Under the Sun

Quarter of nine.

Patience is a virtue. Apparently my pen pal can’t receive emails from me by some glitch. I have to wait until the bugs are fixed. It’s another sunny morning. Furnace is running. I won’t participate in the Zoom service. There’s nothing factual about Jesus, and that’s why it’s so hard to believe. It is unfortunate that real information is expensive while BS is free. Even worse when the BS is also expensive… But maybe the best avenue to faith is the Intimations Ode by Wordsworth. Childhood memories hold the key to everything that is spiritual in us. It can take quite an effort to remember back that far. When things were “appareled in celestial light.” We may be asked to give up childish things, to grow out of them. There is conflict with “the Child is the Father of the Man.” And then what are we supposed to do? Go on growing up, or cling to the child inside? This is my personal brain teaser lately. Do I go with Wordsworth or try for something new and more mature?

Ten o’clock. Pretty soon I will hit the street and head to the store. Destination Snapple. Destination something new… 

Reading, Thinking, and Living

Eight twenty five.

During the wee hours this morning I read the opening chapters of The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth. I found that it offers much food for thought concerning things like economics, technology, and progress as opposed to conservationists who would stop the self seeking and save the Earth. My knee jerk is to remember the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous where it criticizes the attitude of our having conquered nature with science. Their answer is to regress to the primordial ooze. My own question is, How far can human history progress in a straight line? Wouldn’t we do better to live cyclically with the seasons, the way Native Americans once did? Wouldn’t this harmonize better with nature? Maybe these questions are not so silly as they seem. I suppose I watched the original movie of Planet of the Apes too many times. The inevitable aim of technology is self destruction. This was the take home lesson I gathered long ago, and now I’m reevaluating my assumption. The consensus appears to be something different. Faith in science and technology may be okay after all.

Quarter of ten. There’s a heavy fog in the neighborhood. It isn’t very warm out, so I’m waiting a bit before going to the store. Hopefully I’ll see something new in the market today. Life without variety can be pretty dull. My pen pal wrote me a long email this morning that I really appreciated. She suggested that I might’ve outgrown the church, and that church was there when I needed it a few years ago. I agree, the congregation was very kind to me, and I am thankful to them… I can’t believe the kind of dreams and nightmares I have nowadays. They seem like someone else’s imagination. Surely mine isn’t that sophisticated? I seem to be still processing the problem of evil in human life since revisiting Macbeth last month. I’m not the only one working on it. Pastor is looking for an antidote to darkness for his flock. Everyone has been decimated by every event starting in March.

Quarter of eleven. I guess I’ll walk off to the store now. Life might give a few answers… 

A Birthday Lunch

Quarter of noon. I’m totally confused now. Pastor won’t give up on trying to keep me part of his flock. But I really don’t believe in angels and demons and the traditional concept of heaven. Pastor is trying to say that it doesn’t matter. What counts is being good to one another… It occurs to me that I work too hard on my blog posts. As a result, they require more work to read. Some people don’t want to think.

Two o’clock. Lunch at the salon was fantastic. I walked in the door and everything was all ready. Jean was also there, making it a party of five. Angela looked very cute for her birthday. People joked about where to put away the calories. Karen mentioned that the lockdown may get more stringent again. I wonder how this would affect the church? Angela’s kids are being schooled at home… The air outside is awfully smoky from the wildfires, both regional and from California. We could use more rain anytime. If I’m going to the pharmacy today, then I’ll take a taxi. But I’ll probably wind up just going in the morning. Then, I can take my time and not be anxious. Make it a little promenade to Silver Lane. Maybe snap a few photos— though there’s not much to show when it’s smoky and people are masked… The longer I abstain from drinking, the more complex life around me seems. Current events only become more catastrophic to my mind, and the solutions more elusive. Perhaps in another year or two my brain will be serviceable for something better than blogging. Many years ago, I would’ve said set my brother on the task of saving the world. I verily believe he could’ve done it. 

Excursion Deferred

Ten o’clock. I have to plan my next trip to Bi Mart to get my prescription. Should I walk or take a taxi? Darcy said walking is great exercise and I should keep mobile. So I guess I’ll walk over to the pharmacy in another hour or two. The air is even smokier than yesterday. The sunlight on the ground looks amber or burnt orange. Again the issue of climate change raises its head. I’ve heard some people say they’ve been preparing for a major cataclysm; stockpiling supplies, etc etc. I’m too lazy to do anything like that, or maybe not paranoid enough. Whatever happens, I think it will be a natural phenomenon, although the dreamer in me wonders at a metaphysical complication. The human imagination has been an item since the time of the Egyptians and Moses and before. Hearing a voice in a burning bush. Hearing is the last sense to go. What voice will we hear out of the machine when the time comes? What vision out of the shadows? There are always mirages. What happens when time breaks down; do we see eternity behind the wall? Or are we merely dreaming self indulgent trash? What can we do instead of dreaming?

Eleven o’clock. By now you can hardly see the sun for the wildfire smoke. When I get up and walk to the pharmacy, I need take nothing with me. Maybe my iPhone. And I can take my own sweet time. I’ve always liked Bi Mart despite its conservatism. It might be a different experience if I were Black or Hispanic stepping in the front door. Something to be mindful of at all times. Put it off until tomorrow?

Quarter of noon. I ate most of my cottage cheese for lunch and I feel much better than I did over the weekend. After today, my dad’s anniversary will be over with. Nothing to worry about then. There’s really no pressure on me to do anything today, so I don’t know what the trouble was before… 

I miss the days of New Age music back in the early 1990s. Somewhere near is my copy of The World’s Getting Loud by Alex de Grassi, one of my favorite CDs from the era. “Facing South” is such a beautiful song, so acoustic and understated, yet so powerful in its depth of emotion. The deceptive simplicity reminds me of Satie. There’s a lot of space in between the minimal chords, giving room for speculation. His approach is very modern and progressive, and overall very creative. Years ago I sent a copy to my Scottish friend, and she was delighted with it. I guess it sounded like the epitome of American music to her ears. 

Monologue on a Snapple

Quarter after eleven. The sky is getting dark with rain clouds. I hear thunder. Again the squirrels are very active on my property. Now it’s raining… I used to fear criticism from other people so badly, and I got the worst of it from my brother. But since I stopped drinking, the shoe is on the other foot. I think about him less than before, but I can remember how mean he could be. One thing keeps me straight, and that is the quest for the truth, whatever it proves to be. Another peal of thunder ripples across the sky. I feel more optimistic today, since the rain cleared the air outside. Earlier this week I thought I’d been psychotic, but the next day I felt fine. I actually like myself today, and life is worth seeing through to the bitter end. Perhaps we can colonize other planets, as has been the dream of sci-fi writers since HG Wells and before him to Poe. It’s a matter of how wise and how durable is the human spirit. A scrub jay screeches even in the rain. The creatures are all confused after the fires and the smoke for nearly two weeks… I owe a debt of gratitude to my pen pal for maintaining her composure while I was going a little crazy during the wildfires. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and believed the end was imminent… An idea from Percy Shelley occurs to me occasionally: we all are really just one person, participants in the One Mind. Individuality is an illusion created by language, he said. It’s a trippy concept, yet there’s something attractive about it. I imagine that whatever happens, we all share the same fate… How curious to think about interplanetary existence. Or any solution humankind comes up with to the problem of the uncertain future. The sun peeks through the charcoal gray for a moment. I hear the sounds of the train yard off to the south. More screeching of jay birds. My cattle dog Aesop just got a drink of water in the kitchen. Life is better today, even if for just a day. 

Springfield

Nine o’clock. Yesterday, Polly told me that T— and R— are having another baby. I didn’t say much, but now I think of how stupid that is. The evidence of our demise is everywhere apparent, and still people are having babies. People don’t think! People are in Disneyland! I consider all the times when Polly has accused me of selfishness, but who’s being selfish now? Her little feelings of grandmotherly pride are absolutely thoughtless… My taxi is coming after ten o’clock. I dreamed last night that I retired my first car, which was quite symbolic. I parked it in some parking lot and then handed the keys to my dad. I was done with driving. Perhaps some aspects of my life are over as well.

One thirty. Darcy is concerned that I may have hip arthritis, so I have to go in for X-rays sometime soon. No appointment necessary. The ride home was rather circuitous because we had to pick up another passenger at RiverBend. We passed two different locations of Shari’s restaurant in Springfield. I remarked that the strip malls all look the same. Everywhere, it was smoky and it appeared like an industrial nuclear winter. Once I caught a glimpse of blue sky behind the smoke. No one really knows if it will rain tomorrow. After my arrival home, I walked to the store and stood in line to check out for several minutes. JR was cashiering all alone and it was the noon hour. I felt annoyed because they’re doing a lousy job of restocking food items. I got a Snapple raspberry tea and, when I got home, sat down and drank it leisurely. Aesop probably whined and howled in my absence. But now my big excursion is out of the way. 

Birthday!

Eight o’clock.

Here and there I have a bleed through of psychosis, saying that this is the end of the world, and by a freak of metaphysics, a god will emerge from the machine. Psychosis is radical emotionalism; if it feels true, then it must be true. It’s important to remain evidence based when I’m tempted to exaggerate the reality. My mind wonders why the crap all hits the fan in September. And more, what will future Septembers be like? It feels cold in here, and the smoke outside is still very dense. Linn County is getting ready to evacuate.

Nine o’clock. I just paid my garbage disposal bill online. For many years I paid over the phone, but now I’m all set up. It seems like an investment in the future. I don’t feel so pessimistic now about current events. Perhaps it’s just chance that everything has happened at once. I should remember all the distortions of cognitive therapy and apply them. Pastor wrote something in the Daily Devotions that I was inclined to take personally. But the truth may be that he wasn’t thinking of me at all. Consistently, time after time my assumptions have been proven wrong since Monday. When I catch myself in a thinking error, I feel a little silly afterwards. I wonder how many of us are making the same mistakes?… Aesop gets breakfast in a few minutes, and then I’ll get ready to go to the store. Or maybe I’ll delay it for a while. I can relax and have a burrito. It’s only 50 degrees outside. Wait until it warms up.

Ten forty. I saw Karen, Angela, and then Michelle. I made an appointment for a haircut next Tuesday at ten o’clock. Karen was happy about that. The countertop at the store is definitely red. Michelle was there by herself. It just feels different from the old glass counter in the middle of the floor. Less personal somehow, more official or conventional, like all other convenience stores. Almost more regimented. I like the way it frees up space on the floor, though. It’s just another sign that we’re saying goodbye to the past. A man walked into the store with 36 empty Rolling Rock cans as I was leaving. This reminds me that my “birthday” is tomorrow: three years sober. It’s been a roller coaster, and not only for me. The world was rather crazy this year, and last year my house caught fire. Regardless, I didn’t drink. I rolled along with the punches. Some days I feel absolutely terrible, and seldom do I feel really good. But always I am free to choose my mood. I can put on different music when I feel down. And it’s good to be a member of the human race. 

Nature Replaced

Quarter of noon. When I consider climate change, I think that the spiritual stuff makes no difference. All of our religious ideas are thrown into turmoil as we stand by and watch the fruition of scientists’ predictions over the past 40 years. What are we supposed to believe now? No one seems to know. As yet, there are no generalizations for us to steer by. I can only advise people not to have children, because life on Earth will be insupportable at some point, and before then, radically changed. It is pleasant to dwell on the past, on the era of arena rock, or to read books written centuries ago. It’s nice to reflect on times when there were butterflies and honeybees, and bird life abounding. But today is not the same, and tomorrow is imponderable. Still, now more than ever we need a bard for the future. Someone must come forward and do today what Whitman did 150 years ago. There are still stars to guide us, even if they turn out to be global position satellites. Maybe we can build a “machine messiah” to be the voice of reality, and maybe it will croak “nevermore” like the raven in Edgar Allan Poe. “Computerized clinic for superior cynics / Who dance to a synthetic band / In their own image their world is fashioned / No wonder they don’t understand.” 

Utopian Effusions

Finally I perceive church as it really is, a place and time of worship, and now, worship makes no sense to me. What are we worshiping that we cannot see? And the communion, the ritual consumption of Jesus Christ. The whole ritual of a worship service seems hollow to me now. This is why I can’t participate in it anymore. Who’s going to pull the curtain aside and expose the Wizard of Oz? Are dogs allowed in church?… Vicious comments, I suppose. Pastor told me that my email to him hurt. I understand that and regret it a little. He thought about it for a long time and then suddenly showed up here last Thursday morning. I guess it’s really over for me with the church. Until now, I hadn’t been able to process my feelings about it. Am I just too smart for my own good? My mom and my brother have both been brilliant people. But you know, now that the end of the world seems to be a reality, does it make sense to divide people into the saved and the lost? How do we really feel about that now? Any one of us could be marked for hellfire according to scripture. I’d rather see the world continue through the pandemic, and human life with it. And together we can build our heaven right here on earth 🌍. Why not? We’ve fulfilled many of our other visions. You know we’ve got the power to pull it off, and yet we sabotage ourselves with petty greed and folly. Can’t we call together our greatest geniuses and put them to work on making the world a better place? Or do we have to stand by and watch it self destruct again and again? Are poets just fools, or instead should we start listening to them? I envision a great convention of poets and musicians and other sensitive artists with a heart ❤️ to lead us in the ultimate project of building a paradise for all the world’s citizens. It can be done. We shall do this in time or else all perish together.

Mental Healthcare: a Letter

It’s been an inauspicious day for my writing today. It was a dud. Well I had my one liter of Coke and suffered no ill effects except for a little hypertension. Okay, and a twinge of conscience for being reckless. I did enjoy the taste of the Coke, but was it worth the self scourging? Probably I was flirting with disaster, knowing as I do that my motive for having a Coke was submerged alcoholism. Tomorrow I’ll have a decision to make: repeat this behavior or force myself to leave it. Before long I could be addicted to caffeine again. The way this works is quite mysterious, but everybody with an addictive personality understands it. My brother has been addicted to Vicodin at least twice and kicked it, but he always returns to alcohol. My sister had a good start on quitting smoking when all of her teeth were pulled— and went back to it again. The thing about alcohol that makes it so maligned by culture is the way it alters behavior. I don’t believe that God and Satan have anything to do with it, although I’ve been indoctrinated with this nonsense so that I know it far too well. But the real mechanism of addiction is poorly understood, and whoever solves the puzzle will be a very rich individual. It is because no one understands it that people resort to religion for treatment of it. My sincere hope is that, someday, reason and science can expose the workings of addiction to the light of day, bringing us out of the Dark Ages and ending the blame and shame that addicts unfortunately have to go through. It was never a fair situation for people with this problem to browbeat them with a guilty conscience. Some healthcare professionals are downright sadistic toward alcoholics. I’ve witnessed this at the emergency room and even been a firsthand victim of it. I despise PeaceHealth and the RiverBend hospital for demeaning people with alcoholism. They also suck at helping people with schizophrenia. And as I write about this and ponder it, I think there must be something I can do to improve these conditions. The days of chaining schizophrenic people in dungeons are not over, yet in the name of decency they ought to be. The dungeons just have been given a facelift. Strangely, where healthcare professionals have failed, I find that a random cross section of people can be quite progressive and accepting of the mentally ill and addicts. So that all hope is not lost for humanity as far as keeping an open mind.