Don’t Let It Get You Down

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Don’t Let It Get You Down

Let me tell you something. You may have a wife, or husband, or somebody you’re legally married to, and maybe also parents, and children, or family people you have dependent on you, and you fret, you worry, and anticipate that they may tangle you up in another drama or crisis or legal or emotional mess, and it may drag on and on and on, and weigh you down, and suck up your time, and drain your bank account, and eat up your paychecks, and gobble up you house, and you just want to figure out how to plan for a smooth getaway without sacrificing your love of your needing ones or making you feel guilty about betraying them, and no government, or bank, or church, or relatives, or EMTs, or hospital, or friends, which don’t actually exist, are going to land johnny-on-the-spot like Superman or Batman and rescue you when the disaster finally strikes and knocks you flat, because everybody else is in the same suspended hazard as you are and has no slack in their lives to worry about anybody else, or they are filthy rich and making book on the general misery so no way are going to be sympathetic to nobodies like you, and so you ask yourself: will I and my people be okay?, will we make it smoothly all the way?, can I just get a clear sign not to worry?, can I know that all will be safe?, can I be sure that they won’t wig out? So, let me tell you the truth: everybody — is — fucking — nuts. Count on it. Best you can do is be ready to jump to it when the shit hits the fan, and to dance with the disaster without freaking out, and let go of what you’ll need to accept is being ripped off from you, and forget having anyone care about your personal emotional drama on it all, or about getting the right mood pills and needles to cocoon you in evaporating amnesias, because there’s no out from the zone for you however much you would like to think there is, and you’ll need to do all that letting go so you can keep going on and keep as much of your sanity as you can manage, without giving up. So that’s the truth: there’s no hope and don’t give up. Maybe you’ll win life’s lottery and all will be fine, just don’t plan on it. Maybe it’s all part of God’s Plan for you to bring you a deeper truth out of a world of pain, well that’s all bullshit for suckers so forget it: nothing good comes out of pain and suffering, at best there is only relief if and when it stops. And after that, recovery?, well that’s just good luck; bad luck is called “relapse,” end of parole, back in the slammer, yeah you were framed, wasn’t everybody? But aren’t some people guilty because they’re stupid? Yeah well, everybody’s stupid to some degree or other, and face it we have all decided that we have to die way sooner than we really have to because we have to stay stupid, we must, because that is who we are. We call that freedom, rights, comfort, even religion. See what I mean: stupid. So there you have it: everybody’s fucking nuts, you live in their insane asylum, there’s no way out and we’re all going to die alone together from now until the cows come home. There’s no hope, just don’t let it get you down, and don’t give up. Might as well enjoy the show. Now, can I get an “amen?” Oh, and don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe”!

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Warmth of Light Beyond Words

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Warmth of Light Beyond Words

Today, I saw the early dawn sky over the ridge on the far side of my canyon lighten from deep dark to softening grey, through the freshly rained-on forest standing on my downslope. Then the sky diffused into soft blue. A burst of brilliance on the east point of the ridge-cusp signaled the emergence of the Sun. That sharp white light streamed out to me skimming the glistening green of the forest floor below me making the new sprouts carpeting the ground radiate their green glow and igniting the uncountable number of droplets in the forest to sparkle. The clarity of the cool air made every surface that light fell on crystalline sharp down to vanishing detail, and the warmth of that light penetrated into me and everything as I watched it pass the coiling swirls of my breath’s evaporating condensation rising slowly into the advancing day.

The sound of dawn was a scattered chorus of birdsong, some distant and some quite close, like the hummingbirds twizzling and twittering as they buzzed boring through the air and sending me their acknowledgments for the sugarwater I hang from the eave of the house in glass feeders. My cat, who is a fluffy splotch of night, fixed his knowing yellow searchlight eyes on me as a brother of the dawn outside the house then looked up to a hummingbird he knew he could never reach and with a flick of his tail walked off into his jungle. To have a true knowing connection with an animal it is necessary to always show them a consistency of kindness that gives them complete freedom. The same is true of making a true knowing connection with another human, but humans are less reliable in their behavior than are other animals.

If someone asked me for an understanding of the human world by dividing it into just two categories, I would have to give them as: those who are suffering, and those who relieve suffering. We each spend parts of our lives in each category, and sometimes in both at once. If I were then tasked to state just one rule that each person was supposed to follow, as the purpose of individual life, it would be: spend as little time as possible causing suffering.

Our human world is steadily and unevenly dying because we resist allowing ourselves to fashion societies and their governments that are designed entirely to relieve suffering. Were that so, I cannot see how Nature would not favor us with environments that were paradises despite their majestic ferocity.

I came back into the house to spend some hours writing this while looking out my large window at the expanding morning, and just as I was finishing my cat nosed his way past the door of my room, jumped up on the bed next to me, and I stopped writing to very slowly and gently stroke his lush black sheen just as he likes for quite a while, as he arched his back into my hand and then gradually coiled up laying down. He moves as smoothly as an eddy of smoke in still air. He would look into my eyes and bob his head, and I knew he wanted me to run my dull claws across the back of his neck and back along the line of his lips, as he began the deep internal vibration we call purring. His inner eyelids closed as his eyes rolled back while his outer lids closed, and he smoothed down his shiny fur with his rasping tongue before resting into an elegant quiet stillness.

It is all here wherever you are: to see, to know, to feel, and to be. That is my one wish for everybody.

17 December 2021

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I

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I

Quantum mechanics is the condensation of existence out of nothingness, which statistics coalesce into continuity and causality, to roil as an ocean of heat that expands into entropy dissipating all memory into a fathomless frigidity of unbeing. God is in the hopes and hubris of man, Goddess is in the anxieties and emergent life by woman, the Afterlife is the Afterdeath of Consciousness dissolved and reabsorbed. Humanity will flourish to the extent it is generous, and it will perish to the extent that it is selfish, enlightenment is to know, salvation is to do, every Heaven is ringed by its necessary Hell of exclusion. Your only glory can be to light a brief candle in the eternal dark, whose afterglow carried in your heart would be your peace on sinking back into the emptiness. Reincarnation is the eruption of knowing from unknowning, the birth of future and past embraced, to diverge on each side of present until they merge once again into the embrace of nonexistence. Wisdom is the glare of sunlight streaming through a rain-bejewelled forest onto the eyes of dreamers lost in their shimmering illusions, moonlight shattered into sparkling ripples on the dark sea of night breathing silence, the entwined songs of life eddying and cascading, rivers to the sea, rains to the mountains, I am all that can be: a moment of the fountain.

— Albert B. Coutras (1889-1977)

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Shoveling Snow, Mowing Lawns

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Shoveling Snow, Mowing Lawns

When I was a kid I used to earn spending money by shoveling snow off other people’s driveways, in winter, and mowing their lawns and planting their trees in summer. This was the ’60s. Winter snow was great fun to go sled riding in, on the biggest hills I could find, some pasture and some very wooded. I’d sweat inside my sweater and coat doing the work, and the play, and it would then freeze hard on the way home (it used to be cold back then). When a job or play finished after sunset the walk home through the hush-white quiet was quite wonderful, especially if moonlit. In December there would be Christmas lights on houses casting their colored lights out from star-like pinpoints. I’d think of music, like Rachmaninoff, on such walks: magical. The summer lawn jobs were an altogether different experience. First off, it was always hot and muggy; you’d get sweaty and grimy doing the job, and also hay fever. But the one compensation was the panorama when you got paid. The suburban housewives were always in stretch-tops and shorts not doing housework inside, and come to the door, often a step up, with Cinerama at eye level. Once one came to the door and stood there with a cocktail in her hand and a Gloria Grahame smile on her face. That was my tip. Others would be out back in their bikinis sunning themselves by their pools. I’d have to go back there when there would be no answer at the door. I had repeat customers for a few years because I was cheaper than the professional services, with snow-blowers, gardening trucks and power tools. But my favorite customer was an old wheelchair-bound disabled man who had a painting studio. He showed me how to paint clouds, with oils, correctly. A great tip. Honest work always deserves just and decent pay, but sometimes the tip is the best part of the job.

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Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving

I am glad to have survived to this point
So I could see this beautiful day
Of bright cool sunshine
Filtering through the trees of my canyon
In this November after the first rains
After the yearlong drought
With the eucalyptus leaves and pine needles
Speckled with gems of light, and
The fresh grasses exuded from the grateful earth
Ablaze with translucent green radiance
From the low winter angle of the rays
Combing through the quiet of life’s renewal
As gentle eddies of breeze caress the fronds
And carry my drifting memories
Back to the afterglow of my distant glories
Freed now of the agonies they required,
And hope that my sins cast out of memory
Have long been forgotten by the aggrieved,
As the freshness of this day has forgotten
The uncountable agonies across eons
It has renewed itself beyond into new gratitude
With its unbounded possibilities
For the simple pure joy of just being.

25 November 2021

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An October Sunday Reflection

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The striving to inject beauty, truth and peace into the world is the noblest of ambitions, and deserving of our appreciation even of those who despite their best efforts in this regard fail miserably to achieve their lofty aims.

On the other hand, success in the ambition of gaining money wealth is no more worthy of admiration and praise than is the abject failure to do so worthy of condemnation. In general, you can make more money in screwing people over than in helping them. This does not speak well for the economics of our society, nor its politics, which both come out of our collective moral character.

We cheat ourselves of experiencing the fullness of life if during the brief spans allotted to each of us we make an idol of material advantages, and our fear of being inadequate for lack of them, and call it God.

Success at being a life is an internal experience unseeable by the external world and thus despite the judgments it paints on you, and despite the disregard it dismisses you with. Thinking this way is how I see continuing with confidence and without apprehension about understanding some ultimate purpose. It is also a sense of solidarity with billions of anonymous souls, here and gone. For me, that is the actual experience of eternal life, and I would wish it for everyone.

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Rainlight

Rainlight

I saw a world dawn today
That will never see another day
As sunlight streams through evaporating mist
Quivering pinpoint rainbow lights
Bejeweled spidersilk enmeshing forest green
Deep out to vanishing sight of glowing sky
Earth’s heaving bosom steaming rising light
To crystallize air fractured by bird calls
Overturning the ceaseless awakening
Pristine indifference to our thoughts
Of self-regarding nothingness grasping void
That disappears all wanting
And can never be all love
The solidity nothingness imagines
Even memories descendants are destined to forget
What never was learned and never remembered
Like the dawning of this world today
A world that will never see another day
Like this blazing taste of freedom in
The glistening rainwater halo on these twining twigs.

From rain to rain,
From rain to light.

Of what use is our warmth
If not to pass on as love to others?
To fear the world’s end
Is to imagine obligating immortality.
Absorb the dawning light
Exhale the breath of night
There is no loss no mystery
Only blissful sleep bathed in light.
Will my bones parch in desert sun?
My legacy a dusty swirl that fades from eyeless sight?
Our lost world ever sinking stern first
Into the cold icy ocean of indifference
While I, a misanthrope write poems of love
To a world made miserable with visions from above
The mindless matter of matterless minds
The perennial pinings of humankind.

19 December 2019 — 19 September 2021

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Here the ways of men divide.
If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe;
if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then search.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

There have been a few times in my life when I could see the total reality of our human world, and where it was going, with complete clarity. 2011 was such a time. This is not to say that I am some kind of genius or seer, but simply that by 2011 I had lived long enough, had learned enough and experienced enough to have my sense of awareness fully opened and finely sharpened to understand the full spectacle on display. It was a fortuitous combination of the flow of life and the pure luck of being. But it was nevertheless true: I saw, I knew, and I wrote some of it all down.

But what I also knew by then was that such moments of insight come with the realization that one is existentially alone: nobody else, however conventionally close and loved, can truly know your experience or feel your truths. And this is always true though one is usually oblivious to it because one is bedazzled by the moment-to-moment immediacy of their enthrallment with their desires and fears and emotions in the ever-changing ever-flowing kaleidoscope of personally experienced life.

So to be fully aware is to realize that one is a perpetual outsider, like Meursault in Albert Camus’s brilliant novel L’étranger. It’s not that I wish to be apart from people I conventionally love — children, spouse, family, even friends — or from the clubs I wish to be a part of, like that of the political Ezekiels ardent to bring about the socialist utopia of brotherhood and sisterhood they can so easily imagine and which few if any are prepared to actually bring about; no, it is simply that the conscious experience of being alive — and knowing — is completely unitary even as we are myriadly interconnected as social beings, as a species, and as organic forms of life.

So my instances of being prescient can only illuminate reality for me, they can never affect the perceptions of others, nor alter the course of human events. In that sense I am Sisyphus, and Meursault, alone in a world of implacable absurdity despite its many miraculous beauties flung across space and time like a spiderweb bejeweled with droplets from the first rainfall of the year now glinting and sparkling in the sun of a fresh new dawn.

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For A Better World

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For A Better World

Utopia is an illusion that can be experienced dynamically, not statically; locally, not universally. You can maintain it for yourself for a while by a continuous effort, in the same way that a juggler maintains the ephemeral sequential image of three, four or five balls suspended as a constellation in midair. Your utopia is like that flickering image of uplift defying the gravity of oblivion because it is entirely an expression of your unrelenting artful input of purposeful energy: it is you. The constellations you juggle into flickering existence have as elements the people you relate to and trade influences with. When your juggling and theirs have resonances, your utopias become shared and sympathetic. If such sympathetic resonances have sufficient scope their utopian dynamic may last beyond a human lifetime, being passed on to subsequent generations. But, how large a scope and long a duration can we reasonably expect such personal utopias to have? Probably that of a family’s experience for a generation or less.

So, the challenge for the person who wishes to live in a world of compassion, of enlightenment and of justice, is to make and continue the effort to juggle a bubble of utopia into existence, despite the evident lack of compassion, enlightenment and justice throughout human history, and throughout so much of the world of the present day: to be ethical, generous, moral and tolerant in a world that seems forever dominated by venality, greed, lack of principles, and brutal intolerance. The challenge is to remain a steadfast and good-humored agent of good while being carried away by a torrent of corruption cascading to perdition: it is to be quixotic without shame. How is one to maintain such a purpose and find fulfillment in such a thankless role? Oblivion’s gravity is endlessly capable of sapping your energies to exhaustion, and oblivion’s glitter is endlessly capable of shattering your ambitions by ridicule and by trapping you into temporal failure: a lone monkey shunned by the collaborationist troop.

Why would anyone persist as such a challenger then? It seems clear that such perseverance emanates out of a sense of self-respect and self-worth: the maintenance of personal character measured against an absolute scale of moral conduct, without reliance on social bonds for the support of morale. This is pure defiance and pure celebration, the ultimate in self expression and self abnegation. It is the brave social insanity of a fully aware and fully sane person immersed in the insanity of a cowardly and tribal world, and resisting it. The radiation of such personal power, by lived example, is what can influence and resonate with others and possibly coalesce into the psychological and physical forces that levitate what few utopias exist at any given moment.

“Character is fate,” and utopia is personal character maintained in defiance of the overwhelming forces of assimilation, decay and inertia. To fret about “the end of the world,” which is always increasingly likely to occur as our history advances, is to pin our hopes on the illusory externality of a general coming together of human vision onto a consensus for moral action for the common good. The self-realized quixotic challengers for utopia know this is impossible, and that the continuation of whatever decency of existential experience they have managed to juggle into being are only propelled by self-generated and self-directed efforts independent of societal externalities. For them the end of the world is the collapse of decency consequent to the collapse of self, and the collapse of personal integrity, regardless of the collective course of fractious society. Objectively, our physical and social world could easily end, and soon, catastrophically and painfully. But, subjectively, no one of us is compelled to implode their intellectual and moral selves in collaborationist surrender to the many forces of decay leading to that extinction. We always have the power to seek sharing a nobility of lived experience regardless of what external reality confronts us with. Survival is a matter of chance, nobility is a matter of choice. Be well in that realization.

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First of May in World’s Autumn

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First of May in World’s Autumn

Bright sunlight falls through clear air with fresh coolness in the shadows touching skin with warmth as imperceptible eddies sway green leaves gently beneath a blue sky under which an unmeshing fragmenting spray of white wispiness skims over the hillcrests framing my canyon ringing with the songs of thrushes, the darting sparkling forays of twizzling hummingbirds, and the chirping calls of White-Throated swifts swooping all about to and fro from their attic-hidden nests through corridors of tree fronds with scattered emerging hints of drought yellowing, while Brown Creepers flutter by in their nervously butterfly-like dropping flight hops; and all is under the confident and commanding eyes of Red-Tailed Hawks, a pair, wheeling majestically so close overhead, their shadows whisking across the panorama arrayed to view, their tails glowing gold with translucent sun, their arcing wingtip feathers scribing crisp the moment flashed to eye onto the crystal of memory.

O Nietzsche! Reading your words is like gargling with gravel to sift out gold! I am sinking in my deepening dotage awash in memories of youthful debaucheries! Is this deserved punishment for my unintended cruelties and ignorant harshness, or rewarded grace for my clumsy kindnesses and stumbling harmlessness?

I marinate in memories of your presence, my fulsome love, flesh-instilled beyond the force of thought, punished by the absence of presence irredeemable by time, rewarded by the presence of absence of fading spirit, the scent and hunger and skin-feel of that lost eternity of your warm smiling gaze enfolding all. My candle flames melting the cold hardened wax of the past lofting its vaporous luminosity into the pitch blackness of all futures’s oblivion, a flare along the passage from the unknown to the forgotten. Stars are the luminous hot bubbles of light in the roiling cold boil of existence into nonexistence, time into timelessness, space into self-absorption, substance into void.

Smoke from extinct rainbows burnt in offerings by dead souls to imaginary gods lifts memories of lost oceans into night’s blackness to fall slowly rolling down from canyon rim hillcrests the cool mist diffusing space disappearing before penetrating earth’s thirsting embrace, submerging this island of forest in an ocean of quiet whose silence can be heard far past distant unseen horizons beyond which the sun is being reborn in the womb of eternity, as hummingbirds sit hunched on their perches snoring. The singing light of day again will wake me soon, for all I know.

1 May 2021

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