In This Moment

what if it matters?


September 2015


It’s cool under my mother-in-law’s house.  Here and more important writing I feel free even safe. The thump and crack of my youngest’s gymnastics on the floor upstairs is background.  Loud voices, television, blend with the whoosh of cars from the street farther down the hill.  Into my thoughts of the day.  I email my CPA, talk to my son, text my mom, view a LinkedIn post and a Facebook photo.  I feel the freedom to write or not and the texture of the moment, of my breath as I lie back on this little bed my wife’s mom has down here.  Making the feel of the moment mine.

Earlier I finished Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow.  No need.  Partway through it was clearly about taking control of the moment.  You let life carry you along or you take charge.  Tom Cruise gets the opportunity to try over and over.  Getting it right could take ten tries.  Or, despite the repeated chances it may never happen.  One could just take a half-step back, slow down, and do it now.  All I have to do is take control enough to feel it, to know I’ve done it…

When I’m not in control…is that when I’m uncomfortable with the way things are going, as when I’m with family and my situation seems out of balance because the kids are screaming, I’m tired and something seems missing?  Or is losing control when I feel good, like while playing a computer game or watching a movie?  If the latter, being in control is more difficult to test than just noticing that I feel good.  That could be taking control if I were purely a hedonist.  I’ve decided writing, reflecting and looking at sunsets is taking charge, but not because it’s hedonistic, because it’s a practice.  And taking charge happens in the actual moment, not just from stepping back.  It’s about technique.  The act is everything.  Take perspective; take action.

I could start a new vignette now at Cafe Strada.  Touchpoint: years ago my wife and I would walk here from the other end of town.  We’re closer now and I come with my children who listen to the students.  It was blazing hot while I worked on my taxes, ate and walked.  It was hot at home and the kids fought.  My wife was calm, thank God, but it was not cool there and no escape from the day though still early.  The early evaporated into consultation with my CPA and the next thing I knew I was across UC campus at Strada with my daughter on her bike and it was after six and she was pretty much not interfering with my writing.  And it was cool.


Old Forest

New music.  Moody, maudlin but upbeat.  At Cafe Gratitude, where there’s no dairy or gluten.  I didn’t used to care about that, although the cashew-milk shakes were all right.  Dishes have names like “I Am Grateful For Giving Back.”  The thing about The Old Forest is I feel Cafe Gratitude wants to give us access to some mysterious past.  Why not? Access to a better future or even to our true selves doesn’t actually mean anything specific.  But an imagined past?  Where we wander pathways in and out of darkness under the canopy, and in our deeper imagination our feet rarely touch the ground…that’s more exciting than the future of humanity or coming face-to-face with flaws.

My kids come into the cafe with my wife to join me and the dog and the music picks up and suddenly the dog is sitting next to me on a pillow.  What was it like to look out from the edge of the forest, feet on the ground, pondering a venture onto the savannah?  So many children, so much chaotic sound, such a discussion of the merits and demerits of playing guitar in schools interrupted first by questions from my daughter, then by a squabble over tortillas dipped into plantains, guacamole and coconut flakes.  Turns out Mr. San Jose the ukulele teacher was promoted to teach at the high school level.  New worlds.  The trip to the Old Forest, alone with my dog, leads to something more complex than those secret, winding ways.  Now we can fight over everything we can possibly imagine, because of course we’re no longer coming out of the forest, we’ve taken over the savannah and look back with longing.

So that’s the end I mean the beginning.  My daughter sits on a pillow next to the dog on the pillow looking off into space while she drinks her cashew shake.  It’s a really good shake, as long as you don’t drink the whole glass, and Radiohead’s Karma Police reflects her vacant lost expression.  I really don’t think she’s lost.  I think she’s traveling the interior paths of her mind.  She jumps up and ties a napkin on the dog’s head.  The beginning of forever and all you have to do is take a little moment back on the old forest paths and come out again onto the plain.  Even though the plain is filled with our own people looking back at the forest when they can remember to do that amidst the hot dust and the shouts and the looks of dismay.


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