Archive for December, 2018

A Peaceful Day

December 28, 2018

W.Ex.#22 12.27.2018

I had a topic in mind earlier today, and, I have lost it. My mind is empty. Nothing pushing to get to the surface (consciousness).

,So, with nothing to write about, I am writing anyway. I have been spending the day with Michael. Magical Michael as he is professionally known. Yes, he is a stage magician and a musician. Also a retired teacher. Michael and I met forty, fifty years ago, I hired him to teach in a school I had founded in Guerneville, California. I had tried to send my daughter Tiffiny to the local public school, but gave it up after her first three days were a disaster. She was treated badly as a ‘hippy kid’ by her teacher and I wouldn’t subject her to that treatment. I initially hired a “governess” who lived with us but when our friends found out that we had both a teacher and a school room, we soon had twenty children. Over time this developed into twelve additional schools with over 275 children K through 12. Michael came onboard about a year after the founding. He was wonderful with the kids. Soft and loving. And just to note, many of the kids came from very disorganized hippy homes where drugs and poverty were not conducive to their literacy. They learned with us. I had chosen a Summerhill model and it functioned for us and kids who hadn’t had a chance in hell, learned to read and to love learning. My eldest daughter just received her Masters degree, Magna Cum Laude. I am so proud. But, it proved my point kids who were loved could learn and they did, despite their chaotic homes. To be real, most of the kids were from hippy families who loved them and took very good care to raise them in love and give them many learning opportunities. We were a central California Hippy community. We taught our kids values. Values like loving, compassion, honesty, fair play, love of learning, freedom. Freedom of thought. and so forth. Ultimately, love and attention is what kids need to grow into responsible and functional adults. The technical studies can come later. Once they know that they are loved and are able to learn, the rest follows at their beckoning. So spending the day with Michael has been laid back, peaceful because that’s the way Michael is.

After the ‘No Christmas Christmas’

December 26, 2018

W.Ex.#21.  12.25.18

In the afterglow of an unusually spirited Christmas day. I am satiated and a bit overwhelmed by the movements in the day. First, we saw an intensely emotional movie. “If Beale Street Could Talk” by James Baldwin. It left us all breathless with it’s, beauty, cinematography, acting, story, all of it. Left us all taken with the authenticity and the myriad resonances in our own individual souls. Then home and drinking and smoking and laughing and getting deeper and deeper (in the spirit of the party, if not in the spirit of who we were and were willing to go.) into close to the center, and finally settling down into an issue, close to, but NOT the center, of who we all were. Two of us, our better halves, went deep, deep into it. My son and I sort of listened at a distance. Then it was over, good byes and hugs, and then the debriefing. It went as it always does, and One of us prevailing in a negative view, and the other settling into the positive take; “hey, it is alright.” ((And that is what is on now by Van Morrison, “She’s Alright, She’s Alright”. a Little Synchronicity!))

And now, I am alone. The Christmas that wasn’t, is over. And once again, I am looking into the face of death. Of Meaningless, Of nothingness. And, once again, it is okay, it is what it is, and it will never be any more or any less. I am here. I am what is. I have all there is, now, and I am all that is, now. No guarantee’s. for tomorrow.  For tonight, it is enough. Merry Christmas all.

No Christmas

December 25, 2018

Wtg.Ex.#20. 12.24.2018

It’s a cold gray day. The day before Christmas 2018. The paper says it could rain on Christmas. I care not. I haven’t cared in over twenty years. My children have grown up and my grandkids are grown as well. I live in the middle of Jewish L.A. with a Jewish wife, and, hell, I converted and even light Chanukah candles. So, we need the rain. I even like rain, and will no doubt get naked and into our outdoor hot-tub once it starts. Sounds like fun? I will enjoy the experience. Still I am missing the celebratory days of family life. Holiday food, (oysters, pickled herring, olives, candies, fruitcakes, roast turkey and its’ delicious smells all over the house and of course a tree, lights and presents. I am approaching my eightieth year and it’s been a long time, but I remember the good times and I miss them. My wife is not at all into Christmas nor any of its trappings. She doesn’t like and doesn’t want to hear Christmas music. She doesn’t like sugar in any form and holiday foods are forbidden in our house along with anything that might announce Christmas to friends, neighbors, or worse, her patients. It’s not like she is into Chanukah either, cause she’s not. (She does like the Chanukiah that I built for her and she likes the light that it produces when festooned with its’ candles. Other than that, we do not do celebration in this house. No celebrations of anything, birthdays, national holidays, nothing. I feel this and all the more so on a cold gray day. We have a lovely fireplace in the living room. One which Nancy and I designed after the old one fell down. I am proud of it. It is gas lit and produces nice heat without smoke and the flames are always beautiful to watch. An activity which I have to enjoy by myself as Nancy is not into it either. (My cat however loves to sit in my lap in front of it, but then she loves to sit in my lap no matter where I am, fireplace, tv, study, doesn’t matter, she finds me and moves right in. This I have to say is the most intimacy that I get. Nancy is not a fan of intimacy. She likes for me to sit next to her on the couch when we watch tv at night, but it is just sitting, no talking and not a bit of fooling around. She will cuddle once we are in bed, cuddle, but no touching. So, my cat. My cat is my only succor in this house. I am glad for her and still I miss human contact. I miss Christmas. I miss celebrating. Okay. I can handle it. I chose it and I can always change it. I won’t though. I made a commitment, took vows and have benefitted in a very many ways. Getting what I want in the way of emotional salve, isn’t one of them. Oh well. Merry Christmas.

It’s been a while. Now it is useful to comeback.

December 14, 2018

Wrt.Ex.#19   12.12.18

I have heard it said…by an unnamed advisor,

“You don’t have anything to write? Write anyway.” Today I find myself without anything to write. I didn’t have anything yesterday, and I wrote anyway. Today, the same. So, what it is about the way my mind works, when I am fallow, I am most discouraged, and will undertake fools’ errands such as this? I cannot answer this. For a while I was gung-ho on writing my novel. I pushed through and finished the first draft (this consisted of an entirely new section, part II) and now, back to part I for the first pass at rewriting, and I am as stuck as I was for the two years, I dallied over part I the first time. Dallied? I wonder if that is the correct word, I think I mean actively avoided, shunned, looked away wincing. I know exactly when that began, I came upon a section which I decided was both necessary for the story and beyond my ability to write. It required knowledge I did not have. As soon as I declared that to be a fact, I started ‘sticking’ that’s like getting stuck. Now it may be that this so-called fact, is in fact, fiction. To be completely honest, I hadn’t even thought of researching the subject (until just now) and even now, thinking about it, I don’t have the slightest idea of where to start. Also, and this is probably the number one factor behind my stuckness, I have emotion. Painful emotion. Shame. Somewhere in me I must have a memory of being called upon to deliver some knowledge, knowledge which I didn’t have or couldn’t recall and felt shamed by my failure to produce. (“Must have” Are you kidding? Most certainly have.) So, I will do some research, and then if not satisfied that I can write the scene, I will change tacks and write something I know. Just stupid to let myself get so tangled up in old shame. I can change this. It’s my (w)right as a writer.  And to conclude this little essay, I did write when I had nothing to write and I learned something important about both my process and my novel. Thanks unnamed advisor.

(372 wds)

So what has happened that publishing the essay above, has become useful? Here is the context. Once I finished my 31day challenge and was firmly ensconced in writing my novel, I stopped publishing as I was self-motivated enought to keep up the daily wrtiting habit. And I did so until last week, when my wife and I went out of state to host one of her training seminars. I actually did write for the first three of the four days I was out, and once home for a day, got right back into it. However, I was writing around the edges so to speak and I knew and felt it. So, a decision, stop fighting to write the novel and pick up the writing exercises to restart my creative engine. It worked, the above is evidence, and I am back into my groove. I have decided to keep this  door to accountability open for a while longer at least until my Part I. re-write is complete.

There is also a third way it may serve me; the writing exercises, used as a bit of self discovery via introspection, can also serve my second book, HaOmahnut Shel Mussar as that is concerned with my weekly mussar/Torah effort. All good. Thanks everyone who reads and understands, especially if you choose to comment. Dr. Bob