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Saturday, March 21, 2015

DETACHED WITHOUT IGNORING

etel adnan

Spring is here, on the calendar and in the air. The grass is greening in the donkey meadow. They graze hay part of the day and the fresh green shoots the other part, roaming slowly, heads to the ground. It must be like eating strawberries after a winter of stale bread. I will go on giving them hay while the new grass is growing. The grass has no fiber in it yet. The donkeys will need the fiber of the hay until the grass grows up a ways. I learned this from old man Tom Pruitt working with cows. May have more hay than needed. Don't want any left over. I want to give them all fresh hay next year. I'll see about getting a first-cutting of the hay this time. It will cost more than the second-cutting, but will be worth it. It won't have so many sticks and stickers, stalks and stems. The donkeys like that part. They eat the stalks and stems. I grow weary of nettle splinters in fingers and thumbs from tearing the hay apart to fluff it up for them. Jenny doesn't like for me to wear gloves. The tips break off too deep inside the skin to pry out with a needle. Somebody told me to put a spot of iodine on it daily and the splinter will rise to the surface after several days. She got it from her grandpa. It took a week. In the summer I'll miss taking hay to the donkeys every day. Thinking about taking a folding chair into the meadow this summer to sit in and read, maybe under the dogwood tree, to be present with them in the meadow. They will graze nearby for awhile, and gradually graze about the meadow as usual. I can no longer go sit by the creek in the woods and watch the trout and minnows swim anymore. It's depressing to sit and watch the water, knowing it is poison to life forms. It is symbolic of so much that mountain spring water no longer sustains life. I can go sit in the meadow with the donkeys for the same relaxing focus of attention I found watching the water and the fish before. 

etel adnan

Talking with someone last week, she said it's depressing to look at things the way they are, and asked how I can be happy and still see things the way they are. All I could say was, deal with it. It's not easy for me to live in a country where at least half the population wants fascism. Yet, there is the other half that does not, my half. Where I live it's more like seventy-five percent and twenty-five percent. I don't care about the percentage. I don't even prefer the people of my quarter of the population. I do not care about the politics of anyone I know. A few from both sides are aggressive with their belief systems. I stay away from them, seeing the people who need to advertise their beliefs to be living commercials and little more, another word for missionaries. The church I grew up in taught me to believe I must persuade others to my belief system, which I could not do. Even in childhood I knew other people had their own ways of seeing for their own reasons. Who am I to be telling somebody else my belief system is right and theirs is wrong? I didn't even know what my belief system was, except what I was told it was supposed to be. Who was I to say the Baptist religion was right and the Catholic wrong? Just because I went to one against my will? Among the great benefits to my own mental health was learning to let go of thinking my product was better than anybody else's. I learned in school that I was not the fastest runner, did not make the best grades, didn't care about being a jock, was not and would never be popular  I've learned grown up I am not the one with the fastest, most retentive mind of people I know. I don't read fast. Care nothing for competition of any sort. In fact, have come to reject competition. When I catch self wanting to do something better than somebody else, I ask, Why? That's the end of it. I'm no fun to play games with for caring so little about winning.

etel adnan

I went to my thirtieth class reunion fifteen years ago at the College of Charleston. Everybody was lawyers, judges, doctors, politicians, professors, some in tailored tuxedos, and I was a house painter. In school, nobody wanted to be like their parents. At the reunion, I felt like I was among the parents of the people I went to school with. They were way beyond me in status, income, education. I didn't care. This was not my world. People I crossed paths with for a time. They were looking for success and found it. I was looking for success, too, and found it. My success was in my inner self, consciousness, my attitude toward life. If we'd dressed according to my idea of success, they'd have been a rough looking bunch, as rough looking as I was in the party to their success. I'd become acclimatized to the mountains and this was summer in Charleston. I wore a sport coat, and sweat so bad my shirt was soaked and the jacket was wet. I took napkins from the drinks table, one after the other, mopping the sweat off my face. I felt like a donkey in a herd of horses. Glad I did not turn out like them. Didn't want to then either. It was like they went to the College for job training, to get into medical school or law school. I went to the College for my life. I knew I knew nothing and wanted to learn something. I wanted to go on learning. I wanted to learn about life on earth, how best to live it in ways that are real instead of artificial, to face my life face-on and live as who I am, not what I'm expected to be, not what society looks up to, not what anybody looks up to. I came to the mountains with the last lines of WB Yeats' poem, Among School Children, in my mind, to start where all ladders start, in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

etel adnan

I was grateful when my parachute landed me among the Pruitts, people of no social status, people who worked hard and lived hard, good people content being who they are. Raising cattle to become fast-food burgers seemed a waste, yet valid as work in service to humanity. I felt like house painting was valid work in that the only waste it left was empty paint cans and already discarded rags. It amounted to maintaining what is already here, instead of adding to what we already have too much of. I loved about interiors that paint can make the walls, ceiling and floor in a room of the most modest house look as good as a Manhattan uptown interior. The four walls and ceiling make an empty canvas to add color to, create a space using color. The most beautiful my house has ever been was when it was empty before I moved in. Justin and Crystal bought a modest house with all white walls inside. She painted the rooms different colors, light, beautiful colors. The vibe in the house felt good before, and by now the vibe is remarkably higher. My heart is with the working people. I seldom made more than minimum wage and didn't want more. I wanted to live simply among people who worked hard for little return. It means I live as a reader in a world of people who do not read. It's the same among the professional class. So what's the difference? In one class the people look down their noses at the working class, feeling themselves high up. People on the ground look small from up the ladder. Samuel Beckett's story, The Lost Ones, comes to mind often as a vision of civilization in our time. It plays on the inside of my skull in front fairly often, on the inner drive-in movie screen where I see my thoughts. It seems depressing to share a vision of the world with Beckett, though I deal with it by finding it good practice in detachment, being a passive observer.

etel adnan, herself


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