Friday, December 21, 2012

Comedy or Drama?

I heard someone say on radio today that there are two kinds of people: "people who think their lives are a comedy and those people who think life is a drama."

That's probably true, though for the past week, I've been caught in the drama of Newtown, I usually see life as a comedy, and I'm the fall-guy star.

All the slapstick of our new kitchen aside, today the Christmas tree fell down. It's been up for a week or so and no problem. Bern put the lights on a few days ago--we do still acknowledge Advent and don't have the tree up and decorated before the last few days before Christmas.

But I was putting on the ornaments today. I love that part, meeting old friends again after a year. We have so many ornaments--being married 42 years does that--that we normally have two trees: a white pine for me and a blue spruce for Bern. I decorate my tree only with things that fly--birds, angels, butterflies and silly things like the ornament that has an angel riding an elephant with wings. We have lots of weird things like that. And Bern's tree is usually earth bound things and all the ball shaped ornaments.

But since we have been so hassled by the endless steam of workers making our kitchen all new, we only have one tree this year. In the dining room beside one of the 7 foot tall windows in the front of our house. It happens to be the window our Puli likes to lay beside and look out at the street and all the horrible threats to our existence.

Today, Bela was laying there while I decorated the tree and Bern put stuff away in the kitchen that is done enough to put stuff away in. I went to the bathroom--there are other blogs about my bathroom habits that you can find it you want to, though why would you want to? Then Bern was yelling to me and I ran into the dining room, probably the biggest room in our house, and a room other people, if they lived here would make a living room with a big TV and all. We have no TVs downstairs. And our living room is a small room because we seldom 'live' in it. That's where the other tree would have been had things been different. The dining room is a place to eat, which is what we like more than most things, so we made the biggest room the dining room.

Too much explanation.

Anyway, I suspect the Puli, Bela by name, was where he usually was, under the tree looking out the window and he saw a monster in the street in front of our house and lept up barking, knocking the tree over. He weighs 50 pounds and is built like a Sherman Tank, so I have no doubt he could have done that.

Finally, after several options ended in madness, Bern drove a nail into the window frame and I handed her twine from both sides of the trunk of the tree and we tied it in place. That sucker won't fall down again and I put the large bag holding Bern's present so that Bela can't get back behind the tree again.

Every year for 7 years or so now, Bern creates some visual art for me for Christmas and I write her a poem or a short story. Below is the poem I wrote last year for her. She gave me an almost indescribable collage of everyone who is blood of my blood--our two children, their partners, our three grandchildren, our dog and cat--all pictures with folded paper coming out of what they call me. Dad, Jim, Baba, Grandpaw, Grampy, Man, 'mommy' for the cat and an incredible background of all those names over and over. I can't describe it, you'd have to see it. And I have seven years of stuff like that. I should have a show. I'll get an eighth one in a few days. Anyhow, here's last year's poem. This year I wrote a 26 page short story about a dog that gets lost and then...well, I can't give it away, but it is Christmas Miracle stuff.


(A poem in five parts for Bern—Christmas 2011—with much, much love....Jim)

(WHITEOUT is a weather condition in which visability and contrast are severely reduced by snow.)


A solitary figure trudges
across of faceless landscape.

It is bitterly cold and bleak beyond believing.

Nothing makes sense.

Exhaustion is near.

It is dawn, or dusk.

Faint light.

(The horizon disappears completely and there are no reference points at all, leaving the individual in a distorted orientation.)


Down is up.

Left is right.

Forward is back.

East is South and North is West.

The figure pauses. Sits.

Dreams of sleep or sleeps and dreams.

Either the other, or the one.

(Whiteout has been defined as: A condition of diffuse light when no shadows are cast, due to a continuous white cloud layer appearing to merge with the white snow surface.)


Without a shadow, who are we?

A shadow is proof positive that we are there:
We take up space,
block light,
displace air,
have substance,

To cast a shadow is to be Real.

Without a shadow, where are we?

Do we exist? Have being?

Shadowless, are we real?

People can be lost in their own front yards during a true whiteout, when the door is only 10 feet [3.04 meters] away, and they would have to feel their way back.)


I often experience whiteouts—mostly in winter, which is appropriate.

I feel lost, disorientented,
confused by pain, physical failures,
the frailties of my body,
my memory,
who I am,
not knowing if I BE,
or not.

Some whiteouts are emotional:
fear of fading away into unbroken white,
wondering if I have been
good enough,
loving enough,
caring enough,

Disappearing in whiteness,
dreaming of sleep,
sleeping dreamlessly.

Longing, longing greatly,
longing always
to feel my way back to the front door.

(In whiteouts no surface irregularities are visable, but a dark object may be clearly seen. There is no visible horizon.)


You are the front door of my life.

You are the 'clearly seen' object when my horizon is not visable.

You have always oriented me in the whiteouts of my life.

Whether I have been good enough,
loving enough, caring enough,
enough...or not,

I could find my way,
reach the front door,
orient myself,
see the horizon,
survive the whiteouts,
weather the storm,
move through the bleakness and the chill,
the dreams of sleeping
and the sleeping dreams
and find my way home.

You give me back my shadow
and make me exist,
make me real,
make me

You are the 'home' of my life
and the clearing that leads to light
and wholeness, and wonder,
and magic, and love.

And simply,
just this:


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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.