“There is a twisting four-mile road from the village of Los Osos to Montaña De Oronear San Luis Obispo, California. It winds one lane wide hrough a grove of eucalyptus trees before breaking out upon a clearing of windswept grassy hills, and then comes to a primitive wood bridge spanning a small creek that has cut a deep canyon through the Spooner Lane campground before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.”
The more things change the more things remain the same. I’ve heard that said. It is a homily. A slogan you can rely on. I find sage sayings dangerous because they can hide an exit from one of life’s great challenges right under your nose. Our guidance system is best designed in open format. The closed loop system will force nasty little experiences to recur again and again in our lives. These patterns we become aware of will
arise and repeat. They want our attention and until we give them their due will come back to visit us in various forms. What is fascinating is that these items on our agenda escape the space/time continuum and seem free to visit us as at a time and place of their own choosing. So, selecting one choice will land you smack dab right back where you started. Selecting the other choice, let’s call this the different choice, will land you somewhere else. No map, no trail, not really sure where you have found yourself, but there you are, and now perhaps the chance to start fresh, authentically, reviving and arising out of the smoldering old you comes the new taking a chance on a change in the way you do
things you… You’ll know this location because you won’t feel the same. It will feel “not same.”
“Noel walked off into the darkness with Jasper, back toward the van. He walked with a
weave; the pot and brandy had put a wiggle in his wandering and a wonder in his imagination.”
I enjoy seeing a character in a story forced to change. I like to see unmarried singles fall in love and wrestle with monogamy. I enjoy people who are married having affairs. I enjoy the mess. I much prefer reading about such misadventure on the page. It is there in the safety of the printed word we can avoid accidental pregnancies, contracting some sort of infectious disease, or breaking someone’s heart. I don’t know that any of this changes anything. Some tequila self soaked barrier removing event like a Friday night out on the town it seems many an individual has discovered another version of self spontaneously emerging in the cloak of darkness. Even the single friends among us pledge to be a bit more careful about what they do and promise to begin being careful starting right now! If you are naturally monogamous, inclined to long term relationships, and seldom addled by doubt count yourself fortunate to be able to contemplate other areas of your life that might be subject to change. There are so many other splendid areas of misadventure to explore, so many other ways to discover that what you think and how you act are subject to the element of surprise. Watching a devout womanizer falling in love and discovering the splendor of the monogamous virtue is heartwarming. It is an excellent view from the pull out on the road of life from where the Psychic Grand Canyon of Change can be safely appreciated. This sanity is welcomed. This is the actuality of the aesthetic,thoughtful, non-harming distance. A good read can be a great cure for change that makes things so much more the mess.
“The sand was cheerful and white beneath
the evening’s muted glow. A few other people were scattered along the edge of
the water. A long gleaming light of a quarter moon shimmered off the water.
Venus was low on the horizon, big and bright. The sky was overdone, a steady
constant glow surrounded by flickering stars.”
Nothing ever seems to change. Okay, that’s just the way it seems, but some things do change while others continue headed into old change that looks like no change at all. Writing about the emotional lives of characters in novels usually leads to sex, sex leads to pregnancy, to forming families, to births, to building lives together and on and on…. We pull the camera back and look not at the actors but at the playing field. There we see an unrelenting series of facts. One of the more interesting facts is that it seems over the last 50,000 years that we have become spectacularly good at reproducing ourselves in robust numbers. This alone must explain the terrific proliferation of romance novels. We’ve fanned out across the globe and have done everything in our power to use all this stuff. We use the fresh water. We use the fish. We use the forests. We use the air. Looking around at the moment we see that it is becoming more and more difficult to find enough stuff to keep this all going right now not to mention getting more stuff ready for the new arrivals who’ll be coming soon. Then, upon evaluating our inventories someone accuses some of us of having a scarcity mentality! How incredibly clever…I won’t suggest this as fact, but rather as a mere notion to consider that perhaps with this ever growing growth of increasing demand upon this only place we know where life is suited to our needs that we are finding the recent frictions of the last few weeks a sign that perhaps we might want to go a little slower, bring fewer of us here at a time, allowing the earth to replenish her cupboards for the next and the next…it isn’t how many we can get here for this party, its how long we can arrange to have the party last….sustainability…isn’t that a novel idea…or not.
Noel spoke to June, soft enough so she could make out what he was saying, “Been a best day for me too.”
June smiled tenderly, and glanced up into Noel’s eyes for a brief moment. She patted him on his leg.
“Never know what a day will bring.”
As they say a collision at sea can ruin your day. In all things human we seem
wired up to an either or proposition, on the one hand or the other, some see it
this way and some that, I’ll give you half and I take the other. We advance
technologically and seem to be in full retreat when measured by the unintended
consequences of hubris. We know that deep water oil wells are dangerous, that
coal mines can explode, and that nuclear power can be harnessed but not
perfected to operate at a level safe enough to merit their being sited just
upwind of a place such as New York City. (Who thought that one up?) The last
week has exhausted tear ducts. There must be something awful hidden in wind
powered electricity generating turbines, photovoltaic solar panels must have
embedded within their core some unintended consequence, fuel cells must spew something
other than water, natural gas cannot be so wonderful, and the advances in shale
oil developments across the frozen tundra of the north must have disturbing consequences
far beyond anything yet contemplated. I used to ride motorcycles. If you were
going to be in accident it was said you hoped not to be blindsided. Your
survival depended in part on being able to see the accident and to react to the
situation and with luck you might save your own life. We need a good old
fashioned visit down to the river of new thinking…We need to be honest with
ourselves. This is the way we are going and we need to figure out what to do
and whether to change course….
“Right now, but one day, when the dust settles, and you get your head screwed back on, and your feet are touching the ground, you’ll wake up and maybe I’ll just be a woman, not amazing, not beautiful, not anything special, just a woman.”
You don’t want to get caught on the wrong foot. Trying to change your footing after you’ve gone all in is most often impossible. Might be that the action you’ve taken is irreversible and you will suffer the consequences for the rest of your life. Going head over heels for a new love interest can be an exhilarating ride. It is fun to watch a friend’s dashboard light up and watch the launch. The risks of going all in with your heart is not a bad call, but sometimes these things don’t turn out, endings can be messy, feelings hurt worse in the end than the exhilarating feelings you had on the ride up into the wild blue yonder of romance. It is the ultimate damned if you do, damned if you don’t fact of a high risk love life. Too many people place too much caution into their romance and not enough chance. So, learning to keep your feet on the ground can turn into a lonely stance, losing your footing can be risky, then again being agile, staying on your toes, ready for whatever is next, open mind and open heart, when the moment arrives, and you find yourself right there at the beginning of something new, something you want to take a chance on…I wouldn’t recommend keeping your feet on the ground. I recommend being ready to change the foot your standing on. That’s dancing from the heart…
“He looked over his face in the mirror, checking his shave by running his hand across his cheek, chin, and neck. Thenhe took out his toothbrush and buffed up that wide grin of his. In-between strokes he kept practicing his smile.”
Noel Sanderson from Highway Home
I have had a steady stream of agreeable different versions of me. I’ve got my favorite version, the bad old version and of course the current version.I don’t get around to doing much about keeping up with all my versions. I usually check the daily version in the mirror first thing in the morning. I try to check under the gentleness of incandescent light. The florescent version goes against my current high opinion of the manipulated contemporary version. Having to carry all this around and it is a heavy load isn’t much fun for those people who come along and wish to puncture my ongoing personal version of a balloon. Now, this inflated balloon is a masterpiece, a lifework, an ongoing effort organized by the very nature of the beast to do everything in its power to sustain a maximum effort to place lipstick upon this present moment’s version. And then to find out all this is in fact a myth, a hoax, that there is no there “there”. Turns out I’ve been unmasked, that this fixed constant version never even existed, instead there is only yet another version. I’ve been getting out under a shade tree in the afternoons taking out the old version and waxing and polishing it up. Doesn’t stay clean long, I flip the light on the next morning and there it is looking at me in the mirror.
With each new day the world turns, and all things move, all things change and keep changing, and so time is marked by the hands on a clock and thoughts run through our minds and change comes and things go like tides in the oceans and clouds passing through the sky….always though, is this turning of the wheel, the whirling of the stars and shining of the sun, always infinite circles, symbolized by rings, unbroken and endless and timeless and infinite beyond words….a mystery….and in this infinite mystery, this life here and now, people the world over reach into their hearts and join their lives together, forged by vows and with each day they commit their efforts to love and compassion, living out our days on this earth mated, married, happily in the trust of each others care….
“Bingo brother, and you just watch yourself ’cause you can turn one year into ten just like that.” Crow snapped his fingers. “I swallowed a decade in the blink of an eye.”
“That’s a long drift, man, a long time.”
Momentum comes in every size and every color. You get a job, it pays the bills. You get into a relationship maybe it works well enough to keep you hanging around. I call it digging in. You get a place and jump into the day to day. For the moment things work well enough. You have stability and that can count. Might be you are working on something, developing something, might be something that develops over a longer time horizon. There are many things accomplished over a longer time frame. Homebuilders know what I mean. I knew a sculpture who worked on large urban sited monumental pieces. Restoring wood boats, writing novels, getting married having a family. There are things we set out to do that take dedication and a commitment of time. There’s a difference between falling into a sweet thing and setting out to do something you’ve made up in your mind to do. The mind sees into a thing only so far, the balance point tips, we run the risk, take the chance, we don’t really know how anything is going to turn out.
“That everything changes is the basic truth of existence.”
We do great harm to our lives when we surround it with worn out old stories. Nothing stays the same. Things are not fixed but rather in a state of flux. We have a lot of change going on in our world. In Japan there is change happening. In our own lives it is happening. It is wonderful in some circumstances to have fond memories of some special moment. Not so wonderful moments take advantage of our minds tendency to cling. We think that Japan is a fixed thing. I look at photographs of centuries old villages here Thursday and now vanished. Everything is gone. They can’t even find the bodies. It is difficult to accept. My mind doesn’t want to believe this can happen (to me). It happens out there somewhere, to somebody else. They were caught in a story. Someone didn’t look both ways before they crossed…. We have this mental trick in our head that tends to be dishonest about reality. We predict when something bad might happen. We avoid certain neighborhoods. We stay off the roads when weather is bad, we hope things will work out. Might be that we would be better served by taking a fresh look every next moment and forget about thinking we know how something might turn out. Might be better to not know how it is going to go. We don’t have to go around believing everything we tell ourselves. I got up Friday morning and it turned out I was wrong about what I believed about Japan. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. That is a fact.
. “The Last Chance” had a neon sign hanging out front. The bar had been there a long time. Ceiling fans twirled aimlessly and easy. Older patrons were smoking and seated at the stools. Two men tossed a few darts at a bull’s eye, while two old gals sat at the corner of the bar drinking high balls and gossiping. It was cozy, dim, and smoke filled.”
Late Night 1979… Portland, Oregon
From the novel Highway Home
My grandfather was a bootlegger. He built a bar at the end of prohibition in Oakland, California. It had fish tanks behind the bar, mirrors behind the booze. The bottles looked like they vanished into infinity. He had a parrot back where he did the books to keep him company. Bar was glued and doweled, not a nail was used in the Philippine mahogany interior. Place smelled like stale beer and tobacco. By 1965 the neighborhood had changed, swallowed any chance Tambo’s had of making a go of it. Had been a first class operation all the way, but nothing to do but close her down and walk away. Wrecking company demolished the building, would have been salvaged in this day and age. The whole of a man’s life vanished, in an instant, everything gone. Over the years when I can find an old joint to drink in, bars looking as if they’re cheating death, bars misplaced making a last stand in a decaying forgotten corner of a city. When I belly up to a bar, place named The Last Chance, I take a dive like that, I figure somebody must have known, place I can go, drink a few, listen for the voice of my grandfathers wisdom…