Metamemories rollover

This is the time of year for rolling over the files.  It’s a little late in the season, but I’m working on it.  I’m doing it at the office, and I’m doing it at home.

Paper files stack up in piles waiting to fit into boxes, and electronic files sit on internal hard drives  waiting to be transferred to external hard drives.  And then there are the websites.

My writing table at home is cluttered with file folders, file baskets, and file boxes.  All that has to be cleared away, so that I can work at the table again.

Once I lived in a house with an attic, which seemed like a cavern into which unlimited fileboxes could be loaded.  Now I live in an apartment with a storage closet.  For every new box that goes in, an old box has to come out.

It took a couple of years just to whittle the files down from a huge mass filling the living room to a medium-sized mass filling the storage closet.  Now the whittling is getting harder.  I have a sheet with guidelines on how long to keep files—tax files, bank files and so on.  But at my law office, I have seen cases turn on whether a client could find a document from 20 years ago.

My most important files are not even on the sheet of guidelines.  These are my pictures, letters, manuscripts, and ephemera from the many organizations that I have been a part of, many events I have attended, and many causes I have supported.  I can’t get rid of those.

I’ve been rolling over my websites, too.  This is involuntary, due to yet another break in the line of software I use to create the websites.  The craveylaw.com website is fairly far along in the process.  The robincravey.com website is currently reduced to a single page.  I noticed that taking down that site knocked the supports out from under a lot of the information that formerly came up in an online search of my name.  The tiltedplanetpress.com site is still static, without an update in over a year, just waiting.  I’m getting there.

Creation of this blog site has been something of an admission of defeat, but also a break for daylight.  I had to get something going while all the main sites were rebuilt.  (Why?  Do you have to ask?)  But it is also very liberating to just write something, select a picture, and post it.  Well, there’s  the editing and rewriting.  (Oh, you rewrite?  Yes.)

Once I delighted in page layout.  I stood for hours at slanted layout tables and glowing light tables.  Moving layout to the computer turned it into a sitdown activity.  Assembling carefully cut pieces of paper was reduced to pushing images around a screen.  It’s more powerful, sure.  More efficient, probably.  Electrons don’t grow on trees.

Going through old files, real or virtual, brings back memories of course.  Evaluate the memories.  Which ones are worth saving?

Mammoth Symmetry

Mammoth Symmetry

Mammoth dome began
in deep earth convection
heaving, surging, not emerging
swollen, hardened, buried forever—
not forever.  Patient ancient elements
wore away the over burden, revealed
stone dome in convex symmetry.  Up top I stand
surveying loved landscapes, hearing urgent wind.
Now— Let me shed my overburden.
Let me emerge in symmetry.

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Mindfulness

Some time before dawn this morning, I lay in bed thinking about the meaning of mindfulness.  When I say I was thinking about it, I mean that the word came to mind, and with it came a variety of meanings, each one with a trail of thoughts behind it.

The word mindfulness came to mind, because it is the term I sometimes use for what I was doing at that time.  I was observing the flow of thoughts, feelings, and impressions through my mind.

I do this fairly often, usually in the early morning, and generally, I enjoy it.

At root, mindful is a simple word that means aware.  However, as befits a word about the mind, it has been invested with many subtle meanings.  It has been argued about.  No, really.

The mind is an intimate and subjective experience.  When we talk about it, we’re going to have differences, even misunderstandings.

For me, the mind is an everflowing fountain of wonders, ideas, impressions, memories.  For much of my waking life, I discipline the mind to serve a purpose.  I organize it to solve problems, direct actions, receive information, or communicate.  During those times, I ignore, more or less, the everflowing fountain.

But in those night hours between the time I wake up and the time I rise to begin the day, I let the fountain flow, and I observe.  I enjoy it.  Sometimes the fountain gushes with such force that I’m driven to pen and paper.  That’s good, too.

Is that mindfulness?  That’s what I call it.

Reading ahead

I’ve been looking for a good novel to read.  So, each week I go through the New York Times Book Review, looking at each review.  It’s hard to find something I want to read.

Oh, sure, I find things I want to read, but they’re not novels.  They’re histories, biographies, books like that.  This week, the Times reviewed Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall.  It’s a reconsideration of Aristle’s works as self-help works.  Of course.  So, I pulled my copy of Aristotle out of the bookshelf and thumbed through it.  Should I?

I don’t know why, but I really am determined to read some fiction.  I have a collection of fiction that I have collected over the years, and I reread various books from it from time to time.  You’re curious, aren’t you?  I’ll give you my all-time list some other time.

And maybe that’s what I’m looking for, a novel, or preferably, a series of novels, that I can add to my all-time list.

So, what fiction is the Times reviewing this week?

There’s Hark, which is called a skewering of contemporary culture.  That sounds promising.  But, then we learn that the main character is a schmuck.  Sorry, not interested.

Next we come to An Orchestra of Minorities, which is the story of a man’s epic quest to prove he is worthy of the woman he loves.  Well, yes.  Inspiring.  But, it turns out that despite his efforts, he just isn’t worthy.  Hmmm.

Paging forward, we find Adele, a novel about a classy French woman who becomes addicted to sex.  I’m wary but curious.  Several warning flags go up, but then comes the dealbreaker.  The writing is not so good.  Spare me.

There’s You Know You Want This, which is a collection of dark stories.  I’m not attracted to “dark”, but at least the investment is small.  I might read a story.

At last, there’s The Falconer, which is a story about basketball and love at an elite school.  Run away.

Wait, here’s a list of historical fiction.  Does that count?

A new year opens prospects

Adventure, Discovery, Accomplishment, maybe Friendship, maybe Romance.

The last few years have been a time of upheaval in my life.  I changed from a married family man with a life of busy community service to a solitary man living alone, often in deep thought, sometimes in restless longing.

Last year the pace and quality of change moderated.  I had been trying to move forward with some poetry projects, but I felt disconnected from them.  I was searching for a way forward.  Then, I found it.

One night I woke up in the wee hours with my mind racing.  I went to the writing table.  Instead of opening the journal, I took my pen and began writing spontaneously on the blotter.  Since that night, for months, I’ve been pouring out my heart and mind on sheet after sheet of blotter paper.

Now, everything feels new and alive.  I work urgently, enjoying the moment, but feeling the breath of time on my neck.  As I work, I’m pursuing new visions.

This year will bring new prospects.  I can’t say what they are, yet.  But, I’m making ready for them.

Fall equinox on Old Baldy…

Garner State Park, Sunday, September 23, 2018…

Rose at six, ate breakfast, read the news, took a walk by the river.

I have the shelter rented for the night, but I’m not going to stay.  I’ll pack up and leave after supper.  It’s worth paying for the extra night to have all day to enjoy the park.

I left Austin after work Friday, top down.  Stopped at Fredericksburg Brewing about sundown.  Turned south and drove through the misty dark with lightning highlighting the clouds on the horizon ahead.  My top was still down, but the mist just flowed over the cockpit.

At the shelter late, I unloaded the car, piling everything on the table.  I drank a beer and went to bed.  After a while I wakened to the racket of a huge thunderstorm.  I turned on my lamp and was startled to see standing water beneath my cot!  I waded to the table and sat on it, watching the water rise.

Finally, the storm passed over.  The water stopped rising and started falling.

I went outside to look around.  The shelter next door was vacant.  I walked over.  It was dry inside.  I moved in.

In my cot again, I heard a short violent struggle outside.  Fierce growling, then a few soft sobs, then silence.  Who was the predator, and who was the prey, I wondered.

Saturday morning I woke late, made coffee, breakfast.  I walked around the campground.  Some turkeys were pecking in the grass.

I hiked up Old Baldy.  That ascent makes the Hill of Life on Barton Creek look flat.  At the top, I turned through 240 degrees of the compass, surveying the panorama.

I felt myself reaching out across the earth to other peaks where I have stood.  That feeling of exalted vision began rising in me.  But there was also a profound sadness.  What have I done?  What is my direction from here?

To think that this chapter began on a peak in the Davis Mountains….

[Note, 4/29/19:  Just after this journal entry I began a long poetry manuscript to answer those last two questions.  The title is, Why do I long for a woman?  I will finish it soon.]

Age of migrations

All around the world, populations are in motion, pushed out of their native lands by drought, famine, flood, oppression, terror, and war.

Generous people and noble leaders of the West have opened their borders to the migrations.

The wealthy peoples of the world, more and more, look at the ragged, hungry, and frightened masses as a threat to their happy homelands.

Demagogues have seduced resentful westerners with the lie that they can halt the migrations if they are allowed the power to enact policies sufficiently hostile and inhumane.

This is an ignorant and empty boast.  These migrations are epochal.

Dislocated populations are best kept as close to home as possible.

What is the answer?

The answer is to create safe havens for dislocated people in their own regions.  The havens must be not merely accepting of the migrants, but attractive and supportive.  The West must fund them.