Still and Soundless

Quarter after nine. This morning is exceptionally beautiful, all decked out in autumn colors over a backdrop of clear blue sky. Fallen leaves litter the streets everywhere, soggy from recent rain. Vicki was in a good mood, and I was the only customer there at eight thirty. I had the whole neighborhood to myself. A couple of times I stopped and looked around me. The world may take a while to get its bearings after yesterday. Things will shift and change with the transfer of power. The blogging community will be different. The transition is comparable to the face that nature puts on, shifting colors and shapes like Proteus. The landscape feels like a vast place, illimitable even by the blue sky, the dust before black space takes over. Through it all, the silence roars. No one dares break the spell. I stood alone in the parking lot and took the measure of the universe. It was very still and soundless, waiting for something while I watched. And yet all is right with the world, today and every day henceforth… I spent over $13 on foodstuffs for Aesop and me. I bought two Snapple teas, against my better judgment. I know the caffeine interferes with my sleep, yet I crave it for some reason. My dog scarfed down his breakfast, even though it was nothing special. He was hungry. I should call Bi Mart about getting a night light for my outdoor walks… I just have the sensation of being able to breathe again, and soon the world will breathe with me. If it doesn’t, then maybe I’m in the wrong blogging place. It won’t be doomsday. Life is mutability. Everything passes like clouds across the moon, including ourselves, and the changes are unpredictable. This is the beautiful part of it. When we can accept it, we become true adepts at the process of living. 

Home Quiet

Eight thirty five.

The trees have all changed color for the fall. I saw two skirting the market parking lot with burgundy leaves. On my own street, I turned and gave a backward look: much red and gold on either side. In addition, the leaves are well into the process of falling. It’s predicted to rain early this afternoon, continuing into the night. I plan on going to Bi Mart after one thirty today, but I think I’ll call a taxi. Round trip should cost about twenty dollars. That’s what money is for. If you don’t spend it, then it just sits there useless. In itself, money is a valueless fiction. I noticed a new publication on Amazon this morning: the Black Books of C.G. Jung. I felt tempted, but then I remembered why I’m leery of his stuff. He tends to be ethnocentric. For this reason, I always prefer the mysticism of American writers, specifically Emerson. He was passionately abolitionist at a time (the Civil War) when it really counted. Emerson also could be humble in his quest for wisdom, always open to new possibilities and input from people.

Nine twenty five. It definitely felt like rain on my hike to the store. The gray clouds boiled and swirled overhead. There isn’t much light outside for the overcast. It’s the kind of day for staying home and being quiet. Tomorrow I have physical therapy again, with Erin. I neither dread nor anticipate the session. I had some strange dreams last night, inspired by a book I almost bought. Because they were unpleasant, I canceled my order when I got up today. I met with nobody when I made my trip. At eight o’clock in the morning, it’s a ghost town. But I did see a handful of cars at the espresso shack drive thru. There were a few signs of life. And then there was Vicki… 

“The Camera Eye”

Quarter of three in the morning.

In my sleep, things were beginning to click together regarding the significance of fall 1989. I really like Montaigne and the mental attitudes he stood for. At first they hit me as counterintuitive, but often this marks the phenomenon of learning. I had forgotten what it meant to be “objective” in my thinking, or impartial like an encyclopedia. A lot of facts without bias or strong opinion in any direction. This was what I took home from studying Joyce and Montaigne in those three months prior to my mother’s surgery for cancer. There was also unity in the diversity, which came down to the fact of our humanness… Anyway, I could sleep no more for a while, so I got up. It was such a beautiful day yesterday, the deep blue sky hinting at the blackness of space behind it. The bright red seeds of the magnolia have been popping out recently. The same Ravel music is running in my brain, alternating with Stravinsky. I feel quite recovered from the illness, but I still have to learn self motivation. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to. It’s for the greater good.

Quarter of four. I don’t need to watch the video of last Saturday’s service. I remember it fairly well without seeing it again through the camera eye that never lies, let alone flatters. I’m not as vain as I used to be. 

Have a (Snapple) Day

Ten ten. Karen gave me a ride home on her way to Silver Lane on some business. I also got a donut. My trip to the store was just okay. I heard New Country music coming from Darlene’s old house as I walked by. A few places are really decked out for Halloween. Before I left from home, I found an email from Pastor asking permission to use a Romantic poem I wrote a while back in his newsletter. So I replied that that was fine… Overall, this month for me has been a time of uncertainty and of figuring things out. I’m only a faithful reporter of my experience, not a panderer to people’s tastes. Thus it isn’t all pleasant or unpleasant, but rather a realistic mix of both. I’m having a peach tea Snapple and kicking back. Aesop is probably bored with sprawling on the carpet, and maybe someday we can go for walks around the neighborhood. I just hesitate because he is so aggressive toward other people… The book of Montaigne shipped earlier this morning, scheduled to arrive Friday. Also on Friday I’m doing music with the church. They’re right: it’s not good to be cooped up at home, pandemic or no.

Eleven forty. The good news is that fall is happening in spite of the wildfires we saw in September. The smoky air on that particular Monday was traumatizing, such that it was hard to imagine nature coming back. We still need more rain, but November is usually quite wet, even stormy. The autumn is only a third of the way done. My red oak turns its leaves before the maple tree does. Taken together, this fall season is proceeding somewhat normally. The sun is shining amid great muscular clouds, and the face of nature looks friendly enough. 

The Rain Is Gone

Quarter of ten.

I feel pretty good this morning. It helps that it’s raining here today. It’s a sign that Nature is not damaged beyond repair, and the seasons continue in spite of human abuse. I sent my poem to Pastor; he replied that he really liked it. I guess what I need to do is let go my memories of my Scottish friend and my psychiatrist, those unromantic people from the old country. Of course I miss them, but they happened years ago. Suddenly I remember Christmas Eve 2017, a big event in church because of the non regulars who came for mass. One of them was an exquisitely beautiful Croatian girl who sat in the pew behind me with her two boys. Her eyes were black and shining and the children were almost as big as she was. Also I remember how Pastor was really in his element for Christmas; he led us through the ritual without a bobble… I checked the forecast: rain for the next three days, thank goodness. The chance of rain goes down at around noon, so then I’ll go to the store.

Quarter after eleven. Well now I’m going to just be myself. I am not Wordsworth, let alone Shakespeare, so why pretend? And yet Romanticism is a lot of fun to play with. That’s just it: we’re being irresponsible, like children playing a game. Our job is to save the ecology before it’s too late. There’s only us and nature, so we’d better realize the fact and act responsibly.

Noon hour. The rain stopped, so I went and bought a loaf of bread and two Snapples. I saw Melissa there, who used to work in the deli. On the street I met Harry. He commented that there was no rain. Then he queried, “One day at a time?” I told him I wasn’t drinking anymore. Afterwards I smiled inwardly at his reference to AA practice. Now the sun comes out here and there in chinks between the clouds. In the home stretch on the return trip, it occurred to me how light everything was, how clear and plain. One home was modestly decorated for Halloween: skull and crossbones on the front door, and a row of gothic headstones before the house. As Harry had observed, there was no rain. 

What the Rain Said

The promised rain arrived tonight at last:
Rejoice and sing the rhythm of the rainfall,
Assuring us that everything’s all right,
Our trespasses forgiven as Nature sweet
Bathes all of us alike in equal grace.


If Nature of the godhead is the mask,
Then praise the Power invisible and true,
Sublime Supreme ineffable in prose,
Grand subject for the poet in the abstract.


The rain intensifies; the voice of God
Outside in blackest night is manifest
In simple feeling, nothing intricate
As logic splitting hairs, a blind man’s bluff.


And when the daylight dawns, I’ll go outside
And dust off my umbrella on the porch
Forgotten through the drought of longest summer
Now pierced, and pick my path into the day.


And as I walk, umbrella in my hand,
The drops of rain will beat a little cadence
Resolving in a mantra that will say
To always cultivate your intuition:
Imagination is the only way. 

Reading, Thinking, and Living

Eight twenty five.

During the wee hours this morning I read the opening chapters of The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth. I found that it offers much food for thought concerning things like economics, technology, and progress as opposed to conservationists who would stop the self seeking and save the Earth. My knee jerk is to remember the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous where it criticizes the attitude of our having conquered nature with science. Their answer is to regress to the primordial ooze. My own question is, How far can human history progress in a straight line? Wouldn’t we do better to live cyclically with the seasons, the way Native Americans once did? Wouldn’t this harmonize better with nature? Maybe these questions are not so silly as they seem. I suppose I watched the original movie of Planet of the Apes too many times. The inevitable aim of technology is self destruction. This was the take home lesson I gathered long ago, and now I’m reevaluating my assumption. The consensus appears to be something different. Faith in science and technology may be okay after all.

Quarter of ten. There’s a heavy fog in the neighborhood. It isn’t very warm out, so I’m waiting a bit before going to the store. Hopefully I’ll see something new in the market today. Life without variety can be pretty dull. My pen pal wrote me a long email this morning that I really appreciated. She suggested that I might’ve outgrown the church, and that church was there when I needed it a few years ago. I agree, the congregation was very kind to me, and I am thankful to them… I can’t believe the kind of dreams and nightmares I have nowadays. They seem like someone else’s imagination. Surely mine isn’t that sophisticated? I seem to be still processing the problem of evil in human life since revisiting Macbeth last month. I’m not the only one working on it. Pastor is looking for an antidote to darkness for his flock. Everyone has been decimated by every event starting in March.

Quarter of eleven. I guess I’ll walk off to the store now. Life might give a few answers… 

The Bell

Eight thirty.

The rain is supposed to begin late this afternoon. My mind is a blank except for the last chord of Mark Egan’s “Waterfall Cafe.” Like a spontaneous burst of purple fruit. Intoxicating and wonderful. It’s all that remains to me of my drinking days, just a nostalgia of heavenly bliss. I used up all the bread and salami I bought on Sunday.

Quarter of ten. I stopped and chatted with Karen for a few minutes. She told me that business is slower due to inflation on groceries and everything. People don’t have any money for hair styling. My own experience had belied her opinion— until I got to the store and paid $4.79 for a burrito. But still, some things are going up while others are not. I don’t pay much attention to prices anymore, and I never carry cash. If I obsess over numbers, then I get triggered to drink. The flow of currency is equivalent to the flow of alcohol as addiction overtakes you and dashes you on the rocks. So, I avoid quantitative thinking like the song of Sirens. 

I hear a squirrel on the roof. Yesterday afternoon was insane with the activity of squirrels, jays, and sparrows competing for acorns. They were busy at it until nightfall. The natural world is confused just like the human world. Their habitat is being destroyed, so obviously they move where the food is. Tomorrow morning will be the ringing of the church bell in observance of the firefighters and others affected by the wildfires. My pen pal remarked something romantic concerning the bell; it’s a symbol that people are a collective. It reminds me too of the novel by Iris Murdoch, wherein the church bell betokens Christian love that reaches back many centuries. The bell rests at the bottom of the lake, sleeping deep in the human psyche. Then one night it is dredged up, dripping and slimed with algae, and restored… I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll attend the church bell ringing. It’s a long way to walk on my rickety hips and knees. Maybe I’ll be offered a lift home. 

State of Nature

Five o’clock 🕔. I made my trip to Grocery Outlet and bought some very fresh foodstuffs. The dry salami knocked my socks off, and the banana peppers were super hot and tasty. I ate about a third of the loaf of sourdough bread. On my way to the store, I figured out who the real tyrant was: it was Pastor and the church. Now that I’m free, even food tastes better than in the chains of Christ. The full rainbow of colors is again available to me. This afternoon is quite beautiful, but the air is still a bit smoky. My new aqua bandanna works great, so I’ll use it often and might get an extra one. The cashiers at the store were exceedingly friendly and nice, and it just felt like the beginning of my life. Part of me is a little scared to be without religion, as if I must be possessed by the devil or something. But no; this secular life is natural for me, and minus the reference point of the church, the idea of the devil makes no sense. This is my life au natural, stripped of all fictions, much like what Nietzsche envisioned. Everyone ought to be this free and pure… Tomorrow I have nothing planned except to call my sister and get some food for Aesop. Tuesday I have X-rays to show up for. Wednesday they said more rain. Other than that, I don’t know what I’m doing next week. 

Equinox

Quarter after eight. I’m preparing to go to the store, primarily to buy Snapples. I’ve been getting away from soda, out of boredom with the same old stuff…

I observed a few fallen leaves on the street. The blocked gutter at Fremont created a little pond, as usual. I heard more bird life than is typical; wonder where they’ve been all summer. There were lost coins on the pavement, and even a discarded Bandaid. In the market, Michelle was wearing a pink sweatshirt over her blouse; yesterday it was Snoopy and Woodstock. She is always kind to me. I saw Derek on my way back, and we exchanged a hello, nothing more. The vehicles were missing from his driveway, which seemed strange. I’m counting down the minutes to Aesop’s breakfast, as he begins to lose patience.

Nine forty. The damp street, as I plodded along, called to mind countless times I’d gone to church by a hop, skip, and a jump. I reminded myself that it’s been the same old me for the past three years. And yet, the self can be a vessel for big changes. And no one may ever be expected to stay the same forever. People grow and progress with the passing of time, and the natural world we know is changing too. There’s no revoking it. The universe that began as a mere point of light and exploded into diversity keeps expanding like a balloon, and everything in it gets farther and farther apart… I encountered only four people at nine o’clock this morning. Overhanging tree limbs dripped water on my head here and there. I’m ready for the fall season.