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Wednesday, April 23, 2014



Yesterday I searched for my own definition of nature, came to see the natural world as whatever is not created by the human mind, natural meaning left alone by human mind. This does not mean to dismiss the human mind, which, itself is natural as a tree, a rock, a squirrel. The human mind, a microcosm of the Creator is a creator itself. Mind created civilizations all around the globe down through time. Mind created an historical legacy of art from beginning to present. In Athens, Greece, 1972, I went to the museum of Greek art. I saw some of the very first carvings in soft stone of the first human depictions in that part of the world of self representation. They were static, arms straight down for centuries. The Greek renascence, the Classical Age, depicted the human form in motion, in time. Art is one activity of the human mind, philosophy too, that a good case can be made for to include them as the same as the natural world. Plato continues to be as relevant to the human condition as Michelangelo and Matisse. Much of our own human behavior is natural as donkey behavior, or chimpanzee behavior, cat behavior. I believe it is that part of self, the natural world part, that I have aspired to find in adult life. To do it, I've had to separate myself from the games of the human mind like social climbing, making money as an end in itself, identifying with the most expensive house, car and clothes affordable, and the right people. That's the zone I consider unnatural; therefore, the world. The mind likes to attach itself to things as expressions of self. Of course mind is attached to things because things are creations of the mind. A rubber ducky, somebody's mind created it. God creates life, the whole cycle from birth to death, whereas creations of the human mind begin their process of entropy upon creation. I hesitate to use the word God, because its meaning varies from individual to individual, but it's the same with a lot of words.


My way of living the natural world in human society is to have my right people be the people I naturally resonate with in varying degrees. Several years ago I decided to trim my associations down to the people I care about who care about me. I have enough people in my life I care about who care about me that I don't have room for gamers. When somebody starts gaming me, it's a very short time before it's a game of one, bouncing a ball off a wall. I quit playing bridge not long after catching on and finding it a fascinating game I believed I could learn well enough in a few years to become a player. But the temperaments of bridge players was something I couldn't handle. When I got cussed by my partner for playing the wrong card, I stood up, announced I will never play another game of bridge the rest of my life and left the table. How are we going to finish the game? I don't know, that's yours to figure out. My hillbilly blood shining through, back when I didn't know I had hillbilly blood, and sure as hell wouldn't have told anybody if I knew it. Blood is natural. I believe it is natural when somebody gets in my face cussing me to do something about it right now, whatever it takes, least violent recourse first, unless it calls for putting the individual on the ground. You don't have to be a fighter to be able to do that real easy. Just turn on the mode Justin calls survival mode when he's in a fight, when you do whatever it takes. Our feelings are natural as our bones. I'm recalling my friend Jr Maxwell in his 80s telling me, You have to go with your feelings. Another time he said, Patience is everything. He was a welder, a tractor mechanic, a sawmiller, heavy-equipment operator, farmer, bluegrass banjo picker and singer, husband in grief without his wife, a man of the real thing wisdom, who looking back over his life assessed himself a fool. I called him, in my mind, the wise fool. He used mind for a tool, for figuring out how to fix things. Money was what you needed to meet expenses, the rest of it was living your life, enjoying talking with friends around the wood stove in the tractor shop, enjoying playing bluegrass on weekends wherever the band played.
Had to make a town run today for cat litter and gas for the car. Stopped at the Exxon station for four gallons, 80 miles. Walking from the pump to the station to pay, I saw Doris putting gas in a car for a woman I didn't know. I spoke to Doris, the woman started to drive off. Doris started drumming the trunklid with the palm of her hand and hollering for the woman to stop. She stopped. She was up in years. Inside, paying Doris, I said, That's me in a year or two. She said, I'm afraid I'm gonna be there too. It was an amusing moment, but it was not funny--if we live long enough, we will each have such lapses. It was a moment of empathy both Doris and I were feeling. I'm glad we spoke of it. I was thinking this is what I love about country people. Doris knew the woman and knew she could not put gas in her car, went out to work the pump herself. I just now heard the yipping of a pack of coyotes in the donkey meadow. I jumped and went out the door hollering GIT, loud like the giant that can kill you by looking at you. I had to holler several times. Each time I hollered, one or two stopped, until after half a dozen or more monster roars they quit. One stayed behind. It sounded hurt. But their yipping sounds like they're screaming in pain anyway. It continued to squeal for quite awhile after all the others were quiet. I hope Jenny nailed one. If she did, word will have run through the pack by now that donkeys fight back. I don't know how Jenny responds to coyotes, but I do know they scare her and Jack. It tickled me to show Jenny and Jack my psychic power over the coyotes. When the ice cream man brays, the coyotes scatter. After attempting to frighten coyotes by clanging shovels together or clanging pots and lids, I learned quickly they paid these noises no mind. But holler GIT in a bold monster voice, it gets their attention. They know it's the monster that lives in the barn. I don't mind the donkeys having coyote experience. Donkeys can kill coyotes, but Jack and Jenny don't know it yet. A highway of trails the night animals use runs just the other side of the donkey meadow. The night animals know two donkeys are living here by now.      
I stopped by the tractor shop, Maxwell Equipment in Whitehead, to breeze with the fellers, smoke cigarettes and talk. It was Jr's shop, which Ross has now. Ross and Jr were friends since Ross was a child like Justin and I have been friends since he was a child. Ross is the natural next one to keep Jr's shop going. Zak went to UNC Chapel Hill in philosophy and makes pottery at home. He has a short-legged black and white dog named Rimbaud. Harry is a retired Army and Air Force jet and helicopter mechanic. Harry gets so much in retirement, he doesn't need any more money, so he hangs at the shop and works all day for something to do. All three of them have fast minds good at taking IQ tests, putting round pegs in round holes. Every job that comes in is something to do the first time. They use their minds figuring out as they go. All three were involved in work today they had to focus close attention to, so I left them to work without distraction and walked around with the camera. They know I stay out of the way. I've known the shop for so many years, it's as comfortable as being at home. I remember sitting in wooden chairs with Jr gazing at the cars and trucks going by outside the big garage door, talking for hours. These are people devoid of pretensions. None of them is going kiss anybody's ass to get ahead. In New Age speak, you might say they're grounded. All three are from here, all three from families that have been here a long time. They're Appalachian Americans, hillbillies, and wouldn't have it any other way. We are each very different people who share a respectful memory of Jr Maxwell and a love for these hills, would rather live poor here than rich someplace else. We are all people who have withdrawn from what we take for a fake society and live our lives the way we want to. Patti Smith sings in my head, Outside of society, that's where I wanna be. These are people I value, people I look up to. I see them natural human beings as opposed to correct or right or best. I call them good people. Some may not. I don't care. I present them as examples of people I am drawn to who live closer to the earth than to the world.
found art


  1. Darlene Sperber Couldn't sleep tonight so got up to do some sewing then found you had posted already.... Enjoyed reading your blog tonight...well technically it is morning ...and will re read it again later with coffee...I don't always understand but always enjoy reading your blogs. Especially when you ramble...I feel like I am sitting with you...Glad the coyotes got scared off...

  2. So love my morning coffee with you and your neighbors. Love the wrenches and they guys pulling them. My brother, Jim, pulled wrenches on diesels for many years, bought himself a house, then decided he needed some further education (Masters from Purdue) which propelled him into marriage and a career with GM (not easy for a loner and nature boy), but he made it work, living on a lake in an old farm house on a large plot of land with a barn where he could do his woodworking. You remind me of him in many ways, Tj.

  3. Love your definition...can't stand the taste of ass between my teeth...guess that makes me grounded (I hope anyway). Thank you for seeing art every where you look and for letting us see it through your eyes.