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Tuesday, January 13, 2015


brer rabbit and tar baby

Drove to town today for prescriptions, primarily. Attempted to take the trip for a leisurely drive like the day last week driving to town relaxed the entire circuit of the drive. It worked pretty well. Drug store, speak with Bonnie at the register; gas station, speak with Doris at the register; grocery store, speak with Consuelo at the register. Made an impulse purchase at the drug store. A new box on the counter of impulse sales items next to a display of glass beads for homemade jewelry, beside a display of foil-wrapped chocolates, cheap, I saw this box of smooth stones. The stones among all the packaging of items stood out for me, called me home: oh boy, a rock. It was like seeing a red-tail fly in front of my windshield. The stones had been rolled in a rock tumbler to smooth as glass. Each had a word sandblasted into the stone and painted gold, words like wisdom, joy, happiness. I was thinking they're pretty, a bit too cliche for my liking. What do you do with a rock with a word on it? I saw BALANCE. Yes. That one connected. A reminder, a beautiful rock with a word that's important to me. A moment to pick a word that connects now, today. A tarot card for the day. Bonnie, when she read it said, "Balance." I said, "It's been my key word lately." The word has relevance emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Balance matters in all those worlds. I seek balance in my temperament, in conversations with others, in joy and sorrow, aware of the ebb and flow of experience. Some days I need activity, some days stillness. Some days I want to be around others, talking, interacting, and some days I want quiet, alone. I find my balance in this flow, ride the waves that come and go, see others when I'm feeling like it and staying alone when feeling like it. Like Saturday, I'd have done better to honor my feeling of wanting to stay home. This moment, now, I am where I want to be, fingertips dancing on keyboard writing to you. Seems like this is where I want to be all the time. 

brer rabbit and tar baby

I went to youtube at the beginning of the paragraph above, found a video of a full concert by John Fahey. listened enough to fall into it far enough I was unable to turn it off. I switched to another window to get here, leaving Fahey's guitar playing. I like to write with music going on, but it has to be just right for the moment. Hearing  Fahey's first notes, I was thinking this is a good sound for this moment. Thought I'd see how far I could go with it playing. It feels different looking at the monitor of gray horizontal lines, the music coming from the space behind the page, playing through the page as through a window screen. I like it. It is Fahey's concert at the Horizon Theater in Atlanta, 1997. Abstract guitar picking. I think of the composers who have sought the abstract in music, Harry Partch, the first to come to mind. He would be a good one to listen to while engaged in writing. Partch made his own instruments, instruments unlike any before, and composed for them. Fahey's picking plays like holographic wallpaper in my head and the thoughts, the words float in that space like the words on the monitor float on a background of twanging guitar strings  The music has a way of quieting my mind, overriding thought. There it is. This is the appeal of music. It overrides the never-ending, continuous mind. I feel like this has something to do with why I only see happy faces at the end of a good concert. It overshadows the mind, mind slows down, gets out of the way, enjoys the vacation, enjoys the music. Words play in the left brain and music plays in the right brain. Both brains occupied. Only problem I find with hearing this music while writing, I can only think about the music, can only write about the experience of hearing Fahey's internalized, non-aggressive sound ring in the arena of my head. I take long pauses, tell self to get back to it, ask self, why? I listen some more, return to the video to see his fingers working the strings. I like it better not seeing him. The visual distracts from the sound. Thought distracts from the sound, too. 

tar baby

The concert is over, the appreciative audience is clapping. Silence. I like the silence too. The silence has its own beauty. I think of Tibetan monks meditating and praying throughout their hours awake. To quiet the mind, and, ultimately, transcend the mind.They may be in the fast lane, but I'm in no hurry on my spiritual path. Mine is a footpath, not the Autobahn. I'm enjoying my earth experience since I've settled self-esteem issues, neurosis issues, not completely, though enough to have them out from  under foot. Learned how to live with them, accept them and go on. I'm one who likes to see and experience the scenery along the way, whatever the scenery may be, except in some places, like West Virginia coal mines. Several years ago, when I was new in the hills, my parents drove here to visit. They chose to drive over the mountains on hwy 58, "the crooked road," and it comes by its name honest. I asked mother how she liked the scenery. She didn't see anything. Nothing? "I watched the road." It must be from her I get living in my head so much. I can't imagine how someone can ride shotgun in a car crossing the southwestern Virginia mountains and see nothing. She wasn't lying. That's what she saw. The road. At the same time, I can see using the boring time to review her Sunday school class, the church, the people at church, her work, the people at work. It was perhaps a good vacation for her mind, to think everything out, nothing to do but sit and gaze at the wavering ribbon of highway ahead and worry about her errant firstborn who won't never do right, stays outta control. Like the Van Halen song, UNCHAINED. The dog ran and did his wild thing, went to the mountains and laid down on somebody's porch, been there ever since. Having them here for three days and nights felt like every year in school K-6, parents night, kids have examples of writing and drawing on every desk, parents talk with teacher and teacher tells everything I did wrong. Before the judge. Up for judgment. Guilty as charged. With a smile. It's for your own good. You need punished. It's time for you to go home now.

brer bear, brer fox and tar baby

The rock that says Balance has landed to the right of the laptop, the side of the toy race car with Caterpillar written down its side, and the pocket knife. The left side is where I stack rocks. The new rock is not yet ready to mix with the others. Its purpose is different. It's the only one of the rocks that was bought. Does that make it privileged or a slave? It would be a curious find for an archaeologist in another round of civilization a million years in the future. Earth experience is so very weird. The ones who know the secrets of life and death say the world around us is what we make it. The trick is to figure out how to create what we want consciously, instead of letting our neuroses create the world around us unconsciously. I've found that when I treat everybody and everything around me right, everybody and everything around me treats me right. It's like with Donkey Jenny. I've only treated Jenny right. She has only treated me right. Everything we "put out into the world" comes back like boomerangs. The air is full of boomerangs spinning toward me. Thoughts and attitudes go "out there" as much as words and actions do. They're constantly coming back, as I'm constantly putting thoughts, attitudes, actions and words "out there." This is how I see we create the world around us. I've an idea it's just a peephole view of the beginning. It surely involves the world of spirit, where, it seems, everything happens first. It is said that art precedes life by fifty years. I've been aware of art for fifty years, can see it in history and in our collective development. First example to come to mind, it was in the Sixties that I discovered the theater of the Absurd that had been going on since the Fifties and Forties. Half a century later, take a look around. Absurd is the nature of our society. Like WB Yeats wrote a century ago, The center does not hold. May not be the exact words, but it's the meaning as I understand it. Balance I want to find for myself. While it looks like mayhem all around, I keep my center, the place just below the navel, the center of balance, and stay upright. It's all I know to do. 

uncle remus



  1. TJ - This post was a great way to start my day - with a big smile on my face. I love that we share a connection with rocks (and Hawks). When you wrote, " called me home: oh boy, a rock. It was like seeing a red-tail fly in front of my windshield." I knew that feeling and it made me light up on the inside. Sounds like Balance is your word for 2015! I've used that word for years and it has worked great. This year I am using the word InterPlay :) It's also on my "list" to meet you in 2015! Hugs- Christine

    1. Christine, yeah, you know the feeling. I've got balance writ in stone. Some time ago, I turned onto my road on the way home from someplace. A red-tail flew above my hood for maybe a tenth of a mile, looking back at me over one shoulder, then the other, back and forth. It felt like a truly blessed moment. A crow did the same one day, too.