Friday, May 31, 2019

The Consequences Of Thirst

Passing off eccentricity as class requires some effort. I probably should have learned how to do something. You know- a craft. A trade. By the time I was twenty, I figured it was probably too late.

Here are a few that I knew would never work:

Indy car racing
town drunk

At this point I have scooped mud from the hulls of barges, squirt hot sauce into bottles, written an automotive column. Oh, yeah- I did that love & fashion column for awhile, too. Laundered money for the Russian mob. Don't judge me- I thought I was promoting concerts.

Mostly I have stuck to endeavors that don't pay much. Well, don't pay anything, to be accurate. I'm a geographer! Nobody told me that the reason that thrift stores are full of globes is because somebody changes the name of a country every month or two.

Just within the last six months I have come to consider myself a philosopher. Thought it would look good on a resumé. Well, who pays the philosopher? What about my benefits? My pension?

My preaching thing has mostly just hurt my social life. I believe pretty much everything I preach, though, and I'm proud of that.

You know, I was always a little suspicious of those celebrities who didn't seem to have an occupation. Orson Bean. Monti Rock III. Arlene Francis. Dick Clark.

The indignity of being an unknown who doesn't do anything stings.

I'm glad I've opened up about this with you. I feel better.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

And Many More- Who's Minnie Moore?

Man can't live without meaning. I believe Jung said that, or something close. While I know enough not to argue with smart folks, I don't know that I believe much in the concept of meaning. Nobody spends more time than I do searching for it. Well, sir, if that doesn't describe the ultimate waste of time, I don't know what would. I might as well take myself snipe hunting.

Evil exists in man's imagination. Some responsibility, huh?

You can't do much about other people but you're in charge of you. I should know better than to tell anybody what to do, but I suggest you spend your time loving. They will laugh at you. Check to see how happy they are.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

How Happy's Too Happy?

In the grand design, happiness has a purpose. Yeah, much as I hate to break it to you, your "creator" has no interest in your self actualization. The only reason giddiness is in the recipe is to serve as the carrot on the stick. That's right- you the mule.

"Happy" exists to keep you on the treadmill. You get a better grade, you study harder. You get a raise, you stay later at the office. That pretty girl in algebra smiles at you, you start to bathe on a better schedule.

Now, I gotta' say, I get tired of being a fly in evolution's ointment. Eccentricity doesn't pay well and it won't get you into a pirate krewe! Just kidding- the job has the same prestige as hillbilly philosopher. Failed Lothario. 

With too much caboose and little locomotive left, it doesn't really matter.

The fact is, I'm too happy. I never wasted much time struggling with the illusion that a gold record would make me whole. Oh, I always lusted for the unobtainable princess. For decades they seemed to have ended up in my arms. By the time they figured out the bounds of their misjudgment, I knew that it was never meant to be. Do I need to mention that I'm the end of my hereditary line?

As you know, I'm way too good at sad, too. That's another blog.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Boots and Sandspurs

Seekers search for truth. Imagine the arrogance of someone who thinks he may find it. Yeah, I know. I used the masculine pronoun for the seeker. I tend to associate arrogance with men.

Occasionally, truth seems to open itself to my scrutiny. It all seems so very obvious when it does. Like the proverbial dog who catches the car tire, I never know what to do with it.

When I was four or five, I would take the little thermometers off the cardboard desk calendars and bust them on the floor. Then I would entertain myself trying to pick up the little balls of mercury. Sometimes I would manage to hold onto one between my fingers. Not having any plan for what to do with the magical substance, I would ultimately put it in my mouth.

You can call me a seeker. A mercury eater. I hope you won't refer to me as arrogant. That hurts my feelings.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Easy Virtue and Rusty Zippers

By the time that you've lived with gravity long enough to be intimate with it, the stuff has turned on you- melting jaw lines to jowls. Time, I'm sorry to say, isn't on anybody's side. Oh, it's not betting against you, either. It's just some weird concept that we've made up in order to deal with life. I won't make fun of your religion if you won't make fun of mine.

Maybe wisdom is just acceptance. 

Most of us have bargained for love. We bluff, we deny, we lie, we withhold. That's not love, now, is it? We're holding out for the "real thing" and we're offering counterfeit goods in return. What was that last line that all four Beatles performed together? Oh, yeah:

And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Handsome and Wide

Looks like the chickens have come home to roost, whatever that means. I mourn the loss of so many of my own beliefs and convictions. Any faith that I invested in mankind has been frayed, slowly, over time.

Animals? Now, that's a different story. I find the argument over animals possessing souls ludicrous. By my definition, animals most certainly have souls. Animals communicate with me. Always have. If they're not communicating with you, I might suggest that you're not listening. 

If this seems juvenile and simplistic, I'm not talking to you.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bumper Cars Blues

A doctor once told me, "Everybody dies of a heart attack. Get hit by a bus, your heart stops beating and you've died of a heart attack." Yeah. I guess.

Using this line of thinking, living is dying. Get used to it. Get good at it.

Sometimes I had trouble enjoying myself at the fair. I was always worried about having to go home.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Jelly In My Pocket

Where I come from, we had bottomless wells. In my day, mad dogs were the biggest threat in summer. Well, after the Klan, and we didn't see much of them. We searched for months for the mythical "firecracker hill" where the Birmingham police dumped all the confiscated fireworks.

Soldiers- kids, really- were returned by ambulance, in vegetative states, from the Korean conflict, to spend what life they had left in the twin bed that they had slept in through high school.

If you turned on the radio, Hank Williams would probably sing. Of course Hank died on New Year's Day, 1953, but in Alabama, that was just a sanctified career move. It always seemed like the ice cream would never be ready. Best to leave the cranking to the grownups to keep our minds off of it. The first sparkler is okay. Once you've written your name and burned two cousins, the excitement is gone.

The pursuit of lightning bugs could use up another five or ten minutes. 

Finally, ice cream. Peach ice cream.

Here's to summer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Train Time

Drama has never sought me out, as nearly as I can tell. Would you rather die rich or die happy? I plan to mine memories for any future drama. Yeah, I've got a mindful of memories and a heart full of poetry. 

This is another one of those times when I'm pretty sure that I've told you everything. There is no mystique, no apology. Maybe when the sun comes up, melodies will reveal themselves. Yeah, I would love to brag that I've got a few surprises up my sleeve but I'm sitting here shirtless.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Celebrity Worship

They baptized me a Methodist but I really grew up in the Church of Celebrity. Oh, I loved Jesus, alright, but he was only a rank or two above Elvis. While I'm confessing, none of them could ever hold a candle to Brigitte Bardot.

My religion came to me honestly, passed down from my mom. Trying to make sense of it all now, she dreamed of Hollywood and Nashville. I suppose my arrival sealed those dreams. Birmingham was gonna have to do.

Here's a tip- if you've got stars in your eyes, you should probably get out of Birmingham. Now, me- I've got a college degree in geography. I feel qualified to tell you that you can substitute Tampa for Birmingham.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sue Me

When I was a kid, I thought the USA won all wars. I thought preachers were all holy and girls were all sweet. This is, in fact, my first rodeo.

Am I sorry that I'm naive, a chump, if you will?

Not really.

You see, I live in my own little Garden of Eden, and for the most part, it's not a bad neighborhood. Oh, I have my cynical periods. Discoveries about the nature of the government. The church. The music business. Romance. At this stage of life, it's a pretty long list and I'm grateful that it's not longer.

What keeps me from becoming a mordant recluse? Kids and dogs and cats, I suppose. Oh, and pie. I love pie.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Stars In My Pockets

It didn't take long for me to figure out that my mom was too sensitive for her own good. Honestly, it made life harder for her and for all of us around her. It has taken me a lot longer to understand that I'm just like her.

"Ronny, would you be willing to consider that you're just more sentimental than she is?" the therapist asked.

Let me help with the translation:

"Buck up, fool! Life's hard and you seem to be good at making it harder. For everybody."

Well, I'm hoping for a legacy. It's selfish and petty and self-serving, I know. I'm hoping that someday, if I'm remembered at all, I'll be remembered for loving. Not particularly well. Certainly not wisely.

It had never dawned on me until folks at my mother's little memorial service took my hand and reminded me that she had always ended every little get-together with, "I love you."

She left me a lot.

I love you.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

I'm Not Scared, You're Scared

When I was a kid, I was afraid of ghosts, monsters. I was scared that murderers were right outside my window. Of course we were trained in school to fear the atomic bomb and they tried their damndest to terrify me of hell every week in Sunday school. Yeah, I could go on. I'm guessing that you've got your own list.

Not much about the dark scares me now. I would welcome ghosts. It gets lonely around here.


Thanks to Rob Lorei for the lascivious art.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them

For somebody who tends to hold on to everything, I don't seem to have had much luck with the things that matter. Oh, I'm not whining. Complaining. They say that nobody's passion lasts forever. What do they know?

At various stages in my life my priorities have changed. I seem to end up here- pretty much where I started.

Do you want to know a secret? There are no secrets. This is it.

Monday, May 13, 2019

No Words

Words seem less adequate as life goes on. Oh, I don't think I'm losing anything. Not yet. Not much. It's just that my desire to communicate requires so very much more than any vocabulary that I'm likely to put together in this lifetime.

If I were Bo Diddley or Gauguin, Houdini or Mozart, maybe I could express what I have to tell you. It comes in light rays through the cosmos and it is stored in hearts and stars and museums. You can find hints and traces in oil slicks in rain puddles and you can hear it when the wind rustles in the palm trees.

I know that it's about love and I know that it changes color. Kids know- some of them. Animals and poets and scientists sometimes seem to get a glimpse. On the continuum of truth, it hides in the heart and in the soul.

Turns out, there's nothing funny about peace, love and understanding. The very idea surely makes me smile, though.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My Worry Bucket

It occurs to me, at this stage in life, that my worry quota is somewhat under my control. My level of angst, anxiety, regret, dread seems to be independent, for the most part, of the actual circumstances in front of me. Behind me, too.

It's far too late to die young and I have already failed, by most standards, personally and professionally. Don't take that statement as an attempt to elicit pity. If I had it all to do over, I would fail more spectacularly. I certainly didn't do it Sinatra's way.

My fret meter generally stays at a tolerable point and I seem to have some bit of control by herding my memories to love that I've known. 

Oh, I still worry about every orphan. Every prisoner. Every soldier. I continue to lose sleep over that one-legged seagull on Indian Rocks Beach when I was five or six years old. Somehow I've made it this far with my old pal, the blues, and I suppose we'll make it to the finish line.

That old line, I love you- I've thrown it around. I don't take it lightly, though. I love you.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Grownup Dreams

There comes an age where the twinkle of innocence disappears. If you're lucky, I suppose, it's replaced with a fire of passion. More often, it is supplanted with a cloudy, dead stare. 

Is there anything sadder than growing up? 

Keep your nose to the grindstone. Make something of yourself. There will be time for fun later. Work hard. Stay late.

Me? I've gone with gray hair and a cloudy twinkle. I may measure success with a different instrument. My nose has never come close to any grindstone.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My Friend Wants To Meet You

It's one messy story. We just all have our interpretations. Personally, I'm waiting for yesterday and I'm praying for rain. The time that I have wasted, worrying about the line between arrogance and self-confidence, would fill a lifetime. It has.

Everybody has some inherent fear of being alone and everybody struggles to get there. Now what?

Is it anarchy to roll through stop signs? How did science fall out of fashion? Everybody has time on his hands. Not many know it.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Without Her

If she didn't exist, would I have to invent her? Yeah, probably. At this point, I know me pretty well. I keep reminding myself that my major misadventures have come from getting what I wanted.

My struggle is to simply re-claim my innocence.

Cable news would have made me cynical a long time ago if not for everything that I see in children's eyes. Those preachers on the radio dial would have ground me to a stub if I hadn't twirled the knob and found Little Richard. Politicians worked to steal my soul while dogs and cats saved my soul. I suppose I'm good for a few more laps.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Keep The Change

The first signs of silver are of little consequence. Then, bang- you're old. The good news? It's not so bad. Now, when I miss a patch of whiskers, nobody cares. Heck, nobody notices. Zipper down? What's new?

It's not exactly that I wear my irrelevance as some kind of badge of honor; it's just that I'm used to it.

Inappropriate behavior? Hey, I was socially awkward before socially awkward was a thing. I don't mean to brag... wait, yeah, I guess I'm kinda' bragging.

The fact that I don't work often, I can call semi-retirement, or something. Never worked much and never had that excuse before. Oh, I suppose there was a time, a very long time ago, when I could work as often as I wanted. I never really worked all that often then, either.

Honestly, I think I make a pretty good old man. I may have found my calling.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Between Loss and Grace

When there's nothing left to lose, is there anything left to learn? While I witness a crumbling culture on a deteriorating planet, I still see love in every direction. The gentle folks who taught me the ways of the world. 

With every loss, the cycle of life makes just a little more sense.

All of my faith sides with the mystery. All my hope.