I compare myself to him and see some similarities. I’m 55 years old and beginning to look my age. My little trip to Barnes & Noble felt like a failure, and it’s easy to get depressed over that sort of thing. A person gets frustrated and a little angry when there’s a roadblock to friendships. I noticed how tiny the philosophy section was at the bookstore, with only one shelf dedicated to atheism and agnosticism, whereas the religion shelves sprawled over a good portion of the floor. Nobody knew me, so I wound up a wallflower sitting alone in the cafe. But this doesn’t mean I’ll give up on my project… I think I understand my dog’s behavior better now than before. His brain is wired for duty instead of his desires. He believes it’s his job to protect me and guard the fort. When I tell him “you have to,” he does what I command… I saw two house sparrows make overtures to mating outside my back door, but there was a third bird that came between them, then they all flew away… My friend Bill finally did find a companion, but since then we lost contact. I kind of miss the old guy today.
Michelle wished me an awesome day today as I was on my way out the door. Every day has a different quality to it. I just feel lucky to be above ground sometimes. It’s cloudy now after raining all night off and on. It’d be so nice to get my pleasure thermometer on the positive side rather than just managing my pains, but it’s also about the pleasure of others. So I would urge people to enjoy life while they are still young and capable of having a good time. And don’t defer happiness to an afterlife that probably doesn’t exist. “This is not a dress rehearsal.” I have an appointment with my med prescriber this morning, a guy named Todd. It could be a fun trip if the taxi goes through town instead of on the highways. I try to get a little enthusiastic for Halloween, but today is not the day. I’m tired and feeling like a grumpy old man. I need a shot of the elixir of life, if there is such a thing, a draft from the Fountain of Youth. As it is, I can cheer on the young people who still have a chance at fulfilling their dreams.
Nine o’clock. If the truth be known, I’d rather stay home than go to the agency. I’m a walking contradiction between individualism and religion. Last night I thought of Mallarme but I didn’t look at his poetry. My life needs some beauty when all around are ugliness and pain, like the sidewalk of the Maxwell slum. Occasionally I lift my eyes to the skyline to note the shape of the clouds and their colors: an opportunity to transcend. And when the moon brights in the west it’s like a call from far away.
Ten ten at night.
Before sunset this evening the mail carrier brought my new bass pickup. It’s the Di Marzio Model P, a ceramic hum bucker I plan to install in my Mexican Fender. This should be a lot of fun, maybe when I feel better again. At the same time, I feel almost too old to rock and roll any longer: 55 years old in January. Then again, what do people 55 years old do in our culture? I won’t be running any marathons. Until now I never pictured myself as an old man; it’s an image I didn’t think about in connection with me. I know of some people who sort of retired from their lives in their fifties, and then just marked time until they died. But that can’t be what society expects of us who are under 60. I also know people in their sixties who deny their age and try to act 21 years old. It leads me to think, what is this thing called age, and what is appropriate to it? Some say that you’re only as old as you feel. The riddle of the Sphinx: what walks on three legs in the evening? The evening of life does befall people, so then we ought to feel thankful that we even made it this far and didn’t get picked off by some natural predator along the way. Kind of like the race of baby green sea turtles towards the surf in the Galapagos I saw in a National Geographic tv show as a child.
I was probably wise to never get married in my life. No one ever blessed me with a Midas touch, nor cursed me with the same thing. Solitude, like everything else, has pros and cons. My life has ended up being like the conclusion to Aristotle’s Ethics: that of the lone philosopher. Insight tends to be keener this way, though most people couldn’t stand it. Some lessons I’ve learned by observation, others firsthand. Addiction is a thing you have to go through yourself; no amount of warning is effective, because we never think it can happen to us. An alcoholic death only happens to other people until the Grim Reaper pops up right in our face… While I was outdoors I didn’t study the color of the sky. Looking at it now, the atmosphere is still very smoky, the sky a dirty white, and the reflection of the sun burnt orange. The transition to my new medication has had rough days mixed with better ones. My dog Aesop is really good about rolling with the changes. When I don’t feel good, he doesn’t complain. I doubt if anything will make me feel like a thirty year old again, so I just accept what is. The older I get, the more I try to avoid pain, but forget the pursuit of pleasure. Fun is for younger people. I also feel amazed and thankful to have made it this far… I’m always polite and courteous when I go anywhere. It was later this morning when I went to see Michelle and buy a few things. A pretty young lady smiled at me with her blue eyes when I held the door for her and her boyfriend. Otherwise it was just another trip to the store.
Quarter after ten. I have nothing planned for today. It’d be nice to see the blue sky a little later. Maybe I can brush up on my French; take a look at Baudelaire, cross the rainbow bridge to a different language. They say that the languages we learn are stored in different “buckets” of the brain. French may be my ticket to the Fountain of Youth. It’s worth a try.
The store was quite busy even though it was so early in the morning. I had on my “sapphire” hoodie with the hood up and I moved like an old tortoise at the checkout counter, so Michelle scrambled to help other customers at the adjacent register. The daylight was just barely coming and the streetlights were still on, and now it’s a gray overcast. A guy from Derek’s house pulled out of the driveway and passed me by on N Park Avenue, and I automatically thought of the “ghost” truck with a white supremacist message. If you didn’t learn anything in seventh grade social studies, then you never will. I have no sympathy for such people… I paid cash for Aesop’s Milk Bones and peanut butter treat. On the whole trip I took my time, scuffling up and down the pavements and defying the breakneck pace of this world, daring it to act as it thinks. Probably I looked like old Father Time hobbling along in blue clothing and scoffing at people. But no; actually I was just a poor disabled guy walking invisible on the quiet streets of the suburbs, unseen and ineffectual.
It’s cloudy this morning, yet the clouds are light and colorful, not gray and dark. Michelle the store clerk wore a mask with an astronomy theme: very pretty. She said she has quite a collection of masks. The general vibe at the market was low key, relaxed and easy. I bought four pounds of Dog Chow for Aesop; it’s expensive but it’s his favorite. There were two other customers besides me, a woman and a guy, both in their thirties or forties. Occasionally it hits me with a shock that I’ll be 55 in January. Bad enough that I’m a half century old, but the clock is still running. Hopefully the hourglass isn’t nearly empty; do I get another turn of the glass? As Paul Bowles put it, How many more times will you see the moon again? I could reply to him, How many more times will I read The Sheltering Sky? This reminds me of my old workplace years ago, where people were not allowed to think for themselves. Once I brought in a copy of the Bowles novel and lent it to a coworker who read it, but she lost the book somewhere. I believe she liked it, though… Almost time to feed Aesop… Another coworker opined to me that Bowles led a decadent lifestyle— without having read any of his stuff. This guy wore starched shirts and suspenders and touted Mark Twain. I wore sloppy sweatshirts and jeans and did my job as well as anybody. Some of the more educated people at the agency liked me. And I still think there’s nothing wrong with my choice of reading material.
Ten thirty. My life is ruled by a different force than most people: it’s the old Titan Cronus, father of Zeus, old Father Time by association with the planet Saturn. I’m just a Capricorn goat, which I sometimes forget controls my fate. Hopefully on my deathbed everything comes out in the wash and I rest in peace like the majority of people… The cooler climate today puts me in an odd state of mind. I can recall many things at will, from when life wasn’t so rosy, and yet it had a lesson to teach. Right now it’s super quiet in the room, and no sound across the street where Roger is working on his hobby. Silence is golden, as it is said.
Quarter of eight.
As I started walking down my street this morning, my head began to spin and I lost my balance for a few seconds. Dunno what caused it, though it could be my cholesterol medication, or maybe the heatwave. I mastered myself enough to finish going to the store for a few items. No Snapple today. Too risky. I’m also under a lot of stress in general and life has been unkind lately… At ten o’clock I have a Zoom appointment with Rebecca. I may be a bit nervous about that. Aesop gets breakfast at eight thirty. I think I should take it kind of easy today and aim for church on Sunday. My apocalyptic view of this summer could be exaggerated for some reason. However, I still think we could use a good rain here in Oregon. I feel rather tired and also sad about a few things. Every loss brings grieving. I don’t believe my Freudian education is valid anymore, or applicable to my current life. But I learned other things in college I can salvage for use in the present. Information tends to flow and ebb with time. And if I’m just a man out of time, a fish out of water, then I can learn to adapt with everyone else.
Quarter of nine. The day looks quite ugly to me. I’ve thought of how much I miss old times when our winters were actually cold. People still wear jackets and coats in the wintertime, but the truth is that they are not necessary when it’s fifty degrees out. We’re past the tip of the iceberg, and we did this to ourselves by polluting our habitat beyond sustainability. No one listens to scientists because we prefer the flattering lies of religion. The time was yesterday for paying attention to their warnings. Now, the new normal will be more and more abnormal for everybody. If only human nature were perfectible, as Percy Shelley hoped a long time ago…
I rode with eCabs today and I liked the drivers going both ways. They had to double up on passengers but I didn’t mind sharing a taxi with someone else. This particular company has only eight drivers and does nothing but a Ridesource contract. The first guy is named Scott, with whom I’ve ridden a few times. I like him. Funny, he’s critical of Eugene for wanting to be like Portland, while preferring places like Springfield that are I guess more homey and down to earth; it has a personal vibe that Eugene is losing the more it grows. He said the Eugene City Council was “Communist,” and I understand what he means. It isn’t exactly that, but it’s definitely Marxist and Socialist, using a language that baffles people with its emptiness. I think it’s fair to say that Springfield is a time warp to a more romantic age, where people are franker with each other and not so deceptive or slippery; in a word, they’re honest… which is also like the people of Cottage Grove. So I can see why some people prefer the twin city to the sophistication of Eugene.
At one o’clock I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my stuff; but you know, afterwards I was pretty exhausted and felt rather lousy for a while. Two miles is kind of heavy duty walking for me. But on my way home I observed the same kind of thing as this morning, or maybe I was looking for it, and it provided a common theme for my day. You saw the post already, I know. It was that green house on Kourt Drive that defies the laws of time and space (to my mind), and takes you away in a magic Delorian to the Forties or Fifties, or rather transplants the past to the present day with a sprinkling of pixie dust. And this house just sits there, stark against the blue sky, an anachronism that doesn’t belong there and ought to be extinct, and yet there it stands like a shimmering vision out of an old yearbook, a page torn out of history…
So I imagine that my concern with anachronisms has to do with my own age, and maybe with everyone in my age category. Shoot: what was it I was saying the other day? It was on a topic very similar to this one. Oh yeah, it was about rewriting the history books to make people like us obsolete, and I made a post about it. But you know, it’s really true! And the older I get, the truer it becomes. The voices of seniors get lost in the shuffle and no one wants to hear us anymore. And it turns into a strange paradox of being and non being: just like the green house on Kourt Drive which ought not to be there, and yet, by God, it still stands like an ephemeral monument.