Sunday, September 12, 2010

Self-made Hells and Other Stories

Locked inside by self exile.
Soft outside fumbling flesh, 
heart disturbed by obsess...
Obese thumb fumble FALTERED
discussing disgust and discipline disfunction. 
Can I find a better way to reflect on my summer of funk behavior;
A curious bliss of consumption and nest bonding,
showered by moving cumulus clouding.
Am I moving or spinning as an unfettered bit?
Power drilling to dead-enders...
All hail Contemptuous reflectors on my Harley handbasket...
cruising to my home-made hell.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Father to Father, farther and farther

I am warmly impressed by this mythified portrayal of a saintly monk, written and read by Tony Hendra. Unfortunately this author's daughter's 'accusation' of incest-molestation, puts a damper on my enthusiasm (discussed in detail in Jessica Hendra's HOW TO COOK YOUR DAUGHTER)... So much the cliche of our times, revelations of tainted ecclesiastics, 'Is anything sacred?' The dark depth of the soul... rings out poorly, from my cracked bell of new-found atheism. All too often this summer have I tasted bitterness, when waking from my extended nightmares and tainted dreams.

My observation, this clipped-wings summer, has been layered and valuable. I am deeply pleased to have finally a chance to be with my children. We finally fortified conventional family quality-time, lost during their Junior and Senior High School years... dealing with the long distance of their international school, with hobbled home-stays and youthful misadventures. It is true, our living on university teacher-time, we did have holidays. Yet, the sweet daily contact of normalcy eluded us... at that very intensified time, when we were all desperately mentally 'accommodating' their mother's suicide. 

At least now we have the luxury of youthful purposelessness... something I had as a young buck in the wilds of summer Adirondacks. A time when all dad's worked back on Long Island, and most moms hid in screened-in cabins, as their youngsters ran and swam in near nudity, full voracity, and unbound puberty. My children's life has been tainted with the distorted luxuries of bi-culturals, slivered between uncharted domestic explorations and barely plausible plans of home life. All doing our best, as it can be said, over and over again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hotsy Totsy

A rotund but demean figure from Long Island. Once hotsy-totsy New York artist on pilgrimage to Zen, but now a subservient figurine on the trophy mantle of time. How to salvage an aging vulgar carcass, revitalizing a zombie into a tomorrow of vital todays? 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunset on a sizzling Nihon

I listen to Christopher Hitchens' "The Portable Atheist"  though I wish this recording had been read by the author. His biting wit and sarcastic Cambridge lilt compliments his enthusiastic embittered atheism. I love the depth and breath of his criticism and find him an angel of rational argumentation, an artist of divisiveness. I envy the voluminous tomes of quotable details he carries on his shoulders... And find the perfect tone of the audio artist that reads his text, Nicholas Ball, a misguided use of narrative perfection. Hitchens is best read by Hitchens.

Dame if Hitchens isn't the kind of mental athlete I wish I were. Instead I am a cerebral hooligan, a vandal spraying verbiage on dirty walls, to impress the street urchins I run with, a suburban ghetto of wannabes. A couch potato cliche of armchair quarterbacking ego-grandized causes, in a game that doesn't matter.

Nobody should care what I think, and when they do, I loath my unpracticed goal attempts at conceptual clarity. If I were captain I'd bench my mouth. Fortunately, athleticism is magically attuned to evolutionary theory. I fade now as I speak, a dinosaur of impractical ego dimensions.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights (1939) reminds of the romantic values that cast the shape of our present. I hide in the air-conditioned cocoon, of computer, oral gratitudes, and the delusional state of constant news.

In news today, via Fareed Zakaria and Riz Khan, I am presented the economic reality, seasoned with the moral tale 'to be thankful for still owning my own home, and having a job.' Our international statistical reality is the USA, despite all its present hand-ringing, is still chief dog, among the mongrel leaders of Japan, India, and China, and I, having never appropriately established myself within the American dream, live in limbo under the Sword of Damocles. 

For Cicero this legend suggested that virtue is sufficient for living a happy life. "Does not Dionysius seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person, over whom some fear always looms?" Yet in my case, fear laughs as I cower. Fear of ill-health and inevitable death, a coward left unarmed, on the gates of my own persistence. My own insistence that this is who I am.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Begotten in the Wilderness

   Abd-ru-shin (Oskar Ernst Bernhardt) 
creator of the Grail Message.
"Things Fall Apart" the Nigerian classic by Chinua Achebe, has consumed my day. The heat is unbearable and I hide, chasing thoughts on the internet. The perpetual oil spills of Nigeria, highlighted by the BP oil sill in the Caribbean, lead me to better understand first of the geography of Nigeria, then the politics, then theology (discovering The Grail Movement in the process), and eventually to downloading Peter Francis James' narration of an African long-lasting best seller. I slip and slide through correspondence, and have solidly become a prisoner of my internet connection.  Only the kitchen can temporarily distract me from my zombie belligerence to my sublimation to a childhood addiction TV.

I fantasize the greatness of evolving a personal philosophical outlook, and loom over the diverse genius who have created their own grounded outlook... thus my interest and recent investigation in the Grail Movement, my old friend the Hare Krishna mantra, and Jodo-Shin-shu's Shinran (founder of the Pure Land sect of Japanese Buddhism).

I believe it will all end up as a video podcast, though I fear my shadow side dominating my expression and weighing down my communication with too much angst, spoiling the soup I hope to savor in my later years.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Second Generation 'Henro'

My son, Zen, begins his pilgrimage today, to the 88 temples of Shikoku... a 'henro' like his father 25 years earlier. Zen's mother also had walked the 'henro michi' in her early thirties before meeting me, in her transition. Like many pilgrims 'on the cusp of change' a rite of passage, a superb opportunity to reflect, while rediscovering the kindness of strangers and the natural beauty abundant in Shikoku... the trail beckons.

Reiko had met and fell in love with a Buddhist priest in that journey. A priest whose mother, a typical temple parental oligarchy, rejected her as a suitable match ...and now, nearly 30 years later, our son, at 18, will bring some of her ashes, to sprinkle on each of the eighty-eight. Perhaps a piece of her will find the peace which eluded her in life.

Zen is a declared atheist, yet, being of Japanese soil, he understands the power of simple ritual, reflection, and form. He will take on the challenge, and allow life to be created around him, bringing his own dignity and effort into the mix. The dogma of religion and philosophy will scurry from behind, trying to keep up with his youthful vitality and stubborn perseverance.

I will be here, on our family mountain-top homestead, with his sister Kai. Kai will soon be 21 and also finds herself in transition. Confronted by the exorbitant cost of American private universities, we as a family have had to reevaluate our options. Study 'kanji' (advance level Japanese writing) here in Japan, apply to more affordable US schools, study in the Philippines where an education is still reasonable, or to find a job... all options I would personally enjoy for myself and excitedly support for her...

Yet none has yet to light a flaming inferno under her heat-resistant derrière. Instead, over a low flame of discontent, she simmers in indecision, a slow burn of despair for her and consternation for her father. Only time will tell what path awaits us all.

I, too, live along the way and wonder when I will step again. As an American, I know the merit of the open road and the desolate chill of a man with no sense of home. I waver between clinging to the earth of domesticated normalcy here in Japan and stepping out into the abyss of brave options... between university fail-safe and life free-fall.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pain of Parenting

Because my children are, by far, my greatest source of fulfillment, they in turn can leave me emotionally drained. My children now live in the angst of transition, no longer kids, not quite autonomous adults. I am deeply invested in their next choices, and so feel stymied by their naiveté, and frustrated by their frustrations. The irony does not escape me. It is not difficult for me to empathize, to remember my variation of adolescent trauma, passion, and anguish. And so I feel their pain, compounded by a parent's concern.

I am brutally not naive. In fact, I am tiredly predictable in their eyes. I swing between wanting to take to wing for myself, leaving them on the branch leaning forward toward their own flight lesson or concocting some impractical tandem, tied to them as they jump. I do not have the resources to have us all in flight at the same time, as I have no financial net to catch missteps and aerobatic miscalculations. Somehow we all three need to be separate stars in flight simultaneously... the choreographic nightmare that haunts me today.

If we fall, we will fall hard. Street wisdom states 'them is the breaks' an inevitability in our 'school of hard knocks'... Yet as a single parent, I am both psychologically, nurturing mother and pragmatically pestering father. How does one play 'Good and Bad cop' simultaneously? "Nudge them out of the nest with one big push" comes one order from the left brain, "But are they ready?" squeals the right... "But how else will they know" recants Dad-side, "Can we afford to take that chance" Mom-me meekly counters. And so the sleepless night, of one head with two voices, languishing long and unresolved.

Apparently we all need to be brave, witness the limitations, and relish the challenge. A bit too flowery for someone who approaches sixty with such sweaty trepidation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Authentic Spring

A righteous spring morning, affirming the ambitious push of my sprouts in the potted plants of my roadside garden. My walk and talk mornings with Arthur have dramatically improved my stamina. A dark mind set lingers, the futility and inevitability of my gradual demise into 'older still' has been mean. Just too much has failed, too little manifested in full flower. How much I would appreciate a refresh, a raising from the tomb of a savior.

Being lost in researching album covers, for my massive iTunes music library, has allowed me to mentally dance through my music history. This followed my collectors lust of downloaded movies, again revisiting a history of personal images shared with film buffs everywhere. I feel grateful to the passion of strangers made accessible via the net. An intimidating army of minds and manic behavior allowing sojourns from this desktop.