Sunday, August 28, 2022

Further Thoughts on Temporal Density & the Loopy People Club

"There's a Crack in everything:
  that's how the light gets in."

Leonard Cohen

My previous Post has had me thinking, again, of an annoying disillusionment I sometimes feel with the New World  that the Internet has brought.   From this Saturnine point of view, I find myself taking a rather dark look sometimes at the Information Highway.  Are we always better off, now that we can "connect" so quickly? Or has all that access, paradoxically, resulted, sometimes, in isolation?

(as I write, a tiny spider drops onto my laptop. There She is, reminding me that it's all very relative. And my mentor Spider Woman points out thus that there are bridges over every abyss.)

Well, of course. The internet is the greatest library ever made.  It's changed culture so fast we have hardly had a chance to catch our collective breath.   Yet how has it also re-invented communication? Are we so over stimulated, so "busy", that we can no longer tell the difference between real intimacy, conversation, communion - and superficial or just  imagined "connections" with others? What about dis-information?

When I put up my first website 25 years ago I had a guest book, and even made a few friends that way.  Then the guestbook began filling up with spam. Emails between friends became group emails, things for me to "circulate".  I share less and less, and increasingly feel an unarticulated loss.  A loss because I realize that people receive hundreds of emails  daily, or information that is literally streaming by them at 70 miles an hour on Facebook or Instagram.   What I feel is diminished. How can I make myself smaller, faster, more flamboyant, so someone notices me?  There is so MUCH.  Everyone is so BUSY.  

Temporal Density.   And I seem to be falling through the crevices of modernity.

 Could it be possible there are other people like me, fraying, unraveling, beginning to say strange things to electronic answering machine menus that get longer and longer and more labyrinthine........lingering for meaningful conversations at checkout counters........mumbling Rilke or Lessing while ordering coffee at Starbucks drive thru......are they quietly wondering if they really are becoming invisible, and they do these things just to test the waters? 

Not drop-outs so much as drop-thrus.  Dwellers in the crevices.

If that's so, maybe we can find each other, start a secret society.  We'll become people who have fallen outside of the loop. Loopy people.   

Who knows, maybe it smells kind of like the ocean there.  Salty.  Maybe there are old wooden tables to sit at,  where you can watch the moon rise.  We'll have a drink and some of those long, long soul satisfying conversations that went out with the '90's and the invention of laptops and cellphones.   Conversations with pauses, hand gestures, that go nowhere and everywhere.

Our membership will include people who were geeks or misfits, but they reinvented ourselves to become something else, and are now regressing back to our earlier geek template because we're in various stages of aging, breakdown, confusion, exhaustion, overweight, or just waiting for rebirth while still inhabiting a body - all ages, sexes, races and economic backgrounds welcome. 

We can have comfortable campouts (in places like the Berkshires in July, when there are fireflies, and with hot showers and barbeques).......or go to Sumatra economy class and stay in a home stay for $3.50 a night, and drink rice wine and bat at mosquitoes and talk about art, or crumbling temples, or Hindu mythology, or lost loves, or spiritual ecology, or petroglyphs, and live in ways that are frugal. 

We will talk at length.  Leisurely, encircled conversations that wind and spiral around themselves, with memories that are really stories with no beginning, and no particular end, and all the lovelier for a little embellishment.

 We might burn little oil lamps to read cheap paperback books by and fall asleep without clocks or cell phones or bras. We would allow each other our delights, and our melancholies.  Exaltations and Maudlins are welcome as well.

 I won't apologize for "creating my own reality" in ways that leave me sad or discouraged sometimes. If any other aging geek in the bunch has a rough time of it, I won't promise I can make things better, or even that I'll always be able to listen. But I won't expect them to apologize either.  I won't send them any emojis, "likes", or photo-shopped memes either, as substitutes for human empathy.  And we'll never, ever talk about "money" or our various bodily complaints, unless it's absolutely necessary. 

We might, however, remember people we've loved, loved in all of its forms and fashions, agape, eros, hot or cool, and how privileged we were to have loved them, more so, if they loved us back in some way, for whatever moment or place or time. We might contemplate the real value of things, sweet things, hard things, natural things, vivid things, sad things, but all valuable things because they opened our hearts, and made us not only feel alive, but be alive.  We might talk about loss too, and death,  and grief, and learning eventually to live with loss, and to deepen from the hard gift of grief.  Yes, that too.

The threads in the tapestry that you notice, that stand out in the warp.

We might write poems.  Poems that come up in the middle of the night and insist on being scribbled onto a napkin.  Poems that no one else will ever hear, and it doesn't matter.  If we're feeling risqué, we might talk about Dionysus and the mysterious Eros of nature.  We might remember more personal examples worth sharing.  We might talk about books. We might talk about Georgia O'Keefe and Stieglitz and that woman who wrote The Solace of Open Spaces. We might talk about jazz; we might listen to jazz.

We might ask what god a Balinese Gamelan is speaking about, or is it a river, or is the god or the river, or both, speaking through the musicians?

We might come up with reasons why Beethoven wrote the "Ode to Joy", even when he was a joyless and bitter old man.  We might toast to Beethoven for what he gave the world, and then toast to every beach and river and forest we had the privilege and pleasure of walking in and talking to.

We might.  There would be time.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Silence and Oasis: Reflections on the Need for Both


 All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything simply by listening.

David Whyte
From “The House of Belonging”


The photo above, of Lake Tamarisk at sunset, is on my desktop on my computer.  Just past my birthday,  I resolved to make this year about returning to Flow.  About getting off the  treadmill of temporal density, hitting the floor running when you wake up, life-as-laundry-list, over-committed,  multi-tasking,  goal oriented and goal setting, ...........etc. and etc. and etc.......... that somehow becomes the American Way of Life.  No time for reflection.  No time for Flow.  No time for Being.  No time.  No time. No time.

To that end,  I posted this photo of Lake Tamarisk at sunset on my desktop.  And bit by bit I have been de-committing, divesting, and fulfilling the committments on my "laundry list".  I am glad to say the list is already much smaller.  My goal is to get to where there is nothing on the list, and the Day is mine.   Mine to "spend", like someone with a hundred dollar bill in my purse, as I will.  No goals.  No objectives.  No responsibilities.  Just me, watching the sun go down in the middle of no-where (or no-when),  observing birds, water, air, letting it all speak to me.  Being able to listen.  Being able to be. 

Today is, as they say, the first day of my life.  Oh, and here's an article I wrote a while back, as a "back story" for that photo above.  Still like it a lot, and felt like sharing it again.  Reading it again.  As I linger over each lovely drop of my coffee.  Flow.


On my way to and from  Los Angeles, in the very middle of the California desert between Blythe and Indio,  is a mostly abandoned town called Desert Center. A sad circle of dead palm trees on the side of the highway attest to better days.   Desert Center once hosted General Patton's army training corps during World War II.  

I'm old enough to remember when the old diner was still in operation, if very dilapidated.  I used to like to stop for some not very good soup so I could sit at the counter and imagine the  soldiers  sitting there on stools at the counter  in prosperous times, maybe big band music playing on a radio while cooks fried eggs and potatoes.  But now it's just boarded up, and has been for a decade, and dust blows through the remains of every structure there, except, surprisingly, the post office - which suggests the presence of life and commerce somewhere, hidden away in the seemingly barren  recesses of Desert Center,  California.

However, the ghostly town of Desert Center is not what I write about............actually, as I sit here in a coffee shop in Los Angeles, having traversed the desert, enduring now  the ubiquitous sound of pounding rock and roll in the background (why is silence  seemingly so terrifying to people now,  even at 6:30 in the morning?  Why does it seem that  people no longer seem  able to eat, drink, shop, walk, or even  talk with each other without a  pulsing backdrop of  guitars and drums or screaming singers proclaiming their lust?).........ah.

The vast cacophony of the 21st Century, in which Silence is frightening.  

Yes.  What I  reflect on is actually a strange oasis some 15 miles from Desert Center's ruins called Lake Tamarisk. 

I first discovered it when I noticed, driving on the interstate at night, a circle of lights past Desert Center.  On a whim,  I decided to investigate.  What on earth is that, I wondered, in the middle of no where?  What I found was a lake reflecting the moon,  lawns with the tinkle of sprinklers, a wading white crane, and Silence surrounded by the dark mystery of the desert.  

So ever since I've stopped for an hour or two at Lake Tamarisk  as I've made that long trek to L.A.   Like the movie Pleasantville, it seems to me sometimes  that Lake Tamarisk is a kind of mirage, suspended in time.  That someday I'll look for it and it will have simply disappeared without a trace.

It seems to me as well that it's always about 1970 there, or maybe 1960,   when the little town was  built to house the Kaiser mine workers and their families.     I don't know if it has always been surrounded with lawns for golfing, but its little man-made lake reflects the colors of the desert, and birds float on its placid surface, and it derives its name from that.  

There is no store, no gas station, no restaurant there, and for such amenities  one must go some 50 miles.  But  there is a fire department and a community center and a little library.  They are always closed when I get there, the deck chairs stacked, the barbecues padlocked.  

I'm always there in late  spring or summer, when the winter people have left, and Silence is  what greets me in the empty parking lot beside the always closed community center.  Along with the occasional call of la Paloma, the desert  dove,  wind in palm trees, distant sprinklers and perhaps  a duck on the lake.  In all my rituals of visiting Lake Tamarisk,  I've never heard the sound of  a human voice, although clearly there are people who live there all year.  I've  walked around the lake,  never meeting a soul, and walking to the  edge of the grass or the paved walkway I  marvel at the way everything simply ENDS.  Take a step further, and you are in the vastness of empty desert.

There is a  swimming pool  that looks exactly like every swimming pool I remember from my Southern California childhood, complete with round metal tables and a  snack bar with rusty signs proclaiming Coca Cola! .........but it's usually empty, the gate locked.  I  have only seen it filled once, but no one was there..........still, it is not just a mirage, if it is sometimes full of water. 

I always find myself standing at the gate to the pool, and I can almost hear the faint sounds of  people drinking cokes and eating hot dogs.  Men in swimming trunks, women with one piece bathing suits, kids splashing and  bouncing on inflated inner tubes.  Girls in polka dot bathing caps with hula hoops.   I always feel a bit sad at such moments, as if they will all appear after I leave, when the sun goes down maybe. 

And I'm not invited any more, because somehow, I grew up.......

But what I do breath in, en route and returning, is the Silence I find at that strange little Oasis.  An Oasis, for me, not just in space, here in the desert, but in Time as well.   A place of Silence.    Silence to hear the sounds of the desert, the wind, the here and now of nature.  Silence to relax into, silence with room for gratitude, silence enough  to hear the sounds of sweet memory and the bittersweet voices of ghosts as well.  

Silence out of time.  

"Poets live with silence: 
the silence before the poem; 
the silence whence the poem comes; 
the silence in between the words,
as you drink the words, 
watch them glide through your mind, 
feel them slide down your throat
towards your heart 

the silence which you share with the poet
when the poem ends, sitting side by side"

.....Michael Shepard

Thursday, August 4, 2022

On Grace and Gratitude

I wanted to share  a wonderful reflection on gratitude by film maker Louie Schwartzberg.  He is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose career spans more than three decades.  I found the imagery here's good to remember, every single day, what a gift the day is.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Lammas Blessings to All!

from the Rainbow Bridge Oracle

Celebrating the FIRST HARVEST,  the BREAKING OF THE LOAVES,  contests of strength (such as log rolling, back in the day),  Country Faires,  and the Blessings of the Sun.