Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Standing on the sidewalk on the sunny side of the street, accentuated by the faded ochre yellow of the closed antique store, they looked a bit like hatless cops, lawmen, in pressed black with white collars.  They came to the restaurant, and took two cocktails before heading down for dinner.  The news of Francis saying 'who am I to judge' was fresh as the sunny air, low humidity.  The tall one with a clean Roman haircut could not have known my literary interest in clerics, the true clerics of higher education, and seemed to draw within, as if suspicious of whom he should reveal sides of himself to, a flash of 'what are you looking at, boy?'  Perhaps it was an unholy thought on my part that cops like to speed.

One might have sensed, without prying, their look around, a cautious 'what does this all mean.'  Was now the issue out and they could be themselves?  What did it mean as far as law and order?  What does this mean about our own individual openness while we go about our business?  They dined downstairs by the window and I had no way to engage them in friendly chat, except when they came upstairs looking for the mens room, and the older guy seemed mellow, not completely unFrancis like as he passed by, the upstairs embroiled in a busy jazz night.

"They," generally speaking had elected him, using better judgment.  Some, previously, speaking out about corruption, had been exiled to the embassy in Washington to while away their time with easy dinners in acceptable restaurants.  And one wondered where any may have stood now, as far as exile.

A day later my shift was again drawn out.  Seeking a bit of exercise I took my bike up the hill, past the neighborhood where I used to work, wishing to take a look at a restaurant friends, former coworkers, had fixed up and taken over.  I was recognized, beckoned in.  Wishing only to taste some wine, I was offered a house-made limoncello, which, in camaraderie, I downed with my friends, 'to success.'  And then enjoyed a glass of Tempranillo and the conversation.

The next day, I feel it, nap extra before the shower before work.  Who am I to judge.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The night is full of sounds of creatures along the quiet street, each one a miracle of life.
I've had a night like this before, the world full of hope again.
I touch everything gently, and slowly,
and the stars are above me, behind my back.
This is summer, a steady throb says somewhere,
as if breathing, gently as well, smiling somehow
even without expression but the proximity to a tree,
the touch of a stem, everything in place.
There is a fountain on the street,
steps to climb up to the filling basin,
the lion's head and the pool.
The simple fact,
that life is harder
much harder
Please note:  When I write these pieces, they are an exploration of the world within my own self, and they are references to the experiences of my own nervous system and spinal column, my own individual yoga reaction, my own emotions about my own emotional and spiritual life.  In no way are they an attempt to claim anything about other people's lives.  Again, these posts are about what I go through, more or less, imagined or not, my own shortcomings.  They aren't meant to support intolerant views, and I say this because as I write I write without editing initially, in order to get slippery thoughts and dreams down on paper first.

Matters of orientation, personal detail, completely aside, I've come to support a kind of "conservative" mystical almost "Catholic" view (non judgmental and supportive about what works for people) on the holiness of matrimony (letting individuals decide for themselves what constitutes such a deep relationship that suits their needs.)  I can say this having failed at it, failed to foster it, to bring it.  I say this as a one who knows the unnatural darkness of bachelor life.  (Must be my job, bar tending.)   I wrote a book about how I failed at it, in fact, and I should not have failed at it.  It was a young people thing, a case of misunderstandings, insecurities, mixed messages, tension.  It may not be cause of poetry on the order of a Ted Hughes Birthday Letters, but failures have consequences none the less.  And I suppose they make you appreciate the good in life that comes along that themselves turn out to be treasures.

For years I wondered what was wrong with me, why I couldn't get anything together, didn't have the energy I should or the vision or the drive, living passively, feeling in general a bit beaten.  While it stared me in the face, I didn't know the effects of deprivation.  I wrote, yes, about the whole thing, which was cathartic, and a good thing in some ways.  Writing is spiritual, and so it is good.  I honored the sense of loss that I felt.  But I wonder how much of the things I did were self-medicating, attempts to get brain chemistry back to that feeling, even as it was just an inkling, of selfless love and communions tender.  I worked in a restaurant, just to be around people, to feel part of a family.  I had many friends who like myself found some escape by drinking together at the end of a shift.  There was art, and humor, and discussion, but there was also a huge space of wasted time.

Love, the spiritual force of the Universe, comes through you anyway, even as you are acting misguidedly, displaced from occupying its true seat.  (That only takes a small amount of intelligence to figure out.)  It doesn't go away.  It lies and waits to become active again, a force engaged again in the world, as if it needed water like a garden.  And it has a way of being engaged in the work you do, so if you brought some kind of love to a place of work, then nothing is completely wasted.

Naturally you become sensitive at people's self-medications.  It becomes a concern when people don't allow themselves to be driven by spirituality and love.  You see an attempt to divide people from their force of love, as if to conquer them.

But nothing can be done as an adult without the health of marriage (again, however you might personally define it) or the goal of it.  Nothing can be seen clearly without it.  One cannot go through the days without the good health the relations of marriage bring, I've come to believe.  And it is hard to put the cart before the horse, to put success and achievement before that which itself is transforming, life-changing.  Marriage is part of the calling, any calling.

So there seems to be a Catch 22, that to entertain the possibility of marriage you must be successful to begin with.  The hungry unwitting victim who suffers the lack of relationship, sort of doesn't realize what's missing, struggles and strains to keep up and fit in, has less chance at finding a relationship to sustain him.  The only option seems to be to find other poor but intelligent people sensitive enough to the lot of human suffering, other people with a sense of the innate dignity in the human being.

And this may be why when we go on the internet looking for something of interest, some answer to quench something, we're often left with that empty feeling, as if flipping channels on a television with nothing good on.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

As much as it brought me to questions about my own judgment, as in why did I over enjoy the Martinique rhum the musician brought by, and thoughts, insights of the Chekhovian of life, or on other days the Dostoevskian, or the Dickensian, what-have-you, I was always left with good thoughts, small nuggets of inspirations that came with the brief encounters with fine people at the bar.  As with other things, it was a matter of opening one's eyes and seeing the good material of life before you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We hadn't seen our good friend, V, in a long while.  By late fall it will be a year since he lost his daughter to brain illness.  He will be taking a long trip soon, with ashes and family.  He kept us posted, did not come for a long time, as he and his wife used to come quite often, squeezing into open spaces at the bar on wine tasting night and jazz night.

We've always talked about Eastern thought, Buddhism, wherever it might come, let it dovetail somewhere somehow into bar talk, be it through Beethoven's own availability to texts, imagined or not, or Schiller's, imagined or not, or in the slightly liberated talk of friends who wonder, now that they are settled with good fortune.

The night, the moon just tipped past full, the bar's waters placid, the boss not unhappy with business given such doldrums, the heatwave having passed, our good old friend, retired, tips in with some focus to talk to his friend.  "Perhaps Buddhism is your attempt at rationalization at where you are now...  {your job}  But, at least you have a steady income, even if it isn't much."  We've long talked about writing.  I like his candor now, with the same friendliness always offered between.  He made a few comparisons, with other  people's situations, and I was content with the time flowing through, that our friend Jim would get his dinner and a glass of wine likable to him, that the older couple my comrade will wait on magnificently like a college professor will arrive, order, get their dinner and wine.

It's a tricky thing, to toss high ideas around.    They can burst like balloons, fall in pieces, something to sweep up later.  It's a good sign people can talk about such things.  But the thought of rationalization, yes, one has to admit that possibility.  And that is, indeed, eye opening.  And, quite possibly, working in a restaurant requires a daily battle of rationalization.

It takes our other old friend at the bar.  He comes up the stairs slowly.  He sings, he arbitrates.  He says we should just put all this race stuff aside, quite well.  We smile and chuckle, and talk about his magnetism.  Like our other discusser, he has a hangar steak, and a glass of Pic St. Loup.  We two are alone, almost, when he leaves.  We'd just talked of knee replacement.  "Ted, you're an awfully nice guy.  Thank you," Jim says, turning to me, holding his hand out, as if he remembered some of our finer moments of sharing and entertainment and that time when people relax and recoup their winds.

I remember now, how talking once with V about Buddhist scripture, Lankavatara, or was it the Diamond Sutra, an off-hand comment of mine, attempting to interpret.  I was being funny, and you probably had to be there:  Indians talk a lot, are very verbal people.  Which happens to be true of V and his lovely kind beyond kind wife.  Which makes them interesting people to wait on sometimes, maintaining a fixed complex conversation when things get busy, when loagy servers move like blinded water buffalo also wanting to converse, when things get very disjointed, an arriving salad or soup is a miracle, an entree beyond immediate hopes while other stuff goes down.  So the great verbal verbosity of the Buddha comes sometimes in a nugget, believable or not, and it really is, I suppose, a rationalization of the life you know and created for yourself.  Who will ever know?

I do get tired sometimes--I'm sure we all do--of these pocket philosophical rants.  I get tired of my own voice throwing the ball back against the wall as it bounces to never really solve anything.

But it's not for one to think, but do.  Even if it feels like failure sometimes, backed by rationalization.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toward the end of a long jazz night, pestered by the ADD server, the busboy slow, the walkie talkie not working properly, the cluster f of everyone coming in, filling up the tables, in a thirty minute period, having received the last high roller customers, who ordered a Pur Sang, a sauvignon blanc of absolute purity, one strong note of grapefruit, and in the final period of feeding the band, The Bitter Dose Combo, and being left to float along with the bar patron's final dance party, I remark that I should cease such work (the extra-terrestrial admitting, practically, that he's bad for earthlings, without so intending) and go off to Divinity School, and which point a gentleman, retired military, with a glass of Chateauneuf Du Pape in hand, asks if I believe in God.  (Someone, a very nice woman, had just helpfully suggested an Episcopal institution, and I shrugged and explained I was a child of the Sixties, a Theosophist, a Buddhist, all of that 'sort of.')  I put on The Pogues, "Streams of Whiskey," in attempt to get rid of them all, but only lose one couple over in the corner doing the courtship talk.

There are days when I feel myself burning.  It's all my sins and bad decisions, a morning feeling that everything I touch turns.  I feel like Fredo Corleone, not that the guy doesn't get a bad rap somehow, a weak completely fallible guy who both falls into complete sin and faithfully, unique amongst the family, believes in God, and who, if you remember, is the one person who supports Mikey's decision to join the Marines.  I go for a walk, muttering to myself all the while about work, about how I'd like to call in sick, sick, that is, of jazz night, all the while thinking too of preparing myself for the dreary expectancy of wine tasting night.  Well, that's why they call it work.

We are burning, Buddha says.  We are all burning.  Does this mean that we are going through time, constantly changing all the time, or does it connote a kind of purifying fire?  I don't know.

Everything people do is fallible.  And because a church is a thing of people, then it too is fallible.  And the Church, facing empty pews, the rise of social mediums that leave it behind, seems to be admitting this a little bit, that it is indeed fallible, as I listen to some sermons from Virginia Theological Seminary, excellent ones by the way.  And then, too, there is the difficulty of belief when they intone "God," as I find it hard to believer that this notion of God is a figment of the fallible.  I believe in the goodness of the message.  And I do believe that at least in someways we all are, indeed, 'broken,' though this requires a deeper poetry of the mind to entertain.   And in a way, I might believe in God on some days, but it's hard for me to keep it up the way they, the Church, must go about it.  The Buddha addresses this intelligently.

I will go off to another night of work, another completely fallible evening, where all things are slowly burning.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If you are going to be a thinker, with some impulse to teach, you're going to run into the strangeness of projected truth.  It's like finding out that, after all, to be masculine and heterosexual in the most helpful and appropriate way involves being comfortable with your feminine side.  It's like finding out that it is actually okay and good to be passive, that there was good reason behind that, healthy reasons, meant to foster good oxytocin.  The problem was feeling impinged upon by societal attitudes as much as anything, in thinking there was but one way to go, to be super masculine, domineering.  Maybe that works for some, but not for all of us.

This where primitive societies might outdo us, by allowing for myth and ritual, so that the spiritual is combined in all facets of life.  Do we have myths that may be applied to any modern job?  The mythical marketer?  The website of Valhalla?

I guess the Odyssey speaks enough to us.  But it would be nice to make a broader segment of the population feel less the uselessness of jobs or their own attempts at participation, and this is done in light of higher truth.  No wonder young people find satisfaction in organic small scale farming.

Maybe one worthy effort would be to make people feel useful on their own, basically as they are.  That is what religions try to do anyway.
It's obvious.  As it's been through the Tour.  Froome on the podium.  Clean, honest, nothing to hide.  A word about his mom.  Downplaying heroism to the fullest extent allowed.  And it was, is refreshing.

Tavis Smiley, angry at the President on Meet the Press, sad, unable to express himself.  Angry with fellow commentators.  The President hasn't gone far enough.  Moderator does good job.  No one satisfied.  Shitty situation.  Really bad background.  But, but, but...  focus on the present.

Shane MacGowan, you want to hear someone sing?  Rainy Night in Soho, Japan, 1988.  Not everyone needs to be a professional opera singer to really do it.  The Irish, were you to racially profile them, can sing and write poetry.

I still think of her.  I don't think a day's gone by, I don't say to myself, 'crazy to bring flowers to a beautiful girl.'  It's in a book because it's from real life.  And like you or I, it still makes me emotional.  Meeting a smarter being, like meeting a psychiatrist...

And this is why Casablanca rings so many bells in so many people, talk about raw emotion.  "I thought I told you never to play that."  Bogart's Rick's twisted face, weather beaten enough, aged enough to register.  Even with the war going on, it's not something you, the viewer want for him to face, and yet he has to, and maybe in the end it will do him some cathartic good.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I am a sick man, an ill man, a man without a profession, a solitary man.  I cook for the workweek after an evening bike ride on a Saturday night, drain a bottle of red wine (Kermit Lynch's Corbieres), and I am trapped by the virtual world, a rerun of SNL, another loop of the Tour de France, finish with the tale of Lewis and Clark's return voyage.  Of depressive Lewis, Jefferson's observation of the expedition providing enough distractions and immediate worries to keep his mind from its usual self-destructive habits, is noteworthy.  Sunday is my Monday morning, and that aspect, the things to attend to, I don't mind.  I guess we all need that.  JFK said to a friend that he needed somewhere to go every day.  (Can we picture him in retirement?)  But I stir without much enthusiasm as my body wakes, make my tea, do a little yoga, and the vague feeling of overripe fruit in the system, the wine, lifts two hours in as I eat breakfast before the shower.  Too much time thinking, not enough time engaging, leaves a hangover.

It is the job of the poet, as much as the priest, to interpret spiritual matters, to add to the discussion.  It is the job of the poet as much as the scientist to interpret the meaning of scientific discovery in its logical implications.  It is the writer's job to catch, haphazardly, as they happen, the thoughts of the poet.

The virtual exciting over-stimulating ejaculatory orgasm-driven mating world comes through windows and through curtains and television.  The point in life is the truer need, which is to bond.  Atoms bonded around our tiny electric embryos in the womb, fed to, given to us.   People bond in the electricity of the present, the presences of two brought together.

"Don't be an asshole," one's brother is quick to comment, at such musings.

Indeed such a gospel, of Tantra Yoga, Kundalini, Karezza, might be dangerous or wild.  To let out the secret that there are great riches within our own selves and our own potential, of love's final glorious answer, of compassion, health and well-being so powerful as to emanate out of us, quite beyond the economic transaction, stands opposed to the accepted world of Steve-Jobs-says-we-need-this.

Wait.  Didn't Kurt Vonnegut write about something similar in Cat's Cradle, along with its concept of Ice Nine, about the forbidden practice of Yabyum, couples placing the soles of the feet together (risking death if they get caught in the act.)  He wrote about firebombing innocent civilians, about after-school afternoons masturbating and building model airplanes (candidly enough without going into detail) so why not?

The thought that people deserve the golden light of such experiences, without have to first prove themselves by making money, often in ghastly professions that rob old people's pensions, pollute the earth, destroy the oceans, speculate in real estate and disposable buildings that someone else will have to deal with not far down the line, that make them like minor infant Nazis in the attitudes they must adopt, without having to be perfect consumers of material goods, well, that's pretty radical.  And it says something, doesn't it, maybe a lot of things, if taken as a working model, about education, business, relationships...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hemingway had, after the noble nurse who forsook him,  four wives, one, it might be said, for each of his creative periods, all of which ended of course in his suicide at age 61.  Dostoevsky had two, the first one dying, the second a young typist he fell in love with, who helped him develop his long, patient, pained but beautiful vision all the way through on to his decline in health.  Tolstoy, after a life of colorful carousing, settled down and had one wife, and it seemed to go pretty well until toward the end, when they had a great disagreement about the company he kept.  She was immortalized in the story of the happy marriage in Anna Karenina, as Levin's Kitty.  The company, religious sycophants, he kept late in life ended up with the rights.  Chekhov, after a long life as a literary bachelor, traveling broadly and perhaps no stranger to a brothel, settled down at 40 and married actress Olga Knipper.  He was aware of his tuberculosis at the time, and it's uncertain whether they could sleep together.  She was with him when he died, not many years later.  Donne had one, an interesting story of marriage, which was controversial enough to land him in jail, who bore him twelve children, three of whom died before ten,  and died shortly after the last childbirth.  For all those years they had lived on the courtesy of patronage.  Lincoln, after the very sad death of the apple of his eye at a young age of 'milk sickness,' tried to do the right thing as far as courtship with a woman found to have gotten chubby but who then herself turned him down, before marrying Mary, after some tumult and standing her up once at the altar, who alone predicted that one day he, her husband, would be the President of the United States.  The love between them, despite all, is clear somehow.  Shakespeare married an older woman early on, had children with her, then moved on to London to escape legal problems, live his own life, lost a son, which devastated him, and ended up not wishing to be buried with her.  Carver tried, had an earlier life, two kids with a first wife he was abusive to in his drinking days, and when he reformed, leaving his old life, took writing classes and began, had lots of stories, had an editor who bullied him, and eventually found a lady poet, whom I believe he married before he died of a brain tumor, and who saved his last stories in the drawers where he left them.  Larkin seems to have been a bachelor for the most part.  And Yeats was far more screwed up over Maud Gonne, ending up trying to court her daughter, though by this point he was completely impotent.  Joyce perhaps had the best relationship of all with his wife, I'm led to think, but who knows.  Kerouac, I think, could have had fidelity, if his holding a job had not been so difficult, such an anathema to his mode of literary work.

And somewhere there is the writer who will write about, not for style nor profit, but just to better notice and record, meeting the woman to be his wife, and how he will, they will, make a bonding, draw together, and love properly for good ends, bringing health to themselves and the world.
To three straight movies of Truffaut, browsed in upon, while the Tour rolls into Grand Bonnard, it must be my inner Mormon/devout conservative Christian/Catholic responding.  A man cannot do anything without a woman.  He will have no energy.  He can go nowhere.  It's basic physics, electricity, the solar system, chemistry, biology.  Truffaut is presenting the billion complications that might interfere with such, needless ones.  None of it is happy.  People go mad, drive off bridges, etc.  Thanks a lot, this happy picture of love.

It occurs to me from time to time, how devastating female rejection can be to a male, to his inner sense of justice, his awareness of morality, his compass.  Lights out, it's not fun, you're in the hands of God.  Dejectedly, you plow on;  that's how it goes.  We are all mama's boys, and the harder we come, the harder we fall, so we might as well go on and admit it.  And it's curious to me how not much is written or recorded about the phenomenon directly, as rejection imposes a psychological condition upon a guy with a physiological reality.  (I'm not saying all women should accept all men all of the time; hardly.)  A simple caress, a sweet look in the eye, a simple kiss, a soft hand, would go a miraculous long way to one in such condition.

It makes me think there is a missing gospel, that when Christ, let's say, is broken on the cross, rejected, entombed, there is a woman who comes and resurrects him 'from the dead,' giving him hope, putting him back together again.  For, perhaps quite literally, he has risen.  What else would he get a rise out of, at this point, even after he had helped many people in a similar way, to believe, to have faith, to see the bigger shape of physical reality, the electrical currents and stuff that we were created around.  She would take away the pains of this world, so that he could go on back into the next, back to his philosophizing.  Secret gnostic gospels do exist, mentioning sacred rites of marriage, and even Buddha, free of desire, tells us that "enlightenment is in the vagina," no wonder the content look on his face.

So what do you do with the pain, that makes writers not want to write anymore, not go through the struggles of jobs, lie about depressed, seek comfort in wine at night.  This is Quixote, this is the old fisherman and the sea with the patched sail 'a flag of constant defeat.'  This is Sherwood Anderson's old broken down carpenter who finds within himself a kind of Joan of Arc, a female side meeting the male side of a being, so to then go forth and understand how, in all those stories, people are broken by nature.

There's no need to be 'dirty' about what needs to happen.  There's no reason to feel ashamed, or prudish, or however else we are taught to preserve moral and class distinctions.  There is the institution of 'holy matrimony,' which of course has a large component of intimacy and beautiful embrace, nothing to do with the egotistical.

So it seems like it could be a catch 22, to break down your ego, to leave the confusions of social thought, to just be.  If you were to admit brokenness, how then would the other see any worth in you;  how would they 'get you' and redeem you and restore you to your original hopes?

Friday, July 19, 2013

We are transfixed with modern life, enchanted, mesmerized, teased with virtual sensuality, and then we're taken to the commercial break.  Our guard down, messages are pushed.  "Here's all the stuff you need for modern life."  The commercial breaks are designed to be just enough, what can be gotten away with, before returning to that which holds our attention.  Back to the Tour, the rainy mountain stage, the Alps' scenes, a replacement offered to city dwellers who would rather be out somewhere in the elements themselves.

Sensuality, of course, cannot be separated out of life, nor is it a bad thing.  It leads us to good health and good decisions, puts us at comfort with the body and its functions, so that the spirit might live a happy life.  Substitutes are offered to us, in this 'advertised world,' as if there could be a substitute for holy matrimony and the realization of a full spiritual life.  We get preyed upon with outside enticements, when happiness is built from within, from simple things.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Personal attempts to relate to the divine seem to often be about controlling the sensual streak.  As a writer, with the writer's need for time on one's hands, you feel led astray.  Too much wine, too much time with drinkers and restaurant people, time that could have been spent more profitably.  (Merriweather Lewis has a similar line, touching on all that in his journals.)  Too much time postponing life and decisions.  I get home after work, and I don't want any more wine, and yet I do.  I want that last buzz of comfort, that last liberation of lyrical excitement and song, uninhibited creativity after the trap of the week.  Why the heck should I have to endure that shitty job and the shitty life that comes with it, all because I wanted to be a writer, vaguely academic.  Why should I have to be the hod carrier?  What's wrong with me and my personality?  Is it all because I drink, thus the continuously fed cycle of restaurant work and wine?  What if I just quit, touched not a drop?  I'd certainly have to get rid of the job, and yeah, maybe I need to, because in a way I really don't care, beyond the distinction between undrinkable Trader Joe's crappy Spanish red and something palatable...

It's all been like a bad friend, who bullies you.  You never figured out what to do as an adult.  Things scared you away, or you came into life a bit out of sorts, sore, feeling like Hamlet.  Everything you might talk yourself into you can talk yourself out of.

There are people in life.  You never meant to hurt them, never meant to show them what appeared as a lack of affection, out of your own insecurities, your own readings of things when you needed input.  You didn't realize you hurt people, because it was never an intention.  Again, you got caught up in sensuality, in seeking relaxation and relief, not meeting the issues head on, for which of course you will be sorry for in many ways.

The quick fix, the quick look at the phone, more kicks for the sensual person trying to be focussed and in touch with divine support and comfort.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I guess the hard part really
is the going home alone.
What are you going to do at 3:19 in the morning, as you unwind from a shift.
Eat something, maybe a can of aduki beans, with television on in the background.
Drink some wine, even if you don't want to, taking it reluctantly as medicine.

The hard part of the job of keeping bar is the cleaning up after all have gone.  There were tonight great conversations, a sharing of Dostoevsky and Conrad between parties.  (Pasternak's poetry of Zhivago.)  The talk echoes, and the bar man is alone.  He reviews conversations of those who have retired, those who have gone to law school and done things with their lives, marriages, professions, children and grandkids.  And the thing is always that, tolerating the difference between himself, in all his wisdom and kindness and acts and creation of connections between disparate human beings, and that of people of professions and lives and material achievements.  The barkeep will always be stupid and foolish, for what he does, for what he accepts out of life.  Other people have real estate, salaries of note, charity work to keep busy with, focus, friends and normal hours, and that all adds up, where the barkeep's world is one of subtraction and acceptance of less and less.

Thus, the act.  The act that the barman is in something of the same world.  He comes to visit.  Peers in.  Does his job ably.  There is no money behind it.  The place he works in, happy to have his finish, his competence, decency, organized hard work, keeps him around.

Of course, he must find some way toward a philosophical basis for the panoply of life he sees and must fit into somehow.

But never, in no way, somehow, is he intent on restaurant work or a profession explaining wine, organizing a kitchen, etc.  He does it because he is a writer, or a philosopher, or some kind of historian, even as he gets decreasing time, place, perspective, comfort, self-satisfaction, in order to do so.  With dignity, he does a job, hopes it will be experience soon enough worthy of sitting down and writing about.  The stark truth is though, that such experience will never be worth writing about.  A small history maybe.  A look at a postage stamp slice of life complete with mice who at night scurry around in laundry baskets, as meteor showers pass in a night sky.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm having a hard time getting into the Tour this year.   Too many repetitions of the Mich Ultra, "my body tells me no, but I won't quit" ad, this year conspicuously without the presence of a certain disgraced winner.  Or I'm getting old.  Men riding bicycles with advertisements on their lycra just doesn't strike me as important anymore.  The countryside of France, the backdrop, catches my eye more than the race, the tableau of history.  In times of moral crisis, the endurance of sport seems unimportant, and getting excited over besting the next guy to the finish line seems egotistical.  And spending time watching it, I get that uncomfortable feeling--and writers probably get it often--of too much time on my hands not fulfilling a purpose.

We engage in commerce, beyond the things we need, out of a sense of shared values.  As we grow up, the I-wants are less and less for the sake of belonging to a group, as fans do, but rather, more thought out.  Of course moral values might be construed, with a bit of work, from the seasons of a Gehrig, a Williams or a DiMaggio or a Maris, reasonably enough, though they might not be the be-all and end-all of moral values beyond that of showing up to work.  Ultimately, there must be a recognition of deeper moral values, which may themselves involve discretion and life experience.  One day one wakes up from lazy slumber and finds liberal arts far more important than Lance Armstrong.  Which I must say with some embarrassment.  Oh well--sports are supposed to be important to belonging in society.   Being in shape does indeed help the mind do its work.

Growing up, you must give yourself some credit, for directions, for newly informed feelings about that things we seem to accept as routine.

I suppose our opinions are deeper set than we might think when opening our mouths, relying less on a historical record we could cogently explain in debate, relying more on a deeper mind's eye of private and personal values.  John, Robert, and Teddy too, speak to someone perhaps most of all because of the literate modes they engaged in and represented.  Ronnie Reagan may speak to another, a different set of people's gut values.  One from either camp might argue all day about the record, legislative, internationally, historically, without getting to the basics of the deeper informing value.  Or maybe not.

I suppose one of the basic things about religions is that they make the point that if one stands for the truest and deepest of values, than life will be okay.  A covenant, an agreement, a deal with the divine.  As the creator of The Sopranos put it, you'll watch the show and at the end it will still be okay to go out and buy things.  Life is, as we all know, complicated.

And so, where along the road do I find my values headed, I guess is the question.  Perhaps that is why one writes, in order to better find them out.  Good old pen to paper, as it were.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Where was I, where was I...

I've often thought it a kind of sadness or loneliness, a feeling I get sometimes, confused, not knowing what to do with life.  Off for a jog, I end up walking;  time to think.  And it occurs to me what it is.  The missing sense of divine love, of God's love...  It seems lonely too, partially abandoned, and so it finds me, and I find it.  Maturity is an organic thing, a creature of seasons.  And why not now?  That's what's missing in this world, that steady uncomplaining happy to be itself love from God, whatever you want to call God.

I am a mystic, I gather.  That's how I come at things, being too slow a reader to get to everything one should, drawing from, trusting instinct and happenstance.  That's why I tend bar, believing in some strange unexpected but holy communion going on behind scenes, present, whispering through.  Get people together, loosen them up, and something potentially wonderful can happen, even as that is downplayed, lest anyone start to feel odd.

The Buddha, remember, was an ordinary person, just like you or I, and he was, on his own, able to figure out quite a lot.  He is, perhaps, one of the quintessential writers, in the classic sense.  His thoughts are meant for the written form, to be read and re-read, studied, pondered.  Of course, the oral tradition was so marvelous at the time, it was much the same thing as writing.

Mistakes one makes are from lack of understanding the divine, or maybe not mistakes at all.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The bar has always been a place of great conversations.  First night back from vacation was no exception, and maybe, with some perspective, the rule.  I don't always get to participate, hardly to the level I'd like, taking care of the duties that fall upon bar service, but I absorb them, sometimes help them along.  And they are, taken as a whole on in anyway you'd like to, a great thing.

I know, I know, I pooh-pooh them myself sometimes.  But it hardly is the drunken bullshitting or idle joking one might make it out to be.  Opinions are exchanged, jokes are told, but often something real finds it way out from the base of wine talk and travel stories and the sharing of information, like what Bordeaux, the place, as a city, looks like (kind of like "St. Louis, or Houston...")  And I remember people.  Names are hard, but the conversations, the details of 'why I came through DC,' or of occupations far away, such stuff I well remember.  And people sometimes find it surprising.  "That was four years ago!"  It all comes back to me, bit by bit.  And I'm busy enough, staying coordinated, keeping things running, that I don't have to think too much with all this stuff gradually coming out of its recesses in the brain, like a germinating seed growing toward light.

I tend to see a deeper purpose in it all.  I think of how Lincoln once was a barman, a tavern keeper.  And so he could understand, woe unto the world, because of offenses.  He could understand, and the offense cometh.  One long time customer, a pilot, talked about how his father died in a plane crash up in Kodiak Island, Alaska.  "I'm at the same age as when he died," he added, before leaving with our friend Jake.  Good stuff.  Stuff that, if you ask me, leans in upon higher reality.