Thursday, January 4, 2018

Travel as an escape from time

finally, i know the face of my enemy: the clock face. just back from a month in australia and suffering the time between solstice and the new year, the dead space, i'm falling back into the abyss. can time ever be on my side? only in the case of sickness it seems, or maybe in a time of war. in other words when the dark clouds loom. 

otherwise, the minutes and hours rope me in as though i were a wild steer. i'm driven to make appointments for the dentist, to arrive at work on time, to submit to deadlines. ah, dead indeed. true, the ultimate fear of hitting a wall can motivate me to do an astounding amount of work at the last moment. as someone wiser than myself said, "A goal without a deadline is but a dream."

how can travel, then, be an escape from time? don't trains have to be caught, museums opened. banks in business? can these treacherous waters be successfully sailed without a watch! no, but being on the road and not constrained by duty, that's where the freedom comes in. vacations exist as a timeless space, despite beginning and end. yes, the termination has to be forgotten in the luxury of spacing out. 

and here we choose what to adhere to and what not. a journey of the best kind consists of our choices, not somebody else's. can there really be a working holiday? i doubt it, not for me. AND WHY DO WE WANT THE SPACE WHERE MINUTES DON'T TICK. they take us, those ticks and tocks, to an ultimate end. i still find it strange i am to die. it's very hard to imagine a universe without me.

and i think it's the human condition. as buddha said, 'try to find someone who has not lost someone.' can't be done. and aging seems to be a desperate attention to the time we may or may not have left. and we're around people obsessed with the same question. i see the worry in their eyes. and retirement isn't a vacation, having no end except the inevitable, simply a waiting game.

and what is sleep but death and the abolition of time. in the dream-state everything exists, side by side, morphing into opposites. i start the night male, as i fall asleep. soon i'm a prostitute on an empty street, suddenly picked up by three giant mice offering me a piece of cheese. if this isn't the beyond, i don't know what is. and isn't insomnia simply the fear of not returning? when i can't sleep, i find myself trying to solve the everyday problems of existence. 

yes, time and sleep equal death. yet, if we can fall into the right rhythm, i escape both time and death. that's the paradox. and any journey to foreign territory is the same. "Everything you ever wanted lies just outside your comfort zone." time, death, and depression, what can they be but pattern repetition, wearing out our ability to focus on what's near us. and science reinforces time, everything in it based on it. no wonder so many people come to hate science. 

what about art? can it do anything for us? hopefully, art takes us into a timeless space. the techniques and visions of art, when they work, have us floating free, in a brain wave of trance. art is a spiritual vacation. those who want us to be working drones fear art, downgrade it.'keep to the wheel', they say. no, if you want to defeat mortality, if only for a moment, go on the road, and stand before the mona lisa. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

how long does it take for things to become commonplace?

for me i guess it's anywhere from 20 seconds to three weeks. the first might be called 'buyer's remorse'. the minute i have it in my hand the long-for objects seems colorless and crude. it could be something simple, like an apple, or an outrageously expensive watch. the first i eat. the second? it only proves time isn't really valuable!

having come back from traveling, where i lived out of two small backpacks, i have a room and more 'stuff' than i wish. two extra boxes of odds and ends weigh me down. not only that, out in my storage space in the dark and the cold, contending with mice, a dozen boxes of photos and manuscripts drags me down with the past. toss them, i thought the other day. finally commit literary hari-kari. 

that ruthless moment passed, after all i'm paid up for a couple of months. i did just throw out six boxes of clothes and cameras. i've given myself permission to save a few books. two hundred boxes scattered all over berkeley four years ago, my contribution to intellectual slavery. and i've saved maybe four cameras. if i added up what i spent on photography in the past fifteen years i would cry.

over a lifetime what have i spent my money on? old vans, trucks, and cars. nothing less than ten years old. supplements and organic food, which saved my life when a car slammed into me in a crosswalk. books - thousands, and i practically stopped reading when i stopped writing. now i have my doubts about any knowledge i might have gained, though i'm looking desperately for a new passion to give me a sense of purpose.

clothes? very little, a matter of last resort and mostly visits to the salvation army. leaving sydney i thought it would be cold as hell in san francisco, buying two dollar shirts and sweaters at the thrift store, and throwing them away when the plane landed, the bay area experiencing summer weather in december and southern california on fire. 

i have frittered away any surplus currency buying on line. i beat myself for not being able to live as i did in my twenties, on nothing. now i treat myself saying, 'hey, this old body isn't going to last that long. comfort is okay!' and i used to think comfort a mortal sin. (part of me still does, yet i never regret a hot shower in the morning on the road, especially in third world countries. it keeps me from throwing myself into a mine-shaft.) 

yes, here at the end i ask myself what did i spend my money on? not a house or high-maintainance women, though i now think i should have showered the latter with luxury instead of being so cheap. no children, my family in debt the whole time i was growing up. that taught me having a family meant doing a lot of things i didn't want to do, and i'm sure my kids would have been drug-addicts and near-do-wells. alas, maybe all of that spending would have bought me happiness, while being thrifty just keeps me out of trouble. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Speech to text is hell

Bleeding Kafka in a foreign country naturally after three weeks on the road going to museums wondering strain streets and generally I’m getting my sea legs I stop and start wandering in the bookstores and I want to start reading and I don’t know what this is from exactly except that when we left Montana where in the middle of the third grade and my mother drove us in the model eighth through snowy Idaho roads to California I I finished the third grade and then I started reading two books today that was after the alienation of living leaving they town in Montana where everything seem to dies we dramatic town all the streets and telephone poles and houses everything just sort of faded into a kind of Nancy Lane stay so that summer I am retrieved I suppose are used books to find a place to live where I had more control over the situation and I think this is probably what happens when I’m traveling after about three weeks I start the demo the place itself starts becoming normal wherever I am and that is the kind ofLack of feelings day thanks don’t have the same impact because I’ve gotten used to them or whatever and they just don’t fly with same matching so anyway now I’m in Australia and I standing looking for something to read and I ran across the early and early biography ie. Kafka n have a France, so this seems weird to be confident in Australia but it makes perfect sense in that I have a fast night with fascination with that cough going on with that Thursday and didn’t aversion state version of metamorphosis and I myself lately insects and so I had this long identification with Africa and it’s so interesting tAnd find out all the things that I didn’t know I mean I didn’t even know his family ran a fabric store I didn’t know much about his three sisters and especially his attachment to the third sister Atlanta who ended up helping him a lot at the end of his life also it talks a lot about the situation of the Jews in Eastern Europe at that time which I didn’t know much about him which was very complicated and fraught with anxiety and with none possible violence and I’ll kinds of stuff so I anyway that’s what I’ve been reading until like last night I started getting in there is a adolescent years and I said ceiling onto nervous maybe about my own adolescence. So anyway I I drafted for the evening and I came back to Danberry ban the trip that he an he and Max Brode need to Italy around 1911 and the fun they had and the times they had no trouble ahead and cover them cut copper I always felt has a sense of humor there is not translated into the stories in English it’s like in German they start out well well maybe this afternoon maybe this didn’t happen or something like that and that uncertainty about reality and the Viagra says that in his early years and he had a lot of broken attachments that he was because of the family situation because the helpers hours folks Rob is working in the store and his helpers were being fired and hired and he never had a consistency of all people when he was young and and I can identify with that myself since we move 32 times by the time I was out of high school change I mentioned above was when we left Montana my father was a minister and he went in the army and so now we’re going into a whole different world and mode being and so I don’t know exactly what the thing about reading is but that’s for coffee then fuck off to became of SAST with reading and he read all kinds of stuff not just literature and this led to his light on in his later writing but at the time it was simply a place to escape to come so I assume that’s what I was doing was escapingAnd I Soum all I’m traveling that the external on changing circumstances ultimately upset me even though I’m really enjoying myself and so by retreating back into this world and myself her cough car whoever I want I am somehow become grounded again and I don’t understand how people who don’t rain can really be grounded that in which sounds very odd because you think they go off into foreign world are not attached to the world they’re not seeing what’s around them but I think maybe it’s that temporary kind of meditation exclusion separation that helps this mode of being in in foreign places and I can imagine being in jail o or a concentration camp and seeking some kind of solitary confinement that’s why I was like book the chorus by the rationale thorough about his experiences in the work camps up north in Russia has a session I love literature that time so here we are wearing pajama Straley on and I’m talking into my phone and I don’t know if this will work for the first time I’ve tried it but I’ve got to do something it’s faster than typing with my fingers my god how did those kids do it I see in racing through messages with her thumb is going like I don’t know shotguns are machine guns and I just can’t do it so anyway I guess I can talk let’s try and see what this really is like theme of this reads like thank you very muchrdo

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, October 22, 2017

sometimes i wonder: what was that lifetime all about?

the first psychic i visited, gloria saches, said, "Everything speeded up. We're living six lifetimes in one." that certainly seems true for me and not very comfortable. the passions have come and gone. theater possessed me at least three times: when i was a child, dressing up in a toga, and giving speeches to kids on the block. later, at 18, determined to become a famous playwright, directing plays, doing a bit of acting. this went on for the longest time.

early thirties and i pushed it to the limit, working at uc santa cruz. unfortunately, by the end of the decade, disappoints in love undermined my forward drive. i retreated into writing poetry. one more theater period emerged in the 1990's, ten years of production, minor victories, finally satisfied i'd learned to direct and how to write a play. 

again, circumstances changed. the theater changed hands. i switched to photography, taking up the art i'd abandoned at sixteen. fifteen years of digital snaps, theater, dance, community events, stacking up quite a pile. let's google my name and see what's there: hmm, 35,000 pictures. those saved from taking approximately a million a year. 

alas, i ran to the end of that, selling off all the fancy equipment. i turned to the iphone and have been perfectly happy with it, snapping less and less, posting a few like a diary on facebook. francis bacon said his paintings, 'like the slime of a snail crawling across a canvas." there is a point when i ask myself, "so what?" i like having a record, yet does it add up to anything? 

other lives have been: music, taking singing lessons, writing a few songs. this too depended on a social environment, lookout friends driving for hours to eat corn on the cob. and this community dissolved, as each went their separate way. or travelling, forty countries collected, memories choice and sublime, lonely and bereft. all this mixed up with romances flickering out like fireflies. 

and the lifetime above in the photograph, a puppet-show with a partner, not looking particularly unhappy, yet if i include the expressions of the puppets, they do sum up a number of lifetimes. maybe it's true, a man lives by fits and starts, while a woman inhabits more of a flow. for most people i feel it's merely a matter of keeping very busy while life passes unnoticed. don't ask too many questions. as sachel paige said, "Don't look back. Someone may be catching up with you."

i like this picture. that was a joyful life for me.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

a letter on retirement

hi russ, thinking about our conversation yesterday, very relevant to me! one reason i like the lookout job is i told myself i could go on for a very long time and that's the way it's worked out. when young, i told myself never to retire, which meant to keep using my brain and being creative. i wanted this job so i could read and write. without house and family i could travel. and now my travel memories my favorite, they make me feel i've lived. and then there was a twenty year period where i chased women and had lots of love affairs. despite the ups and downs, the aches and pains, the fun and jealousy (terrible emotion), i sometimes wish for those years back again. i thought i should live to accumulate memories. that has worked to a certain degree. lots of flashbacks simply a streetcorner in spain or the smile of a girl on a paris subway. really not great, momentous moments. places to wander and wonder how i ever got there. i've always been very conscious of death and time. being a minister's kid i saw all the phases of life celebrated. at times i do feel a lot of anguish, time slipping away. other times i'm able to live in the moment and to challenge myself. i read recently, "Everything you've ever wanted lies just outside your comfort zone." i feel i have to push myself to travel. a week can feel like a year and complesses time. i also keep going to classes, partly simply to feel connected with the world. i also use facebook a lot. i've connected with a lot of people from the past as well as family. again, it's a way of being part of the world even sitting up here by myself. these days i do try to avoid the news. you know why. and i am listening a lot more to music to keep my spirits up. i suppose i do use the job as an identity, since it's very exotic for a lot of people. that said i've tried to keep other identities so i'm not so dependant on one: student, traveler, writer, photographer, etc. i have always struggled with depression and try to keep the words of the painter Georgia O'Keefe in mind: "I've been frightened my whole life and never let it stop me from doing anything." this morning it occures to me, we do have to keep challenging ourselves. once a job stops and other people aren't making demands, we have to make them on ourselves. i've always thought you very robust and your intellect interesting and fun. this is a pep-talk for myself, as much as for you! WALKING is definitely part of the answer. be sure to visit me before the 28th. i'm off next sun-wed. all the best, wayne  ps. i've always enjoyed our conversations a lot. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

can sanity prevail?

i'm trying very hard not to project my own physical decay - trigger fingers, A-fib, hydro-cele - onto the world. too many old folks feel the world is going to hell because they are. any change becomes a cause for alarm: a favorite tree cut down, a laundromat going out of business, an idiot elected to office. alas, i have old style cassettes with no interpretation  left, a part of my past erased.

and these days i feel like i live in a country losing its grip on reality. true, people still buy houses and fix them up. on the large tv at the orthopedic office young couples describe how they're renovating and improving the premises. the other day on the local university campus groups of high school kids were all over the place being seduced to join up. 

train-loads of new tanks roll through town, and new cars drive out of the dealers, shiny and ominous. every time i drive the canyon ninety miles to town, deadly boulders on one side and the swirling river on the other, i watch the oncoming cars like a hawk. damn, the most dangerous thing i can do is climb into my pickup.

of course, i am becoming a fraidy-cat. as i grow older, i realize how many things can get me and how many times i've fallen asleep on the road and woken up in the other lane, an oncoming truck not that far away. or the falls i've taken on my back off the back deck or the rocks below the lookout. life seems a crap shoot, a matter of pure luck. why wasn't i born in a ditch in india? 

i do comfort myself with thoughts of being chosen, a poet, a traveler, a photographer, kept alive by Sidney, my guardian angel. and then, i forget all about him, sailing along as though my survival were my own doing, or simply good fortune. either i'm a saint doing good work in the world, or a fool too lazy to die. 

and what is sanity? i've decided this morning it's empathy, the ability to have sympathy for other people, to cry for a child or help an old lady across the street. a friend had an uncle who worked at a ultra-security prison for the worse kinds of sex offenders. he said the prisoners all had one thing in common: no empathy. they couldn't feel he pain of another human being. 

has the election of a man with no empathy put the world in danger? sometimes paranoia is reasonable, sane, justified. one push of the button and the northern hemisphere is toast. i'm just about to make a trip to australia, my third, just in case. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

onliy happy when i'm reading

that summer after the third grade i read two books a day, mostly about heroes, blackhawk, daniel boone, kit carson. we'd left montana for california and i suppose i hid out from the separation, the feeling of hamilton dying as we left it, the life leaving the telephone poles and streets. all the way to the coast, through the idaho snow, i fretted and wouldn't help my mother, my father at army boot camp. 

i can't really remember the school in los gatos, how i managed to get through that spring. all i remember is a collie trying to bite me as i trudged home. stories and fantasies, the comfort of libraries, and later years spent browsing in bookstores. there'd come a time in my travels when i became exhausted by greek temples and byzantine churches and i'd look for a book to bury myself in. 

hmm, and for the last 17 years i basically abandoned books for taking photographs and browsing books about them. i read very little, yet i often felt happy with pictures. true, all my children's books illustrated and those never left me, whether it was winnie-the-pooh or wind in the willows. at thirteen i had to decide: would i be a writer or an artist. i couldn't draw anything realistically, so the latter seemed out of the question. 

starting out a journalist on the school paper, i was led up the garden path by the teacher in charge, who said, 'this boy has imagination.' i took it as a great compliment. i wrote writers at life magazine and the new york times. they actually answered back and were rather discouraging, the profession not glamorous! gradually i got bored the with the formulae of the press, the mechanical approach to expression. 

by the end of my college freshman year, i dropped the basketball court for historical fiction, discovered poetry in my sophomore year and didn't realize i was a child falling in love with it. yes, the practical say, write poetry when young, and get over it. i never did outlive it, though i haven't written any in a long time. reading poetry still calms me down, shifts my mind into a different pattern. i have to work to understand, and i escape the repeated coils of my everyday thought. 

now, again, i find making pictures not adequate, though i still take them. they seem so perishable, and they don't express complexity. writing takes me on a journey into someplace i haven't been. and now, with everyone having a camera, the process so simple, a picture has become a bit of sand on the shore, surely to get lost in the vastness. while a poem seems to be made to outlast time, if it hits the human heart. not easily done.

i look at all the poets online, and think, why am i trusting poetry so much? i decided today on my tombstone: "He Kept Watch." is that enough? while i'm looking and reading, i forget the future, which, though it may be more interesting than the past, may not exist. the essence of life is fiction, the tumbling consciousness of a complicated species. even memory is mostly made-up. rearranging the pictures doesn't change a life.    Virginia City, Nevada