Friday, October 26, 2012

Good Grief (the Cartoonist said)

by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."                     
So let us melt, and make no noise,                                       5
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys
    To tell the laity our love. 
Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                              10
But trepidation of the spheres,
    Though greater far, is innocent. 
Dull sublunary lovers' love
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                     15
    The thing which elemented it. 
But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           20
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
    Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 
If they be two, they are two so                                          25
    As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 
And though it in the centre sit,
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                                30
It leans, and hearkens after it,
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                    35
    And makes me end where I begun.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Friends Forever

Forever Friends hardly need assurance. We each do what we do on our daily basis without necessarily knowing what the other does at all. Dentist surgery, even heart check-ups are par for the course. Furniture acquisition, moves from one place to another, the new, the old, the regular, the dreamed. These are the things of life that keep us going, but the details are just that. Forever friends will unexpectedly drop you a line, occasionally, a silvered and gold thread of words that re-establishes the connection, tenuously, then disappear again. But none of that really matters; it just remains important. As Sancho sings: "I really like him!"

The importance is in that we remain friends, people who know of and like one another. Caring for is another matter; it takes work. A dear friend of mine wields friendship like a verb. It is an almost daily delight of touchstones (given today's ease of email and texting), and it is neither trivial nor mundane; his interests are too far ranging to be that. But it does take the conscious effort (or will) to reach out and write. And we can hardly be expected to do that for everyone. It might take up an hour or more of a person's day! So we continue our daily fare with our friends in mind, here and there. The thoughts we give them are retrospective, a memory, or immediate, an interest in the moment. But our own lives are complex enough and so we do not continuously write, phone, or communicate. Yet were the phone to ring, an email to arrive, the feeling would be as though we saw them but yesterday.

Trouble is, the uncertainty. There are so many friends that I would assure of my interest, my affection, my care. But I do not make a verb of these feelings; they remain nouns, gerunds tucked away without surcease of unrequited intentions. The letters do not get written. The feelings do not get revealed. There is an expectation that the other will understand. There is an expectation that the other feels the same. Does the same.

Birthdays and Christmas are the worst. Missing the other's birthday would appear a total lack of care. Mike, when is yours? Mike? Michael? And you are not the only three M's on my list. I could be sending a present by post every week for the amount of people I like, would want to please. Facebook certainly alerts me to that. This week is Naomi's birthday. And since I know some seven Naomi 's only one of you, reading this, might know that I thought of you. Yes?

Point is, this is no exoneration. Nor is it an excuse for my own lack of contact. Rather, it is an examination. It is what it is. We each are engaged somehow with something in the moment, and so the days unfold, each by each. And as the years move us on there is a dropping off of familiarity, a definite unknowing of the particulars, a seeming estrangement. One old friend I recently met after a ten or so year absence did not hug me, but put out his hand; we are now somewhat strangers yet to be reunited, or not. Thing is, the liking is still there. The feeling has foundation. But the details will interest, intrigue, start a dialogue, or begin to appear dismissive. Discourse needs be interesting for friendship to flourish, it seems. Or else the typing between us, the phone calls, the letters, end. Friend?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dawn to Dusk

'I am not my body.' Statements like that can be so misleading. In awaiting dawn I send such an email to a dear friend, and then rethink it. I resend: 'We are everything.' With some certainty I recall my childhood dissatisfaction with the apportionment of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Oneness, even then, felt fragmented. God was difficult enough to make obediences toward, why complicate things? And then there was Mother Mary, if not all the Saints, and every Religion too. Perhaps it was last night's late-night watching of Marie Antoinette (Kate Blanchet’s lavish portrayal), or perhaps it was my pained dream that so awoke and invigorated my senses this early morning, but as I type at my window and see the light emerge over the seascape before me, I am compelled yet again to type one of 'those' essays. After all, down on the dark path below my fourth floor window, though it be raining, and though the window whistles and even howls, there is by the glow of the lamplight globes an occasional dog walker, lone jogger, and some or other mysterious soul. In the dark! We are not alone. Heroism is everywhere.

Seems that some psychic instinct in me was always headed toward yoking everything all together. A conceptualization of Oneness was perhaps the foundation of my earliest thinking. Even as a child I delighted in the idea of the Queen on the toilet too. The rank and file of life felt like a dislocation. Below me now a garbage truck drives on the narrow path, stops with orange lights blinking at every container, and empties it. Plenty of packages of poop. Ever dumped warm coffee grinds into a small plastic bag and had that squishy warm goo in the palm of your hand to chuck into the kitchen-catcher? I had dogs; it felt like that. And we make coffee every morning. These are the things that yoke us together: Dog poop, Marie Antoinette, Father, Son, and Mother Mary. Holy cow!

Avoiding expletives is something one can train the mind to do. Many an adult will not swear around children; many a man not swear around a Lady; many a gentleman not hardly ever anywhere (unless that word, a word, be useful, funny, appropriate, pertinent, or relevant.) We give ourselves excuses. But dreams are unbidden. They arise and we can feel ourselves smile in them. We can be lucid. Aware. We can recall them. We can direct our own course in them, rewind, pause, and even redirect the outcome. At least, at times. But not always. Most dreams, for me, lead me by a series of transportations as vivid as flipping through a picture book; I am conscious of the disjoints, disturbed by the lack of continuity, even as I dream. But I swear I do not swear in my dreams; rather, I am more authentic with my physical frustration. My body wishes to be free of pain. What soul does not so wish for itself too? Perhaps this is the real leavening? We release bits of ourselves into the night; yet let us hereby not discount daydreams too.

This three a.m. jolt to consciousness is becoming a habit. It was the rancor in my dream with which I defended myself, due to pain, that had my heart pounding. I could not contribute toward a group-function by laying cutlery on a table. The man, I think it was my alter ego, actually lay contrite at my feet. Yet still I tossed the three pieces of cutlery at his chest. And in my dream, even in the air, I quickly transformed them from a fork, knife, and spoon to three spoons; I did not want to harm. I just wanted to have some attention, some rest, some surcease from the expectations of others.  I recall saying, "I'd like to be driven home now." I guess I just wanted to drive my point home. Painlessly.