Mystery and Predators in the Dark

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“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ~ Mark Twain

In yesterday’s post I mentioned feeling grounded. Wow, that didn’t last. I’m kidding, of course. I actually do feel grounded, two days in a row now. That feels good as well. Continuity is one of my favorite things in life, although obscurity runs a close second, giving continuity a run for its money.

As I sat outside this morning, listening to the end of the night, with all of its propensity for quiet, I thought I heard some coyotes far in the distance, yet I talked myself out of it. There were no coyotes. I was imagining things. Rosie the cat was across on the other side of the wooden deck. I heard her skitter then saw her dark figure approaching me. When I first heard the skitter I got a start, until I realized it was my own cat, yet it was still a predator in the dark. Something primal about that, don’tcha think? But then it began, a chorus of rowdy coyotes raised their voices up into the quiet and that chorus was in the immediate area. They were friggin close to the house. Rosie came up close, but not close enough to touch. We were both listening to the ‘barking dogs’; the scientific name for coyotes, canis latrans, translates to ‘barking dogs’. I was marveling at life by that time. Marveling at life is something that happens to me fairly frequently. Continuity, obscurity, marveling at life – these are a few of my favorite things.

I’m all over the field this morning so I will keep this short. My favorite scene from yesterday’s portion of my gainful employment gig at an animal shelter was when our staff veterinarian told me he wanted to talk later about the Yes concert I saw last week. Another Yes fan was standing before me, wearing medical scrubs, and we lapsed into a brief discussion about which Yes album was the best. “Close to the Edge” was my favorite and his was “Relayer, and he said he would burn a copy of it for me – I can’t wait. I’m never prepared for left field experience like that. It fills my heart when it happens. Lack of preparation allows mystery a much larger door through which to pass. Think about that. In our preparations for life, for every friggin hour of the day, we seem to push mystery out and over, out of the way, and make it out to be a bother. But mystery fills my heart as nothing else can. The skitter in the dark. The love for music. The way music rearranges the soul. The beauty of the sunrise in all phases of its display. The look in her eyes, no matter which ‘her’ it happens to be at the moment. You see, I’m a goddess type of guy when it comes to matters of divinity, so my audio encounter with canis latrans this morning makes me think of Hecate and her dogs. It’s a great myth which might also be true. Try it out I will, as today unfolds, and I give service to cats while surrounded by barking dogs. Mystery runs through my life today, just as it runs through my words here. I’m not hating that, I’m loving it.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

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Nothing to Sink Our Teeth Into

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It’s beauty that makes the drive down to Santa Fe bearable. Physically it’s a nerve-stretching road, at least it is for me, curves almost all the way, at 55 miles per hour, all testing the embrace of grace. It was that way for me. Eyes on the road except for quick glances to take in the scenery, and as fulfilling and soul-soothing as that scenery is it is also ancient in a way that stirs the primitive within. The results are sweet, drawing together both animal and spirit. Nice.

In a way the visit to the neurologist was fun. In reviewing the tests done on my brain he found “nothing we can sink our teeth into”. He asked me questions about some of my daily routine: when do I take my meds, how’s my driving ability, and various other staccato inquiries. What made it fun was that the analysis of further potential seizures is a puzzle, a game of reasoning and guesswork, all of which means that if we are successful in heading it off at the pass we will never know for sure what the heck is going on in my brain. It is not uncommon for folks who had some sort of tiny brain damage in their youth, giving birth to scars, to experience ‘partial’ seizures later in life, when biochemical changes restructure the way we work inside. It’s basically the brain sparking at random, in a way that violates the normal function. I’ll tell you right now, it is way spooky, and it’s a shift of consciousness that doesn’t seem to know or care what consciousness is capable of. Enlightenment is not on the menu. Or is it? I’ve been contemplating that. At the Yes concert last week I noticed that when flashing lights commenced, which can trigger seizures in some people, I felt further lifted, my spirit having been given a powerful boost from the music, and when those lights arrived it was like a download of cosmic proportions. It was not just corporeal sentient beings present for the show, it was also a feast of beauty for conscious beings of a different sort, with formless frequencies and information, all of which is a fancy way of saying that some of those present for the show did not need seats, nor a floor to stand on.

I don’t know what seizures are from a spiritual perspective. I might gain knowledge enough to figure it out or maybe not. Either way I must begin my workday. Something has changed. I feel more grounded than I have in many a month. Sweet.

Peace out y’all. Goof gloriously.

Getting Out

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“There can be no progress without head-on confrontation.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

If I ever again tell myself ‘maybe it’s just me’ I’ll likely respond ‘what’s that got to do with all of the other people you have to deal with?’. Thoughts like that make for good opening statements but they also make me glad that the sun is finally coming up. I love getting up at 3 AM, give or take a few, but I must admit that it does get weird at times. That is maybe what gives the practice its charm? Yeh, I’ll run with that. So, today’s adventure is a jaunt down to the State Capitol to see the neurologist. I’d like to say that I was going to see the Governor, as Groucho Marx suggested, but I really don’t want to see her, at least not in public office, and actually not at all. Respect? Reciprocity? I’m really not cut out for political commentary. And, before this paragraph begins to skate all over the page I want to reiterate that I use this blog, on an elementary level, as a workshop or playground for developing and growing as a writer. This is especially true in regards to writer’s blocks, for they must shatter to be of any good at all. I’ve begun a novel and it just sits. The other day when I was driving to work I started thinking that since I have not worked on it in quite a while maybe I should put it on the shelf and pick it up later. That’s when I heard the voice of the central female protagonist, “Don’t do that”. The idea that characters in a novel can take on a life of their own during writing is controversial, and some of the comments I just read in researching it sound pretty snooty, uppity, whatever. It doesn’t matter which side of the coin they were on, a note of disdain is just that. It’s almost as if it was all a scene in a novel. Hey, wait a minute!

I really do have to see the neurologist today. Immediately, getting more cat litter is more important, so I will drive into town, get that, come back home, then drive to Santa Fe a bit later. On a larger scale the visit to the neurologist may be a life changer. I’ve had a few of those lately. Ever since the doctor’s nurse told me that the MRI and EEG of my brain came out normal I have had a really odd feeling of foreboding. Logically it should be the other way around, right? Maybe I will get some insight, and maybe even relief, when the doctor goes over the test result with me this afternoon. But this morning I have been subject to some fairly powerful swarms of visceral anxiety waves. So what if I had an experience that seemed to be a seizure, back in February of this year? What’s all the fuss? Like dude chill. But I will stand tall as I walk, take Mr. Hitchens’ advice, which is neatly given up top, and confront these worries instead of trying to brush them off like the flies in the Amityville Horror, and in no way am I going to call my inner tormentors ‘demons’. Think of an old 1940’s gangster movie then read on. “Just wait ’til I gets done with ’em, see. They never shoulda messed with a guy like me. They ain’t got what it takes. If they knew the power of my life-long cultivation of exquisitely pure and high self esteem they woulda been runnin’ back to Brooklyn without waitin’ for the screwy crosstown bus!”. Wow, what was up with that guy? I mention demons and he goes all ballistic and stuff? It just ain’t right, but it sure is fun.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

Of Color and Beauty

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Beauty is the purgation of superfluities. ~ Michelangelo

That’s what I want today: beauty. Yesterday was pretty good in that regard. I experienced a lot of beauty. I almost wrote “saw” instead of “experienced” because I seem to have a bias that wants to make  beauty a mostly visual thing. It’s not that way. I know better. Not to get all subjective and stuff, it’s just that it is hard to get around subjectivity. At least it is for me. I’m a subjective kind of guy. Objectivity? Not so much. I see beauty here as I sit and sip thick black morning coffee, an American shorthair tabby just got up from her lounge spot on a Trader Joe’s grocery bag, a brown paper thing with paper handles as well, and she was gone before I could see her go, the moan-like squeaking of the cat door betraying her efforts at cunning.

News of the world outside these walls hits me like sadness laced with anger, but I read anyway. One big news story hits close to home because it is happening close to where I grew up. That would be the Ferguson riots, which were sparked by the shooting death of a young black man, the bullet delivered by a uniformed officer of the law. It makes me wonder exactly which law he was enforcing. Like dude what were you thinking? Ferguson is about a 20 minute drive from my old home town, Clayton, Missouri. One memory from my childhood there comes to me when I think of the riots. I just looked at a map provided by Yahoo maps, but I can’t find the street name. The place is a friggin city now! We lived near what was then the town center, only a stone’s throw from Merimac Elementary School. The street address was 216, which my mother adopted as her lucky number, and she held onto it until the day she died. In my recapitulation of the memory it just came to me to look at that Yahoo map once again. The street name is Merimac – 216 Merimac. An alleyway ran just along the side of our apartment building, a housing unit where we kids shoveled coal in the basement during  the winter time to warm the house. On Sundays quite a number of people would come walking along the alleyway, headed over to the Baptist church on Brentwood Boulevard, having come from the closest place to a slum that Clayton had to show at that time. I once ask my mother who those people were. She told me that they were colored people. That made sense to me. The clothes they wore were all brightly colored. That’s why they were called colored people. Of course.

A few year ago I returned to Clayton, just driving through, with my then girlfriend. Upon entering the city limits a bold panic started to grip me. It looked like a big city, clustered with high-rises and carpeted with heavy traffic. I couldn’t stand it. It was too much. We had come in along Brentwood so I accessed my memory and headed to the intersection with Forsyth, turned right, drove along the canyon of tall buildings, then turned right again onto Hanley, straight on to Wydown Boulevard where I turned left. Wydown took us over to Forest Park, where the St. Louis Art Museum sits. I remember walking along Wydown with my older brother. We would go to the park to fool around, and sometimes we would go into the museum. In my memory they had an astounding painting, on a huge canvas, a painting that was both beautiful and foreboding. In retrospect I see that painting as having been “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch. I can’t say for sure. Maybe my old friend Steve Sorkin could tell me? But I remember gazing at the painting, deeply moved by the images within. I know it made a lasting impression on me, especially the right hand panel, which portrayed an oddly beautiful vision of Hell. What that means to me now is anybody’s guess, but I remember beauty. Mom was a painter. Paintings hold a special place for me. Maybe that’s where my love for beauty came from. Yeah, maybe. Let’s say it is.

Today beauty of a different source lies before me. I will go to work in the animal shelter and tend to cats, give them service, food and water, and socialize with them as well. As annoying as those critters can be, they are dauntless emissaries of beauty, as are the dogs who live all around the cattery. I will earn my $9/hr, a pittance these days. I will gain further from a steady juggernaut of soul-quenching beauty. The fur and the claws merely clothe the dazzling spirit within. That’s what I like to remember. And in remembering I bring myself home, where my bare feet await connecting with the first snow of Winter, here in the thick of summer, where the stony high desert ground also serves to fulfill my hunger for experience, and for beauty, with my feet against the Earth. And my heart? I carry it with me wherever I go. Don’t leave home without it. That’s what I’m sayin’.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

I’ve Got Your Tears Right Here, Mister

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“Depression is a thief that steals your ability to see the ground under your feet for what it is. You find yourself, instead, lost in a contradictory autobiography, a self-created narrative drafted by demons in a hall of mirrors where all the glass is cracked. It is all too easy to get lost in there, and Robin Williams, like so very many others before him, could not find his way out.”  ~ William Rivers Pitt

As I sit here waiting for the coffee to brew I realize that it would be much easier to get a Keurig coffee maker instead of the drip machine I have, but I know I can’t afford one, and I wouldn’t get one if I could afford it because coffee that comes out of pods reminds me of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. My mind works that way, it seeks to amuse me when things don’t look good. Between that and the cat I do okay.

William Rivers Pitt is one of my all time favorite writers. I check at Truthout.org, where he is the Senior Editor, every day to see if Mr. Pitt has a new column for me to read. Those columns don’t happen fast enough but one was there for me this morning. I read it. I got tears in my eyes, tears that refused to fall like real tears do. But even those scant faux-tears serve to loosen the tension in my packed tight sinuses, which is pretty much chronic these days. Sinus problems, repressed tears? It makes me wonder. What I didn’t know about William Rivers Pitt is that he is bipolar, as am I. He said so in today’s column, and he said so because he was writing a tribute to Robin Williams, who fell to the crushing pain of chronic depression just five days ago as I write this. William’s stunning piece of writing hit me hard, both in my place of beauty and in that other place where I don’t like to go, where fear becomes a master. I’m there right now, coffee to my right, cat to my left, both become crutches on mornings like this. Yesterday and the day before I was feeling so alive, after seeing Yes in concert, and my feeling alive was so much so that I forgot what happens after a high like that. It’s a friggin high dive. How could I forget? Maybe I have hopes of that kind of joy becoming the norm. Silly me. That ain’t happenin’. Far be it from me. God forbid. Something like that.

Shelter cats get depressed too. Part of my job as a caregiver to shelter cats is to socialize with them, because it helps them to rise above their depression, and I give that part of my job a high priority rating. Theirs is an uncertain plight. There’s no telling how long they may have to be there. Shelter life itself is in partnership with depression. On my lunch break yesterday I was walking out to the car when I came across a volunteer dog walker. She had a medium-sized dog on a leash. I didn’t recognized the dog so I asked, “Who is that?”. She told me the dog’s name and I made a comment on the diminutive size of the animal compared to the bulk of the dogs in the shelter, mostly pit bull mixes who loom large. “It must be hard for her here among so many large dogs”, I said. “She cries a lot”, said the volunteer. I replied, “Sometimes crying is just what is needed”. The woman walked away without another word. As she departed I heard her talking to the little dog. “We don’t allow crybabies here”. We don’t allow crybabies here? That’s the rub. It’s part of the stigma, it’s our whole friggin culture. We don’t allow crybabies here. People’s issues are snubbed. Positive thinking will win the day. Disdain in the toolbox of the winner is a compulsory tool. Get it into your thick head – we don’t allow crybabies here. Deal with it.

My current bout of active depression kicked in back when I was helping my mother die, seven years ago, in a hospice situation, and my employers actively failed to be supportive at all. Business, don’tcha know. When I confronted the big boss about it I ended up shaking and crying and verbalizing all of the pain in my life at that horrendous moment, all of it expressing well beyond my willpower’s ability to control. Back then I didn’t know that I was bipolar. I didn’t know that a door had just opened and a demon was let loose into the world. I had cried in front of a big tough athletic young man. My bad. As time went on depression covertly chipped away at my ability to perform my job, up until my termination. What did they care? From there the depression proceeded to chip away at the rest, but not with a tap hammer, it then used a jack hammer. It all led me to the animal shelter, where I must go right now, to be of service to cats, or to the dogs, if someone on that crew should call in sick, and if that happens there will be no crying, and any depressed cats will have to do without my support. Such is life. Ob la di ob la da.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

 

 

Heart of the Sunrise

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The serenity of home feels sweet. After hours of high speed travel I’m ready for the quiet places, any I can find. Inner quiet is a good start. I slept stock still last night, the first time in recent memory. Perhaps the tension of Interstate travel? Yup. I know it to be true. Recapping the past few days, I attended a concert by the legendary prog rock band Yes. They presented their musical artistry in a 1200 seat theater inside a casino hotel. The casino is Route 66, on Laguna Pueblo, 20 minutes west of Albuquerque. Now, a 1200 seat theater for a band of such mighty stature is practically a private show. I think I could fully enter that private place except for the feeling of love that the audience had for the five guys on stage. It felt like most of the audience were loyal fans. We were all entangled in a web, spun of magic. As Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences might say: once conjoined, never parted.

The casino was a different story, at least for me. To enter the theater you have to pass through the casino itself, and pass under a marquis designed to mimic the old ones they had on movie theaters back in the early 60s, late 50s. Thick crowd, some seated, marking their spot with faces either grim or focused, many standers and walkers, hovering all around the players at the slot machines, and concert goers, slipping between the cracks on their way out of a show that dazzled as much as it uplifted. It was kind of a kick in the head, but I can see it from a different angle as well. The music of Yes presents a magical, surreal vibe, almost otherworldly, and the active casino, at 10 PM, fits right in to that vibe, sort of as a dark side to dance conjointly with the light. Yes is all about love and light. For me, the flashing maelstrom of pings and dings felt intrusive, although I was the intruder, present only because there was no other way into the theater. No, I didn’t gamble while I was there. I couldn’t see the sense in it. And, I was likely the only one, out of hundreds of people, who was reminded of Umberto Eco’s book of essays,  Travels in Hyperreality, which is best simply described as his musings on our modern proclivity toward simulation; think Disney World. I think that’s it – the facade of the casino masks a simple mechanism for the exchange of money. What Yes provided was an exchange of magic, a synergy of hope, that we may, despite the make a buck drive we all must deal with, wiggle the power of love and light, and maybe get it high enough in the scheme of things where people would accept it as something more than hope, accept it as actuality instead. Now, Umberto Eco has inspired me through his freely shared intellect, on matters of semiotics, so my little commentary here might make you squirm a tad. I can understand that. But none of us are a face in the crowd. Never, although it sho nuff do feel that way at times. I’m thinking of me during the show, deciding to get a second pint of domestic draft  beer, so I am obliged to walk in front of my seat mates in Row R, section A. I fear being intrusive, but I go anyway. No abrasive auras, no grumbles, not even any major adjustments of knees or fannies, I simply slipped out into the aisle between smiles and soft vocalizations of acceptance. By the time I got up to the beer counter Geoff Downes was shimmering the whole place with the eerie opening sequence of “Heart of the Sunrise”, followed by the buzz saw guitar and bass work of Steve Howe and Chris Squire, playing in unison, laser light tickling the walls and ceiling, I stood transfixed for a few seconds, then I turned around to face a close up view of more than ample cleavage and a beautiful smile. “What can I get you?” She’d been leaning over on the counter, she straightened up. Gulp. I’m not really ready for that but I appreciate it as being, shall we say, part of the whole show. The old me would have been embarrassed, yet grateful, but I was already feeling the permanent transformation I was riding like a quantum wave, so I let my eyes linger, perhaps too long, I don’t know, and when I looked up to order she kind of winked. “Draft, Stella”. She kind of danced with her heels as she poured the draft. I tell you all of this, not as some gratuitous sexual tangent, I share it because . . . well, ya see, the transformation is the heart of the matter. I’ll simply say there was no fear in the room, no judgement. Unity. It was unity. There could be no more than that, by definition. I made it back to my seat by the time the vocals started:

“Love comes to you and you follow
Lose one on to the heart of the sunrise
Sharp distance
How can the wind with its arms
All around me” ~ Yes

There ya have it. I couldn’t quite get my words around it. With a cozy heart and misty eyes I must now go to work. I have seen beauty before, but not like this.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously, k?

 

Yes Indeed!

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How could I do this to you? How? The view from my hotel room sucks. And so it goes. Writing on the iPad ain’t no picnic either, so let’s try to keep this short, k? But the concert? Powerful stuff! Old boys rock. Plain and simple, but there is nothing simple about the music from Yes. I’ve often marveled at their music but to see them do it live was fully dazzling. There were no studio tricks, they do it all themselves! Five guys, they do it all. The audience was predictably long in the tooth. The standing ovations began from the outset, and we’re well-earned.

The new lead singer, Jon Davison, is better than he needs to be. What a voice! He covered the material but he took it so far beyond the original that he made it his own, and his stage presence was mesmerizing. I’ve got good-chills from just describing it. Chris Squire on bass – this guy pounds out intricate bass lines as if he has been doing it all his life. Oh, wait . . . Your right, he has. My bad. He rattled the heart chakras of over 1000 people, with love as his tool. The rattling was visceral. Wow. Steve Howe, he of the virtuoso clan, was as amazing as I had expected. He made me cry with his performance. Geoff Downes, on keyboards, merged with the spirit of Yes as if he had been doing it . . . Friggin repetition. Again, my bad. His performance of Rick Wakeman’s “Cans and Brahms” was pitch perfect. Rick would be proud but his absence is a sore spot nonetheless. Geoff made it right. Great player. Alan White on drums. That says it all. Dazzling. All in all, this was the show of a lifetime. Even in this small venue the band generously put it all out there as if they were playing a 40,000 seat stadium. Not only that but beer was served! Oh man.

A sigh from this guy. I’ve given myself a magnificent gift by treating myself to this concert. My emotions, usually clothed rather harshly in anxiety, still fill my heart warmly. This shall endure.

All for now, my friends. I smile. I should.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously, k?

The Fisher King

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“I looked at the man; I saw him plain;

Like a dead weed, gray and wan,

Or a breath of dust. I looked again–

And man and dog were gone,

Like wisps of the graying dawn. . . .

Were they a part of the grim death there–

Ragweed, fennel, and rue?

Or forms of the mind, an old despair,

That there into semblance grew

Out of the grief I knew?” ~ Madison Cawein

This is friggin weird. I tell you, it’s not right. But like any mindfully-born thing it is here and it ain’t gonna budge until recognized and given a nod. There is a serene, deep, and beautiful note, played in odd harmony with grief, riding the pale horse that comes with the announcement of the death of Robin Williams. I salute then lower my chin to my sternum. He tried, he really did. The serenity I feel is born of concern now let loose to fly. That concern speaks not of the deep and adamant pain of clinical depression, and I ask, “What kind of concern would make such a tragic omission?”. My question is a good one. Ponder it a while, if you have a while to spare. I hope you do.

Some folks speak of the dire fates who come when the soul of a suicide passes over to the Other Side. I ain’t buyin’ that, not for a moment. I believe that Robin is in a better place. But that’s just me. I’ve my tears to spare, tears that go along with tragic loss, and they somehow make me think of another playful spirit who could very well be the namesake of Mr. Williams: Robin Goodfellow. This Robin is a sprite, a Puck, a Trickster, who will without pause deliver a morsel of lesson to one who has the wisdom to learn. Two peas in a pod? That’s what I’m sayin’.

My favorite film that featured the vivid genius of Robin Williams was The Fisher King. Why? Because it showed that he knew madness and knew it well enough to give it pure authenticity on the big screen. You may question whether or not depression via bipolar disorder is a form of madness. I’m telling you it is. I’ve got the friggin’ disorder. My mom gave it to me, bless her heart. And her mom, and so on. Genetics can bring bad news. But the disorder is not the only bad news. The other bad news is the taboo against talking about depression. Depression can kill, obviously. Robin Williams went the way of David Foster Wallace, another vivid genius, who also died by the rope; he hanged himself. I’ve got myself pushing out repressed tears just thinking of it. Mr. Wallace is maybe not as well known as Mr. Williams, because Americans would rather go to the movies than read a complex writer’s work. But I think their genius is on a par. Were I to believe that the passing of these two gentlemen were gifts of wisdom to us all, and I pretty much do, I would say it is true because they brought depression into the limelight, a limelight that glanced over another writer who looks at depression from the other side: Peter D. Kramer.

I’ve gotta go now. I’m headed to see a rock concert given the the powerfully optimistic band named Yes. Optimism can go all manic on ya if you have the chemical imbalance that depression provides. I’m all balanced because I faithfully take my meds each and every day. I’ve seen the horror of bipolar depression, in myself and in family members. I don’t want to go there. It’s bad enough to feel it through the filter of drugs. But I remain optimistic, and I remain willing to entertain the presence of such Tricksters as Robin Williams and Robin Goodfellow. Mr. Williams was a goodfellow as well. Talk about depression if you know someone who suffers from it. Chances are you do, if you have been paying attention. There are a lot of us. An awful lot of us. And lest I forget – goodbye Robin. Don’t forget to write.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Yes and No

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The drive home from work, yesterday afternoon, was simply spectacular. I’m referring to the scenery, not the traffic. People who call Taos a small town must not drive much. One of my coworkers lives on the Pueblo, and I give him a ride home on occasion. Yesterday was one such occasion. There is a whole different vibe out there. The foliage looks greener, the pasture horses more placid, yet I often question my perceptions so I wonder if I am just projecting expectations, or romantic concepts, onto the land. I suppose it’s possible, but I am not going to be lazy in allowing myself to go there. If I question my perceptions too much I may end up going off the deep end without even knowing it.

Today’s opening photo is of the “C kittens”, or 3/5 of them anyway. The other two are in the shelter lobby. Different litters of shelter kittens are designated with different letters of the alphabet, usually based on the mother’s given name, but not always. For the longest time I was befuddled by this practice. If someone said “the C kittens” or “the A kittens” I figured they were using some arcane reference, some medical term, or something even more profound. But as it turns out it’s just an easy way of keeping tabs on who’s who. There goes my perceptions again. The striking thing about the “C kittens” is the intensity of the coloring of their fur. I see a lot of cats and these guys have what most don’t. But they are on the skittish side. When they first came in they got loose from us, in the intake room, and we ended up having to round up what might as well have been five flying monkeys. The final capture came when I used the capture net on the ginger tabby fella to your right in the photo. I reckoned he’d never have a good opinion about me, ever again, due to a kitty form of PTSD, but we are best buddies now, regardless of the skittishness. You may know some people like that. They are happy to see you, and quite friendly, but they don’t like to be touched. Of course these days we have mostly replaced “don’t like” with having “issues”, as if there is nothing we can’t fix. I see it as the invasive side of positive thinking. People say that “anything is possible”. I beg to differ. When’s the last time you saw a flying cat? If cats had wings we’d all be in a heap of trouble unless we totally avoided ever pissing them off!

I must now mention the passing of Robin Williams. He had one of the greatest minds I have ever witnessed. The speed of his spontaneity was breathtaking. He will be sorely missed. Humor like that plays scalpel to the hardest of hearts. I mention the greatness of mind because I also want to address another attribute of Robin’s: his depression. You may think “if his mind was so great why did sadness kill him?”. That’s an excellent question. Sadness did not kill him. Depression is not sadness. It is not of the mind. It lives in the mind, it uses the mind as a tool, but the mind does not create it. Depression is not a bad attitude that can in any way be affected by positive thinking. Depression can eat positive thinking for lunch and turn it into gloom before dinner time. Depression comes from the brain. I read this morning that depression lights up the pain center in the brain, thus producing pain that is far more excruciating than any physical pain. Think about that. I know that feeling intimately. I don’t feel that right now but I’ve no doubt that I will feel it again. I felt it just this past weekend. And I think of David Foster Wallace, a genius of a writer, as well. Jonathan Franzen, another great writer, wrote an essay for The New Yorker that was in part devoted to David’s death by suicide. The essay is rife with metaphors, beautifully written as well, but I feel that it is greatly misdirected in regards to David. I feel that Mr. Franzen, like so many other people, could not allow himself to see depression for what it is. Finding reasons and explanations for  the suicide of a depressive person is a fool’s errand. It was the pain that killed David and Robin. It simply became too much. They escaped the pain. We now know profound sadness because of their actions. But also know that they did not do it to get somebody.

Okay, I’m going to lighten up now and prep for work. I can feel a downslide coming on. Last weekend’s deep dive rose a bit , now I am going down. I know how the sine wave of mood goes for me. The next trough will not be near as deep. The truth is that, for me, the mood never goes straight up. Intellectualizing about it helps me on the switchbacks that my brain slings at me. Onward and upward. Nineteen hours to showtime, to witness the genius and virtuosity of my all time favorite rock band, Yes. Now that will send my mood straight up!

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

Longing and Patience Are Way Sweet

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“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” ~Madeleine L’Engle

Yesterday was a lost day. The truth is that I slept throughout most of the day, and the rest was a blur. I’m not really sure that “lost” is the right word, since any experience can be turned to one’s benefit. One influence that likely precipitated the sleep was that I got to work on Saturday, proceeded as usual to tend to the shelter cats, then I was suddenly reassigned to work with the less adoptable and non-adoptable dogs. The lovely face you see above is one of the ‘non’ fellas. His name is Draco and he loves humans. He is as sweet as can be. His issue is with other dogs. He’s what we refer to in the business as “dog aggressive”. I’ve only once seen him go ballistic on another dog, and luckily he was caged at the time. His ire was absolutely awesome, simply breathtaking to behold. Scary, chilling, yet also awesome. It makes me wonder what is going on with a beast like that, considering that he has feelings, emotions, and also has access to the same field of consciousness that we humans do. What’s up with that? That’s what I’m sayin’. Was there abuse in Draco’s past, maybe? I’ve not much more to say about this other than to say that it confounds me to no end when I look beyond the love I have for this dog. It confounds me to the point of having to embrace the ambiguity that arises from this situation. Ambiguity can be a profound teacher, so the situation leaves me awaiting instructions. What do I do with this? Unconditional love is a start. Yeah, buddy.

Anyway, I was way tired from having to handle big dogs with issues, and to do so at the end of my work week. Yadda, yadda, yadda. As I sat outside just now, on the concrete patio, watching the placid moon, which was eggshell white, I realized that I have me a melancholy temperament going today. Lucky me, no? I am on the threshold of achieving one of my greatest life goals, after 40 years of waiting, and I get the impression, maybe from the angels or maybe from my intense rational side, that the melancholy stems from this goal soon achieved. In two days, sixty long hours, I will behold the progressive rock band Yes in an intimate concert setting. They will dazzle me, I am sure; lift me up, if only for a time. I await this concert with a longing that I would be hard-pressed to describe, as if longing needs describing anyway. It doesn’t. It is one of the inborn gifts given through my Celtic blood. I accept it as such. The Longing provides the avenue for change, acting somewhat as I lodestar that pulls one toward them into destiny, toward enrichment leading to the next phase of life. A rock concert will take me there. Wherever “there” is, I will go. Listen:

Boy howdy those guys sure were young! So was I. We have all aged, hopefully gracefully, full of hope, full of grace. Hopefully. Steve Howe, the virtuoso on guitar, is now 67. I will turn 60 is two short months. Stop and think about that, will you? I’m single, living in poverty, with practically no money in the bank, no dating, no romantic prospects, no worries needed yet plenty are here, now, and urgent as only a phantom can be urgent. Phantoms always fade away by and by.  Once I get out onto Highway 68, headed south to meet up with Interstate 25, I will be worry free, unless you count traffic angst as a form of worry. I see it as more of an artifact of high-speed city driving, and that city is Albuquerque. Santa Fe is not really a city in my book. It’s quaintness overrides such a far-reaching claim. But who am I to say? Now, before I get on and away from this paragraph I want to underline the “romantic prospects” issue. Isn’t that supposed to be a spontaneous, perhaps even serendipitous, thing? You tell me. I’m at a loss to even speculate. Is she out there waiting, is she within sight, is she smiling as well? I am. My lack of confidence goes a long way on the road to nowhere. One of the benefits of melancholy is that it is so good at manifesting interesting and wondrous opportunities, because along with the sadness and dull pining it also has a level of beauty that emerges on a moment’s notice, indeed beauty is what allows melancholy to exist at all.

I hear the workday calling. Hopefully my service to cats will not be truncated at the outset. Cat’s teach me patience, they teach me poise, and they give me a form of playful love that serves as a muse. They give me hope as well. Boy howdy I have to shovel their shit as part of the bargain! D’ya ever see a cat smile? There is Cheshire-ness in all of us. I’ll wait and see what emerges from thin air. Meanwhile I will savor all that I have, with that lovely mysteriousness that spiritual surrender provides, giving openly to furry little beasts that have a pointed way of being, riding the improbability of the quantum wave, surfing just below it’s crest, waiting for it to collapse into manifestation, at which time I will giggle, giggle that Cosmic Giggle, and I will sigh within my melancholic  web, where spinning once was pining, and it now, and for sure, becomes the web of life, once again and forever. I say bring her on,k?

I call that a bargain, the best I ever had. The best I ever had! ~ Pete Townsend

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously, k?