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.

After the Rain

Quarter of seven.

I saw nothing unusual on my daily trip to market, but in the west there was a passenger jet slowly dissolving in the clouds as I watched from the sidewalk. I kind of wish I could be on a Concorde headed for a place in Europe. I know it’s not realistic. Out on River Road I hear a car drag racing; some maniac driver tempting fate… I just got off the phone with DHS about my food stamps: the people are very reasonable to talk with, but the letters they “generate” tend to be rather menacing and intimidating. The very word “reasonable” makes me want to digress on a little discussion, if it works out that way. I just wonder how reason obtains its quality of humaneness as opposed to being cold calculation. For sure, the French philosophes were more than just robots, purely technical people. Those like Voltaire had warmth and humanity as well as a wicked sense of humor. It seems to me that the rationality of the Enlightenment had as much to do with the heart as the head. It took the math and science of the last century to divest reason of its meaningfulness.

Quarter of eight.

It’s another overcast morning. My dog waits patiently for breakfast time. The neighborhood crows make the accustomed noises in their own language. We made it through the storm. A song by John Coltrane enters my head, called “After the Rain.” The version I heard was recorded by Mark Egan with Steve Khan and Danny Gottlieb for the disc Beyond Words. It is absolutely beautiful.

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.