Going Quiet

Summer view from our place

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.

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Well Lived

I caught on fire when I was three. This was half a century ago, yet still you will see the handiwork of this fire when I remove my shirt.

Outside, in the gardens, the trees were ripe with lemons. The beach was cool with water.

Recovery took a season — I simplify.

Next I returned to the world, a square of low wooden benches had been set out for the children. This was behind the Mimosa school, in the thin woods. A kookaburra was singing.

I broke my first limb at a glacier – I was skating. Later came the wrist, the scapula, the forearm, the scaphoid and then the wrist again.

I cannot help but think that every injury and slight and pain, is what gives us value, that life well lived is an accumulation of such.

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Setting fire to it

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.

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Seek Neither To Run Nor To Recriminate — that is for other people

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.

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Go Under

When I was in the hospital for depression in my early twenties I imagined that my depression would make me wise. Yet really, depression was like a great beast that stood in my way and prevented me from moving. I was utterly self focused; my pain had taken over the world. When I now read letters I wrote during those days, they read like the letters of a child, or the concussed.

Of course, in hospital — eventually — in the company of the grieving and a group of adults who have all made attempts on their lives — one still learns some lessons. But those lessons come slowly — we learn them obliquely, but surely.

At work the other day I found myself giving advice to a co-worker who wanted to quit after being overlooked for a promotion. But all she needed, I was sure, was six more months, and patience with herself. I found myself telling her to give herself time, to stop fighting.  This obstacle is like a wave, I told her. Don’t go up against the wave. Go under it.

She hasn’t quit yet. I hope it’s a good sign… And here, below Al Franken (Stuart Smalley) giving advice to Michael Jordan.

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Don’t Play Cards with Satan…

He’ll deal you an awful hand.

That’s a song by Daniel Johnston that I love; you can hear — no, scrap that, you can experience it here. Also, I heard on Christian Radio today (I live in a Christian area), that one must never argue with the Devil because the Devil will always win.

This is an experience I have found to be true. I used to worry that knowing , in advance, that another person would outmaneuver me, meant that said person was stronger or mentally quicker than I, but really, it just meant that they were crueler.

Half of life is knowing when to walk away. There is dignity in walking, and humility and peace. Know when to cut and run, friends. The life you save, as they say, may be your own.

I heard the voice of Satan crying in the woods…  

Did I ever stop and tell you I am a desperate man… a desperate man..

Daniel J
Daniel when young
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TED in Gargoyle 69

An audio reading, by me, of my short story Ted is out this summer in a new issue of Richard Peabody’s lit anthology Gargoyle 69.

Ted is the story of loving someone you are not meant to love and how that love will fail — yet there is no real failure in love, is there? Because you always have those first feelings, that attempt, that empathy, and knowledge that you once, at least, and hopefully many times thereafter, lived well enough to throw logic, caution and other people’s judgments to the wind. (Living, it should be called). This is available on a CD here. The beginning lines, I post below:

We drive north, past nursing homes and hospitals, through tunnels in a hillside, alongside the wall of a town, yards full of bikes and clotheslines that spin in circles. He has a place to show me: the air leaden with bottle bushes, pines straight as toothpicks. It is a swimming pool, not tepid, but warm: the way a body is.  We swim naked and alone, the alone is what we like.

Gargoyle 69
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Who are you and why are you here?

Resentment, the monk Thomas Merton wrote, is the means by which we separate ourselves from forces meant to constrain us.

The means by which we separate ourselves from those meant to constrain us

I begin with my family of origin and a recent song that keeps playing in my head:Father’s Song by Celeste. Let go of those who are not like you and you find those who are.

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There are such unfortunates. They use their one-side unanswerable writing to put forth a theory of victimization and shame/pity. I have known a few. Hopefully, I will never be one.

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Going Backwards

is always useful, in term of relationships, because — so it seems to me — whenever one goes back to the past in hope of creating a new or different future, one finds that there is no new future, that there is only a repetition of the past, that caused one so much pain, friends, for a reason, not a mis-step or mistake or misjudgment. But a reason. One need only to accept and inhabit the reason. This is the only way forward. And if you think there is no reason, you must do nothing but wait — for it will come. As Denis Johnson told me at a reading the year he died, “Give it Time.”

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