Some things are so primal. We find ourselves hurling insults that have been used against us. Not that anyone has ever called me a whore. But you get the idea. Today, when every other interaction seems to have the possibility of violence, I strive to distance myself. Because I believe there are bigger fights at hand. Because it is to those that we must pay attention. The universe contains to expand, as does human life. And in the end, expansion reaches completion. Nebulae — did you know, they are made of the debris of dead stars, that then becomes, under gravity, a new star.
I had what some might call a religious experience at age 23 or so. It was so fantastic and wild and forceful — it ripped the skies open and the skies invited me in.That was at the beginning of the life I chose to lead instead — life of the every man/person, life of the soldier, a life that has veered, as some of you know, from Manhattan to the outback, riches to poverty, dining with the Mafioso and the one-percenter, the Reverend and the murderer. Chaos. Life. Don’t mind the broken bones. Don’t mind the star showers. Once, I stood on the top of a hillside in New Zealand with my cousin Ted. I reached up at dusk as if to touch the bristling orange planet Mars. It was as close to earth that night as it had ever been and I have often thought — after my worlds at various times, fell apart — And if you had not been abandoned, how would you have become yourself?
Steve is a police officer. I watch him calming down some men in a fight in Soho. I am so impressed by this — by his calmness and his presence and quiet authority — I began talking to him. He is forty-two and retiring next year. He has seen gruesome things, he says, mentioning a head in a bucket. Yet somehow he is unjaded. He is light and gentle and almost pure. Last year, he tells me, he “shot an individual in the line of duty.” The individual didn’t die, but Steve is being given a medal for bravery. Do I want to come to the award ceremony, Steve asks? I do. It is near Police Plaza, one Saturday in August. I wear my best clothes. Steve and fifteen thousand other police wear their blue uniforms. Mayor Guiliani is there and applauds all the bravery. We receive pamphlet about bravery and it turns out thatall the acts of bravery being honored today involved the shooting of individuals. — 52 MEN. It’s on Kindle now, read the rest of the story in which he passes me his gun.
Because humans are scant right now, in the rural area where we live, the birds and waterfowl are showing new force. For the first time in years, the geese are coming up from the lake and then the bay and the creek, and settling into the grass with their fluff ball newborns. The trees around, many with leaves still coming in, are wild with birds, all flecks and splashes of color: the robin, the blue jay, the red winged blackbird, a warbler flickering gold.
Then we have the white swan and the blue heron, all coming nearer as it is quiet without the mowing of lawns and gatherings of neighbors. Overhead, usually at dusk, the turkey buzzards swoop closer and closer to us. I really can’t do it justice.
This groundhog keeps coming out to chew on the dandelion — who knew that the groundhog is a vegetarian?
Meanwhile, we bought a pink flower at a local nursery — it was called ‘the wave.’ In just a few days it has become five blooms.
Some lilac shoots arrived in a bag in the mail with a sign that said PLANT IMMEDIATELY.
“Now that lilacs are in bloom She has a bowl of lilacs in her room And twists one in her fingers while she talks. “Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know What life is, you who hold it in your hands”
as I quoted in my high school yearbook — because I knew that while all of life was before me, I could not, for various reasons at the time, be at ease in it. (T.S. Eliot)
Paul Dodd can make art from a nail on the wall, and a photo from a slice of light, and a song out of a breadstick. Ok, I haven’t heard the breadstick song, but I can imagine it. Today is his birthday, and I want to thank him for being alive. He and his wife Peggi Fournier are the kind that, when you’re new in town, make you feel that for sure, you’ve made a good move.
Odd thing is, Paul and Peggi came to us, as my step-daughter likes to say, as complete randoms…
they were our neighbors….
I am often bashful about expressing my love, but I love you Paul and Peggi. Here is a photo of Peggi and us and a painting by Paul — which he painted from a mugshot in the newspaper. He has a whole series of these paintings, and one on his old basketball team… You can unlock the mysteries on Paul and Peggi’s site PopWars.com.
I cannot help but see this virus from mother nature as a wake-up call. Forget your life. Get up. You think you know what time it is? It’s time to pray.
We treat the world so badly. I won’t be sorry to leave the human race. Perhaps the real test is not how we ‘build’ our own lives but how we treat other living things, from people to animals to the smallest birds.
And as for trees —
all those tiny leaves out there — how few us are we, compared to you.
SO much has been going on, but when hasn’t it been? I swear, since the year 2000/2001 I have felt like a fugitive with a great wind at my back. Which isn’t so bad, as I always feel ALIVE, but lately I’ve been thinking of scaling back, of keeping my energy to myself. Imagine, how much I could do — how much we could all do — keeping one’s energy to oneself? If we don’t dissipate it, but focus it, it can be as sunlight through a glass to paper — setting the world on fire. Good news: I have been as the sunlight lately. Bad news, it took some wasted time getting to this. But such, in my humble experience, is always the way.
I think one of the best recommendations I have ever read is from an old and dear book of my youth that attempts to keep readers out of trouble. This recommendation, that lives in me always is, “Seek neither to run nor to recriminate.” In this, I feel, one does the least harm. And even if one has been harmed oneself, or harmed another and made amends — or not depending on if the other party has cut you dead — one does not continue the harm, but lets it go.