One coot to another

As a preamble to a friend’s retirement, “Congratulations” doesn’t seem quite in order, other than, “Wow, you’ve survived!” Or “Hallelujah,” in a minor key full of wonder. Like making it to the end of a gauntlet.

Chronology doesn’t matter in these matters, older as I am but less mature, the eternal 17-year-old emotionally.

I still have no idea of how it feels to “be retired,” other than there seems to be a bit more space to savor what we’re doing or eating, if we want or can remember to do so. Golf? Tennis? Who has time? And yes, after all those years in the newsroom, I’m still “on the clock,” even when sleeping. Tick-tick-tick, only now there’s more of an urgency of mortality. Well, at least so much of my literary writing doesn’t feel like acts of graffiti.

Continue reading “One coot to another”

Thinking about superfans

As a slogan, “must-see TV” gave a network brilliant focus, from the planning of shows to their execution and viewing.

The goal wasn’t just to get ratings numbers for advertising sales but rather hook those active viewers who were passionate about the series and wouldn’t miss the next show for anything. And afterward, they just had to talk about it with somebody or everybody.

As an author, I can be envious. The fact is, we writers need something more than passive readers, not that we don’t value them, too. We want to connect with those hanging on every breath. Even just one. It really does come down to passion.

What really excites you these days? 

Wrestling with Czeslaw Milosz, fellow poet

In one poem, which I’ve crunched here from my own journal entry, he replies: “You ask me how to pray to someone who is not. All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge and walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard, above landscapes the color of ripe gold transformed by a magic stopping of the sun. That bridge leads to the shore of reversal where everything is just the opposite and the word is unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned. Notice: I say we there, everyone, separately, feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh and knows that if there were no other shore they will walk that aerial bridge all the same.”

Elsewhere he wrote: “’I could not have had a better life than the one I had,’ she writes to me in February 1983 from Warsaw, Irena who has lived through the occupation of her country by two enemy armies, had to live in hiding trailed by the Gestapo, then adapt herself to Communist rule, witness the terror and the workers’ responses in 1956, 1970, 1976, 1980, and the martial law proclaimed in December 1981.”

I’m not sure I agree fully with his theology, but I completely appreciate the richness of his grappling with 20th century unbelief and its practice with his discovery that there is, indeed, something larger than what we admit – something few other artists in our time have been able to pull off convincingly enough to be considered sound artistically. (Milosz won the Nobel Prize, 1980.)

He also wrote: “To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.”

And, he quoted from Renee le Senne: “For me the principal proof of the existence of God is the joy I experience any time I think that God is.”

Again, Milosz: “To wait for faith in order to pray is to put the cart before the horse. Our way leads from the physical to the spiritual.” And himself: “My friend Father J.S. did not believe in God. But he believed God, the revelation of God, and he always stressed the difference.”

How existential!

Other panoramas opened

Thinking of my own time living in the foothills of upstate New York as well as Kenzie’s situation in my novel Pit-a-Pat High Jinks, there’s a big question:

If we loved mountains so much, why didn’t we go climbing? The Adirondacks weren’t that far away, and the Catskills were closer.

For me, anyway, there were so many other fronts to explore, which I did, leading on to the ashram at the edge of forest in the Poconos.

No regrets, then. Besides, what emerged is a better story.