8.14.2022 – it is something to

it is something to
face the sun know you are free
one day of life so

Based on the poem Clean Hands by Carl Sandburg in Smoke and Steel, 1922.

IT is something to face the sun and know you are free.
To hold your head in the shafts of daylight slanting the earth
And know your heart has kept a promise and the blood runs clean:
It is something.
To go one day of your life among all men with clean hands,
Clean for the day book today and the record of the after days,
Held at your side proud, satisfied to the last, and ready,
So to have clean hands:
God, it is something,
One day of life so
And a memory fastened till the stars sputter out
And a love washed as white linen in the noon drying.
Yes, go find the men of clean hands one day and see the life, the memory, the love they have, to stay longer than the plunging sea wets the shores or the fires heave under the crust of the earth.
O yes, clean hands is the chant and only one man knows its sob and its undersong and he dies clenching the secret more to him than any woman or chum.
And O the great brave men, the silent little brave men, proud of their hands – clutching the knuckles of their fingers into fists ready for death and the dark, ready for life and the fight, the pay and the memories – O the men proud of their hands.

8.13.2022 – conscience, cowardice

conscience, cowardice
one in the same action from
not doing nothing

Mr. Oscar Wilde said in his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, that “Conscience and cowardice are really the same things.“

In the novel, Basil Hallward is talking with Lord Henry.

Basil says, “…it was not conscience that made me do so: it was a sort of cowardice. I take no credit to myself for trying to escape.”

Lord Henry replies, “Conscience and cowardice are really the same things, Basil. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all”

Conscience and cowardice are really the same things.

Conscience is the trade-name of the firm.

That is all.

Cannot say why this passage was on my mind of late.

But aren’t they interesting words?

Conscience.

Cowardice.

I looked up the words in the online Webster’s.

The sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.

Lack of courage or firmness of purpose.

Really the same things.

That is all.

As Big Bill put it:

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

(Hamlet, Act III, Scene I)

Very deep stuff for a Saturday.

Thankfully there is always Langston Hughes’ Motto:

I play it cool
And dig all jive
That’s the reason
I stay alive.

My motto,
As I live and learn,
is:
Dig And Be Dug
In Return.

Dig And Be Dug In Return.

Can we get that on our money?

8.12.2022 – they age according

they age according
to grief they experience
not the years they live

From the line, “We have a saying in Afghanistan: People age according to the grief they experience, not the years they live.” as written by By Fahim Abed in the article, We Are the Flour Between Two Millstones in the New York Times on August, 12, 2022.

In an article about the life of Afghans, not in Afghanistan, but here in the United States.

Mr. Abed writes, “I am in the United States now, and though I am physically safe, my psychological well-being is anything but. Everything is so different here, and I have no idea about how most things work: Where do I park my car? How do I pay my bills? And, by the way, how does American health insurance work?”

Park the car to how does American insurance work.

Gosh, who does know.

So many friends that I talked to feel the same way. As the anecdotes added up, I couldn’t help but think of another saying we have in Afghanistan: We are the flour between two millstones.

I shudder thinking about my generation being ground into powder, wedged between the anxiety of being refugees while watching the Taliban dismantle the country we grew up in.

Still Mr. Abed ends with, “But for now, all we can do is wake up, look at ourselves in the mirror, and hope that today, if even for a little bit, will be better.”

All we can do is wake up.

look at ourselves in the mirror.

Hope that today, if even for a little bit, will be better.

Americans, us as Americans, we got a pretty good deal.

Maybe time we should act like it.

8.11.2022 – gospel of light is

gospel of light is
crossroads indolence action
be ignited or gone

Adapted from What I Have Learned So Far by Mary Oliver.

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

8.10.2022 – polarization

polarization
of diametrically
opposed certain views

Adapted from the How We Think About Politics Changes What We Think About Politics by Thomas B. Edsall in the New York Times on August 10, 2022.

Writing about belief polarization, on these opposed certain views, Mr. Edsall wrote: Perhaps the most salient recent illustration of belief polarization is the diametrically opposed views of Trump loyalists and of their Democratic adversaries over the legitimacy of the 2020 election: Trump supporters are convinced it was stolen; Democrats and independents are certain that Joe Biden is the legitimate president.

Mr. Edsall then recounts the trials and travails voting in a democracy and he ends with this warning: These developments — or upheavals — and especially the reaction to them have tested the viability of our democracy and suggest, at the very least, an uphill climb ahead.

Boy howdy and no kidding!

8.9.2022 – don’t cheat yourself out

don’t cheat yourself out
of life be not simply good
be good for something

The full quote is: “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.

And it deserves a better haiku and if time allows, I will work on it.

This appears in a letter written by Henry Thoreau on March 27, 1848, to Mr. Harrison Blake.

The text of the letter appears in the Familiar Letters Of Henry David Thoreau – Part II The Golden Age Of Achievement, Edited, With An Introduction And Notes by F. B. Sanborn, Houghton, Mifflin And Company, 1894.

I was struck by the words, as anyone would be, but me more so on this occasion due to earlier haiku’s I recently posted.

On August 1, I wrote:

ask yourselves, have we
each of us, done all we could?
have we done enough?

On July 27, I wrote:

leaving unimpaired
though doing nothing really
is doing something

On July 23, I wrote:

people sat at home
doing nothing and they thought
do something instead

Somehow, Mr. Thoreau is a good response to all of this.

Do not be too moral.

Perhaps one of the most important uses of the word, ‘too’ in recent memory.

You may cheat yourself out of much life so.

Aim above morality.

Aim above morality?

Aim above morality!

Be not simply good;

Be good for something!

8.8.2022 – beach initially

beach initially
was deemed the most useless space
undesirable

I was struck by this passage:

The lords of the beachfront were late to the coastal real estate game. The beach was initially deemed the most useless, undesirable space on the North American continent. (Imagine rushing past the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard in your haste to stake a land claim in Ohio.)

Back in the day I had a job interview with the Federal Government.

On the application there was a spot where I could list places where I could not work.

I listed California, Florida and Ohio.

The interviewer asked a lot of questions then said, “Where you can’t work. I certainly understand Florida and California, but what do you have against Ohio?”

Naming my Alma Mater answered his question.

I like the beach.

I can’t remember a time I did not like the beach.

I love the line in the movie Superman II, where Gene Hackman, as only Gene Hackman can, informed General Zod that, “Well, General … the world is a big place. Thank goodness my needs are small. I have a certain weakness for … beachfront property.

I guess the idea that Ohio was populated by folks who rushed past the coast to get to Ohio pretty much says as much about Ohio as anyone needs to know.

If anyone needs anything more to know about Ohio, just consider the pantheon of personalities you meet when you name the 6 Ohio Presidents.

Grant.

Hayes.

Garfield.

McKinley.

Taft.

Harding.

Now there’s a Mount Rushmore no one ever proposed.

Three died in office and of those, two were shot dead and the other was poisoned by his wife (well that’s what I was told).

Talk about some sort of intervention.

But I digress.

I like the beach.

I like what Mr. Thoreau said when he said about the beach that, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

I hope I would have stopped at the beach.

But right now, I like where I ended up.

Again as Mr. Thoreau says, The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

The passage comes from the opinion piece, We Will All End Up Paying for Someone Else’s Beach House, by Francis Wilkinson (@fdwilkinson), a columnist at Bloomberg, in the New York Times on August 8, 2022.

He closes with this warning.

The wealthy eventually realized their error. They put property markers on perpetually shifting sand, built expensive homes and called in the Army to keep their beaches from drifting away. It’s hard to see how, exactly, they will hold on to much of this sea-level paradise in the face of rising waters and carbon-charged superstorms. But it’s not hard to guess who will end up covering their losses.

The wise man built his house upon the rock but he didn’t have the view and he still, most likely, didn’t have a basement.

8.7.2022 – I saw a tie in

I saw a tie in
a shop window for sale for
three hundred dollars

Ultimately finance is no more interesting to some of us than lazy bowel syndrome, and certainly far less intriguing than the godlike intricacies of a toad or the sprightly roach in the pantry. It is far more sensible to send your kid to a cheapish community college than one of our vaunted Ivy League universities that will cost you fifty grand a year that could be better used for food and wine. Ultimately all that is learned at these so-called best institutions is to wear a necktie, which is a characteristic the financial evildoers have in common: they wear neckties. On a trip last year to the gated community of Manhattan I saw a tie in a shop window for sale for three hundred dollars. If you fail to figure out this satanic connection I can’t help you.

This was written in 2009 in an essay titled, Food, Finance, and Spirit, in the Toronto literary publication, Brick, written by the late Jim Harrison.

Many of Mr. Harrison’s essays like this were pulled together in a posthumously published in the book, A Really Big Lunch.

The front piece states: The pieces collected in this volume have originally appeared in Smoke Signals, the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant newsletter, Brick, New Yorker, Martha Stewart Living, Playboy, Edible Baja Arizona, Big Sky Cooking by Meredith Brokaw and Ellen Wright, The Montana Writers’ Cookbook by the Montana Center for the Book and the Montana Committee for the Humanities, and Molto Italiano by Mario Batali.

As Mr. Harrison wrote, “... I saw a tie in a shop window for sale for three hundred dollars. If you fail to figure out this satanic connection I can’t help you.

Just want to say if you can’t figure out the satanic connection here and about so much else in today’s world, I can’t help you either.

8.6.2022 – OUR libraries – place

OUR libraries – place
to read, gather, learn – our heart
how can you lose that

Those people, for reasons known but to them, who read this blog from time to time will be aware that I read the Guardian, a newspaper the originates in Manchester, UK, for my online news.

As the Guardian covers all the issues of today, I was not surprised by the headline, US library defunded after refusing to censor LGBTQ authors: ‘We will not ban the books’.

I clicked on the headline and that is when the surprise set in.

In less than one week, this was the second time that there was worldwide news from where I grew up West Michigan.

The first time was when the local congressman, the geographic and (mostly) repulican consertive heir to Gerald Ford’s old seat in Congress, was thrown out by local voters as this congressman agreed that the former president had failed to uphold his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The 2nd time was had to do with this US library being defunded after refusing to censor LGBTQ authors.

Turns out that the article was about the Jamestown Township Public Library locate in Ottawa County, Michigan.

Way to go West Michigan!

(UPDATE 5:30pm – my wife wondered if my sarcastic wit wasn’t entirely apparent unless you read the entire post – to be transparent and remove the guess work, reading this story made me want to barf in anger dismay and frustration with those of narrow mind)

Jamestown Township in Ottawa County is where my family settled and set up farming when they arrived in this country back in 1870.

If you turn right out of this library and drive about 5 miles and you will arrive at the Vriesland Cemetery where my Great Grandparents are buried.

My Great Grandparents, who I understand, never learned to speak English.

People who made the effort to leave their homes and come to a land where it was proclaimed in its birth certificate, that it was self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I don’t want to get into the issue beyond banning books.

Banning books in a public library.

When did we get so scared?

When did we get so scared that so many people feel the need to carry a machine gun with them to church?

When did we so scared that some people feel the only way to protect ourselves and our children is to ban books?

The article in the Guardian quotes Deborah Mikula, executive director of the Michigan Library Association.

Our libraries are places to read, places to gather, places to socialize, places to study, places to learn. I mean, they’re the heart of every community, so how can you lose that?”

So how can you lose that?

The heart of every community.

HOW CAN YOU LOSE THAT?

I don’t understand.

I feel this can’t last, that this can’t go on.

Actually I know it can’t last.

And I know, as its says in the Bible, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” 

When everything is new then maybe, just maybe, we won’t be so scared.

That passage is from the book of Revelation, Chapter 21, verses 4 and 5.

You remember the book of Revelation?

The book written by John while living on the Island of Patmos.

By the way, did I mention the name of the library?

The Patmos Library of Jamestown Township.

Also here is link to the library gofundme page.

8.5.2022 – only humor and

only humor and
humility allow you to
endure senior life

Only humor and humility allow you to endure life as a senior with its clear view of a mile-high, neon-lit exit sign. I offer suggestions in the spirit of one building a rickety bridge across a deep ditch full of venomous snakes. At dawn tomorrow drop your cell phone in the toilet during your morning pee. In 1944 people averaged forty phone calls a year and now they’re over five thousand. Your cell phone time can be spent growing vegetables and learning to cook. Keep your lights turned off. All these electric lights are heating up innocent nature. Look out the window on a night flight and so much is ablaze for no valid reason. The world is running out of potable water, or so we are told. When you pour a glass of water finish it even if you have to add whiskey to manage. Fire a large-caliber bullet into your television screen. Avoid newspapers and magazines and movies, all of which have been unworthy of our attention. I will allow fifteen minutes a day of public radio news so you won’t lose track of the human community. I want to say to give your excess money to the poor but other than being generous to my larger family and friends I can’t seem to manage this, so ingrained is my greed. Naturally we all fail. Just last night I watched a few minutes of a BBC program about how women as young as fifteen in England are having plastic surgery to make their vaginas more attractive. Seriously. I kept hoping that the cast of Monty Python would pop out of the woodwork but no such luck. What chance does a fiction writer have in such a world?

This passage was written in 2011 in an essay titled, Caregiver, in the Toronto literary publication, Brick, written by the late Jim Harrison.

Many of Mr. Harrison’s essays like this were pulled together in a posthumously published in the book, A Really Big Lunch.

The front piece states: The pieces collected in this volume have originally appeared in Smoke Signals, the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant newsletter, Brick, New Yorker, Martha Stewart Living, Playboy, Edible Baja Arizona, Big Sky Cooking by Meredith Brokaw and Ellen Wright, The Montana Writers’ Cookbook by the Montana Center for the Book and the Montana Committee for the Humanities, and Molto Italiano by Mario Batali.

How did I get this old?

My wife is quick to recognize any form of ageism while I resist the idea that I am marginalized by the fact of the year I was born.

Yet yesterday at the beach, sitting by a young couple who had established their place on the beach with towels, blankets and hampers in the face of an incoming tide, I could not help but acknowledge that when we tried to engage them in conversation as they moved further back up the beach, that the last thing on the minds of these two people were:

1)There were ‘older’ people on the beach. Didn’t know that was allowed.

2) Older people on the beach in SWIM SUITS (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!)

3) These older people were attempting to talk them as if there was anything they could say would any bearing on their world. Oh COME ON!

I don’t think the young man could have been more surprised had the sound of airport boarding announcements calling his name suddenly boomed across the beach.

He didn’t stop but slowed for a moment and acknowledged that he had heard our voices then mumbled something about tide … beach … wet … heh heh heh until he was gratefully out of our sightlines.

My wife and I had to look at each and laugh.

We imagined these young folks having dinner later and saying, ‘could you believe those old people on the beach. They were alive. They tried to talk to us! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Okay we are older.

It isn’t catching.

Maybe we do have a clear view of a mile-high, neon-lit exit sign to life.

That doesn’t mean you do.

But I find it hard to say much.

I was the same way.

Those silly old folks are so silly.

Ah well youth is SO wasted on young people.

Boy howdy am I feeling old.

And I do like this list of suggestions from Mr. Harrison.

IE:

At dawn tomorrow drop your cell phone in the toilet during your morning pee. In 1944 people averaged forty phone calls a year and now they’re over five thousand. Your cell phone time can be spent growing vegetables and learning to cook.

Keep your lights turned off. All these electric lights are heating up innocent nature. Look out the window on a night flight and so much is ablaze for no valid reason.

The world is running out of potable water, or so we are told. When you pour a glass of water finish it even if you have to add whiskey to manage. Fire a large-caliber bullet into your television screen.

Avoid newspapers and magazines and movies, all of which have been unworthy of our attention. I will allow fifteen minutes a day of public radio news so you won’t lose track of the human community.

I want to say to give your excess money to the poor but other than being generous to my larger family and friends I can’t seem to manage this, so ingrained is my greed.

Sadly, I have to agree that while my spirit is willing, I am weak.

Naturally we all fail.

But it is fun to think, to imagine that I might do these things.

That exit sign is coming up.