I'm needing a break from watching tv sports every weekend. I do not care anything about any of it. I get together with friends to watch the race, football, basketball, baseball, golf and commercials, hundreds of commercials. It's wearing me out. The last few weeks I sat with head in hands asking, what I'm doing to myself? Why? The why is to see friends who work all week and this is our only chance to get together. Still, I need a break, a weekend or two without television. Justin wanted me to go to Daytona with him, ten hours one way, a few hundred dollars, to see the race when race season starts. No. Why not? You need to ask? I can't ride on interstate for twenty hours, eat at Waffle Houses, stay in a cheap (expensive) motel, and listen to heavy metal satellite radio for twenty hours. Three days of not feeding the donkeys, not feeding Caterpillar, not writing and not having any solitary time. Not my trip. I've been to a race. One was enough. It's a great experience, but I don't need multiples. The race is better on tv. It's best when I stay at home and don't see it at all. I'm worn out by the repetition. I'm happy with the human company, but gaping at Propaganda Central becomes ridiculous, watching men in suits chatter so hysterically it sounds like they're sinking in quicksand, talking fast as their jaws can flap to get it all said before going under. They talk like at a cocktail party, as fast as possible, saying nothing in a continuous string of words spoken like people talk on commercials, attempting frantically to convince me to buy something I care nothing about. All tv sports are better on mute. They're boring silent too. How many times do I have to be astounded that somebody caught a ball somebody else threw? I look at the crowd and imagine the horror of a massive parking lot, thousands of people I don't know spending big money on buckets of sugar drinks, bags and boxes of hyper-salted snacks. incredibly expensive tickets to get in. I look around at the people, who are largely working class, and think, Where did you get all this money? Credit card.
Saturday, I started the day off believing I had the whole day at home, Sunday the day we get together to watch the games. I was relaxed into the day when the phone rang around noon saying the games they wanted to watch were playing Saturday. My spirit dropped to the floor like a chalk outline around a dead body that's been removed. Saturday gone. I'll have Sunday to myself, to sleep off Saturday. I like being with Justin, Melvin, Crystal, Vada and Cheyanne. They're the people I feel at home with. The repetition for so many years is wearing me out. It's time to take a break of a weekend or two. I like to go to a Primitive Baptist church meeting sometimes, but had to stop. I like to drop in when I feel like it, hear some good singing and good preaching. I've done it enough that I became familiar, expected to attend more regularly. Can't do that. Too Patriarchal. I'm not getting mixed up with a bunch of men of adamantine minds who watch False News and listen to Rush Limbaugh during the week. I do not willfully put myself into that kind of company where I'm expected to interact. When they find out I'm a liberal, I'm out anyway. So why start something I know in advance will come to a dead end? I believe I will take next weekend off, stay home, look out the window at the birds and the donkeys, read, write and advance an art project. I drank some coffee late to keep my head from nodding off. If I didn't have to drive, I'd have got drunk. I wanted to put on a cd of some hard core punk and have a good jam. We'd go to the mancave before half time and stay there listening to the game on the radio. When they went back upstairs, I stayed in the mancave long enough to recharge my interior battery in temporary solitude, to visualize art projects, to remind self to be here now, stop feeling like I'm wasting time I could be writing, reading, and having a nap. It's the repetition that's wearing me down.
Driving up the mountain, I was planning my dive onto the bed. Walk in the door, empty my pockets, take off coat and shoes, fall onto the bed and be still. I walked in the door around 12:30 and woke up. Opened the laptop and brought up the blank page. I started writing like horses held back by the starting gate, charging forward when the gates opened. I felt like I'd been under water and came up for air. I thought I'd write a few hours, now that I'm wide awake. Got a flow going, heated some water, made a cup of Twining's Chai tea. I felt like I'd been held back for eight hours from doing the only thing I wanted to do, write to you. Like a rubber band pulled back, I sailed into the writing groove right away. The one cup of tea kept me going all night. I like writing in the night best of all. It's a time of psychic peace with most of the people in the time zone sleeping. It's the time of dreams. By 5:30, I was wound up, awake, ready to start something else. It was like I'd slept all day til midnight and lived my day in the night. When I say it held me back like backing up water into a lake, I don't mean it held me back with regret. Not at all. It was my social time in the week with friends. Switching Sunday to Saturday made me a bit wobbly on my track. It must be one of many infirmities that go with a certain age. I map out the day in the morning, not in detail, but whether or not I have to go to town that day, whether or not I have an appointment that day. Saturday morning, I saw a day of staying at home, a long nap, Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors arrived in the morning's mail. Had not seen it in too many years, had been thinking about it, so I ran it to the top of my queue a few days ago. It is my favorite of his films and among my top favorite films. I was looking forward to sitting back with Caterpillar on my lap to enjoy a film I know in advance I love. I'm fluid enough that I can easily wait until Sunday to see the film. I was ready to see it and, *poof,* it went away. Only slightly disorienting, but disorienting nonetheless.
I don't think it's age that makes it disorienting. I've slowed down so appreciably that I've found my flow. I've been able to slow down to my flow's speed by separating self from the higher speed flow of money making. Thank you, FDR, for Social Security. I am able to live at the rate of my own flow, supine in my canoe. Talking with my friend Carole this morning, I spoke of how this place I'd never heard of, knew no more about than I knew about the mountains of southern France, became my home for the second half of my life. She is of the same experience in her own way. I came to a blank slate. She did too. Our experiences getting here were entirely different, and experiences living here are entirely different, as well. There was never a premonition nor desire to live on a back road in the Blue Ridge. It was never even a thought. My parachute landed me here where God flung me like a seed. I now recall a prayer about a year before arriving in the mountains, when I learned to satisfaction that God is, to put me in a very different culture where English is spoken. I took mountain culture to be the answer to my prayer. I regarded everyone I from the first days as gifts from God. I still see the mountain people gifts from God. There have been days I did not, but those times come and go. And it's not a love-hate relationship. I love the mountain people. Some I like better than others, but that goes with living in this world. I'm grateful every day that I found my Walden Pond, the Donkey Meadow. It has been very difficult along the way in many ways. At the same time, it has been joyous. The people of the mountains taught me how to know people. The people of the mountains taught me so much, and continue to that I can't even think about corralling it and saying this is it. What I've learned has become who I am. In the second year here a guy from Raleigh told me it's good I came to the mountains with education, I can teach civilization to the ignorant mountain people. I'd already lived here a year and knew his assessment to be the ignorant part. I said, "I didn't come here to teach. I came here to learn." The old Air Bellows school house has been my home since day one.
peter halley himself