Lately I seem to post in big words--hope, love, despair, all that. They're not big in terms of the number of letters, but they're so big in terms of concepts that I am not sure they say any one thing, but perhaps any given fifty three things. I rather like to hover in the ambiguity, as I often find that not only the ideas matter, but the spaces between the ideas matter, because as those fellows Tweedledum and Tweedledee pronounced, it is, perhaps, a matter of who is the master--oneself, or the word.
Perhaps this is lax living. Say you want to love people, and you're excused the bother of actually doing so--pure as Galahad, excused from the fray in search of the Grail. I thought today of the warlock I met once, who assured me he was the most powerful warlock he'd ever known, but whose powers did not run to being able to conjure up a used car, and whose wand seemed mostly to be comprised of chain-smoked cheap cigarettes. I have a fear of being guilty of this kind of faith--a faith long on ideas and powerful swirls, and short on constructive actions. Monty Python newt magic.
I tend to revel in and and mistrust big ideas. When I see light metaphors employed in verse to
express spiritual self-improvement ideas, then I tend to see the dross even as I agree with many of the sentiments.
I worry, if worry is the word, that big ideas don't capture the life I live, a life in which I alternate Boston Market with Subway sandwiches for lunch, and in which a small black mongrel dog wakes me at 5 a.m., because she wants to be fed. They really do "do lunch" in Los Angeles, by the way, and the menu in the appropriate establishments features unique pasta dishes featuring goat cheese and at least one ornate Chinese chicken salad.
I don't do that kind of lunch often anymore, and I never did it very often even when I lived in that milieu.
I drove across town the other day to go to a place I used to go when we had our offices on Main Street. This place had a proper name--the Corner Pocket Pita Shop. It featured a simple turkey or roast beef sandwich, served in large portions, heated, in a large-ish pita.
I got to the Corner Pocket Pita Shop, ready for turkey in pita,with lettuce, hold anything enticing, when I saw the store was empty. A hand-written sign explained that in December, the store was struck by lightning, and had to close.
This is more my day to day than high-flung thoughts about world peace. The professional battles I fight tend to be about money and what agreements mean. They're often fascinating, but not in a dinner-party-conversation way. Sometimes the issues themselves require too long to explain to interest any but the most avid listener. though I have a degree in the field, I know just enough physics, for that matter, to survive the average dinner party. My hobbies are labors of small "l" love, and not avocations for which I have much talent. My obituary will not say much of anything, other than the names of a few family members that love me.
On first meeting, and perhaps on a third, I think that I am not a particularly intriguing person.
I'm a happy person, and friendly after a fashion, but nobody would accuse me of being particularly charming. I'm ordinary-looking, of ordinary mannerism, and eccentric in the ways that ordinary people, it turns out, all truly are. I'm self-directed, and interested in the things that interest me, and blessed with more than my share of contentment. In general, though, I'm just one of those guys who lives this nice little life, without undue fuss or achievement, you know, one of those guys you pass every day on the street, who fade into the sidewalk like hopscotch chalk. I have my quiet joys and secret miseries. I lay down beside still waters.
I have hazel eyes, which change color in the light. I like to think that I'm one of those intriguing greens most of the time, or a deep, pulsing brown, but I think that most of the time I'm just a mongrel mix of color, like my dog who thinks the morning kibble is the most important thing.
I have to catch myself, sometimes, and remember that I'm just a person with these little things I do incrementally. That helps me to actually go forward and do the tiny things I can. But I don't want to give the illusion that I'm something I'm not. I'm as ordinary as the next.
When I read of people who are sad, it makes me feel their sadness. I want to reach out and quote the Dickinson poem about "I'm nobody", but my real mental image is close to a card game--you get dealt a hand, and you don't fold--you just play your cards. I have this sense that's the way to the higher trumps: let the cards unfold, let the games begin, breathe, reach down, pluck a card, and play. The hand unfolds one trick at a time.
My mother passed away two years ago today, after a two year battle with cancer. She lived in a small town most of her life. She didn't invent anything, achieve any great fame, or cause any sensation with her vocations or avocations. She just lived the life before her as if it had meaning, and found her meanings in the life she lived. I don't know anything about anything, but the consolation of this faith in the importance of what one does, regardless of one's own supposed importance, strikes me as better than all the big words and grand ideas. If I could have my mother back today, I would, of course--but she'd be the first to say that I should instead play the hand I'm dealt, and keep the cards shuffling.
My mother gave a talk once, to a cancer survivors group. During her talk, she explained how she liked the following way of looking at things someone had communicated to her:
"This is not the party I planned, but as long as I am here, I might as well dance. I invite you to join the dance too. After all what do you have to lose? The best thing you have to give is yourself".