The Numbers

The numbers are changing. And as they are changing we are aging. Sometimes we are scared by this. A significant date, such as a birthday, or New Year’s, comes along, and it scares us. We’re afraid of getting old. And others are celebrating. Happy Birthday! Happy New Year’s! Either they have pushed the getting old thing out of their minds, it’s just not an issue for them yet, or better, they just don’t care. They’re okay with it. My celebrating: I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle—not the kind to get drunk. The guy with the watchful eye. It is not a queer eye or a straight eye, but a watchful eye. The elation takes me by surprise. I’m not the type to make plans to celebrate, even for something like this. Celebration sweeps through unexpected at any given time in my life, really. My celebration is of a hermit’s, one of a meditator’s—at least right now. I’m not condemning other types, but that’s mine. So don’t feel threatened like I’m forcing a fruititarian diet on your conscience. I’m just sayin’.

The apartment is quiet without my wife here—she would, after all, have the TV playing a lot, and I just don’t do that—and the cats are done playing and are now sitting quietly with their eyes closed. They can curl up and get comfortable so easy. Later, I’ll hang out with a friend and do this and that, here and there, etc. The weather is fantastic for our last day of the year: 62º F. Amazing.

Around Five I walked out the door and decided to go into downtown, a twenty minute walk, just taking in the sights of this quiet city. Most of the shops were closed, and others were closed but getting ready to open for the evening and bring in party-goers from off the street. At the coffee shop I ran into a friend of mine, John, who is one of the nicest and most intelligent guys around these parts. He dropped me off back at the house on the way back. We spoke of opinions and how they can be bendable. Especially at a young age, you don’t want to form in your head all these absolutes. I did that when I was around 16 and on up, egotistically claiming I was on the path of the Absolute Truth. And I feel silly now, at 31, for thinking like that. John said, by 23, he has basically questioned himself out of existence.

So within a few more hours our 2004 will change into something else. That is a big deal to the mind that has been stamping 2004 on everything such a long period of time. This is our new millennium, a new age, new dawn, all of that. A new war. I think many of us were cynical enough about the powers that be to know that this sort of thing was coming. War is profitable for them—so they do it, and many of us buy it. America is unique in that way. On top of that, something like a Tsunami hits. As if War is not enough. It’s almost like a meteor hit the Earth. When you consider something like that, a Roanoke in its stillness is sometimes not such a bad place to be in. It’s a wealth to be alive at times. And as I’ve come to find, a wealth to be able to breathe, to not be short of breath. On top of that we have financial problems, relationship problems, addictions, and so on.

We are superheros for getting through all this shit. Good for us!

. . .

Earlier in the week
Concentration comes into major play here as I write this from a coffee shop table next to two chattering men. Hard to hear myself think. The men are homeless, eating chocolate, and arguing over the Bible. They are geared up to face the intense cold—boots, Carhartt overalls. Christ, Christ rising up from the grave. Man, man is limited. And so on.

I am concentrating a lot lately on Buddhist psychology and my own need to see what is really there. I see this as the path of facing everything in the world and in yourself.

I knew a Harley Davidson girl that used to work up at the Plasma Center with hellacious headlights. You’ll know her if you see her. Ain’t no missin’. She be all but 5’6, not very tall, but she’ll make Dolly Parton look like a school girl, I tell ya’.

Anyway, these notes go on as the sun starts thinking about setting this late afternoon. It sees me down here, and I can see it up there—we acknowledge each other and do what we have to do. My grandmother said yesterday at Christmas, “You remember the good times, but try not to dwell on the bad.” And I think in the zen notepad of my mind, “Why can’t we face it all?” Then I think, “It is the neutral that we find the most terrifying, the boring moment, the bland.” Of course she cannot hear what I am thinking. I don’t even display it in my glare. At 92, there’s not much you can say to her without her needing you to repeat it again. Even when she was “young” I could not say an utter word against all her set-in-stone opinions and impressions.

My paragraphs get a good view from here and tell you, the reader, the hawk, the kid listening to Godflesh albums… the street is mostly empty as people are hidden away trying to get in as many hours as possible at their jobs. The wind is blowing the flags. My attention flits about like a little bird from wire to wire. This annoys and relaxes a reader somewhere. Sometime today someone hits Random and their eyes stumble upon this entry. I bow to you, randomhead. You’ve caught me random-minded, too. It’s because people are so talkative today. It’s mentally windy inside this room. I face away from them, but the sound bounces around.

Jack Kornfield, a meditation teacher, emphasizes the need of balancing deep inner searching with the ability to relate with others outside yourself. That’s the best I can express it at the moment, but it sounds beautiful how he puts it. I had his talk on the headphones as I was eating Indian food at lunch.

okay okay
a new “poem”
from the burning
funeral pyre hill
the death is
your blazing
blazing
blazing
past
gone
gone in
is your
last
moment
encased
inside
all
your belongings
you
leave
everything
behind

all around you
metaphors
tests of
patience
students
become
teachers
overnight
trying to sound deep
before
turning twenty-one
the needy
hovering over
newspapers

I’ve been practicing writing short stories and have come some distance, in my own estimation. I can now sit down and write out a story at gun point, or at least a few jokes, and read them before an audience. These are weird, quirky times filled with a lot of muck coming up that I discover in quiet bouts of meditation in the chair. Face it. Face it or be sorry later. I suffer in all kinds of problems now because of what I’ve suppressed down in me already. And I’m free in all kinds of ways now for all the things I have faced.

Mine is a very choppy remembrance of a Buddhist monk who refused to bow to a prince… In this sort of song-writing capacity, I think of him, that he was staring down this prince. He said nothing, but kept thinking: “I am wiser. Who the hell is this guy? Why should I bow to him?” Once the young prince began to feel this, he was humbled and bowed down before the monk. Thus by the power of his thoughts, the underdog became the victor. I’ll have to go back and listen again. And write it again.

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