Monday, June 23, 2008

It's OK to Get Old

It really is O.K. to get old, because it’s going to happen anyway, isn’t it? We haven’t sinned against a righteous God, simply because our bodies are breaking down. And we can do all of sorts of things to try and postpone slipping from middle age into old age, but you know, that’s just a natural part of life, and there’s nothing wrong with slowing down and simplifying life and finding that you prefer small doses of company or none at all. That’s all OK. There’s nothing wrong with you or with me. It’s meant to be that way. I have stopped going to doctors, and no, I’m not going to get help for this “problem” that I have, because I don’t think we have any problems. We just have what God provides and brings us each day, and that same power is going to give us the grace to deal with an aging body or a weakening mind

The Joy of Being Alone

I avoid groups. I much prefer being with maybe one other person who can converse intelligently and with some wit. Most of the time, though, I find that I enjoy being alone, in total silence, because I am my own best company. Being alone a lot gives you time for reflection and meditation, and again I am amused by the pressure the world exerts on us to not do that. “It’s not healthy to be alone too much. It’s antisocial and it cuts you off from the mainstream, and your reality begins to drift into unreality. Stay young. Stay active, and with other people.” That whole “you gotta stay young thing,” which is so prevalent in our world today, absolutely cuts off the possibility of real reflection. It steals time to be given insights about life that are great comfort to us --- to me, anyway -- as I am moving in and through this last stage of life, old age. It’s a fabulous time. My god, I have never been so happy and so at peace. By the same token, things that didn’t use to bother me now just give me fits. It’s part of aging, and it’s perfectly normal and natural. That’s really what I want to say, if I have anything left to say of any importance in a world that isn’t real anyway, it would just be, “Good news. We’re loved. We’re protected. We’re provided for, moment by moment, during our entire voyage.” It doesn’t seem like it much of the time, but that’s the way it really is. It’s cool, folks, it’s cool. It really is, so let things happen, if possible. Now see, I’m trying to give advice, too. But gee, life does become a lot more pleasurable when we stop struggling to make things happen. They may not be meant to happen, and so they’re not going to, and you’re just swimming upstream and using up all that energy that could be spent maybe just enjoying life a little more.

Noise, Noise

I hate being around large groups of people now, because of the noise they make. The noise in a crowded restaurant, for example, is so intense and there are so many different conversations going on, if you are not already crazy, you will be driven crazy. One of the survival skills that we acquire as we get older is to filter out most of that stuff that we perceive is not going to be helpful to us. However, I find now that I’m losing that skill. I’m not able to filter everything out any longer. It all sounds like a constant cacophony.

Blaming Ourselves

So often I find myself in places that I never intended to be in. In fact, I may have worked very hard to avoid a situation, and yet, because I do not have free will, I find myself in that very spot. To me, it becomes apparent that somewhere there is a power that decides for us what is best, and the sad thing is, when unpleasant things happen, we tend to think that we screwed up. We’ve been taught to blame ourselves. “Oh, I made a bad choice. I wonder what it was that I did wrong.” And then there are those moments in life when the soul cries out, “But I didn’t do anything wrong. I never intended this. I never did anything to bring this on.” No, but it was planned, so it happened.

Real, Not Real

It is still easy for me to get caught up in the apparent crises and conflicts of the world. It’s so easy to start taking myself seriously again, and getting upset, instead of just seeing the humor in the situation and giggling, as I usually do, but that’s part of being human, too, getting caught up in the melodrama of the movie we’re all performing in. Sometimes it feels real, but thankfully, sooner or later that moment comes when even I can’t handle the absurdity any longer and I smile or screech hysterically. It all comes back to an awareness that this “reality” is just not real, and why should it be? There’s that word again, “real,” a “really” important word.

No Free Will

One of the reasons that I am more and more convinced that there is no such thing as free will is the number of times I still find myself doing things that I don’t want to do, but for one reason or another, I am compelled to do. If we really examine even one day -- what happened and the events that led up to each experience -- we’ll see the reasons that we made a particular, specific decision just the way we did. There was no choice. It may have felt like there was. We may take a lot of time doing what we call “considering” every viewpoint and every option, but the fact is we end up doing one particular thing whether we felt like it or not.

I do what I do for the simple reason that these are my marching orders. It has nothing to do with my having decided, because this is the wisest choice. I did it because it was in my script for the day, and there was nothing else I could do. And this is where all of us are, I think, all of the time -- in a stream that carries us along regardless of our wishes. Sometimes the stream carries us to such pleasant places that we could just stay there forever. But think about it. Sooner or later, everything changes. Then it’s time for the less pleasant experiences. There are many in life. And the great schoolmaster in the sky has said, “Get ready for another change, sweetheart.”

Modern Technology

I think it’s wonderfully ironic that modern technology never seems to come up with what you want. It’s very complex and very sophisticated, but it doesn’t meet my needs. For example, caller ID. What does that term imply? That the caller is going to identify himself or herself. Is this is the case? Oh, no. Technology, bless its heart, gives people the option of not identifying themselves. The phone rings, and you look at the caller ID, and it says, “unknown.” Really? Then why bother me with caller ID, if the phone is going to ring, and I’m going to look at it, and I still don’t know who the hell it is. Thanks again to all of you who offer a promise and then never fulfill it. And all of this at our expense, not yours.

A Tough Row to Hoe

I’ve been doing a lot of planting in my garden recently, and it’s been hard to keep some of the plants going. For one thing, the rabbits really like the marigolds and verbena and a few other things. They just eat them right down to the ground. Other plants, I think, find the soil to be very difficult. I have a hard time burying the plants deep enough because there’s so much rock – about four inches of gravel that is poured around the trailers, and it’s hard to get through that rock into some real soil. When I plant, I realize later that things are sticking up too high. The roots are exposed to the heat and will be dry no matter how much I water. In addition, when it heats up, you just can’t plant. No plant, no matter how hardy, can endure the heat and direct sun all day. For these reasons, I find that I have to work really hard. It occurred to me that this is essentially what love is. Love are those actions in which you feel encouraged to stay and keep trying instead of giving up and leaving, and we make such a virtue out of staying. I couldn’t care less. If we’re supposed to stay, we do, and if not, we leave. But that’s how God keeps us here. He causes love to continue to rain down on us, one way or the other. When we stop getting love, we really do start to die very quickly, and I can see it in the eyes of people I’ve been with who were coming close to death. I watched them go though these stages where, after a while, there just wasn’t enough love any longer to make you want to stay, when your body is that sick and in such pain, and your soul just longs to depart and get out of this pain and this boredom and go where you know the action is.

I look at these poor, struggling plants, and I can see them struggle, as if they’re on their last gasp, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to encourage them enough to make them want to stay. If they leave, I don’t blame them. I see us as plants in God’s garden, and without the love we get from the people who are placed in our lives for a purpose, there’s just not enough reason to stay. This is a rather cold, bleak, and unpleasant world if you don’t have family and friends to nurture you. Now, I want it understood, I’m not complaining. I’m not feeling very much love these days coming through people, but I certainly feel it coming through my garden, my music. Even so, it’s getting harder for these things to hold me here. I just long to be gone. But I’m being given the grace for the time being to hang on, and one of the things I’m doing with my time is talking into this tape recorder, and maybe some of this is going to be used by the Almighty in bringing some small measure of comfort into your humdrum lives, as Lina Lamont said, in Singing in the Rain.

It's OK to Curse

Does all of this mean that I no longer have bad days, that I’ve learned to control my days so that trouble rolls off of me like water off a duck’s back? Hardly. In some ways my fuse is shorter than it’s ever been, and something very little can cause me to fly into a rage. The interesting thing is that it’s over quickly. I’ve been taught how to release, and that may be scary to people nearby, when they hear me say, “Damn it!” However, I’m not wishing God’s damnation on anyone, I’m just expressing my frustration, and how much healthier to say “damn” that to go out on a playground and mow down a bunch of kids. And maybe that’s why so much of that is happening, in addition to the fact that it’s just part of the script and it’s supposed to be happening. People are so pent up. They are like springs, ready to just snap, and when a spring snaps, there’s a lot of force there ready to be released in a very short period of time. I just sound off all of the time and keep things in my life fairly defused. You know, if you do read about me going berserk sometime and wiping out an entire city, don’t be surprised. You’ll know that it was my turn. Gee, maybe I should be giving classes in anger management

Get Quiet, Get Ready

Amazingly, I have a busy, active life, even though I have virtually no scheduled activities any longer. I suspect that could end soon, and I might find myself involved in something. The Gods would be saying, “O.K., kiddo, vacation over, back to the grind for a while.” I dread the idea of going back. I don’t see how I could do it. Of course, if I was supposed to, I would find the grace. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying retirement and not having to do much of anything. I feel that I really have paid my dues in the past, and now it is my turn to kind of just slow down, and get quiet, and get ready.

More and More

More and more of my days seem to unfold with my being in solitude and, again, I smile, because most people, if they knew the amount of time I spend alone, would be more concerned for me than they already are. But I’m OK. Solitude, for most of us, is the best state to be in most of the time. I seem to be far happier and more at peace and more desirous of nurturing joy in my life than all of these concerned people around me. Just more irony all around us.

Can We Talk About Something Else?

The other thing I notice when I listen to other people’s conversations is how unhappy everyone seems to be. They are discussing the latest celebrity tragedy or world crisis with such relish. They are also very angry at what the other side is doing, but they are really just feeding off all of this disaster – “A woman was a vegetable in Florida fourteen years and somebody else opened fire on a school yard and this person divorced this person.” I think, “Oh, my God, is there really nothing more to talk about?”

Of course, there isn’t, if that’s all that’s going into your brain. Everyday I am thankful I got rid of my cable TV and newspapers, and the hardest thing I have to deal with in my life is people who say to me, “Did you hear about?” And I have to say, “No, I didn’t, and I would appreciate not hearing about it now. Remember, I got rid of my TV, and I got rid of my newspaper, and I don’t read magazines, so I wouldn’t have to know about these events, so why would I want to have you tell me about them? Please, let’s either talk about something else, or go quietly into the garden and let the flowers and birds do the talking.

Sit Back, Enjoy the Ride

I’m as active as I’ve been since I was a child, active in the sense of being completely engaged in something with body, soul, and spirit because I’m really enjoying it. This hasn’t been true for most of my life. I didn’t see it at the time, because, like all of us, I was too caught up in the activity itself. When you stand back after several decades and look over your life, you see that life is a boring journey with just enough enjoyment and tragedy to distract you from the boredom. I admit, I really look forward to being in a place where, I trust, it will be this kind of pleasurable, productive activity all of the time, activity that will be hard to distinguish from play.

There’s really nothing that lasts, thank God. Those things that we thought were wonderful triumphs, or even terrible mistakes, were just lessons planned for us. We had nothing to say about them. We thought we were initiating them, but we didn’t. They just happened, and the same thing is happening now. I don’t have to plan. I never did. It just felt as though I was planning. Now I am conscious of the fact that I am not planning anything, and it is a delight to see my day unfold as prepared by some all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present force without me having to do anything except sit back and enjoy the ride.

The best part of getting old is realizing that there really is no such thing as free will, and thank God. I can just enjoy this ride like I did when I was a child. I’m very blessed in that I don’t have many people in my life, and nobody that I’m really responsible for, so I don’t have people telling me, “You’re doing it wrong. You should have done it that way.” I can just enjoy my day as it unfolds without any critical voice to spoil it. When I’m in a place with lots of people, and I’m by myself, and I’m having to listen to conversations that I don’t want to hear, what strikes me is how judgmental everyone is. Everyone is trying to help everyone else out, with advice that they didn’t ask for and don’t want, and we ALL do it, me included. Except of course when I’m by myself, and I’m the only one that I can give advice to, and since I always like my advice, that’s O.K.

All Work & No Play

Another activity that comes and goes as it’s supposed to is talking into this tape recorder. For some reason I always feel, when I stop, that I’ve been, not at work, because I associate that word with having to do something whether you feel like it or not, but at play, a pleasurable activity that is also productive in some way.

My Technicolor Garden

I am very much aware that I have attempted to turn my garden into one of those marvelous old Fox or MGM musicals that, to this day, can send me off into a different world. There’s color everywhere, wonderful fragrances, and the sound of the water. The birds put on a show for me. They fight over the food in the feeders and then flit off to one of the fountains. Sometimes they take baths together, which I just love to see.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Getting Old

My, the things that change as you get older. One of the things that just astonished and delighted me is the natural routine that your life begins to fall into, once you don’t have to fit it into somebody else’s schedule. When you don’t have to be someplace everyday at a certain time and remain stuck there until they say it’s time to quit, when you’re free to follow your own desires, it’s amazing what begins to happen. One of the things that still just takes me by surprise is how little planning I have to do anymore, about anything. Things just happen when they’re supposed to, whether it’s paying the bills, or brushing my teeth, or exercising, or indulging myself with lots of sweets, until I’m tired of them, and you don’t do that for a while. My own routine, if you can call it that, includes these basic activities – lots of attempts to sleep as much as possible, because when you’re asleep, you’re unaware of this world, and my dreams are getting better all the time. I would much rather be in my so-called dream state than in this so-called reality. Although it would seem that I spend a lot of time resting, I don’t really think that I’m spending any more time resting than when I had to do it, you know, when it got dark, until the alarm went off and I had to get up and go to work. It was interesting in those years before I quit work, I was finding it harder to sleep at night, and I can see now that this may not be the natural state for us. Sometimes we need to sleep in the middle of the day, especially in hot climates. I see the wisdom now of the afternoon siesta. I always managed to take a short one, while the kids were at recess. I didn’t take the time to talk to colleagues or to phone any parents. I would lie down on the hard floor and cat nap. About two minutes before the bell would go off, I would wake up and get things ready for the kids to come back in the room. I had to have that time, and when I didn’t, the afternoons were very unpleasant for me and everybody else around me. I also find that music is still a huge part of my life. Almost every day, I sing at the player piano, although, again, there is no definite routine. Sometimes I sing everyday, or even two to three times day, and some days I don’t sing at all, but I keep coming back to it, as I have all my life. I guess as long as I have any energy to move in this world, I will keep going to the player piano or record player or CD player, or to the video player, because of those wonderful musical numbers. Music has always been one of the major facets of my being, and the great frustration is this world has been that I just haven’t had the talent that goes along with the love. I’m trusting that this is going to taken care of in the next world. Another thing that I still like to do on a more or less regular basis is exercise. I’ve gone back to swimming and walking, and I do seem to be more energized when I’m exercising. I guess it’s those wonderful endorphins that they tell us about kicking in. I still love to go to movies. I love storytelling, and I realize now that I’ve been a storyteller and a lover of stories all my life. I loved listening to records that told stories when I was a kid, and mom always managed to get stuff that had lots of music in it, because she knew that my brother and I were into music. The radio was very big at one time in my life and, I think, did a lot to sharpen my imagination. I think that any of us that grew up on old-time radio still really miss it. Occasionally I’ll hear an old program and it’s not really as good as I remember, but there was something about the fact that it was strictly auditory and the visual had to take place in your own mind. Another thing I still like to do is eat. It’s interesting because I don’t really seem to care for the really rich and exotic foods like I used to. It’s pretty much roast and vegetables and grilled chicken and sweets. But what joy I still get in this world from what I am eating at the time. That’s why I indulge myself. That’s why if I would rather make a chocolate cake or a batch of fudge and eat the whole thing in one sitting than sit down and eat balanced, nutritious meals, I’ll sit down and have the fudge. My garden is incredibly important in so many ways. I can’t even find the words, really. The garden is a place where I commune with whoever it is we’re communing with. “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.” It’s a wonderful old song. I love the colors. I find the older I get, the more weary I am of this gray, colorless world. I think this is why Technicolor movies transported me when I was growing up and why I find, to this day, that an old Technicolor movie from the 40s will send me off into a different world. I am very much aware that I have tried to turn my garden into a Technicolor Fox or MGM musical, with color everywhere and wonderful fragrances and the sound of the water and the birds putting on a show for me, as they fight over the food in one of the feeders, then flit off, to one of the fountains, sometimes to take baths together. I just love to see a group of birds taking a bird bath together. Another activity that comes and goes as it’s supposed to is talking into this tape recorder, and for some reason I always feel when I stop that I’ve been, not at work, because I associate that with having to do something, whether you feel like it or not, but play, pleasurable activity that is also productive in some way.

Another Fragment

If you have to ask the question, you're probably not ready for the answer.


It is better to be happy in a commodious prison than to be at liberty in Hell?

Reality Check

Is this world we’re living in real? Not really.

Think About It

What is “thinking”? Do we really think these thoughts? Or do we just listen while they’re spoken to us, then speak them so quickly that we think that they come from us?

Working Title

Working title for my first collection of essays – “Oh, I’m so glad I’m not responsible for any of this.”

Less is More

As long as my body wants exercise, I give it, but I recognize that one of the things that’s happening is that my body is wearing out, and why shouldn’t it? It’s had a long run. I’m just learning to enjoy the fact that my body is falling apart, slowing down, and I can’t swim the laps that I used to. I am not even trying anymore. I am swimming fewer laps and enjoying them more. Less is more, actually, when you come right down to it.

As Time Goes By

Things that at one time brought me great joy and satisfaction now seem devoid of interest, while things I never used to notice are now the most important experiences at this stage of my journey. I’m finding that when I have a really pleasurable experience, it tends to be very intense, kind of all consuming, a moments of what we call ecstasy. Ecstatic experiences are often part of a kind of dream state, and as those things become more intense and more pleasurable, I realize that, for much of our lives, ecstasy is a rare occurrence. I think it’s deliberately planned to be so. As you begin to experience more of these moments, you realize that most of our journey is mundane, tedious, and repetitious. It’s all about cycles, and so you’re forever coming back to the same point and starting over again, whether it’s the seasons or the 24 hours of the day. Those things happen over and over again, and when we have ecstatic experiences, they tend to frighten us. In my 20s, in the 1960s, when we were first started to experiment with pot and LSD and other drugs, these experiences were terrifying for many people and they never did them again. For others, the state of ecstasy was so addictive that they would do anything to stay out of this world and in that special world where everything seemed to go well and to just feel great. For most of out journey, since we’re still in the process of maturing, we haven’t yet developed the spiritual or psychic sense to be able to deal with paradise. The pleasure and the joy are so intense and so unfamiliar during those early stages of our journey that we run from them. I look around me everyday and see people running from peace, contentment, and joy. After all, those things tend to get in the way of all those tasks and commitments that we must complete. In addition, most people really cannot stand leisure. They go on a retreat, and pay a lot of money, and most of the time they’re just nervous wrecks. They don’t know what to do with all of this time where you’re not able to talk, because talk is such a wonderful means of diverting attention from other things that can be very pleasurable. I think this is one of the reasons why so many of us, as we get older, withdraw more and more from the world, because we’re really tired of the conflict and the stress, and because nobody every seems to wants to just stop, take a break, and enjoy what the Gods have put all around us. We spend more and more time in gardens, or libraries, anyplace where the rule is “Quiet, please,” because this is an incredibly noisy world. I’m sure that most older people have the same problem. Noise can drive you insane, especially if you’ve lived a long time, and you grew up in a world that was much quieter. At the time of your life when you need quiet more than ever, just as you did when you were an infant, the world has never been noisier. There have never been more people on the planet, and all of them have tons of toys – pagers, cell phones, computers, and cars -- and they all make noise.

Noise is one of those things that I steals from us an inner peace, because peace within requires a good deal of silence, or at least quiet. I’m in a situation where I have a lot of that, and that really concerns a lot of people: “Oh, John has too much time on his hands. He needs to get a job, and DO something.” Oh, God, I’m so glad I don’t have to work. I HATE work. I don’t mind activity, but the thought of having to go back to somebody else’s schedule, and again to have to deal with noise, and on the job is one of the noisiest places for most of us, is horrifying to me.

So we spend most of our lives in noisy, busy places, frightened by true joy and peace, but as we get older, we begin to reverse and go back to the ways of childhood, which I think of as being wonderfully quiet. There was always music playing at our place, but it was soft and joyful. My parents’ old dance records, which I listened to all through school when I was depressed, would just pick me right back up again.

If you get right back to the beginning, you find great joy in very simple things, and you find that you’ve got lots of time like you did as kid, hours sometimes, in your bedroom or backyard. You have time not only to look but to see, and then to reflect upon, the way in which things began to get tied together with the rest of existence, instead of being isolated incidents, and you begin again to see the great harmony and unity in all things, despite appearances. You remember, again, that this is after all apparently just a play.

I was watching “Bandwagon” the other night, and a wonderful song which was written for that movie, and the last line just blew me away, as many times as I’ve sung it and heard it sung: “The world is a stage/the stage is a world of entertainment.” To know that that gets us off the hook for so much.

So as in childhood, we go back to exploring our own little world, and it’s just fascinating to me how that world changes as we move away from childhood and become more and more connected to the world and all that’s going on there. Now I find, as I go back to the beginning, that I am detaching from the world and going back into my own smaller one, which includes my garden, the swimming pool, the inside of my wonderful home with my player piano and my old records. It’s a very comfortable little cocoon, and that’s my world, and I hear other older people say that, too. “I’m just building a little cocoon,” they say. We’re conscious of the fact that we’re going into that transition between this world and the next, and when we emerge on the other side, it will be so wonderful to be home again, but in the meantime, dear older people, do not let the world steal your joy from what is happening to you. Do not let them tell you that you need to be medicated, or that you need to keep busy and develop new interests. Just tell them to go to hell, and sit there and enjoy yourself, and take the time to look back over your journey and see how glorious it really has been, despite the incredible boredom. See the marvelous organization of it, the fact that without being aware of it we were all going in exactly the right direction at exactly the right speed all the time, and now we can look forward to the fruits of all this. How exciting. So folks, don’t let people take away your old age. You’ve earned it. It’s a wonderful time. And it’s all we have at this point. This is as good as it gets. So, for heaven’s sake, make use of all the good’s that’s there. And if you take the time to walk away from all the distractions of the world, you’ll find that we have been given everything we need at this stage, which happens to be very little. If you’ve got the beauty of nature around you, immerse yourself in that, because it’s very restful and healing, and it gives you strength for the rest of the journey.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What If Dreams Are All You Have?

I was watching an old movie, and one of the characters said, “You can’t live on your dreams. You have to let go of your dreams and come into the present. Live today. You can’t live on your dreams.” I find myself chuckling and thinking that’s another one of those things where you do an about face as you get older and come back to the starting point again, because after a while, dreams are all you really have to live on. Your dreams become more real than experiences around you, and those are the things that encourage you and keep you going, because you think dreams – at least the pleasant ones – are just pictures of the world to come, which I trust is a return to the garden, to paradise, to place without strife, disharmony, confusion -- all those things that make the journey here so difficult and tend to take away from the joy of the occasion. Dreams --especially as you near the end of the journey -- become more real because they are pictures of what’s coming, and the closer we get to that event, the clearer they become. Dreams are important parts of our journey, from the beginning until the end.

No Wonder We Groan

There are days when I get so frustrated by every tiny inconvenience -- spilling something, or not being able to open a medicine bottle because they make them now with child-proof caps -- that I find myself laughing. It’s becoming clear that I must be getting close to the end of the journey, because nobody could be this impatient without being close.

Fetuses are for the womb but babies are for the world, and when it’s time to move on, you are really ready for it. I feel every bit as constricted as I must have in my mother’s womb those last days, and I know how eager she must have been for me to get the hell out of there. I am tired of living in a world where shit happens. I want it to be perfect all the time. Just once, I’d like to go through one experience and not be irritated or frustrated by something that happens or doesn’t happen and destroys the peace of that moment.

I sense that the whole world shares this frustration. The Bible speaks of all creation groaning in travail, in labor, awaiting the day of deliverance of that new creation. The whole world has groaned since the beginning of time, because there’s always a generation in the world at any given moment that is just about ready to leave. The rest of the world is groaning for other reasons, which are called growing pains, but the whole world is groaning in pain, not necessarily of body, but of soul and spirit, because we all miss home the whole time we’re here.

No wonder we groan so much. You really get tired of all this, and I’m looking forward, in my own quiet, grateful, contented way, to the great event when I can finally get the hell out of here.

Joined By a World Between

I notice how I’ve begun avoiding words like “painful,” because I’m beginning to see pain in a different light. That goes for words like “good” and “bad,” or “good” and “evil.” These words just represent different sides of the very same coin. They’re not mutually exclusive. They may be polar opposites, but they’re joined by a world in between.

Throught a Glass, All Too Brightly

When the summer heat comes to Palm Springs, I’m usually confined to the indoors, as most of us are. It’s the only way that you survive the desert unless you’re genetically equipped to deal with the heat.

As I went to the refrigerator one day to get some more lemonade and vodka, as the temperature neared 115, I opened the curtains and looked out into my garden. I immediately had a thought, or perhaps had a thought given to me, in the form of metaphor that expresses how I feel at this point in my life.

I feel as though I’m looking through a glass at heaven. It’s right there in front of me. It’s just as clear as can be. The problem is that all I can do is glimpse it occasionally. I can’t yet in anyway possess it or actually enter into it. I’m stuck on the other side of the glass looking through it at where I want to be – the Garden.

“That’s where I want to be and that’s where I’m going to be,” I think. Eventually this division will be gone. It will be cool enough outdoors that I can go right out into the Garden without feeling as though I’ve walked into a blast furnace, and in that day I will open the door, or it will have it opened for me, and I will walk out into the cool beauty of the Garden, bless it forever. In the meantime, I’m kind of stuck here, in my very pleasant minimum-security prison.

Of course, I’m very grateful to God, or the goddess, or to the Force or Power responsible for all this, because my lot could be much less comfortable.

My trailer is cool, and the air conditioning system hasn’t broken down yet. It will eventually, like all things in this world, but I don’t live in the past or future anymore, so for today I am grateful that I am so comfortable.

I’m not in any kind of real pain, other than just homesickness. I want to be in heaven, and not here, but I can live with that, because I know it’s coming.

I look around and see my player piano and my piano rolls, which go back to the turn of the 20th century. I’ve got my parent’s old dance records. I’ve got drawers full of wonderful old videos, singing and dancing from the golden age of Hollywood and around the world.

My bed is comfortable. I have food in the refrigerator, sun in the morning, and the moon at night. I got rhythm. I got sweet dreams. Who could ask for anything more? Just ask me.

Ridden Hard, Put Away Wet

I watched an interesting video called “Big Jake,” starring an older John Wayne and an interesting cast, including Richard Boone, John Wayne’s son Patrick, Robert Mitchum’s son, and a bunch of faces that you grew up with at the movies in the 40s and 50s. Here are those faces again, in about 1973, with sagging eyes and stomachs but also a charm that just captivates me.

I’ve always really liked John Wayne. I think he was adorable as a young, tall, lanky cowboy cranking out lots of poverty-row B westerns for nearly 10 years, and he’s just charming in every one of them. You can see what’s coming.

After he was discovered, when he was already getting on in years, he came into his own and had 10 or 15 years of being a top romantic star, playing opposite people like Marlene Dietrich in her heyday and, of course, having affairs with all of his leading ladies.

Now here he is in “Big Jake,” an old man looking for his kidnapped grandson, and he’s got this crew of people going with him. It takes place in 1909, with the last gasps of the old west getting all mixed up with the beginnings of the 20th century, and you begin seeing cars in the westerns, which is so amusing. This movie has a nice script, and it’s interesting to see John Wayne playing the father of his real-life son and of Mitchum’s son.

Listening to the banter between them, I think, “These people knew how to have a good time, and this must have been a fun movie to make, so late in John Wayne’s career and with these other guys’ careers just beginning, and then surrounded by all these other old timers.

You can see the wisdom that has come into the old guys’ faces and the irony in their acting that wasn’t there 20 or 30 before. You can see that a lot of them had lived really hard lives, but that they had aged pretty well and looked as if they had enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest -- ridden hard and put away wet, maybe, but they enjoyed it.

That’s what I love to see on the faces and in the eyes of these people who the world says really blew it or lost it. That’s not what I see. I see people who had as good a time as they possibly could, which meant that there was a lot of bad to go with it, but they seem to be balanced. You want a lot of joy in your life? OK, the trade-off is that there’s going to be a lot of shit in your life. If you just plod through life in the mediocre middle of the road, maybe you haven’t had a lot of intense pain, but you probably haven’t had a lot of intense joy, either. You’re just not capable of feeling with one very intensely, you lucky sons of bitches!

Look Into Your Eyes

It’s wonderful to look into one’s own eyes and see the glory that is writ there by God’s hand, and to feel love again, love coming from within, because that’s where love always is. It’s other places as well, but it’s always within us. We just don’t recognize it. I look into the mirror and see the eyes of an old guy, and a bald head, and a scruffy beard that won’t grow dark and thick like I’d like it too, and all the rest of this “house,” and to see how it has changed over the decades, adapting to its duties at any given point in my life. How different a body we need at 20 than at 50, or 80. Being the living organism that it is, the body continues to change, age, and evolve throughout our lifetime, and like all of life, it just becomes increasingly ironic to most of us, it we live long enough, to find ourselves trapped in this body that we didn’t ask for. This is the one we were given. In spite all that, I’m able to love a body that I had nothing to do with making or maintaining. The years that I was the most abusive to it, it did just fine, and the years that I was the most kind to it, it just rebelled every possible way, so please, no more bullshit about how we decide or control the kind of bodies that we are going to have when we’re old. We take what we’re given and make do the best we can. I look at this body and think, well, there it is, for better or for worse, and at least I’ll be leaving it soon, preferably before it stops working altogether, but, you know, if that’s the only way you can make your exit, then yeah, just shut it down. I know that at some point I’m going to open my eyes and slowly begin to realize that I am in a different place. It will look familiar, perhaps I won’t understand, or even need to, that there’s been a return to, what? To eternity? And to know that you’re going to experience existence on a plane unimagined here. I can look into the mirror, into those eyes, and see all of that, and what’s more, I can look into the eyes of others now and see the same God looking back at me, with a sardonic smile on his or her face, and something in the eyes that I may be the only one to see.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Ever-Changing Body

I’ve reached a point at which I find myself really looking at my body, because one of the most incredible aspects to me of our journey through this world is living in this home that keeps changing. I suppose it’s one of the reasons why life is less boring than it actually is, because all of our lives we’re having to readjust to this constantly changing body, which went from, we are told, a single cell in our mother’s womb to an incredibly complex nine-month-old fetus that undergoes the birth process, that incredible trip from one world to the next.

I’m more convinced than ever that these pictures are there for our benefit. Going to the next world is going to be like when we came from the last one. It’s going to be quite a ride. But I don’t think it’s going to be painful at all, at least in the sense that we think of pain here. I’m beginning to suspect that there’s really no difference between pain and orgasm, that death throes is just another way of saying birth pangs, except that we are looking at it from the opposite end of the barrel, so to speak, and once we’re in this world, and all of our various organs begin not only to function, but to function together, and our brain begins to expand to the point where it can receive pictures, sounds, ideas, and eventually concepts, and then as this brain continues to change, as does the rest of our body, we begin to perceive things differently than we used to.

Our perceptions are very much dictated by the body we are living in. It’s the difference between being born into a house with high ceilings and big windows that let in the light, and being born in a house that’s small, dark, and cramped, with very few windows. How differently you must view the world from those two different houses.

Here I am looking at this body which used to be that really adorable creature that I can still remember from the age of three on. There’s all those pictures that my mom and dad took, and I look at my brother and me, and how adorable we were, with these wonderfully happy, inquisitive eyes, and in almost every picture -- and there are lots of them – everybody is smiling. I came from a very happy family, which I just took for granted, of course. When you’re that age, your world is the whole world, which is pretty much the way it is all through life, but I see what a happy family I came from, and I remember all the laughter, and I can understand why, at 66, I’m really ticked off at the world and am ready to leave.

I miss the happiness. I miss the laughter. I miss the lack of judgment. No wonder I grew up feeling so good and now feel so dry and arid. In fact, the end of our journey is like going back into the desert. It’s a hot, dry time, where there’s lot’s of solitude, lot’s of insight, but much of the love and laughter we grew up with. That all seems to have gone, along with the people through whom all that joy and laugher came, and when you really look around and realize everybody you’ve ever loved and cared about in this world is already on the other side, and there’s really nobody here you could care about that much or who could care about you, because we just haven’t been around each other that long, you see how God gets us ready to move on to the next world, by making us really weary of this one.

Getting back to the body, I’m looking at it again now and marveling at how resilient it is, despite the fact that it is just doing its own thing in so many ways, but the part that fascinates me the most are the eyes.

I look into my eyes in a mirror and gone is that wonderfully innocent, naïve, childlike glory, and it’s replaced now by a different kind of glory, of time passed, experiences lived, pleasures enjoyed, miseries endured, and boredom -- a real endurance test. I look into my eyes and see those bags under them, and I realize how confused we are when we’re younger.

We look into the eyes of someone 80 or 90 and think we see the eyes of an old person. No, they are the eyes of a person who is tired and weary after years and years of trodding and plodding through this mortal coil.

The eyes tell us so much about people – how much they have experienced, how much they have endured.


I’m sure you’ve heard people tell other people things like,”Oh ye of little faith,” or “You’re supposed to have faith.” Gee, is there a single concept in this world that we really understand until right before we leave? For example, what the hell is faith? It’s one of those words, like “love,” that we just bat all over the place as if we actually know what it means. All of our lives we’re preached to by well-meaning ministers, teachers, and parents, as if faith is something that we can will into existence. Faith, like everything else we have in this world, like every breath we draw, is a gift. It’s given to us by the Gods, the creator, whoever, according to that power’s will, and not according to our own. We go through the world carrying these huge burdens of guilt, because somebody is always telling us that we’re doing it wrong. You can’t do anything wrong. You can’t do anything right. All we can do is live the life that’s been prescribed for us, and how much faith we have at any given moment is just one more of those conditions that God either grants or doesn’t. If you don’t have the faith to believe, then don’t. Big deal. We do not move events, certainly not by our will. There is one prime mover, and everything and everyone else is just a passive vessel. Faith is put into that vessel like everything else is put in. Faith is one of those things that grow over time, over the years, without you even being aware of it. It’s God who’s doing the planning, and the nurturing, and the growing, and at some point, faith is revealed to have been there all along. It just wasn’t really needed, so it wasn’t used. Ah, faith. For ye are saved by grace through faith. Or is it by faith through grace? And that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God lest anyone should boast.

Use Words like Music

What if, right this second, the human race lost the power of speech and was forced to rely on non-verbal communication? What would our lives be like, and how much more intimate would our relationships be, if we had to communicate without words? Words, after all, are those tools we use to keep people at a distance. We can appear to be loving and congenial by smiling and saying words that tickle the ears. But how do we really feel, and how successful would we be at hiding our real feelings without words? In the next world I think that words will be things that we use like music, to adorn and enhance an already wonderful situation, not as things to hide or mask our feelings and intentions. I have many little visions and dreams these days where nobody is talking. Everything else is going on, but there’s no talking. I can hardly wait.

Sick of Words

The longer I stay in this world the sicker I get of words. Now and then, when I hear a lovely song with a great lyric, or a little snatch of Shakespeare, I’m reminded that language is a great gift, but not so much when it’s used by children. I’m living in a world that’s overflowing with children, and I’m listening day after day, hour after hour, to the gibberish of children in the classroom.

I grew up in a generation where mothers complained a lot about having to live in a world of children, because most of them were housewives. The poor dears were trapped in a world of children and talk about children, while their husbands were able to go to work and get some stimulation from adults. I can relate to their predicament, because I’m living in a world where everybody is much younger than me, and they’re talking gibberish.

Sometimes I think about speech and its purpose in this world. It’s so inadequate. It’s used by most of us to cover up the truth, not to reveal it. Sometimes I think that words are the best tool that we have to describe something that’s no longer present, or never was present. According to the old truism, a picture is worth a thousand words, so why don’t we extend that and say that a living encounter or experience is worth a million words? You can’t begin to describe what goes on over the course of just one fabulous dinner, let alone a trip or a love affair.

Words are pathetic substitutes for the real thing. Then again, isn’t that a metaphor for where I am in my journey? I’m so tired of the substitutes. The most wonderful times that we can have here are only snapshots -- not even color, just black & white snapshots -- of what’s coming.

I’m convinced that this world’s not real. It’s convincing. It’s a good movie. But it’s still just an image of the real. Imagine being in a world where we don’t have words like “good” and “bad,” because if there is no “bad,” then why would you need the word “good.” You wouldn’t have words like “beautiful” and “ugly” because everything’s perfect. How wonderful to not even have those words. They would have no meaning in the world that I’m sure that we’re returning to, and again, this is one more reason why I’m anxious to leave.

This world is not my home, and I’m just passing through, along with the rest of us. My treasures are somewhere else, and they’re real, in that they’re eternal. They’re not temporal. I’m not going to lose them as soon as I’ve fallen in love with them, which is what happens in this crazy womb.

More and more, except for this lovely exercise on my tape recorder, I’m dispensing with words. I’d rather be alone in my garden, where the sounds that I hear -- wind through the trees, birds chirping, water gurgling, even the sound of the fan -- affect me more profoundly than any words can and are experiences not requiring words, bless them.

The World is Not My Home

I’m lying here on my couch in my garden. What a beautiful day. It’s getting warm, but I have discovered a little evaporative cooler fan that I inherited with my place. I put it on the patio, fill it with water, and boy, I can just lie here and think that I have died and gone to heaven.

The feeders are out, so the birds are coming and going. Most of the time, they’re chirping and feeding and everything’s just fine, but every now and then I have to stand and shoo them away, because there get to be too many of them. In fact, when there are a lot of them in a small area, they can be really nasty. I’ll look down at my patio floor and see bird shit everywhere, mainly from the mourning doves.

The mourning doves are large birds who have the most wonderful, plaintive coo. They sound as if they are in mourning, hence the name. They are charming and lovely, but they are filthy. Most of the other birds stay in the garden area and shit on the bird feeder and on the ground, but not the doves. They to wander onto the patio and sometimes light on my couch and shit on my blankets.

I look around, smile sardonically, and think, “Oh boy, and people wonder why some of us are so anxious to get the hell out of this world.” You know, folks, there are many things about the world that are so lovely, but in the end, it all turns to shit.

You fix a fabulous meal. Everyone sits down and enjoys it to the fullest. Then . . . it turns to shit. People have to go into little private cubicles to get rid of all that food that was so tasty going in, but going out, it’s another story, isn’t it?

Folks, be patient with those of us who get impatient with the world. It’s a nice place to visit, but really, we don’t want to live here forever. There’s something better coming. All of the beautiful images that we get in this world minus all the shit. Isn’t that a place where you’d rather go? I know I would. It’s like the blues/gospel song.

This world is not my home.
I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s peaceful shore,
and I cain’t be at home in this world any more.

This world is not my home.
I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasures they’re laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me,
they say John come on to heaven’s peaceful shoreline.
Cain’t be at home in this world anymore.

The World is a Playground

The world is a playground for children. If it is true that we are in a kind of a womb during this journey, not unlike our mother’s womb, then we are in some kind of a dream state, and the world as we perceive it is not real. While we’re in this dream state, we are, essentially, children. We are children of the creator and as such we are in process, moving toward maturity, the entire time we are in this world. The world is therefore full of children, the blind leading the blind, and that’s why everything about this world seems so childish.

What do children like? Well, let’s see. First of all, they like lots of violence. As a teacher and principal, I can vouch for the fact that violence is at the heart of this dream world that we live in. Kids really like blood, gore, and lots of noise, and this is why Halloween is the most popular holiday in the year for kids and also a lot of adults I know, including me. Halloween is a scary holiday with lots of blood and hatchets and skulls and blood oozing out of mouths. Kids love scatological humor and pratfalls, and they love to see other people get in trouble. And there’s the world, all of it, right there, because it’s for us kids.

God has given us this amazing diversion, which you get to take seriously, or not, depending on where you are in your journey.

When you reach the idiot stage, as I have, the whole thing is ludicrous, absurd, and delightfully funny. In fact, one of the side effects of growing older is your quickened sense of irony, until it dawns on you that it’s all irony, and that none of it can be taken seriously. I guess that’s about the time they lock you up, because you spend all your time laughing at everything. I’m pretty much there now. I find myself laughing in public at times when nobody else is laughing and I catch myself thinking, “Oh, come on, people, lighten up. This is hilarious.” Of course, the rest of the kids, who are still taking it all very seriously -- or at least pretending to take it seriously -- get highly offended if you laugh at stuff like war and morality and obeying the law.

But it’s a world of kids, and I can handle it since I know that Big Daddy is right here, unseen but ever-present, keeping the whole thing going, smiling as we go through our little antics and tantrums, because he just loves us all so much. I can handle it, especially as I lie here in my little garden, my little piece of paradise, my promise that we will soon leave this trance-like state, be back in the real world, and really start to have some fun again.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Life as a Movie

Life for me increasingly takes on the feel of a badly-written melodrama. It’s like one of those thrillers that doesn’t seem to make any sense until the last ten minutes, when something occurs suddenly that changes the direction of the entire move and makes it all fall into place.

I believe it’s only in the last years or months or even weeks of our journey through this world that it all finally begins to make sense. Then you can begin to replay and realize what was really going on. Going back and seeing a movie is more fun the second time, once you know how it finally turned out.

The Law of Life

“Me first, Baby!” How selfish that sounds! To our Western ears, attuned as they are to such rubbish as “God first, others second, me last,” it strikes us as positively blasphemous to suggest that God is big enough to take care of himself and that He might have put us here to learn love by practicing it on ourselves before forcing it on others.

Every living thing, flora or fauna, survives by feeding, either directly or indirectly, on other living things.

That is not the law of the jungle. It is the law of life. We all feed off each other.

As much as we may detest the idea, sooner or later in our journey most of us are forced to acknowledge that life can be appallingly violent, brutal, and indifferent, and that we, too, are -- at least apparently -- capable of great selfishness on behalf of ourselves and our loved ones (often to the exclusion of the latter), or apparently so.

The Ultimate Orgasm

Every life experience ends in an orgasm, because every incident, large or small, has a typical story arc of beginning, middle, and end. In all stories there is a climax followed by a denouement -- not unlike lighting a cigarette after lovemaking or drinking a cold glass of milk after a particularly rich dessert).

Life, too, has a beginning, middle, and end. As we near the end of the third act most of us begin to experience labor pains that increase in number and intensity preceding the final orgasm of our delivery into the next world.

For many of us, death is not an enemy to be resisted at all costs to the very end. It is a friend come to deliver us from this world when it no longer affords us any pleasure.

Like a woman in labor or a couple making love, life in this world usually ends in what appears to be a series of violent, painful convulsions, but to the soul moving from one world to the next, perhaps the experience is as ecstatic as winning the World Series or hearing an exquisite violin sonata.

The Unseen World

We begin to understand that this unseen world, the real world, is somehow centered within, in opposition to the visible world, which is centered, or somehow appears to be centered, without. I think that this is the meaning from that passage from Joel in the Old Testament, which is repeated in the Book of Acts, that in the final days, young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams, or vice versa. As we mature, it’s the world within that becomes more real, and we begin to see ourselves exploring. I think this is why we appear to spend more time sleeping or daydreaming, especially in the final stages of our journey, because by now our poor old bodies are so worn out, and our senses have so dimmed, that the only thing the spirit can now perceive is the spiritual world. That becomes real. It’s one of the reasons why I’m so comfortable with watching old people, like myself, turn more and more inward from the world. I really resent all the people who try to keep me focused outwardly. You know, I’ve been focused on the world for most of my journey, and I’m really tired of the world, and I need inspiration coming from another source now, and that does appear to be within, and I spend a lot of time doing what I suppose the world would call dreaming. I’m not even sure what the process is; it just seems that I’m in tune with a world that’s far more real and lovely and peaceful. Why would I want to keep focused on a world that is noisy, chaotic, cruel, or at least appears to be all of these things? Why not focus on a world of joy? I believe we should be supporting more and more the right of old people to grow old, to turn inwards, and just begin to say goodbye to the craziness of this world, because we’re all going to leave it eventually, and once that reality is substantial, it’s very hard to be interested in this world, which basically has nothing to offer that’s going to last beyond this world, so everything here’s temporal, and the soul longs for the eternal, because we are the eternal creatures, in some mysterious way that I do not begin to grasp. Allow people to turn inward. Encourage them. Try to go there with them. Stop trying to get them to take medicines that are going to focus them back on a world where it’s so difficult for people to be happy anyway.

Into the World and Out Again

A journey through this world is essentially a movement into the world and then out of it again. The world as we perceive it is understood through the sensory organs we possess, which scientists tell us actually receive only varying lengths of electro-magnetic waves, so the world is how we perceive it as it comes through our eyes, ears, and so forth. The way we interpret it and put it together is something the brain does with the help of our DNA and our life experiences. In other words, we’re essentially a creation in process, and we are, at any given moment, exactly what the Creator wants us to be. Apparently, our lessons are learned by sojourning through the world, receiving electro-magnetic stimuli, and interpreting them according to a higher power. If we consider life a circle beginning at 6 o’clock, proceeding clockwise, and ending again at 6 o’clock, then as we mature the world comes into sharper focus and we spend more of our time and energy involved with the world as, again, we perceive it according to the stimuli coming to us, but at some point, which we might call 12 noon, the world gradually begins to dim again, and we find life becomes increasingly repetitious, and therefore increasingly disinteresting, and then something I think really fascinating happens, as the world becomes to dim ever so slowly, an unseen world begins to manifest itself and becomes more apparent as the world dims until, as an old person, we’re focused almost entirely on what’s to come, rather than on what is or what has been. This world truly becomes dim, hazy, and unreal, and the unseen world is the one that begins to become more and more substantial.

The State of the World.

All my life I have heard others and myself decry the appalling state of the world, and I have grown up hearing, and myself pontificating upon, why the world is in this terrible state, and I hear people blame political parties, their parents, religion, politics, the economy, the communists, and on and on. Everybody is always looking for the means to place the blame for the way things are on someone else’s shoulders, because, of course, they do not want to accept that responsibility themselves. And the wonderful thing is, nobody has to accept the blame; it rest squarely on the shoulders of one person, the Creator of all things. The world is in the state that the world is in because God likes it. You and I may hate it, but God thinks it’s cool. Maybe we should all just chill out, and sit back and enjoy the ride, too, because if God isn’t worried about it, why should we be?

Of course, almost everybody is convinced that God is not pleased with the state the world is in, in fact, that the cup of his wrath is about to overflow again, but those groups are, again, just trying to get themselves off the hook. If they can convince us that this crazy world is sick, sinful, and dying, then that gives them the edge on power, doesn’t it? Whereas if everything is cool, and everything is working out according to God’s perfect plan, then these people get a lot of power from just accusing others of doing what God has ordained.

This is one reason why as people get old they seem to have less interest in the world, to have less capacity to blame some group or other for the way things are. They just figure it out. This is just the way that things are supposed to be, and trying to change things is sort of like fighting against God, and who wants to do that, when you’re perhaps destined to stand before him one day real soon?

Crossing Over

I seem to be making some sort of transition into another realm over these days. I understand more and more when people say, “I can’t tell what’s real from what’s not real any longer.” In my case, of course, what most people call real is what I call unreal, but I feel as though I’m beginning to make short excursions from the unreal, which is this world, to the real, which is the world that is to come, although, of course, it’s already here. It’s all around us. We’re just not aware of it yet, or again. I’m beginning to have more and more times when all I really want to do is just go somewhere quiet, lie down, and daydream. The best place to do that is in my garden, except when there are people around whose voices intrude into that perfect reality, but when I can manage to find those short periods when this world does not intrude into my perfect pretend world, those times are becoming so vivid to me now that I realize they’re becoming more vivid than this world has ever been, which just affirms the fact that this world is not really real, it just seems to be. And I find myself wondering if death isn’t just that final crossing over, where you don’t come back, where the excursions to that next world are over, and now you’re just there. Isn’t that going to be wonderful?

The Order of Things

I’ve been watching the old TV series “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and also “The Duchess of Duke Street,” both of which deal with the class system as it existed in England up until World War I and the collapse of this system as a consequence of the war. I’ve been intrigued because both series are so well written and well produced, and the acting is superb, but they also deal with a subject I enjoy wrestling with -- the basic order of things throughout the world, throughout nature. In my garden I watch the birds and I see a very clear pecking order. If anyone steps out of line, he is quickly brought back into line by the rest. It was fascinating to see in these series that whatever class you were in, life operated the same way. The people downstairs, the servants, had a pecking order, with the butler at the top and then the chief cook, Mrs. Bridges, and on down the line, with footmen, and ladies maids, and scullery maids and, finally, the lowest of the low – the poor boy or girl who everybody could pick on.

As this system breaks down, you see the ultimate dilemma of the democracies. You take away one class system, but another one is going to take its place, because that is the natural order of things. There will always be rulers, whether they are supposedly democratically elected, or whether they inherit their power. The bottom line is that there’s somebody above all of us who is setting all this up and deciding who’s what, and we’re all going to learn the same lessons before we’re done with our journey, whether we’re rich or poor, strong or weak.

The garden reminds me again that it is this basic order of things that brings us what degree of security we do manage to feel in a world that appears to be so chaotic. The fact is, there’s great order behind the chaos, and you only have to spend some time in a garden before you become aware of the order that is here and the power that is being exerted to hold all of this together, and how magnificent it is, just totally beyond our understanding. Mine are the babblings of a child, because that’s all I’m capable of doing as I look around me and am overwhelmed by this beauty. I also feel my frustration at the imperfection of it all, as it appears to us, the constant loss that we experience, the frustration of watching plans that we have made for so long crumble before our eyes, until we understand that this is just all part of growing up, and we begin to realize how the world really is and not just how we’re told it is.

I just love the story of the little boy and the emperor’s new clothes. There I am. There’s Johnny. All my life, I’ve stood at the feet of this huge crowd and everybody has been cheering and getting so excited about something that I just don’t see, and what I do see, I’m convinced others must see also, and so there I have been all my life saying, “What is the matter with you people? Don’t you see the way it really is?” And of course they don’t, because it’s not their time yet, and the few who do are frightened, because they thought that they were the crazy ones. It’s all just part of the great play, isn’t it, so back to the garden, where my mind is free to explore a whole range of subjects and be open to whatever insights the gods choose to give me this day, and then according to their whim cause me to forget the next day. Back to the present moment, with the blue sky, the mountains all around me, palm trees, the fragrance of the jasmine in bloom, the roses, and the herbs, the coming and going of the birds, and the music of the water in the fountains.

Back to the Garden

What a true phenomenon a garden is. The more time I spend in my garden, the more I realize how important it is to me in my waning days in my little cocoon here. A garden has so much of what nurtures us -- throughout out lives, but especially at the very beginning, and again, of course, at the very end. A garden is a place of such tranquility, of peace, of harmony, of color, and of gentle motion, which can change very quickly into violent motion, but it’s always moving. It’s truly alive, breathing, growing. It’s a place that attracts life. When I think about what this little piece of land was like when I bought my place -- just barren rock, ground-up gravel 4 inches deep, so that nothing could grow out of it. There was a row of oleanders that were parched and hedged and brittle and looked like store-bought artificial plants. Now I look around and I’m just overwhelmed with the change in just a couple of years. Thanks to my gardener, there is such a variety of colors and textures and fragrances, and collectively they draw bees and butterflies and hummingbirds, and the minute that I put up some bird feeders, they all flock, because there are water fountains and food and shelter, and such a sense of peace and tranquility. This is extremely attractive to us during those times of our lives when that is what we require, just peace and quiet, which I know to many sounds like death, but to those of us who are truly alive, in the spirit, even as our bodies decay and fall apart around us, we are the ones who are truly alive, I think, truly aware with senses that are now not only mature, but also know how to put all this data together in ways that make sense, because five or six or seven or eight decades of living fills in a lot of pieces of the puzzle. The longer you’re here, the more you think that you see more and more clearly what’s going on and how it really all works. It just goes to show that all the time we’re here we’re basically children, ever learning, and ever thinking that we’ve finally arrived at the last great piece of learning. But what a nice classroom it is today to learn in, and how thankful I am that if I have to still be here, these are moments that reassure me of the glory that is to come and the fact that I can hang on if I have to, because that great higher power somehow always manages to give the grace to get through it all. And a beautiful garden is part of that grace.

The Happiest Man Alive?

As much as I would like to be out of this world for good, never to return, I seem to be happier here in a place that I don’t want to be, than the people who want to be here, or so they think. People don’t seem really happy to me at all, and yet they’re terrified of leaving, and I can’t wait to get the heck out of here, and yet, on a day-to-day, minute-by-minute basis, I’m probably the happiest person on the planet

What’s So Funny?

I think the reason why so many people are in institutions today, whether jails or medical facilities, and after all, a jail’s a jail, is because some of them are having way too much fun. They spend an awful lot of time laughing and smiling about things that other people don’t see. “What’s goin’ on with that guy? He’s always laughin’ and smiling.’ What’s he got to be so happy about?” And so we just lock them up, so we won’t be reminded of how miserable we all are. One of those delightful ironies of life, don’t you think?

Questions of Character

Sometimes I’m amused by that expression, “That person has no character.” I guess what we mean is, the character they have, we don’t like. The fact is that everybody has character, because everybody is a character in the play of life.

Something Wonderful is Coming

I’m up at Whitewater and it’s a wonderful day. The mountains and the hills are gorgeous, and it’s actually cold up here. The wind is coming right off of the snow, and so I’m the first person to breathe this wonderful cold, clean air. I’ve been thinking about how all around us are these pictures of heaven, images of glory, and even what I’m seeing with my eyes is no more real than a movie -- just images and not the real thing -- the fact that they are images of something that is real causes my heart to leap. Yeah, something wonderful is coming, and it’s going to be far more glorious than our human eyes could ever take in, but in the meantime this is a very nice reminder indeed.

Knowing So Much

One of the really frustrating things about growing older is that you end up knowing so much. This can be misunderstood, because there isn’t a single point in our journey through life when we are not convinced that we know more than anybody else. That’s just part of being human. However, it is frustrating when you’re the oldest person around and, although you don’t know much, you sure know more than the kids all around who are convinced they have everything figured out.

Thou Shalt Not

Isn’t human nature just hilarious? I used to wonder why the world seemed to be built upon the principle of “thou shalt not,” why everything we really enjoy is forbidden us, but gradually over time it became clear that like everything else in this world it sort of goes back to the almighty dollar. If you tell people they can’t have something that they really want, they will pay almost anything to be able to get it.

Life, an Essentially Solitary Journey

More and more I am impressed with the fact that although there are six billion plus people on the planet, we’re all very lonely. Now that I’m retired and I’ve got plenty of time, and I’ve got a few years behind me, and therefore a few insights to interpret what I am seeing, I look around and see a world of desperately lonely people. For most of our journey we are trying so hard to please everybody, to be the people that we’re supposed to be, instead of the people that we just are. Working that hard means you really aren’t focused much on others. It’s one of the ultimate ironies of life, of course, because most of us are surrounded and overwhelmed by people from the time we enter the world, and yet, we don’t really connect very often. We’re fortunate if there is one other person at any given moment that we would really enjoy being with.

Most of the time, we’re compromising, aren’t we? We’re putting up with this frustration or that irritating habit that somebody has, or we’re going to a movie with someone, and it’s not really the movie that we want to see, but it’s the movie we’re going to because they want to see it. There isn’t really a lot of perfect meshing with other people, and I can see more everyday that this is due to the fact that God has created each one of us to be unique. There’s nobody out there who’s just like you are, likes just exactly the foods that you do, and the music and the movies that you do, and has the same occupation, things that you do with your time, your skills, so we’re alone, even when you’re with others.

Looking back now, to me the scary thing about being in relationships or being married, one of those legal commitment that means, “Yeah, we’re legally bound to this one,” is that it doesn’t take very long to see how different we all really are and that there really isn’t all that much time after the honeymoon is over that we really want to spend with this other person. We’re lonely, but we’re not that lonely, and so a lot of us, as time goes on, find that we’re spending more and more time by ourselves because the only other person that is just exactly like I am – is me! A lot of us find that in the long run, in this journey, the only really satisfying lifelong companion we have is our self.

The thing that makes the end of our journey so wonderful is the discovery, after a lifetime, that we’re going to be OK as long as we’ve got our self. If you are one of those individuals who’s blessed to be pretty much alone in the world at the end of your journey, it can be wonderful to know that you’re not going to have to spend most of the time that you have left in this world hanging around people that you may love but you really don’t like very much, and you really don’t like very much of their company, but for one reason or another, you’re stuck with it. So for those of you who are surrounded by people and enjoy kids and grandkids and work and lots of people around you all the time, don’t feel sorry for those of us who don’t. Most of us really enjoy being alone, without being besieged by all of those people that we have to keep pleasing.

Glimpses of Glory

I do believe now that all through our lives we are sent these little glimpses, short visions of what is to come in the next world, and we don’t recognize them because we think that they are just especially nice times that we had, like that one Christmas when everybody got along, and there seemed to be this glow over the whole weekend, and Grandma’s fudge was still just as fantastic as ever, it was a glimpse of glory, a time that was so special, and everybody remembered it and was thankful for it for a long time. You know, it can be a sunset, a garden on a particular day, or a symphony that just lifts your soul until you think that you may expire on the spot. Whatever it is, we get these glimpses, I think, to encourage us, to keep us going through the hard times, and we’re all thankful for them and wish there were more of them. Put them all together as best as you can over a lifetime, and you begin to see that they are all part of a larger picture. The picture is of glory, heaven, paradise, Shangri-La. The thing about a glimpse is that it happens so quickly that sometimes we’re not even sure we actually saw it once it’s passed, and we begin to doubt if the experience really could have been as fantastic as we remember it. Then in time something happens and we realize, “Oh, yeah, put together with those other special times, it was that special.” Sometimes a glimpse, even just a glimpse, is enough if the glory is great enough.

Heart and Soul

Heart and soul: Heart is the feeling, and soul is the body that gives the feeling form.


Sexually transmitted diseases should be, I think, among our most honored diseases. After all, they are the only diseases that we get while intentionally having fun.

Different Perceptions

Occasionally when I’m singing a song along with the player piano, I’m just astonished at how good a singer I am. I can hear and feel the force of God singing through me, but every so often I get a chance to hear how I sound to the world, not to God and me, and I’m always appalled at how badly I can sound, especially when I’m trying to record on an inferior instrument. I think that’s the way it is in this world. Each of us experiences the world through his own filtering system, and through what God is doing in us, and we don’t understand why the world reacts the way it does to us. For example, “God, why was he offended by what I said? I meant it as a compliment.” “Why didn’t my boss like this proposal? It’s great. Why can’t they see it?”

There’s that “why” question again, and the answer to those kinds of questions usually is that we don’t perceive the world the way others do. No two of us perceives or experiences the world exactly the same, which is why there’s so much conflict in the world. Very few people are able to step outside their own experiences and into the lives of others and understand why they’re behaving and responding the way they are. That’s a rare gift, and even to those who have it, I don’t think it becomes fully formed until near the end of the journey.

In the classroom, I would have two kids sit on opposite sides of a penny and describe to the class what they were seeing. It was great to see that little light go one with some of the kids. “Oh, yeah. They’re both looking at the same penny, but they’re seeing different sides of it. Duh!” If we could only see the other side, what other people are seeing.

When in Rome

When in Rome, speak Italian, because they don’t speak Latin there no more.


Imagination is the tool with which we fashion our dreams.


A word often takes on a connotation, either positive or negative, that is often the opposite of its normal meaning, the meaning that most of us ascribe to it, or that’s in the dictionary. For example, my dad used to tell a wonderful story to me and my brother when we were quite small, and looking back, I’m seeing that most of his stories, which were extremely funny at the time we heard them, as time went on came to have some profound truth behind them. A kid came in from playing outside and his hands were really filthy. His mom admonished him and said, “How could you come into the house with hands that dirty?” The kid looked at his hand with great wonder and said, “But Mom, it’s clean dirt.” And my brother and I would squeal with laughter at how funny that was. I’m not quite sure even now why it was funny, except that we got the meaning of “clean” being the opposite of “dirty.” What a wonderful, profound story that really is, because where did dirt come to have this negative meaning of filth and whatever? Dirt is among the cleanest substances on the planet, or at least it was until we got a hold of it. Good dirt is just teeming with life and it smells good and it feels good, and why in the world would we take something as wonderful as dirt and give it this other meaning?


From the time we’re small we want to know why things happen the way they do. Why do the stars go away during the day? Why did my puppy have to die? As we get older, we just seem to ask more and more “why” questions. It’s just part of our nature. As parents, teachers, and preachers, we do our best to answers people’s questions about why things happen the way they do. I don’t ask “why” questions anymore because I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s really only one answer to every “why” question you could ask. It comes down to what a tired mother says when her kid won’t stop asking questions and when they’re not satisfied with the answers: “Honey, that’s just the way it is.” Isn’t that really the ultimate answer to every question? And you could say, “It’s God’s will. It’s the way he put things together.” The answer is the same. There really is no answer. That’s just the way it is.

I think part of getting older is recognizing that a lifetime of searching still leaves us with unanswered questions, and with getting older comes the kind of wisdom that tells you that maybe it’s better to just accept things they way they are instead of asking why and trying to figure out how to could change them. Ultimately, I guess, nothing was meant to be changed. It was meant to be the way it is. The problem is that we are finite creatures and are constantly asking questions of the infinite with the puny computers we call brains. We just don’t have the capacity to really take in the infinite, do we?

Some may say, “That’s too simplistic an answer. Some questions can be answered. For instance, why did my daughter die? Because that guy was driving drunk when he hit her.” There seem to be events where an effect logically follows a cause, but then there are still these other questions. Why is it then that so many people who aren’t drunk are in accidents and end up hurting or killing somebody totally unintentionally? It happened. Or why is that so many people who drive drunk never have accidents and never get tickets? Inevitably you have to keep asking a “why” question until exhaustion sets in and you say, “Well, I guess that’s just the way it is.”

The Will

Will and desire. God’s will or our will. My will or your will. What the heck do we mean by “will,” anyway? What is it that you want to do, and how much of what we do are we compelled to do, because life has arranged itself that way, and that’s all we can do, and we even find ourselves saying, “I have no choice.” There’s always some well-meaning person who says, “Of course you have a choice. You have will. You can choose to do right or wrong.” Not true. I think we need to reorder our thinking or maybe change our perspective.

Think about the way things happen. Think about your own life and the way you are today, and ask yourself, honestly, is that the life you chose? Is this the way you would like it to be? There might be one or two who say, “Oh, I have the perfect life.” I suspect that they’re maybe lying or blind or especially blessed. Take the time to distance yourself from the present and take yourself back to your earliest memories. When was the first time that you were aware of the fact that you had to do something that you didn’t want to do? Why did you do it if you didn’t want to? Do we really have what is called “free will”?

Let’s assume for a moment that we do have free will and we do make our own choices. That means that we carry around an appalling amount of fear and guilt, because if you are making the choice, then you are responsible and will be held accountable for your choices, good or bad. If, on the other hand, we are just vessels of some greater power like the hose is the vessel for the water, then we are just passive vessels, created perhaps to observe this life we’re living. It’s like riding a raft down life’s river, where we have no control over the raft or the river but can enjoy the scenery and the events that occur during this adventure. If we are just passive vessels and we are not making the decisions, then we have nothing to fear or feel guilty about. Wow! You know, there’s a part of us that likes to think that we’re in control. It’s kind of scary to think that we’re not. But when you really look at it coolly, objectively, logically, it’s the best of all worlds not to be in control.

If it’s God’s will and God’s plan, and we don’t have any say over even a single split second of our entire life, then there is no reason to have any fear or any guilt. We can just lie back and enjoy the ride. How many of us really have choice? How often are we asked by God or anyone else what we really want? Do you enjoy living in a world where you are assaulted by provocative sexual images almost every moment of the day and yet are denied access to any really enjoyable physical intimacy? Oh now and then, maybe, at the beginning of the relationship, on the first date, it’s kind of exciting, but how many of us can honestly say that passion endures? Hey, where does passion come from anyway? Where does desire come from? And are they really any different from will? It’s very clear to me that even my desires come from some other source, within, that’s for sure, but more and more I’m aware that I’m told when to eat because I get hungry. I’m told when to play or to rest because I have the desire to do that. And what about those days when we have no desire to do anything? We can’t even get up out of bed. Have you ever tried to stay in bed for like a week? Try it sometimes, friends. Our will and desire come from within but they are not ours, and we are told what to do by our desires.

We’re tempted to say, “I can will myself to choose not to follow those desires. I have that choice.” Granted, there are times when it feels as though we want to do something but we do it another way or not at all, but if we really examine again, where is that will coming from to turn away from desire? Sooner or later I think we have to accept the fact that we are passive vessels, and that there is nothing wrong with that. That’s the way it’s been set up by the powers that be, and acceptance of that is really acceptance of ourselves, because most of the time, we’re trying to change who we are because we’ve been told that some things about us really aren’t very nice and we just need to work on those. Like Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we’re been put on this earth to rise above.” Well, maybe not. Maybe nature is just the natural way and we do what we do because that is our nature and that is, after all, God’s will. How nice to be able to accept oneself. You know what that amounts to. Loving one’s self. Acceptance. How many times are we torn between rejection of others or ourselves? Trying to change others or ourselves is ultimately an exercise in futility. Eventually we come to realize that everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be. Nobody’s really bad or good, right or wrong. This is how the play was written. Play your part and enjoy it or don’t enjoy it. You’ll be given the desire to do one or the other.

The Center of the Circle

Joseph Campbell, in the course of his interviews with Bill Moyers, said something that really intrigued me. He talked about the circle, which is common in every culture, ancient or modern, and it has various metaphysical and spiritual meanings. For example, the Plains Indians, at any time, could make a 360 degree turn and see that they were at the center of a circle, because the horizon, when it’s unbroken, is a circle, and since you’re equidistant from each part of the perimeter, you are at the center of your own circle. It occurred to me again that we’re all at the center of our own circle, and the incredible thing about creation is that we’re at the center and the hero of our own story. Most of us just don’t realize it. Maybe that’s one of the things that we get to do in eternity -- We get to tell our own stories.


Laws are supposed to exist as the servants of human kind, and not the other way around. When we live by the letter of the law rather than the spirit, we force people to become the servants of the law. Jesus said, “The letter of the law brings death. The spirit of the law brings life.” Basically he was condemning the Pharisees. They were teachers of the law -- that’s what a Pharisee was -- but instead of teaching people how to use the law to free them from bondage and slavery, the Pharisees used the law to enslave, and the people were now under bondage to the law. That is a problem that we all face all through our lives, and as children, as the New Testament makes clear, we need the law, we need rules, we need teachers and parents and pastors and political leaders. All these people help keep order in a disorderly world, but the problem is that the law, which was meant to be a servant to human kind, is always in danger of becoming a despot when it is misused by people who do not understand that the law is not there for law and order. It is there to bring peace and harmony in a troubled world.

Pain in This World

I’m increasingly fascinated by the fact that for most of our lives we seem to associate pain with having done something wrong. It’s punishment, we feel, because we made a bad decision or we went against some rule or principle. It’s amazing how many of us, in dealing with our own lives or the lives of others, like Job’s friends, are sure that if there’s pain in our life that we must have done something wrong, that we’re being punished, because God is just and he would not punish people for no reason. Well, you know, that’s an interesting concept that we can talk about later, but the point is, we all seem to associate pain with punishment. The fact is that pain is just part of the journey. We seem to understand the concept of growing pains. Teething, for example, is a painful process. We haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just part of being alive. When we reach the age of five, our baby teeth start to come out and the new ones come in, and we’re in pain, but that’s just part of our growth. I’ve come to the conclusion that all pain is just part of the journey, and I know people feel this just can’t be so, because they know they’ve made bad choices. They made mistakes, and therefore it was painful. But again, from a certain perspective, there’s no such thing as a mistake. There’s no such thing as a bad choice, because we didn’t make those choices to begin with, so the pain is just a consequence of being alive, not a consequence of a bad choice.

"Why do you want to leave?"

There have been times recently when I have found myself saying to certain people, “God, I can’t wait to get out of here.” Most of them really don’t know what to do with that statement, and even if they don’t come right out and ask, you can see that they’re thinking, “Why would you want to leave?” Well, there are a number of reasons, but let’s start with the fact that it’s boring here. After you have reached a certain age, you realize that there is truly nothing new under the sun. That which has been will be again. That which is now has already been. You begin to feel as though you’ve seen every movie that comes out at least half a dozen times in other versions, and that every place you visit looks and feels just like home. People seem appallingly the same no matter where you go, no matter what their culture. You realize that these are human beings and they’ve got arms and legs and noses and ears and basically the same needs, the same instincts, and therefore cultures are basically the same regardless of their outward trappings. In addition, we’re living in a day and age when there are so many of us that wherever you go it’s just chaos and frustration. When you get to a certain age, trying to deal with the languages, currencies, and customs and having to worry about whether you’re going to unintentionally offend someone in this other culture, becomes very burdensome, so the whole thing becomes very boring.

Another reason, perhaps the most important in the long run, is that you reach a point eventually in your journey when you are tired of having to rein yourself in. You are tired of not permitting yourself to have certain feelings or to act upon them. You get tired of pretending to be somebody else. This can manifest in little ways, as when you have to say, “Oh yes, Mrs. So and So, I just love your angel food cake. Thanks for bringing over another one that you baked all by yourself.” I hate angel food cake. I’d like to be able to say -- and one of the reasons I have so few friends today is that I do say -- “Thank you, Mrs. So and So, but you know, I’ve never cared much for angel food cake. It’s no fault of yours, and I’m sure it’s delicious, but I would really appreciate it if you didn’t bring them over any more, because all I do is either give them away or dump them in the garbage.” You finally realize that all of life is having to please other people, go by other’s rules, try not to offend peoples’ sense of morality or ethics or political orthodoxy. It dawns on you that as long as you’re going to be in this world, you’re going to have to be nice to people. You must yield to their sense of right and wrong. You must compromise every day that you’re here. And you begin to picture heaven more and more as a place where you don’t have to do that. You can be who God made you to be. You can be anything, and everybody loves it. It’s a place where you can’t offend or be offended, a place where there is no loss. Things don’t burn down, people don’t die. Relationships don’t fall apart. Businesses don’t disintegrate. Vineyards don’t get frostbitten and crops killed by the locusts. Imagine, folks, a place that has everything that you love about this world, and nothing that you hate about it, where there are no irritations or disharmony or strife or sickness or war or poverty or famine -- none of those things that make life so interesting here that we have to report on them ad infinitum. Of course, this is a world of disasters, natural and manmade, because it’s a soap opera, and for the eight decades we have to be here, it would be boring if not for all this melodrama, but you do get to the point, friends, where you get bored anyway. You get bored by violence, noise, rudeness, greed, and falsehood. You just want to go to a place where everything is nice, and so you find yourself saying, more and more, “Oh God, I can’t wait to get out of this place.” Now, you might think, “Well, if you feel that way, then spare us your misery and just kill yourself.” Well, friends, you’d be surprised how many times I’ve already tried that. Believe me, I am here to say, by experience, that if it’s not your time to leave, you ain’t gonna get out of here. If you think that we have choice about our exit time, you’re very mistaken. The Almighty often uses our own hands to remove us from this place, but it’s still God’s decision, not yours or mine. There are, of course, many other reasons why people wish they weren’t here. We can go into those another time.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Another Kind of Lofty Vision

What are we? Are we independent beings with wills of our own that choose our lives, that -- dare I say it -- choose our destiny? Or are we the other extreme, merely vessels, like hoses through which the water in the garden passes? If so, we can’t say, “We’re watering the garden,” because the water is. Or is it somewhere between those two extremes?

I was thinking today of voices. You know, crazy people are identified as being crazy because they hear voices. And whenever I hear that I want to say, “Well, who the heck doesn’t?!’ All our lives we’re listening to voices that come over the radio and the television and the pulpit and the classroom. Voices during an election year . . . save me.

So we’re all hearing voices, but the ones that are the most confusing are these internal voices that we hear, and I’ve become more and more aware of the fact that this brain just will not shut up. The voices that come at us through the brain are unending and usually insufferable. But what are they? What are the voices that we hear?

I was meditating on that today, and the thought came that since God is all things and all things are God, the voices have to all be from God. They certainly don’t come from us, because if we are just vessels, then we are more like receiving stations than transmitters. We receive the messages; we don’t initiate them. And that just really got to me.

What are we and where do ideas and desires and voices come from? Because they come from within, we think they come from us. But is that really the case? If we are merely vessels, then obviously all the voices have to be God. There is no devil, I’m convinced, there are no demons. But I think God can come to us in all guises to titillate us and frighten us and amuse us. But I’ve begun to think of even my thoughts as all coming from God. I don’t really think any of us have anything original or of ourselves. We are all just these marvelous receiving stations that confuse the voices with our own ideas, and we think that we are coming up with all this. One of the things that fascinated me about Jesus is that he told his disciples that one day they would be hauled before the magistrates and the priests and condemned, “But worry not about the words that you will say because the words will be given to you.”

And Jesus continually said while he was on trial, these were not his words. "These are the words of the father who has sent me." If we are created beings without wills of our own, then we are really pieces of God. Everything is part of God, and we too have to be part of God, and I love the Zen idea that in the beginning was God and he was lonely, so he broke himself up into this infinite number of pieces and instructed each one to forget that they are part of the godhead, and each one entered into the dance playing his role, and they were all essentially vessels through which God’s power and force and energy passes, but as vessels, we get to experience, like the hose, the water going through us and we get to see when the water reaches the ground and waters the plants and they grow. Everything that comes to me – including the voices -- has got to be from God, and if that’s the case, what in the world am I afraid of?

I don’t even care what the voices say anymore, and sometimes they seem to be speaking to me or speaking to one another, and I am sure that I would be called before the magistrate and consigned to some institution if certain people could hear me talking like this, but what the heck, I think at this point being thrown into an institution would have some advantages. In the meantime I just love being able to talk into this tape recorder because I’m very much aware that I am not doing any of this. God is somehow using me as a vessel to put these words onto tape, and they might serve as encouragement to a few and they may get me crucified by the rest, but hey, crucifixion is execution, and that means leaving the world, so I win, no matter what happens.

I think all of this can be encouraging to certain people. We can’t lose. It’s a win/win situation, even though it appears to be a lose/lose situation, but, like Alice in Wonderland, nothing is at it appears, and if we just take everything and turn it right side up and reverse the mirrored image, it will all make sense. In the meantime we are all creatures like Alice, wandering though this adventure, having no idea the meaning of what we see and hear and experience, but knowing on some basic level, this is all OK. This may be just a play, but in many ways it is a very interesting one.