Talking about the weather

It was 3 days after I heard the prognosis before I talked to my dad. Mom and I had spoken on the phone a couple of times by then, and I had some good excuses all set up in my head for focusing on her instead.

“I’m sure Dad is tired,” for instance. Or, “Well, Mom said he’s got a lot of visitors right now. I don’t want to overload him.” Or, “What the fuck am I supposed to say?”

Actually, that last one was pretty close to accurate. The thing is, really, that I don’t really talk to Dad about big things very much. We talk, most of the time, about business, or how their rental property is doing, or something ridiculous that happened in our neightborhood in Chicago. On occasion our conversation will veer into more intimate topics, and we both welcome that, but it never seems like neither of us is actively looking to initiate that shift.

It’s not that we have a poor relationship. After a few rough years where I was an adolescent asshole (and a post-adolescent asshole), we’ve been pretty close. Close, but not intimate. So what do you talk about, with someone with whom you are close but not intimate, when one of the most intimate things possible is actively happening to them?

If you are me, you talk about the weather.

Yep, the weather.

Boy it sure is beautiful this weekend isn’t it and wasn’t that snow crazy a couple of weeks back and at the beginning of spring too, hah it sure didn’t feel like Spring, did it? Oh and you won’t believe this but our garage was broken into AGAIN and our lawnmower was stolen for the second time and you know it’s crazy how much I like mowing the yard here which is a good thing I guess since I’m sure not saving any money doing it myself if I have to replace my mower every year. Well it sounds like you have a busy night ahead of you so I should let you go I love you and I’ll call again soon.

Yeah.

Next time I think I need notes to have a real conversation with my father. Maybe something like, “What do you need from me? You know I’ll drop anything I can for you, right? I’ge got your back, Dad, whatever you need.”

Oh, and how about that weather, eh?

Well, crap.

So, my dad is dying of liver cancer.

 

There’s more to the story than that, of course. Even so, when the bottom line is that he’s dying, I’m finding that the rest of the story rather less compelling.

 

Since receiving this news a few days ago, I’ve found myself with a desire to write about…something. Not my feelings, necessarily, since those are rather obvious (I’m sad, angry, et cetera). If not my feelings about the situation, then perhaps my actions. Which are fascinating, of course. Thus far I have cried, fretted, said maudlin things, failed to sleep, and perhaps played a few more computer games than is entirely healthy.

 

So I’m not really sure that there’s much to say that will be of interest to anyone other than myself, and I’m also aware that my parents might prefer that I not, you know, share every detail about what’s happening with the world. Even so, there’s at least a small sense of relief that I get from writing. For now, I’ll put these posts under a password, and share it with those who ask for it. The posts might become more public at some point. In the meantime, I figure the password protection will also make it easier to skip over this stuff, for those who might prefer to do that.

Tarot Draw #12 – Oh, really now?

In a little less than three weeks, I will leave my job at the bank for a couple of days so I can head to Kansas City to present at an event called “The Seduction of Spring: Persephone Ascends.” I will stop teaching clients about an updated corporate credit card management system (and stop teaching my coworkers about how to behave like reasonable human beings) in favor of joining a team of amazing teachers to facilitate workshops on personal growth, cycles of the natural world, myth and magic, and, with a little luck, assist in offering a little bit of life-changing spiritual work. You know, like you do.

(I will also, for those couple of days, take about a 90% pay cut. But that’s neither here nor there.)

Not for nothing – if you think this sort of event would appeal to you, please consider joining us. Details can be found here or, if you prefer, just drop me an email.

In any case, we’re very much in the midst of planning the details of the event. Don’t get me wrong – the broad strokes and theme were settled months ago, but as we get closer to the big day and get a sense of how many people have registered (and who they are), it’s time to put some more form into place and shape the theme into something more concrete. This is the point in the process that is either a lot of fun or a little terrifying. Or both.

While doing some brainstorming today, I remembered that it’s been approximately forever since I wrote up a tarot draw here. I’ve been working with the cards a little more often recently, but none of those questions have been particularly fit for public consumption. I figured that this was a good time to

Question: What should I keep at the front of my mind while planning the Persephone event?

Well, that happened.
No shit.


Card:
The World (no shit, The World)

First impressions: Well, I suppose a more perfect card could have come up, but I’m not sure what it would be.

About the card: We have an almost-naked woman floating in a bright blue sky, in the center of a green ring. Surrounding her are four clouds, each with a different head in it. From the top left and working around, there’s a man, an eagle, a lion and a bull. The woman is holding a wand (?) in each hand and has a long piece of fabric sort-of draped arond her. Her hair and the cloth are both blowing back over her shoulder, as if caught in the wind.

The story without words: It’s difficult for me to put a narrative on this particular card. With only one person there, and that one pretty obviously not, you know, a run of the mill human being, I find myself jumping pretty quickly from “What’s the story?” to “What does it mean, man?” One thing I will say, though. The lady isn’t standing still. She looks like she’s running, or dancing. She seems to be pretty pleased with herself. I imagine that if I was able to fly, I’d feel much the same.

Okay, and one other interesting note. The imagery here is actually very similar to that of the Wheel of Fortune, where we have similar images in the corners of the card, and of course a circular pattern in the center. But while that card draws attention to the edge of the circle, The World seems to be all about being right there in the center, where one isn’t in danger of being thrown off the wheel entirely.

But what does it mean?: Well, if we consider the cards in the Major Arcana as a single trip through life, The World is at the end of that journey. I like to imagine that way back at the beginning, the Fool (or Jason) took a tumble off the edge of the cliff and entered life, learning lessons from each of the cards along the way. And now, at the end, what do we find? Dancing, and flight, and magic, and joy.

And also mystery, I think. Persephone’s story is one of cycles. She returns to to the Underworld for half of the year, and then to the world Above for the other half. The pattern repeats itself every year, and the world is changed by it. Her movement from Above to Below is, in that myth, the explanation for why the Earth has seasons. So this looks like a card of fulfillment, and journey’s end…but isn’t that also the beginning of another journey? What will Persephone learn in the next cycle? What will the Fool learn in his next life? What draws each of us over that cliff?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m pretty geeked about this event now.

A few words about space, stuff and intention

It’s safe to say that the last few months have been rough ones for me. Emotional, interpersonal and financial stresses have been weighing on me, ranging from the pretty much usual frustrations about work and my minor role in contributing to the evils of the world (working for one of the largest banks in the world is not, as it happens, my dream job) to exceptionally unpleasant feelings of helplessness around my family, my home and the people I care about most. November and December, in particular, included several conversations similar to this:

Concerned friend: “Jason, how are things going for you these days?”

Jason: “Well, my life is just as shitty as they were last week, and since last week it was as shitty as I can remember my life ever being, I’d guess I’d say that I’m not doing so good.”

Concerned friend: “Oooooookay…..”

So, you know. Good times for everyone around me.

The biggest frustration, really, has been an acute lack of optimism. I’m not a rabid glass-is-half-full sort of guy, to be sure, but I’ve really tried to cultivate a sense of hopefulness in my life over the past 5 or 6 years, and mostly I’ve been successful at that. Lately, though, that well has been pretty dry. It’s become pretty obvious that I need to break some of my unhealthy patterns and lay some better ones in my life.

A few weeks back, I decided to try jumpstarting this process by shaking up my physical space. There has been some reorganization of space around the homestead, and as a result there was an empty bedroom down the hall from mine. Tempting as it was to just shove all of my crap in there and sort it out later (a strategy that I employed when we bought the place in 2010), I wanted to make this move – if you can rightly call it a “move” when it’s down the hall – a more intentional process than that. Also, it had been a long time since I painted anything around here and I clearly needed a reminder of how much I hate painting.

Over the course of about 3 weeks, I primed and painted the room, shopped for (and finally bought) some lamps and shelving and went through everything in the old room and asked myself whether it was necessary or added something of emotional value to my space. It was interesting to note which of my possessions made the cut based on those criteria and which didn’t. Most of my books, of course, did, though I put about 30 into a donation pile. All of my clothes that I hadn’t worn in more than a year, with the exception of one of a suit that I just haven’t had cause to wear lately, went away.

Of course, the spare hard drive and the spindle of DVD-ROMs that I haven’t touched in about forever? Those somehow went into the general tech bin despite serving no immediate purpose. Apparently they fall into the “Emotional value” category, since I have no real justification for calling them necessary.

Once that process was done, actually moving into the new room was pretty simple. I did the majority of the work myself, though I had some help getting the bed moved in and put together, and some advice as to where to put the shelf for my altar and exactly where to hang lamps and such. It was actually rather instructive to do so much of the physical labor myself – I found that I really appreciated the assistance I received for those few things where I asked for it. Also, as an intentional act, it carried a little more weight, knowing that most of what I now see around me was my own doing.

I still have a few more things to figure out. I’m waiting on a couple more frames so I can finish hanging some art on the walls, for instance, and I need a better storage solution beside the bed. I’m really happy with the outcome so far, though. It feels nice to know that what’s in this room is only what I actively want to have in here. It also helps that in the past week, I’ve had 2 of the best nights of sleep that I can remember having in a very long time.

One of the great luxuries we have in our home is that each of us has a space that’s completely our own domain. Not our own in the, “Everyone keep out at all times” sense, but in the, “This is my space and I’m happy to have you share it with me for a while” sense. This year, I’m hoping to both remember and take advantage of that abundance and luxury, and to maintain the sense of intention and choice I worked on when moving in.  

A couple of folks have asked for pictures, so I’m attaching them here. Please try not to cringe too much at the many flaws in the painting job you may see.

BR1

BR2

2013-01-07 18.54.53

2013-01-10 21.50.04

Tarot Draw #11: The Triumphant, if Potentially Short-Lived, Return

The other day, I posted something to Facebook along the lines of, “Lately, I don’t give a damn about any virtue other than generosity.” I wouldn’t say that that’s literally true, but it’s pretty darn close. Certainly, calling someone generous is one of the highest forms of praise in my book, and it’s a characteristic that I challenge myself with pretty regularly.

Of course, to be generous can mean any number of things. There’s generosity of “stuff” – that is, giving gifts, sharing tangible resources and wealth, that sort of thing. That’s an important aspect, though certainly not the only one. There’s also, I think, generosity of spirit. To me, this can look like a lot of different things, but one of the most important manifestations is thinking well of another person, of giving them the benefit of the doubt. There’s generosity, I believe, in facing a situation where I can just as easily think ill of someone as I can think well of them, and to make the conscious choice to think well.

In my world, there’s also generosity of time. When my partner offers to go to the grocery store while I am working so the ingredients I need to bake cookies are available when I get home, her generosity of time allows me to be generous in turn – because then it is possible for me to spend my time baking cookies for friends. Also, there are sometimes extra cookies, and this is no bad thing.

At the end of the day, my working definition of generosity is “Looking for ways to say yes.” Because you know, I can’t always do it. Nobody can. Even when we’re feeling flush or are otherwise in a place of abundance, resources are limited. Even when the right answer is Yes, sometimes the only answer I can offer in good conscience is Not Right Now. But I do try, at least a good amount of the time, to find that place of Yes as a default position – even when the question isn’t asked directly. Perhaps a better definition is to look for a way to live “Yes” rather than just to say “Yes”.

Clearly, my thoughts on the subject aren’t as well formed as I would like. I want to be more generous, and I want to surround myself with people who embrace generosity as a way of moving through the world. I know that much, at least…but this evening I find myself curious about what I might see in a random draw on the subject. So after dusting off my long-neglected deck, I pulled one card.

Question: What do the cards have to tell me about generosity tonight?

Holy crap, it's a pentacle bush! It's a Solstice Miracle!
Holy crap, it’s a pentacle bush! It’s a Solstice Miracle!

Card: The Seven of Pentacles

First impressions: Huh. That seems oddly direct.

About the card: Well, we have a guy in simple clothing – a tunic, leggings and boots – leaning on a scythe or other harvesting tool in what looks like a garden, looking very very serious. On the left side of the image, there’s a bush that is bearing fruit. Or, you know, pentacles. In any case, he’s got seven of them, one of which seems to have been harvested while the other six are awaiting his attention.

The story without words: I can’t help but be drawn to his expression. Dude looks tired to me. His shoulders are a little slumped, and he is looking at the bush like, “Oh, come on. I’ve got six more of those freaking things to harvest? Are you freaking kidding me?” At the same time, though, there are resources there, and they didn’t arrive out of nowhere. This guy looks like a farmer, a peasant – not someone who had a great deal to start with. It seems to me that he’s catching his breath and wondering if maybe tomorrow would be a better day to tackle the next part of the task.

But what does it mean?: It’s interesting. If I ignored the person in the card, I would say, “Hey, this thing is obviously about abundance. Look, the resources are literally falling off the bush. On the other hand, if I looked only at the person and ignored everything else, I would say, “Oh, geez. This guy is just done with this shit.” The person and the surrounding image seem a little bit at odds with each other.

Of course, the one fruit that is on the ground didn’t fall there. The bush was planted, and tended, and it grew, and then the fruit was harvested. This looks like a successful growing cycle to me – the bush is full of fruit, after all. But even in the midst of that success, our hero is tired and seems to be wishing that he could have outsourced the “harvesting” part of this operation.

So what about the generosity thing? Well…our farmer can’t share what he hasn’t harvested, right? Likewise, I don’t know that any of us can share what we haven’t yet manifested in our lives. It’s often tempting for me to say, “Hey, look, I just yanked this one bit of extra energy (or extra time, or extra money, or whatever) into being. Of course I can share it.” The problem, often, is that when I offer that up too quickly, later I’m angry with myself, or resentful of the other person, because I realize just how much work is before me to get the next fruit from the tree, as it were. At the same time, recognizing the resources I have access to (even if it will take a great deal of effort to manifest it) can serve as a good reminder that abundance does exist, sometimes.

A reminder of why the Catholic Church and I don’t really get along

 

Elizabeth, Melissa and I traveled down to my hometown of Springfield, Missouri last weekend to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary with about 80 of their closest friends. Overall, it was a rather rushed but great weekend. The party on Saturday, in particular was a great deal of fun, particularly chatting with a number of people I hadn’t seen for a long while (in some cases it had been 20 years, which is just baffling to imagine.)

 

On Sunday, my parents were renewing their vows, so I did something I haven’t done in at least eighteen years – I went to Mass with them. I haven’t identified as a Catholic for more than half of my life at this point, but I still carry a certain affinity for the church that I grew up in. I expected the experience to be a strange combination of the familiar and the strange, and that expectation at least was certainly met. Some of the highlights of the day included:

  • My parents’ church was remodeled about 15 years ago, and this was the first time I had spent more than 3 minutes inside the building since that happened (Mom and Dad had pretty significant roles in the fundraising for that project, so I got a nickel tour once it was finished, but I certainly hadn’t attended a service there). One neat thing is that the altar is now in the center of the church, with the rows of pews on opposite ends so the congregation is facing one another. I really liked that setup.
  • Apparently, the Catholic church occasionally changes up the wording of the liturgy. Who knew? I was surprised at how much this threw me off, actually. Even some of the little changes took me by surprise, which…good grief. I didn’t realize just how ingrained the language was, but even after almost 20 years I remembered how it used to be.
  • When I was younger, passing the collection plate (well, collection basket) was an essentially invisible part of the service to me. It happened at a particular point, and people were singing while it happened. It didn’t really make much of an impression on me then. On Sunday, though, it felt almost unseemly. Not because of the idea of soliciting donations, mind you – I am absolutely in favor of supporting one’s spiritual community in whatever form it takes. If I’m fed in some important way by a community, I should support it in whatever ways I am able. What I hadn’t really pieced together before, though, is what else is happening during this time. In a Catholic Mass, the collection is taken just before the consecration of the host, which immediately precedes the opportunity to take communion. During the collection, the priest is preparing for the consecration, preparing to offer communion to the parishioners. This is, for many (perhaps most) people, the whole point of going to Mass in the first place. It’s the part that, if you believe in this church’s teachings, that helps you get into freaking heaven. And just before that we’re going to ask for money? I just…wow. I do not like that message, at all.

 

Now, my discomfort with the way Mass is structured is basically immaterial. I’m not a Catholic, and by no means do I mean to suggest that this is inherently wrong, it just doesn’t work for me. To put it bluntly, my comfort is of essentially no importance whatsoever, because it’s not my church.

 

Having said that, when we were getting ready to leave I had a different experience that’s been weighing on me quite a bit this week.

 

Out in the vestibule of the church, there’s a large rack of pamphlets, most (or all) of which are distributed by the Knights of Columbus. While waiting to leave, Elizabeth and I flipped through a couple of them, wondering which we would find the most hilarious to read during the drive home. We picked out, “How to Be a Real Man of God” and started flipping through it once we hit the highway.

 

It was exactly the sort of drivel that one might expect. Today’s “politically correct” culture erodes masculinity. The greatest gift that a real man of god can give is to “share his love” with a woman. A real woman’s greatest gift is to “accept that love” (and yes, they make the connection that your inner 12 year old is already giggling at). Men and women have inherently different ways of communicating, loving and being loved, and deviating from that “norm” is bad.

 

Oh, and one of the greatest problems preventing males from being “real men of god” is the growing acceptance of homosexuality. Of course.

 

Now, look. None of crap this is unexpected. If I was hoping for an open-minded view of the world, the free literature rack at a Catholic church was not the right place to go looking. Even so, though, I spent the rest of the drive and much of the last few days just feeling…not angry, really, but sad. I had a conversation with a friend last night that helped me clarify why this has been bothering me so much.

 

The changes to the Mass (many of which seem pretty clearly intended to make the Church more conservative, which isn’t a huge surprise given the Pope’s philosophy) or even the newly-discovered awareness that the timing of the collection feels really squicky to me didn’t really bother me because they’re global changes. They’re decisions that come from Rome, and they’re fundamentally about the liturgy of a religion that I don’t identify with. So it’s easy for me to laugh those off or to at least to say, “Hey, it’s not my religion, and that’s part of why.” The “literature” at the front of the church, though, that’s not dictated. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the parish’s choice to have that kind of stuff at all, much less what’s actually presented there. So we have this community that I used to belong to, and their “Hey, this is who we are and what we’re all about” message includes that sort of narrow-mindedness and intolerance.

 

Ugh. Really?

 

I’m glad to have at least figured out why this has been bothering me, I guess.  And it’s not as though I’m going to be setting foot inside that building again for another 18 years, give or take, which is probably a good thing for everyone involved.

 

A little too close to home, professionally speaking.

Today’s installment of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is…painfully accurate.

We training professionals struggle, with good reason, to measure the impact of our training (and thus to justify our continued employment). Unfortunately, often we (and by “we” I actually mean “other people in my profession” for a change. I make many, many mistakes, but this is not one of them) reach not so much for low-hanging fruit as for the composting remains of fruit that fell off the tree a long time ago.

I speak, of course (of course?), of post-training written tests. When trainers lack the opportunity, resources or understanding needed to actually measure the impact of the training but need to point to *something*…well, they often just throw a written test at it. The lovely thing is, we can easily evaluate knowledge based on a post-training test. The problem is…knowledge doesn’t really tell us anything helpful when what we’re trying to do is to improve job performance.

But hey…the final score on the Erotic Reading Comprehension test is measurable. So there’s that, I guess.

Pondering right action

On Saturday, Elizabeth and I went out to our favorite Thai place up on Western Avenue. The food was, as usual, quite good, and I tried an appetizer that was new to me – beef satay. I’d had chicken satay before, but it turns out that the combination of fat from the beef and fat from the peanut sauce makes for a delicious combination of fat and yumminess.

 

Unfortunately, this post is not really about mouthwatering, greasy, delicious food. It’s about what happened when we left the restaurant. Walking the couple of blocks back to the car, we encountered a couple, one man and one woman, having a very loud argument. They were on the other side of a 5 lane, heavily trafficked street and we could hear every word that they said (well, shouted) to each other. At one point the woman started walking away, and the man (in a fit of great chivalry, of course) positioned himself to cut her off two or three times. She sort of pushed him out of the way, at least half-heartedly, and then they started yelling again.

 

Now, a little context. At home, we live next to an apartment building where confrontations between residents happen often enough that I’ve called 911 a couple of times (receiving approximately no response from the CPD, but that’s a topic for another day), but in the time we’ve lived here I’ve never brought myself to get involved directly in one of those confrontations. Some of it is a conscious desire not to be noticed by those neighbors, frankly. Anyone willing to shout at the top of their lungs on the sidewalk (no kidding – one woman in particular has yelled loudly enough that it hurts my throat just listening) is not someone whose radar I really want to be on.

 

Somehow, this situation felt a little more immediately worrisome. At least part of it was because this was happening in such a public setting, and I guess my thinking was that anyone who didn’t care that people were certainly watching this unfold might also not care if someone watched them become physically violent. After watching for a minute or so, silently wishing that one of them would back down, I sighed and did what I tend to avoid doing in most similar circumstances – I crossed the street toward the angry people.

 

About halfway across the street, I thought, “Huh. A smart person would have asked Elizabeth to get her phone out.” Oops.

 

When I got to the corner, I realized I didn’t really know what to say. I got close enough to be heard without raising my voice too much, but far enough away that my patented Flight or Flight Response(tm) would be effective, and said, “Um, guys? I don’t mean to intrude, but I noticed that you both seem really angry right now. Are you okay, or do I need to call someone?”

 

Both of them looked rather stricken for a moment, and the man said tersely, “No, I’m fine.”

 

I looked at him a little incredulously, trying to silently  communicate, “Um…what in the world makes you think I was most concerned about your safety, dude?” without implying that he should come and kick my ass. Either I succeeded at this task, or it was dark enough that my expression was unclear. Either way, he didn’t come to kick my ass, which is always the cornerstone of a good plan in my book.

 

After a couple of tries, I managed to get the woman’s attention and asked if she was all right. She nodded, then said at least fairly convincingly, “Yes. Thank you for checking, sir.” They began a more quiet conversation when I turned to leave, which…I guess is good. Maybe.

 

If nothing else, this served as a reminder for me about how adding an unexpected person to a conflict can serve as an energetic jolt. Who knows, maybe one or both of the people thought, “Oh, geez, we’re making a spectacle here, maybe I should dial it back a bit.” On the other hand…well, I’m not convinced that “quieter” really means “better” in this case. In some ways, I wonder if they both would have been safer if they continued having an audience. If one of them (I’m enough of a gender-normist to assume that it would be the guy) had crossed the line into physical violence, I imagine someone would have at least called the cops. By interrupting them, did I accomplish anything other than reminding them that if they really want to scream at each other, they should take it home and do so there?

 

I really don’t know, and can’t know. I know I would have felt guilty if I hadn’t said something, though. Now I just feel thoughtful and sad, so, you know…yay? I wish I had a better sense of what The Right Thing to do would have been, but at least the path to doing  a right thing was pretty clear in the moment.

A long-overdue t-shirt post

Another t-shirt post after approximately one zillion years? The hell you say!

So I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about this one – it is, without question, my favorite nerdy t-shirt (and as has been demonstrated over the past several posts, it’s not like I have a shortage of them to choose from). Let’s take a look.



Wander

 

Wander Action

What it is: Those of a certain nerdy bent will note that this shirt is a Tolkien reference. Those of a somewhat nerdier bent will note that it’s actually not quite an exact quote, since the line in question is properly, “Not all those who wander are lost.” I actually quite like the rhythm of the words on the t-shirt, but being something of a Tolkien nerd I am contractually obligated to wish that the line was quoted correctly on the shirt.

In any case, this is part of a short poem from The Lord of the Rings. Here’s the poem in full:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Why it’s awesome: Let me just pause for a moment and note that the first line of this poem is actually one of my favorite parts of the whole book. It’s a rearrangement of that old saying, “Not all that glitters is gold,” and it has a similar meaning – that we would be well-served to look past the surface before deciding what we’re looking at. There’s something about the phrasing here that…I don’t know. There’s optimism, a sense of possibility that I find a little inspiring. I’m sure the context adds to it – the poem is about Aragorn, a Ranger of the North who happens to be the true heir to the empty throne of Gondor. Upon looking at him for the first time, one would likely be as dismissive as Sam, who argues that anyone so scruffy as Strider (as he is known then) can’t rightly be trusted. Strider doesn’t look like gold, but he is, if one has the wit and the faith to look beneath the surface. There’s something about that idea that I find rather beautiful.

But let’s move on to the second line. Not all those who wander are lost. This reminds me of Thoreau’s contention, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” As I think about it, though, I don’t see these messages as being quite the same. The quote from Thoreau suggests to me that the person not keeping pace is simply following a different plan – a different rhythm, as it were – that she or he hears. The implication (to me, at least) is that what appears to be aimless wandering probably isn’t, and that I should get over myself (the next line, indeed, is, “Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”). Slightly differently, Tolkien doesn’t seem to suggest that I’m misunderstanding the “wanderer”, but that truly wandering is no bad thing. This is a very small distinction, of course, but as a nerd I believe that making small distinctions is my birthright.

In other news…yes, I just spent a paragraph nattering about one of my t-shirts and how its six-word message is similar and dissimilar to line from Walden. There is, perhaps, something wrong with me.

Until recently, I’ve never seriously considered getting a tattoo. Or, rather, I’ve kind of wanted to get one in the abstract, but not until I had a clear idea of what I would get. About three months ago, I woke up from a dream where I had that Tolkien quote tattooed on the inside of my left forearm. I remember that it was there so I could see the words when I needed to be reminded of them, but also so it would take a token effort (turning my forearm over) to do so. Why that was particularly important, I don’t know, but in the dream it definitely was. And it was a vivid dream, too – when I woke up, I was really surprised not to see the ink there. I’m not sure when I’ll actually follow through with getting the tattoo, but I plan to do so in the next few months if it still feels like a good idea then.

A little bit of awesome I saw on May 1st.

After a long and generally unpleasant day at work on Tuesday, I got off the train at a stop other than my usual one, thinking that I might pick up a piece of pie on the way home – because honestly, most everything is improved at least somewhat by pie.

It was raining pretty steadily, and as I trudged down the street it’s possible that I muttered to myself more than a little. I might even have whined.

And then I happened upon this:

A little bit of awesome I saw on May 1st.

Two quick things that I love, here. First, I think both of these paintings are really cool. I like the phoenix, but but the tree…damn. I dig that a lot. It’s just something about the way the roots seem to be waving in the breeze, I think.

The second thing, though, is even more important than the fact that I like the images. These were attached to the outside of the fence, facing the street. I have no idea whether the artist lives in the building where they’re hanging or not, but in either case there was a conscious (and largely anonymous, though the artist signed at least one of the paintings) choice to share these pieces of art with the world. That’s both brave and beautiful, I think.

Thanks, unknown artist or artists who I’ll probably never meet. The world is a little better for your choice to share your work with it.

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