Thursday, June 26, 2008

when the smoke gets in your eyes

during the night, someone discovered a hundred acre four miles north of me, where i would normally have spotted it right away. (visibility at the moment half a mile.) the most fire-ridden june i've seen in 45 years as a lookout. four days of lightning (perhaps dry) now predicted.

maybe that's why this morning before getting up, i began thinking where i'd like to die. this is, of course, the return of a morbid subject, but i have my reasons.

two weeks ago, i paid my next six months on my secret storage space. roger, the manager, has become a friend over the years. i've heard lots about his troubles. for example, this time he pulls me aside from the house and tells me his wife's daughter, husband, and two kids showed up may 1st with no money. one baby sleeps in the stroller outside the door. i ask, 'other than that, is everything okay?' 'no, afraid not,' pointing to a bump on his jaw. 'cancer. lungs. blood in my stool.' he's about to leave for treatment at the veteran's hospital.' i do my best to reassure him and give him a bottle of french wine. his little blond granddaughter asheley comes out, smiling. 'i've got thirteen of them,' he says, still puffing on a cigarette.

last night, i watched 'wit', the story of a youngish woman professor of metaphysical poetry diagnosed with cancer. she's lively and witty and if you want to see chemo in action, this is the movie for you. unfortunately, the treatment fails.

can i be forgiven for considering the subject while i'm in this twilight zone? (i'm trying to be as realistic as i can be.)

thus, this morning i thought, 'okay, i'd like to die right here, on this bed, surrounded by nature and the sky. where else? in the house i'm house-sitting, artwork and books taking me into themselves. and lastly? on a train, going through fields in europe.' this my secret way of finding what means most to me.

here are pictures of my friend berta on our travels. as she grew weaker, her sister sat her down and they put pins in a world map of all the places she'd been, a very lovely if sad way of showing her she had lived and had a full life. i was very happy to have these photos as a momento.

Friday, June 13, 2008

friday the 13th part four

ah, it's almost past. the sky full of smoke from near my hometown (chico), the sun setting red.

twice i've received life-alerting missives on this particular day, which adds to both my excitement and anxiety. alas, i can't remember the second, but the first happened in oxford, england. i'd just gotten permission to stay for a year and had the money, when the coast guard wrote i'd have to come back and go to reserve meetings. this was quite a shock. i'd done a month active duty in london the year before to satisfy the requirement.

a greek island, berlin, and two years later i had to return to the land of the war in vietnam. they never called up the reserves, which definitely saved my sanity and probably my life.

what would my life had been like had i stayed in britain? perhaps quite different. maybe a permanent expat with a bouncy, buxom irish wife. no, it was not meant to be.

reading 'the flaneur' by edmund white. "Americans are particularly ill-suited to be flaneurs...they are always driven by the urge toward self-improvement." the flaneur wanders the street, joins the crowds, idly looking, for no purpose other than the experience.

all this while i thought to educate myself, grow-up, become an expert. yet i suspect i know little more than i did fifty years ago! what an astonishing thought. i do know i revel in my memories. back here at the lookout i'm constantly traveling the world.

the main awareness: you are making your world as you live in it. no wonder buddha said this the first step. you really can turn off your desires for sweets, your worries about love, you simply have to realize you're creating the craving. of course, it's easier some times than others. personally, i like to wallow in certain moods. then i can't get out of them because i'm enjoying myself!

looking back through old picture files, i think, 'how many good ones i've got already. why persist?" guess it's a further motivation for rambling, looking, it changes even a well-known place into something mysterious. here are a few more parade files from last year:

only three more hours and this fateful date will be history. the thing is, have i received an important notice without realizing it? the smoke on the horizon? the troubled dreams i had just before waking? what if i'm not getting the message, tho it's already been sent?