UNEXPECTED KAVANAUGH REPERCUSSION: Getting Over It

I’m certain I’ll offend some by stating this: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s apparent inability to leave a teen-aged affront in her dead past seems a sad testimony of how psychology fails to help people.  The fact she is a “doctor” should indicate some skill at healing,  but the only nursing involved seemed to be the nursing of a grudge.

We all have traumas in our past.  Some are worse than others. As a writer I used to hang around with other “sensitive artists”, and we could become absurdly competitive about which one of us had suffered the most. Then, in California in 1983, I met a Cambodian woman who had been through the nightmare of Pol Pot, and a further nightmare involving pirates, as a “boat person” escaping Indochina’s horror and fleeing to the United States, and, after hearing her tales, the worst traumas I had ever endured paled in comparison. I even felt a little sheepish about ever having called my pains “trauma”.

Yet traumas we have been through, both major and minor, are bound to effect us. This is only natural, for we learn through our experiences: “Once burned, twice shy.” Our successes are only the result of a great many failures. Even as I now write, these words are part of a rough draft I will later go over, and improve upon. It would be a sad thing if the rough draft could not be improved upon, and instead indicated “trauma” that would burden me for the rest of my life.

While I recognize Justice Kavanaugh strenuously asserts Dr. Ford’s recollection is a false memory, and that he never did what she “remembers”, I’ll mention that even if he was guilty of inappropriate groping as a teenager (and many of us were) it should not be held against him for the rest of his life. Nor should Dr. Ford be permanently scarred by the discomfort of unwelcome advances. Considering the society of that time tended to mock abstinence (AIDS didn’t become a major concern until later in the 1980’s), and considering adolescents are not known for a lack of social clumsiness, the goofs of youth should be expected, and forgiven, if not forgotten.

The question then becomes how we “get over” the traumas of our past.

The most natural thing to do is to forget about it. For example, as we learned to walk we experienced the trauma of losing our balance and sitting down hard. After a brief spell of bawling we forgot about it. The lesson was learned,  and became part of our “experience.” This natural process allows us to do many things without thinking. For example, there have been many times I’ve driven long distances with an engaging conversationalist, so engrossed in the conversation I hardly remember the drive at all. The simple fact I didn’t crash into anyone (or a tree) demonstrates that my learned “experience” was able to do the driving, even as my consciousness was elsewhere. In this example the action of driving was “unconscious.”

Psychologists ask the question, “What is driving you?” There is the assumption that our past traumas make up our current identity. The reason that we turn left or turn right in life is that we are avoiding past pains. (Some focus more on pleasure, as a motive, but pleasure can be seen as avoiding-pain.)

In spiritual terms the same dynamic can be seen as our frustrated or gratified desires. What are desires? Well, some things attract us and some things repel us, due to “impressions” we gather. Some things impress us positively and some things impress us negatively. (There is actually a word for these impressions: “Sanskaras.” A sanskara is a sort of sub-sub-atomic particle of mind, and collected sanskaras make up sub-atomic particles of energy, which make up material atoms.)

Because psychologists have an awareness we are “driven” by things that we don’t even think about, they have a tendency to root about in the backs of our minds, seeking what motivates us. Our subconscious mind is an interesting place to explore, but unfortunately some investigative psychologists are clumsy, even brutal, and often their efforts to “fix” us are not helpful.

For example, when a person is troubled, some psychologists simply zap the brain.  The idea is that the brain needs to forget, so electricity is used. Such psychologists like to justify their zapping by pointing at what they see as “positive results”, though they have no idea what they are doing. I have always felt that “electric shock therapy” is the equivalent of giving a malfunctioning TV a whack. If the picture improves it does not make the whacker an electrician, (and sometimes the whack breaks the TV).

Drugs are the same sort of thing. More harm than good has come of trying to deal with troubled people with pills, whether the “cure” is doctor-prescribed or self-medication,  although some forms of self-medication, (such as Churchill’s cigars), are not entirely ruinous. (After all, he was over ninety when he retired from politics.)

A third form of foolishness, which I myself was very involved with, involves rooting about in the past, when you should be facing the future by attending to the present. There were times I would have benefited more by simply going out and getting a job, but instead avoided getting a job by thinking deeply about the psychological roots of my dreads and desires (when my desire was to hide in my mother’s basement). In such cases I was seeking in the wrong direction; the cure lay out in the fresh air, but I stayed stuck, thinking the cure lay in “psychology.”

Psychology should free people who are stuck. A great irony is that some psychologists prosper by keeping people stuck on a sort of treadmill of problem-causing thought, because some psychologists stand to gain more by advising people to sign up for fifty-two psychological sessions than they would gain by advising the person to go get a job.

The greatest irony is when a psychologist does this to themselves. I am not saying Dr. Ford did this, but her peer-reviewed paper on self-hypnosis and creating false-memory does suggest the possibility of her being overly inward. (The expressed idea suggests that, if you are controlled by a real memory of a past trauma, you can escape that control by using self-hypnosis to create the new control of a false memory.) The danger of such inwardness is that, rather than going out into the fresh air and interacting with real people in reality, one stays stuck in the musty halls of academia, diddling with old ideas attempting to make something new out of fossils. Rather than the fresh outlooks of another’s view one instead is stuck with their same old mind’s same old views, and one reviews, and re-reviews, and re-re-reviews…

In my own life I called this becoming “ingrown”. I tended to fall prey to it because writers do withdraw a lot, and do look inward a lot. Also I often found other people’s minds very boring, even disgusting, and would want to run away and be a yogi on some mountaintop far away, in a beautiful landscape. However sitting around without the input of other minds gradually made me bored, even disgusted, with my own mind, as I became “ingrown.” Eventually I’d be driven to come down from the hills and rejoin the human race.

Not that I’ve ever completely conformed to the world’s boring ways. In some ways I am still as imaginative as I was in first grade. In first grade I always found “Show-and-Tell” tremendously dull, and would attempt to liven things up a bit with sheer balderdash, (which I suppose could be called an example of “False Memory Syndrome”).

When I was young school was a bore
And so I said, “A dinosaur
Came walking through my yard today.”

The time was “Show and Tell”. I told.
The teacher didn’t have to scold.
My neighbor coughed and scoffed, “He lied!
There was no dinosaur outside!”

“He lied! He lied!” The taunting burned.
“He lied! He lied!” The taunt returned
In midnight flames that made me mad.

So I went mad, and didn’t care.
From the blackboard’s deep despair
The window’s view would lure my eyes
To peek to see how moved my lies.

Did you know angel’s paint the skies?

                                                            (1973)

I wrote the above poem when I was twenty, and deeply involved with “getting in touch with my feelings” through men’s groups and sessions with psychologists. As I recall, I did a lot of weeping and wailing about how teachers abused me and tried to make me sensible, rather than appreciating that I was a sensitive poet.

What did this accomplish? Well, I certainly felt a lot better. Originally no one had wanted to read my poems, so I felt unheard,  but “therapy” let me feel heard.

(Of course, if I had paid people as much to read my poems as I paid the therapist, they might have read my poems. But I didn’t want to pay people, I wanted people to pay me, to read my poems).

In any case, once I felt better I was more likely to stop sulking, and more likely to go out into the world and begin interacting. That was what all the weeping and wailing was good for. It didn’t really accomplish anything, but it put me in the “mood” to accomplish something.

Of course, some therapists didn’t really approve of me feeling so much better, as it would lessen their income if I was “cured”, and some might therefore start saying things that lessened my confidence. When I objected they could then state my “hostility” towards them was a sign of “resistance”, and that more therapy was needed. When I objected further it was a sign of “denial”. The interactions became a sort of downward spiral, and by the time I told the psychologists to “shove it where the sun don’t shine” I stood accused of all sorts of “subconscious sabotage”, no longer felt all that good about myself, and was back to sulking.

Besides wasting a lot of time and money, psychology taught me a lot of jargon I could use to describe the inner workings of my poetic side, and also let me see “feelings” were something more than a sign I was immature wuss. “Feelings” were a sort of sixth sense, able to “feel out” situations, and grasp the “shape” things were in, before the intellect could even begin to find the words to describe the same situation.

In some ways that difference between “feelings” and intellect is the boundary between poetry and prose.  Poetry grapples with indistinct shapes, with gestalts and Jungian symbols, whereas prose is more scientific and precise. Poetry, at its finest, (for example in the case of Shakespeare), has an adroit capacity to comprehend the subconscious that puts an ordinary psychologist to shame. Poetry playfully toys with what psychologists struggle to grasp, and too often mishandle. Once I became aware of this psychology seemed far less interesting to me. To be honest, my psychological knowledge felt more like a ball and chain than like wings. I longed to dismiss it, but it lurked like a post-traumatic ghoul in the back of my mind.

At this point (age twenty-one) I had “got religion”, (though I was not affiliated with any church), and had renounced the hippy concept of free sex and free drugs. I became rabidly anti-drugs , and grimly prudish. I felt that the natural consequence of sex was a baby, and I therefore should not have sex unless I was prepared to support the mother and child.  I did not merely talk the talk, but walked the walk, and women seemed to sense they were “safe” with me. This resulted in situations I did not enjoy at all.

At that time I held the simplistic view that women sought three things in a man. They wanted financial security, sexual gratification, and the emotional sensitivity of heart-to-heart talks. As a writer I was dirt poor, which was strike one. My spiritual discipline made me avoid sexual gratification, which was strike two.  But my poetic understanding (and complimentary understanding of psychobabble), allowed me to have heart-to-heart talks. With certain women this hit a home-run, for though their husbands were rich and very good in bed, they had the sensitivity of brass knuckles, and their wives had a deep longing to talk about mushy stuff that made their husbands gag. They found me a wonderful adjunct to their lives.

I didn’t like it. I felt like a sort of effeminate hairdresser, a man women felt safe to be close to because he wasn’t as threatening as a vibrant and viral man. In fact at this point in my life various homosexual men (and I knew many, in the world of writers), informed me their “gaydar” told them I was “gay”. I told them I wasn’t, and told them (and a few women) that the one thing I could never understand about women is why on earth such beautiful bodies would want to lay down with something as unlovely as a man.

It was tiresome, but for the most part I could handle women who made me be a sort of adjunct to their marriages to other men. This was largely because these woman also had the sensitivity of brass knuckles, when it came to being the slightest bit sensitive to what men care about. Having heart-to-heart talks with such women made me aware they really weren’t all that attractive. They may have felt heard when we talked, but I felt increasingly unheard and increasingly lonely.

It was when my loneliness was at a crescendo that I met a married woman who could hear me.  It struck me as a most remarkable thing, to be heard, without having to pay the price a psychologist charges.

To cut a long story short, I fell in love with her, which spoiled everything. I couldn’t live up to the high standards of my spiritual discipline, and was fed up with being a hairdresser, but she didn’t want to be more than a friend. Emotionally, it was devastating.

When you had troubles I was there.
When I had troubles, what?
When I was in my direst need
I found your doors were shut.
                                                           1980

Unrequited love is not a healthy situation to remain in, when your constitution cannot withstand it, so I hit the road and never returned.

Was this a trauma? Yes. Did the memory pursue me even as I ran away? Yes. Did it haunt me? Yes. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford does not have a monopoly on the trauma of heartache.

What’s more, whereas Dr. Ford claims she was grievously wounded by a man trying to have his way with her, I assert a man can be just as grievously wounded when he doesn’t have his way. Many women have the sensitivity of brass knuckles, when it comes to unrequited love.

But one more question should be asked: Did I get over it? Yes.

        AX-MAN’S SONG

Ask me why I’ve dropped my ax
And wear the fondest smile.
Ask me why the wood’s unsplit
For just a little while.

I now recall a girl I knew
Who had such lovely ways
That it is like I’m wrapped in warmth
Recalling her these days;
But when we split my mood was dark
For she was not for me
And if there’d been a clipper ship
I would have gone to sea.

Like Frenchmen in their legions far,
Far from friendly homes
I’ve known the skies that lack a star
To guide the man who roams.
Where some may slay a dragon’s wrath
And hope to win the fair
I had no hope; the foe I fought
Was my complete despair.

Without the path that leads one home
Or guiding star above
My only hope in hopelessness
Was, “God made life for love.”
Even though I couldn’t see
Examples this was true,
And wandered on without a dawn
Or midnight moonlight-blue,
And even though I saw all hope
As something of a sham
Like salmon to the springs of birth
My dreaming spirit swam,
And there, by clearest water’s spring,
I saw, when I began,
I had no dreams or hopes on earth.
I simply was a man.

I saw my hope of ownership
Had blinded me to light,
And that to lose that single hope
Had closed the lids of night.
Then, opening my eyes, I saw
Past greed and past desire,
And saw what’s true and beautiful
One always will admire.

Unplucked or picked, the rose must wilt
But beauty it revealed
Will ever be, unless my lids
Know sleep, and all’s concealed.
And that is why my face is softened
With this dreamy smile
Musing on the ways that were
For just a little while.
                                              1986

The ability to smile about something that once made you grimace is a sign you have “gotten over it.”  It involves more than merely erasing a memory, or repressing it. It involves digesting and assimilating experience, and moving from innocence to maturity.

This still doesn’t answer the question, “How does it happen?” The simple answer is to say, “I don’t know how it happens; it just happens.” It is like a cut on your finger. We do not really know how it heals; it just heals.

The confidence that a wound will heal, given time, goes a long way towards relieving the pain, because for many the pain involves a lot of baseless worry that they are forever maimed when they aren’t, especially when they feel worse than they have ever felt before. This confidence is also called “faith”, and even atheist doctors know how important faith can be in the healing process.

But simple answers aren’t enough for me; I’m like a doctor who isn’t satisfied with the knowledge a cut will heal, and who wants to know more about the process, and if there is any way to speed the process. Therefore I am always poking about in my past, and listening to the stories others tell, looking for clues concerning how people “get over” heartaches.  If you are at all inquisitive you can learn surprising things about the most dull-seeming people, and the adversity they have overcome, if you only ask.

Hearing the testimony of people who have survived what you are going through seems important, though it may be the last thing a suffering person wants to hear. When you have just hit your thumb with a hammer it does you little good to hear another say, “I did that once.” It can even make you mad. You are hurting and they aren’t, and you don’t want to hear about how they don’t hurt. That’s flipping obvious, because it your thumb that just got crunched; not theirs. There are times it is wisest for onlookers to simply keep quiet and do nothing, (unless they happen to have some Novocaine handy.)

Just as one may hop about for a while after hitting their thumb, there seems to be a sort of emotional equivalent. To a degree people need to rave, or have a good cry, or shiver with fright, as their emotions “feel out” what they have been through. I suppose at this point it is best for onlookers to reserve judgement, and just sympathetically listen.

Then, just as a day later one may gingerly flex and touch their sore thumb to see how the process of healing is proceeding, people seem to have a need to revive a past trauma. This can get boring, if you have already heard the sad tale thirty-six times, and I suppose one can be forgiven if one stops reserving judgement, at this point. It is at this point your testimony is more likely to be heard, if not accepted and assimilated.

Recently I’ve been going through old notebooks dating from my time as a drifter, looking for times I showed signs of maturing a little. I want to write a book about those times, but don’t want it to be a depressing collection of gripes, for, although those were hard times, I learned a lot, and I now smile, recalling my hardships. I didn’t smile so much back then, for I had no idea better days lay ahead, but one reason the future held better days was because I was well taught by the School Of Hard Knocks.  I have a feeling that, if I was able to testify about how I was taught, the tales might be eagerly read by youth in similar situations today, and they might gain some sort of uplift.

Back then I often camped during the summer, either where there was no fee, or at campgrounds where the fee was small, and one spring, after I moved out to a campground, I saw a spell of terrible luck give way to a period of such beneficence that I looked up at the sky and just said, “Thank You.” It was as if I was being rewarded for getting through the winter.

My routine was simple. If I couldn’t find day-labor I would return to the campground and write, chain-smoking and sipping coffee mixed with thick, powdered milk (which enabled me to avoid the bother of eating), deeply engrossed in my thoughts. For some reason many seemed to find the sight of a man chain-smoking at a typewriter at a picnic table irresistible, and they’d come strolling over and attempt to start a conversation. I usually found them a distraction, and I wasn’t very welcoming.

Often they would ask, “What are you writing?”

I might gruffly reply, “That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

While this did end their nosy interest in my writing, many refused to be discouraged. They would laugh and sit down and change the subject to the weather, or the advantages of their camper over my pup tent, and with a sigh I’d light another cigarette and sit back to see what God had brought to my table.

On a couple of occasions I was somewhat startled by the sequences of fascinating people who appeared out of the blue, day after day. It seemed so contrived that I again glanced up to the sky. If I ever get around to writing a book people will think I am making it all up, especially when it was a sequence of truly kind people, after a winter without many crumbs of kindness in sight.

For now I’ll just describe one kind person, a woman who in some ways uplifted my attitude permanently.

I was not all that happy to see her approaching my table out of the corner of my eye, and tried to look very busy and focused on the page. It was a day I had devoted to writing, after making some decent money (for a bum) with day-labor the day before, and it furthermore was the time of day when I usually did my best writing; mid-morning, when the campground quieted down after many left, and before the day grew hot and the desert winds grew gusty and flapped my papers about. As she arrived at the picnic table she asked, “Do you mind if I join you?”

I gave her my stone-face, and responded, “Looks like you already have.”

“This is true,” she laughed, and sat down across the table, and continued, without much of a pause, “So, what’s your story?”

I did a quick evaluation. She wasn’t looking at the typewriter, so that wasn’t the story she was curious about. She was about my age, and reasonably good looking, considering she wore no make-up and her hair was tousled, yet I had zero sense she was considering any sort of sexual advance. The frankness and friendliness in her eyes was that of a sister I never knew I had, and we quickly fell into a long and comfortable conversation. It was all about me, for when I asked her about herself she deftly steered the talk back to me. I never learned where she was from or where she was going, nor heard even a tale about what she’d experienced in life, yet she struck me as wise. Around lunchtime she walked back to her car (which was already packed) and drove off and I never saw her again. Yet I felt on a different level.

She was blunt, in a disarming way, and seemed to have no fear of asking me if there was some woman behind my destitution. I was equally honest in return, and told her I had a whole harem of women, in my memory, but in real life I had given up on women. I confessed that over the years I’d met three I’d wanted to marry, but they had the good sense to lose me, and I’d concluded I was a complete fool, concerning women, and marriage was now out of the question. I said chasing woman is the normal behavior of a lusty, young man, but once a man passes thirty such behavior increasingly looked like the behavior of a dirty, old man.  I’d had my three chances, and three strikes meant I was out. I was too old.

These were lines I’d spoken so many times to so many strangers that I knew them by rote. She wasn’t buying it. She casually said,  “Oh, you’re not too old,  although I’ll admit…” she looked thoughtfully to the side, pausing before smiling at me and continuing, “….you’d be difficult to train.”

I remember smiling broadly, and shaking my head at her nerve. I admired the way she felt free to make statements people usually waltz around making. Later on she said something I had to scribble down in a notebook, telling her “I’m going to use that in a poem.”

I had been telling her what I fool I was, and how I was completely incapable of telling the difference between a good woman and a facade-witch. She wanted to know what a facade-witch was, and I explained it was a Norse demon that, from the front, resembles a beautiful woman, which always tries to face you, for from the rear it looks like a hollow shell, lacking any heart or guts. I added I’d met a girl like that, who only needed to smile and nod at me, and I was completely convinced she understood and agreed, though she did not agree at all. I continued that I had told the girl I didn’t believe in short-term relationships, and the girl had smiled and nodded when I said there must be “100% commitment.”  I explained I thought I had found my soul-mate. Then I bitterly laughed, “It wasn’t two months before that girl announced, ‘I’m not 100% committed any more.’ ”

“Actually,” the stranger responded from across the picnic table, “You are lucky she left if she loved you so little.”

       WISE WORDS

“You are lucky she left
If she loved you so little.”
So spoke the wise one I met on the trail.

I knew she was right
But my laughter was brittle.
Humor is humble when loving seems frail.

I thought and then answered,
“But she could say this:
‘I’m glad he is gone if he wouldn’t pursue.'”

She cocked her brow
As if I were amiss,
“Which one left whom?”
                                                   “I haven’t a clue.”    1986

Not only did this stranger give me a good first line for a poem, but she also gave me a totally different way of viewing the same situation. I went from “I am the victim of a facade-witch” to “I am lucky.”

Which returns me to an earlier point, which was that one should avoid being too ingrown, and instead should seek the fresh air of other’s views.  That is why we don’t have a single eye like a cyclops. Having two eyes gives us a third view, called “depth perception”.

And perhaps it is when we start to view life with the depth perception we gain from other’s views that we find we are able to “get over it.”

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LOCAL VIEW –Fall Peepers–

There is always a danger of missing the beauty right before your nose, especially if you take it for granted. I’m sure people who live with spectacular views can get up in the morning and look out the window and say, “The Matterhorn…Ho hum.” In such cases it helps a little to have people come from all over the world to see what you take for granted.

But then there is a new danger of acting as a sort of prop to the scenery. Years ago I lived with a Navajo in Arizona, and I used to kid him about a stoic expression he always assumed when tourists snapped pictures, and with a bit of a smile he’d inform me, “That is how Indians are suppose to look. Check out Arizona Highways magazine.”

I remembered him years later when I was raking leaves off the beaten path for a rich lady, using an old fashioned rake rather than a leaf-blower, and much to my surprise saw a bus come swaying and lurching down the lane, barely squeezing between the old stone walls. The upper part of the bus was largely glass, and on the inside I could see all the tourists, who I assumed were from Japan, were all pressed up against the glass snapping pictures of me, the quaint Yankee raking leaves. As hard as I tried to be natural, I found myself assuming a pose, and felt like a picture in National Geographic.

A third way to miss the beauty is to rate it. No two autumns are the same, and some have briefer beauty, because a gale rips all the leaves off the trees, while others have a browner beauty, because of drought. Rather than appreciating the variety I sometimes look back to the year which was the most brilliant, and become comparative.

The second half of the summer was so wet that all were expecting an especially brilliant autumn. But brilliance is dependent on sunshine. As I took the kids from the Childcare out on a daily walk I’d look over across a pond to the swamp maples, which are the the first to change, and see the amazing growth of color in the sun.

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But then a passing cloud would drape a shadow

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I prefer the colors to stand out, and a part of me called the second view downright dingy. But this would make a liar out of the part of myself that states the beauty is there for eyes to see, so I strove to see it. But then I was put to the test, as we were hit by a long spell of various sorts of gloom, cloud, drizzle and dampness.  Even as the foliage grew more brilliant the weather grew more gloomy.

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I figured I’d likely miss the swamp maples at their most brilliant, and have to wait for the sugar maples, but then I noticed the weather was so wet the sugar maple leaves were rotting as much as they were changing color.

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Then I heard motorcycles roar past one gray morning, and knew for them to be out leaf-peeping it had to be dry, though very gray, and as I headed off to do chores in an adjoining town I made plans to sidetrack into some swamps. I had a sense it was “now or never”.

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All you need to do is pull over and slosh a little into the sedge to have the color engulf you.

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If you are not careful you may become enchanted, wander into hidden valleys, and go unseen for twenty years like Rip Van Winkle.

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Soon you forget CNN or Drudge. You are visiting a utterly different swamp.

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And once you have found beauty on a cloudy day, a clear day is sheer heaven.

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LOCAL VIEW –September Thunder–

September starts the battle between summer and winter that summer is bound to lose, but which is always interesting to watch, as waves of warmth from the south grow progressively weaker, and the north rears up tall and cruel.

So far the cold has remained locked up in Canada, but this just means their snow cover builds up early. On his Weatherbell blog Joseph D’Aleo reported snows are already building to our north.

For a time the Canadian cold was kept in check by a strong Bermuda High, displaced north, which brought us steady imports of tropical air up the coast.  To the south of the high pressure the Trade Winds came further north than usual, bringing balmy ocean breezes to the Carolina coast, and all enjoyed the beaches,  until, like a cork riding in the stream of the Trade Winds, Hurricane Florence approached from the east. Envy turned to pity as over a million fled their vacations.

Florence slammed ashore and then curved north to New England. I had had forgotten that few things feel quite as tropical as a hurricane. In terms of a pity-party, we could not compete with North Carolina, which got over twenty inches of rain and far more wind. Yet I think we, here in southern New Hampshire, deserve pity for not getting pity. We got over five inches, and everyone just ignored us. What’s the use of suffering, if you can’t milk people’s hearts?

The remains of Florence passed over us with the nearest Canadian cold front far to the north, so although the winds had died Florence remained a pure, tropical system. Seldom do we experience such darkness hand in hand with such warmth, this far north. (Our dark summer thunderstorms are usually due to cold fronts, and involve cold downdrafts and even icy hail.) The rain was warm, and the day was deep purple, and I decided such a rare event deserved a sonnet.

Out of breath, with nothing left but rich rain,
The hurricane came north and it grew dark
As December by noon, but heat can’t feign
It’s winter. The rain poured, and my small ark
Was my roof, and my windows looked out on
A steamy world, with leaves still summer green
Yet darkness deepening after dim dawn.
The roar was not wind, but a rain seldom seen
This far north. On and on the torrents poured
And flat streets became lakes and cars were boats
With wakes, and then my watching spirit soared
As happily splashing in bright raincoats
The children came laughing, dancing eyes bright.
Even on dark days there’s always some light.

Even before I put the finishing touches to my sonnet the hurricane had moved out to sea, and its exit dragged down some colder Canadian air that utterly changed the quality of our rainy weather. Abruptly the rain was of the sort that turns an old man’s hands purple. This is actually gave  us far more of a reason for a pity-party than a nice, warm hurricane, for not only does cold rain make it difficult to do summer chores like mowing wet grass, but it makes it hard to face autumnal chores, such as stacking wood. It seemed time to tune up the violins, for a new self-pity was building. Life is hard enough, for even on a sunny day it is not as easy for an old geezer like me to do such chores as it was when I was younger. Oh, woe is me.

And abruptly the nights are longer than the days, and there are more hours of chilling than of warming, and, right on schedule, it cleared just at sunset and the long night gave us our first touch of frost.

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It was actually a day late, on September 23 when our average first frost is September 22, and it was the sort of touch that only happens in low places and doesn’t kill the tomatoes in the garden, but first frost is a hint, and I’m wise to the ways of winter and can recognize the signs, though the bees may still be humming in the asters.

Hint 2 FullSizeRender

Yet I have discovered something. I cannot take a hint as well as I once could. Years ago autumn shifted me into high gear, and I enjoyed the zest of labor in cool, crisp weather. Now the hinting strikes me as a bit like nagging. Rather than zesty I get grouchy.

These changing seasons really are too much
For a dignified old man to handle.
I deserve respect, and a gentle touch,
But these changes want to snuff out my candle.
I’m ready for heaven, where it’s summer
All of the time, without these shifting gears.
Winter’s a bummer, and nothing’s dumber
Than changes, to an old man of my years.
But here we go, the old sun’s gone lazy
And stars fill the sky when I rise from bed.
I nod at Orion, but think he’s crazy
To fight the good fight and bleed as he’s bled.
Forever he fights, from autumn ’til spring
But if I could, like a duck, I’d take wing.

It seems unfair to me that the sun gets to sleep late while I have to get up early, yet even as I was grumbling and rosining up the bow of my self-pity-violin, a slug of superb summer weather surged north. But then, even before I could put my violin back in its case, Canadian cold came crashing into the warmth.September thunder FullSizeRender

What an awesome evening, with the night lit by brilliant flashes of lightning, and thunder prowling from horizon to horizon! I left work late, and after I turned off the lights I just stood in the parking lot, watching the magnificence. Rain soon budged me, but then driving was a wonder, with flashes lighting the deep dark depths of night forest with crazed shadows, and every raindrop frozen in midair by blinding pink. The rain was erratic, deluging down the street even as I drove in dryness, and when I made it home I could dash to the door between downpours. But once I made it to the sheltered porch I had no desire to go in, and turned to watch the incredible sky. I felt like a mouse under the floorboards, or like I had rented an apartment with gods living upstairs. Yet the odd thing was that though I felt minuscule, I forgot all about my self-pity violin.

Two thoughts then occurred to me. The first was that the Senate Hearings about the Supreme Court nominee have somehow degenerated from a job interview into a massive pity-party. The second was that pity is pretty useless when nature is displaying her might, and a hurricane has dumped two feet of rain and the rising river is pouring through your front door; then you don’t want pity; you want a rowboat.

Sometimes pity is absurdly impractical. Self-pity is not merely self-centered, but also ungodly, for among all His infinite attributes God is infinitely practical.

Already the north is whitened by snows
But still the sunny, stubborn south stays strong.
My fate depends on which way the wind blows;
You can tell the weather by my songs.
In ways I’m just a flute played by the breath
Of powers far, far greater than I am.
I’m battered and flattered nearly to death
By forces I deem do not give a damn
About puny mortals as mousy as me.
Tonight God’s gods played with fire in the sky
As south fought north, and vision could see,
As thunder slammed, just how weakly I try
To befriend the Truth who made sky’s berserkers.
Seek God, or else you’re just grist for his workers.

JUDGE KASANAUGH VS. FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME VS. #MeToo

I myself actually was sexually abused when young, and, though I am a man, can feel for women who are swept up in the #MeToo movement. I understand a lot of the self-loathing and guilt, and also rage and hatred, involved, though I myself have largely “lived it down”, in terms of my own life.

Part of the process of leaving such trauma in the past involves confession. It is a very ancient process, described all the way back into Old Testament times.

The reason events are hidden is often due to an element of shame, for quite often, even when a person was taken advantage of in a most foul manner, the situation began with the person being tricked into trusting someone they should not have trusted, and they therefore feel ashamed for trusting. Because the person is so ashamed they never bring the crime out into the sunlight of Truth, and it lurks about in the shadows of their mind, influencing them in any number of ways. However as soon as they confess, the sunlight of Truth disinfects. Saint John described the process like this:  “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Of course, if the abuser is a priest, one wants nothing to do with the church. However the exact same process is enacted by secular psychologists, even if they happen to be atheists. They may not believe the Christ is the Truth and the Way, but they do notice the “Way” to “mental health” involves “Truth”.

People in the #MeToo movement tend to feel they are involved in something new, riding the breaking wave of social progress, but in fact we old-timers know we have “been there and done that”. Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a great deal of excitement about new “psychologies”, and that in turn sprang out of a disillusionment with older Freudian psychiatry which people had been excited about in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Many of Freud’s own students stated his approach had flaws, and came up with “new and improved” approaches of their own. As a young hippy I tried out a number of the interesting new approaches, and I also worked for a psychologist and got to see the new approaches from a different and interesting angle. Lastly, I studied psychology further on my own, not as a client but because I was very curious.

I had and have no doubt it is good for the soul to confess. I witnessed some heartrending catharses that used up entire boxes of Kleenex, and could often see people felt much better afterwards, as if a huge burden had been lifted. I took part in pounding pillows for various reasons, “getting my feelings out” and expressing “repressed hostility” towards people I hardly remembered, (for example a football coach who benched me back in Junior High). To be honest, it got a bit silly at times, for I was “less repressed” than some, and recall I one time alarmed a psychologist because I got too enraged and beat the hell out of a pillow with too much ferocity. In the end there came a time when enough was enough, and it was time to stop dwelling in the past and to go get a Real Job.

In the process of digging up things one resented from their past one entered a interesting landscape where so-called “recovered” memories were encountered. These were not things that had troubled you for years and years, but things you had supposedly “completely forgotten”. Some psychologists made a good living by claiming they could help people “recover” things they had forgotten.

The problem was, the human mind is very creative. In exploring various psychologies I’d  investigated the interpretation of dreams, and also fantasies. Fantasies were very interesting, in that they were windows into your own subconscious or the subconscious of another, and it was fascinating what people could dream up when wide awake. In cases where powerful emotions were involved, the fantasies could be quite vivid, as real as an intense dream. The problem with “recovered memory” was that they might be the same thing.  I actually witnessed people “remember” things that hadn’t occurred.

The mind is constantly working on  ideas. An idea does not simply sit in the brain, but rather is revised and improved-upon.  These changes are actually a good and healthy thing.

There has been some research hinting that memory itself is initially stored in one part of the brain, and later filed in another, and then called forward and worked upon and then refiled, undergoing revisions in the process. Memory isn’t a photograph that stays the same, (or perhaps yellows with age, becoming “golden”.) For this reason witnesses have varying accounts of the same incident.

This is also a good reason to keep a diary. (I’ve kept a diary since I was nine years old. Now, as an old man, there are certain stories I’ve told [and perhaps bored people with] many, many times. It is a bit shocking to look back in my old diaries to when the event actually occurred, and see how I have changed the tale. I have made it “better” in some ways, altering the chronological order and even my own responses, but I have not made the story more accurate.) The mind’s ability to improve upon raw data means that it is important to verify what is remembered, to be sure it is true and not fictional. In some cases a memory may be false.

The creation of a false memory is called “memory consolidation” by some. Much like a dream, the mind creates an image that basically states how the person feels. Then the image is “recalled” and the person believes it is an actual memory.

It is unfortunate that some psychologists can, either inadvertently or intentionally, cause this process to occur, and confuse a false memory with a real one. There have been cases where lives have been ruined because parents were “turned in” by psychologists for sexually abusing their children, when no such abuse occurred. In some cases the “recovered ” memory was from when a child was supposedly only two.

My Dad befriended a woman who had suffered such an experience, and refused to accept the disgrace and suffering she and her husband were subjected to without cause. Her name was Pamala Freyd, and she and her husband Peter started the “False Memory Syndrome Foundation.” The response was immediate, because it turned out a lot of parents were falsely accused by their hippy children. (Having been a hippy, I used to visit some cult-like communes and met megalomaniac leaders and saw how susceptible young, innocent and suggestible minds could be to B.S.)

Here is the False Memory Syndrome Foundation website:

http://www.fmsfonline.org/

There are, of course, tremendous battles between accusers and the accused, with each insisting the other is false.

My initial impression is that Judge Kavanaugh is a victim of False Memory Syndrome. My reasoning is that:

1.) It took so long for the memory to be “recovered”. That in and of itself is not a good sign that the memory is genuine. In cases where actual abuse has occurred the memory is not forgotten, but rather tends to plague the person year after year. They attempt to forget, but are haunted.

2.) There is a huge lack of corroborating evidence. In the example I gave from my own life, I can go look back in the yellowing pages of my own diary to check up on the details of my recollections. I also have old friends and family I can talk with, to see what they remember. Christine Ford has failed (as of this time) to offer more than a “memory” that came back to her thirty years later, in a psychologist’s office.

I only throw my idea out to be considered, for I haven’t heard False Memory discussed at all.  Like everyone else, I wait to see if any corroborating evidence is forthcoming.

THE DENT THAT PAID THE RENT

Perhaps it is because I’m getting old, and the closest I get to adventure is paying my taxes, or having some body-part such as a tooth or kidney removed, that I have developed a strange longing for the trouble I used to get into as a young man. Back then, (especially just after various women had the good sense to not marry me), I had no reason to settle down, and was able to take despair (and freedom from responsibility) and use it to become a sort of desparado.

Because I liked to write, I was a sort of prissy desparado, as desparadoes go, but there can be no denying I lived life on the edge, and occasionally fell off.  I was very downwardly mobile, and not the sort of person many would think was a “good prospect”, and one thing I learned was how badly one can want love. I was too proud too beg, and therefore seldom saw the human charity of spare change clinking into my cap, and instead expected nothing but shunning from my fellow man. To win a smile from someone made my day. But, even when I didn’t deserve a smile, and none were forthcoming from my fellow man, I had a sense God was with me.

Not that I didn’t grumble, but if you read the poetry (psalms) of King David you see he too grumbled a fair amount. I believe such grumbling counts as prayer, and also believe such prayer is answered. True, when you are in a run of bad luck, cruising for a bruising in a way where you deserve your bruises, you don’t catch many breaks. If you sow thistles you will reap a crop of thorns, and therefore your life may not look like an answered prayer. But when you are actually in those shoes the smallest thing can be a blessing, like a warm beam of sunshine finding its way through storm clouds to your shoulders.

That is what I want to capture, if I write about my days as a drifter. But I recognize a danger, as I go through my notes and play with rough drafts. The danger is I may create a “pity-party”, or a smudge of resentment, or even glorify something I should be a little embarrassed about. I want to avoid all that, and instead to show that there was truly glory in the hardship, but it sure wasn’t me. It was a sense that even when life is at its loneliest, you do not walk alone.

Jesus actually stated he did not come for people who had their act together. He came for the people down on their luck, and perhaps that is why the people down on their luck seem to meet Him more than millionaires.  (Also perhaps that is why some millionaires become so decadent, so they too can fall into the gutter and discover the kindness of God.)

Not that I’m in any hurry to get back to the gutter. What I desire is the sense of glory that strangely goes along with having nothing, perhaps because one inadvertently and unintentionally is renouncing the world,  “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Last summer I wearied of a church that seemed dulled by complacency. That church seemed a place where no one had any problems, (or pretended that.) Outside its doors there was a serious drug problem, but people didn’t really want “that sort” coming in the doors. Church was a hide-out, a safe sanctuary where people escaped such problems. So I headed out the doors, more interested in places where people had problems, and were facing the issues of “detox” and “rehab” (two words that were not in the English dictionary not all that long ago.)

People who go through “detox” and “rehab” face something called “recidivism”, which in the old days we called “backsliding” or “falling off the wagon.”   In fact some addicts and drunkards use shelters and halfway houses as a way to get back in shape, to regain their health so they can go on another bender. This is very discouraging to those who want to help people escape addiction and become “useful members of society.” However it was noticed that the recidivism rate was much lower at halfway houses that employed God. This is discouraging to atheists. In fact I recently heard a person joke, “The only people who are Christians are perverts, addicts, and Republicans.”  God may have gotten a chuckle out of that, but cynicism doesn’t seem to stop Him.

In any case, I far prefer going to a church full of street people,  who are going through hard times and are down on their luck. They may not wear Sunday suits, nor look like people whose prayers are answered, but they know what I was talking about when I wrote, “the smallest thing can be a blessing, like a warm beam of sunshine finding its way through storm clouds to your shoulders.” Their faces light up, as they talk of mercies from lives few envy.

You hear unexpected bits of wisdom, as you listen. For example, In my life I’ve met people who prayed for something, drummed their fingers impatiently, and then, when the prayer was not answered, stated it was irrefutable proof God does not exist. So I expect such a response from people. Yet I recently heard a person explain the phenomenon roughly like this, “It had been a long, long time since I talked to God. He really liked it when I came back, but He knew, if He answered my prayer, I’d forget all about Him in a big hurry, all over again.  So He kept me talking.”

Another recovering addict told a tale that made me chuckle. He had been working very hard to arise from the ashes and get his life back on track, but his financial situation was in complete ruins, and various bill-collectors were in no mood to be merciful. He (with his wife’s support), had done all the right things, taking more than one embarrassing, menial job and going to the bill-collectors and attempting to arrange payment plans to get back on track, but, even working two jobs, the pay wasn’t enough. Therefore he pushed himself further, and attempted to get a good job despite his criminal record, honestly explaining his situation and offering to take drug tests. He deemed it an example of God’s mercy shining through a human being when he actually landed a good job, for twice as much pay as he had ever earned before, but the job would not start for two weeks and then he’d have to go two weeks before he got his first check. That was too long for his landlord to wait. Although the recovering addict and his wife had paid the current rent he still owed back rent from months before, and had only managed to make a few ten and twenty dollar payments on that back rent, and still owed $1,200.00. The landlord had been patient for months, and served an eviction notice: “Pay up in ten days or move out.”

This dropped the recovering addict to his knees, but as he was praying he heard a crash outside. The old man next door had backed into his wife’s car,  and she had no insurance, nor the money to fix it. The former addict fought off the temptation to use the misfortune as an excuse to get high, and bent the fender back out enough for his wife to use the car. Then he went to work at his two menial jobs, wondering where his wife and he were going to move, as he awaited the start of his better job.

After hanging on in this agonized manner for the ten allotted days his landlord had given him to come up with the rent, the old man next door came up and handed him a check for $1,200. The neighbor did have insurance, and that was how much the insurance company had paid to repair the dent. But the man’s wife said, “The car drives just fine. Let’s use the money to pay the rent.”

And that is the tale of the dent that paid the rent.  It shows the mysterious ways in which God may answer prayers better than any sermon.

BENCHMARK STORMS AND HYPE

Unfortunately for this overly dramatic reporter, this video went viral, with over a quarter million views in mere hours:

The reporter was only attempting to add a bit of drama to his report, but likely was not on the best of terms with the man holding the camera. If it were not for the two people casually strolling by in the background (which an adept cameraman would have made sure not to include) his acting job would have been quite convincing. Instead he will be held up as yet another “epitome of fake news”, (and also will likely have to bear some nickname such as “Staggers” for the rest of his life).

This hype is old news in many ways. Here is Anderson “pooper” Cooper reporting from the gutter during Hurricane Ike.

The accompanying hysteria seemed to be reaching “jump the shark” proportions. I cannot help but wonder how many take the media claims that “It is all Trump’s fault” seriously.

https://news.grabien.com/story-media-politicize-florence-blame-trump-storms-predict-mass-de

The level of inanity astonishes me, and demands some sort of push-back. I was glad to see the “Watt’s Up With That” website immediately produced a series of posts countering the politicized editorials spewed by the mainstream media. Especially encouraging was a parody of media hype produced by firemen, for it seems to indicate ordinary people are not gullible “sheeple”, and see through the hype, and find the media laughable.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/15/another-fakenews-video-cnn-anderson-cooper-hypes-hurricaneflorence-flooding-meanwhile-firefighters-spoof-tv-news/

Besides reducing the hysteria of the media to absurdity, it is important to factually counter their wild claims. I think Dr. Tim Ball did an excellent job in the following post, first by examining Hurricane Florence from a meteorological standpoint, and showing it was in many ways a fairly normal September hurricane at landfall, and second by pointing out how insurance companies stand to profit from hysteria. (Especially interesting and informative were his insights about how such storms “flatten” as they come north.)

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/16/hurricane-florence-culmination-of-exploitation-of-natural-events-by-government-extremists-and-business/

Another post, with further facts and figures was produced by James D. Agresti.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/09/16/the-washington-posts-slander-on-hurricanes-and-climate-change/

I feel it is important to arm yourself with facts and figures, despite the fact some Alarmists will simply shout you down by screeching you are a “Denier.” Admittedly it can be scary to face a mob, and some elements of current politics has the definite feel of a witch hunt.  One wants to duck for cover, for one feels like Dr. Frankenstein facing villagers bearing pitchforks and torches. But during such times I remember the importance of the character “Jojo” in the classic “Horton Hears A Who”, by the great American poet and master of  anapestic tetrameter, Dr. Seuss.

 

Yes, it is important for every voice to be heard, for a grain of sand can start an avalanche. Do not allow yourself to be shouted down.

I’ll admit the struggle does get tiresome. It’s been going on for decades. I myself was first jolted awake to the element of nonsense within “Climate Science” when I opened the November, 2006 issue of National Geographic, as it was devoted to hurricanes and I had a long-time interest in such storms, and came across a article by “weepy” Bill MCKibben called, “A  Deeper Shade Of Green”.  It began,

“This is the year we finally started to understand what we are in for. Exactly 12 months ago, an MIT professor named Kerry Emanuel published a paper in Nature showing hurricanes had slowly but steadily been gaining in strength and duration for a generation. It didn’t gain widespread attention for a few weeks — not until Katrina roared across the Gulf of Mexico and…”

I knew enough trivia about hurricanes to recognize the article contained sheer balderdash misinformation, and began attempting to correct the record in small ways, but my efforts seemed to have no effect. Bill McKibben got lots of publicity generating hysteria that failed to verify, while I was either ignored or rebuked as a “denier.” However 2006 marked a clear increase in the number of “Skeptic” sites where you could be heard. As McKibben’s nonsense went on and on, year after year, he faced increasing push-back. I finally got a long and detailed rebuttal to his hysteria published at WUWT in 2012.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

Long and detailed rebuttals didn’t seem to have the slightest effect on Weepy Bill himself, or on the more ardent Alarmists. They simply refused to respond. But this refusal to respond made their arguments look increasingly like they lacked any substance. They were like those hollow paper tubes that hold rolls of toilet paper. More and more they seemed to be using empty political slogans rather than any points that were remotely debatable. Getting hit by these empty slogans was like getting bopped over the head by a paper tube. All they did was rob you of a degree of your dignity, but they failed to make the attacker look civil, and did make them look a little insane.

The ineffectiveness of political slogans, and the failure of such propaganda to fool indoctrinate the public became apparent with the Brexit election, and the election of Donald Trump. At this point a certain degree of desperation set in, felt by those whose livelihood is dependent on empty slogans. However, if you only have empty slogans to use, using them more and more frantically persuades no one.

At this point I think it might be interesting to go to a network noted for slogans, MSNBC, and examine the introduction to a so-called “analysis” of the news. Usually such an introduction passes quickly as a stream of blather, but we shall slow it down and parse the sentences. If we analyse the analysis we can see if it is connected to reality, or not.

The speaker is Katy Tur and she begins,

“President Trump says FEMA is ready for Hurricane Florence but mounting evidence suggests it could be incredibly difficult to deal with this disaster if climate change deniers are on the front lines…”

Excuse me? Is there anything an Alarmist can do that a Skeptic can’t, on the “front lines?” Does an Alarmist have a witch doctor’s wand they can shake at the waves to make them retreat? No. In fact even the UN’s highly politicized IPCC  report can see no “trend” in hurricanes,  either increasing or decreasing, in recent years. If there is no “trend” there can be no “trend” caused by man, which therefore suggests there is no way puny humans can turn these mighty storms left or right.

In terms of the present tense, when Hurricane Florence battered our shores we didn’t need Climate Scientist’s theory from ivory towers, which accomplishes absolutely nothing, but rather we wanted hard-nosed people who understand the logistics of coping with a hurricane’s effect on our infrastructure. As is the case on battlefields in the fog of war, or on ships at sea in storms, it doesn’t matter if you are black or white, Republican or Democrat, religious or atheist, or even Alarmist or Skeptic. All that matters is the capability and grit you display, under the stress of a hurricane.

Katy’s next sentence is this appeal to authority:

“…A new study from the Princeton University is echoing the findings of previous research showing climate change as the cause of ocean conditions that produce fast storms like Hurricane Harvey…”

Oh brother! Hurricane Harvey was a slow storm, not a fast storm. Harvey’s excessive rainfall would have been less devastating if it was spread out over several states. However the hurricane stalled over Texas, and all the rain fell in one place.

In actual fact I doubt people at Princeton University are so ignorant, nor that they “echoed” any other “study” so ignorant, that that called Hurricane Harvey “fast”. Rather this is an example of atrociously bad reporting, and the above point is an attempt of an imbecile to look like they hang around with college professors. It is as silly as the video of the man staggering in a calm that began this post. It is an appeal to authority by a moron attempting to look like a genius by donning a white lab coat. (I won’t blame Katy, but rather the writer who wrote the balderdash she mouthed.)

(By the way, I fully expect to soon see a report stating that slower storms are caused by Global Warming.)

Her next sentance is:

“…NOAA is suggesting it’s 3 degrees Fahrenheit above average…”

The “it’s” Katy is referring to is the “ocean conditions that produce fast storms like Hurricane Harvey”, however NOAH doesn’t need to suggest. The have actual satellites that produce actual data. So let’s look and see if the ocean is three degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Oh! I see. The “it’s” Katy says NOAA is referring to isn’t the entire ocean. “Its” an area off the Northeast USA coast extending towards Europe. Elsewhere, the southern hemisphere is largely below normal. And Hurricane Florence actually formed over below-normal waters over towards West Africa. But never mind that. Let us proceed to the point she was driving at.

“…Where does the Trump Administration stand on climate change?…” 

Eh? How does that follow? A sort of leap in logic has occurred. Is this a case of the-hand-is-faster-than-the-eye?

As best as I can figure, Katy has leaped from NOAA “suggesting” that some vague “it” is three degrees above normal, to politics. The assumption must be that “it” proves Global Warming is real, and now we should hurry on to how Trump is dealing with this “reality”. However we will need to come back later, and look more carefully at the “it” she has so hurriedly hastened away from.

She continues:

“…President Trump rolled back Obama era mandates for leaks and oil and gas wells…” 

Now we have completely left the topic of meteorology. We are into the fields of economics and energy production, and also public safety. The state of our infrastructure is a topic of interest to me, and well worth discussing. On September 13 a leaky gas line, (and perhaps a foul-up in the pressure in the lines),  caused 60 fires and chaos not far from where I now sit and type.

I will return to this subject later. (But please note the solar panels on the above house.)

For the time being, let us continue with Katy’s logic:

“…These rules were part of Obama’s three part strategy for combating climate change.”

Whoa! Wait a minute. How did we get back to meteorology? I thought we were talking about leaky gas mains and infrastructure.

All in all Katy Tur has provided us with a splendid example of an intellect that fails to think deeply, or move cautiously. Instead she leaps from topic to topic with a splendid disregard for investigative reporting. In this manner she avoids that which would give a more ordinary thinkers reason to pause. It ignores the advice, “The buyer beware.” (I could likely sell her the Brooklyn Bridge).

I don’t really want to take Katy to task. She’s putting on a show for the cameras, just like the reporter in the video at the start of this post was putting on a show for the cameras. The above quotes were from Katy’s intro to an interview with “Bill Nye the Science Guy”, who also is hard to take to task, for he too is putting on a show for the cameras. And then Katy moved on to interview the former “White House Climate Change Task Force’s Director Of Communication”, (a position that paid a six-figure taxpayer-funded salary, which President Trump has abolished.)  But what, may I ask, is a “Director Of Communications”? It is not someone in charge of putting on a show for cameras?

All these people putting on shows for the cameras are merely doing the job they are paid to do. If they show a falsehood, don’t blame them (though they must bear a certain shame for doing the job they do). Blame those who create the job, hire them, and pay them.

But the so-called “infrastructure” does not care how you look on camera. It must obey a fundamental reality or it fails. If you put too much pressure into the gas mains, big troubles can ensue. Allow me to be redundant and repost this picture:

This poor home-owner lost his house despite his virtue-signaling solar panels. Was his loss due to “Climate Change”? No, for the weather was nice. Was it due to “Climate Change Politics”? I suggest the answer is “Yes”. Why? Because too much focus has been on how things look on camera, and too little attention, time, and money has been placed on the basic facts of basic engineering. The infrastructure is not a thing thing that cares for cameras. A politician’s blandishments and pretty talk mean nothing to a rusting pipe. You cannot bribe a gas main.

Look again at the virtue-signaling solar panels. They are not very effective when the sun sulks down by the horizon, this far north, in December. Nor can wind turbines replace them, for our coldest weather occurs when the Arctic Highs are cresting, and the “Montreal Express” ebbs to a dead calm. At that point both solar power and wind turbines supply the infrastructure nothing, and we must turn to fossil fuels, or freeze. As coal power plants were “phased out” by the prior administration, natural gas became increasingly important as a “back-up” for “sustainable” energy (which isn’t sustainable, because it can’t sustain itself in a midwinter cold spell.)

But when neglected infrastructure, (neglected because Alarmists demanded attention be elsewhere), breaks down, the usual suspects reappeared, including the nemesis of sanity  “Weepy” Bill Mckibben. (He tends to show up after every disaster, licking his chops like a vulture). Within hours of the Massachusetts explosions and fires he tweeted, “The Massachusetts gas explosions are a good reminder of the many reasons we need to get off fossil fuel.”

I am so sick of this “progressiveness”. In any disaster it holds the helpfulness of a hyena. It waves hands vaguely at some future prospect, and does absolutely nothing to remedy the current crisis, and (what is most annoying) it gets rich doing so.

What McKibben was suggesting in “A Deeper Shade Of Green”, way back in 2006, was that Katrina was the first of many massive hurricanes that would smash into the USA, due to mankind’s production of CO2. Time has proven him completely wrong. There actually have been fewer major hurricanes in the past thirteen years than his dramatic article, (containing the same appeals-to-university-authority that Katy employed), warned us to expect. In actual fact there have been fewer hurricanes than a ordinary scan of history would lead us to expect.

Can he be held accountable? According to some readings of the Old Testament, when a man stands before other men and states he is a prophet, and then, when what he prophesies does not come true, he has proven himself a “false prophet”, and the societal remedy is to haul him to the town green, and stone him to death. Fortunately for Weepy Bill we don’t follow this practice any more, perhaps due to Jesus stating, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” This is not to say he doesn’t get stoned, but if so it his own doing, perhaps due to what it is now legal to smoke in Massachusetts.

What annoys me is that some continue to heed such people, taking them as an authority  despite the fact they have proven themselves persistently wrong. It does not help us with the real task at hand, which is to keep our infrastructure is the best possible shape, and to repair it after benchmark storms.

Rather than hype, the public should be informed about what is possible, which involves a clear comprehension of what a “benchmark hurricane” is.

A benchmark hurricane a worst-case-scenario.  It is the worst storm a particular area has a record of.

As one moves up and down any coast one discovers the “benchmark hurricane” differs, because the worst winds and storm surge associated with a hurricane are in its eyewall, (usually the part with onshore winds), which in some cases can be a surprisingly tight area.  For example, driving south of Myrtle Beach in November, 1989 I witnessed, moving through Surfside south towards Murrell’s Inlet, the devastation rapidly increased as one neared the place where Hurricane Hugo’s path plunged inland. Driving north, on the other hand, to North Myrtle Beach,  (to where I once lived), there was only slight damage, and the relieved residents were joking about how they hadn’t needed to evacuate. But I could point out to them a place where I had put in a garden, behind the house where I had formerly lived, and explained that as I dug I found scattered bricks, from a hotel a hundred yards down the beach that Hurricane Hazel smashed in 1954. I stated they were wise to evacuate, for the weather bureau can never be exactly sure where a storm will make landfall, and if Hugo had veered fifty miles north the situation in North Myrtle Beach would have been entirely different. In any case, Surfside had Hugo as its “benchmark,” while North Myrtle Beach had Hazel. (An area between was spared the worst of both).

The word “benchmark” came from a mark a workman might put on his workbench as a handy reference point, so he would not have to take out a tape measure and re-measure over and over. It serves the same purpose for engineers, who must design structures to handle bad weather. They look to see what is the worst Mother Nature has dished up in the past, using it as a reference point, and then look to see if they can design anything that can withstand such fury.

The answer is seldom, “No”, which surprises some people. The Bible advises against building on sand, but the engineer’s answer is “Yes, you can build there, but it would be extremely expensive; do you have a couple billion dollars handy?” In such cases they are not building on sand, for they put in a deep concrete foundation, and build a sort of bunker.

The buyer, (and often the taxpayer) beware. Often the engineer is disappointed, and rather than a billion dollars only gets a hundred thousand. For example, there are rivers in Texas that are usually dry,  but occasionally rampage due to tropical storms. An engineer could design a costly suspension bridge over the gully,  or a cheap ford over the river bottom which would be closed when the river was in flood, and likely need to be replaced on a regular basis. The customer then looks in his wallet, and makes a choice.

There are some sections of coast that, for whatever reason, are luckier than others, and have dodged the bullet and therefore have less devastating “benchmark hurricanes”. In these cases engineers raise the benchmark, for they think the luck will not last.  Perhaps they studied a channel cut through a nearby marsh, and noticed that within the layers of peat there were occasional layers of sand, washed all the way inland from the beach, during massive storms that occurred before records were kept. With the help of geologists they can determine the likelihood of such huge hurricanes, and advise customers about the likelihood of such a storm, giving us terms such as “once-every-500-year-storm”.

In Europe, where records have been kept longer, there are records of times the North Sea went on a complete rampage, and villages and parts of entire counties vanished, and on maps areas went from being land to being shoally seas. Because this is actual history the Alarmists should not use the word “Unprecedented” for modern storms in Europe, but history never seems to stop Alarmists from being overly dramatic (and therefore inaccurate) about the present.

Engineers need to be economical. A small road in a small town can’t afford a giant culvert for a small brook, to handle a once-every-500-year-storm. The taxpayers will pay for a small culvert, and then pay to fix the road if they have to. For this reason a wisely devised emergency-management-plan seeks to predict damages, not to prevent any and all damage from ever occurring.

When I was living in Myrtle Beach I was a bit scornful of everyone building on land that was only three to six feet above high tide, and one time I haughtily informed a construction worker that another Hurricane Hazel would  wash away all his work with a twelve-foot storm surge. He smiled cheerfully at me and stated, “That will be great for construction workers, for we’ll have to build it all back again. You’re not going to stop people from enjoying the beauty of this beach.”

A few years later I returned to inspect the damage after Hurricane Hugo, and down past Surfside came to a stretch of beach where nothing but pilings remained of the beachfront homes. They had all been built atop twelve foot pilings, and only the pilings remained. Each and every house was a block or two back from the beach, smashed into other houses. But then I noticed a lone beachfront house remained. The garage beneath the house was gone, and the staircase up to the house dangled brokenly in mid air, but the house remained. As I looked at it and scratched my head a local fellow came up to me and asked, “Wondering about that house?”

I nodded.

“I don’t know why, but that fellow paid a bit extra for longer pilings, and his house’s floor was three feet taller than the rest.”

Surfside was a terrible mess, but now it is all cleaned up and people are enjoying vacations at the beach again.

And what is the moral of all this? It is to be practical. It isn’t to ban beautiful resorts in beautiful places, but to enjoy the best while being ready for the worst, with a wise contingency plan.

We also need a plan of how to deal with the Alarmists who have become addicted to a way of making money from the imaginary danger of Global Warming. They may number in the millions, if you include all government jobs,  and they are facing a hurricane of their own making. They have mortgages to pay, children to clothe and feed, car-payments to make, but are facing homelessness, for the political construct they depended on is going to be swept away.

Either it will be swept away by wise choices and sane behavior, or by the social insanity of civil war, but it simply is not a sustainable construct, despite all the bather about “sustainability.”

 

A Song From A Karmic Mugging

It doesn’t matter if you call it “karma” or “reaping what you sow”, there are certain actions in life which lead to certain reactions.  Perhaps the best word is “consequences.” There are good consequences, which we like hearing about, but also bad ones; IE:  If you drink too much you will earn yourself a hangover; if you betray a friend you may make an enemy; “The wages of sin are death”.

In some ways life is like a game, wherein we aim for the good consequences without experiencing the bad consequences, perhaps drinking only enough wine to become tipsy, without the hangover, (or even becoming a complete teetotaler in the hope of avoiding all misery, only to discover misery has sources other than wine).

The Law is very strict, and clear, and even small children grasp its basic tenets, wailing “It isn’t fair” like small lawyers, but adults are chronically tempted to cheat, in one form or another, hoping they may “get away with it”.  I could provide all sorts of examples, but won’t bother, for most people are perfectly able to provide examples of their own, if they only take a moment to reflect with frank honesty.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. This sublime example of Lord Jesus’s brilliance stopped a mob in it’s tracks.  The mob was about to stone an adulterous woman, for that was the Law, but Jesus made the mob think a little more deeply about the Law. All realized they too were guilty. (Interestingly, the old men put down their stones before the young men.)

This story was so significant that, even though it was not included in the original four gospels, it had to be added at a later date, and so it was stuck into the gospel of Mark. However its significance is not so much that the adulterous woman “got away with it”, as it is that all are guilty, and should not be condemning others. In the end, none of us “gets away with it”. The Law remains the Law, and the penalty must be paid, (and the story goes on to describe how innocent Jesus paid the penalty for the rest of us).

In like manner, though to a far more minuscule degree, each of us, at some point or another, bears the consequences (or “takes the rap”) for another’s misdeeds.  Our child pours paint in the washing machine, and they are incapable of cleaning up the mess, so we have to do it.

People (and especially lawyers) are always trying to lay blame. In the above example some might accuse that we were not watching our child attentively enough, but perhaps we hired a baby sitter (with good references) to do the watching at that moment in time. Then some might say we didn’t store our paint correctly, but perhaps it was the neighbor who put his paint-can down on the sidewalk, for only a minute. Sometimes all attempts to blame us for the mess fail. Not even the most crafty lawyers can indite us. But…we still have to clean up the mess.

(Some will say that we have to clean up the mess because of unremembered and hidden “Karma of a past lifetime”, and therefore we actually are to blame for the paint in the washing machine. And I’ll admit that idea does a decent job of showing the Law cannot be escaped. You may “get away with it” now, but you will pay later. However, in terms of the present lifetime, it is far easier to simply shrug and state The-Parent’s-Answer-To-All-Injustice, “Life isn’t fair.”)

The unfairness of life results in humanity being divided into two basic categories: Those who make messes, and those who clean up the messes. (Of course we all are both, but I am being simplistic.)  This unfairness is underscored by the fact that the ones who make messes are often Brahmans laughing all the way to the bank,  while the ones who clean up the messes are scorned as untouchable Sweepers, or underpaid janitors.

If there is such a thing as a “Day of Reckoning”, the ones who laughed all the way to the bank will then be sobbing, while the laughed-at Untouchables and janitors will be embraced like Lazarus at the bosom of Abraham. (Luke, Chapter 16)  But, in terms of the present lifetime, that is not the case.

In terms of the present lifetime it can seem, in the short term, that the way to get ahead is to cheat, and only chumps and suckers behave honorably. Jesus may have warned, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight”, but people seem to think God isn’t paying attention any more. The short-term gains seem to outweigh any theoretical loss, far off in distant clouds. However the Law has twenty-twenty vision, and always pays attention. No one “gets away with it”. Or, as it is spoken among the gruff, “What goes around comes around.”

Nor is the Law something we have to face in some far off future, by a distant Pearly Gate (which one can then deny exists, if one chooses the convenience of Atheism). The Law actually is active in our everyday lives, which is why even gruff people can see and speak the wisdom, “What goes around comes around.”

According to the Law we are suppose to clean up messes even when we haven’t made them. If a man dies, we are suppose to help his wife and children. If we instead say, “Oh good, he’s dead; now we can grab his money”, and leave his widow and orphans destitute, we have broken the Law, and there will be hell to pay.

In theory Socialism aims to care for the widows and orphans, and socialism might even work if politicians took vows of poverty and fasted and wore a langoti like Gandhi,  however few politicians even make an attempt at such purity. For example, if all the money collected from workers to help the elderly had been wisely invested in “Social Security”, the account would now amount to trillions of dollars, but politicians could not keep their hands off that money,  so the Social Security account is now threatened with insolvency. Power corrupts, just as the “Ring Of Power” poisoned Gollum, and even Bilbo and Frodo, in Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings”.  And the absolute-power-for-the-government which some forms of socialism desires corrupts absolutely.

Margaret Thatcher is said to have stated, “Socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.”  This statement may seem cynical to the young and naive, who have good hearts and lots of energy and want to clean up messes. God bless them. But disillusionment sets in as you get older, and experience being played for a sucker and a chump by people who think they can “get away with it”, and who mock and scoff at the idea of there being such a thing as “The Law”.

If a society is healthy such scoffers are not in leadership, but only found in back alleys. However if such vermin crawl into leadership positions the entire society becomes disillusioned.

Fishermen know that if you don’t swiftly gut your catch it will rot faster, and, because the head of the fish is often removed while gutting, we have various sayings along the lines of, “Fish stink from the head down” and “Fish rot from the head down.” The simple fact that this saying arose in so many different lands, even in ancient times, tells you that observant common people noticed that what is true for fish is also true for government. If the leadership thinks it can scoff at Law, the people they lead will also scoff at Law. Many will say, “You can’t fight City Hall” and “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

In this manner a society which once was vibrant and healthy becomes sickened by corruption. The leaders may scoff at the Law in big ways which small people don’t dare copy, but small people scoff in small ways, and it all adds up. If you study history you see decay tends to involve the rise and fall of X, the rise and fall of Y, and the rise and fall of Z, and the fall is always the same: More and more make messes and fewer and fewer clean them up, until the mess becomes too great. Even the fall of dynasties in ancient Egypt involved too few taxpayers and too many mooching off taxes.

When I was young I did not want to be part of a downfall. I did not want to make a mess. I wanted to be a social reformer, and wanted to clean up the mess. I was a young hippy among older hippies who spoke of Truth, Love and Understanding. I imagined a world where the Law was obeyed. But I then ran headlong into disillusionment. When push came to shove, the older hippies couldn’t live up to their idealism. “Truth” was equated with “expanded consciousness”  which meant drug addiction.  “Love” was equated with “free love” which meant unbridled lust. And “understanding” meant “if you can’t beat them join them”, which didn’t involve understanding true generosity, but rather understanding City Hall’s greed. They had joined the downfall.  They had sold out.

But not me. I decided I would rather die young. (After all, dying young might get my poetry published). Therefore, rather than learning from disillusionment, I pressed on into further disillusionment, to a degree that surely struck many as ludicrous.

I decided that I would not be a litterbug, but would clean up the litter on the side of highways. I would not steal, but would help the poor. I would be the goody-two-shoes and be laughed at. And what I discovered was that I got my butt kicked, and that I was not as strong as Christ.

What was most disillusioning to me, as a young social-reformer, was the world’s stubborn refusal to get any better. If anything, the world was apparently getting worse. It was as if one picked up litter on the side of a highway, only to see more and more litter until one was wading in the stuff. At some point doubt is bound to set in, and one pauses to reflect. In my case a case of beer was involved in my reflecting, in which case I was not cleaning up a mess, as much as I was becoming messed up.

The two things most liable to drive me to drink were employers and women. In both cases naive idealism would be crushed, as vulnerable as a heart on a sleeve.

In the case of employers my idealism had read too much Horatio Alger, and I believed that if I worked hard and was impeccably ethical my boss would say, “Oh, thou true and loyal servant, I hereby make you vice president of my business, and you may marry my daughter.” In actual fact my bosses seemed to think, “What a chump. I’ll give him a five cent raise and three times the work.”

Oddly, it wasn’t doing three times the work that bothered me as much as it was the failure to reward, and it wasn’t even the failure to reward me that tipped me over the edge. Rather it was callousness towards my fellow workers, where, rather than rewarding, my bosses demoted or fired other hard-working men and women.  That would tip me over the edge, and I’d buy cases of beer, and my boss would wonder why I stopped showing up for work.

In the case of women my idealism took the form of a worshipful belief that women were were saints, and men were the problem.  I was aghast if a woman swore, but figured a man had driven her to it, (and women tended to agree with me). Even if a woman swore at me, perhaps when I opened a door for a suffragette, I tended to meekly apologize like Caspar Milquetoast.

Cartoon H.t.Webster Milquetoast censusBut one thing I couldn’t abide, and that was when a woman cheated on me. Then I bought the cases of beer and vanished.

In both the situations with employers and with women, what provoked me seemed to be the sense of being used, rather than loved. Rather than a living thing, to be nourished and watered and tended, I felt like a Kleenex, nice to have, but disposable.  I expected better of my fellow man and woman. When people failed to live up to my expectations I tended to go away and basically sulk.

A lot of people feel this way, but if you listen to the lyrics of “Take This Job And Shove It” you realize those words are what the working-man wants to say, but never has the nerve to say.

I never lacked the nerve to quit a job. Rather I lacked the nerve to put up with it. I excused my lack of courage by saying I had courage to quit, and that I was an “arteest”, made for higher and better things, though I tended to look pretty low after I finished the case of beer. My sulking certainly was not the behavior of a saint, nor was it any way to get ahead. I never lasted long enough at any workplace to get a paid vacation, let alone a pension. And, of course, such behavior did not make me look like a good “provider”, or to appear remotely interesting to women concerned about such things. But, if women dismissed me, I’d dismiss them right back, saying all they cared about was money, like whores. During such a time I was more of a problem than a solution, and more of a mess-maker than a cleaner-upper-of-messes.

Then, in a somewhat mysterious manner, (though sometimes it was a simple matter of an empty wallet and not being able to buy any more beer), there would come a quiet dawn. Like a child after a tantrum, I’d be “all better now”. I’d pick myself up, dust myself off, and do it all over again.

My tantrums tended to be different from other fellows. Other fellows tended to forget what they had said, during a binge, and therefore a binge was a somewhat subconscious experience, like a person dreaming, unable to remember the dream the next dawn. But me? As an “arteest” I often scribbled while consuming the case of beer, and then, sipping coffee and smoking the next morning, I was able to sagely consider the wisdom of my scribbling. Often I winced, (though some scribbling was hilarious) (or I thought it was hilarious, at that time.)(It looks different, forty years later.)

But one thing was especially annoying to reread the next morning. It was my maudlin, boorish repetitiveness, as if I was stating “How could you”, over and over again. It never supplied an answer, though sometimes it started to. It would begin, “You did what you did because….how could you.”

I could never arrive at an answer because to do so would involve admitting I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

I could write a long and boring thesis about why hippies were looking in all the wrong places, as a “counter culture”.  In a nutshell,  it was because they saw things in too-simplistic, black-or-white terms that tended to throw out the baby with the bathwater. They would throw out God because their local preacher was a creep and a pedophile, and throw out the concept of marriage because their parents divorced, and throw out the work-ethic because a boss exploited, and so on and so forth.

The very saying, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater” admits it is possible, when repelled from a bad thing, to lose a good thing as well.

Read the above paragraph again, because it is important.

Read the above paragraph 1,217 times, and you arrive at the repetitive way my mind worked while I consumed a case or two of beer. In some ways I was a very slow learner.  I needed to pound things against my head 1,217 times, to get them through my thick skull. But I was stubborn, even when it seemed I was pounding my head against a brick wall.

Some failed to completely comprehend that real work was involved, not only in my case, but in the cases of other gruff men who seldom read and almost never wrote. The flint-faced boozer was facing a mess they were not entirely responsible for, and was trying to clean it up, (though the words “live it down” were more often used). A trauma in the past, whether a pedophile priest, or unfaithful parents, or an exploitative boss, or a lover’s desertion, or the blood and gore of a battlefield, needed to be worked on, and the working was called “post traumatic stress.”

And yes, it would surely be better to do such work under the tutelage of a wise, kind and generous elder, but sometimes the trauma was due to an elder who betrayed and was a pedophile, or merely happened to be a stupid, mean and greedy elder, and therefore one sometimes distrusted elders. And also sometimes a case of beer is a lot cheaper, and more fun, than a psychiatrist. But work was always involved.

It was tedious, painstaking work, with progress made in infinitesimal steps, through a battlefield not all emerge from alive. It was a war where many are maimed, but there are many happily married men, pillars of their neighborhoods, who know exactly what I am talking about. They survived the battlefield. However they did not leave a paper trail. I did.

Looking at the embarrassing evidence, on paper now yellowing, forty years later, one thing that is apparent to me now, (though not at the time),  is that I was writing to someone. I wrote many letters-I-would-not-mail, and knew I would not mail them half-way down the first page, but didn’t crumple the paper up and throw it away (the old-fashioned version of the “delete” key), but instead kept on writing. Perhaps for a time I was still writing to the person the letter was addressed to,  (and perhaps that person did not sleep well that night), but as the letter proceeded it increasingly wasn’t slurred to the person I began writing it to, but rather to someone else. Sometimes I stood at a podium and raged at the world at large, but other times I’d write stuff I never intended the world to see; sheer diary-rantings, but I was writing to someone. Who was I writing to?

I had an aversion to “mediums”, or any other form of astral-creep, (I believed that you shouldn’t believe in ghosts because they lie), yet for me a blank page was a sort of crystal ball. I’d sit down before something that was blank, never entirely certain what I was about to see. I might approach the paper with a seed of an idea (sometimes more emotional than intellectual) but had no clear idea of what was going to germinate. I might do the planting, but someone else was doing the growing. Who was I dealing with?

Looking back, I think something too outrageous to think at the time. I think I was writing to God. Why? Mostly because I don’t think a man gets out of such a battleground alive, without God’s help. But at the time I tended to think of God as being above the trenches, not down in the mud. Not that I was the sort who has to talk a certain way, using words like “thou”, “art” and “loveth”, when addressing God. I irreverently addressed God as “Hey You,” or “Listen, Buster,” intimately, and I tended to see God as a wonderful  friend who hauled me out of the mud. When I wound up back in the mud I thought it was my own blasted fault. I’d gone and done it again.

It did not occur to me that I might be recruited by God and sent into the filthy, stinking trenches because a battle was being fought. I might have felt better if I had that attitude. So would a lot of other hardened, flint-faced bachelors.  It is hard to feel at all good about yourself when you are covered with mud. Also, in the heat of a battle, few think clearly. When the battle is invisible and societal you often don’t even know how you got drafted.

Some have the idea that church-going people have perfect hair and wear beautiful clothes and have no problems and all smile with their eyebrows raised sympathetically upwards in the middle. Consequently having-problems indicates a person who isn’t going to church: A heathen. Church becomes a beautiful fort, a sparkling, pristine sanctuary full of perfected people away from all that is dirty and crude. But the church of Mother Teresa was the slums of Calcutta. The spiritual battlefield is not a pretty place, spiritual warfare is not for the gutless, and its soldiers rarely wear flowery hats.

Nor was the battle about feeding, clothing and sheltering, though that was involved. For me the battle was all about attitude, especially at the workplace.

Lots of ways that people feed, clothe and shelter both their own family, and their fellow man, involve dirty jobs; manure and fish guts; dirty dishes and diapers and bandages and nauseating toilets, and it is hard, midst such work, not to develop a bitterness and a bad attitude.

I tried to be different, to be the person at the job who would crack the joke that would turn dour faces bright with hilarity. But sometimes uplift came strangely from shutting my mouth and just listening. Some grumblers haven’t really been listened to in years, and if you shed a tear they are astounded.

In a simplistic way this defined the two sides in a battle between uplift and put-downs, perhaps also traced by the opposing sayings, “No good deed goes unrewarded” and “No good deed goes unpunished.”

So what was won, in these battles? I hardly thought about it, except that it involved the recognition that happiness was free. I could not write anything as succinct as this:

“Few were working the tough jobs because they desired that form of work over all others; rather they were working for a paycheck that would purchase what they desired, which lay outside the workplace. Therefore, if happiness was dependent on a certain object outside the workplace, there was no reason to be happy at work, because the object wasn’t there. Conversely, if they were happy at work, then they actually didn’t need that specific object in order to be happy. They might be working to pay for shelter, but shelter was not a prerequisite of happiness; they could walk singing in the rain. In conclusion, happiness was independent of a paycheck; it was free.”

Rather than being able to articulate what I saw, I simply saw it: Happiness lay all around, and was free. I didn’t need LSD or whisky to walk around being absurdly optimistic. I was happy by nature, and assumed that Happiness was what being a “hippy” was all about. But few seemed to recall the revival at the end of the 1960’s, called by some “The Summer of Love”, was for many an event that occurred independent of drug usage. It was an unforeseen and unexpected gift, and for many drug-usage was an attempt to prolong and/or enhance the experience. Then, as the experience faded, it seemed increasingly unreal, and mushy.

The disillusionment of the counter-culture was painful to watch, and to me seemed unnecessary, for it largely seemed to involve people putting more and more requirements onto happiness, when happiness was free and required nothing. Madison Avenue stated a child could not be happy without a certain toy, when it was quite obvious the child was just as happy playing with the box the toy came in. In like manner people felt they could not be happy without a raise, or rights, or a promised pension far in a future they might not live to see, or the insurance-money to pay for a doctor even though they were not actually sick, or the money for a college education for their child who was still in diapers, or the next dose of a drug,  or the attention of a man or woman, even one who was already married to someone else, or the attention of vast crowds of strangers, all cheering and throwing money. Without these requirements fulfilled (and even on the rare occasions when they were fulfilled,) contentment evaporated and discontentment grew. As happiness faded, I didn’t feel I was leaving the counter-culture as much as the counter-culture was leaving me, corrupted by unrelenting hankering, until it seemed I stood alone, as a counter-counter-culture.

Was I becoming conservative? No, I don’t think so, for there is nothing really conservative about Truth, Love and Understanding. They may be ancient things, but so are a sunrise, the springtime, and the birth of a baby. There is something eternally fresh and new about humanity’s better desires, and to call them old-fashioned is like calling healing “old”, when it is in fact rejuvenation, like a fountain of youth.

The truth of the matter is that I was absolutely horrified at age 28 by the election of Ronald Reagan.  Not that I ever listened to a word he said. By that time he had likely stated hundreds of times “I did not leave the Democrat party; the Democrat party left me”, and if I had heard that even once, all sorts of bells and whistles would have gone off in my head. I might have said, “I can relate.” But I “had eyes and could not see; had ears and could not hear”. I never heard him once, and hated his guts. Nothing made me angrier than to see him smile.

Why? I suppose it was because he represented, symbolically, in my subconscious,  the evil power that was causing all the older hippies to backslide. They gave up on Truth, Love and Understanding for drugs, sex, and selling-out, and it was all Ronald Reagan’s fault. He was the establishment, and I was anti-establishment.

If I had ever bothered to listen to a word Ronald Reagan said I would have understood he was anti-establishment, for he believed the people and not the government should rule. This American idea, honed and polished by the Founding Fathers, is loathed by all despots, dictators, tyrants, and believers in Big-Government, but is adored by God. It involves loving your neighbor, even loving your enemy. It involves not bossing others about, commanding them like slaves, telling them what to do, but rather listening to them.

(Concerning the “elite establishment” of Washington D.C., Madison Avenue, and Hollywood, Ronald Reagan was an aberration, a pearl in the slimy ooze of an oyster, and should remind you of what I stated earlier: “The very saying, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater” admits it is possible, when repelled from a bad thing, to lose a good thing as well.”

Considering that Ronald Reagan was in many ways on my side, but I despised him and refused to listen to a word he said, it should be obvious I had to learn things the hard way. And learn I did. The election of Ronald Reagan marked the start of the most brutal period of my life (so far), and it occurred because I was cruising for a bruising. I refused to listen to good advice, the few times it was offered. And it was seldom offered. Who in their right would offer advice to a person who looked ferocious, the moment the subject of advice was broached? Not that I wasn’t cheerful and giving, cheerful and giving, cheerful and giving the rest of the time. But if even an angel had come down from heaven to offer good advice, I might have snarled at them, at that point in my life. I had too much figured out, without arriving at any answers. The “Summer of Love” had happened, but now it was “Ten Years After”:

Now it is nearly fifty years after, and the School Of Hard Knocks has taught me a thing or two. But it seems sad I had to suffer so much, in order to learn. If only I had listened. But the same seems true for the current generation: If only they would listen to me. But they won’t, if they follow my example. I never honored my elders, so why should they? I stated,  “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”, and now I am over sixty. Why should they trust me?

They actually shouldn’t. I am not God. I am just a fellow seeker, conducting what Gandhi called “experiments with the Truth.”  True, Gandhi’s experiments involved a restricted diet and mine involved an unrestricted consumption of beer, and he went to jail where I avoided even the incarceration of a steady job, but I was like him in that we both experimented with Truth.

If you experiment with Truth you will run up against the Law. In Gandhi’s case he would state God’s Law was different from man’s law, and he’d go to jail for breaking man’s law. In my case I’d question God’s law. For example, God’s law states that you shouldn’t chase a woman who is another’s  wife just because she is beautiful and she smiles at you. I’d wonder, “Why not?” Then I would do some investigative reporting, and the School of Hard Knocks would supply the answer in the form of a karmic mugging.

Intellectually, the answer would bore your socks off. Why? Because, in my case, each pleasurable kiss, a few seconds long,  seemed to result in a hundred hours of late night scribbling.  It was the unmarried version of “Marry in haste; repent at leisure.” Karma may be even, in the case of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but life wasn’t fair, in the case of my love-life. It may be different in the case of a Casanova who never looks back, but in the case of my love-life it seemed an eye for 1,217 eyes, and a tooth for 1,217 teeth.

Would you read 1,217 pages of unpleasant stuff, for a single page that was pleasant? No? I didn’t think so. But I wrote those 1,217 pages. (And, for the record, I myself deleted a lot of those pages. I arrived in California in December 1982 and left in July 1984, and when I left I had to lighten my load, and threw well over a thousand pages into the dumpster. I doubted people would ever care for the details of my personal battle. It was between me and God, and the struggle was not so nice as Robert Frost put it. [“A lover’s quarrel”]. You might think you’d be interested in all the details, but I assure you not a person who knew me at that time was the slightest bit interested in all the details. Only God was interested, and I may have even worn His infinite patience thin.

All the pages upon pages of scribble was a sort of rough draft, and the worldly have no interest in a rough draft unless you have written a million-seller, (and even then the scrutiny is all too often only to besmirch the hard work of writers by pointing out their imperfections). But I had no million-seller. My imperfections were all too obvious. Nothing I wrote had a prayer of being published.) So why did I write?

Good question. I had no answer. Looking back, I think I was desperately fighting an insanity I could not clearly identify or even recognize. I was in over my head. Therefore, in terms of intellect, what I produced was largely dirty diapers.

Fortunately, when intellect fails, we mortals have another means of expressing Truth, called music. When brains fail, we can still sing the blues.

Among the embarrassing and yellowing pages of stuff I wrote when I was twenty-eight are a few things that hardly embarrass me at all. Stuff called “poetry”. For example, check out these lyrics I wrote in 1982:

I met a girl so lovely I couldn’t brace my knees.
She busted up my winter like the softest April breeze.
Though I had many problems I forgot what problems were
And became better than I am, all because of her.

Chorus:
Do not turn away from love. Do not turn away.
Do not be my midnight. Be the dawning of new day.

As long as I stayed sturdy she was shelter from the storm.
As long as I kept smiling she was loving. She was warm.
She must have been a mirror that reflects a happy face
But which, when you get grumpy, puts you promptly in your place.

Chorus

The day I first had problems was the day she turned away.
The day I first stopped smiling fairest heaven smogged to gray.
Though I have several talents I forgot what talents were
And became alcoholic, all because of her.

Chorus

And now I sit in city parks and sip from paper bags.
I know that love was beautiful, but how the lover sags.
I watch young lovers amble by; so sweet; so cute; so gay;
And when they roll their eyes at me this is what I say:

You two will turn away from love. You too will turn away.
You’ll be each others midnights; not the dawning of new day.

But in my midnight alleys, canyons hidden from the moon,
Trash-lids clash and bottles break and chordless kittens croon
And on their garbage pillows drunkards writhe in nightmare woes.
The ghost of love sings them a song, and this is how it goes:

It’s you who turned away from love. It’s you who’ve turned away,
But you’ve made too much midnight. You must break it with new day.