I evaded getting rained on with good timing. I wanted to buy Gloria a Snapple for her break this morning and a jerky snack for Aesop. Otherwise I might’ve blown it off and stayed home where it’s dry and warm. Just now it’s raining in full force. I feel pretty good at this moment. A garbage truck for a service not mine just rode by. Whimsically, the sun comes out while the east is charcoal. It will doubtless rain soon again… I saw nothing unusual on my trip to the store; just a guy doing some work around Randy’s old car lot. I wondered if he was the mechanic whose business was supposed to start up by now. I also wonder how he’s going to transform a wrecked old shack into a thriving garage for auto repair. It takes money and work to realize dreams. And it takes the cooperation of other people who believe in you. But first you need belief in yourself, or no one else will believe either.
If you should go astray
And say I lost my way
Nobody will know you
But if you don’t believe you can
And still say, Hear my plan
Somebody will follow just because it’s free
Quarter after nine.
I’m watching Aesop since giving him the sedative prior to his appointment. I’m not very happy about our project for today, but at least Gloria will be with us. Yesterday I really wanted to drink beer but I settled for writing about it. There isn’t much else to say now.
We got the vet visit over with. Today, Aesop seems to be a little bit mad at me for his ordeal, though his appetite and everything are fine. Finally I can take it easy, just breathe and be at peace with life… I think of things that happened years ago, but the years themselves are a blur and mostly forgotten due to daily drunkenness. My biggest regret is losing my lady friend in 2017, just after I started going to church and got serious about recovery from alcoholism. Somehow I think she felt more comfortable with guys who drank. She’d been married to a moderate alcoholic, and his brother had died from alcoholism. To her, it was normal. My own brother used to say, Live by the sword, die by the sword: but I wasn’t ready to die. I was only fifty. So I went through a little personal revolution and stopped the suicide. It’s baloney to say that it’s your duty to drink like your friends or family. Use your own judgment and choose for yourself what’s best for you. The others may accuse you of narcissism or whatever, but it’s bogus reasoning. Life itself is given to you only once. There’s always an alternative to self destruction. We all have more options than we admit to ourselves, even drastic ones. But it isn’t wussy or cowardly to save yourself from certain death.
Quarter after eleven.
I feel kind of tired and a bit anxious in general. Maybe I shouldn’t have called my sister on the phone. She has inflexible opinions on everything… I’m watching the squirrels in my backyard while Aesop pouts by the glass door. What would make him really happy?
Nine forty PM.
By now I realize that I’d love to play nineties jazz fusion with my friend here locally. It was an ambition I left behind when that style went out by around 1996 and all jazz converted to acoustic instruments. If we can get it to take off in Eugene then maybe I’ll be spending less time writing and blogging, which is all good with me.
Quarter of eleven. Perhaps it’s me who has inflexible opinions as to how much is possible?:
With happy thoughts and a dash of pixie dust, anyone can fly—
It should be a mellow kind of day— interrupted suddenly when Aesop barks at someone in the street. I entertain the hope of jamming with other musicians again now that I’ve heard from Mark, the drummer who lives in the Friendly neighborhood. We’ll have to work around my transportation issues for a while, but I really want to make this thing happen. Inspiration can’t come from hanging out by yourself. Nothing can be made from nothing. Until we get together, I might try to pick out a few lines by Jaco: no amplifier; just playing dry, me and the fretboard. I was never very good at music theory, and always had to rely on my ears and my instinct. For this reason, I was better suited to rock than jazz.
Nine thirty five. The weather is again very cloudy and glum. A good day to put on my thinking cap and ponder what’s really important to my life. A good day for mind over matter and making progress. To put aside inhibition and intimidation and try a little harder.
Ten thirty five. Unplugged, I figured out most of “Teen Town” by Jaco. I feel like I’ve accomplished something I wouldn’t have tried before, a great feeling. It came to me more easily than I’d expected. Like something that was meant to be.
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…
Sat down to read “Fra Lippo Lippi” again
And by my chin-hairs understood this time
That God is in the details, Lippo says,
In every face and body part of life.
If soul’s not there, it isn’t anywhere,
And Lippo is a liar— have his head;
A painter is supposed to all portray
In order truth to daub, to underscore,
Discover Form from form, by piecing patch
Together on the canvas Jesus’ plan—
Immanuel alive in all to see:
That everything that lives is holy Trinity.
Nine twenty five.
It is strange to be standing on the bridge between two contrary ways of processing information, the realistic and the romantic. Usually I’m dedicated to the first mode, but then something can happen to plunge me into the primitive, a place of considerable power if not light, like the plunge into Arthurian murk and legend. I had a friend once who gifted me a book that took a serious perspective on the island of Avalon where Arthur was supposedly buried. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed about that: how could anybody confuse a myth with factual history? It was similar to the efforts of some people to search for the remains of Noah’s Ark, the locus of something miraculous that happened. Conveniently, the miracles we hear about took place remotely in time or in place or both. It’s convenient because it makes the truth impossible to verify, to either prove or disprove, so our imagination is free to float in the haze. This condition is anathema to the logical positivists, who subject statements to logical analysis. If a statement refers to nothing empirical and realistic, it is empty of meaning and not worth consideration… When I was younger and more susceptible, I imagined that what the ancient Greeks believed was true: that poetry and music were inspired by the Muses, which in modern thought meant the Jungian unconscious, or for the Romantics, a nameless Power of creativity. Sometimes I still get a glimpse of that old style of thinking, though it makes me uncomfortable to go there anymore. It means surrendering control and letting myself be possessed— but by what?
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 interior cosmic and vast, the hope
To resurrect Mallarme’s voice, the scope:
Ellipses... numbers, stars I scrawl;
Toward the universe we crawl.
The instruments of darkness know
This universe in verse is so;
But instruments of darkness? No:
The uncanny takes no part of Fall.
To drink in hate and spit out love:
Alembic guided by the Dove;
The reason flies, impelled to shove,
Imploding time beyond recall.
I got as much sleep as I could, then finally resigned myself to getting up for a while. I read a depressed post by a fellow blogger and tried to leave a comment. Now it spurs me to think: what are the most inspiring words anyone ever said to me? Off the top of my head I would cite “Free Will” by Rush. Second to this I would say Don Quixote, and “Existentialism Is a Humanism” by Sartre; and maybe Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico della Mirandola. Anything that lifts humanity from the primordial slime, both collectively and individually, is a great thing. I can’t agree with those who recommend groveling before an angry God. To kneel in humility to a so-called superior defiles the nobility of the human spirit. We are meant to walk upright, not on our hands and knees like a beast… One more inspirational work: The Crucible by Arthur Miller. To be a martyr for the truth like John Proctor is the acme of man’s pride and power. The essence is integrity, and standing up for what you know to be true. When the rest of the world has ingested wormwood and gone insane, and if you’re the last sensible person on earth, you have only yourself to steer by. Against the odds, the individual still owes it to himself to be honest. And he will come out victorious, free, and happy who adheres to his truth.
Five thirty five. But there’s a flaw in my logic above. John Proctor ends up dead! He gets hanged for his truth. The example I should have used was Howard Roark in the book by Ayn Rand. Never trust the poet. Trust the tale.