Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fall of Man

"American men are allotted just as many tears as American women. But because we are forbidden to shed them, we die long before women do, with our hearts exploding or our blood pressure rising or our livers eaten away by alcohol because that lake of grief inside us has no outlet. We, men, die because our faces were not watered enough."
— Pat Conroy (Beach Music)

Nothing Ordinary

I was riding in the woods today listening to the hush of leaves under the tires
the sun low in the sky throwing fall's shadows all over the ground making
the air feel dark and mysterious the earth spinning and strangling the last breath of summer's promise
wondering what part of the garden I'd pull from the ground when this journey
found me back at home
and as I turned the corner there in a glade of trees all green and brown
was a brilliant orange tree and I was compelled to stop and admire it
it was though it was from a dream, just that beautiful, nature screaming at me
and it was so brilliant it made me ache a little
you there with me as you always are, as you promise you always are
I could smell leaves burning somewhere as the mother of the earth itself satisfied all senses
if I had to put all you are in a metaphor it would be that tree
I could point to the leaves that make up the whole and know those parts of you I admire so
I gathered some leaves that had fallen as a burning flame and called one brilliant and another charming and yet another fun
And if I had to sift among my arm's fill of them, sifting through handsome and gallant and protective and wise, I would hold closest to me the fun of you
It is that fun that makes time stop, that makes me a child again in awe of nature, in the strength of man as often you are all I cannot be
It makes everything around me seem clearer and creates moments under the tree
when I can stop my life, stop the world from spinning and admire it and you
and then create this moment when I have the power to write about it
This is my song you see, a giving of thanks for all you share with me
for the way you love me and mostly for the way you let me love you
you, that just this morning I could pause and know you were looking for me
and for you to know what that means to me
You see, and I don't know that you do, you are the miracle set against the world so ordinary
In a world where we are taught that ordinary is good and mediocre, the standard
the brilliant orange tree set ablaze with fall
reminding us to cherish every moment because soon it changes into something else
Those moments when you are close are nothing ordinary if only because you are part of them and I hold them close even when you seem so far away
and the only constant
the only truth
the only thing that matters
is that I love you

I was listening to Bill Withers this morning riding in the woods. Recently on a local station here they played a week of rock from A to Z by song title. I listened while I worked, listened while I ran errands and wondered what the next song would be. I hadn't imagined how many song titles started with the word Angel. This amused me so. I developed a theory as I was listening all the way to Z, that men love so deeply. Every woman's name you could imagine had a song and a song title. There were Jackies and Lelas and even a few Carolines. This also amused me. I couldn't think of many song titles with a man's name written by a woman. My theory? That women love the idea of what men are supposed to be and men love women for what they are. Just a theory. I haven't written in awhile busy with some larger wholesale orders and a new art adventure.

Thanks for the notes asking how I am doing. I appreciate it. As for the stalkerama drama? I leave that to old ladies with nothing to do all day but patrol when their husband is perusing online porn. I have bigger fish to fry and the Feenie Foodies of the world know what they are and what they aren't they don't need me to remind them. As they spin and whine they only make themselves miserable. They own that misery, I do not.

If you are looking for a little Bill Withers, here ya go. I love this song.

Here's Lenny Kravitz and his version and it's just as wonderful but a little faster


And for Pat Conroy, well he's brilliant and insightful. I have used the above quote before in his reference and it always bears repeating. I admire men for their calm, cool spirit and the wisdom they offer when cooler heads prevail.

"Memory in these incomparable streets, in mosaics of pain and sweetness, was clear to me now, a unity at last. I remembered small and unimportant things from the past: the whispers of roommates during thunderstorms, the smell of brass polish on my fingertips, the first swim at Folly Beach in April, lightning over the Atlantic, shelling oysters at Bowen's Island during a rare Carolina snowstorm, pigeons strutting across the graveyard at St. Philip's, lawyers moving out of their offices to lunch on Broad Street, the darkness of reveille on cold winter mornings, regattas, the flash of bagpipers' tartans passing in review, blue herons on the marshes, the pressure of the chinstrap on my shako, brotherhood, shad roe at Henry's, camellias floating above water in a porcelain bowl, the scowl of Mark Santoro, and brotherhood again."
— Pat Conroy (The Lords of Discipline)

When I think of memories that inspire me I think of this passage from the Lords Of Discipline and hold the things to me that make me who I am. I hold the memory of seeing Van Gogh's night scape for the first time at the Art Institute, and Monet's water flowers covering the walls of that sacred place. I remember my first English teacher reading us the stories of the Greek Gods and the first time I read the grapes of wrath. I think about holding Richie when he was still a baby (and wondering how Will enjoys that now), I think of cool ohio summers on the porch sipping iced tea and the smell of cut grass always reminds me of mowing in the summer with my father and then going for a chocolate malted afterward. Seeing sand brings me back to moments at the lake house when Richie was younger and the endless times I've brushed sand off his clothes after he'd been playing on the beach all day. I can't go swimming without thinking of Suzy and I swimming at the lake and seeing the big white wooden fish off the pier and knowing we were close to home.

"The world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave
anything out. I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the
genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language.
Because of them I rode with Don Quixote and danced with Anna Karenina at a
ball in St. Petersburg and lassoed a steer in "Lonesome Dove" and had
nightmares about slavery in "Beloved" and walked the streets of Dublin in
"Ulysses" and made up a hundred stories in the Arabian nights and saw my
mother killed by a baseball in "A Prayer for Owen Meany." I've been in ten
thousand cities and have introduced myself to a hundred thousand strangers
in my exuberant reading career, all because I listened to my fabulous
English teachers and soaked up every single thing those magnificent men and
women had to give. I cherish and praise them and thank them for finding me
when I was a boy and presenting me with the precious gift of the English
language. "
— Pat Conroy

This has to be my favorite Conroy quote other than the quote from the Prince of Tides where he wishes two lives were apportioned to every man and woman and it was the secret life that sustained him now.

Because of John Irving I could feel Garp fly the way home with his kids in the back seat, and only because I read Atlas Shrugged did I understand that being selfish was actually the way to share of yourself. Yes, Ayn Rand changed my life. Read Anthem and you will know why she loved America and why I do. When I read Misery I was on a city bus on my way to class and had to stop and get off it was so terrifying. Later when I read the Tommy Knockers I was in awe of King's power and the stories he tells. I was pissed when nowhere in the bridges of Madison county did Waller mention that Yeats wrote that poetry and so much more. I remember sitting at the lake wondering how anyone could claim that kind of love and then be powerless to follow it. It took a wise man later to explain it to me to take the edge off that anger. Books make up who we are, what we value and what we imagine heaven will be. There is a moment when Hemingway was writing of Killmanjaro when he wrote of a man's pain, the raw truth of what he knew and how brave he was for putting it out in the world, his own frailties. If he were only remembered for this that would be enough. What books have moved you? Changed you? When we stop reading we are done dreaming.

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