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September 16th, 2003

goodbye, mr. journal

I suppose someday I will learn to pre-write journal posts. But there is a pleasing sense of risk when any potential post can be lost in the ether. My "hush puppies as food leads into hush puppies as literary metaphor for mental comfort food", sprinkled with quotes from Warwick Deeping and AJ Cronin, and literary references to a handful of half-forgotten Brit novelists,along with a brief quote from Elvis Costello's "beyond belief", now resides in that afterlife to which departed posts go. I was just swinging into the Argonauts/Argo metaphor, when my on line service lost connection, losing my post. I had summed up my Sunday fatigue, the restorative effect of "goodbye, mr. chips", the fact that I throw the ring into Mount Doom several times a year, and the way that gristmill hush puppies fried in sunflower seed oil in a scalding hot deep cauldron are the best. I was not going to mention, but will mention now, how the sad marital discord of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman reminds me that no matter how attractive, bright and charming people are, they must face the same issues which the rest of us face, and I hope they face them as nobly as possible. I am not sure the Holy Grail is to be found in a beautiful person's eyes, even if that person has eyes like Uma Thurman's. CP Snow had that tag about "The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you'll never find it". I think that one can only be thankful for what goes right in one's life. I found again the A.J. Cronin quote which goes "Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life". I wish to be a better person in each way than I have been, and perhaps I will start with small smiles and thanks. Oh, and getting enough sleep, and being more tactful. Oh, and pre-writing journal posts.

on non-sequitur

"and the lamb lies down on Broadway.
The lamb seems right out of place,
Yet the Broadway street scene finds a focus in its face.
Somehow it's lying there,
Brings a stillness to the air.
Though man-made light, at night is very bright,
There's no whitewash victim,
As the neons dim, to the coat of white"--Peter Gabriel

I always liked the way that the lamb who lies down on Broadway has nothing to do with the rest of the story, but is just lying there. Sometimes I like the way that an image can become part of a conversation which really has nothing to do with anything in the conversation. It hovers, somehow, in mid-air, completely irrelevant to anything, and yet somethow more poignant than everything. It's like distracting oneself from some weighty inner issue to try to visualize seven sets of seven swans. Why imagine forty nine swans in mid-air? I can't imagine. But the distraction can be nice. The imagination is a powerful thing--a Black and Decker tool waiting to drill down into the deep, powerful things beneath. One can't force a non-sequitur into a situation and have it take root; however, if properly planted, one can certainly bloom quite nicely. I'd elaborate more on this issue, but I'm trying instead to think about a concrete tiger tank.
"Many promising reconciliations have broken down because while both parties come prepared to forgive, neither party come prepared to be forgiven."--Charles Williams

It's much harder to be the offender than the offended. All these little social mores of "wronged" and "wronger". There's a power imbalance inherent in having committed a social faux pas. I wonder, sometimes, about the rarefied air that allows one to worry about casual social slights. I can think of so many things in this world where the offense is far more literal and disquieting. Who can worry about "did I hurt your feelings?" when kids get hunted down in Brazil's streets just for being kids. But I do worry about those things. I hate to offend. I will bend over backwards sometimes to make sure I didn't offend. It's a sort of sinful pride, I suppose. It's a conceit that my actions matter much more than they do. Yet, if my actions matter so little, why, I posit, have I managed to commit so many social blunders in what is still a reasonably short life?

I like the idea of Silent Unity, that buncha folks in Missouri who hang out in Unity Village, trying to attune with the Universal Mind and get things done for folks. But I posit that Silent Forgiveness might be of use--a way to cleanse the problems of imagined slight, without the need for words. Words of apology arise from such a power imbalance--the wronged, the wronger.
It would be so nice to just be able to use a silent glance, and know. You know. Silent forgiveness.

Lately I have this sense that I can close my eyes and daydream into vistas I've never seen. Silently. Maybe I'll try it for real, and imagine what it would like to live where I don't feel social slights so easily, and I never slight anyone. Thank goodness I don't usually have to buy indulgences to cover over sins, as this sounded rather an expensive process. But I'd like to worry about petty things less, and things that matter more. I'd like to be nearly senseless of offense, and quick to avoid offending (and make things right) rather than to live life in melodrama. There's just too much to do in life, and I'm bored of emotions.
I won't become Marcus Aurelius any time soon, but I'd like to liberate myself from the flaming wheel of petty worry.

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