Monday, April 1, 2013

a few miniutes of enlightenment are okay, but do you really want to miss everything else?

i live by epiphanies, brief vacations in nirvana, everything absolutely clear: what i want to do, be, and the world very vivid. an example might be driving down a highway in france, my girlfriend at the wheel, she's taking allergy pills and easily becomes unfocused. for a fraction of a second, she skims the grass on the shoulder of the road and overcompensates, spinning us out of control. all time slows down, i'm very firmly saying, 'steer into the skid, steer into the skid.' we come to a stop in the middle of the road and people peek out of their houses to see if we're dead.

yes, it's moments like that, moments in war, moments in love, moments in the middle of an examination by the angel gabriel when you're trying to wangle your way into heaven after a dissolute life. absolute clarity exists, and since i've been reborn, i could read the bible for whatever religion i've discovered for the rest of my life. and every time i turn the insight down. i don't really want an answer for everything, yet i will make decisions based on such moments. 

one time at lake tahoe, the powers that be decided i need to move to a lookout on the north shore. i resisted inwardly. i liked where i was at angora, south shore, where i sat above alpine lake and looked up into desolation wilderness, my kind of place. concurrently, i read the tarot cards in those days. and looking for a sign, i visited the new location, nobody around. in the garage, over a desk used by the fire crew, someone had pinned up the fool from the tarot deck. i took it as a sign to take a chance and make the move. and no, i never regretted it, sad to leave four years later for my present post. 

this is an insane way to live. what about a career, certainty, saving the money to buy a plot in the chico cemetery? i'm defenseless, unable to make a fortress of my possessions: house, family, children. a mystical existence, of sorts, or an uncanny careless one. approaching the infirmities of old age, i still won't make a decision without seeing a sign. today i reached my deadline: everything i own capable of being loaded on one half-ton pickup. true, the passenger seat wouldn't have room for a companion. so be it, i'll swerve down the highway alone. 

and perhaps that's been my attachment to the novel doctor zhivago and the poems at the end. the hero constantly veers this way and that across the wild ocean of life by a turn of the wheel. in fact, i think he has a poem called 'epiphany'. it does refer to something in christianity which i've totally blanked out. on the other hand, the everyday definition will suffice. 

                                The streetlights are like butterflies of gas.
                                The morning has flicked us with it's first chill. 
                                That which I am telling you is so much like
                                The far-off vistas now plunged in sleep. 

                                 You and I are in the grasp
                                 Of precisely that timid devotion to a mystery
                                 Which holds St. Petersburg, spread like 
                                                      a panorama
                                 Beyond the unecompassable Neva. 

maybe that's why i can't focus on anything but taking photographs. on the way back from my last book trip to berkeley, i swung off the interstate into a town called maxwell, ironically my father's middle name and where he pastorized the little methodist church, me one-year-old. a grainy photo showed me standing up in a baby-carriage with a strange house behind, two stories, a screened in porch above and below. i wandered around snapping pics. everybody i heard spoke spanish and the catholic church of a monumental size. alas, the protestants must have given up, and i was about to, when i turned a corner. another church. ah, methodist, and beside it the parsonage i knew pictured in the photo seventy-two years ago. EPIPHANY!