Category Archives: Art of Thinking

Reflections on the seen, the heard, the words, and the world

Nomadic necessity

Since the day my bed was packed out of Chicago not even four months ago, I have lodged/lived in seven places, and I am not yet in my “permanent” home. That will hopefully happen in mid-July. Of those four months, about a month of that, some solid and some sprinkled, has been living out of suitcases. I guess it is good practice for a peripatetic lifestyle, but right now I just want to re-setup a home, even if it is just for a couple of years.

I did quite a lot of purging before I moved; several people figured I could purge more but by the end I just didn’t have the energy. When all of my stuff gets here I will probably realize there are things I don’t need. When my “consumables” shipment gets here, I will probably realize I bought too much of some things and not enough of others. I will try not to acquire too much more. The short time period bodes well for managed acquisition; being in a three-bedroom house, though, may just cancel that out. Time will tell. One thing is for sure—I must figure out how to keep my checked baggage under weight and my carry-ons to to something carry-able. I’m still recovering from the plane trips.

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Maintaining balance

Ice laced stairs
Deceptively beautiful ice-laced porch, 12/12/07

It’s been really icy here in Chicago lately. I’ve spent quite a bit of time sliding along in shoes-as-skates trying not to fall. I was talking to my chiropractor, Dr. Johnson, today and he said “The best way to maintain your balance is to be dedicated to your direction.”

After a moment I said “You know, that’s actually a wonderful metaphor.” He told me he hadn’t thought of it that way–and he didn’t really seem to think that way even after I mentioned it. I think he deals more in the actual than the metaphor, which is probably a salutary thing for a doctor. I, however, am a poet, and a mathematician, and an artist, and all deal greatly with metaphor.

Fire mazeMany people ask me– especially now in my unemployed state, and at other times when I was looking to move into something new–“What do you want to do?” And, you know, I rarely can answer that question with a vocation or even a specific job. My 22 year old idealism is still active at 44, and I want to do interesting, creative, and challenging work, with interesting and creative people, that makes a positive contribution to people’s lives or the world.

That doesn’t narrow things down much, and, as you may remember from a few posts back, I don’t want to define myself by “not”s, either essentially or experientially. So obviously I was slipping around a lot on the icy option-laden surface my life, having a heck of a time trying to maintain some balance.

Last year, as my most recent vocational struggle was beginning, my friend David Rapier told me, “Backup plans are called backup plans because they may you back up.” So I detached the tether and I am now taking the time I need to sync with my internal compass, choose a direction–be it in process or destination–and move forward.

Maintaining a voice

Schuy plays guitar

As a child, the defiant songs
of the 60s and 70s declared
we could change the world.*

 

As an adult, the songs
of the 80s and 90s mused
“If I could change the world.*”

Now, in passive voice I hear
“I’m waiting, waiting on the
world to change.**”

Were there never things we could fight for, but I thought there were?

Were there things worth fighting for that no longer are?

Are there things worth fighting for that I don’t have the energy to fight?

The “truth” that Harry Potter (and now The Golden Compass) suggested to me is that only youth truly believe they can change the world. Eventually we “grow up” and try to protect what we have and who we have—and look many other ways than the uncomfortable truths. Youth hasn’t given up yet—there’s a fire there that hasn’t been squelched or stomped or merely faded to embers for lack of more fuel.

I once read a quote: “Will all those who feel powerless to influence events please signify by maintaining your usual silence.” At the time I felt it convicted others. Now it convicts me.

schuy speaksAnd as tired as I am of the tagline of the college where I taught–having seen it “thumbprinted” in so many places that it made me sick–it is positively provocative: create change. Creation is change. Seedling as it may be, it can grow. So I’ll sow.

*Eric Clapton, **John Mayer

Positive and negative

born negative

“Liberals hate it”
shouts the red-white-blue billboard,
Talk radio claiming fame
for who’s not listening.

born positive

“Anybody but “Bush”
chants the red-white-blue electorate
Elections fought solely on
who should not lead.

Liberals as non-conservatives
Conservatives as non-liberals
Independents as neither-nors
All swim in their own
Abysmal relativism.

Being this, makes me not that,
yin makes me not yang.
This binary world,
forsakes polynomious “ands”
for monomaniacal “ors.”

Lost in Zeno’s paradox
We stand for
standing for standing for standing for . . .
something infinitely removed
from collective conscience,
something long-corrupted to self-survival
in a zero-sum world.

Even as “This I believe”
is resurrected for NPR,
to parse the pervasive logical “not”
for singular statements of conviction,
some still spurn the positive and declare
what does not exist.

Even as my world
seems an abyss of what is “not right.”
I search for something dimly there
to help fire my soul to be:
and find I at least believe
in belief.