Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

14 September 2010

Letters from the Outside #17


Toucans, of all improbable things. Communication totem. “If you have a clowning personality that you use to cloak insecurities, the toucan totem is mirroring your behavior to show you that it is safe to take off the mask and reveal your true self.” Most people, I would venture, dont see me as having a clowning personality. But just this morning at work im waist-deep in children and I know all their names, call out to one or another, just try to germinate a human connection, a smile. I know things about these children. Their folk, their trouble, She has sticky fingers and horses, He raises goats and maintains an intense, blood-oath loyalty to john deere. Hes got eight siblings, Her brothers still sick. And I can think of something silly or kind to say to each one of them. And usually I can only be this freewheeling social luna moth around children. Adults scare the light right out of me. Im grateful they still let me visit, and maybe one day Ill be back. This is also the year I see the fledging of the children I first met in kindergarten. And I honor the worth of my living through the recent choices Ive made, but I really miss the kids I traded for them. The children who see me in the shops and call out my name. It was the only way I could learn that lesson, a life remotely crafted for just this moment when I allow myself to feel part of something. Upon being made part of something my second impulse is to flee. The first being to avoid that something in the first place. I am Ever-Changing, like Santiago said. And I always felt that sticking with something would hem in the molting, deter the chrysalis. That in my psychedelic existentialist outlook pointing to one box and saying I Am This denies the existence of any other of an infinite array of universal centers which I might be better at being. And leaving fed that newborn hunger, whetted from indeed aligning myself with a community but one slightly offset from my bohemian spirit which always made me feel like that one smiling black man that tap danced for all the v-neck honkies on the lawrence welk show. What, I thought to myself endlessly, if everyone were dancing? Leaving taught me too, that you cant have a flower without a stem, not one thats still alive.

Other bohemians driving bumper stickers attached to cars in a parking lot reflecting the mackerel sky drifting open into a Maxfield Parrish sunset boiling down into an electric watermelon heart of the forge of the world where the far hills are low above the waters horizon. Wet stone cloudbank approaching from the north spends its silver nickels on the ground. The rumble of air, affronted. I take the dog for a drive, she loves to watch the road unspool behind us, with each broken yellow line another trouble falls away. One of the last warm rides, acute angle of afternoon sunlight the sky chicory blue. Days that are like an old lover, the way the wind lifts your loose hair gently from your shoulders.
Tonight my breath is a rising cloud into the dripping dark. Early evening rain painted white noise over all, skywater midwifing the Earth into autumn. I knit a funny little renaissance hat, like Robin Hood. I call it my Mynheer Peeperkorn Hat, although id like to entertain that reference as far from schopenhauer as possible. Just for the record. Peeperkorn was a Dionysian, and thats what I made the hat for, I suppose. My Autumn Revels. A dandy prototype, the colors all wrong and I hope to eventually give it away. David Byrne singing Nothing But Flowers and a break in the malaise ive hosted (by turns nauseate and explosive) and the the sun shining through last nights rain falling from the trees makes me want to get something done after a walk. Its one of those cold wild bright september mornings, and I trundle pumpkins from the patch to the front step, one for each of us and the rest left on the vine for Cowboys grandchildren. He calls and im pacing in the street in front of the house on the landline in my Peeperkorn hat; I see how im seeking out the sun that becomes an increasingly rare commodity. I stretch a little to Krishna Das, and am ready.

I believe you can return to the country you once fled and call it home again. Only Man dreams a cage, for himself and anything else he feels doesnt fit. Nowhere in the natural world is there an intentional cage. Even the Venus Flytrap is a mouth that feeds, a cycle immemorial the wanderer walking, back down to the ground from which She sprung in the First Time, that Bolt from the Blue on the Water, the first beat of our Heart on the chart of our cosmic cardiogram to the smell in Her head from the nectar right before She dives.
“to turn will be our delight, till by turning we come round right.”
"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)