31 March 2008

Last Day of March 2008

Last day of March and it has been snowing all day. I managed to get my run in this morning before the precipitation, and I have been sequestered out at Walden since the white flakes reigned (pun intended) down. This late snow always serves as a powerful metaphor for me, and I am yet aware that it will snow once or twice more before we get real relief from winter. More metaphor. I’m choking on the stuff! Yesterday, there was no snow on my front expanse, and I walked out my front door into almost grass and almost Spring. And now, as I stare glumly out the window, it is Winter again. I know, I know. The snow will soon melt, but then, why is it at all necessary except to squash my spirit. Its Nature asserting its dominance, its Nature reminding me to have no expectations, its Nature with this heavy wet snow filling my buckets of rain.

So, I’ll go in and get a beer, and drink to the hoped-for end of Winter whenever in Summer it might occur.

29 March 2008

Bach to Bach

I was standing in my closet this morning choosing clothes for the day. Though it is Shabbat, daughter #2 has solo recital at her Middle School and she is playing the Bach Double Concerto with her dear friend. I thought to dress appropriately. And I chose a shirt and sweater I had purchased in the Fall on a shopping trip with my mother, who lives in Canada and whom I was visiting. I am returning there next weekend for another visit, and as we discussed the plans for the weekend, I suggested an itinerary not unlike that of my last visit: Shabbat dinner, lunch, a walk to the Mall, purchasing a shirt and sweater, and then dinner. My mother erpressed some pleasure at the plan. And I understood that we are forever our parents’ children, and that engaging in activities that emphasize that relation of parent-child provides the parents with some comfort. I have no longer need of a parent, but I will always have need for my children. And so, I will return next week with a new shirt and sweater which I will enjoy and not need.

In the meantime, as a parent I will sit proudly listening to all of the right and wrong notes, and thank Bach for writing such a piece that my daughter so intently plays with her dear friend. Tomorrow the Youth Symphony Orchestra in which she plays is in concert, and we will experience an earthly performance of at least two of Holst’s The Planets and several other delights.

11 March 2008

Not again, oh, please, not again!

I know this says more about me than him (or you), but how good could $3,400.00 sex really be? I mean, can the sex be so good that engaging in this expensive several hours (I once read that the average sex act takes place in about 37 minutes!) could be worth exchanging the rest of a life. I have a very active fantasy life, but I can’t imagine anything erotic which might be worth $3,400.00 and everything else I have accomplished in my life, including all of my hopes and dreams for a future.

And this doesn’t even begin to speak to the hypocrisy of the act. As Attorney General for the state of New York, Spitzer busted prostitution rings with great enthusiasm and display, only to turn about now and engage in the very activity for which he condemned others. I know that when Jesus said “He that is without sin let him cast the first stone,” he probably meant to teach that we all have things for which we might receive punishment, and we should be careful of the quickness with which we condemn others. I think Jesus meant to advocate for some serious tolerance, human understanding, and self-examination. Or at least to feel some shame about our high-minded moral sense and judgments. Taken to its extreme, Jesus’ comments would preclude all punishment; we are all culpable, I’m sorry to say. We are all culpable, I happily admit. I think it was Jimmy Carter who was almost derailed by admitting only to lusting in his heart, and lately, he is the only President on whom no dirt has fallen. Look how he suffered for this very human admission, as if the rest of us were so pure. My heartful lustings are relatively free: sometimes I have to purchase an ice cream cone or a new sweater to satisfy them, but I never have expended $3400.00 and the rest of my life to satisfy them. And I have sins that it were better my mother had not borne me.

But I don’t take Jesus’ statement literally. Rather, what he here means to me is that we should not judge too readily or harshly, and we must not assume some high moral stance which reduces the sinner to some inferior humanity. Our hearts are all thankfully, impure. We have much to learn.

It is our human quality not to act on our every impulse. We are not animals. The Rabbis say that “If the Torah had not been given, we could have learned modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the cock.” If we had not some ethical foundation, we would be no better than an animal. Our ability to reflect on our actions precludes instinctual responses that ignore consequences.

And though it is with promises of gifts that the cock coaxes his mate, it is his intention to produce chicks by the sex and not to engage in some exotic eroticism which finally is wholly solipsistic. And the cock doesn’t have to travel through several states and register anonymously at a Washington hotel to engage in sex. He stays in his own yard.What should make us human is our ability to consider the consequences of our actions, to recognize borders and boundaries to our behaviors, to create within those frames magnificent art, and to appreciate the largeness of life and relationships outside the immediacy of personal, expensive, and brief pleasure.

And I read minutes ago that the stock market rose 400 points, more than any day since 2002. Sex is great for the economy, but not very good for the country.

09 March 2008

March Musings

I once thought it would be easy to post twice a week to my blog, but then I had just broken my ankle and I could not move with any facility at all. Sitting in the chair I had so many thoughts and ambitions. Alas, I healed, and my intentions, honest and good, were abandoned. I note that I have placed that last sentence in the passive, as if I didn’t have to take responsibility for the abandonment. But it was me; it still is.

I have developed a greater respect for newspaper columnists who, even without broken limbs, regularly produce columns for actual deadlines. I don’t always like what they say, but I respect their ability to have said it on time.

Saw Lives of Others last evening, the German film about the last years of East Germany, and the horrible repression under which the citizenry suffered. Interesting that the title seems to me so ironic: as Wiesler, the secret police officer responsible for surveillance of the suspect population for evidence of subversive activities, studied the lives of others, and specifically Christina and Georg, the repression of his own life became evident to him. I am not sure that he discovered anything really about the lives of others—except the subversive activities for which he was looking—but he did discover the emptiness of his own life which had become dedicated to spying on the lives of others. The lives of Georg and Christina, on which he eavesdrops, complex and messy as lives should be, filled as they are with joys and sorrows, exposes the flatness of his own existence. Finally, it is his action which saves the writer, Georg, but in that action, the actress, Christina, is destroyed. This brave act on Wiesler’s part exposes the fragility of loyalties in the German Democratic Republic, and points out the alienation everyone in that society experiences. Films such as this remind me how valuable our freedoms are, and how fragile they remain. People like George Bush, whose actions are monarch like, threaten our democracy, though their rhetoric argues that these actions are necessary to preserve it. Like destroying the village in order to save it. I don’t believe it. I didn’t then.

I think I’m going to try to post more regularly. For both of you readers.