Diary

A diarist keeps a daily record of everyday experience, regardless of relevance or importance to the outside world. The prototype might be Pepys. One of the characteristics of a diary is that it is usually meant to be private, and it might become more interesting the farther it gets from its time of origin. In that sense, a diary might be that letter to the world that never wrote to you, because it was unable, that world being a future after your time. A diary is not a blog.

“Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)” was a John Cage project that went on for 16 years. And Cage made it a public project. A diary need not have rules. It doesn’t even need to be written. It might make use of photographs, or drawings, or quilting or needlepoint. A diary might be impressionistic, or some other artistic or technical expression. Or it might be cut and dry and matter of fact and as unambiguous as possible. But of course what readers can’t know is what the diary has left out.

Out, for a morning walk up to the park, my thoughts distracted by a sign at the outset: “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here.” I thought of the days I was busy with rhetoric, argument. That sign was an argument of proposal. The appeal is logical but also of pathos, for it causes us to think of our own kids. But what if we have no kids? Or, we do, but we are not particularly safe with them, either? Another assumption the sign makes is that children are in harm’s way. No doubt. But if you care about your children, shouldn’t you keep them out of harm’s way? And what of old people? Should we not also drive as if our grandparents live here? Maybe a more effective sign would read: Drive as if you love your neighbor like yourself. But note that assumes one love’s oneself. I’ve never quite understood that biblical proposal, having known so many people whose behavior, full of bad habits, suggested they did not love themselves. Maybe an even more effective sign might read: Drive Like You Are The Child.

By the time I got up to the park, my thoughts had cleared of argument, and I was in among the trees, and I continued as if they were my trees.

Dawdle Doodle Diary: Spring Fashions and Other Caution Signs

Spring sNew striped work shirtlowly sprung the environs plush with dawdle walks and doodle weeds, tweets and posts poking up in the usual spaces, out of concrete poetry cracks, but in the midst of this year’s annual rush for life we were learning to breathe. Spring is just such the perfect answer to winter, one wonders shouldn’t one’s writing change, from Irony back to Romance? Never mind; summer will remind us there is no keener irony, no sharper disappointment, than romance. “Beware of all enterprises,” Thoreau said, “that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” Advice which is everywhere ignored with regard to romance, not to mention writing. Poetry persists in prolonging winter while at the same time putting out the basil too early in spring. The doodle upper-right depicts a new striped shirt.

Shorts and MuumuuSpring is the enterprise the clothing ads have been predicting since the Christmas ornaments were boxed for the basement. In the liturgical calendar, Lent accentuates the anticipation, slowing the heartbeat to the rhythm of nature. Pope Francis this year clarified that giving things up for Lent misses the point, unless what we give up we give to another. I was thinking of giving up clothes for Lent, but alas, the approaching Spring was simply too wet and cool. To the right we see the doodle remnant of an unseasonably hot spring day, when I broke out the shorts and Susan the muumuu.

Each season puts a special pressure on the breath. In winter, the air Spring weatherinside is stuffy with recirculated dust. You go outside for a breath of fresh air, and there is Cassini taking pics of the ice rings around your heart. The winter cold constricts. The spring cold giggles. Summer laughs. Fall chokes and coughs. One might hold a romantic view of winter, the emptiness, the sleeping squirrels in the sleeping tree hollows, the squirrels quiet for the night in the roof eves. Snow falls from the fir limbs like the down from the mattress when your body is easily the hottest object in the house. Come spring you’ll be dancing in the rain, you sing. But all you do is slip and fall on the mossy deck, the bruise on your leg like a storm on Jupiter.

Jokes mock truth, but as the season moves, truth mocks the joke. On Facebook, we posted a couple of Public Service Announcements (PSA). In one, we reminded friends to be cautious with their ear, eye, and nose drops. We were at the pharmacy, picking up some new off the shelf eye-drops, for the eye floaters, and stopped just short of purchasing instead a box of ear drops. It’s not just that we forgot our reading glasses, nor that our attention span is now the flight of a mosquito. We are simply not paying attention, spaced out, always spaced out, anticipating the next batch of Cassini pics to brighten our day. In the second PSA, we mix the good news that baby wipes can be used by adults to soothe hemorrhoids with the caution not to pull out the bleach wipe by mistake.

Which season is the setup, which the punchline, we remain uncertain. We feel we are beginning to move backwards. In any case, when is it not a winter of discontent? Surely that is the message returning from Cassini. No sooner the heaters shut down the air conditioners fill the air, but you know it’s not still winter; winter was never so noisy.

Spring’s fill flickers, now on, now off. Now shorts, now long pants. One day, we pull a few yard games out of the basement, badminton and whiffle ball and croquet and we get out the patio umbrella, and we even have a picnic on the lawn. We hug a leafy tree.

We grow as silly as bees as the snow melts and as giddy as Cassini descending through the icy rings of Saturn. We clone around, all shook up. We sit out under a major league baseball pop fly. The ball goes up and up and up; it never does fall back to Earth.

Exhausted with the turning from winter to spring, we cave in to sleep, and dream of books, mothers, lovers, and selfies. And we dream of breath and of breathing. We awake and feel our breath. It’s very relaxing, learning to breathe. Such a perfect breath. I’d like to share it with you.