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. 

World without End

Quarter after six.

It’s been a good day, probably because I did something different this morning, got out and saw a different piece of the community. It gave me food for thought. It’s always cool to see young people gathered someplace and making conversation together. The future belongs to them, so of course they will make it happen. I was able to put aside my self pity for a while and kind of look around in awe and wonder at the workings of humankind, providing for a future that I probably won’t see very much of. People have sounded so hopeless about the pandemic, putting on sackcloth and sprinkling dirt in their hair, wailing and moaning; and then I see these teenagers meeting the challenge almost with nonchalance, either bravely or foolishly, but definitely heroically. It’s enough to make me spit at my own shadow or the cloud hanging over my head; who cares about the aches and pains of one person who is growing older when these youngsters are our saviors? So that’s what I see since my morning excursion to River Road today. We all could stand to be a little more courageous and not snivel at the difficulties we face. Life goes on because humanity goes on, building its new schools almost like the Jerusalem that never comes; as if we don’t really expect the world to ever end. 

The Best Thing

Quarter of eight.

Ahead of me in line at the store dilly dallied a young blond girl in a red hoodie, tight jeans, and sneakers with a US flag kerchief to cover her face, although she kept letting it down. She bought biscuits and gravy and acted like a loopy clown. And then, when she was finished at the counter, she did the most remarkable thing: she looked at me and said humbly, “Thank you for being patient with me.” A little astonished, I said sure. And who was I to feel nettled with this young person with honest blue eyes and an all American bandanna?… It is clear and a bit chilly outside this morning. I should just surrender and be passive to the change of season, seize and enjoy the day, not worry about anything. I might let myself off the hook the same way I did the blond girl. I sent an email to my musical friend Mark last night. Maybe I made a fool of myself trying to persuade him to do a project with me, yet I can put aside feelings of guilt and shame. The worst that can happen is he says no. What’s the best thing that could happen? I hadn’t thought of that… As I walked west on Maxwell sidewalk I looked around for the moon out of curiosity, but I wasn’t rewarded today. There were sublunary things and events more interesting to see. Michelle told me that she’d been selling a lot of biscuits and gravy this morning. The white shirted dairy distributor guys were waiting in the wings to do inventory when the customers were gone. I was the last in line. 

Old as You Feel

Nine ten.

I was probably wise to never get married in my life. No one ever blessed me with a Midas touch, nor cursed me with the same thing. Solitude, like everything else, has pros and cons. My life has ended up being like the conclusion to Aristotle’s Ethics: that of the lone philosopher. Insight tends to be keener this way, though most people couldn’t stand it. Some lessons I’ve learned by observation, others firsthand. Addiction is a thing you have to go through yourself; no amount of warning is effective, because we never think it can happen to us. An alcoholic death only happens to other people until the Grim Reaper pops up right in our face… While I was outdoors I didn’t study the color of the sky. Looking at it now, the atmosphere is still very smoky, the sky a dirty white, and the reflection of the sun burnt orange. The transition to my new medication has had rough days mixed with better ones. My dog Aesop is really good about rolling with the changes. When I don’t feel good, he doesn’t complain. I doubt if anything will make me feel like a thirty year old again, so I just accept what is. The older I get, the more I try to avoid pain, but forget the pursuit of pleasure. Fun is for younger people. I also feel amazed and thankful to have made it this far… I’m always polite and courteous when I go anywhere. It was later this morning when I went to see Michelle and buy a few things. A pretty young lady smiled at me with her blue eyes when I held the door for her and her boyfriend. Otherwise it was just another trip to the store.

Quarter after ten. I have nothing planned for today. It’d be nice to see the blue sky a little later. Maybe I can brush up on my French; take a look at Baudelaire, cross the rainbow bridge to a different language. They say that the languages we learn are stored in different “buckets” of the brain. French may be my ticket to the Fountain of Youth. It’s worth a try. 

French

Eleven o five.

I don’t know why I’m so depressed today. Clearly if I drank beer, I’d be choosing death over life. I don’t want to self destruct. It’s hard to see the spiritual meaning of everything anymore; this is all manmade and ultimately fake. And given that, there isn’t much to live for afterwards. So maybe it’s important to kindle some kind of religious belief, faith in eternity, everlasting life. Otherwise my daily life is damn pointless, mere biology and no promise of a blissful reward. Who can I blame for this decline in faith besides myself? Is it a product of politics? Are we all going through the same thing?… It might be a thing that fluctuates like water running hot and cold. If you plant a corpse in the ground, does it sprout? We are the hollow men… Now I barely remember having a spiritual life. But just last spring I still talked of Mallarme’s poetry and the possibilities for the Ideal. 

If only my French were better!— I could take us to the Other Side. 

The Dawning: a Letter

Just a report from the wee hours of the night. I’ll be honest with you, it’s pretty terrible here. Aesop can’t stop panting and I can’t stop sweating. Outside it’s 75 degrees now but there’s no breath of air; inside it’s 86 degrees still. The forecasters are saying 111 degrees for Sunday. The worst part of this is that the summer is only beginning. Unlike you, I can’t be in denial when things are bad. I do what I can to help the situation but I don’t lie and say everything is peachy. Acceptance just is what it is. Pretense is against my nature. However, on a lighter note, I’ve thought on what the Age of Aquarius might portend for humanity today. A few weeks ago I rode with a cabbie who told me his first record in childhood was the 45 rpm of Hair’s “Aquarius” which I also remembered. Well, we’re twenty years into the Age of Aquarius now, and Capricorn progressed to Aquarius is supposed to see some changes in character.

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars ✨

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius!


I have another story about the same song. On the blackboard of a classroom in the Knight Library during spring term of 1989 someone had written the full lyric to “Aquarius.” A student sitting nearby saw it and assumed it was Shakespeare! So of course I corrected her.

It may be worth some astrological research to learn more about the effects of the new age on human behavior currently. As you know, my constitution has a weakness for the zodiac. And by the way, the Seventh House is Libra, the sign of peace and partnership, symbolized by the scales.

For a Little Motivation

Five twenty five.

Hard to believe it isn’t even summer yet. To me it feels like next autumn already. The climate has been very temperate lately except for a few days in the lower nineties. Right now the sun is just coming up. I hear the soundscape from “Close to the Edge” in my brain. It is curious how a lot of Americans disregard music from across the Atlantic, as if they didn’t understand it… I don’t know if I’ll call my sister this morning or not. It might be very uncomfortable for me if I did… I have problems with motivation, and also my body is giving out as I get older.

Quarter after seven. It has just begun to rain seriously. I got a few drops on me coming back from the store. Heather was super nice to me when I checked out. I had enough change in my raincoat pocket for a non comestible item, so she took my smaller coins and let me have my quarters. Also I got good news in my mailbox this morning. Probably I will avoid church this Sunday and just go to my band rehearsal in the afternoon. My sister said something pejorative about churchgoers who are not fundamentalist, or who don’t interpret the Bible literally, word for word. To her mind, these people are not really Christians. She doesn’t realize that she represents only one form of religious belief, and that others are equally valid.

Quarter after eight. I’ve decided not to call her this weekend… It’s different to see it dark and rainy here today; I kind of like it for a change. There’s such a disconnect between my mind and my body, and between thinking and acting: it’s almost too much to try to initiate a movement. It’s not a matter of laziness or anything moral like that at all… It looks like communication is reopening between America and the UK, if I’m not being too optimistic. And if I had the courage, I might do a Henry James for real and travel to the motherland at least for a holiday. 

Pippa / Panacea

Eight o’clock.

I was feeling desultory on my way to the market a while ago, and undecided on what stuff to get. I took my time, debating this or that purchase, finally choosing some tortilla chips and fresh pico salsa for a treat. I don’t know if I deserve to reward myself, but life has been unusually hard for the past month or so, and there seems to be no explanation for it. People give each other hell when they could just as easily love each other and forgive. Even when we have the power to build heaven on earth, we choose the alternative out of short sighted greed, lust, or some unreasoning hate for one another. I guess that’s excuse enough for me to enjoy my Doritos and salsa in peace. Now I consider a powerful poet like Robert Browning. It’s the kind of day to take a look at Pippa Passes and ponder why the girl is so happy, and meanwhile others are plotting a murder… I hope I get a call from Heidi this afternoon. An hour ago I observed the female sparrow feeding her young in that old birdhouse. The mother carries on the ritual of life just as if she had hope within her heart. Then what is it that makes human life so difficult? Maybe I’m simply melancholy like Hamlet. Why carry the weight of the world on my shoulders?

Nine o’clock. I dreamed this morning that it was my brother who stole my identity, but in reality it’s unlikely. Whoever it was, dishonesty sucks. I slept so soundly that I didn’t hear the sprinklers turn on at six o’clock. The band agreed to have a rehearsal this Sunday at four o’clock, and I’m happy about it. This may be the creative catharsis I’ve needed for over two weeks. There’s no other panacea like music. It would be really cool if we made a few good recordings this time. I think I’ll suggest it to the guys. 

Airborne Things

Eight forty.

It’s another sunny day, already 61 degrees out. I’m going to feed Aesop before I go to the store this time. That little market is open every day of the year. Sometimes frustration and futility get the better of me and then it’s tempting to drink my life away. But the wiser self usually rules my choices and my actions.

Quarter of ten. In the blue sky I saw a newsroom chopper flying westward and also a jet airliner leaving a vapor trail. There was a peppering of small white clouds to the east. I again thought of the poem by Mallarme about the azure sky and how the heavens drive him a little crazy. I could fish out my book of his poetry and try to make some sense of the French… It was Michelle at the store this morning. I said I was feeling kind of depressed and she thought the vaccine had something to do with it. My food credit is down to the last 15 bucks, but it’s no problem. Today will be good for ice cream later on if I can manage a second trip over there. The burden I bear almost constantly is guilt and even shame at times. Some people are very nice about my shortcomings but others think one size fits all. “Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the loonies on the path.” Of course I prefer the ones who accept me as I am, not those who only see how I am deficient in something. I’ll never be perfect. Even if I were, some people would still take a dislike to me… Occasionally I see a bird or two flit across the yard in back. I observe a lot of airborne things, floating, gliding, and flying, like the seed pods hovering in the breeze, seeking a place to take hold and grow. Hope is a thing with wings.