Go irenically among the restless legged yearning to sleep free of a dogged journey westward unable to stop at any next nearer shore but insist on diving and kicking beyond the surf through doldrums through rogue waves tsunamis and cyclones go irenically among the restless minded yearning to sleep free of every wind that blows through unprotected dreams rising when consciousness thins but insist on finding and extrapolating beyond tomorrow adding factors adding algorithms possibilities and disasters go irenically among the restless yearning to sleep free kneed jerks come anxieties rise in good season and ill one quiet breath then two solves nothing great or small in this or any season desiring is desiring tendencies are tendencies blessed be and amen
given: without counting one-by-one find out how many pears there are if there are three groups of pears with 14 pears in one group 26 in another group and 49 in the final group write the numbers of each group lined up over each other and draw a line under them add the numbers of the right column write down the resulting farthest right digit below the line if there is a number left write it above the next column to the left add to any number you carried over from the right column the remaining numbers in this column write the result to the left of the last number of the right column hooray pears added you can do this hard thing and then we’ll un-add until you can do that hard thing and then we’ll speed-add yes you can do that hard thing as well as speed-un-add then it will be your turn to take this as far as you can and it will be your turn to teach me more than maths logic O show me the world through another’s eye I want to do this hard thing and to do it with you
“So much winning,” is a mantra of an id-driven top-dog. Were they alone in their ravening, it would be sad. As they merely express the desire of every desirer, it is maddening.
There is no antidote and so I write not of a mafioso don, but as one tempted by every breath to store up nine more against an unimaginable time when each breath comes faster and briefer, using up the largest of reserves.
“So much winning,” hooks the fantasies of every lottery play, ladder climber, underling, and outcast—not to mention every middler and reasonably well-off.
What keeps getting missed by “winning” is that its very intent is sabotaged by its premise that winning is self-sustaining—a perpetual boot-strap pulling. Winning cannot continue to claim a central spot in a raison d’être, for it carries an even larger limit of some equal but opposite loss. I cannot win as much if you are also winning some.
This limit means that “so much winning” is false advertising when applied to any group of people or even a whole economy. “Winning” is a corporate lie, for it doesn’t even work in a work-a-day world of an individual. Every advancement requires each previous stage of growth as the ground from which it can spring.
Winning means nothing without a background of loss. A background of loss is a constant threat to a win. The more the drive to win, the larger grows a resistance.
If we are not caught in the machinations of someone else’s yearning for a win, we can’t seem to get out of our own way. How maddening that winning, as a cover of whining, goes on and on. After all these generations, we are back to the beginnings of stories about beginnings without a clue of how to write a story without a motif of winning running through it.
One hint, maybe, is to translate “winning” as “violence.” I expect that seeing something as it is will help. And you?
perceiving character goes deeper than counting ways an underlying unpredictability emerges erupts and slips back good ol’ ambiguity loosens our grip on defined sins evermore more than we’ve ever been creation inhales breath is held in appreciation before release now I see who I may be and become now we see who ye may be and become now we see who we may be and become
I recommend an artistic reflection on Race presented by two singer/songwriters in the Folk tradition—Reggie Harris (Black) and Greg Greenway (White). They both grew up in Richmond, VA, and had different early experiences. Their paths finally crossed 30 years ago, and their on-going friendship has had included an on-going conversation about Race. They have turned their long-years of conversation into a story and music concert on Race. Deeper than the Skin is available on CD.
Their travel to a museum near New Orleans that witnesses to the disparity between a plantation’s enslaved owner and the imprisoned owned brought an experience in an old chapel built by freed slaves to finally have a place from which to gather and honor those who died. This one story is worth the price of the whole CD. I cannot adequately summarize it and simply commend it to you. May you someday see the artwork referred to through your imagination as you listen to the story or travel after the current quarantine.
It is easier to pass on another point of appreciation. I am acquainted with the old spiritual about letting “my little light shine.” They sang a line I hadn’t heard before:
not going to make it shine just going to let it shine
It is very tempting to “make” my light shine brighter than any other. Higher and brighter, lighting the way—that’s my light!
This refusal to “make” contrasts with my light standing beside other lights and partnering with them that there may be a generalized brighter light shining outward. This is an important transition between “my” light and any future “our” light. The “our” is not so much constructed into a particular season of shared light, as it is a found, shared experience holistically engaged.
On the Public Radio program, “A Way with Words,” it was suggested that when aliens come to visit, they may well describe humans as “The Classifiers.” This is different from our assessment of ourselves as “The Wise.”
Folks who listen to only one aspect of how they want to be known will soon enough be telling generation-long lies about their wisdom and greatness. It turns out that one needs to be a sap if they are going to glorify themselves as sapient. Wisdom without doubt and questions regarding what is known and not known is not wisdom. At best, it is a closed-loop feedback system that falls prey to the old rubric of GIGO (garbage in; garbage out). To change the image to genetics—no new bloodline leads to homozygosity, an expression of unhealthy recessive genes.
It is this tendency to classify that leads to rapacious colonialism molesting the Land and Indigenous Peoples. When uncomfortable in the presence of difference and easily tripped up by unacknowledged entitlement to the best, we begin to classify each and every Neighb*r. Wealth is one such classification. Race is another. We are so very good at classifying; we can even do it on the basis of “one drop of blood.”
When classifications begin to multiply, Wealth mates with Race, and soon their offspring carry a Supremacist look upon their face. Well split hairs of difference lead to a whole class of people who have lost their hair or had it harvested into ropes to hang their donors.
If we don’t wise up about how others see us, it won’t just be our sapience that we lose, but we’ll so finely classify everything until all is finer than dust. With ourselves as the apple of our own eye, the fruit of a tree of knowledge will bring wisdom full circle—from dust you have come; to dust, you shall return.
such a mighty wind
measured in gusts
beyond a sustained average
lightness of air
contesting with itself
focused all at once
a branch down here
multiple trees toppled there
stationary objects surprisingly mobile
this windowed tree
with St. Vitised leaves
writhes to its roots
still standing after
leaf stems boast
let’s ride again
Human agency is said to occur at the intersection of “acts performed” and “words pronounced.” This is a place most uneasy.
Our brave words are forever requiring a fleshy engagement with an external world where their innate power is vitiated in a swirl of interpretations, blank stares, and misinterpretations. A word set loose too easily loses its way as it is pulled and putsched from one Procrustean Bed to another. Connotations are piled upon it, far beyond its ability to center itself through repetition. Denotations are stripped away as every Humpty and Dumpty uses and misuses it according to their own light.
As soon as we ground a wispy word in time and space, we find our action to be inarticulate and invested with others’ fear or merely floating in another dimension, untethered from its primary impetus. Action qua action has no staying power. It is, and then it is gone. It may draw consequences to itself but has no lasting effect on larger systems.
From time to time, the words of one and the actions of another have a cumulative result. They can reinforce one another. Such can happen over generations with a word from then, re-enlivened now. It is less likely to happen the other way around. If an action was not public enough to be recorded, it does not echo down the years. A misreported event does carry the possibility of being corrected much later, though such a correction is more a new word for its day.
Human agency is exponentially increased when there are those who analyze situations and strategize how their words and actions cohere as an integrous unit of intend, implement, learn, and repeat.
Though our culture is going through another of its know-nothing phases, modeling the repeating trinity of intend, implement, and learn is one of the best gifts we can offer to those still living seven or more generations down the way. May any blessing from this trinitarian process circle wider than yourself.
a bit of dandelion fluff entrusted to a spirit’s breath floats unpredictably hesitating for an extended moment before accelerating vertically who knew there was an updraft just there shifting right waving warning a weather front cannot be avoided such an alarm goes unheeded by such a lump observing from afar caught in their season of downdraft wandering to another’s eye at rest in one’s own an unlikely happens faster than anticipation a seed is inked to a page the mighty pen paused and wrote on a white gown soiled slips to a sterile deck to float no more a rush of life continues invisibly sashaying winking at a next play partner