Monday, October 31, 2011

Who are a little wise, the best fools be

Jan (Johannes) Vermeer van Delft, a Dutchman, painted this work, "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter," in 1664. (Seems like yesterday.) If he were the Übermensch, he would be observing his 379th birthday today. His favorite colors were blue, followed by yellow, which causes me to like him far beyond his talent with a paint brush. He also created, "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which causes me to like him even still more because of his taste in women. Never mind rolling your eyes; I am only half-serious with my last remark. But, he was a master artist, a title which few painters in this age could claim to be with a straight face. Now, for a moment, look at her; wonder what the words are that she reads; wonder what she thinks .... wonder .... wonder .... wonder ....

October is the cruelest month

In the past, two or three times, I have written a few words here about T.S. Eliot. Once, I specifically concentrated on his poetic masterpiece, "The Waste Land." The first segment of the poem, "The Burial of the Dead," begins with these words: "April is the cruelest month ...."

After those words of his, I have written here that for me the cruelest month is not April. It is October.

October is the cruelest month.

Some would say that this is imagination. Or, that this is coincidence. Or, that this is mere superstition which I have come to delude myself as fact. Call it what you will, but, to me, it is part of my reality. As many bad things happen to me in October as they do during the other eleven months combined. It is a pattern of my life, and has proved to be as real as it is true that the sun rises in the East.

Leaving October behind for the moment, about ten days ago I watched a film on television entitled, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." It was based on an actual incident. How actual, I have no idea. Emily Rose's initial encounter with "demons" began at precisely 3:00 a.m., when she awoke alone in her room to the scent of something burning. The time, 3:00 a.m., came up a few more times during the movie. As is my habit, I also was on my computer "working" at the same time I was watching the movie. One eye on the film, one on the computer screen, so to speak. Therefore, I did not catch the significance of 3:00 a.m.

That night, I went to sleep on my "love seat" bed. It is not unusual for me to awaken approximately four hours after I go to bed (old, odd habit), so when I woke up in the middle of the night, I thought it probably was about four hours later. I said to myself, literally out loud, "At least it is not three a.m." I rolled over and looked at the clock. It was three a.m. -- exactly, precisely, to the minute. I am not kidding you. A real shudder and a real shiver ran through my body. Then, I laughed, literally out loud, curled up and went back to sleep before I would start thinking about it and scare myself silly.

I later assumed this was my subconscious mind reacting to what I had heard in the film. A bit strange, though, is it not?

In the morning, I did a bit of research to learn what, if any, significance the time 3:00 a.m. had in religious lore. I learned it is called the "devil's hour." There is belief among some that Jesus Christ died at 3:00 p.m., and that the opposite hour on the clock belongs to the devil.

It was a few days after this event that I really began to think about it. This was not a dream. This was not something I had thought about for a single second after the film and before I went to bed that night. Just as a spark might light a literal fire, so, too, might a word light a metaphorical fire.

A few days ago, I wrote these words to a friend: "Mankind wishes to explore the depths of the oceans and outer space, but the greater mysteries, I believe, are inside our minds and probably within fourth, fifth, sixth dimensions that so far are impenetrable."

So, what do a poem by T.S. Eliot, bad experiences during the month of October, a film about an exorcism, the devil's hour and my awakening at 3:00 a.m. have in common? Well, me, of course. I am the common element. At least, the only common element of which I am aware in this set of circumstances.

I guess the bottom line here is while you concentrate on your reality, I concentrate on moving the curtains back from my reality to see what might be behind and beyond them.

I wonder why more people are not trying to do this in their lives.

Forgive my sarcasm, but most of them probably are too busy trying to please someone other than themselves.

On second thought, do not forgive my sarcasm, but, rather, congratulate me for having managed to survive another October. It ends today, but I do not.

"The Triple Fool" by John Donne

I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry;
But where's that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny?
Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water's fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme's vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increased by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

After summer, comes October

Forever Young

Let's dance in style let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men
Can you imagine when the space is one
As we turn our faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we're getting in tune
The music's played by the mad men

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever and ever

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, forever young

Some are like water some are like the heat
Some are the melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?
It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth's like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams waiting out of the blue
We'll let them come true

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever and ever

(Note: This post was not planned, but came about because unexpected things happen and I awoke to one such event Monday morning. Whatever .... this song has been playing in my mind all day. To me, October is the cruelest month, and this music reflects my mood and why I prefer to hibernate in October. Here are "then, now and abstract" versions of the song to suit your own personal moment in time.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The beauty of being (lost)

Where there is a valley, there will be a river. Where there is a river, there will be a sandbar. Where there is a sandbar, there will be fish in the river. Where there are fish, there will be boys pursuing them. And, in this way, boys have forever become lost in a moment of adventure and excitement and belief that this Earth was made for them alone. This photograph is a reflection of the way it was Friday afternoon in the Minnesota River Valley. Count the fisherboys. How many do you see? Or think you see?

A river runs through it

If you were to drop me off in the middle of a wilderness, woodland or desert, a few days later I would walk out wearing a smile and weighing few pounds more than I did when you dropped me off. (If you actually decide to do it to me, please, remember that I would prefer woodlands.)

But, if you placed me in the center of a town much larger than two blocks square, I probably would be lost within five or ten minutes.

One is my strength and the other is my weakness. The first was partially learned, but, mostly, it came instinctually. The second is just that way it is for me and I can do nothing about it. In the first, I cannot become lost; in the second, I seemingly have no control over the situation.

You might have heard/read me say/write those words before.

These two characteristics seem to exist in the world of reality, but, in another sense, I can become lost in time anywhere from minutes to years. You probably can, too, in the manner of which I am writing about now. I can get lost in a song or in a number of songs on the radio. I can get lost in a book or in a series of books by a particular author. I can get lost in a job or in a woman or in an avocation or on a river journey in a canoe.

I have gotten lost in a dream, in a woman's eyes, in a storm on a big, big lake. I have gotten lost in Nirvana and while falling breathless in the white tunnel of death.

This week, I began unpacking a few boxes of the books I still tote around with me. It was symbolic of making a decision, I guess, to keep this house as "Firebase Fram" for a while. The reason I initially began unpacking the boxes, however, was because I was looking for a specific book, "The Lessons of History," by Will and Ariel Durant.

I have written at least two posts about that pair, and mentioned them briefly in other posts. They became lost, too, lost in each other and lost in the study of history. What I love most of them, in a romantic sense, is that she was about fifteen and he was about twenty-seven when they married. She roller skated to her wedding. They had some rough years, mostly because she was so very young, but they lasted until old age claimed them both -- they lasted, because they became lost in each other and in a mutual love, the study of history.

My intention had been to entirely reprint one of their enduring chapters of absolute wisdom from that book as a last post before retreating into the woodwork (note, woodwork, not woodlands) for a few weeks. But, although I have two copies of the book, I have not run across either one yet. So, that chapter will wait until another day to be reprinted here. The chapter I planned to use, incidentally, was about the "thin veneer of civilization." Civilization might be on the verge of collapse, I think.

So, instead, I decided to write a few paragraphs with my own words about the "thin veneer of reality." If you doubt that reality is thin, then, in the simplest sense, you have no imagination; or, in an abstract logic, you have lived a very sheltered life and never have accepted the fact that Mythago Wood and Neverland and Somewhere Over the Rainbow actually do exist. Dante Alighieri wrote about the nine circles of hell. Has it occurred to you there might be nine circles of earthly life? Probably not.

And, allow me to simply say here that I hope we all will become lost again and again -- hopefully, lost in the eyes of another. If not that, at least lost in a book or a dream or a vision of a dream yet to become a reality. Life really is wonderful for those who have the ability to become lost in it -- if only for a few hours or a few weeks at a time. Maybe, even just for a moment at a time.

As for myself, I am adrift in a canoe on a river where mist and fog shroud the approaching bend. If I seem to be rambling a bit, that is because it is my nature, too.

So-o-o-o-o, send me a smile, blow me a kiss, wave until I am out of sight .... I am about to become lost again. For a while, anyway. Possibly, never to return to reality. Good. It is about time. See you around. Maybe. If I am able to determine which reality is real.

Something special ....