Thursday, April 12, 2018

The day starts out with the familiar chagrin.  Time to write.

Let's see, yesterday, down to see my therapist an hour early so she could make her own doctor's appointment, and then after draining myself in such an appointment, a slow walk down the long blocks from 20th and on to 25th to the Trader Joe's for a good deal on olive oil, almond butter, meat and other basics.  By the time I tramp back up the hill to the Spanish Steps, sometimes hot, sometimes cold, with the weather and the sun in and out of clouds, I'm exhausted.  Put away the groceries, the wine an IMF guy from Rome told me I should try, onions, chicken breast, ground beef, spinach, fresh mozzarella, and then off to a heavy nap.

For a writer to talk forty five minutes to and with a therapist is difficult.  You'd want to talk about what you're writing now, and you allude to it, but if you want to keep writing, you better keep it private.  If you talk it, it will vanish away.  Every writer knows this.

So, you talk about the things on your mind, things that are weighing you down, things that are up in the air...  things that make you feel sad...  You avoid, as much as you can, the subjects you are writing about, even how it's going.  On the one hand you are obliged to tell her that you've regained your sense of better purpose, that you are writing.  But even to tell another person that it might be going well can be lethal to the processes.  You shouldn't have said anything, but you probably did, even as you tried to address it as obliquely as you possibly could.

But funny, that the tree pollen should take your energies away.  A walk should be good for you.  Seeing the therapist should feel good for you.  I was glad I didn't have to work that night, my usual Wednesday night, the second jazz night of the week.  There seemed many reasons to go straight to bed, physically, spiritually, mentally, psychologically...

You know when you have the energy and the moral strength to write.  Therapy, however, can leave you feeling weak as a kitten.  And in this weakened state, as I rested, then later at night after I'd gotten up, cooked dinner, watched TV, obsessed over old cycling films from the 1970s, Hell of the North, about the race from Paris to Roubaix over the old cobblestones and WWI fields, one about Eddy Merckx, riding my old Bianchi on the trainer stand as I did so, I felt an old weariness seeping in, making me feel rather sad.  A feeling from the past that has stayed with me a long time.

The chagrin.

Up at my mom's, cleaning her kitchen at night, she's gone upstairs to her cluttered bed to sleep in front of the television, I listen to an NPR piece from the podcast Hidden Brain entitled The Lonely American Man.  Which basically tells you, as you knew all along, that the male of the species, he too gets swept with emotions, swept up, bowled over, a very rich personal life of emotions and responses and the like.  Things a boy or a man might try to express in some way, in art if not in person.


I'm too tired even to write this.  Who wants to be, you know, overly sensitive...

But writing is bit by bit, piece by piece, a foothold, a toehold, a fingerhold, up you climb.  And sometimes you have to stop and catch your breath, maybe reflect a little bit, who knows...  It gets you dirty, and it stresses you to go through certain passages.  Just like climbing a mountain.  From the perspective up on the side of the mountain, sometimes you do not know which way to go, up or down.


I explained it to her, without taking up much of her time, about the writer's dilemma.  Perhaps getting back into writing with a fresh start after visiting my old holy mother and all her crackpot bookish life, my DNA, was the subliminal reason I'd gotten confused with the time of day and missed my appointment.  I'd missed it because I'd been focussing on writing and a new state of good health.  As if I was making a choice to explore my states of being through my own writing rather than through sitting habitually in an office for forty-five minutes figuring out what to say, little family gripes, life problems and career stuff and mother stuff with a kindly young woman professional...

And to reflect, I had made some gains writing, I thought, anyway.  I'd sensed, finally, the Void the Buddha talks about.  Writing made me feel better, giving me a sense of purpose...  I'd been chipping away at my theoretical modeling of Jesus as a writer and the writer inspired by Jesus Christ.

But what is it, in your own experience, that makes you feel down, that makes your back curve and your shoulders slump...  A familiar feeling, and people train it into you, and it becomes a habit, so that when they see you, rather than being kind, they say to themselves, "oh, this guy...  let's bully him a little bit...  because we can... and it's fun, sort of..."  A feeling that makes it hard to receive help from other people reach your potential.

And all the while when people, young folks, are taking this habitual way with you, there is something inside of you.  While you long for kindness, you at least know justice and just behavior.  Which in some cases provokes silence as a response.   Passivity.  Sacrifice.  Spiritual explorations...

If you could understand, better, that one thing hanging over you, a sort of perceived mistreatment (and maybe you largely misunderstood it, being caught in the great confusion of the romantic modes of youth, boy meets girl, country boy, city princess), than you could stand up a little straighter, not walk around with a subtle shame hanging over you, having its way with you whenever it wanted to.  Then you could think of the success of Jesus Christ casting out such demons and all things which make you freeze, shy away, lack the confidence to take up without quavering and angst...

So that you could say to your fellow beings, "you know, I want to help..."



The human being is a wonderful instrument of writing.  Whales would write if they could.  Writing is a celebration of humanity, shared, self-owned, accompanying....

Take the beam from thine own eye...

As far as we could tell, as far as my own individual state of mind, my therapist and I determined that my own bad feelings toward myself and within myself had something to do with, as the Dr. described it, an instance or instances in which "she treated you like a low-life."  Whether or not "her treatment" was in anyway justified on its own would be at least somewhat apart from its psychological effects, for what it undermined, what it contributed to, all the ways it made me feel negatively about myself...


Yeah, how could you not feel like the biggest idiot walking around half-aimlessly after a therapy session.  How could you not feel like the biggest stupidest idiot sitting around, awake at an early hour with time to spend somehow on something before you gather up yourself and your things and find a way to work and then work your shift.  How?  Downtown, people are busy with work, or out to lunch, or walking back to their hotels.  They belong.

Then walking back from Trader Joe's with two paper grocery bags and a bottle of Greek olive oil in my courier bag, it's late afternoon and people are out exercising.  Past the closed swimming poor building, school has just gotten out.  Walking across the pasture below the P Street bridge a man is walking an energetic dark English Bull Terrier bitch puppy, and a young woman with a ski team jacket, Whiteface, gives me a sympathetic smile after her initial look at me as she passes downhill to join a man by the stream facing away, smoking, who then hands to her what he is smoking.  A pretty girl skips across 22nd at Q Street and a bus goes by, and you feel low and out of place and weighted down.  Good for you for not taking a cab, but you're getting tired now, and you have to cross Massachusetts now, and then the hill gets steeper.  The boring routines of men of middle-age trying to take care of themselves and live simply within their own means...  No wish to do anything social now, but just absorb the therapy session, tired out and in need of a nap.  Relief at the top of the hill, all level ground from here, new sidewalks.


The Susumaniello wine my friend has recommended me, from Puglia, is not my tastes.  And nor is the five dollar Chianti, though at least it is dry.  I get on the bike on the trainer stand and sort it out.   Pour any wine over ice with a wedge of lime, a splash of soda water if necessary...

The assessment, the judgment, upon any writing cannot come from others.  Thus is it a bit demoralizing to be in a position of looking for approval from another person.  And so it is when I sit there in an office, wondering out loud of it's worthwhile to continue with my own disposition toward writing, as far as mental health goes.  The judgement of writing is placed in where it comes from.  One learns this and the confidence will follow.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Jesus drank wine and communicated with ghosts and spirits.  Wine was not a sommelier thing for him.  He communed and communicated.  Ancestors, wisdom, the deep spiritual depths...  It was a way for him to relax, to calm himself.  Wine was simply palatable or not.  What mattered was that it was a spiritual beverage, a clear sign of God's covenant and His support of human joy, not just work all the time.  Wine was a way to quiet down certain humanified parts of his mind, to return to nature, the birds, the trees, the water, the ground, the smells and feelings and all that of the communions not visible to the eye.  Wine was going home, and even sometimes almost like sitting at the left hand of Abraham.  Sometimes it made you sleepy, as with all things, good and bad, but...


They wouldn't have known what to do with him, of course not.  Maybe it's not so much that they were bad men, trying to trip him up, simply, though there was a lot of wickedness in their behavior toward him, but that they did not understand him.  He was too much of a genius for them.  It wasn't his original intention, by any means, to be a genius, to confound grown responsible men, and he strenuously avoided doing so.  Go and tell no one;  just let me teach.

And a teacher is always generous with people.  He's not there to make them feel stupid, to tell people they are wrong, no.

When he gets into lesson mode, he speaks in parables and with thoughtful phrases aimed at the ignorance, the closed habits of their minds.  There's that Pharisee in the third row, aggressively stupid, and Jesus turns him around with the story of the Good Samaritan.

And he's teaching what needs to be taught.  We don't need algebra at this particular point, we don't need grammar or a science lesson, we need the true real pith of opening up minds, to relieve them of the burdens of ignorance.

Live the simple life of a teacher and you will be okay, and everyone will be okay.

And this particularly says a lot about the kinds of empires that try to rule over us and tax us, (which is done in many ways, sometimes by fostering the greed of bankers who make so much money they leave the rest of us workers behind) govern us.   Let a bad man have too much power, look out...

Everyone gets so hyped up about the perfection of an incorporated system, that's the time we need a Jesus Christ.


(Still, they don't know what to do with him.  What would he have thought about the whole religious structure built up in his name?  Okay, sure, thank you for keeping my words and deeds alive, but, you know, keep it fresh, keep telling parables, keep on people being ignorant, hard-hearted, evil by not being good, by being covetous, etc.  It's about the spirit of teaching, not bowing down to an authority who has a more direct line on my suffering.)

Writing is not a convenient thing.  It's distantly akin to the rugged troubles that prophets go through meeting with burning bushes and God's voice on mountains, with traversing long walks to find disciples.  The timing is not convenient.  That it does not pay is inconvenient.  That you need another job to support yourself is inconvenient.

Of course, it goes without saying, it was a terrible burden upon the man, Jesus Christ, and probably all those around him, being so sharp and feeling all things so mightily.  Maybe being amongst publicans and sinners was a relief for him, from being a prophet, a special one, high strung.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

But slowly, but actually as long as I can remember, it became a different age.  Men wore their ties not simple old school like Bobby Kennedy or Eisenhower, tied straightforwardly, but there came to be a crease just beneath the knot, as if suddenly men wanted to show off that they were strong as well-dressed European power brokers, king-pins.  And at the same time, slowly, again, and unnoticeably, the smart younger generation, intellectual, clever, up to date, began ending their statements with the inflection of doubt or question, as if to ask, "am I right?" even when they were stating known things that they had studied and reached conclusions.  And also at the same time, people interviewed on television on news shows suddenly adopted manners of speech like "look..."  or "listen."  As if all had been given a handbook about how to communicate effectively, as in a 'winning friends and influencing people' sort of a guide.  It was like everyone was talking dumb to each other, or putting on a show with ties even more powerful than respected men of good upstanding behavior from the days of good and decent men.  Something creepy was going on.  And many were participating in it, or affected, or effected, by it.

It all reinforced the notion, to me, anyway, that a lot of things had become a show, and that since substance and quiet ties and even statements from intellectuals who had carefully considered everyone but seemed to have no final convictions, and a new kind of pandering showmanship on the part of trusted journalists, that all this opened up the path for the great showman, the great hollow man, the great profiteer posed as flag-waving patriot.  And it was all disgusting.
Hmm, and it is a relief to not have to put on the act of sommelier...  the extra work of talking up wines...

The day starts with mom calling.  I'd risen, around one, after being up in the early part of the morning to write, then going back to bed for the second half of sleep...  I've retrieved some cold green tea and gone back to the bedroom to get my iPhone...  We chat for twenty minutes or so, each on our cell phones, each struggling to hear the other, my voice dry and cracking still, and mom lonesome.

"Girls just want to have fun."  And I am too boring for girls who just want to have fun.  That's the truth.




But then, after thinking all this, you then stop and say, okay, thank you, mind.  Thank you for thinking all these things about my psychological make-up and all such things that one might approach through logic.  Thank you, mind, I will make due note of what you say, and I will go back to trusting my heart for what matters and for the things that I might "should" be doing...

Being an earthly representative of Christ and the Saints and the Prophets before them, the writer works through peace, through a tranquility that almost has to be guessed at, existing, like the physicists models of reality, in theory, and therefore real by being proven not wrong, a useful model.  And in his quiet place, a fortuitous thing will happen, and the true mind will stop with its mutterings of complaints and received ideas, and start to again to do its work.

A flock of birds, twenty of them or so, cedar waxwings, have taken to the great old Elm tree over the neighboring yard with its magnificent crown rising evenly over the yards.  It is in blossom now, and the birds flick about, in a gentle and relaxed fashion, sociably pulling with their beaks at the fresh leaves in the afternoon sunshine, plucking their sustenance.  Remarkable they appear through an old pair of binoculars in perfect focus, their markings observed in fine detail, the mask around the eyes, the tiny bit of crimson tucked away in secondary feather, their little oriole-like caps.  And the writer calls his mother on her landline, as she has always encouraged my birdwatching.  I am tired still.

Peace is vital.  Peace is the message itself.  The birds have peace now in the Spring.  Their movements from branch to branch might remind one of thoughts sent by nature through the mind, alighting here and there, plucking the fruit, the berry, the blossom of thought, not needing to know anything specific or particular, just the balance of nature, as they themselves balance, winged and comfortable, supported just so, even as the most modest of slowest of breezes sends a ripple through the lake-surface of the leaves.  The writer is always at peace, in order to do his work.

I go check on them, and the waxwings are still there.  They are quiet, a peepful song whistle, a calm bird.  The robins have joined the scene observed in the back yards, ruffling along the ground, in the leaves, the camellia blossom petals half fallen now.

It is the artist's prayer, of daily bread, that inspiration and revealing things will come through the everyday routine.

Even without a pattern, there is a pattern.

Back from my mom's, my work schedule at the bar was off and on.  I'd worked an impossible night, not my usual, Friday, a downstairs wedding buyout, Saturday expected to be back for another beating, be given the night off, was still dragging when I came in for Sunday night, another wedding party buying out the main floor of the bistrot, then back for Monday jazz night, and then, the kid wants to switch with me, so, I do not need to show up for the usual Tuesday night wine tasting I'd been doing, placed in charge of, for years, and will work instead Thursday, and then Saturday.

At then of the night, the gypsy swing in my ears all night, poked, and prodded, big bodies moving about behind the small bar, the waitress hovering over her cell phone by the cash register computer terminal, the bull in a china shop busboy who likes to do, and does, everything fast, and then the waiter from downstairs up to deal with the back room, all in and out.... toward the end a retired couple, he, a retired IMF economic scholar, she, in public relations and event planning, German, organized--they organize wine travels in Europe, and he writes a wine blog--mention a tasting of Finger Lakes wines down at a new wine bar down on 9th Street.  And I consider giving it a go, but by the time I get things organized the way I, at least, would like to find them tomorrow, and eat my calves liver, blue, reheated in the oven, with spinach, pepper and red wine sauce, it's getting on that hour of not being worth it.

The Uber driver who picks me up, a deaf man, picks up one young woman down in Georgetown, and then another on the West End, and then, gratefully and tired, and not having been drawn into anything too adventurous that turns out to be just another snare and a delusion, I just take off my clothes, brush my teeth, not even bothering with any wine, and go off to bed and lights out.

But it is tempting, after you've been knocked around, and this is your job anyway, hustling over wines by the glass, wines by the bottle, sparkling wines, whites, ros├ęs, seven reds by the glass, dinner to be served, three courses, professors and administrators in the back room, aye, you get thrown off, and think, well, maybe I should, since this appears to be my profession, and let's go see what the young and mighty are up to down there on 9th Street.

The truth is, on a Monday night, despite lavish visions of industry people meeting up over Finger Lake Cab Franc, a list of quirky interesting wines, the place would surely be packing up anyway, and I've been on that side far too often, 'we're not keeping you, are we?'   And bed feels very good, and so does sleep.


Logic tells you to go one way, breaks down the issue.  The heart tells you other things.  Logic tells you, "it might be good professionally...," and then, "but it might be too late."  And then the heart, also talking to you, and more lasting, and truer, "first, get home, and take care of yourself, there are dirty dishes in the tub in the sink," and then, after waking at the odd hour of just-before-dawn, fearful, and anxious and different shades of heart-sick, as happens to the nervous creatures who write, the heart asks, "but what good can you do in the world?  you're not doing anyone much good, maybe, are you?"  And the heart must answer itself and say,"hmm, you have a good point, you might be quite right."  But then the heart brightens, and the head, with its logic, keeps up with all this, as if both were hoping for the same simple calm, as if to say, "hey, it's okay, take the day off;  sufficient in the evil thereof."  The heart brightens, and praises you for your simple good decision not to confuse following the Christian path with going down to 9th Street and ending up spending money you don't have and too late anyway.

And, more to the point, the heart says, now that you are displaying, at fifty three years of age, a certain maturity to take better care of yourself, and this notion of "fun," a misleading one, be damned, what you can do now, really, is "be not afraid."


What good is there to do in this world?  Is it not good to find the simple way to assuage fears and anxieties and heartsickness, and an ache in the left arm?  Is that not a lasting good thing?  Well, cheer up.  You were nice to people.  They were brave enough to come see you, and you did your usual thing of treating them well and calmly, friendly, a little chit chat, a little wine to taste...

The head of logic comes back at you then, maybe, a little.  Good in the world, this is done through actual work.  Like school teaching.  Like, being a cop.  Like, being a lawyer.  Like, being a professional, as the professions are the thing that help the world.  Sore tooth, go see a dentist.  Terrible rash, go see the doctor.  Etc.


But the heart is always going deeper, and it has a need to speak up, even just tiny, even if just very faint and distant.  The heart needs to impress upon its own logic.  The still small voice only the prophet can hear.  The heart must itself convey the terrible struggle an Abraham or a Moses must go through, as one of its lessons, one of its athletic skills.

And there is fear.  There is always fear.  And shyness.  The human being of flesh and blood wants to hide, out of shame, when God's angels voices come calling.  The human, so low sometimes, so mistaken, so capable of murdering and then saying, "my brother? no, I haven't seen him..."

What have I to write today?  I have no special inspiration.  I've cleaned the big green Crueset dutch oven casserole of the beef tomato red wine onion ragout the idiot made the previous early morn, leaving it in the oven at 250 degrees to cook slowly, the sides caramelized with a dried reduction residue, after transferring the contents into a pyrex dish.

But isn't that funny.  "Be not afraid."  As if to say, maybe you are not quite so far off as you might think.

Your habitual sense of your own strangeness, having always been taken as a kind of individual, private, an eccentric stuck stubbornly in his own ways... your saintliness hidden in occasionally loutish behavior and other seeming irresponsibilities...  that sense of your own strangeness, private, and individual, that too makes you feel a bit afraid, always having to bridge the awkwardness to other people.

Poor Jesus Christ:  I have to walk over the water to go see them again.  They're going to think I'm strange again.  But I have to do it.  I have to do it this way.  Sure, they'll be frighten, agitated, confused, not comprehending.   But that, precisely is my little test for them, and let's see how they do with it...  The teacher, rabbi, cannot help it.   Wist ye not I was at my father's business.  Ye of little faith. 

And the usual startled reaction to Him, He would have come now to expect... remembering His own town people wanting to throw Him off the high hill...

He has his mysterious ways.  He lets us think outside the anxious traps we have fallen into.  Isn't that how you get adults to learn, by taking down their panic concerns.

And that He does so, is quite touching.  It reinforces the lesson.  That He would risk being such an oddball to come approach us like a ghost, doing that which is just about as strange as you can get, walking around on water.  The guys, the men, the human beings, the mortals on the boat, they are more important than he;  He is just a teacher, and they are the ones who have to live in society and make a living to stay married and have their families, and keep a bank accounts.  Whereas He is noble, different, undefinable, as much a mystery as quantum physics is.  How sweet and beautiful and richly funny it is that these people, the people of his time actually had the amazing and broad imagination to register all this that He was saying, first of all, and then even begin, as they really did, understand it.  Remarkable!  It's even like an afterthought, the miracles, the loaves and the fishes, the hearings...  The miracles were, are, secondary to the powers of His teachings and the commensurate powers of normal people like them, like you and I, unchanged, unchanging for thousands of years, the same creature endowed with the same "godlike" powers.  Completely amazing people, they were, stopping to listen, to ponder, to record even, the Sermon on the Mount.  Amazing.

Nowadays a writer seeks fame, an agent, publicity professionals and grooming editors, marketing strategies, as if life itself depending on such things.

But this Jesus Christ guy, you sense He is breaking free now, He is opening out himself, after years of absorbing wisdom and marking His place...

Jesus should be able to open a wine bar anywhere.  And be sort of like Dionysos, sitting calmly, the pirate's tethers having loosened, and now grapevines climbing the masts and the sail beams, and wine flowing from vessels.  Clientele would not throw him off.


And so, how do we ourselves accomplish good in this world of ours?  When there are such masters as he, and even such masters as those who, like Peter, or anyone with eyes and ears, just not those professional urban urbane nay-sayers who are supposed to be doing the job, yours and mine, when there are such masters, where and how do we, in our time, in our own times, begin?  How do we go and begin and take up the work which is good?  How do we hold ourselves up to those standards, which seem themselves so impossibly high that we've already broken a thousand times the commandments of them, sinned so many a time, as if to be stuck being permanently irresponsible, no way to start fresh over again, clean, renewed into a non-sinful way...


But Jesus... now that is faith and confidence.  And no one to bring him down with worries.  He walks on water.  Maybe this makes him hard to deal with.  But who else can you turn to, sometimes.

Monday, April 9, 2018

It wasn't a busy night... There was another wedding party downstairs.  They were all along one long table downstairs, there must have been thirty of them, and they were just getting their entrees when I came in the door after my walk through the woods.  Cold.  I went upstairs, to hide, to get set-up, to hang my coat up and take off my courier bag, and I was feeling very sad, sad like I was at the end of the road, really, with who knows exactly what.  The implosion...  Boom, you burst forth like the Big Bang, and then, the nuclei of your own atomic life, always shaking, always the protons whizzing around, quick as faery sprites, everywhere and nowhere, firefly-like, the atom of you gets colder or more brittle, or tired, and it just starts to draw back in to wherever it came from.  Back to a cold heart that once had been a warm one.   (And if you're lucky, the light that comes out of this slow red giant dying, alone, is like the music of Beethoven coming out, as the cluster grows dark like embers of a fire...  Ode to Joy...)

The cab home.  I slump in the door, after leaning back almost dead like Hank Williams in the Toyota of an African gentleman, strip off work clothes, and straight to bed.


But it's not appreciated as much.  That the barman, a fellow with actual human exposure to random humanity, a studier of primate behavior, is really a scientist... But just that he's awfully stuck in his job.  No one respects him for the work he is doing, actually doing...  He's the Shakespearean studier of life...  As human beings were made just for such a roll.  If colleges and universities were really good, they would immediately go out and hire such people, to sit alongside the professor, to say, yes, this is true, and this is why it's true, and how it's true....  Here is what Philip Larkin is saying, and here is why, sadly, beautifully, amazingly, it is true.

It was harder and harder not to view the work by which this human being derived a livelihood out of as wasteful, too much one way or another, strange, physically stressful, joyful, exhausting, all of it, just too much now that you were middle aged.

But look at it, like a sort of circle...  On one side, at a point perhaps, of our pie, the scientists are agreeing that it all came about with The Big Ban.  At another part of the great diameter of the circle there are thinkers of religious thoughts, and they will basically tell you that Self is an illusion, that we live in the greatest of Voids, as the Void is always there beyond all that appears as the things of existence--you know, deeper truth sort of stuff--and that, as the tradition of Judaeo Christianity seems to say, if you interpret it so, care-ing-ly, kindness runs through all...   At yet another point upon the circumference, there are the artists, or, rather, people who do not see other people as so stuck in the conventionally appointed roles, but much wider, broader, whole realms of possibility where you can morph into something else, like one day be a poor kid without a mom and then soon someday become The Beatles singing love songs the whole world loves and appreciates wisely....  This, to me, anyway, is why "Hemingway is not an asshole."  He's a sort of natural scientist.  Does he get it right?  Well, who knows, but at least, he is trying.  The world will look back at him five thousand years and more from now and look at him, moreso than a lot of science coopted to make for tech savvy things, and regard him as a scientist, in that most rare of sciences, Anthropology.

If we were good anthropologists, we'd stop in out tracks and shake in our boots, and we'd look upon a lot of things as horrific.  We'd jump in oceans and embrace the whale and the octopus..

The Son of Man, well, he's at some sort of center there in the chart diagram... his sad face bringing it all together, the scientist, the painter, the writer, the musician, the lover, the bartender, the teacher, the road crew men, the chef...

The Son of Man, his science, that is the scary formidable stuff...  Because you know it's all true.  The rich man cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven and truth, he is mired in ego and business dealings, and has little awareness of the kindness that flows through us all, the great river...  And such a shunted world, we only give little pieces, little breadcrumbs, just a little bit so to allow for a decent preacher here and there, but not too many...

True as the Big Bang, agreeing with, all the stuff of Jesus and the art He places through his artists, all artists, upon the earth...


But you know as well as I do, the heartbreaking qualities of life, the inexplicable mixture that seasons life so, the potential for great happiness on the one hand, and then all the stuff on the other hand, and the fact of life that when you're a poor old guy a good glass of wine and cooking are things that make you happy...  the realities, shall we say...

Ah well, I've lost my train of thought, but just to say, grist for the mill.  Grist for the mill, Old Dickens...


Feet are ugly, my friend.  They touch the earth, surely as the rhino's hoof, the donkey's, the cat's paw, the dog's toes, the pads of things that walk upon pads, the feet of herons, and somehow fish do not have to touch the ground, no need for feet have they, but they can go belly down against the bottom... no problem.

But Papa, how did the Universe come about?  How did life come about?  How did the stuff we stand on, the stuff we breath, the depth we see...  All of it, why?

And I was tired, and had long lived to sort of stoically hide my emotions.  Even as I trust them, even as I feel quite obliged--and, really, happy in a way--to follow them, to explore them, to live the heights and depths, and all the things that catch you and come upon you in the middle of the night, when you suddenly awake, in the middle of things, heart pounding sometimes...

And really, I was in one of those very dreary weary moods...

Well, it's all because of kindness.  Kindness is the feeling, that's when you're with... you know, the whole thing.  The Big Bang is the kindness, like all the good works that people do, how much they care, how much they want good for the world...

It was this explosion of kindness, really.  Out of nothing, boom, everything, and it's a big everything, full of the most minute details, the biggest range, from sand grain to pebble, to river stone, to mountain, to space, the kind we live in and move about in...

And kindness is the living force that remains, or, rather maybe, had something to do with it all.  The kindness and love we feel for things is the same as the winds that were blowing when the whole tiniest of tiny things went BOOM.

Kindness is expansive, isn't it?  It's capable of everything.  It always has room for more, energy for more.


I think that's how my little sermon worked that night.

That night, I'd felt it, atop all the frustrations of work, how the restaurant somehow hangs together, somehow lives... Really the greatest of mysteries...  I mean, look at the world.  Look at how selfish and despots take things of people being together in some strange and seemingly haphazard ways...  The whole thing could go to falling apart and bitter acrimony quite quickly, under the strain.  You'd want to scream and shout at your coworker sometimes trying to make it all happen, but, you see the customers, like at a wedding, all pretty, nice young men and women, and you just want to do the best for them.

This is the awful great physical miracle of the Wedding at Cana, the first one.  (I tried not to choke up...)   Dostoevsky has digested it for human consumption, the poor bastard.  (And I'm keeping some of these thoughts to myself, and not sure exactly what I'm sharing, what I'm keeping hidden...)  God wants joy, human happiness, Dostoevsky gives us.  God wants people to be happy.  Thus, the wine.  And they were poor people, here, and they love wine, because it's one of their few real happy things.  God loves people.  Kindness is flowing throughout.  Maybe that speaks of the nature of all miracles themselves, the impossible kindness...

I'd been so exhausted, the whole thing of having your gas pedal pushed down by other people, other things.  I'd been willing to do it all, because of kindness and wine, human happiness, joy, my own small spectator part of it...

Well, actually, I was a scientist, living in my great scientific clutter, all the people coming and going, the thousand million bits of conversations in my scientific life as a barman putting up with it all... riding the bucking bronco.

In the end you only say a little bit to a child.  I'm both sure and not sure what I spoke to her about it all.   But I think, I hope, I got my point across, both to myself as much as she.  That strong flowing wicked wind we must ride upon, that flows through our chests and our stomachs and in all the hollow spaces of our bodies, through the tops of our hands as well as the cups of our palms, through the tops of our feet as well as the part of us which, like the animal, touches the ground, balancing us, touching the earth.

And when you have deep truth to tell a child, you wonder, you know, why this sudden burst of understanding which I am allowed....

And you, I, we, all of us bear scars about this, the times we betray our own little minerals of understandings about the whole thing, by which I mean everything.  The time we spoke up to someone else, hopefully, hopefully spoke, and we said, or hope we said, well, this is what I did, because what's it about anyway...

And whenever the truth sort of bursts through us like light, light we are somewhat obliged to make look like normal conversation, not to scare anyone, not to bring up other little truths, like, oh, we all are dying too, which you might not want to do, like, on vacation...

We all have moments when we, all our wisdom, gets overlooked, or...  missed, or even disrespected... There you are, having gone on the big family vacation, and you are looking up at the Milky Way there above the Atlantic Ocean in Maine, less light to pollute this the best part of being on vacation here, where you can really see, like, the scale of things.  "The stars...  we are the consciousness of the Universe looking back at itself..."  And I'd even read as much, a nice little book, so I felt some sort of footnoteable confidence, and it wasn't even a weird thing to say...  But you know the response...  We've all heard it.  The damp towel.  Don't be an asshole...

But you and I, and poor Fredo Corleone even, we can grow a little understanding of all the amazing things blowing within us.


Sometimes I wasn't so happy doing my primate work at the bar.  It was too much work.  Physically grinding.  But there was Stephen Hawking with his ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, beating him down, and he was a chap and put up with it.  It was my anthropological library, my body of memory, my field of study.   But it was hard.  And I knew I had lots of wise things to tell children, just not sure how much it would do for them, just that it was truth, the truth, and the truth, as they have always said, from the Big Bang onward, the truth will set you free.


Is it sad to know all these things?  Well, it's just kindness.  Kindness lives in acts, in frog's eyes, in birds...