Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Prayer

Lord, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what I've gotten myself into. I am having flashbacks of all my failures, so scarlet red, try-and-fails, so stifling I want to resign to just "fails." I am so scared. Not the scaredest I've ever been but enough to make me embarrassed at my lack of faith. I love you, and I want to do what's good. I am so lonely, I wish more people would follow behind me but they are in their right minds and staying in their homes. I wish I could do the same but I know I can't. It is like some kind of wretched curse. You are worth it, but I am suffering badly. I am broken in two. My pride has been pummeled and I am left a naked quivering mess. There is so much that can go wrong.

But I could try something very out there and just not worry about it. I will get done what needs to get done and not think about the rest. I can do that. I don't know why it is so hard for me to. The morrow will take care of itself. I have to get everything in the bus first. Then I have to get the bus down the street. That terrifies me. I am afraid the shaky water barrell will fall and spill everywhere and will electrocute me with the batteries. Wouldn't that be a comic relief. I am a grown ass man, I should not be afraid to drive a school bus two blocks. But I am. If the solar panel doesn't work I will not have electricity. All the things I bought. I feel like such a fool. I am having flashbacks of going to hike the Appalachian Trail in high school and coming home after two weeks with my tail between my legs. But that is where I found you, in that wretched humility wilderness provides. I guess this is necessary, then. But I am so scared...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Failure...As Seen On T.V.

You know those Swiffer ads where the mom is sweeping all sorts of shit up lickety-split thanks to this amazing cleaning invention? That's a pretty good comic sketch of my life. Here is this great new product designed to make your life easier. Just open the trashcan after cleaning and pop off the disposable Swiffer head. No fuss no muss. Then you realize you miss the simplicity of a broom, and the Swiffer finds a comfortable place in the closet to retire after a week's worth of work.

I've started a lot of things, squandered a lot of money on projects, invented a lot of things, and I've abandoned most of them in course of my life. I guess these aren't failures per se; I consider them to be, at the very least, embarrassments I would prefer not to be reminded of. But they make up my 'accomplishments' in this life.

I like it when Jesus is talked about as a 'failure.' Preaching a Kingdom, gaining a following, inspiring hope, and then dying in humiliation on a cross. It is the picture of someone who talked big and was harshly put in his place. Jesus was stamped out, the flock scattered--an embarrassing legacy to attest to. Then He came back.

When I took a tour of the Ambler Wastewater Treatment Facility for my birthday last year, the guy in charge told me that EPA inspectors can tell if a plant has discharged more than their allotted amount of effluent by looking for tomato plants. Tomato seeds survive the human digestion process and find their way to shit-soaked soil only to grow into a healthy fruit-producing plant. Amazing. Like Jonah in the whale, Jesus spent three days in the underworld and then rose. If they would have tossed his body, it might not have happened that way.

And so I think I will keep my failures as my greatest accomplishments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers

This is turning out to be a good read by Larry McMurtry about a self-absorbed and alienated writer. It is also written in a very parred-down way, so it is easy to read, which is a nice change from my heavy class readings.

I wonder if the title is turning into a kind of dour premonition. I feel like I am in this lousy state of being disgusted with everything and everyone and at the same time unable to untangle myself from it. I found some notes I had written while traveling, having picked up a book on Thomas Merton's personality:

The Enneagram Theory personality type indicator as used by Suzanne Zuerchen, OSB in her profile of Thomas Merton. She attests that Thomas Merton was a 4 in enneagramic space, characterized by three main personality characteristics: ego-romantic, ego-melancholic, and over-dramatizer.
Some of these dynamics as described by people who knew him:

John Eudes Bamberger: "If you knew him, Merton had a great deal of spontaneous joy and humor but, like so many people who are inclined that way at times, when he was down it was heavy. He seemed to me to be unfair at those times in critical remarks he might make."

Mary Luke Tobin: "He was a man who examined himself continually. He blamed himself for being too sensitive to the opinions of others, and he often talked about that as his allergy. I think he lived with this, as all of us must, but in a person of his depth and sensitivity it must have been particularly painful."

John Barber: "I suppose you might say that he had a moody side, but I wouldnt say it was moody as much as it was a way of withdrawing into his own thoughts. He thought deeply, you could sense that, much more deeply than most of us who came from a less international background...and I would say, even with his bright, sprightly nature, he had a contemplative side. He appreciated being on his own a good bit. That was the strange contrast in him."

Abbot John Eudes: "Almost anything he (Merton) took a liking to he became enthusiastic about, very quickly, as I learned as the years went on. But that wasn't the impression his books gave. His books gave the impression of a person who was on top of things, and who had a very involved but balanced vision. There was a great openness about him and yet a concealed reserve, too."

Despite this inner distancing, 4s are instinctively social and come from the social triad on the enneagram. They keep getting caught in nets of friendships and personal attachment in spite of themselves. Actually, 4s want to relate deeply and personally, and they hope their conviction that all relationships are doomed to failure will be proven wrong someday, somehow...

...to this end they remind themselves that no relationship can be counted on to endure. Even when the end is due to external circumstances, they usually see it caused by their own insufficiency as people worth relating to. It is their own feeling of inadequacy that ultimately destroys all of their encounters with others. They examine themselves obsessively, question all of their motivations, and come up wanting every time... (28-29)

Contemplation in Action
Age quod agisdo what you are doing.

Merton: Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reacted when a man deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost. (New Seeds of Contemplation, 181)

...this destiny of loneliness is one 4s conclude they deserve because, as Merton has put it, they have within themselves only emptiness on the one side and falsity and lying on the other. (33)

"Wretched the man who withholds forgiveness."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rules of Disengagement

I am steadily untangling myself from five years worth of accumulated 'stuff'. It is exhausting and trying but like letting go of your vices, I think it will be worth it in the end. I need to make some big trips to the Salvation Army, the scrapyard, and the dump in the next couple weeks.

The majority of 'stuff' is leftover from various projects that were started at one time or another, many while I was in a state of mania. During those times it was not uncommon to have four, five, or six intensive projects going on at one time. When you inevitably crash, they remain in an unfinished state. It would probably serve me well to resist the urge to start a new project before I have finished the old one. That way things may be more manageable; a recipe for sanity.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


My words are worthless tender;
not one has meaning.
Empty ledger, dotted i's.
I cannot even afford to cry.
I expire,
forgotten already;
as obscure as I began.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Hell is other people."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

3 Poems For the Day

Buson's Coffee

La Colombe,
An empty feeling.

* * *

High Stakes

is a steep wager.

* * *

The Last Word

Death tramples poetry,
with nary a sound:
This time silence
has the last word;
the audience in Hell,
violently indifferent.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So Long Kitty

Gizmo found a good home today with a nice lady. I will miss him, though I will be sleeping better without him crawling up on me at night. Such a handsome cat. Good luck Giz!