The Backwards Traveler

Back in the nineties, there was a commercial for Target on tv that used “Daydream” for the music, and the video showed the Grim Reaper doing good deeds on his day off. He rode a huge bicycle through the fields, carrying his scythe etc, but he did things like putting the fallen bird back in its nest. I thought it was hilarious. I also liked the commercials for Foster Farms chickens, which you had to see to believe. I betcha that YouTube would have those videos if you go searching.
Some days are more difficult than others regarding losing my parents. I think it’d be neat to have a retro movement to the nineties, when people were in much better spirits than today. I feel kind of sorry for the kids born around the millennium, the ones called the millennials. They don’t remember the previous century. It’s as if a great dividing line existed between then and now, but it’s a false situation, totally contrived by the numbers and our superstition about the new century: the predictions of Nostradamus in his series of verse prophecies called The Centuries. Whatever. The method he used, I think, was astrology. Different editions of his stuff were sold everywhere in bookstores and even in grocery stores during a ten year period from 91 to 01. I bought four of them out of a weakness for crazy ideas, but never read them through. No one would have to, because those ideas were spread by word of mouth. Similarly, the world would see a lot of things from Carl Jung, William James, and maybe T.S. Eliot, and yet not know where it was coming from. Advocates of Intelligent Design theory additionally used Aristotle to support their belief in teleology.
I don’t know. I think the world needs to get back to basics and put away ideology for a while. Give it a rest and just live a little. Chill out and listen to good music. Like Supertramp on the radio that I heard this morning: “Give a Little Bit.” When I hear “The Long Way Home” I remember the cafeteria at my junior high school, sitting at a table with Tim Wood and some other guys, just trying to survive the system of education away from home. We were in seventh grade with a long way to go.
Sometimes my sack lunch would have a meatloaf sandwich with ketchup. Leftovers from the night before. Boy those were good!

Espoir

Eight o’clock.

All I can write about is my lousy cold, and that’s pretty boring. Well, I did do something a little different this morning on my trip to the convenience store. As I was leaving, instead of walking through the lot, I turned to my right and took the sidewalk along the storefront to the road, then turned left, thereby keeping to the sidewalk the whole way. This way I’m more protected from traffic entering the parking lot. It’s really small potatoes to observe this, yet it made me feel like something was new and different in my life today. Like yesterday, the skies are overcast and gray, and they keep saying rain but it doesn’t come very much. Lisa said it would be one of those days because the delivery driver has gone missing: he simply disappeared with all the groceries; no one knows where he is. Already this morning, a few customers have walked out when they couldn’t get what they wanted. And on the sidewalk by N Park, it looks like a car plowed into the barrier structures surrounding a gap in the concrete; they’re lying there in a heap of kindling. 

But as testimony that some things are still normal, my lavender rhododendron is in full bloom and will be followed by the pink one. Roses and rhodies constitute symbols of endurance and love of life when everything else goes off kilter. Add to these things an old John Lennon song, “Nobody Told Me.” Keep rolling through strange days with a hopeful heart and a spirit of adventure. Courage and curiosity keep us going. 

…All Possible Worlds

Well, tomorrow is another Gloria day, and we said she would take me to Bi Mart for the fun of it. I guess I can make a little list of items to get while we’re there. Things for hygiene, maybe. I’ll think of something. But the real reason I want to go is to see some familiar faces at the store and kind of take a stroll down memory lane. Bi Mart is like a time capsule, a place that resists change if it can help it. The same staff has been working there for years and years. Many senior citizens go there to shop, or anyway they used to. My parents and I moved here in 71, and the Bi Mart was already a business. When you think about it, old people are quite amazing because they have such a long memory and have seen so much in their lifetime. This morning I looked back 40 years to when Rush was still on the radio. I was on the sidewalk of Maxwell Road trying to visualize the old days of being a teenager, but it wasn’t easy to do. Changes come and they are incontrovertible. Reality is implacable and doesn’t give an inch before an individual’s imagination, his dream of happier times. Then again, long ago Carly Simon sang that these are the good old days. We could use some of her optimism today.
The same thing is happening today on WordPress: just no enthusiasm to read stuff whatsoever. So, naturally my mind wanders back to when I actually had fun with my life. The last time wasn’t so long ago; it was when Aesop and I lived in the trailer after the fire, and in the fall I’d go to church with my heart full of hope and optimism, and not an ounce of cynicism. I had trust and faith that everything would be all right for me. Also it was before covid came along, and then a series of disasters. And Pastor’s mood grew a lot darker, and the wheels came off of everything after that.
The question is how to restore that old optimism and faith that sustained most of us up until the time of the pandemic. I can remember some of Pastor’s sermons from before the dark times, and they were really pretty good. Once he talked about the “glad game” of Pollyanna, which was like Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide: everything that happens is for a greater good down the line, and events are always for a purpose. Another expression for this is “teleological,” a belief that Aristotle held, and also Hegel much later. Leibniz argued that “this is the best of all possible worlds,” and God always chooses it for us from his infinite goodness.
So I wonder what happened to all of that in only three years’ time? And I think it’s a case where remembering the past can be quite useful in picking us back up again…

Reformation

Ten thirty five at night.

I woke up from my nap at nine o’clock with a desire to hear Burt Bacharach once again. So I found the CD in a stack of them and played it, thinking of my last love interest six years ago. What I really miss about her is not only her intelligence but the full range of her emotions, like a piano keyboard. She was not a severed head at all but could actually feel something. Since we separated, I’ve met many people who are impassive and cut off from their feelings, the things below the neck, that come from the heart and the gut. This stolidity might be the result of being too religious or maybe immersion in this age of electronics and cyberspace. People are becoming more mechanical than the machines they use, but the only ones who can change this condition are human beings themselves. “As long as we see / There’s only us / Who can change it / Only us to rearrange it / At the start of a new kind of day.” A few people lately have said what I’ve been saying for a long time: we need to get back to basics and experience life like biological beings again: emotional beings. Get ourselves back to the Garden, as it were. We are stardust and golden. It’s time to turn away from our apocalypse. 

Keep Rolling On

Nine twenty.

This just hasn’t been my week, but now it’s almost over. Before I got out of bed, I thought of a few songs by The Police that put me in a better mood. It could be that the philosophy reading depresses me. My poor Stratocaster sits in the same spot disused for many months, so maybe I’ll try playing it soon again. It’s hard to stand by and watch the death of rock and roll in our world. Any attempt to revive music is a good thing for our souls. Music also bridges chasms between people who disagree on everything else. And maybe reviving it is the key to our own revival.

Ten o five. This morning’s weather is cloudy and dismal. Everyone seems pretty wrapped up in themselves lately. It’s difficult to make a connection when people are so self absorbed and every person for herself, but I keep trying anyway. Am I just hypersensitive? A long time ago I was a narcissist and believed the world orbited around me, but today I feel insignificant and unworthy. I could either keep trying to make friends or withdraw into isolation. I could be a flower pressed into a book, shelved and forgotten about for the rest of my life. But that’s not what I want for myself. Somewhere there must be a niche for this ugly duckling to be understood, a place yet undiscovered… 

Awaiting the Sun

Seven thirty.

I feel nervous about a couple of things today, but everything passes and all shall be well. The sky is dark gray again, making it dubious that we’ll ever see the sun. January 17 is MLK Day, a good thing to be reminded of. I used to know someone who shared his birthday, and now I notice that King was another famous Capricorn…

Quarter of nine. Thanks to the holiday, the road workers had a day off so I could get to the store okay. I saw a driver taking a terrible chance crossing Maxwell Road. If he had misjudged by only a second then he would have been T boned in the middle of the intersection. I’m actually glad that I don’t drive a car anymore. It’s just too dangerous, and people in their cars are so impersonal with others; so selfish and competitive… It seems like forever since we’ve seen the sun in the sky. Cathy said it’s taking a break. I do see a band of peach on the east horizon. Does the human world assimilate to the landscape or the other way around? Shakespeare believed that nature is sympathetic to affairs in the social world; for instance the thunderstorm in King Lear the night Cordelia dies. The Renaissance was an amazing phenomenon. Even more amazing if we could revive it and be reborn as before. 

Chill

Nine o’clock.

My day is off to a pretty good start. I opened the front door to go out and found two Amazon packages on the top step. So I told Aesop that Santa Claus had been here. And then I hoofed it to the store like I do every morning. Last night I finally settled on a book to read, some stories by Paul Bowles. At one time he was my favorite writer, but now I’m not sure why. I must have perceived things differently 15 years in the past. It was before I met my cyber friend in the UK… I’m not repeating the Coke again today.

Ten ten. Aesop refused his dog food again. When he gets hungry enough he’ll eat. I have a friend who’s doing volunteer work for her local library right now, so I cheer her on. I feel I should be pursuing my music ambition in the community. I’ll make it a resolution to do that. My writing is sort of floundering lately, I don’t know why. I may be uninspired. It’s difficult to size up the attitudes of the age today. Some people are bickering over religion, but I’ve grown tired of that dispute and try to move beyond it to something more constructive… The writing of Bowles can be rather gruesome in places, but he’s always perceptive, albeit pessimistic or even hopeless sometimes. If no one else likes Paul Bowles, then I’ll claim him for mine… It’s a day of cloud cover and a bit of a chill outside. I’m thinking screw it, everything is going to be all right. Futurity is never a sheer wall you have to climb. Every second arrives effortlessly with the potential to do something out of your comfort zone. 

The Light

Quarter of ten.

I had to brave the elements to get to the store a while ago. Just rain, but it came down steadily and I needed my umbrella. I can’t think of anything really interesting to write about, so it’s probably time to read a book again. I feel haunted by some memories from four years ago, when my sobriety first began. It could be a good thing because it makes me reevaluate the church and my involvement in it. Sometimes the idea of God feels romantic to me; we’d all like to be loved and understood perfectly, and forgiven for our misdeeds and faults. We want to feel provided for. I only need a fresh perspective on the same stuff. It was nice to sit in the pew behind Sandi yesterday and gab with her a bit. Everything is in a state of upheaval while we try to figure out the tone of the times, and eventually it’ll happen. Someone will be brave and lead us back to something like normalcy, and I’m just along for the ride with everyone else. A lot of us are sick of the cowardice we observe all the time, when we know that only strength and courage can save the day, given a ray of hope… The rule for some people is “misery loves company.” If they can’t be happy, they will ensure that no one else is happy either. This policy is toxic, and when it comes along, you have to cut it out of your life. Another hero like Martin Luther needs to appear and reform our little church on Maxwell Road, or else I won’t be interested in going there anymore. Maybe there’s something I can do to help bring about a change for the better for Our Redeemer? I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Quarter of eleven. The rain continues and there’s not much light outdoors; and yet I feel that there is hope like a phantom sunbeam running through the world. Follow this light and all shall be well. And the light is known to us by the name of Christ. 

Peace Pipe

Eight twenty five.

My trip to the store was kind of nice, though the day is very dark so far this morning. I haven’t seen Roger outside of his house for several days, so I wonder what could be wrong… I just saw him go out in his old Ford truck. When I was walking down my street I thought of Victor Hugo and what motivates me to read. A large part of it is the aesthetic beauty of the book’s cover and manufacture. It’s a pleasure to hold a beautiful book in my hands and absorb the printed words on the pages; almost like a romantic relationship or a marriage of true minds. A book is a totem for me, and everyone’s life is a book… I dreamed about my old psychiatrist last night. He wanted to meet with me for a chat about current events. He had changed a great deal since I knew him. Sometimes I dream of his first office in the Minor Building downtown, such a long time ago. I’d like to get in touch with him because I care. It might be good to make my peace with him and bury the past.

Nine thirty. I like to puff myself up with libertarian pride, but now I’m not sure what is true. Just a lot of intellectual pretense, probably. Roger’s Ford came chugging up the street and stopped short of his driveway. I wonder if Alice has been sick… I left a message for my former psychiatrist. If he has time he may return my call. This would make my day. 

Love’s Evolution

Ten ten.

The title theme to Untamed World, a tv show from the late Sixties, returns to my mind like it was yesterday night. This is what reading Jung can do to me, though it doesn’t feel bad to bring back the archaic, both in macrocosm and microcosm, like the tadpole to the frog. I suppose the psyche does contain all of evolution in itself, as the embryo of a chicken looks no different from a human embryo. My dog just lapped his water down to the bottom of the dish and poked about in his dry food: animal logic is not far removed from that of people… And yet progress of the individual is good, and the idea we call freedom of the will. I guess the question may be, Towards what does the individual person progress? You leave your mark on history and politics, hopefully to push the envelope of freedom and justice a little further. This is the spirit; then when everything is done, the materials of your body are recycled in the circle of life. It is the whim of fate whether your words are remembered, to say nothing of your deeds. So what is the point of it all? “Rejoice, rejoice / We have no choice / But to carry on.” And not to forget that love is coming.