Thursday, March 01, 2007

Exploring the Infinite Abyss

Holy cow, it's been a long time. One of the downsides to buying a house in the country is that good internet service just doesn't exist out here.

Things I've done since the last post:
Wife's preggers, family work, tree work, yard work, house work, car work, two jobs (but I'm in the process of getting a new one), took a Caribbean cruise (which I'm parly ashamed to admit), got a story idea, developed a sort of outline for it, and finally got an opening for it. I am not going to pretend to be a writer or that I want to be one, but I'm going to try it this once. It's about exploring the infinite abyss and being a light in the darkness similar to the way we can be a pocket of warmth in the cold.

I saw my brother for the first time in about 6 months last week. He left the Air Force and came home for a while last summer, but then he joined the Army. He's been in training since then. He got to come home for about a week and a half to visit and take care of some things before he left. His flight took off this morning for Germany, and we didn't get the chance to say goodbye. It's kind of cool that he's going, though, because we were stationed there with Dad as kids, and now he gets to go back. It'll also give me an excuse to go back. But at the same time, it sucks because we have been doing really well at healing the old wounds from childhood. We really didn't get along at all when we were younger, but for the last few years we've been slowly but surely improving our relationship as the chances permitted with his military life. We spent a couple of evenings this week going through our old toys (the ones that Mom couldn't bring herself to get rid of) to decide what to keep and what to let go of. We hadn't seen a lot of those toys in close to 20 years. I was amazed to find out some of the things I did and didn't remember. Until then I thought I had a relatively complete recollection of my childhood, the influences on my adulthood. Boy, was I wrong, especially in the sense that I've felt detached from my younger self. Recently, I've been thinking that my childhood hadn't had a lot of influence on who I've become. I thought that the person I am now had been shaped more by relatively recent events than what I was doing and receiving back then. Going through all of those boxes with Justin showed me just how much influence I did get from back then.

You have to watch out for those things you forget. Sometimes we're not lucky enough to have a good reminder such as a few boxes of old toys.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hanging crimes

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older
than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo, and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

--Langston Hughes

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this
wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
Nobody started it, and nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
As long as it talks, I am going to listen.

--Thomas Merton

I am just about to finish a book called Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Dan gave it to me as a birthday present, and I haven't been able to stop reading it.

I also acquired Syriana recently, which is a very important work in itself. But I was watching one of the deleted scenes (that I think should have been left in the movie), and part of the conversation really caught me.

Bob is a CIA field operative who is coming to the end of his career due to changes in the poligtical climate. He just recently started working at a desk job within the agency. Fred is a slightly higher-up, asking Bob how he's finding his new job.

Fred: What do you think intelligence work is, Bob?

Bob: I think it's 2 people in a room, and one is asking a favor that's a capital crime in every country on Earth--a hanging crime.

Fred: No, Bob. It's assessing the information gathered from that favor and balancing it against all the other information from all the other favors.

Sometimes I'm afraid I miss the big picture like Bob did. As a matter of fact, I'm sure I do miss it more often than I'd like to admit. ...Hmm...yet something else I need to work on.

Roger and out.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Incendiary Device

For those of you keeping up with the world news lately, one of the biggest stories has been Roethlesberger's motorcycle accident. In my mind, there are several things wrong with that. First of all, he was breaking two laws when he had the accident: 1) he had no motorcycle license, only an expired learner permit, and 2) he wasn't wearing a helmet, which in itself is stupid. And he's only getting a slap on the wrist for it. Second, people were more worried about how well he would be able to play after something like that rather than about his well-being. That's kind of reminiscent of when Stephen King was run over by a van. People then were more worried about the next installment of the Dark Tower than they were about him. And finally, the lady who turned in front of Mr. Roethlesberger, who is reportedly 62 years of age, has been receiving threatening phone calls from angry Steelers fans. At the risk of being stereotypical/judgemental, these are probably the same people who stand by while crooked politicians and big oil try to rape the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, who watch apathetically while our President tries to deny that our global climate is changing and refuses to do anything about it (and, in fact, is doing many things to exacerbate the problem), and who contribute to the waste of our society. I guess they feel better threatening an elderly lady for something any one of them could have done for a stupid game rather than try to make the world a better place.

And now, with my judgement for the day passed, I'd like to share a couple of other things.

...So, friends, every day do something that won't compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed. Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion--put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satsified to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth? Go with your love to the fields. Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.

--Wendell Berry

While I don't agree with everything Professor Berry says in a literal sense, there are some very important and worthy ideas in this message. Have another look, if you need to.

And now I take my leave to go mad with fever and slowly fill the world with my mucus.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Old Dan Tucker

Three things:

1) I'm outta school! Woo-freakin'-hoo! Now I just need that million-dollar job and for them to quit screwing with me.

2) Got Bruce Springsteen's new one, The Seeger Sessions. The first song is "Old Dan Tucker." Holy cow, I used to sing that one in elementary school and haven't heard it since. The Boss done good.

3) I was reminded of a valuable lesson today by Zachary while I was trying to teach him something. I was trying to teach him (a 4-yr-old boy, mind you) to climb on things at the park to try to take a different point of view and have some unexpected experiences, so I climbed a sycamore overhanging the slightly swolen East Fork of the Whitewater River and sat down, knowing that he would want to follow me. He followed as expected. We sat and watched the world for a while, and he threw some small pieces of bark in the water. Then he asked me why the tree grew that way. I gave him an honest and plausible answer--that there had probably been another larger tree near it, so it grew that way to get out of the shade and into the sun. Then he said, quite earnestly, "Daddy, I think maybe it grew this way so that we could climb up here and sit on it to look at the water." I was slightly taken aback and felt somewhat foolish for not having thought of that myself. But I responded that he just might be right. Maybe it did. Maybe it was an indirect result, and maybe it didn't happen for him and me, specifically, but maybe it did grow that way in some attempt to help people relax and broaden their minds. Maybe it did grow that way to help us reconnect ourselves with the natural world. Maybe it did grow that way to better the day of a small boy and his parents. Who's to say it didn't?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Zachary and Daddy being monkeys

We've been slowly purging and reorganizing our apartment the last couple of months. One of the things that is taking a lot of time is that we have taken A LOT of pictures in the last year or two, and have been somewhat dilatory in labeling and archiving them. So, we've been trying to remedy that.

Most of the pictures we take have something to do with our family and after I'd been labeling for a while, I noticed that our captions were centered around Zachary. They read as though they were written from his point of view. For example, the names of some of the people involved are Bill, Kay, Denny, and Joy. However, in the captions, they're always Grandma and Papaw Weber, or Grandma and Grandpa Fletter. Then I noticed that it's not just the pictures--the rest of our lives are centered around him. I always knew this was the way it would be. It just struck me a little differently when I was looking at and labeling all those photos.

And that's the way it should be.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Live life the best you can

I just wanted to share another quote that I like a lot.

When is a Man Educated?

When he can look out upon the universe, now lucid and lovely, now dark and terrible, with a sense of his own littleness in the great scheme of things, and yet have faith and courage. When he knows how to make friends and keep them, and above all, when he can keep friends with himself.

When he can be happy alone and high-minded amid the drudgeries of life. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something besides mud, and into the face of the most forlorn mortal and see something divine.

When he knows how to live, how to love, how to hope, how to pray--is glad to live...and has in his heart a bit of a song.

-Joseph Fort Newton
I am definitely a proponent of keeping an open mind and trying to understand others. I try to live the best I can and empathize, regardless of race, religion, culture, etc. And the Golden Rule should be changed to "Do unto others as they would have done unto them." We can all get along.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Aqui vive una familia que cambio una selva de cemento por una bosque de esperanza

Yesterday when I got home from work, the radio made a point of telling me that the snow that had been forecasted wasn't going to arrive today. It didn't just omit the snow from the forecast. The voice told me that the snow was removed from the forecast. Some meteorologist is in trouble today.

Our blinds are behind the plastic that I've put over the windows, so I couldn't immediately look outside upon waking this morning. It was a real surprise when Zach yelled, "Mommy! Daddy! Look! It's snowing outside!" when he looked out the patio door on his way to the breakfast table. We had a nice film of snow, and it was still falling at a decent rate. All through breakfast I alternated between watching the snow (and the stray cats playing in it) and watching the look on Zach's face ("Somebody has to get my boots out for me!"). Every year I wait for winter, and the tension broke this morning. I'm one of those cold-weather maniacs that hopes for more snow and temperatures with wind chills. I love to be my own packet of warmth walking by myself on a winter morning or evening. I love the feeling of holding a hot cup of tea, and I love warming up under the blankets with my wife. I actually love the difficulty of getting out from under those same blankets about a half hour after the alarm has gone off in the morning, too. I must be insane.

I wanted to ride my bike to work this morning. Even when I saw the snow, I decided I wasn't going to let that stop me, so I pedaled the half hour through the heavy wet snow curtain on the slushy bike trail. By the time I arrived, I was soaked with the slightly brown-tinted slush, and my legs and face were numb. But I had the dim gray morning to myself, and I felt like I'd accomplished something. And I hadn't given in to the (very brief) temptation to drive. I'd done something that nobody else had done--at least by that time--for there were no other tracks on the trail and only two broken bikes in the bike rack. I looked like hell and it's still shockingly cold every time I sit down with these wet pants on, but I feel good.

When you're trying to make a difference in the world, it's nice to have people around who feel the same way you do. I don't really have that around here (aside from my wonderful wife), but I've got another book for inspiration now. It's about a village in Colombia, South America that was founded with principles of sustainable living at its core. In an area where cocaine producers, guerrillas, and the government army continuously fight and kill each other (and innocent people), Gaviotas is free of crime and weapons. They have a good life, finding ways to live in balance with their environment. They've had some tough times, too, but they didn't give up. Students from the national university are required to do a year of rural service. Many of them go to Gaviotas to meet that requirement, and many of those end up staying permanently. The village has been established for about thirty years, now. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere. They're serving as a model for the rest of us to follow, and they should be getting more attention.

or read Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman

One of the families that lives there was from Bogota. They have a sign outside their home that reads:
Aqui vive una familia que cambio una selva de cemento por una bosque de esperanza.

It means, "Here lives a family that traded a cement jungle for a forest of hope." I want to be able to put up a sign like that in a place similar to Gaviotas some day. We can't say that we traded a cement jungle, exactly, but it'll be similar.

That's my hope.

Merry Thanksgivoween!