-- In the world of 'caring' parents, there is sometimes the admonition to fisticuff-prone children: "Use your words." The implication is that talking things out beats beating the shit out of anyone. And it's not a bad premise. But it is also interesting, in this realm, to note that "why do you think you hit Johnny" has replaced the simpler and more relevant "don't hit Johnny."
-- "Use your words." This morning it occurs to me that for my whole life I have accumulated and used words with the underlying understanding that words might corral real understanding. Since words are what we've got, you can see why it might be true. You can credit the fact that words oil the social wheels or can do that. But this morning the presumption occurred to me in reverse: With all the evidence in hand, why should I believe such a premise? A lifetime full of words and real understanding simply will not sit still for that sort of game. It's all OK ... it just doesn't happen to be true from where I sit this morning.
-- My region is chock-a-block with 'institutions of higher learning' (read "colleges") and as has been common from time to time in the past, I got an email today from a young woman at a local college asking if she might snoop my groves in the matter of spiritual life. It's a homework assignment and why I should continue to salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs when the bell rings, I'm not sure. I respond within: I would like to help. For heaven's sake, why? I'm not the kind of person who is a good or even especially gracious teacher. I refuse to do the party-line Buddhist thing, which is what homework assignments call for. I can relate my experience and thoughts -- and god knows I can wring the talkative wash cloth dry -- but I cannot subtly accede to the manhandling of others in pursuit of some well-lubricated bid for salvation. Yes, there is discipline and hard work and even, perhaps, some goodness to it all, but playing the Buddhism-as-bondage card makes me want to ralph. Yup -- it's the only choice there is (to buckle down and dig way, way in) but it's a choice best avoided. I'm not good at this stuff. It is enough to remember, "the hard stuff is easy; it's the easy stuff that's hard." Oh well, I sent a return email warning the young woman with the homework: C'mon over and have a cup of coffee and I'll be happy to help you ... lie to you ... encourage you.
What is this 'help' response thing?! I suppose I can write it off as being similar to having brown eyes -- what other choice is there? -- but that seems pretty facile.
-- The chimney sweep is coming today to prepare the wood stove for its seasonal efforts. The wood is stacked thanks to my wife, son and one of his friends. The morning is chill with more in the offing. My neighbor's garden has been cleaned and cleared of all but a few remaining plants -- kale, raspberries, a couple of cold frames -- and there are fallen leaves trickling and tickling down the street. The only thing the stove lacks is a dog to curl up in its environs. I guess I'll be a dog.