“Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.” ~ Mawlana Jalal al Din Rum

    

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Advil Cold & Sinus is good, but Theraflu warming relief is better; however, since I only have Advil Cold & Sinus, that will have to do. With any luck, this is just a cold and not the onset of anything else. When I have serious body aches, it’s hard to say whether or not the aches are from my regular pain or whether they have anything to do with being sick, one of the perks (I don’t think so).   

Oh well.   

Last night I just didn’t have the energy for a regular post, and I’m not sure about my output for tonight, but let’s just follow along and see where this takes us . . .   

I have been meaning to comment on the moon, which was absolutely spectacular in its second full moon phase for December. My entire backyard was fully lit in the middle of the night. The frozen surface of the water in the pool glimmered and looked sort of Tolkien.   

I know that those of you who are old enough are familiar with the phrase once in a blue moon, which is a colloquialism for rarely and has nothing to do with the orb’s color.  The phrase blue moon refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, which is an infrequent occurrence, once every 2.5 years to be exact, and the next one is expected in 2012.   

But this year’s blue moon fell on New Year’s Eve, which makes it a generational blue moon; the last blue moon on New Year’s Eve was 19 years ago. Do you remember where you were on New Year’s Eve 1990? Me neither. The next New Year’s Eve blue moon is supposed to appear in the year 2028, after another metonic cycle (which equals 19 tropical years). I won’t even discuss how old I might be when that happens. Anyway, I was aware of this year’s, sorry, last year’s blue moon appearance, but then promptly forgot to mention it in any previous posts, but when I came across the Rumi quote about the reflection of the moon, it stirred my memory.    

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” ~ Henry David Thoreau 

Sunset Over Lake Dora, FL, by Janson Jones

My friend in Alaska, Janson Jones of Floridana Alaskiana, recently posted two beautiful pictures of the sunset, both of which I am featuring, as well as an older photo of moonrise. Janson and his family went to Florida for the winter break, and the sunset images are the first of his photographs from his latest sojourn down south.   

I know that I’ve been posting a lot of winter and snow pictures, but I thought that for a change of pace tonight I would mix a few beautiful sunsets from warmer area of the lower 49 along with some images of  the moon.   

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

It’s a Thoreau kind of night, by that I mean a bit reflective, a bit peaceful. I return to Thoreau frequently as I have always found great beauty in his words. Thoreau’s ideas about nature, simplicity, friendship, reading, writing, and truth fill me with a sense of quietude far deeper than most other philosophers. One quote in particular, which I found years ago, has always stayed with me: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”   

I was much younger when I found that particular quote, and only in recent years have I begun to appreciate its true meaning. When I think back on all of the pained, vapid verse and prose that I wrote, ink-stained fingers from agonized pauses, searches for just the right phrase to declare my angst, my heartbreak, my despair. Thank god that I don’t know where most of that work is because I think that I would probably burn it if I ever came across it.   

Don’t misunderstand. I’m hardly declaring myself a genius with the written word. Rather I’m saying that now that I have lived much more of life—have stood up for things, have been knocked down by other things, have loved, lost, raged, crashed, gotten back up, fallen, gotten back up, retreated, gone back in—now that I have tasted some measure of life, I believe that I finally understand what Thoreau meant.   

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Years ago, before Google could return a search on subject quotes in a millisecond, people actually had to read a great deal to amass a collection of quotes. And before I ever had a computer, I had a quote journal. It’s still around here somewhere. I used to (still do, actually) cut things out of newspapers and magazines, copy passages I had read, write down the words to songs. Anytime I came across words that I found inspiring, or touching, or life-changing in their intent, I stole them openly and added them to my collection.   

Moonrise Over Long Key, FL by Janson Jones

Now, I still like to find my quotes from places other than quote sites. For example, several blogs that I read use a lot of quotes. Goodreads is also a wonderful source of quotes, and then of course, there are all of the books.   

I have written many times that I collect certain things—books, boots, purses, pens—admittedly to the point of clutter at times, but there is no doubt that what I collect more than anything else in the world, what I earnestly seek, unearth, amass, record, and return to again and again are words, in particular words from other people—writers, philosophers, poets, journalists, artists—those who have experienced life in a different way than my own experiences, or those whose insight I value, or those with whom I find great empathy.  

Words are phenomenal things. They have the power to soothe, to enrage, to instill, to oppress. Words used by a charismatic personality can take a group of people who are indifferent to a cause and ignite within them a desire to act. Give words and a forum to an aggressive individual who desires power without justice, and you can create a dictator. The right words spoken to a young person who is seeking reinforcement can instill the confidence to go on; just as hateful words spoken out of anger can be more injurious than a weapon. 

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” ~ Henry David Thoreau  

Sunset 2 Over Lake Dora, FL, by Janson Jones

I suppose my reflective mood may come from the school project that I typed recently for Brett, one in which he had to research one decade for each of four centuries in American history. The most interesting part of the project was that Brett had to identify an iconic quote, work of literature, piece of music, person and event for each decade. So much delving into history always makes me thoughtful about where we have been as a nation, as a people, as a community, as humanity.   

Brett chose the 1690s, the time of the Salem Witch trials; the 1780s, the post-Revolution and first Congress; the 1860s, the Civil War, and the 1960’s, a time of massive social change in America. There was so much information as each of those decades were times of social reform, cultural divisiveness, upheaval and unrest in society, and governmental change

I don’t know how one could help but be moved when reading the words of individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and of course, Thoreau, not to mention reading the words to songs of generations past.   

So I will close with this passage from one of Thoreau’s journals (1840):   

No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written. Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore. So much increase of terra firma, this may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed.    

More later. Peace.   

 Annie Lennox’s  beautiful “Fingernail Moon,” of course:   

    

   

                                                                                                           

From St. Nadie in Winter by Terrance Keenan    

One day, my dear,
you stop and look around you,
find yourself stuffing needs into a sack of thoughts,
realize you have talked your life to pieces,
scratched your self to bits,
that neither hope nor doubt
can protect you,
that you are not mistaken,
that you haven’t lost your grip –
it is dissolving.
Now you can speak about everything silently.

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That is the question . . .

 

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Now That’s A Horse of A Different Color

One of my very dear friends invited me to join Twitter so that I could keep up with her life. I sent her an e-mail saying that I just didn’t think that I could take up yet another computer habit.

It’s not that I don’t want to stay in contact with my friends who Twitter. The truth is, I don’t believe that I would be a good Twittererererer. Please, if you don’t believe me, just look at one of my entries. I average 1200 words per post. The people who read me regularly must really like me or enjoy my cynicism. I don’t know how to do 150 characters or less or whatever the optimum Twitter limit is.

I can picture it now:

Twitter from James:

“Hey. What’s up?”

Response from me:

“Well, my head is exploding. The tiles are falling off the wall in the bathroom, and I’m pretty sure that there is extensive water damage. Jeez that’s going to cost a lot of money, and well, who has money right now? Eamonn is driving me up the wall, and I just found out the Ranch flavord Doritos have MSG, which is probably why they give me headaches. Why didn’t I ever notice it before? Do you /

Cut off in midstream.

I would spend a good 10 minutes yelling about how inane it is to expect anyone to be able to respond in so few words, and then I would try to pick up midstream where I left off in another Twitter, by which time, Jammi has tweeted me back about five times.

Let’s try again.

Twitter from James:

“Hey. Things are good here. How are u?”

Response from me:

“Would it have taken that much longer to type you? You type an ungodly fast speed, as fast as I do, probably faster. How are things good? What happened? Did Korb actually make it through the night two nights in a row? That’s fantastic. Boys are so much easier to potty train than girls, but you have to watch out because they get sneaky and hide behind end tables sometimes when they don’t want to take the time to go to the bathroom. I remember one time when Eam/

ARGHH!

Jammi, I love you. I miss you, and I wish that we still talked daily. I wish that you were on your way through Chick Fil ‘a, picking us a sweet tea for both of us, yours without lemon, mine with, and that we were working the floor together, just the two of us. Then we could try on clothes and pretend that we didn’t hear the pages. I miss seeing Kennedy grow. I hate that I don’t know Korb. I think that Kyle and Corey would really like each other. But sweetheart. I can’t Twitter. It’s impossible. You know that it is. I even text in complete sentences with punctuation.

I have a better idea. Why don’t you guys move back east? Then we could talk to each other face to face . . .

So, dear readers, what do you think? Am I cut out for Twittering? I mean Rachel Maddow does it. Obama did it. Demi and Ashton Twitter each other all day long (but I think that I’m just jealous because Demi still has such a rockin bod, and I don’t).

To Twitter or not to Twitter . . .

I’ll try one more time.

James:

“Hey. What snoo?”

Me:

“Nothing.”

Lying is easier than trying to be succinct. I hate that . . .

More later. Peace.

                                                                                                                      

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The New American Dream: Barack Obama’s Speech to the DNC

I watched the Democratic National Convention last week with a sense of nostalgia. I hadn’t seen the Dems this pumped since Clinton/Gore. For the first time in a long time, the party actually pulled it off: Hillary and Bill got on board; Kerry delivered the speech he should have delivered four years ago; Al Gore was polished, but he should have paused just a bit more. But Biden, Biden delivered big time for Barack Obama and set the stage for the Thursday night speech that ran 42 minutes and left this full-time cynic actually willing to believe again. More people tuned in to watch this man speak than watched the opening of the Olympics, and that alone should tell you something. The first outdoor acceptance speech since JFK was predicted to be light on substance and heavy on political rhetoric, in other words, dream-filled and abstract.

Obama’s speech was packed with proposed policy details, specifically the country’s current economic crisis. It was bold and liberal and unifying. His speech contained strong statements such as this: “We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe.” I actually got chills. Remarkable. In a less effective speaker’s hands, the words would not have had such a dramatic effect.

The man is a born orator, the kind this country hasn’t seen since JFK. He knows how to reach beyond rhetoric and touch the hearts of the common man and woman who are aching to hear something that will give them something to cling to. Like this: “America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this . . . We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.”

I know that I want to be part of a better country than the American of these last eight years. I know that I do not want another four years of the same, no matter how honorable McCain is as a person. We need more than a man who is respected by many people because of his past deeds but who believes that America is on the right track. And Obama was clearly aware of this difference by targeting McCain’s policies in his speech, but never attacking the man himself.

And for those who still want to believe in some type of American Dream, hold on to this:

“You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

“We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

……….

“And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

The American Dream may have been lost for a while. We may have forgotten how to dream because we were so busy just trying to make do in this harsh reality that has been our lives–the lives in which milk costs $6 a gallon and bread almost $2 a loaf; health insurance is a luxury for many, and dental insurance is completely out of reach. City public schools have classroom sizes of up to 40. A college education without assistance for most families is not possible. The infant mortality rate for the U.S. still ranks with some third world countries. Some of our warriors are on their third tour of duty in Iraq. Foreclosures on homes continue to rise, as do the number of bankruptcies. Families in which both parents work, forcing more latchkey children, continue to become the necessity, not the exception. Three years after Katrina, we still have people who have not been helped. So tell me, is it any wonder that our dreams have taken a back seat? The have-nots far outnumber the haves, yet those who continue to live with platinum parachutes and bypass paying taxes through loopholes don’t have to wonder about the price of gas, bread, or milk, and health insurance is hardly a concern.

Yet the intrepid doers still hold on. We still put out our flags on Memorial Day and the 4th of July because something in us continues to believe in this country of ours. And with luck, perhaps more people than ever will exercise their right to vote this November, instead of taking that right for granted. I don’t care if they are voting because they don’t want a black man as president or a woman as vice president. At least they are participating in the process, and that is their right, whether or not I agree with their choice.

But dammit, at least they have that right, and with any luck, maybe they’ll have a taste of a new American Dream, or at least a remembrance of the old one. We deserve that. We all deserve that. It is not too much to hope for. I refuse to believe that.