Listening to Joni sing “Rainy Night House.” I am from the Sunday School. I sing soprano in the upstairs choir. You are a holy man on the FM radio…”
It is still dark on a Sunday morning. A quick scan of The Times and a couple Facebook post assures me sanity will arrive at our shores no time soon. The song ends. I replay it. I drink the last of my coffee laced with lion’s mane. You sat up all the night and watched me to see who in the world I might be.
The Joni singing the song no longer exists. She is only a whisper, something maybe once wished for, but lost during the collapse. I try to remember the person I was then, though my memory is only intermittent flashes of consciousness. An apartment in Laurel, Maryland. I lived there when Neal and Buzz landed on the moon. I went outside and looked up at the sky.
In the winter it snowed. Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning. The following summer we drive to the hospital in Bethesda. I trade in my GTO for a VW bug because, more than anything, it suited the image I wanted to project. I read Herzog, An American Tragedy, Grapes of Wrath, Catch-22, The Great Gatsby, The 42nd Parallel… for a novels class. I read Howl for the first time. Drive to Maine to visit Myra. Muster out of the Navy. Drive to Texas. Dream of living a life writing books. Run in the rain. Drink beer at a bar with a Vietnam veteran and listen to him talk about blowing away a VC girl with an anti-tank weapon. She was taking a shit, looks over her shoulder at the last second, then poof, she wasn’t there anymore. My friend laughs because it’s the only response open to him.
There is a hint of light outside. I gather up my old fear, let him sit on my lap, welcome him like old friend. There you are, you old bastard, I tell him. Maybe my best friend, the one who stayed. Not death or being unloved—something more poignant. You use the masculine pronoun? Yes.
The sky is turning pink.
It’s the fear of not being good enough, of not getting the work done. He sits on my lap like a small dog and nuzzles up next to me. I get up and pour hot water over freshly ground coffee beans. Then pour a new cup of coffee. Head outside for the morning ritual of watching the sun come up.
Roosters are crowing in the distant east—distant being somewhere past the tree line, past the duplexes down the road. Other birds join in. Cars drive by on their way the church—where else to go on a Sunday morning. My brother joins me for a while. He leaves, but my old friend fear is still there. I take a breath.
Harris tells me I can work out the problems of my life later in the day, but for now just settle into the awareness of being. The top of my head itches. Refocus—
Meditation for me is more an exercise in observing chaos. I take another breath. Remind myself that I can shift my mood by simply shifting the locus of my attention. I feel joy in my face, my forehead and cheeks—the corners of my mouth. I remind myself, though reminding myself is a loss of focus, that the most revolutionary thing I can do is be happy—or joyful. Not a synonym, but close enough.
The morning springs on me like a tiger, caresses me like a lover, is simply there. How suddenly it takes its time.
I wonder if you can see me here, sitting in a plastic chair in my front yard, the grass reaching my ankles.