Gray May Basket

Seven thirty.

It rained during the night. The forecast says no rain today, but the clouds look quite gray. I got a good sleep for a change. I got up in the small hours and read to the end of Symposium. I feel like I’m getting another chance to do what I’d always wanted to do, which is to make music with my buddies. The only thing that could thwart this is substance abuse. Life for an active alcoholic tends to crumble to ruin, as I’ve seen firsthand. It’s kind of ironic how Oregon has legalized marijuana, since this can be a drug of demise like alcohol.

Quarter of nine. My mood was rather weird on my outing to the store, as I turned over thoughts about criminal activity and declining morals. I saw a number tattooed to the back of the cashier’s neck and began to wonder. And then I almost inadvertently stole a bottle of pain medication that was in the bottom of my shopping bag. It is strange how our thinking modifies our perception from moment to moment, as Wordsworth describes in The Prelude. As if events in the world were fitted to the workings of the human mind, or perhaps reality is completely projected by the latter. It started to rain lightly when I was coming home, so my rain jacket was a good call. On my own street, maybe five cars were parked in front of Betty’s old house, and again I felt suspicious. The blinds were all closed in everyone’s front window, and I observed that my front lawn is in need of a mowing. Presiding over the whole scene was this sense of gray ambiguity from the cloud cover and also from my own vision. An odd sort of May Day morning. 

A Minor Crime

The book share on Fremont,

A chartreuse A frame on a pole,

Stands beside a wooden bench

At the entrance to the alley

Leading on a sidewalk to Maxwell.

Perfidious thorny stems to either side

Dangle over the graffiti fences,

And amidst other litter can be found

The occasional syringe.

The builder of the little structure

Lives hard by in a forest green house,

A kind and conscientious man

Named Johnny.

Once a vandal bashed off

The door of the green box

And flung it across the street

Where it lay at the curb.

The crime was symbolic.

I picked up the glass door

Framed with white painted wood

And laid it on the gray seat

Next to the damaged book share.

No note was necessary,

And the next time I ambled by,

The door had been replaced

Silently, as if the elves cared more

Than kids for erudition.

Mind Food

Quarter of midnight. Church this morning was average. Before service, B— opened up to me a little in the foyer about her job. She told me about a second grade teacher she knew who was arrested for pedophilia. I wondered a bit why she was telling me that. I guess it was because the incident had disturbed her not a little. Maybe she needed reassurance. The news didn’t ruffle me at all, but my humanism knows a broad scope of experience. The great novelist Henry James had a lust for young boys, never acted upon of course, but acknowledged to himself as being a part of his soul. Everybody has something like that, however we may obscure it from ourselves. It can be a shock to discover it, especially when we can put a societal label on it and condemn ourselves. Usually we will be our own worst critic. It is said that no individual is innocent, therefore what kind of position are we in to condemn other people? Spinoza had some amazing insights about crime and punishment. Above all, he impressed me with this quote: “Things are not more or less perfect according as they delight or offend human senses…” And when an offender is apprehended, he is to be turned in to the proper authorities, but without a feeling of moral outrage. In other words, it shouldn’t be like the yellow journalism I used to see on Dateline NBC, stuff that panders to the deplorable need in some people to work themselves into a moral frenzy. Thus I guess I felt like sermonizing a bit to B— on the spot, but instead saved it for material for this post.

The Street

One forty. My close call last night shook me up more than I realized. I could’ve been killed or seriously hurt. I took an unnecessary risk in venturing out after midnight on foot. Without acknowledging it, I was afraid. The fear carried over to yesterday all day, rattling me deep down. Who likes to recognize fear? I’d been having thoughts of my mortality while trying to sleep but didn’t allow that the hoodlum had scared me. However, it was significant that I didn’t leave the house all day yesterday. The heat was only one reason. There lurked another kind of heat in the jungle…