Quarter after ten at night.
The sun went down 90 minutes ago and it was cloudy, windy, and hot outside. A minute ago I rolled my trash and recycle bins to the curbside for pickup in the morning. Thanks to the air conditioner, Aesop and I are quite comfortable in the house. At the moment I can’t complain about anything. The older I get, the more life is about feeling comfortable and painless than about the active pursuit of pleasure. Both conditions are epicurean, which is what I grew up with. But you know, I spend a lot of time looking back on times of intense pleasure, and the memory still gives me a warm sensation in my heart. I knew a woman who referred to Bertrand Russell familiarly as “Bertie,” so now I associate her with his mentality. Sometimes I think that no ideas exist but in the real people I’ve known personally: therefore the slogan of Carlos Williams may be modified to say no ideas but in people… It’s strange how people come and go in your life; and perhaps all human relationships eventually fall apart for one reason or another. Maybe that’s why man’s best friend is a furry quadruped: do dogs have ideas? What is their belief system? Why are they so devoted to their owners, so loving and forgiving? Why are human beings not like that?
Seven thirty five.
There was a slight suggestion of rain when I made my excursion to the market around the bend. It’s very peaceful on this Sunday morning, whether a person goes to church or not. Although it’s still early, some people are out of the house and the daylight is bright and white.
One thing that disturbs me is being unable to contact my sister last Friday: should I be concerned? But always I find ways to borrow trouble and worry over nothing. We never know anything until we interface with other individuals and get it from the horse’s mouth. A lot of the information we get is filtered through a person’s perspective, which will be biased no matter who it is. An exception to this is the fictional character Benjy in The Sound and the Fury, a book that was on my mind last night. I remembered that the family sold Benjy’s pasture so that Quentin could go to Harvard, just another burden on Quentin’s overwrought conscience.
I haven’t yet heard of the model family in my experience. My own is very enmeshed and rather dysfunctional. Five years ago I deactivated my Facebook account to get away from my relatives and try to be free. The next year, my sister caught up with me after I’d had a house fire, with mixed feelings on my part… I think it’s the very principle of family that I tend to reject. And it’s not like my family has my own best interests in mind. The interests of the family come before any individual: a microcosm of society.
I thought I saw a marauding starling make a ruckus with the sparrows just outside. The sparrows were freaking out and raising the alarm to all the others that things were not safe. What’s it like to be a starling? Perhaps an ugly duckling? My dog came up and put his paw on the arm of my loveseat. I believe he had a question for me. I wish I was a better answer man for his sake. And the rain keeps hanging fire as morning advances.
It’s another day peppered with stress and some anxiety since I talked with Polly this morning. The conversation went okay but I’m glad it’s done for the week. Feeling tense, I finally picked up my Jazz Bass and banged on that for maybe 90 minutes. It sounded pretty good to me and it was a good release for a while. It felt good. Meanwhile, Aesop is mad at me because I lectured him about his behavior when I’m on the phone, and he’ll hold a grudge probably until late tonight or even tomorrow sometime. If I say, Oh well, it’s an expression a lot of us resonate with nowadays. Because, so much of life is out of our hands and beyond our power. The balance between the people and the government keeps sliding more toward the latter and everyone is a peon, pawn, and a pauper. I really used to believe in the power of words, but today, those with money rather brutally prove a different reality. And the ones without money do everything they can to make money. No one cares about being a good person. They don’t even care about feeling happy. And maybe power and money don’t promote happiness anyway, so what’s the point? I operate from the assumption that happiness is the highest good, along with freedom. I think people ought to make time to humanize themselves.
A cute song on an album by Stewart Copeland has it like this.
…I could not refuse, you gave me money
But now you eat your money and be fool
Anyway, today I go back to liberte…
The songwriter was a Congolese guy, I think, who collaborated with Copeland, and the latter played most of the instruments. But I’d have to research it to be sure.
Quarter after eight.
The ground is wet from recent showers but now it’s only cloudy. Aesop is all set for a little while. So far, the day is going better than my experience last weekend; I permit myself to relax and enjoy what comes my way. I don’t know if my brother has gone home from hospital yet, and it’s not my concern, regardless that he’s my brother. My sister reported that he asked his son for some Perrier water, which is often what alcoholics drink to ease withdrawals. I don’t want to share fates with him again. I’ve done my sentence and my penance, and I nearly died for something worthless.
I begin to notice the sparrows out of the glass door. Or maybe they’ve just woken up for the day. It’s hard to tell where reality and the human mind meet. A great big construction truck just drove past my house— unless I dreamed it and Aesop did too. And for soundtrack my mind plays Clair de Lune in broad daylight. Everything is in a state of reverie for me, yet a pipe dream can be pleasant while the world outdoors bites with bitter cold.
The massive truck has turned around and come back as my dog barks and whines at it. I was mistaken: I participate in Aesop’s dream.
Seven thirty five.
As I wandered home from market, the clouds in the east were painted peach and I was alone on the streets. A moment later I observed ice on the roof of every house. There was just a little ice by the curb of N Park which I stepped around. I thought to myself that nature doesn’t have any problems; it’s people that create problems in the world. People are the Pandoras releasing all evils into the world of our experience. But it’s not like we have no options. We possess the power to make life pleasant and happy, if we only chose this way… The mourning dove and a crow call to each other, question and answer. Walking outdoors, I saw a crow on the fly, cawing in the early light. It’s weird to be a person today. My dog rouses from his slumbers and asks me if it’s time for breakfast. I tell him 11 minutes. Somewhere in my brain, passages from Prince Igor play indifferently; yet they say that Borodin was the Sunday morning composer…
Eight thirty five.
A mellow start to the last Sunday of the month. There’s just a light rain that sprinkled me when I walked to the store. I saw a stout man in the checkout line buy two cannabis drinks: big marijuana leaves on the label. His face was familiar to me from being in the same place. Thomas watched him a while as he got into his car. Aesop needed dry food and I only wanted my Snapples for today.
I anticipate the springtime, when it comes. On March 9, it will be a year that Gloria has been my PCA. We joked that we should celebrate with champagne or something. Thinking now, I have no real enemies, or at least it seems that way. The most toxic influence on me was my brother. I lack the discipline to be a true Christian. All I wanted was to stop drinking alcohol, and to begin with I needed some support. But my basic values have remained the same after a lot of indoctrination. What could be more obvious than happiness and freedom? What is more counterintuitive than barring the way to these things? I’ll leave misery to those who like to suffer, and misery loves company.
It isn’t always true that when you laugh, the world laughs with you. Sometimes joy is experienced in solitude. I wonder what Bertrand Russell would say if he were resurrected to give his thoughts.
My dog barks for a snack. Blue Dog peanut butter softies. Who said anything about being alone?
I’m cutting back on caffeine because I had a bad reaction to it recently. So today I bought just one Snapple tea. It’s funny how substance abuse can run away with you if you’re not paying attention. Too much of anything is toxic. Leaving the store this morning, I walked past a van for Monster Cookie Company and I asked myself if they still had the same location on Fifth Street downtown. I’m the kind of person that dwells on the past a lot. I often recall happy times with my parents and a few friends, and by comparison, the times today seem rather empty and insignificant to me. I am thankful only for a few things. It was interesting last Saturday to go to the vet with my dog and be reminded of ten years ago and Aesop’s puppyhood. He has turned out to be such a great dog!
The mail just brought my book, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, a little green Loeb classic. Reading the introduction should be fun.
If church was about just socialization, then I might be interested in going again. But instead, there’s the element of indoctrination that I can’t accept. And honestly, I don’t care for moralism. People ought to help each other to their joys and happiness rather than carp at their faults. I’m not interested in “being a better person.” I believe the world is right when everyone is happy.
Quarter after nine.
I’m watching Aesop since giving him the sedative prior to his appointment. I’m not very happy about our project for today, but at least Gloria will be with us. Yesterday I really wanted to drink beer but I settled for writing about it. There isn’t much else to say now.
We got the vet visit over with. Today, Aesop seems to be a little bit mad at me for his ordeal, though his appetite and everything are fine. Finally I can take it easy, just breathe and be at peace with life… I think of things that happened years ago, but the years themselves are a blur and mostly forgotten due to daily drunkenness. My biggest regret is losing my lady friend in 2017, just after I started going to church and got serious about recovery from alcoholism. Somehow I think she felt more comfortable with guys who drank. She’d been married to a moderate alcoholic, and his brother had died from alcoholism. To her, it was normal. My own brother used to say, Live by the sword, die by the sword: but I wasn’t ready to die. I was only fifty. So I went through a little personal revolution and stopped the suicide. It’s baloney to say that it’s your duty to drink like your friends or family. Use your own judgment and choose for yourself what’s best for you. The others may accuse you of narcissism or whatever, but it’s bogus reasoning. Life itself is given to you only once. There’s always an alternative to self destruction. We all have more options than we admit to ourselves, even drastic ones. But it isn’t wussy or cowardly to save yourself from certain death.
Quarter after eight.
I was up when the trees across the way were still black shades, the sky blue and peach. The sky even looks chill and wintry. I bundled up and strolled to market, my breath making vapor on the immediate air. I bought my dog a rib bone, but he hasn’t had his breakfast yet. I owe him that this morning. “A promise made is a debt unpaid.” Just now, Aesop is getting vocal for his can of food… That’s done. He’s been a bit mad at me since yesterday, for reasons I can’t guess. But I’m sure his reasons are good and logical. Justice for dogs is no different from human justice, especially for smart dogs like blue heelers and poodles. Currently, Aesop is sulking by the back door. Maybe he only wants his marrow snacks? He’ll be getting more on Friday from Amazon. Until then he can just keep pouting, though it’s kind of a drag for me when someone’s an unhappy camper. I believe he’s addicted to his favorite treat. If I called my sister on the phone this morning, Aesop would be still more upset, so I’ll delay it till Friday.
It’s a strange thing being a dog’s emotional caretaker.
I let Aesop out of his little prison down the hall after my zoom meeting was done and he barked at me to tell me he wanted his milk bones. The white light of day makes the room appear green, a greenness that reminds me of the cover to a book of Robert Frost I once had when I was a student. If it weren’t so cold out, I’d say it was kind of like the springtime with all the blooms and bird activity, and it stays lighter now for longer. The greens also are souvenirs of a serotonin buzz many years ago from taking Prozac. The drug made me feel impulsive and sociable, but also sleepless and finally suicidal, so I had to stop it. 1991 was very long ago and I can sense how much I’ve aged. It isn’t like Goethe anymore, a creed of seize the day. Rather, it’s a time for quiet reflection and study. Still, the green outdoors is a distraction from cerebral things. It is entirely possible to get too comfortable; security can be a trap that keeps you from pursuing happiness.
And then you ponder the difference between green pastures and ash gray pavements littered with cigarette butts. Where do we go from here?
Quarter of one.
It’s doable to be young at heart. Not to spit in the wind and give up your dream of paradise. They say poverty sucks, but poetry will never desert the pauper. It is there if you look for it, like the kingdom of God. It dwells within you.