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.
Quarter of nine.
Now I’ve got a red Christmas stocking to go with my ceramic tree. It was only $4.19 from the Bi Mart, where Gloria and I went after lunch yesterday at Lupita’s across the street. The weather was quite cheerless: wet and drizzly from dark gray skies, yet it couldn’t dampen the spirit of the coming holiday. Wonders never cease: my neighbors next door have decorated their front yard with white and blue lights. Usually I don’t decorate for Christmas either, but something is different about the season this year. My sister sent me a greeting card containing a message of hope for the New Year. A little later today I’ll give her a call. I’ve been wanting to read more of A Journey to the Center of the Earth, but reading a novel takes a different kind of concentration than something like philosophy, and sometimes I don’t feel very smart. I’m not sure what I was looking for in the first place, what kind of investigation I started. Maybe the answer will find me when I’m not searching for it. Today it’s still cloudy but I feel pretty good. Gloria has invited me for her family’s Christmas gathering, which makes me feel kind of special. Also she’ll be here again the day of Christmas Eve… At Bi Mart I always buy Aesop a little treat in addition to his dog food cans. The stocking can belong to him, filled with tasty snacks.
I haven’t been thinking much about Christmas today. I’ve read the first two acts of The Tempest. Pretty good. The slaves of Prospero both want their freedom. These are Ariel and Caliban. The latter is a deformed anthropoid brute, smelling of fish, who was taught language by Miranda and whose mother was Sycorax, a witch. There’s something interesting about a monster learning to speak and express feelings that are barely human. It’s much like the monster in Frankenstein, who is not human, and represents the sublime. Or how about teaching sign language to gorillas and chimpanzees? Or the voice of the raven croaking Nevermore from the bust of Athena over the door? Another thing: Caliban says that learning English was only convenient for him to curse with. He really doesn’t like his master, kind of like Frankenstein’s monster systematically popping off his family… Anyway, I’m about halfway through the play.
I still haven’t heard the news from Gloria, and she didn’t come to work today, as I wouldn’t have expected. Aesop and I spent a quiet day alone together while the wind howled and once some sleet came down mixed with rain. The only excursion was to the store this morning, which was nothing unusual for me, though Lisa reported having a bad day so far. When I thought about that later, it seemed like the fragmentation in Mrs Dalloway, with everyone locked in their private worlds. It’s impossible for people to truly share their perceptions, even through the seeming agreement of language.
This is just the mood I’m in today. Tomorrow I have to go to church like I agreed to do. Hope for the best.
I got the H.G. Wells book yesterday. Found it on my doorstep when I went out for the mail. It’s very nice, with a format very similar to the Verne volume.
I probably hang out too much with my dog here at home, but it’s quite fascinating to observe how his mind functions. His intelligence is nearly human, unless I project much of myself onto him. Strange to consider such a relationship between animal and man, as if we could really communicate together. Some dogs are a little too smart, I suppose. What we have here tends to blur the boundaries of one nature and the other. I guess that’s why I feel a little confused on what defines a human being versus the definition of animals. Now I’ve finally put my finger on it.
Aesop is not a person!
Quarter of eleven.
At last I can hear myself think again after two days of being drowned out by others. I’ve got the whole day to myself today; no engagements, no deeds or promises to keep. My Christmas will be a separate secular celebration in honor of my parents who were utilitarian. In fact, when I was young, all of my friends were humanist. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that… At the same time, I feel a tremendous pressure on me to worship like a Christian. I wonder how a thing like the collective unconscious is possible: a mental substratum in which every individual mind takes part. It’s kind of like the church: one set of beliefs to unite a sundry group of people. The biggest mystery of all to me is the question of what made me go to Wednesday service in the first place. Maybe the spirit of Christmas has more influence on me than I’d judged before. All in all I feel tired and like someone getting older; but I don’t intend to surrender to fate or whatever shape necessity takes. I still believe in liberty and personal power. It’ll never do to be a victim of what happens to me. Far better to take responsibility and control of my life. The rest— society and the church, etc— is an omnivorous black hole… The division of my church splits my own head like a coconut. Things are very uncertain right now. Leave it at that.
Aesop my dog was just sitting in front of me, looking at me expectantly. I thought he wanted something, but what he wanted was information about the agenda today. So I told him we’d have no company this time and it’d be just him and me. Immediately he relaxed and spread out on the floor, satisfied with this knowledge. His intelligence always surprises me; it borders almost on human capacity, except he doesn’t like music… An hour ago it was quite windy and the clouds were blue through my front window. Lisa at the store was having a difficult morning, though I think something else was bugging her. It was a problem she brought with her to work. I often wish things were more like the old days when Belinda owned the market, but back then I drank a lot. I plan to go to church tomorrow. Unless you pickle your mind, everything changes as a natural matter of course. We live, change, and grow, from within and without. Aesop still sprawls on the carpet. We should have a good day.
Eight o five.
I haven’t been very well lately but at least I can spot it. The big tangerine in the sky has cleared the horizon as I try to relax my mind. Sometimes it seems to collapse on itself, or explode like the splitting of the atom. When I think I’m critiquing culture, it’s really just the tissue of my existence. The best I can do is avoid the church and religion and focus outward on ordinary objects. I feel like a shapeless glob of gelatin, like a jellyfish or something. Today is a lot like how I felt five years ago, though it’s not very pleasant to remember it. Back then I lived on a tub of ice cream and a loaf of bread every day… This is something different: Aesop isn’t hungry for breakfast yet today. Somewhere there must be an eclipse or sunspots; a supernova or some cataclysm. A long lost comet coming around. Asteroids.
I don’t want to go to the store in the dark; I have to wait for the sunrise, but “a minute seems like a lifetime when I feel this way.” Besides, the earlier I go, the fewer the faces I’ll see. If I get unbearably lonely this weekend, then I might attend church; but that’s desperate, and I really hate the sermons anymore. The last one I heard made me feel unwell before I even got home… At last I see some peachy light out my window. They had forecast rain for this weekend, however seeing is believing. Today it’s more of the smoky summer warmed over stuff we’ve seen for weeks on end. “Sing loud for the sunshine, pray hard for the rain.” My dog has chicken strips on the brain. If human life were that simple then we wouldn’t need therapists and pastors, let alone psychiatrists. Imagine the inside of Aesop’s mind, with a little picture of a bag of chicken jerky dancing like a vision of sugarplums. Maybe we should call him the Sugarplum Fairy— yet he’s in dead earnest for this simple pleasure. God help us if I get to the store and they don’t have the chicken jerky. So again I’m on a mission from Dog this morning as the sky brightens very gradually and signs of life make themselves obvious.
This day is starting out better than the last few days. So far, so good. I solved Pastor’s Riddle of the Day. It was fairly easy because he’s repeating himself, or there’s a pattern to the sort of puzzles he puts out there. It’s foggy out but not awfully dense, yet still the atmosphere is pretty dark and gloomy. I think sometimes that something good has to happen sooner or later. It can’t all be darkness and despair. But it’s also up to me to stop the spiral to depression. Aesop is funny. Now, at the first sign of darkness outside, he goes down the hall on his own and jumps into bed, where he stays all night… I already miss the summertime. I don’t think I was prepared for autumn to come this year. Is it possible that nobody is really happy with life right now? If so then I don’t feel so alone in the world. “Seems I’m not alone in being alone / A hundred million castaways looking for a home.” I hear Roger my neighbor tapping away on something metal, keeping himself busy in his retirement. Where do we all belong? This is an even better riddle than the one I guessed an hour ago.
Well it looks like I’m going to make it for my birthday tomorrow: five years of sobriety, and nothing really mysterious about it.
I actually sent an email to my former friend about the anniversary. I only did that to make myself feel better; it has nothing to do with him at all. I doubt if he’ll reply, and that’s just as well.
Tomorrow will come and go like every day, but the word of the day is “relief.” It’ll be a huge burden rolling off my shoulders, and then I can get on with my life.
I know it happened three years ago, but the house fire 🔥 is on my mind today. Amazing to me that I lived through a fire and what that means symbolically and psychologically, even in an occult way. For me, it means my transformation to an independent person, which is like the zodiac sign Aries and my life path number of 1. Sometimes I get into this kind of stuff. Maybe it’s stupid and bogus; or then again maybe it’s not. I think I’ll look up fire in the dictionary of symbols.
I feel pretty puffed up with myself just now. I feel really good about my recovery ❤️🩹 and how far I’ve come. I’m a much stronger and braver person now than before I quit drinking and took control of my life.
Woo hoo! It’s a very big deal!
I should order myself a pizza 🍕 tomorrow afternoon and pig out! Call it a birthday for Aesop and me.
Nine o’clock at night.
I had a dream that a T. Rex killed my dog. Aesop went up against him fearlessly to defend me but the huge lizard chomped him down. Obviously I was sad afterwards. I wonder what the dream means. Does the dinosaur symbolize something, maybe the monster of society or of life itself, and my dog represents the brave but puny individual whose valiant fight is futile? The story ends up the opposite of David and Goliath: the underdog, against tremendous odds, loses the battle. What are they battling over? Still, Aesop’s self sacrifice to the T. Rex kept me alive a bit longer, so his death was not vain. One more observation: the name “tyrannosaurus” means “tyrant lizard.” Thus, the real tyrant could be anything you can imagine: the Church, or perhaps a group of unjust politicians trying to topple democracy. But usually when I think of something threatening, it’s the menace to liberal scholarship and to education as I remember it. And of course, “Aesop” is the fabulist and moral teacher of antiquity.
The dead of night. No store is open until seven o’clock except the 24 hour places like 7 Eleven and WinCo, or Shari’s restaurant, all of which are too far to walk to. My dog seems happier now because I figured out the cause of his bitter mood. It’s funny to discuss him as if he had human feelings, but he’s very smart for a canine, and reason is the same no matter where it occurs in the universe. Aesop has no understanding of music, but his verbal comprehension is good, and he even has elementary math ability; he knows basic quantities, and more-than or less-than. I would beg to differ with something I read by Loren Eiseley about the uniqueness of human intellect, as though only people had a soul, and the world was kind of waiting for us to arrive on the scene. He wrote some nonsense about the “finger of God” in evolution. He seems to think that human beings hold a privileged place in the cosmos, which is true enough, but it doesn’t mean that we have a monopoly on reason. Even Plato believed that the universe is imbued with an essence of reason. It wouldn’t matter which species came to ascendency, so it was rather accidental that humanity was the one. As it is, dogs are capable of dreams.