Words. Good Lord. Words. / In the beginning was the Word. / Then came the letters. / Then came variety, diversion, assembly -- the words. / Then came the sentence.
The Clam Lake Papers, by Edward Lueders (20)
On this last day of 2017, I want to have a conversation with one of my favorite books, The Clam Lake Papers, by Edward Lueders. (Published by WX Caxton Ltd, 1977). Please humor me, allow me to stretch my mind a little. Hopefully you'll find some small nugget of truth within it all. That's my hope, always, with anything I write (and you read). All my best to all of you. Blessings in the new year.
. . .Here I am again, typing. And it is comfortable: the computer screen having this rhetoric with my unspoken words, the words I would speak to a rapt audience. I mess up my words so often. I say what I do not need to say. But:
I must say what I mean, or I may never really know. (24)
. . . My thoughts are broken, my speech even more so; my days are full of flung-around words and ideas spoken aloud to people who may or may not be affected by them. How can I tell what effect my person or personality has on anyone else? How can we determine our worth?
Our worth is both chemical and mental. We are shaped by our environment, which we in turn shape. (25)
. . . I am worth quite a lot, to Gigi. Even now, she is coming over my back with both of her paws, licking at my face and reaching with her mouth to get to my nose. I am her everything, or at least half of it. Perhaps she really wishes I would let her out to relieve herself.
One sleeps and wakes and sleeps again, but one also eats. […] One’s acts and thoughts converge, separate, converge, separate. (25)
. . . Are we not emotion? And feeling? And desire which evolves into compassion, empathy, mutual desire for deep, inward connection? We are not dogs, but humans. We are above merely chemical things. Aren’t we?
. . . We are also memory. Keepers of memories.
I'm on the cliff of 2017, at the bridge in front of me to 2018. I’m thinking back on the progress of days that led me here, to Louisiana, and the road ahead into a new place, where I’ve decided to go—Michigan. It seems such a long time in coming. But hasn’t the decision always been there? The desire to be in a place where I am already living in my mind? The landscape of my thoughts has so often looked like: Michigan. It doesn’t even matter exactly where. Thinking of Michigan in my future makes it easier to look behind me and smile at it all, and then turn around and move forward. I’m anxious to be somewhere I honestly, truly want to be.
. . . Christmas morning. I was in Detroit. (Was that real?!) I looked at the Eastern Michigan sky, perhaps 8 a.m., and from the inside, from warmth, the sky was a pure, prickable blue, like a sheen of ice, invisible glass. Beautiful. In the moment, I had no words. It simply felt like I was looking up at home. At peace and contentment and rightness. In many ways, it felt like letting go. Like giving up, like letting myself rest.
. . . we have become so thoroughly dependent on sight as our access to reality. Do we not feel the way things are? "Seeing is believing" we say. What's wrong with "smelling is believing" or "hearing is believing" or "touching or feeling is believing"? Why give the sense of sight such a monopoly on belief? (82)
Doesn't the mental image duplicate and combine all the senses? [...] Sight involves metaphysics as well as physics. A better slogan: "Being is believing." (82)
. . . I am a spiritual person. I believe in something beyond the chemical, metaphysical, beyond mere nature. Though nature moves with a force I believe cannot be entirely understood, I believe that humans are still more. We carry within us forces that transcend mere life and death.
I do not want to sound humanist. Because beyond human, I must believe, is stronger power, an all-pure, all-loving force which I will name God. Though the Being has many names.
And it is this Being which forms, begins, sets aright the worth within each day. Beyond ME is this Being, the instigation to be good, pure, true—to myself, and to others, but first of all to the Being who began, and every day begins again, with Goodness. It is not a force I can conjure up on my own. I am too weak for that.
Besides. This life cannot entirely be about. . . me.
No clock to measure and count off the hours. Good. The hours may measure me for a change. (21)
My failures for 2017:
relationships that never developed
jobs that were less than I imagined, and at which I didn’t totally succeed
stories, essays, compositions never written
conversations never had
words never spoken
walks never taken
silences never endured
food I should not have eaten
rest I did not take
52 books not completed…
. . . Beyond these failures is the future, is TODAY. And each new day holds the hope of opportunity, and above that: grace. A beautiful, gentle grace, settling like snow onto my hands, my skin, my heart. It’s an image, yes. It’s an idea. I believe in it. The hours may measure me for a change. The hours may pass, and I will do my best to fill them with goodness, accepting the grace from a greater Being, my God, who is beyond nature, and of nature, the Beginning and End of each day. For life is made of days. And that is a good thing.
Happy 2018, friends, I pray blessings and goodness for you. I’ll still be here, thinking (and occasionally writing). I won’t be reading 52 books next year, but maybe, oh, 20? I’ll do my best to share insights.
All my best, always.