Monday, October 29, 2012

Let Us Now Praise Empathetic Men

I was thinking the other night, as we anticipated the storm here, Sandy.  Creativity--so much like weather, weather that comes, that you go stand out in, or walk in.  It comes, and you're just open to it, just the same way these trees out here have the storm coming through them, very windy, gusting (near 60mph?)  Creativity requires a fundamental kindness, a kindness to see everything and also remember.  (Hey, at least I've learned how to type--though I wouldn't know if I'd try it on a typewriter.  Ach, virgins...)  It's just a matter of being open to it.  You almost have to be an idiot, in a way.  And you have to see humor in everything, in the way you put it down, like Kakfa intended to be funny, primarily.

Writing is an almost biological density of thought.  There are far too many thoughts in the moment to record.  So, take a slow measured time working on something manageable, ball sized--you can grasp it, or a part of it.

I find the chefs who are good at running restaurants to be pretty egoless.  They make good friends, when you've been there awhile.  They share.  They're sensitive, they are low key.  I'm glad to see, that's my chef, and his team.

One would almost want to run for political position being a nice guy.  Oh, you'd have to delegate a good bit,  but being a good politician means being a good person in a well enough forceful way, I mean, effective way, or maybe just a consistent way, a steady way.  I mean, if you were held to that, if you were held to being nice, even if it might make you look like an asshole sometimes, rather being made to look that way by people who see themselves as shrewd.

I guess that's the reason why Capra's Mr. Smith Goes To Washington strikes us.  Or Twain's political mouthpiece and friend, Huck Finn.  Or how it is right that we see Abraham Lincoln through the lens of sensitive Sandburg or even his photographers.  Let Us Now Praise Empathetic Men.

We all have to do what we have to do on a full moon when it's a storm to coincide.  The dislocation and clash of energies high and low, boiling up with the planet's moisture, the creativity comes out.  Full moon, I remember Pani Korbonska doing what she always loved to do, entertain, tell a story, tell war stories, talk about where things are in the political realm.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

You never know what a good Bordeaux can do.  It can open up and be something of alchemy, transcending its normal cépage blend.  It can have a completely different character, be completely interesting, do things strange and unexpected and good.  Something off the charts.  Strange, UFO-like.

The 2009 Lirac, Reserve Saint Dominique,  has finally opened up.  It's been open three days at least, three nights in the refrigerator, and it just toning down its fruitiness to reveal its underlying pillars of resin and smoke, fog and mists that are smoke, strong thick stemmed herbs, young tiny stalked tree saplings,  truffle routines...  my god, this is a good wine!  Eric Bonnet, raised to tend the vines, care for the vine stock the whole way through life and death, as he put it to me once, raised by, to, his father, a vigneron, excellent... Thank you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Remembering George McGovern

When I first came to Washington, clueless as to what I was doing, I went to check out one of those 'grass roots politics' jobs.  The office was on Connecticut Avenue above Dupont Circle in a large townhouse.  The office was up on one of the top floors, and when I got there the space was cramped, full of boxes.  A guy sat at a small desk lit by one low craned utility desk lamp, with a telephone and some papers.  The roof tilted in over his space.  He looked up at me, like it really made no difference, and said, 'look, here's what you do...'  And he explained it quickly in a nutshell.  You go out and stand on a street corner with a clipboard and try to ask people if they'd like to be a part of, whatever it was, Greenpeace.  And that was about it.  He handed me a mimeographed piece of paper with some lines on it, the phone rang, and he said, 'think it over,' without much hope as to the necessity of my commitment or participation.  The illusions had been stripped from his own eyes, and he spoke directively to whoever was on the other end of the line.  I didn't have a job, or perhaps had discovered the realities of temping in offices, and so I said I would think it over.  Yup.

So I got back into the elevator when it showed up, thinking, "well, at least I tried," turned around and looked at the buttons, I look over to my right at the tall man already in, and it's George McGovern.  I look up at him, and then with the softest kindest voice, just as I turned, he was holding out his hand to shake mine, and saying, in a reassuring and definitively fatherly tone, "I'm George McGovern."  I can almost still hear that pleasing softness of his voice, and it was as if it were there specifically to come to my rescue, almost.

I can't remember exactly what I said.  I'm sure I lit up, though you never know, when you're kind of startled like that, and I think I knew enough to address him as Senator, and said how proud I was to meet him.  We might have talked a little bit, where I was from, in the short ride down four floors.  And he probably said something kind, and maybe Mid-Western, like "have a nice day," when he parted, but you could tell he really meant it, and that somehow he had the power of granting just such a thing, and from my family of course I held him in reverence, as one of those 'good and decent men.'

There I was, in an elevator, with a true egoless Buddha of American politics, a true war hero, and with his characteristic warm natural sort of suntan tone.  Handsome guy, maybe with a sadness of eye out of which an overriding joyful accepting twinkle came.

Nixon and the GOP found him easily to malign.  His own acceptance speech at his party's convention fell at an odd hour, late, for reasons I would have to go and read Hunter S. Thompson to remember.  But of course, the big Egos, the big defined selves of politics, they fall hard, just as Nixon fell for his tricks.  And today the nation remembers a good guy, whose decency points to the future.  And one has a thought;  it is the good guys who make life worth living.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kerouac's is a reaction to the mass pleasure-seeking culture of popular times, the happy hamburger, the pleasure of the automobile, the safe politics of his times, that simple sweet candy of the American Dream.  He had to know it from within to recognize it;  it's not unknown of him to write of sensual desire and drunken attempts to find It in the blowings of a jazz man on a wild Saturday night.  He did his share, but he also sensed himself as fated to see through it all.

Kerouac sought to produce a product that compensated the faults of sensuality with wisdom, somewhat like the newspaper, a realistic look at life, helpful and informative, real, a full story.  He suffered alongside Cassidy the great empty chase not for all the apparent thrills but to tell--quite bravely--a chastened and sobering story.  In his travels he found Buddhism, fated for it and its understanding of the root of suffering.  But as if stuck in telling the same story, it seems he was unable to save himself, as if there were no place for him to find shelter in his own times.  He was left with too many challenges to find the scholarly peace he needed to continue his development, as it would have required of him the abandonment of the sensual pleasures the market demanded him to write about, and an escape from the light of fame as King of the Beats as well.  Even as the writing of books required of him to write about sensations and worldly observations (of the kind Buddhism tells us are best left ignored), it's interesting that what often emerges is the teacher.   The lengths he had to go to, to put tension in his story line, to not be 'pontificating,' it all didn't do him any good.  One wishes a position, a kind of teaching gig, could have been found for him.

To me there is always hope in Kerouac, though, a calm sensitivity to understand, on the verge of figuring it all out, but out of some strange thing related to compassion, falling back in.  And I think it takes a lot of guts for an American at that time to think about the Noble Truths, of how our quest for pleasure and happiness would leave us unsatisfied and even set up the harms that would come our way, as the politics of the time just wasn't ready for something so deep as to realize that level of interconnection.

Yes, it takes something fine for a person to realize what life has been subtly telling him all his life, and fine for him to then and go write about it, really for the sake of trying to save the rest.

I think there is some room for consideration of what you might call, A Buddhist Novel.  Maybe such a think has been in the works for a while, with Kafka, or Faulkner maybe.  A novelistic work which doesn't have to burdened by that artificial placement of concrete thought and sensual outcome, all that stuff regarded as necessary to create the tension that makes a work 'readable.'  As opposed to 'plotless.'  So, what you would have is something like Zen, like Kurosawa, a work showing the texture of life, like the grain in wood or in muscle, with no outside structure or desire for resolution imposed upon it, as it is truthfully represented, life as is, from which we can then draw a meaning from.  No winners, no losers, no 'man versus nature or himself or other,' just being.  Serving to reinforce the understanding of the connectedness of life, of the illusory quality of a concrete Ego/self.  Like the fine moments in Chekhov, the ending of "The Lady with the Pet Dog."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yes, as a writer, you have to ask yourself why, why do it, why pollute the airwaves already full, why write obscure novel-like things, why rattle on.  But for the forgiving spirit with which literary attempts are often regarded...

The mind insists on doing its work.  Traced in the geological recording of mental events (broadest thoughts and conscious intuitions, meditations), something of a meaningful conclusion, perhaps hidden, perhaps uneasily stepped around for a time, is present and accountable.

Dostoevsky quotes from John to begin The Brothers Karamazov, on the kernel of wheat falling to the ground.  What does it mean, by itself or in context of Dostoevsky's story?  Why did I put something like it in a passage from A Hero For Our Time just after the guy has met the girl?  In conventional narrative arcs, they get together at the end, so why put in that harbinger of an end that is unsatisfactory as far as resolving what appears to be the plot?  (Why or how could such a fellow be, in his right mind, thinking such deep thoughts and not with utter pretension?  Well, college age, sigh, maybe the writer can get away with it.)

Great Literature aspires.  It offers a philosophical conclusion, however ambiguous it might seem initially to the eye, and perhaps never quite explicitly discernible.  Take Anna Karenina.  It's there somewhere.

Later on, what sprung out unconsciously becomes clearer.  For one writer, it might go something like this, not to bore anyone:  only after a full season, when that kernel of wheat does fall to the ground and die, then it will be on its way to bringing forth fruit;  only after the individual becomes finally 'grown-up,' finally privy to the great illusions of separate distinctive Self, finally aware of the falseness of the Ego, only after a great purifying offered up by slowly fallen wisdom through the course of life's journey, only then would one really be capable and ready for the great relationship.

I wonder, if you take any thinker, is there not a sense of fatalism within.  Lincoln was a fatalistic sort, and perhaps oddly, through long thought processes, he took the things that had happened to him, observed them, and made some sort of poetic sense of them;  and then we see the sense of meaning he distilled from life in his great thoughts of the meaning of a nation and government of the people, by the people and for the people, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  It is necessary for us to submit our own egos, as much as we might like the economic power of a valuable commodity (such as slaves), to a fair national sense of the greater good, right and wrong.  The meanings taken from one aspect of life may indeed have a broader and proper applicability.  And that is what makes writing worth it, in the end, the discovery of those touchstones.

And so there is Levin, Tolstoy's stand-in, out there scything at wheat with his peasants in the summer sun, as if he is engaged in the very act of recording his thoughts, or what you might call thoughts, but maybe which are potentially the 'space between thoughts.'  (The author recording the thoughts of a man who is thinking, the thoughts of a man who is thinking also about what he is thinking.)  As the writer is recording his thoughts, here caught in the lens of art, he is showing us the methods by which he works, which then become, at least the harbingers of, the deeper more conclusive thoughts to render.  (It is appropriate that we find a fine very early example of stream of consciousness in Anna Karenina, the thoughts of Anna as she goes to the train station to her suicide.)  And maybe just in and of itself, the recording of thought is enough to be a great achievement, by itself, without need of any handed down conclusions.

Interestingly enough, the story of Anna Karenina is about what we do with our thoughts.  Do we take them seriously, at face value?  Or do we step back, seeking a deeper circumspection?  At face value everything is fine and good if our thoughts and mental conclusions about the state of things are good and happy, but what if they are not?  They have the potential to lead us to destruction, indeed.  But, on the other hand, if the thoughts themselves are bad and dark, if we are able to step back from them they are not so harmful.  And if we are in the habit of stepping back from our thoughts, finding space between them and relying more on deeper consciousness without its tendency to constantly label, we step perhaps toward a crucial enlightenment, content once again.  Anna the thinker is left to choose destruction, where Levin seems to take everything in stride and with some patience end up reasonably happy.  Particularly in later works, Tolstoy loved simple stories with a moral (as in 'the moral of the story is...'), and perhaps this is one of them as well.

It is a good feeling to find within an independent confirmation of the Buddha's wisdom, through your own math and calculations, through your own experience and reflection.  The world is enchanted with pleasure, and being part of the world that can happen to you too, before you see your own perpetual dissatisfaction with the outcomes of pleasure-seeking, the creation of more problems.  You want to understand clearly what you are, and then have a way to teach it, to whatever extent you can in whatever form it might take.   And then to finally figure out the root of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, just as the Buddha found, that is a moment of happiness.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If the corporation is, in the eyes of the laws of justice, an individual, then the corporation is subject to the same Buddhist laws concerning the illusion of a distinct self and the truth of interconnectedness of all beings.  McDonald's is a corporation, for profit, its own profits.  But the trash it generates we all have to deal with in the public garbage dump.  The effects of ill health, the sugar, the fried food, the meager nutrition in say its hamburger buns, these too are public costs.  The corporation would like to believe that its own responsibility ends with the happy customer enjoying a cheeseburger, fries and soda.  Its restaurants have their trash bins and bathrooms, and beyond that, its the risks assumed by the consumer who comes of free will, the growing trash pile and teenage diabetes and obese work adult work force not knowing any better but to eat at McDonalds where it is, at least, cheap, convenient and familiar.  I've been a happy patron myself, more or less, and in high school I worked at one myself.

Free enterprise, beautiful system.  And yet, we are all interconnected, and we are finding this out more and more.  Carbon footprints, global warming, health and well-being.
The Buddha achieved Enlightenment after leaving the palace of his father and the pleasured life he led as a child growing up.  It wasn't particularly his own fault that he liked that life of pleasure.  And to his credit, he was curious, inquiring from the first at the signs of impermanence and suffering in the world.

In keeping with cultural differences, here in the West, as major world religions give us the concept of Sin, one passes through to an awakening commonly through prodigal sinning.  It seems a pattern we like somehow.  It gives one credential.  Sin is, of course, a bad thing.  We're really supposed to avoid it in the very first place and be good little boys and girls and stay that way.

But in the same, here, we like the story of "Amazing Grace (...) that saved a wretch, like me..."  We know of addictions, bad behavior, stupidity, poor judgment.  We have the sense that perhaps one does have to fall to the low of the bottom if he truly is to be 'reborn.'  Redemption is a good story, one we like.  Preachers, and the sort, like sin, the sin that leads to, of course, grace.

For the Buddha, the emphasis is on logic and good sense.  Having that lasting sense of the unsatisfactory, as we perceive things to be, we finally realize the source of the error, that being the illusion of a solid self distinct from other things, the ego being the great problem to dispel.  There seems far less carrying on about sins, prodigal passages to hellish bottoms and then to see the light.  To the Buddha, such 'mistakes' are just a  part of life, that we have to go through, for our eventual betterment and even perfection.

Perhaps 'redemption' for the West is the same as the 'awakening' of the East.  In the West, there is more emphasis on the great forgiving.  In the East, the emphasis is on going through karma, eventually, all paths, leading to enlightenment.

Like all individuals who participate directly in such tales, the Buddha had a strong sense of story, a sense of pre-ordainment.  And so when he had finally achieved awakening, nibana, nirvana, while he could have remained in his noble state, he knew that in the same that selflessness is the same as compassion and that therefore it was appropriate for him to go and teach and share his lesson and his wisdom.  To share the peace that he had attained, this seemed to him a suitable job, a task for him to do,  and went and did it, laying down the basics first, explaining, creating, involving in dialog, and keeping the story, as it were, ongoing.  Not easy to do.  And so he was able to make sense of his entire life history.

Here in the West, I suppose, we amiably go along with the program, hang out with such n such, go to work, etc., but all the while, we too have a story, a progression of conclusions to draw from our own behavior and the corrections we might writ upon it all.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Perhaps it is the two glasses of pinot noir from the Kahul region of Moldova, that did not mix well with the Kermit Lynch (who you can always always trust) Corbieres, that lead me feel like I am a prime candidate for Buddhism.  What addictive illusion of the self led me to venture by Russia House while a Bolognese sauce simmered on the stove?  How much damage could I do, the cook thought, and the next day was a crippling headache.  You have to wonder, what do they put in some wines?  What are their methods?  Is this the punishment due from drinking cheap wine (I admit it)?  Well...  YEAH.  duh.  Oh, but it shouldn't have to be that way, one laments as his head throbs with a Chernobyl-like vibe.  (In France, they have very strict laws about all aspects of wine-making.)  And this is also a lesson:  pick one wine, and stick with it, enjoy the godly benefits of marriage.

But yes, surely there must be some illusion, that leads me to think I will find something and the night's return is always low, and the next day a horrible price to pay...  Compassion, a lack of compassion, I think, which is perfectly tied to the illusion of a concrete self.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jesus took naps.  A storm was blowing and there he was, curled up peacefully in the ropes.  What the hell, Jesus?!  Oh, just have some faith.

This is where you get your ideas, the things you'll jot down.  The stuff of thought floats down as you rest, covering you like a fine litter, like leaves or ashes, like archeological bits and pieces, fragmented, unrelated.  You lie there and take it in, the strange things that don't make sense, the things that do make sense, intuitively, perhaps poetically.

Without the influence of a great father who loves you, you would get egotistical, perhaps.  You'd want to win races and conquer other men and women.  The honor involved in a duty would be less important to you.  You wouldn't love things as a loving father had taught you.

But with a good father, you don't forget about anyone.  You love them all, even if it must be a fair and even private love, of the kind found in dreams.   Your love of humanity might make you sad sometimes.  There's not much you can do to help the sick.  You're not one to upbraid them when they are sort of mean to you.  So, yes, from time to time you might walk around a little sad, for not doing a better job helping people, ever wondering how, or of what you should be doing.  You can only be very private about all this.  It can never be said.  You can only help people by being there, by being present in life, even if it is far away and unseen.   Nature is the only real help for them anyway.

Writing is found in an area where the unconscious is permeable.  You find things that don't make a whole lot of sense (as then they would be conscious) and you entertain them.  Maybe they are things that keep you going, as they are interesting, when you are bored and discouraged and no longer know how to put things into words and simply want to take a long nap, as if you were sick and could do nothing else but lie there half-conscious.

You give out your gifts, small gifts, unselfishly, and peacefully, gently, in tune with the nature around you that is always remembered, always sensed, even though it might not seem so.  And people will think their complicated conscious thoughts about such actions as yours and come to the conclusion that you are screwy, a bird, off, not headed in a positive logical economic direction.  And you can never argue with them or refute them, being largely incapable of that.  The great divide between the logical egotist, concerned with the world of society and the being who still manages to be part of nature and the natural world, once a more primary reality... what can you do about it?  Seasons go by, and you try to stay in touch with them with walks in the woods and things like that.  You nap, and things float down upon you the way they are and in half-dreams you sort of piece some sense about or out of them.

Who knows, maybe, what it means.  But you take it as a kind of a job.  Maybe people later on will make sense out of it, be understanding toward your dreams and habits, see something of themselves, as in a thousand years from now, making classical thinkers out of us, or simply understanding something about a humanity which is shared across the ages.

To be honest, you think of people you cannot forget sometimes in such states.  Maybe part of you regrets not imposing an understanding upon them.  Such things make you sad, but there was always the matter of not fitting into the world so smoothly and easily as you would have liked, but that too was why you became a writer, an interpreter of dreams, one who muses and thinks of thoughts that aren't of the nailed-down put-on-the-news kind, a child of "God."

Life, such a disappointment, at least if you set yourself up for that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I am reminded of the history of the written word as I read Stephen Greenblatt's thoroughly enjoyable The Swerve, deserved winner of The National Book Award.  Centuries ago, writing involved parchment.  It was rare and expensive, not for jotting, to be beautifully and painstakingly scribed upon.  It was a different world from ours, no pen and paper, no computer screens through which to share typed script.

And so, the meditative task that writing inherently is, as I might argue, began as religious thought and story (along with early scientific writing and histories), as the clerical organizations were entrusted with parchment and writing technology.  As history and writing progressed, religious story became embellished.  The developments of literature created the form of the morality play to lend presence to the discoveries of inner musings.  Wise people authored themselves into existence, outlining their inner revelations, as Christs and Buddhas.  They were teachers, able to rise above the preoccupations and realities of the day.  They saw broadly and without judgment toward others.

Writing establishes basic human truths.  It touches upon the main issues of life.  Stories and musings explore human psychology.  Whatever forms of writing we would create, the question would evolve, how to achieve a perspective outside, therefore wiser, than our own, in short, how to listen to what is the world telling us, beyond our own limited perspectives.  Writing would explore our highest thinking about the nature of the Ego.

Modern fiction, based in reality, took up, as did Shakespeare, the basic form of the morality play, the forms of myth and story.  Take, let's say, For Whom the Bell Tolls, adventure story set in wartime, but still not far away from the morality tale, characters personifying different attitudes and elements of human nature, as characters in modern times are multi-dimensional if they are to be believable and real to the reader.  Big questions as to what is the cost of Ego and what are the distortions it keeps are given form through character and personification.  On and on...  And any work of literature, say, Sherwood Anderson's stories, or Faulkner, or Tolstoy, that stands the test of time has, of course artfully, the tension of Ego within, as a deeper plot-line, sometimes hidden, as if not to take priority from more evident and palpable tension, but always there if you look for it with some sensitivity.

And so, perhaps for similar reasons as were involved due to the scarcity of writing materials and forms of paper, to garner the attention of readership, the basic exercise of writing--which is deeply meditative and not unrelated to things like yoga, along with other forms of art--had to have a plot, tension, characters, so as to have a raison d'être, so to be entertaining enough for the general readership fond of story and oral tradition.  So that it could then eventually all boil over and be placed on TV, ha ha.  The progression on up, or backwards, to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ would only be logical, as if led by forces similar to those of the digestive tract.

Because of the inherent nature in writing, a million poets have sprung up, something perhaps anticipated in the East, reverent toward form, forms like the haiku, like the expressive form of the Tao, an emphasis on nature, on 'wisdom,' less on the individual practitioner and personality.  In the Western world of the individual, each person feeling capable enough of writing may launch individual attempts to gain perspective.   Perhaps it is necessary for basic sanity for the individual to give a take on the egotistical things we all can get carried away with, to provide an acknowledgement of our own sins and imperfections.  ("Headpiece filled with clay," as Eliot puts it.)

And so, our jobs, those places where we put up our egos to be subsumed if we are to act effectively... a lesson in politics, a lesson in life...  are a natural source for musings on paper, an exercise away from the usual discussions which are allowed in the situations.  Take the restaurant business, the basic fact of waiting on someone, bound to school one on Ego and to even encourage an amount of egolessness.

Great moments of literature take us here, as in the speech of the ghost of Hamlet's father elucidating upon his sins in life, standing out in the play, before we deal with the egotistical sins of the usurping brother, before bringing on the paradoxes furthered by Hamlet's own ego's attempts to bring justice to the matter, the creation of yet more living and present sins and sorrows.  The tension within Shakespeare, that it was all a great misunderstanding, certain parties abetting the misunderstanding through distortion, certain parties helping us toward the truth, the ego-free purity of the innocent, the recognizable quality of those who fall into the trap of misunderstanding, the punishment of the virtuous, makes him readable to the ages.  Lear and Cordelia are never far from us, even if we have a bias that we've thought of everyone fairly and thoroughly, a habit of media belief and righteousness, that we like to pin things down in order to feel calm and sane.  In truth, a great misunderstanding might be far more prevalent than we would think given our advancements.

Who have we ourselves judged?  What patterns of egotistical thought have we fallen into?  What illusions do we subscribe to in order to not feel a great loneliness?  What lamentable habits have we allowed?  What poor gentle beings have we unintentionally snubbed?  How to get out of it all but by some all-encompassing and present forgiveness of sins of the very kind salvation preaches, a day we all forgive ourselves and other people for acting, not so much out of any real fault or intention, like jerks?  How can one escape the great sadnesses caused by human stupidity and loneliness itself, without a great act of forgiveness spanning the globe?  What way to tell people, 'no, you were just seeing things incorrectly, and it wasn't your fault?'

Redemption, what else would we ask for?

(What would happen, one wonders, if we were ego-free?  What would we be like if we were 'self-less' and virtuous?  What would that look like as far as the individual first fitting into the economy and maintaining himself?  If a corporation were so staffed with ego-free people, what would that corporation achieve, and would it continue to exist and how?  How could you portray people and life with all other issues that people, normally selfish, must occupy themselves with subsumed?)

You get through the week, sleep it off, start the household chores and grocery lists.  You wonder, what a freedom from the ego would entail in this life.   How would you interact with other people?  Would you be preachy?  Would you lead by subtle example?  After it was all done, you might take a moment to write a few things down, to see where you came out.  Scratch the head, light some incense, take in some peace, but knowing deep down that there are other duties.

Friday, October 5, 2012

An inventory of missed thoughts.

In Platonov's story Amongst Animals and Plants, a whole lifetime of the experience of communing with nature and walking in forests distilled in a few fine passages.  It seems one rarely has a chance to write about nature in such a way given how stories must be told.  In those passages, the depths of all stories, which is why we are drawn to them.

I get through the work week.  Mom's train is running late.  I stop for a salad at Simple Green.  There is, of course, an attractive young woman a few tables away, but somehow I feel down, traumatized, an irrational fear of a sharp harsh reaction to innocent friendliness.  Which sounds too stupid to mention.  After a certain number of years bar tending, being an oddball, out of synch with the normal I feel, I don't know, ineligible, that it would take a unique person and unique circumstances to make a relationship possible, given my job, my hours...  It's a pained realization to stare at.  And all that friendliness, that has some outlet engaging with people at work at the bar, sitting unused, by myself while the town is lively with Thursday night.

The best of thinking happens--and this is a Buddhist notion--in the spaces of awareness that are free of the ongoing commentary and ceaseless flow of thoughts, in the spaces in between.  And this applies to political thinking too, along with literary thinking.  I wish Kirkus book reviewers thought so, but, they must take their jobs as critics to have the explicit and defined thoughts which have already been thought so that they may be applied, preexisting terms handed down over a work, judging it, when doing so entirely misses the point.

And here is this Romney, channeling the Ronald Reagan playbook of looking affable, optimistic, determined, full of answers, critical, playing the blame game, and doing the old trick of telling people what they want to hear so that they respond in their infantile way.  Then going on to act as if he is The Conscience of the Entire Universe, shooting straight from his belief systems, as if lighted by a glorious inner Cheney.  He's campaigning.

And the President continues to be a nice guy.  Though one wonders what a second Clinton administration, one more realistic about the nitty gritty of politics, shorn of idealism, would have looked like.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It had gotten to the point where my iPhone 3 would no longer return to the main screen from each separate function.  I'd waited long enough, and finally iPhone 5 came.  The monkey mind had even looked forward to it.  No, come to find out, turning it on was not an awesome experience of 2001 A Space Odyssey, the black tablet, the strange rectangle in space one could enter other realms through...  In fact, as the set up might have clearly warned, I, bearer of said monkey mind always thinking about something, find myself disappointed somehow.  Oh, don't get me wrong, it's sleek and everything, and it works, and the screen for perusing the New York Times web page is certainly sharper, quicker, and far more easily manipulated.

Hmm.  Well, maybe it's some problem with being new to iCloud.  Go and download some software updates.  Synch new phone in meantime.

At least I was up at a reasonable hour, and so did a decent yoga routine.  That is good.

In the meanwhile, the same stream of thoughts come through.  The same need to meditate, to acknowledge the brief open spaces between the thoughts, allowing room, room for some other way of thinking that is calmer.

Yes, technology...

It took turning it off, and then, and only then did it join with the LTE network.  The earplugs work, the music works again.  I just need a case for it.

So, it turns out to be a fine device after all.  Now, to get used to the protective case.

Long anticipation, joy, followed by let-down, followed by an appreciation based on realism...  Yes, follow the Middle Path, as Buddha said.  Neither starve yourself, nor be a glutton.