Grace

Quarter of nine.

Maxwell Road and the far side of N Park were really slammed with traffic when I was out walking. The rain has stopped for now and some sun breaks through. My feet ached with old age and the stress of using them every day, or maybe I’m just tired and uninspired. I wonder why Jung said nature is aristocratic and people are basically unequal? Any behaviorist would argue with him on that score; even Mark Twain with his idea of the Man Factory in A Connecticut Yankee, where people could be trained for any kind of job. But probably neither perspective is a hundred percent correct. Nature and nurture are fifty fifty, I heard it said by a Chinese immigrant who was drawn to Western literature and taught at the university. He was young and on fire, not like the emeritus I’d had for English the previous term…

A capitalist system gives everyone an equal chance at success, no matter how low their birth. Or that’s the theory. I wanted to be a writer. Stuff happens to blindside us and derail our plans, but often a window is opened for us to climb through. And this has nothing to do with capitalism. 

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Oregon

Seven ten.

There’s still not much light outside. Today will be quite full for me: Gloria this morning and DDA in the afternoon. I was thinking, maybe I don’t like Oregon very much even though I grew up here. For all of its blueness, it’s still a very conservative place and I hate that. I knew a white Muslim doctor who left Oregon because she couldn’t adapt to this state. Her son was persecuted at his high school for his beliefs. She took her family back to Washington DC to live. I also had a therapist who said that Oregon sucks. There are only a few little pockets in Eugene where the attitudes are fairly liberal and open. Otherwise you have to be really careful what you say around here. “We can only grow the way the wind blows / We can only bow to the here and now / Or be broken down blow by blow.” The insanity started twenty years ago, although the rudiments for it were always there. Society makes it so hard just to be a human being with the limited time we have. We can only be ourselves with an intimate friend if we are lucky enough to find one. I guess that’s why some people need God.

Eight twenty five.

My pen pal hasn’t emailed me yet this morning, so she might have had company drop in on her. I skipped going to the store this time; Gloria can take me to breakfast and then the grocery store. Agreeing to do DDA today could be a mistake. The others could make it uncomfortable for me if they learn that I am a skeptic. I’ve concluded that people generally are not very smart. 

Blind Man’s Vision

After midnight.

It’s a night of ineffable dreams.

A blind man I used to know from church wrote me to say that God and religion are two different things; and, he inverted what I’d said about seeing is believing. His statements probably affected me more deeply than I had estimated. They stirred up something in me just at the time of my birthday of recovery. I don’t resent this intrusion, really. He served only to open my sealed eyes and look upon the world afresh like an involuntary vision of a Romantic poet.

Perhaps this revelation to me is untimely, but I accept it in stride and move with it. It’s not like I don’t understand his message: he struck a chord that can either jar on the ear or lull it with sweet harmony.

The blind man invites me to reexamine everything I’d thought was settled and set in stone. The truth is that the truth can’t be captured between the covers of a book or chiseled into stone tablets. It’s a fluid thing like water, or breezy like the wind.

It Dwells within Us

I feel okay now. It’s funny; the fall season hit me hard at first but now I can remember many other years besides the crazy ones around twenty years ago. I went through a very long period as a Romantic and mystic but probably in fall of 2009 I started to move away from that. Around that time I bought The Illustrated Jane Austen in six volumes and began thinking like a common sense realist… Reading Whitman again makes me sensitive to the mystical stuff as before. Maybe I’ll stop it and read something else.

The sun went down a half hour ago. The experience of the living godhead is a very strange thing to me. I don’t know if it’s even real or just imaginary, some ventriloquy of the human mind. When you get into a zone of energy, especially with a group of people doing an activity like music or sports or something, then it seems magical and quite powerful. It’s been a long time since I felt anything like that with people. I think the mystical power is a human power that we can give off and share together— or contain and withhold it from each other. I believe that’s what is happening right now: people are very self absorbed so that the experience of spirit doesn’t happen currently.

Even John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath writes of the human spirit in an Emersonian way. It’s a power that originates with us, with humanity. We kind of project it outside of ourselves and then we depend on it; but this gives us more confidence in ourselves, our decisions, our enterprises. I’m paraphrasing what he said in East of Eden.

I guess it’s up to us whether we want to awaken the spirit of God again. William Blake said that the Poetic Genius and man are the same thing. The Romantics saw it all along. Jon Anderson of Yes sings the same ideas. He suggests that heaven is something that human beings create by the power of imagination; but heaven is no less real for this reason.

We are responsible for the future of our spiritual life because it dwells within ourselves in the first place. So that what Jesus said is true: the kingdom of God is within you.

Streets

Seven thirty.

Overnight it rained, and now the streets are wet while the sky is still gray. The autumnal feel is very nice when I’m not swamped with old memories and ideas. I can easily imagine that it’s two decades ago by some hocus-pocus of my mind, or perhaps it’s a conspiracy of my mind with the spirit of nature as in Wordsworth. But do I really believe this? The hour is only seven, yet a lot of cars pass my front window. It’s just a residential street in a suburb, so why is there such traffic here? I still toy with ideas I had 19 years in the past, when the presence of God pervaded everywhere, like reading essays by Emerson. But today is a far cry from old mysticism unless we turn it around and take God off of life support to restore him to his proper place. Maybe it’s only me who feels so skeptical these days; but I think the trend now is very materialistic and greedy as well as apathetic, like the joyless mood of The Sheltering Sky. But here I go preaching.

Eight o’clock.

In 15 minutes Aesop gets breakfast. The colors outside are predominantly gray and green and I still hear lots of activity from the neighbors. It suggests to me that someone is selling drugs on my street.

Dormant

Quarter of seven.

I’m up earlier than usual today. The market was open at six, so I went ahead with my trip. On the lip of the entrance to the lot, I paused to let a car go in front of me. The man parked, got out, and then held the front door wide open for me to enter. He was extremely tall and of mixed ancestry. I said, “Courtesy for courtesy?” He replied, “Curtsy, curtsy!” and went in behind me. It was interesting because my mind had been occupied with visions of a civil war or something over politics. I imagined my nephew polishing his guns and rooting for his wish to come true. But the reality was just this guy at the store preparing to go to work for the day… Outside, the sun still hasn’t gone above the tree line, nor does nature care about human affairs. If it did, then life would be a romantic thing, like a Victor Hugo novel, and equally pompous. As it is, life is very ordinary and pretty blah. No drama. This also means a poverty of faith in religion and whatever gives you a boost. The business of our lives goes on while God sleeps forgotten somewhere out of sight. When it’s convenient for us, we’ll wake him up again. Meanwhile, my dog has been uptight since yesterday. I don’t know why.

“Something”

Seven thirty.

I guess I’m bound for church this Sunday morning, though my motive for this is obscure to me. Logic tells me there’s nothing before or after the physics, and yet my imagination can conceive a nameless something. Maybe it’s a meaningless thing, but doesn’t imagination have an evolutionary purpose? And when all efforts at philosophy fail, look at the practical consequences of belief or unbelief. Not just practical but ethical, as when the bastard brother in Karamazov kills the old man, reasoning that everything is allowed if there’s no God… People have the power to grant or deny God existence. Now you see him, now you don’t, according to our whim, and whatever’s convenient for us. I just miss those days in the autumn a few years ago when I’d go to worship service. There was no shame or disgrace in doing this. Perhaps I wasn’t so self conscious at the time, and maybe I wanted to believe… I gave Aesop an oversized cookie before his breakfast; he’s still chipping away at it as the sun illuminates my magnolia in back, and I contemplate giving my sister a call today.

“Tender Trap”

Nine o’clock.

You can hardly see anything due to the fog right now. I’ve been to market already, shuffling along in the cold, thinking on a God that doesn’t seem to intervene in human affairs, or perhaps it’s only people who have turned their backs on me. It occurs to me that having honesty and integrity bears a price tag, though I hope in the long run it pays off. The universe would indeed be an absurd place if honesty weren’t rewarded, but then I think of the tragedy of King Lear, in which Cordelia dies after telling the truth… And yet how can I expect a reward from a godless universe with no morals? I’m not making much sense. There’s probably another reason why I avoid the church. An old song by Paul Young has been playing in my brain since my trip to the store, called “Tender Trap.” I guess that’s kind of how I feel regarding God and the whole thing with metaphysics. I imagine that I’ve gotten myself into a little predicament by joining a church in the first place. I think it’s really between me and God…

Quarter of ten. They say that time heals all wounds. There might be something to that, but sometimes it feels like out of the frying pan into the fire. In general I could be full of crap. I should just bury myself in a book and forget it all. The fog still obscures everything with an impenetrable white mask. 

New Babel

Quarter of ten.

Is there a point where the power of language just melts down and we are helpless? Like the people after the Tower of Babel, our one language broken into many different tongues, forever confounding our aspirations to climb to the most high? Or did Pentecost reverse this curse and unite our separate tongues to one language again? Perhaps it would be worth it to build a new Babel Tower to reach the very heavens. 

The Road to Our Redeemer

Nine twenty.

Some days my shots miss the target wide by a mile, and yet my misses are part of the overall journey of discovery. I believe the dartboard is movable depending on public opinion, so really it’s of no consequence to me… Owing to loneliness, I had a rather crap day. Is it a case of self pity when you admit how lousy you feel? But I was never a stoic kind of person. Band practice was canceled as I anticipated, so that means I’ll spend the weekend by myself unless I go to church Sunday. I guess I’ll write a check to God and make an appearance with the assembly. It just seems like pounding money down a rathole, because I think I’m basically an atheist— but for the human spirit, the human community. Only in my earliest memories do I feel any connection with the Jungian God, an evocation difficult to reproduce today with all my factual clutter. The connection Wordsworth had with Nature was simplistic; he had to clear his mind totally to feel the presence of the divine from the countryside. So, is it really possible to commune with a God in a cityscape of harsh angles, ugly power and telephone lines crisscrossing the sky, whizzing motorcars sending up pollution to the moon, and amid the loud hum of everything electrical? I think it was Thoreau in Walden who wrote a grotesque description of the railroad with the black beastly locomotive intruding on the natural scene. And some people argue that nature and artifice are a false dichotomy! I wonder how they can maintain that point of view after reading a book like Walden?… And so I’ll go to church on Sunday, walking the backstreets to unromantic Maxwell Road, where I might find the graffiti of the prophets written on the sidewalk.