Monday, September 26, 2016

blog-naked sort of

The following was lying around on my desk top. I can't remember why it was there or what I had planned to do with it, but if I put it here, I can take it from there and things become a little less messy....


When my mother died at 98 in 2015, she left a stack of "journals" she had kept over the years. When I asked her, in earlier times, what she wanted done with them, she replied, "Burn them." Her answer brought me up short: So many thoughts, so many sorrows and joys, so many large and small adventures, so many times the universe had collapsed and then been reconstituted. Weren't these things important and worth preserving?

And when I asked why she had kept these journals at all, she said, tongue somewhat in cheek, "How do I know what I think till I see what I say?"

These days, I too have stacks of journals gathering dust in the basement. And I too sense that what was once sky-rending in its positive or negative impact is not so all-fired important. It's not that the universe is indifferent or cruel: It's just that the universe takes a longer view and, perhaps, has a better sense of humor.

There are 7000-plus entries on the blog I write in every day of the week. It's just an old habit, contracted from my mother, perhaps. Mostly it's just a bit of this and bit of that. But my old addictions are not so important and that is probably the most important part of my latter-day journal writing: I like and dislike things, but I would be a fool to imagine that my desire to find out what I think would interest anyone else. The usefulness of the entries -- at least as I assess it -- is to fill a three part need: 1. To attempt to quantify what cannot be quantified (life) 2. To lay out my point of view in such a way that whoever reads it can say, "Whoa Nellie! I'm not that stupid!" and 3. To attempt to fulfill what I think of as a very human drive to be as naked as no one can help but be.

One-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins once observed that "meeting your favorite author is one of life's most reliable disappointments." To come into communion with someone who has found a way to go naked and be convincing about it is pretty damned exciting. It's 'just like me.' I am not alone and lonely in the quiet times when nakedness may be overwhelming.

But the surprise and wonder has got a poor shelf life. How interesting for how long can nakedness actually be? You're naked, I'm naked and no addition of clothes or words written in a journal can change that. Hell, bare-nekkid is just bare-nekkid and what's on display is hardly new or novel.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I slept out along one branch of the
Westfield River up around Worthington. As the night came on, I lay in my sleeping bag listening to the chortling of the river. Sometimes it was as if people were talking as the river flowed. The next morning, as dawn began to light up the sky, I got up and walked upstream along the rocks poking out of the river. And as I rounded one bend, up ahead by a couple of hundred feet, lying on a big flat rock in the middle of the river, there lay a naked woman. She lay on her back as the sun rose higher above the hill across the flow. Soon the sun would touch and warm her. She was still and so was I.

And then I pulled myself back. The beauty did not deserve my interference, somehow, and I did not want the woman to be afraid. So I turned my back to her, lifted a large rock and sent it crashing against other nearby rocks. I kept my back to the woman and stayed that way to a count of perhaps fifty. By the time I turned back, she was, as planned, gone.

There is naked and then there is naked. Even a person dressed from head to toe with journal entries or blog posts can hide and hide and hide some more. People get naked at their own speed and in their own time and as the saying goes, "you can't push the river." Just because anyone gets undressed does not mean they are naked. Just because they say "naked" does not mean that nakedness can somehow be compassed and explained.

But if you want to get to Carnegie Hall, the only real option is to practice, practice, practice. Practice being naked long enough and one day, quite by surprise, the nakedness will come out and dance. The practice helps to get out of the way. To stop cloning BY cloning. To be real by being an utter phony.

It's an odd business, being what anyone already is.


  1. Naked in our buddha nature, then clothed in words by the monkey mind. Then tearing through the tumescent urge to reveal, and finally settling into the exhaustion that hiding fosters.

  2. Says Genkaku, "To stop cloning BY cloning. To be real by being an utter phony." Imho, what olcharlie suggests make of perfect sense, "Naked in our buddha nature, then clothed in words by the monkey mind. Then tearing through the tumescent urge to reveal, and finally settling into the exhaustion that hiding fosters."