The Absolute

Quarter after nine.

If I don’t play the bass with the church for Christmas Eve then I have no other gift to give them, or nothing else as valuable. My situation is like that of the Little Drummer Boy: “I have no gift to bring / Pa rum pa pum pum.” Vaguely my mind ponders the idea of the Word made flesh, the nativity scene with the Lord as a newborn baby, and the whole mystery of Christ. Four years ago I went for Christmas Eve worship and the turnout was very big. A beautiful young Croatian lady with glittering dark eyes and two boys almost as big as she was sat down in the pew behind me. Pastor was really in his element that night, very confident and officious, but also enjoying the moment. At the time, it was a new experience for me, so I didn’t criticize it so harshly, and moreover it was before I started the Vraylar medication. 

If the desire to believe is strong enough, can a group of people “drag the dream into existence?” Will reality yield to human fiction and make our wildest dreams come true? And then I remember the poem by Robert Frost, “Love and a Question”: the bridegroom wishes he knew the absolutely right thing to do; and this is the revelation that everyone craves. Because, human beings are a moral species and we seek the truth like characters in a drama in search of an author. Perhaps religion is itself a science of morals, which would be the supreme knowledge of nature; we want to know, like the bridegroom, what we ought to do. So we turn to the night sky, where the “stars expound our conscience,” in the words of the old Yes song. 

Written at Night

Ten o’clock.

I tried to rest in bed for a few hours, but my shoulders hurt when I lay on my side. Only now does it occur to me that my electric bill is going to be higher because of the air conditioner. It was kind of fun to walk to the market this afternoon in the 90 degree heat, although I saw almost nobody else on the streets. It was a ghost town in my neighborhood. The sun beat down out of a cloudless sky like the blonde assassin of the Dickinson poem. I didn’t stop at the salon today, and proceeded straight to the store, marching mechanically as a Capricorn robot on a mission. When I arrived, I found Cathy wearing a light summer dress, while Hank hid his baldness with a baseball cap like always. I purchased a peach Snapple tea and a peanut butter bone for Aesop and then went home. On the sidewalk I hugged the inside, close to the fence, just in case of reckless drivers who might lose control and run off the road. Home again, I gave Aesop his treat and watched him enjoy it while I quaffed the Snapple. My mind was quite occupied with the inevitable questions of each day, but right now I feel more relaxed. Like Robert Frost, I have been one acquainted with the night: the time after the sun goes down soothes my hyperactive brain and all things are settled. I think I’ll stay up a while longer and simply chill out. 

Defogged

Six twenty.

Imagine no limits. There’s band practice today at three, and the weather is supposed to be nice. I dreamed last night that my mother was trying to stay sober. It made her a basket case, and she had to tell everyone about it. Thinking of it now, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with her anymore. She never would admit that she needed help with her mental health. I guess that’s kind of like a person I know in my life today, and it’s sad the way he’s come to cope with his problems. Like everyone, he’s a very nice guy underneath it all, and just needs some guidance. Maybe I can be the one to do that for him. On the other hand, perhaps I’m trying to shoulder too many burdens and be an emotional caretaker for other people. I could just say screw it and mind my own business.

Nine o’clock. It’s foggy outside, rather dense, and later it’ll be partly cloudy. I may be at a point where I can be peer support for other people with mental illness. Wait and see how things go. This afternoon will be a test for me. I want to do the right things, but knowing what is right is never easy. I keep thinking of “Love and a Question” by Robert Frost: does nature prescribe moral absolutes, and are they knowable to us? Frost was skeptical of that, while Emerson was more optimistic on the whole issue. I don’t mean to prejudge my day ahead, but I anticipate that it’ll be quite difficult. I hate worrying about stuff. Maybe treat the future like a throw of the dice and deal with the aftermath as it comes. Every decision has unpredictable consequences. But it’s better not to just flip a coin. We have to use our best judgment.

Ten ten. I just took an ibuprofen and simultaneously the sun is coming out. As the fog lifts, my head clears a little and my mood improves. All is not lost, and I can trust myself to judge rightly and fairly. “The sun will lead us, our reason to be here.”