— From the Fool — 

I was standing there studying a pimple on my nose. It just came there one night. You don’t expect that on a red rubber nose. Squeeze that and you can’t tell what’s gonna happen.

But the minute I was studying this, lots of stuff was happening. A storm was moving in from some coast somewhere and the weatherman was saying a storm was moving in from the coast. Congress passed a bill that would screw up things some more. A bunch of people got shot and didn’t have to worry about the storm moving in from the coast.

It was an amazing minute. A lady who used to be a ballet dancer bought a bunch of carrots and broccoli and felt no need to explain herself. A taxi driver went nuts and slowed down. A baby took one look at the world and said, “No, thanks,” but other babies just said, “What the hell,” and went on being born.

That very minute, the President farted. The dictator of North Korea read a comic book and resolved to be a nicer guy. A Nobel Prize winner knew he shouldn’t pour another Scotch but did. Two people who you’d never dream would make love, did.

There were all these six or seven billion things that people did in that moment, not counting dogs and cats and slugs, that would never even get on Facebook, much less in the chronicles of humanity. You felt you could fall right off the planet Earth if you didn’t grab it by the short hairs.

How this affected my pimple I can’t predict. We can only wait and see.

— From EF — 

A gifted theatre friend wrote on Facebook, “I’ve been feeling so desolate. . . I feel lost, feel dread, anxiety, guilt, disarray.” I responded, “I thought I was the only one in that hole.” And Saturday night at the always-luminous Oral Traditions poetry salon I spoke to a poet who said she was going through the same thing. It doesn’t feel like the predictable winter-light doldrums; I know those buggers from many years.

Yesterday I felt so knotted that I had the basic good sense to ask Conrad to sit on the sofa and hold me while I cried. Great mulish whooping sobs, and they felt really good. You don’t always have to know the source of your grief to a good job grieving.

Years ago a gifted workshop community-builder turned me on to an essay by an extended poly family who started to look at what they might be doing right. Among their most practical concepts were the Space of Love and Heartshare. Those tools have been part of the essential kit for CB and me ever since. But the one that came to mind today and really lightened my skies was the Wide Load.

They made a really silly hat. It was a broad-brimmed straw hat upon which was wired decorations like empty coke cans and such, and it had a big front bumper-sticker that said Wide Load. When somebody in the family was feeling really bummed and resentful and put-upon, they could put on the silly hat and go do something nice for somebody, totally out of the blue, unasked. And it usually worked.

So today I put together a Solstice present for our neighbors across the road. Two big hand-made Springerle cookies left over from our last Full Moon Circle (thanks, Laurie), which neatly covered the bottom of the bowl. Then slices of candied Australian ginger and chunks of bittersweet chocolate, ringed with a circle of little orange kumquats. The final touch was five fragrant wild violets from our yard, and a candle to burn through the night. Taste, scent, and light.

I took them over to their house and rousted the dad from trying to put their wet-warped flooring back aright. We did our usual greeting hugs, and he was delighted with the offering, and then I went one step further. I asked if he would hear me recite the poem I would offer at the solstice celebration, even though it’s a tough one to comprehend – Roethke’s “The Waking.” He loved it.   I walked back across the road considerably lightened of my load.

Why do I keep forgetting such a simple thing? When in distress, give something. And then there’s the other ploy: when in pain, grieve. Loudly, unashamedly, and hopefully in an embrace. We’ll all get through this darkness somehow.

— From CB — 

I love every sort of gathering except possibly lynch mobs. Of late and upcoming: a holiday party, a memorial circle, a Solstice gathering, Christmas caroling followed by soup, a poetry salon, Christmas dinner with friends, a traveling Wassail celebration, a full moon circle, a writers’ circle. For isolated workaholics, right now we have a fulsome social life.

And yet I’m a loner to the extreme, especially in company. A large part of me is that high school kid who feels that, however incredibly rich his soul, no one else (except Elizabeth) will ever discover it. He waits for someone to notice him staring thoughtfully at the wall and to come up and say, “You look interesting. Let’s talk.” Amazingly, they don’t.

Or if a surge of bonhomie lifts me and I take the initiative and we seem to be launched into hearty or heartfelt exchange, soon I feel the other party wants to escape to the snacks.

I don’t think it’s an inability to make small talk or to focus on my own self-aggrandizement — I’m truly more interested in learning about someone’s plumbing business than in talking about King Lear. But perhaps people instinctively sense a need that even I can’t quite fathom, and there’s something off-putting about need. A now-dead friend quoted an aphorism: the hungry wolf doesn’t eat. If you need the bank loan, you’re not a good credit risk. If you stand there looking solitary, well hell, just stand there.

Nowadays, it’s probably not just the old high-school phantom recurring. It’s also that I’m so locked into these projects. It’s the writing and the staging and the acting that, however haltingly, convey my heart outward. When I’m as deep into that as I am at present — the preparations, the technical snags, the revisions, the utter panics — everything else is just the dance of the water-skimmers. I long for being a part of that dance, but I haven’t yet made it to the surface.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014


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