Please Note: This journal contains a wide variety of stuff — complete stories, bits and pieces, commentary, and who-knows-what else. As is always the case these days, the material is protected by copyright. On the other hand, I publish it here to be shared. Feel free to pass it on. Just give me credit. Fair enough?
Pack Creek Ranch, San Juan County, Utah, U.S.A.
July 4th, 2017
Including me and the creative side of my mind.
Not that I’ve been lazy.
Just going with the flow – and the flow is slow.Writing a weekly journal is like regularly going fishing in a river of possibilities.
Like most fisherfolk these days, I catch-and-release, often letting go, waiting for just the right strike to provoke my thinking.
Sometimes, as has been the case the last few weeks, I sit passively on the bank, waiting for the BIG ONE to break water, leap up challenge my ability to catch-and-keep. I’m getting better at waiting.There. That’s the background for the essay that follows.
t’s written, by the way, in third person – because sometimes it’s useful to try and stand outside one’s self and be as objective as possible. . . .
A man I know very well recently passed the date marking eight decades of being alive. He intentionally spent the day happily alone.
Mostly because he didn’t want to endure the fuss other people would make over what is not all that important to him now.
He does not look old, act old, think old, dress old, or behave old. And his focus is not on the past 80 years but on his plans for the many years yet to come.
What’s 80, anyhow, but a two-digit number. Expand the count – 29,200 days, 700,800 hours, 42,048,000 minutes. Now those are impressive numbers.
He is not in denial of the reality that aging takes place – relentlessly – from the time the sperm hits the egg at conception. But there is a big difference between accepting the aging process and deciding that one is old.
He accepts the signs of aging and accommodates them.
But “old” is a matter of attitude – a self-image as a product of thinking.
Old for him is still someday – way off in the horizon of his self image.
Ever since that recent day in June, the man I know has been thinking about the advantages of having been around for quite a while.
By now, one knows some things, or should.
By now, one has come to some conclusions about the quality of life.
And before plunging on into the future, it might be useful to consider what he knows now that makes the time to come workable and wonder-full.
In crossing the frontier over into the next decade of his life, he passed the usual Customs enquiry at the border: ANYTHING TO DECLARE?
He made a declaration to himself – printed it – and stuck it to the wall over the desk where he does his most serious thinking and writing.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Not a definitive credo or statement of belief, just some operative notions in the summer of his 80th year – to keep in mind as he makes his Way On.
Here’s his declaration to himself:
1. I declare that I shall release the vice-grip of urgency and let go of Must Do, Must Get, Must Have, and Must Be. Compulsion doesn’t increase the quality of life.
2. I declare that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence – it’s greenest where it’s watered – so when climbing daily fences, I will carry water. Or save the next fence for another day and just lie down on the grass I’ve got.
3. I declare that speed does not improve the quality of life, and the Way On is not the Interstate Highway but the inner-state of being present one day at a time.
4. I declare that it is true that life turns out best for the one who makes the best of the way life turns out. The key is improvisation in the face of the unexpected, which is always to be expected. A better name for that is surprise.
5. I declare that not knowing is the doorway into surprise and amazement. Ignorance is not a failing, it’s a ticket to ride.
6. I declare the truth that if there’s no rain, there’s no rainbows – that the lotus blossom only grows out of the mud – and that if there’s no shit, there’s no shinola.
7. I declare that what I have and what I am is what I would have wanted if I had thought this was possible long ago when I didn’t know what I wanted or who I was. Now I know what has become of me. I can laugh and keep going.
8. I declare a moratorium on worrying about how things will finally turn out – soon enough I will be what I once was – no one and nowhere – and I have been there before. No problem.
9. I declare the truth of the contradiction that I am forever alone and also forever as much a part of the universe as the most distant star. And I am not alone alone.
10. I declare that I finally accept the reality that the universe is working itself out as it should, and even if I never can comprehend that, it’s ok.
Onward. . . .