Day: March 8, 2015

Why I Write

Why do I Write?

I write to isolate the moment, to buy time to examine movement from every perspective by slowing or freezing it into language; to make concrete what is ephemeral; to temporarily pin down a butterfly’s wing so as to examine its beauty and symmetry; to see what has passed me by in the rush of time; to capture essence and meaning from fleeting instances.

I write to make something more real, solid – to give definition to what is formless. I write to ponder my own experience and that of the others around me – to hold and know what is ghost-like and gone already; to touch some part of you in a place that resonates with some part of me; to query the connection, feel about for threads that make up the fabric of you, I, they, we, and to affirm that we are all bits of this incredibly complicated and breathtakingly, achingly beautiful tapestry – that we are, in fact, co-weaving this ever-evolving, silky, shifting, slippery work.

I write to affirm my existence within the patchwork of life and to collect the pieces and arrange them into colorful comforts. I write because I am a collector, and I use words to collect bits of life to put upon display, like buttons, photos, books, records, movies, old campers in the yard. I make word-things out of non-thing stuff. I write to give substance and make ideas, experiences, history, memories tangible.

I write to rewrite – to fix, smooth, soften, buff, shine, spit-polish the past. I write in tantrum and in ecstasy. I write in solitude, but the act makes me feel not alone. I write in the hope that someone will read and connect, but I have no one in particular in mind and cannot imagine why anyone would take an interest in what I have to say. Still, the hope is there and thick in every word. I write to a Great Nobody. And I write with a trust that my words will find an audience in somebody, even if I never free them from the blinking screen or digital file. Even if that Great Nobody turns out to be me.

E.S.S.A.Y.S on a Mad, Mad World

Each of us holds her own piece of truth and goodness inside. Every human is equally capable of doing good. Even terrorists first emerged from the darkness of a womb into the light and were embraced in warmth, swaddled and nurtured, cooed at, kissed. Every child is loved or nurtured by someone, in the beginning.

So how can a human get so lost? Sin is not inborn; it is acquired, developed, refined over time. Scratch the surface of any hater, and you will find vulnerability borne by love somewhere underneath. Salvation of the world, of the sinners, cannot be achieved by doing battle with evil. Sunlight is the only thing that can overcome darkness. Souls are not won like chess pieces. Strategy isn’t enough on the battlefield of ideology. Struggles against anything can only lead to more struggles. Strategy is useless when it comes to the spirit. Spiritual change can only occur willingly—this is the only freedom we all have.

So how do we influence the collective will of a would-be “nation” of evil-doers? Seems the whack-a-mole game isn’t working. Senseless killing will always spawn more of the same. Spending the borrowed wealth of whole continents to bomb, shoot, smash and annihilate an ideology can only assure more of the same, and more of the same, again and again until there is nothing left of our planet to save, and the evil turns in on itself to feast and spit. Sigmund Freud (I think) said a sign of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result. Seems the world has gone mad. So the question we need to ask is, “Why?”

A thought or two. An idea that isn’t fully flushed out, obviously, but perhaps it might be, over time. A simple solution?—no. A long-term process, certainly. A bit too little too late, perhaps. Almost certainly. Anyway, here are my ideas, in their simple, un-flushed out form, scribbled in frustration.

Yes, we need to stop this madness; the beheadings; the kidnappings and enslavement. Young men and women from all over the world – here, too — are signing up, pledging their allegiance to malevolence.  You can’t fight evil, truly we must have learned that by now. You can only shine light on the darkness; expose the filth; show those in the darkness the truth.

Seeing the evil for what it really is, exposed to the light of reason, those stumbling about inside of the shadows will choose to see and embrace the light. Such is the wisdom of all religious traditions and philosophies. Salvation cannot be mandated; it must be chosen. Show the world what goodness and truth look like; educate the darkness out of the lost; remind the child about the innocence of the nurtured baby; remind the teen about the fun-loving child; remind the adult that he once knew joy and had hope. Stop the endless cycle of violence by turning things around, bottom up. Save the children before they lose faith. Spend the billions on schoolbooks, instructors, desks, uniforms, safe spaces for children to learn and grow. Stop the cancerous madness before it grows. Slice it out of the body of mankind with the sharp scalpel of knowledge. Share the past with the children. Show them the futility of war. Sing a different song—a harmonious one, where the dissonant solos of the world become choruses of glorious sound. Sing a song of love and unity, of praise for every man’s faith (for faith in anything is a reason for hope). Shut out the spreading web of evil by offering a web of community, stability, love. Save the world by saving the children, everywhere. Spend the money to infiltrate the sticky web where young minds lie trapped, cocooned awaiting doom of every sort. Slice the threads. Squash the spider of hate. Smother the children with kindness, nurturing, love, and hope. See, the information is important and good, but it is only the hope that will lift them out of the pit of darkness. Shine the light of hope; sing the song of unity; stop the cycle of madness; sell the idealists on a better ideal; share the wisdom of critical self-reflection, and be willing to burden some of the blame. Shame those who do wrong in the name of any god. Sorrow for those who have perished at the hands of any killer—theirs, ours, or a false ideology. See that we are all one, sharing this simple ball of blue and green, spinning through space, circling the same sun, singing to the same moon, touched by the very breeze that brushed the cheek of our enemy yesterday or the day or year before. Sigh in sadness for us and for those who share the very air we breathe. Send the air that has resided inside of your chest out into the current between us to travel past boundaries, borders, no-fly zones and battle lines to be drawn in identical sigh into the heart and lungs of the killer who was once a boy learning to tie his shoe; whose mother will mourn with as much sorrow for her loss as our mothers have mourned and will mourn their children fallen; the boy who lost his way; who might have been saved, taught, encouraged to hope. Search for a better way. See that the old ways are no longer working. Space is interesting, but what we really need to explore right now is here—on Earth, so spend everything to save us, here, now. See that we understand them, and they understand us. Serve goodness by doing better. Seek out common ground, and start from there. Speak of hope and understanding; speak of a loving God who does not promote hatred and violence; speak of universal truth—of love and mutual need; of service to one another. Share food. Share wisdom. Share hope. Stop the machetes and silence the guns with music, harmony, words. Sounds so simple. Sounds so right. Seriously, though, one way or another, these crazy, sicko extremist MFs have to go.

Blue Guide to Paradise

Tammy’s Blue Guide to Glen Gardner, New Jersey

Landscape

Nestled between two mountains beside the Spruce Run stream, the borough of Glen Gardner, New Jersey is situated only an hour and 15 minutes West and North of the bustling New York City. A verdant hamlet of tranquil antiquity, the community is bisected by Highway 31, the only major North to South trucking highway running through Hunterdon and Warren Counties West of Interstate 78. Residents and visitors alike experience the ironic juxtaposition of the sounds of nature and diesel-powered engines roaring their way to and fro past babbling brooks, scenic covered bridges and 200 year-old bank-repossessed farmhouses threatening to buckle in upon themselves with every road-rattle.

History

Once known as “Sodom,” the town, first inhabited by the Lenape Indians, had also been called Eveland and Clarksville until it was officially renamed in 1870, after the five Gardner brothers, New York City transplants who moved to the area in 1863 and built their picture frame and chair manufacturing factory and homes at the crossroads of a rather notorious inn built in 1770 (still in existence – see the Glen Gardner Inn) and a rowdy village of rock quarry workers who had offended a traveling evangelist with their sinful and querulous ways. All but one of the brothers (who established the General Store, still in existence and currently run by a crazy woman who steals pies at farm stands and sells them) eventually moved away from the borough, and their manufacturing business burned down. As unemployed workers moved away, what had been a self-contained downtown became a shantytown until the post 9-11 real estate boom in the early 21st Century (people wanted to live close to, but not IN, NYC) revived the local housing economy, and an affluent bedroom community was born alongside 31. When the bubble burst a few years later, many of the newly upside-down painted Victorians and Colonials on Main Street and nearby (including the sprawling, slightly haunted abode of the author of this book), were abandoned as their owners tried in vain to renegotiate with their lenders, and finally, in fear of humiliation or homelessness, they moved to higher ground (high rise rentals in New York City) to wait out the process. Ironically, it turned out the banks didn’t want any of these homes alongside 31, so one by one, two by two, and family by family, the city refugees began to return, replacing the stolen copper pipes, restoring roofs, and installing woodstoves for heat while they waited out what common sense told them would be inevitable. Because none of the residents are certain their houses are actually theirs or that their investment into the properties will yield anything down the road but potential misery, the once-bright facades along Main Street now have a gray, weathered look of desperation to them, and passers by will have to excuse the suspicious glances and blatant lack of hospitalilty. Anyone exiting 31 onto Sanitorium Road or School Street to pass through this once abandoned and newly re-inhabited hamlet must be a spy from the bank, looking to see if there is anything worth fighting for…

Culture

(See Clinton, New Jersey)

Entertainment

(See Clinton, Washington, and Flemington, New Jersey and Easton, PA.)

Law Enforcement

N/A…if you need the police, try calling Washington or the NJ State troopers. Good luck with that. If worse comes to worse, knock on old Frank, Sr.’s door on Hampton Road. He can call his nephew two blocks over with the pit bulls. Also, he has a chain saw. For what it’s worth.

Government

(See Blue Guides: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012….nothing’s changed.)