I don’t go in for New Year’s resolutions, but I do have a tradition of looking back to look forward. I make a little list of what was naughty and nice about the old year, with an eye to better visioning the brightening horizon. Sometimes, my year-end list is full of places, events, decisions, and experiences. 2009 will forever be marked by people -- and poetry. In ways actual and metaphorical, poetry punctuates not only how I met certain luminous personages in this passing year, but how I shall endeavor to befriend more in the next.
Enter the season of Thanksgiving. Time to get our gratitude on. My list is long – I’ve been swimming in gravy. It’s not been any one event or experience that makes it so, just a steady succession of little stoke-filled moments that encapsulate a life worth loving. Most of these pleasure pills have been poured into my welcoming palms by people –old friends and new – who, in plain but weighty ways, show me how good and beautiful simple connections can be. I like to be moved, and these folks stir me strong. As you inventory the things to spread out on the table November 26th, register the treats that lay ahead and behind. Nibble hungrily upon the notion of joy, laughter, kindness, patience, love. Feed the beast....
I’ve just returned from the post office. Ostensibly, I was mailing a toner cartridge back to the manufacturer for recycling. However, as I confessed to Dave — the friend I ran into along the way — I was just using the errand as an excuse to wander around a bit. I awoke this morning with an itch to write, but it was more of an all-over tingling sensation, rather a specified spot that wanted scratching. So, I was hoping that a couple loops around the block might help narrow me in on a target.
by Bobby Shriver and Tamsin Smith Don Fisher thought big. And he liked to compete. Whether creating the most recognized casual apparel company in the world at Gap, or actively growing KIPP’s national network of free, open-enrollment college preparatory public schools, Don challenged people to see the power of leveraging single successes into game-changing impact. When Don got behind an idea, he put not just his considerable personal influence and resources behind it; he rolled up his sleeves and worked. He was never afraid to put himself out there for what he believed was right.
My pal Henry called the other day: “Hey, this is right up your alley. My friend’s been reading Finnegans Wake aloud since yesterday afternoon at the corner of Grove and Larkin. I was there until 2am. Meet me there for lunch, eh?” First, let me make clear that one needn’t have conquered James Joyce’s seminal stream of consciousness story in order for the remainder of this blog to make sense. This is important to note, as roughly 4 out of 5 English Literature professors admit that “get through” is a more accurate verb than “read’ in describing full-frontal immersion in Joyce’s last bit of masterwork. Second, it might be worth noting that, to MapQuesters, the corner at which this event took place represents the southeast edge of San Francisco’s City Hall plaza; but, to residents of the City by the Bay, it’s a place infamous as the stumbling ground for lot of peeps who are heavily into a different kind of experimental dream state. Third, I got a huge adrenaline rush from this news. Is that normal? Let’s leave that last question for another blog and just get on with this one….
It’s the time of year I ask myself: “To go, or not to go...” Like Hamlet’s soliloquy, which this paraphrases, the query relates to life itself. Hamlet was questioning whether to live or die; I’m only asking how to do the former most fully. More specifically, I’m wondering if I should make the journey out to the Black Rock Desert for Burning Man.
Henry David Thoreau’s most famous words are being stalked by a lyric doppelganger. Readers of Walden will recall Thoreau admonishing those who lamely deep-six free will and choose the numb comfort of resignation over the wild abandon deliberate living. Here’s the crescendo: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Ouchy. That line always makes me howl just to prove I still can. But what of this new shadow?
The sidewalks of my neighborhood’s main commercial thoroughfare become a mobile public forum on weekends. Every corner is populated with advocates holding clipboards, raising money, gathering signatures, distributing materials, seeking membership, spreading awareness. It’s a beautiful thing this backyard town hall. But sometimes I’m just looking to get from one errand to the next. Other times, (often, I confess) I’m simply strolling to clear my head, and resist attempts by fellow citizens to fill it with new inputs.
SUMMER. This is an ironic term in San Francisco, where I live. But on the East Coast Island from which I’ve just returned, it truly means something. Even beyond the joys of sandy toes, sea-salted lips, and sleeveless evenings (miracles enough), there is a sense of stillness, as if time itself paused to inhale and to savor. Laziness seems to reveal a tenderness all its own...
A few months ago I was on the phone with a friend who was visiting family in her old home town. She’d just challenged her parent’s boast about the diversity of their church, by asking where the gays were seated amongst all the recently-immigrated Africans and Asians in the pews. I’d just come out of a meeting in San Francisco’s Castro district. As I began walking back to my neighborhood, listening to my friend vent frustration, I passed a group of men with very long grey beards, dressed in matching kilts and leather bodices, chatting in the middle of the sidewalk.