Five thirty five.
At last the dust settles and stability returns, as well as my peace of mind. Life is like the weather, a constant tradeoff of sun and showers. I was very stressed for two days. It kind of threw me off balance in a mental way, but nothing is permanent except impermanence itself. Just now the rain falls moderately from gray skies while I sit rather idly inside. It’s good to feel an absence of disturbance, and the rain is a narcotic that lulls you to peaceful reflection. Tomorrow is only Thursday: it seems like a long week already. I take a look at my maple tree in front: it hasn’t started to leaf out yet, and in general nature is quite confused. Some plants are blooming and some are still naked from the wintertime— and it was a very long winter in the Northwest. It still isn’t very springlike… I saw the mail carrier bring a package to Roger’s front door but evidently the books I ordered are still in transit from Des Moines. It’ll be nice to open the package when it arrives, hopefully before Saturday. And then I can give Gloria the neat little book, new and shrink wrapped in plastic, almost like Christmas or a birthday present. Something for Poetry Month.
The rain relents for a while as the daylight grows brighter and I sit here lazily with my iPhone. I’ve had a decent day.
Seven thirty five.
For the first time in months I saw the moon this morning. It was half full and hanging in the south part of the sky, and it was just six o’clock. There was not an abundance of daylight at the time; the air was kind of midnight blue while the neighborhood still slept. I completed my mission to the market, came home and fed the dog, and went online and bought two small poetry volumes: Amy Lowell and Carlos Williams. I think I’ll give the second one to Gloria simply because… Now the sun strives with the clouds to show itself. It’s been so long that I’d forgotten that the sky is blue. An old tune by The Crusaders runs on in my head and for the moment I feel fairly free and easy. This can change in the blink of an eye. Overhead looms a great dark cloud blacking out the morning light. A downpour is inevitable. Every kind of weather passes, and so do our moods. I’ll still give the book to Gloria.
Gloria and I were talking about the idea of the dragon in cultures around the world, so I grabbed a book off the shelf and flipped to the entry “dragon.” She liked the Dictionary of Symbols, and for this reason I gave it to her as an early Christmas present. I actually had another copy, but I didn’t need two of them. I told her that I had ordered a green ceramic Christmas tree to set up in the living room, which made her smile broadly. She said she doesn’t have much room for decorations in her home, and a big box of her ornaments was stolen: angel figures she had collected to be souvenirs of different people and places. Maybe we can do something to replace those memories… The sun tries to come out on this chilly day. It was cold when I helped Gloria out with her Shark vacuum cleaner and she put the trash in the blue bin. She’s going in for a surgery next month, so I hope her recovery is quick. Looking around my mind’s eye, I see the parking lot of Carl’s Jr. with rolling gray clouds and the reds and yellows of autumn leaves: and Gloria’s face.
Quarter after five.
It’s a thin line between Christ and Freud, rational love and erotic love, as life shows me from time to time. I believe Karen is crazy about me, though usually I am blind to her feelings. I’ve seen it in the smirk on her face when she cuts my hair. Also in her boundless generosity to me that exceeds reason or common sense. Her salon is filled with messages of love, little proverbs pinned to the walls. Everyone needs love, even a tough minded guy like me. Amor vincit omnia. Love conquers all. Karen always offers me a donut when I walk in, never counting the cost. And yesterday after lunch she sent me home with a boxful of food to last me a few days. Whence springs this inexhaustible flow of loving and giving? It is a thing not to be known, but rather to be experienced. To love is to live.
Three thirty. I got through the lengthy digression in Victor Hugo, and I actually enjoyed the last part that goes more into philosophy of religion. Just as I was finishing up, a package came for Roxanne and Aesop. But the book for Roxanne contains some ideas that aren’t necessarily very Christian, so she may object to them. I think David Burns is probably an atheist, or else he couldn’t claim that absolutes do not exist in this universe, and that no one but yourself can criticize you. He also says that justice is only relative, and absolute justice doesn’t exist. This all points to godlessness, and this undercurrent runs through the whole book Feeling Good. A reader who is not wide awake might miss the inevitable implication of heresy. I think I’ll give her the book anyway, but I’ll warn her of its religious pitfalls. I’ve met more than one person who read this book and saw no incompatibility with Christianity, so maybe I’m splitting hairs and being pedantic. More likely, my instinct for coherence and consistency is able to compare and contrast ideas and isolate contradictions among them that other people simply won’t perceive. Therefore, I should give Roxanne the book and shut up. Call it a Merry Christmas and call it good. Hohoho!
Ten thirty five. Some days make me wonder about the meaning of it all. After doing my daily shopping, I stopped by the salon and spoke with Angela, who was alone for a few minutes. I asked her how the homeschooling was going, and she said her fifth grader can’t read. Two of her kids have a learning disability. Also, Angela doesn’t understand the new method for teaching math. Then I asked her if anyone was helping her, but everyone she knows is too busy working. I felt like volunteering myself to help teach them to read, except children don’t take me seriously as a disciplinarian. They see me as just a playmate, and they can get away with murder. And then Karen arrived. The retirement home can’t let her in to do hair styling due to the coronavirus… This episode at the salon plus the phone conversation with my sister started me pondering the real utility of my cerebral life of books and music. There are very real practical problems that could use my help. The need is everywhere for help with survival skills such as reading and arithmetic. Meanwhile, I loaf around eating the lotus of philosophy and poetry. Is there something wrong with this picture?
Noon thirty. I’m so lazy and lethargic, and basically epicurean. It’s all about pleasure. If it doesn’t feel good, then why do it? My mentality is sort of like that of John Keats. Everything boils down to pleasure, and this is just like my mother. My sister is the polar opposite of her. The house my parents established long ago is similar to the Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan, and equally forbidden. “Weave a circle round him thrice / And close your eyes with holy dread.” I don’t think I can ever be converted to stoicism. Even the work I do is done for the pleasure of it. But rather than berate myself, I can share my pleasures with other people. I rummaged through some books and found two more copies of The Rationalists. I ought to put at least one of them in the book share. Today I feel lazier than usual, and depressed.
The funny thing about Descartes and the others is how irrelevant they are to a Christian society. Unamuno writes of the “man of flesh and bone,” which is a Christian, a realistic person, as opposed to the philosophers who were way out in left field. People in the poorhouse have little need for Descartes, or so it is believed. The only thing available to them is religion. But if you think about it, what if the Gideons gave away pocket copies of The Rationalists? What could it hurt to have people thinking independent thoughts about the structure of reality and God? Goodness no, we can’t have that! But due to this attitude of suppression, I’m yet more determined to share the information somehow or other. Original thought is hard to come by in a world that discourages it. The world needs a bunch of Cartesians running around.
Four o’clock in the morning.
I slept as long as I could, then finally got up a bit before three o’clock. It’s good to be home, with the big task of the weekend out of the way. I mean to say, we got the church service recorded last night, thanks to everyone who gave their time and effort. Towards the end of the summer, my poor brain was toast and I needed a break. And after all, my standing with the church is that of a foundling left on their doorstep— who happens to have some talent. A baby in a basket with a tag attached that reads, “Joe Christmas.” But a foundling or a changeling? And then I recall the poem by Yeats about a stolen child… Hopefully next summer I’ll get my cooling situation squared away. It’s going to be a necessity from now on… It’s looking like no one wants to conceive of me as a “schizophrenic” anymore, as if the illness were just a meaningless label. Well, I’m beginning to agree with them. The only catch is that I must take the medication. But otherwise I seem to be recovered. My wish is that I can use my faculties to return the favor to everyone who assisted me to my feet again. Life and love are a game of give and take. We do what we can, when we can. As if in reply, my mental ear hears the Alborada del Gracioso of Maurice Ravel.
Quarter after seven.
I ran my little errand to the book share, placing the Austen volumes plus one of Ibsen. I thought, if I were going to teach something, what would I want people to know? I added A Doll’s House for the message of personal freedom and feminism. From there I marched off to the store and bought food and a one liter of Coke. It only cost me $9.04, and I still have $53 in food stamps. The sun had cleared the rim of the land as I executed my task… The email from my friend was nice this morning. The next event is Aesop’s breakfast, followed by my cottage cheese and then bass guitar practice. I hear Roger’s Ford idling across the street, revving here and there. There he goes. My brain is playing an old song by Yes, from their commercial phase with Trevor Rabin. “I’m Running” is one of my favorites. I wonder where they got the idea for the Jacaranda Room? A species of tropical tree. Saddening to remember that Chris Squire passed away a few years ago. For a lot of fans, he embodied the essence of Yes. His old Rickenbacker ought to be in a museum. I read that the instrument was an American export called the 1999 bass, not the 4001 or the 4002. Paul McCartney had the same model. The common practice was to refinish those guitars with a maple color. They came with no binding and no shell inlays on the neck.
Eight thirty. It is a blessing not to be paranoid. People are calling the tenets of cognitive therapy “classic” now, so does that mean that they are dated? I know some people who are still unfamiliar with CBT. If something new became available, Oregonians would be the last to know… The first therapist I had was a mean sort of person. I fired her because I didn’t like her, and I was within my rights as a client. My favorite primer on cognitive therapy is still Feeling Good by David D. Burns. A lot more are available, however. You don’t have to go to a therapist to learn about cognitive therapy, but it helps to have someone to practice with.
Wee hours of Monday. Since Friday night, the weekend was rather out of joint. I hope for a good Monday. I’m enjoying Sense and Sensibility for its realism pertaining to psychology and human interaction. Jane Austen makes me think of Kate, even though that happened long ago, when I still drank a great deal. My past seems a continuous whole to me now, not bifurcated into drinking or not drinking. Funny how I had to cut my brother loose. Everyone considered, his voice was the most poisonous.
Four forty. Aesop stayed in bed while I got up to write this… Now we’re both up. Today I’m going to place a couple of books in the book share on Fremont Avenue. I have too many books, and duplicates of books. This morning it’ll be two volumes of Jane Austen that I don’t need. Her stuff is always a favorite with the general public. I find it often prescient of the tenets of cognitive therapy, especially gray thinking and overcoming arbitrary inference. The latter is also known as jumping to conclusions. Seems to me that I put a book in the little birdhouse recently, but I don’t even remember what it was. I should make a regular habit of donating books, because I know I’m only going to buy more. I catch the first glimmer of the predawn gray sky, if it isn’t my imagination. The sun rises officially at six thirty. It feels chilly in here with the windows open…
Five forty. I have no other big plans for today. The high temperature is forecast to be 85 degrees. The sky lights up, a greenish glow in the east. One purple cloud. It’s good to be out of the murderous heat we experienced for a few weeks. All the food I purchased Friday is now gone. That’s an excuse to go to Grocery Outlet again. Generally I feel that I am releasing the past, even my education— except for what I can use. As already observed, no one else believes in Freud anymore. And even cognitive therapy is gathering dust. What’s to be the next big trend in how we interpret the world? Will it be intelligent or instead a ridiculous joke?