Tuesday evening. Partly cloudy, hot and humid, 90s.
Had some energy when I got out of bed for the first time in two weeks, so of course I overdid it cleaning………..
Once I could imagine my soul I could imagine my death. When I imagined my death my soul died. This I remember clearly.
My body persisted.
Not thrived, but persisted.
Why I do not know.
When I was still very young
my parents moved to a small valley
surrounded by mountains
in what was called the lake country.
From our kitchen garden
you could see the mountains,
snow covered, even in summer.
I remember peace of a kind
I never knew again.
Somewhat later, I took it upon myself
to become an artist,
to give voice to these impressions.
The rest I have told you already.
A few years of fluency, and then
the long silence, like the silence in the valley
before the mountains send back
your own voice changed to the voice of nature.
This silence is my companion now.
I ask: of what did my soul die?
and the silence answers
if your soul died, whose life
are you living and
when did you become that person?
~ Louise Gluck
It Is Not the Fact That I Will Die That I Mind
but that no one will love as I did
the oak tree out my boyhood window,
the mother who set herself
so stubbornly against life,
the sister with her serious frown
and her wish for someone at her side,
the father with his dreamy gaze
and his left hand idly buried
in the fur of his dog.
And the dog herself,
that mournful look and huge appetite,
her need for absolute stillness
in the presence of a bird.
I know how each of them looks
when asleep. And I know how it feels
to fall asleep among them.
No one knows that but me,
No one knows how to love the way I do.
~ Jim Moore
Music by Poets of the Fall, “Where Do We Draw the Line?
“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real.” ~ Libba Bray, from A Great and Terrible Beauty
Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and cold, low 40’s.
Things I believe in:
the Oxford comma
friendship on a daily basis
dreams (as in sleeping) as reflections of our lives
the inestimable power of music to move
the unmistakable humanity of dogs
the existence of true good and real evil in the world
there is always hope
“We all walk in mysteries. We are surrounded by an atmosphere about which we still know nothing at all.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, letter dated 23 July 1820
Things I know for certain:
Turning 40 changes your life in ways you cannot fathom for years to come
Melancholy is a way of life
Being different is both hard and easy
Revenge is counterproductive, which doesn’t lessen its desirability
I belong in front of a college classroom
I will always miss Caitlin, my father, and Mari
I have lived through momentous points in history but have failed to notice
The mirror is not my friend
I have surprised myself with the quality of some of the things I have written
I did not win the lottery
“There are so many lives of which I know nothing. Even my own.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Unnameable Heart”
Things I don’t know well enough—yet:
How to choose a friend wisely
How rain sounds on a tin roof
My own soul
How to believe in myself
How to be still, really still
How to be comfortable in my own skin
How to make and apply fondant on a fancy cake
How to renovate a house from top to bottom
How to find a literary agent
Where to find my place in the sun
“. . . the compulsion to repeat what one has experienced is like gravity, and it takes special equipment to break away from it.” ~ Edward St. Aubyn, from The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind
Things I will never do:
Parachute out of a plane (used to be on my bucket list)
Have my picture taken while a snake is wrapped about my shoulders (I would die of fright first)
Go back on a promise (as long as it is within my power)
Race in the Tour de France (well, duh)
Dye my hair blond
Dance on a table (again)
Ride a big wave
Be sorted into a house at Hogwarts
Travel in a TARDIS
Not have a dog in my life
“We all want to take our lives in our own hands and hurl them out among the stars.” ~ David Bottoms, from “Coasting Toward Midnight at the Southeastern Fair”
Things on my bucket list I may actually achieve some day:
Photograph a feeding hummingbird
Photograph a hawk in flight
See the New Year’s Eve fireworks show in Sydney
Fly a glider (yep, still want to do this)
Go to Ireland
Retile a room, walls and floor
Relax in a natural hot spring
Go to the Louvre
Go back to London and visit the places I knew as a child
Read everything Virginia Woolf ever wrote, including diaries
Have floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves filled to the brim with books of poetry, fiction, and some science and history
See the Northern lights and the Great Barrier Reef
See Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge and all of the stone circles across Europe
Publish a real book that people will want to read
“The heart is forever inexperienced.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Things I will love until the day I die:
A mockingbird’s song
The smells of fresh lavender, lilac, and rosemary
A cup of hot tea
Fresh bread still hot enough to melt butter
Black leather boots
A long, hot bath scented with bath salts
A neck massage
The smell of the air after a spring rain
The feel of fine, soft, squishy leather purses and jackets
Paper in all colors and weights
Handwritten letters and notes
Books, books, books
The certainties of cemeteries and waterfalls, mountains and oceans, and the moon in the night sky
“Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes
The smell of 4711 cologne
Music by Bruno Mars (feat. Lindsey Stirling, Alex Boye’, & the Salt Lake Pops), “Grenade”
All images are mine, my concept of chiaroscuro.
As I Grew Older
It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun—
And then the wall rose,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky—
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Wednesday night. Still hot and humid.
First let me say that I have no idea what is going on with my fonts. Everything on my WordPress is smaller. The fonts on my dashboard are smaller, and the internal header sizes that I’ve been using for months are now smaller than before. Please let me know if my pages look funny, or if the formatting seems off.
Now on to other things . . .
I need to preface what I am about to write with a short background story: When I was in charge of the computer labs while teaching in the English department at ODU, I had a run-in with a colleague who had been a bit shirty with the students who worked for me. I fired off a memo to this colleague, and did not listen to my own inner voice, which said, calm yourself first.
We had a tiff. We got over it, but I felt terrible. I learned a valuable lesson: retorts need time to bake properly and should always be allowed to simmer for a while. Or as the old Klingon proverb states: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
However, this is actually not about revenge; this is about justice.
“I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
I recently learned that an acquaintance has been making disparaging remarks about me, using my blog as fodder in a smear campaign. Unfortunately, WordPress does not allow blocking of IP addresses, or I would have taken the simplest route. Having said that, I must admit to being a bit peeved that my own words, my precious, precious words were being taken out of context and undergoing armchair psychoanalysis.
Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . .
When I decided to begin this blog, I knew that I was putting myself out there, so to speak, that I was inviting strangers in to take a peek at my life, that I was willingly subjecting myself to possible derision. For these reasons, I have held back (no, really, I have) on certain topics and certain events. Not everything should be open for perusal by anyone who happens to stop by. I have shared information about my family, its workings, its quirks, yet I have respected the privacy of each family member.
On a few occasions, I have written posts that I have deemed too personal, and I have made these posts private.
Occasionally, I have gotten a troll, and Akismet has protected me from a boatload of spam. But there is no protection from a virtual stalker—the individual who has no problem in appropriating sections of my life whole cloth, and then making of that cloth whatever he or she deems appropriate.
This simply will not do. Aside from the blatant bad manners of it all, what has happened borders on defamation. Trust me when I say that I hold my character quite dear, as should we all, and I will not tolerate an assassination of my character or that of any member of my family. Let’s just say cease and desist is now part of my researched vocabulary.
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
But to be honest, what has me angrier than anything else is that I actually considered making my entire blog private for a bit, and I also considered the possibility of going on hiatus. I was going to allow myself to be cowed; I, who pride myself on my ability to reason intelligently, was going to allow this individual to affect my writing, nay to affect my life.
Nope. Sorry. I refuse to do so.
Nothing makes me angrier than when I get angry at myself, when I start to blame myself for things over which I have no control, and I certainly cannot, nor do I choose to control the actions of another person. Being the staunch believer in free will that I am, I must stand by my convictions, especially when I know that I have not acted inappropriately, that I have not broken any laws, that I have acted only in the best interests of those around me.
So, to be blunt, do with this what you will.
“Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief” ~ The Buddha
These things I will not do:
Stop writing out of fear of being misconstrued or in an attempt to calm waters that cannot be quelled.
Stand idly by whilst a human being—correction, any human being—is being cowed into submission.
Cease in speaking the truth, the truth as I see it, the truth as I know it.
Allow myself to write out of anger, nor will I censor myself so that I do not cause offense. Reading blogs is an entirely optional activity, that is the beauty of the Internet: the big X in the upper right hand corner that closes the page, thus ending the discourse.
Allow anyone to speak ill of my family under any circumstances.
Allow anyone to harm my family under any circumstances.
Tolerate personal, private information being disseminated in attempts to smear my good name.
Fall prey to the machinations of another individual.
Presume to know that which I cannot know; assume that everyone operates under the Golden Rule; resume my petty, vindictive streak which I have worked so hard to overcome.
“The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons: Greed, anger, and delusion.” ~ Bodhidharma
These things I vow to do:
Continue to be true to myself with no attempts to soft-sell myself or my beliefs.
Write and post my blogs as I feel the need.
Be a bit more mindful of the dangers that lurk in virtual reality.
Continue to work in my own way for truth, justice, and the common good.
Share information that I think my reading audience might find interesting, entertaining, or helpful.
Be true to my wit, my character, and my personae—both the real and the creative.
Remind myself not to allow negative external forces over which I have no control to affect me adversely.
Remember my Shakespeare: “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” (Hamlet I,v)
Kill them with kindness.
“Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
I have at my disposal two of the greatest weapons ever given to human kind: my mind and the truth. I have no need to lie or to stretch the truth to suit my needs. I have no desire to become embroiled in an imbroglio not of my making.
I may not have the desire, but that does not mean that I do not remain an estimable force. Having said that, at the end of the day, what I feel now more than any other emotion is pity.
As that old misogynist Nietzsche said, “one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied.”
Music by Meredith Brooks . . . “Bitch”
What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark
this difficult tree?
What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?
The sky whitens, goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.
What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.
~ Christian Wiman
*All images taken from Russell Tomlin’s photostream on Flickr. Many thanks.