Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thin To A Mystical Degree

I long to be an ascetic, yet when I try to trace this longing backwards - to understand it, better name it - the thread gets thin to a mystical degree.

I don't remember much about eating as a child. Blueberry pancakes, which I liked. Apple pie - actually, apple pie being made, and me eating the tendril skins sometimes sprinkled with cinnamon, and then licking the bowl where the sliced apples had been tossed with lemon juices and spices. Eating as pleasure came into play only after I learned to read. The Hardy Boys with a bowl of salty buttered popcorn on my lap. That was - remains - a deliverance.

These days I fear hunger, and can't concentrate for more than a few minutes of prayer, and like the laughter of marriage and kids far too much to talk seriously about embracing ascetism, some kind of faux stay-at-home Christian monasticism. The ascetic thread - a wispy tendril going backwards - is actually quite strong going forwards. If I ate less and simpler then I'd live longer, and I don't want to die, not at all, and if I could actually sustain some sort of meaningful spiritual practice then I'd be . . . well, I'd have a certain glow maybe. And inner peace. Who doesn't want to glow and have inner peace.

Early a.m., stars pale behind clouds, the coffee done gurgling and steaming into my mug, the fog and northern lights-colored one with the broken handle that I love so dearly. Yesterday, in line at Staples, the woman behind me was holding a bouquet of bright yellow (I think they were) sunflowers. I complimented them - or her for having them - and she blushed, saying something about how everyone wants to see flowers right now.

Finished Joe Hill - thought I saw him in the supermarket and was going to say hi, then realized I was being goofy - and moved on to Joy Williams, one of those reads that, two or three pages in I had to set aside, because it's not falling-to-sleep reading but needs to be savored differently, more intensely. As for what I'm writing - besides this - I broke new ground in one of the Worthington essays I long to write, the John and Anna one. "This is not a ghost story." And: where did that little boy go, the one who smiled on the elephant ride? "He starved to death - I'm his ghost."

1 comment:

  1. These are beautiful. Meaning even where there's none...I guess there is always.