I wanted to report to you, doctor, that after I wrote and got to work, I dunno, maybe I'm a bit manic, because I felt good. I went about set up, and the other guy is always late on Monday and there's the laundered seat cushions to put back on all the furniture at the wine bar, jazz set up to do, stocking, but I felt good about myself. I felt solid, I felt grounded. I said to myself, well, people don't change; one a nice guy, always a nice guy, you simply can't change that. And that's an artist for you, willing to take a stream of people and observe them through the close act of waiting on them, pretty smart actually. Life kind of made sense again, and I felt like I'm starting to write again, so that's pretty good.
A lady came in, a tricky person, not seen her in a while, and yeah, she's a bit tipsy, a bit out of focus, slow with her hand movement. I gave her a sip, not a glass, of the Beaujolais as she requested with a slight slur, as I studied her a bit, just to confirm my suspicions. How much did you have to drink? Well, probably more than the three Stellas she told me. The music's playing now and the waiter is sitting a few more people and taking over the reins after I got 'em started. And this woman, not from America, is kind of like I'd imagine a fanned out cobra rising up from the other side of the bar ready to strike, kind of coming up and staring at you and sort of purr-hissing, words drawn out, have you seen my leather skirt? And I try to make conversation. She's out of work. Watery eyes. Well, I cut her off. I don't want anything bad to happen to you. Wow, good to have values, to carry them out, to not feel so ashamed of a situation that you try to gloss it over, hide it, contain it from the other customers. No, just do what you should do. And the waiter came over later and I said, yeah, I cut her off. Of course, she's a bar fly, mentioning some of the old bars of Dupont Circle. Did you..., he asks. No way! She's a handful, always drama, no way.
I read in that book you gave me, that we are a continuation of our parents, and there's a point where you mourn less and that you sort of pick up what they were. Like my father. I listen to an Alan Watts lecture and I think in the deep alternative way he kept, and there I am, living on with his values, which before, in mourning I've been a bit too chickenshit to do much with. I mean, I've thought going off to a retreat at a monastery, but Dad was very much in the world, and his spirituality was high, high as anyones, but calm... And I think he would tell me, keep on writing. You have real work to do. Good work. Good for people. Good to take away their illusions. Good to keep them open to less materialistic ways of thinking.
And that's what I value in literature, not that it's great writing put up on some untouchable pedestal. No not at all. But that it's true, accurate, real, that in it you've lined up a few things people should consider. That's why people have written. That's why they make art. Giotto on down.
Values, the higher, the more thoughtful, the more careful they are, they are harder to understand, and you can carry them latently for years, not knowing exactly why. Yeah, sure, you get little inklings, like when you read something about Buddhist thought, like the 'illusion of fixed self,' or like how it's better not to be possessive and materialistic about things, about relationships, desirable things and activities and people... But that can still be kind of abstract until you can look back at something you've been doing all along over the years and see how non-materialistic, how wise really, even if you didn't think so good of yourself. Well, maybe you think bad things when you're not living up to your values. Of course. it makes sense. Never have I wanted to be possessive in a relationship. Maybe I wish it weren't so, but it ain't in me. And I suppose I have to find a way to live by that, and to make it normal, my normal anyway, hard to picture in the mind's eye of popular culture and all its stuff.
I guess it's hard to trust things, maybe even yourself sometimes. Because we've all been disappointed.