Quarter of nine.
Today’s weather turns out quite pleasant. You can see blue heavens and the sun, and even a gibbous moon in the southwest, so faint it looks like another cloud. Two squirrels played together on the trunk of a tree outside Steve’s house. A scrub jay screeched and a Canada goose honked in solitude an hour after sunrise. The lavender rhododendron is blooming, and there are buds on the pink one and on the rose bush. My dog Aesop has had breakfast and a snack of doggie pepperoni. For her 30th wedding anniversary, Lisa said she’s taking a three day holiday to the coast with her husband. I said hi to my neighbor Jeff but he didn’t hear me, being absorbed in some job. Crossing N Park took a little time, as I had to wait for five cars to pass. A solo recording by Pat Metheny begins in my brain, “Fallen Star.” It’s very beautiful but very sad, and it reminds me of loneliness. Perhaps it’s a loneliness that everyone feels deep in their soul. It takes the union of woman and man to be whole and perfect, as Lawrence wrote in a poem I read many years ago. Once we were self contained, but became separated into two sexes. This isolation is torture…
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…
Quarter after nine.
Everything is wet from overnight showers. Out on the road, I had to skirt a big hole in the ground while watching for traffic. I’m glad my little trip is done for today, though I enjoyed seeing Cathy at the store. My sleep last night was troubled by unpleasant dream thoughts that don’t really translate to conscious thinking. I guess I’m just worried about small stuff, but I should probably call my sister to make sure she’s all right. I have no ingenuity to offer right now. I feel like a yo-yo swinging between church and my private notions of what’s what regarding ontology and cosmology. I don’t really believe in the idea of sin and the necessity for a savior. And while my beliefs make me feel happy, my life is very lonely. I feel more and more like an alien locally and on my blog even though I have red blood like everyone else… Church worship begins with confession and forgiveness, but if you don’t believe in sin, then there’s nothing to forgive and nothing to confess. Why should we feel humiliated with guilt and shame, cowering down to the invisible that is actually void? Human beings have a lot more potential than that…
I’ve called Polly this morning and we talked for over an hour. I offered to have her call me in the evenings when she feels lonely. Like me, she spends a lot of time by herself and could use someone to talk to. And after all, she is family.
I just remembered an old acquaintance of mine who had trouble making friends when he got to be older. Now I compare myself to him and see some similarities. I’m 55 years old and beginning to look my age. My little trip to Barnes & Noble felt like a failure, and it’s easy to get depressed over that sort of thing. A person gets frustrated and a little angry when there’s a roadblock to friendships. I noticed how tiny the philosophy section was at the bookstore, with only one shelf dedicated to atheism and agnosticism, whereas the religion shelves sprawled over a good portion of the floor. Nobody knew me, so I wound up a wallflower sitting alone in the cafe. But this doesn’t mean I’ll give up on my project… I think I understand my dog’s behavior better now than before. His brain is wired for duty instead of his desires. He believes it’s his job to protect me and guard the fort. When I tell him “you have to,” he does what I command… I saw two house sparrows make overtures to mating outside my back door, but there was a third bird that came between them, then they all flew away… My friend Bill finally did find a companion, but since then we lost contact. I kind of miss the old guy today.
Quarter after six.
I tossed and turned and groaned during the night. I don’t know how I feel right now but I’ll be glad when the holiday is over with. The whole thing with the supernatural is so difficult to swallow, and it’s childish to believe it. Funny how an entire tradition is built around the idea of something beyond the physics that defies logic. Sometimes I want to read certain books of the Bible again, maybe Jonah and Job. What is the belly of the whale image really about? And it’s the mythic image, I suppose, that gives us an insight to metaphysics.
Nine o’clock. Too much caffeine for too many days. But the rain has stopped. My taxi is coming between nine thirty and ten to take me to the pharmacy… I learned in school that any argument must be supported with evidence or else you don’t have a leg to stand on. I’m in a mood just to look around at the sensory world today. The effects of faith will be seen in the holiday decorations everywhere, but in themselves they are indifferent. Faith is a strange thing.
Eleven ten. My errands this morning are finally done. The cabbie kindly waited for me outside while I got my prescription, then drove me home. As we cruised beside the railroad tracks on the expressway, I looked out at the clouds and thought wistfully that this was the same town that my parents knew. But the kicker is that it’s really not the same at all, and what I experience now, I experience alone like an orphan. I went to the store afterwards, where things were more familiar and yet still strange. To drink again might restore my old identity, but I’d be so out of touch. Better to have my finger on the pulse of the here and now than to wind up in trouble somehow.
Quarter after eleven. I was feeling hungry, so I had my lunch. So many things are gone and so many things remain. Here comes the sun again. Sometimes I have bad dreams about falling off the wagon, but whether I do this is up to my ego to decide. Much of psychology is still pretty Freudian, like when we say that the beer jumps in your hand: it happens without a conscious will, and in fact comes from a bigger unconscious will. It’s like Schopenhauer’s vision of reality two hundred years ago, possibly still valid today. The sky is now mottled blue and white, while it’s yet cool outside… I guess it’s feasible to overthrow the paradigm of Freud and the thinkers who inspired him, and cognitive therapy is one way of doing this. Do people really operate on the pleasure principle, or is that just a myth?… The phone just rang and my dog went cuckoo. It was my insurance agent: my life insurance policy is all set… I can’t find a subject worth writing on right now. What is spirituality to me? I don’t believe it’s real.
I miss the summers when my apple trees produced so much fruit and my sister would come over and help herself. Particularly I remember August 2012. In the afternoon I would drink Rolling Rock from a plastic cup and go out in the backyard for a few apples to munch on. My pug had been put to sleep in July and I was without a dog for a few months. I kept myself company by writing my journal and emailing my friend across the Atlantic. Otherwise I felt like I didn’t exist in my solitude. And I suppose that in a sense I really didn’t exist without the validation of other people. Something about the atmosphere today is a cue for memories from years ago. Perhaps the quality of the light is just right. And just maybe in an alternate universe, the past is still present, and what I recall is still reality.
Quarter of three in the morning.
I wasn’t sleeping well tonight, so now I’m up for a while. Maybe now I’m done with trying to be Sigmund Freud, so it’s time to put myself back together. Recently I noticed some white whiskers in my beard, and together with my crow’s feet and worry lines I look rather old. It is very frustrating to grow older and feel so lonely and hollow inside. Either way, alone or with somebody, is a trade off as far as my freedom is concerned. I was never very good at compromise or even sharing with others. The worst that anyone could accuse me of is selfishness, but you know, my lifestyle might be enviable to some people. Remaining without commitments and responsibilities entails that I am comparatively free as the wind. I don’t have a wife to tell me I can’t play in a rock band. Has life passed me by, or is my maverick behavior paying off? I wish I could find a psychologist who is worthy of my case; but on the other hand, therapy is often more about the clinician than the client. I just don’t want to arrive at my deathbed with the regret that I missed something.
Sometimes solitude is just solitude. It is not heroism or freedom, but rather the pathos of loneliness. I could deny it with a false bravado, but the honest truth is more like Henry James: being alone is a sad condition.
I finally got up after having a dream that refused to make sense. Now, Aesop is up as well. I’m quite convinced that he understands most of what I say to him. It would be odd and frustrating to comprehend language but be mute like a dog except for barking and whining. It looks like a cloudy day ahead. The sprinklers have turned on, startling Aesop, so I tell him this is normal and it happens every day now. The music in my head is poignant: “Long Ago Child” by Pat Metheny. I used to listen to New Chautauqua when I was a senior in college. In the summertime I felt very lonely, so I would go to the bookstores to hang out and try to meet people to talk with. There was just nothing to do during the summer, and no one seemed really interested in talking about abstract things. Everyone’s mind was on the matter, thus I would be very disappointed when I came home and read a book by myself or listened to music… The little market is open now. I could go buy some foodstuffs anytime, if I wanted… One remedy I’ve found for loneliness is the activity of writing. This is like Henry James, keeping himself company with thousands of pages of his own prose, but which he shared with the reading public, to his great acclaim. How would it feel to be awarded the Order of Merit and then be buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? Did he still feel lonely or was he at last fulfilled? And do I really want to live a life like Henry James? Well, on certain days I don’t have much of a choice… Later today I’m going to DDA for a meeting. I’ll get to see a few people, and the most interesting ones are often the cabbies who drive me there and back. I think I’ll go buy a Snapple very soon, and take a look at the neighborhood around me.
Quarter of eight. Now there is sunshine through the heavy clouds. Michelle was distracted by her cell phone when I was checking out. As I was standing in line, I saw my image on the monitor and marked how stupid I looked: a bald guy of average height with poor posture and a clueless expression on his face. Just an intellectual geek caught on Candid Camera in a convenience store at seven in the morning. Otherwise I noticed nothing out of place. Crossing N. Park on my way home I thought again of Henry James, of his loneliness and the way he often went to dinner invitations to hear stories from which he could fashion new fictions. Music: “A Day in the Life.” Aesop looks at me and I tell him 49 minutes till his breakfast. It is good to be understood.
Quarter of noon. The sun wants to come out. Now I reflect on the cyber friendship I had with Kate in the past ten years. I did all that on a Dell desktop computer, but today I can’t stand Windows operating systems. I only succeeded in being intimate with a machine that used me as much as I used it. And mixed up with the whole scenario was big time alcohol abuse, so truly there was nothing substantial about my daily life. I floated a mile high all the time. The saying used to go, “Kill your tv.” Now it ought to be, “Trash your computer.” When I had an office job, one of our computer consultants was a strung out tweaker, and my boss had a lot of problems. I think I regret the years I spent working with office machines. Maybe I’m on the fence about that. Sometimes on Friday nights I would get plastered and listen to The Police with my computer’s visualization app, tripping out to “Tea in the Sahara” or “Walking on the Moon.” It was a complete waste of time, but I guess I was very lonely and unhappy.
Quarter of one. Rebecca will be calling me very soon. I’m in a rather cynical mood today. It’s no wonder, after hearing that my identity was stolen.
Two thirty. Now it’s trying to rain, which would be fine with me. A UPS truck was just here but I didn’t get my package. On a day like today, a half case of a good beer could really hit the spot. However, drinking beer is not something that worthy people do. I feel a vague longing for something or someone, while an old song by Pat Metheny, “Fallen Star,” caresses my mind. I have DDA group tomorrow at one o’clock, so I can anticipate that. It’s true that alcohol is a depressant, but it also triggers endorphins and makes you feel good… Or anyway, it used to be a wonderful feeling to get a buzz on a tasty beer. But behavior becomes unpredictable when you drink. That’s why the Greek god of wine, Dionysus, was capable of being so brutal as well as amorous. Yet why should a person suppose that a state of drunkenness is somehow truer than sobriety? And for this reason, perhaps the tradition of the old Greeks may be set aside…
Three forty. It’s been a different kind of day. The quality of the green daylight appears somehow unusual, and it kind of soothes my nerves. The air inside the house ought to be cleaner since I replaced the furnace filter yesterday. I could almost go for some strawberry cheesecake ice cream from the little market.