The Sun Tower to Crazy Gods: 10 for Today

 

Ever try and look at all the pieces of your life, all the jobs paid and unpaid you do, all the habits conscious and unconscious, and all the words spoken and silent, and put them in a pattern? Have you ever tried to read your life like a puzzle starting to form the picture it’s going to be? Ever place the links in the chain of cause and effect in a line (a necklace) or a mosaic (fence) to see how it all fits?

I do that. It feels good. I’m a pattern maker, a puzzle solver, and a radical analyzer. I’m also critical and judgmental, as collateral effects. I do that–knit patterns, crochet chains of events and behaviors–because I want to know. We’re all seekers.

It’s not just death, either. Some people have that question covered, while still more probably don’t. The notion of doing right or wrong is somehow tied up in prediction and calculation. If I do this, the result will be this, so I should or shouldn’t. It’s not rocket science. It’s logic.

But long ago, I gave up the god of logic. I know there’s more to this living thing than logic. And whose logic anyhow? Mine? Yours? Intuition and sense are real. No denying them. Mostly, I comfort myself with balance. Life is balance. It glides off the mind’s tongue. But aren’t I just looking for patterns again?

What if…?

Yes, I know I can count on one thing for sure. Chaos is my creed. And randomness. There’s comfort there. Neither disappoints. They just are. Fact. I don’t understand why the more fearful of us don’t embrace random chaos more.

It’s not anarchy or nihilism. I believe in order and cause and effect. I just don’t let them rule my world. My sigh of relief is the mystery, the storm-flurry of ideas, flung pieces, like the shrapnel of cogitation embedded in the skin of consciousness.

Surrender. Give up; you can’t build a tower to the sun, so lie down in the grass and let it bathe you in warmth instead.

 

Story Line

image

It’s the same old story told and re-told,

Thin smoke, a fire sparks newspapers sold;

“We’re up in flames; this place is doomed.

Who will scrape our souls from the ruins?”

 

Truth be souled, we scale our weakened edges,

Lurching through time, jumping off its ledges

In silken ticks, slick with moist memory mold

Like a baby’s crown bridging gaps grown whole.

 

Since the plates never cement, never solidify 

Merely surrender the quest just to realize

How little matters matter in the big scheme:

Unceasing cessation’s sensation’s our dream.

 

So forget about alarm bells and anxiety spells,

Smoke, pills, drink and dare-to-extreme thrills

To awaken sensate waves alligated to a vision 

When real proof appeared at the first incision.

 

At the flash, burn and expulsion, too hot to stay

A core so full of inevitable dispersion to always.

That’s life, I’m told, living between fire and ice   

My story and yours, again, and rolling the dice.

 

Chaos, our freedom, this overlaid order a fraud,

Some call it nature, some karma and others God.

I call it “whatever” or “ok”, often I call it a day,

To rein and saddle numbered hours’ silly anyway.

 

The ending never arrives, the plot never unfolds,

That’s the same old story told, retold and untold

Since the steadfast mute, reveal no master divine

Across the divide no dying secret passing the line.

 
Image: http://www.designedforlearning.co.uk

Spider in the Shower Wisdom

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In an age of so much door-stop wisdom in flashy colors and streams,

Profundity hides harder to recognize in tastes-great–less-filling sweetie ah-bites.

And when everyone’s grandmother publishes, words do not come easily any more, all lost in 

Endless letters combined, re-combined and strewn everywhere, making 

Nonsense seem sense or not even bothering, words without aching indescribably churning or heart-

Rent fluid affecting, infectious and ever-in-the ears and eyes inscription, just syllables,

nothing more. 

I can’t hear myself think over the noise of it, the shrill deprecating humor,

Blunt, sword-slicing insults and chiding, scolding and deriding, nothing but chatter-ful ticks.

How to be mindful when the mind chitters and bakes under the halitosis heat?

Sweltering  discomfort in knowing my life is in the hands of self-sabotaging

Zealots and bonzai bitchers and moaners, paraders and inert blabberers.

But there is some thing, something…

I see it in the piss-yellow plumped plastic medicine bag

pole-hanging to high heaven

with streaming liquid hope in thin rubber tubes of curative culture like an i.v. of satisfaction.

It’s there in the splayed legs of a stiffening spider fending off the drain holes’ draw

with the unfathomable force that those toothpick sticks belie as the pounding punishing pulse of the

thunderous shower stream pushes and the suction below pulls.

That’s the way it is with nature and words, that suspension between sense and salvation.

Atonality


We perform in atonal times, no guiding key.

Some allude to a world dystopian, technocratic oligarchs

And corporate heroes, when truth, politics and religion

Are pronounced (often spat) in acerbic yet nostalgic terms.

Truth? Irrelevant. 

Never a believer in absolutes, the relativity of all things

Now lapsed into the arbitrariness of myth or reality,

Falsehoods or evidence, justice or gamesmanship, 

I crave a concrete proven fact’s acknowledgement, 

A shared given or universal ‘yes ‘ we all nod to.

Power is what it has always been about, long plodding 

Or devastatingly explosively quick and slaughtering.

The one constant.

I’ve read that if we stop talking about race, patriarchy 

And binaries, they will disappear. 

No arbitrary superiority shall be pre-ordained.

Our children’s children will not know these prejudices.

But silence can also deafen the voice we hear

Inside ourselves, to assure us–even in the face of fools and fakery–

That we know the difference.

 
Credit: gillespiemusic.com

Life in the Gap

 
 
Understanding is a process of contemplating and confronting mysteries. It’s like we have two selves, the observant and the enlightened. One ingests with absorption while the other processes by simmering. Their timing is not always the same. Sometimes understanding arrives much later than input data. But it is our pricking drive of curiosity and our slow-cooking insight that comprises learning–and living.
 
Frank Conroy, writer and musician, says in his essay entitled “Think About It,” that “Education doesn’t end until life ends, because you never know when you’re going to understand something you hadn’t understood before.” This elasticity of understanding, the distance between input and processing, is the expanse of the canvas of our lives, covers the whole painting. Conroy so aptly puts it, “The physical body exists in a constant state of tension as it maintains homeostasis, and so too does the active mind embrace the tension of never being certain, never being absolutely sure, never being done, as it engages the world. That is our special fate, our inexpressibly valuable condition.”
 
We doubt. We feel insecure in ignorance–some of us–and so we look for answers. Sometimes we find them in our immediate search, like when I ask my students to Google a word, ‘avuncular’, for instance, when that word turns up in their reading. Other times, we don’t find the answer or solution until much later–or never.
 
I remember one ex-client explaining his divorce. Of his wife of 30 years, he said, “I did not hear what she said–or I did not understand her words.” He told me his wife complained that he didn’t work hard for the family, which baffled him since he was putting in 12-hour days and weekends, socking away retirement and college money. He could not understand how that was not working for his family–until he did. “Now I know she wanted me to look at her, to work hard at being there for her and our boys each day by spending time and focus on them, not my work,” he confessed. He shuttered out simple words spoken to him before his experience allowed him to “see”.
 
That lag time between learning and understanding is the human condition. Some would even say that inside that gap–between ingestion and digestion–is rubbery, elastic life itself. Maybe.
 
credit: wikipedia

The Poetry of Being

  
The components of being build essences of the all told, acted, sung and noted.

They shake out doings done and yet to come like San Andreas’ fault, not a fault. 

Did we quake? My shoulders shuddered like a surge, a heart murmur or eruption.

No, the inner mechanics of rebellion taking a stand on all things ingest just arose.

When the ear throbbing starts, I know I’m lost to it, going into floated notice din.

My heartbeat declares so loudly inside my ears in its under water muffle-areum.

I doubt creation’s pen then, my mouth moving silently, my hands ripping at keys.

Keyboard fingers fly like the cocaine toad hopping brain’s clicking away at strings.

There’s this word association that bleeds writing, a lapse, slide gurgle into them:

Strung words, the meaning of which is not revealed until they mix and sit together.

They settle in a rhythm and slur, brushed water tinted smears blotting tilted space.

Poetry and being entwine thus: letter, scene, wish, guess all overlaid in blindness. 

Squeezed juice, the nothing of matter becomes me-you, and we polish air’s shine.

Umberto Eco

  
“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” 

― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

I first learned of Eco after reading The Name of the Rose in graduate school, though I cannot remember whether it was the first round in 89 or the second in 2003. I saw the movie of the same name and cannot remember whether I saw it before reading the book or vice versa. I do know I enjoyed both immensely, so much so that I read a second book, the one from which the above quote comes, which I also enjoyed, though I believed that the text was far more about the title namesake than it was before reading it. I had read Michel Foucault, who I found as intriguing as mystifying, so naturally was drawn to the title. 

The text, like all Eco works, is complex and dense with plot and erudite history, lore and textual references–not your read on the beach in paradise. Eco demands you grapple. And while many details of both books I read are long forgotten, the words and specific scenes remain etched in the beautiful keepsakes section of my brain.

Like many faithful readers, I seek treasure–that unique turn of phrase or universal truth that hangs with me, bubbled to the surface when I need a lift, a reason or insight. Countless times the belief in mystery became and becomes my mantra. Some people often sigh, “It’s God’s will” when at a loss to explain the inexplicable and I just as often say, “Bow to the mystery.” Though both signal surrender, one does far less resignedly. 

That the “world is an enigma” satisfies, becalms and relieves humans of the burden of making sense of chaos and that which we cannot understand due to the size of our brains, undiscovered truths or components necessary to solving riddles, or both–or neither. That we madly “attempt to interpret” the world smacks of vanity or fruitlessness but not necessarily. Human’s drive to know, to understand and control is itself an enigma, one with benign origins though sometimes malignant intent or results. 

This quote counters another oft-pronounced snippet pulled out of pocket at the cause-effect chain’s logical end with no solution: “Everything happens for a reason.” Eco obviously disagreed and wrote legions against that idea, wracking ordered plots with disordered interferences from magic, evil intent, human contaminants and other messy interlocutors, all in historically altered (small and large) and imagined context. 

One thinker, writer and human I mourn, Umberto Eco died yesterday, a significant loss or gain for the mystery.

Bow to Mystery

I went looking for my calling 

until my calling found me 

but forgot my name.

Before I could hear, 

I wanted to be a 

journalist,

teacher, 

biologist,

writer,

mommy, 

dancer, 

artist, 

dragon, 

nurse, 

sociologist,

tightrope walker, 

doctor 

and boy.

A few wishes called to me 

and a few I summoned once 

on a boring Tuesday afternoon, 

or was it Wednesday?

Days go nameless 

when your suit does not fit (unfit), 

your business is none of yours, 

and your words remind you 

of the unspecified advice 

given by that unnamed source 

on a forgotten date or 

something someone once said or 

letters you read in a book.

Endeavoring turned out a total bust, 

all that flapping and folding 

just to breathe the same air we all do 

and  always have since birth.

And after so much wind, 

when good fortune dropped in my lap, 

I turned to the skies looking for the bird.

Where does all the world’s blindness come from?

“Who created the creator?” my father asked, 

surprising me with the quality of the question. 

We all were.

But the truth is, 

the laurel crowns all word-walkers emerging open-eyed 

envisioning the final curtain call 

–as if there were a stage. 

I bow to mystery. 

  
 

A Sense of Things–who we are

Rehashing things now at our same old table in the corner of this cafe for our monthly meet-up, same old insecurities, I asked why she always doubted herself.

“I may seem composed to an outsider, but I am not always competent. A client once described me as ‘not a genius but brilliant enough to get the the job done.’ I have always pegged myself in the above average intelligence, education and common sense category, but not overly. I have natural intelligence, a fair amount of luck, and a decent sized bit of emotional intelligence I inherited from my mother. The rest I supplement with stubbornness and tenacity–maybe a little intuition.”

I reminded her of her ‘wall of shameful boast,’ as she calls it: diplomas from Stanford and Berkeley, a Masters and a Doctorate. Not exactly slumming it in the competency department.

“But I am no natural when it comes to education. I’m not a quick-smart learner. I study and process long. Not sure how much is self-fulfilling prophecy or truth. I am simply a product of genes and messages from my cultural experiences, like anyone. My articulate, self-taught literary reader and critic mother and gambling good-with-numbers-and-rages father formed the most of me. I have my mother’s stubbornness and my father’s reckless anger that threatens everyone’s safety on the road.” 

I reminded her of the time we drove to Vegas, and I opened the door to the van going 90 plus miles an hour screaming to be let out, figuring my odds were about the same getting there in one piece at the same rate, one by ambulance and a hospital stay and the other by several days’ walk. We laugh, me with a twinge of intestinal grating.

“I have anger in me–sometimes deeply uncontrollable anger that threatens to drive me into the ground. Most days, I have balanced peace and calm, but speed bumps send me to the sky quickly. Perhaps I am fermenting into the real me, the older mellow me. Somehow the downslide feels a whole lot like the upswing–the breaking down as hard and incremental as the building up. It is a painful process, seemingly out of my control most days. The waves of resolve ebb and flow, taking a layer of the sand with each receding tide bringing more of the world into me than goes back out, sometimes with surrender, sometimes with struggle. And so it has been for a span.”

My thoughts silently nodded to her last dozen or so words floating in my brain’s air and swimming over my tongue. How do we separate the outside and inside worlds, delineating their boundaries, enough to know?