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In This Moment

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Late

Am I late?  I know the feeling so well.  Today I board BART  at 8:03 AM.  My goal to be at my desk making calls at 8 AM.  That makes me late…Or do I make myself late?  Walked down to the station rather than taking an Uber, that pretty much made the difference.  Talked with my wife about plans for the coming week.  That made the difference.  Played mini-basketball with my son.  Of course you can add up each little thing or you can pick them out one by one.  Each one makes the difference.  What’s the net product?  I’d rather be late like this than on time missing any one of these things.

Maybe the real feeling of being late that rankles is the feeling of being out of control.  If I’m late by choice it’s OK.  If I pretend it’s not by choice, my whining causes damage to my self.  The train sits at the sunny BART terminal at MacArthur and I see an attractive woman with slumped shoulders.  I have to say she doesn’t appear attractive. Maybe just for an instant before the slumped shoulders registered.  It’s like being late: if you think you’re late and you slump sadly then you’re the essence of late, you’re the self-condemning late person rather than the cheerful late person, and that makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

Now I’m on time, at this moment, because I’m doing the one thing I’ve agreed to do right now.  Write.  Even though not everything went as planned today, I said I’d call the Uber at 4:45PM and start writing for 45 minutes at that time.  Even if I haven’t written for every second of the time, I have done it.  Even pulled a picture of a tree taken against the sky and placed it onto this post.  Why?  Because we all know the tree is not late.  And I’m supposed to switch to going for a run at 5:30 PM, and no, I’m not required to do that while in the Uber as long as it gets me home within another 15 minutes.  So I could be on time for that too.

Here’s the real challenge.  As I was stepped into the elevator to go down to the Uber I could feel it.  The resistance.  Inchoate.  Resistance to actually sitting in an Uber and doing my writing the whole way.  And that is the failure, not the reading of emails, the quick playing a round of a video game.  The failure would be in that tired moment at the elevator.  So I said to myself, at that moment, look at your reflection in the elevator doors, face the resistance because this is it, here.

So, am I late?  Only when not present.  One thing we do that trees probably don’t do:  pretend this isn’t really happening.  I’m thankful for all the things I can do that aren’t getting to work on time.  I’d still like to set a time and be there.  More important to me, to set a goal and reach it.  More important still, to have a clear intention and stand with that.  So my various intentions are to follow through with some core goals, and deliverables in service to these goals.  Such as spending time with my kids, making creative contributions to the world, as for example building applications and writing on subjects that others actually read.  Things I’m excited to be present for.

There comes the tricky part.  I know in principle, what I want to do.  Yet in practice it’s easier to oscillate between two states: reacting to what’s at hand and recuperating from that.  Do you notice those two things can describe a life?  Technically I’m outside the iron trap now to the extent I’m not either reacting to the command to write nor escaping from my life through writing complete crap.  But guess what lies outside the trap?  A wasteland.  Yes, you step out for a second and there you are in a beautiful, terrible and bare place where it’s cold (or unbearably hot), you have no apparent sustenance, and no one to help you.  That’s how I feel, anyway.  The iron trap:  answer emails, then, after an hour or two, go to the cafe and try to forget.  The wilderness: instead of playing a video game, checking email, jumping on the Web while I sip my coffee, I write.  And the most wildernessy thing about the Wilderness is stepping into it.  That’s when the resistance reaches such a peak that to submit to the desire to not move forward seems very pleasurable: “What, you dare to set aside email responsibilities (pleasure of checking, of addressing, of deleting) to create something new?”  Surely not now.  And the pleasure of just a momentary diversion–can’t I do that first?  Or, wait, what about just writing now.  Well, it’s either now or else I’ll be late for life.

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In

It’s hard to have perspective when you’re in something.  I just came down to the underground train platform in downtown Berkeley and the moment I passed the point on the short stairway where my view was the platform instead of the upper terminal, bam  that was it, I was in.  And now, guess what, the train approaches.  I’m on the platform.  Walking towards the train door, and, I’m part of the seat grabbing rush!  That was different because the transition was accompanied by a stressful activity.  Instead of a visual instantaneous transition it was not only invisible, but somehow unappreciated.  I look up for a moment and see ranks of people looking at their phones.  Or more exactly ranks of seated people all wearing dark clothes, and I happen to see one person focused on her phone.  And I glance to the right and the person next to me is holding her phone.  Accompanied by a frenetic clicking noise that it turns out is the seat rattling. Turns out her phone screen is dark and she’s looking at the blank screen.

Weeks later, months later let’s be honest, I still think of her looking at her blank smartphone screen and I think how often I’ve turned to the phone knowing it will hold something for me but not necessarily knowing what.  Like turning on the TV and channel surfing.  One step back from surfing the internet, surfing my own unique but similar world of things.  And God help me how different is that, really, from a blank screen?

I’m sure more goes on around me, and different things than I realize, far more than I know.  My question is not only Does it Matter to me, but is it even likely there is anything I can do to make it matter?  Look inside.  The truth is in there, carried with me from transition to transition, whether cleanly accomplished from station lobby to platform or murkily, rushing into a train without full awareness of my surroundings.  In all cases I carry with me an image of what I imagine is around me.

What matters to me has to do with its proximity in space and time. I honestly don’t remember whether I read that in a Buddhist book on meditation and life perspective or the book on Machine Learning that I’m reading.  OK, pretty sure it was the machine learning book but it really could have been either one.  That is a meta thought that matters to me because it consolidates and points to the area I explore in my writing.  I like to call it the moment.  The moment is what is here now. I believe there is a word for this in machine learning, and there is a dimension to it that goes beyond proximity in time and space.  That dimension is accesibility.  I make up in my head most of what I believe I know about my surroundings, therefore most of what happens right now, right next to me, is inaccessible.  So it may as well not be proximate.  I also have a feeling there is more than one dimension of accessibility within the realm of awareness.

What do I turn to to find out what’s around me?  The smartphone.  If I do this while I’m on the BART train I bring a different set of things into my awareness. The email a client just sent from Paris.  And I lose touch with the people on the train with me.  So what?  The main problem I see is the question of What am I In?  If I am no longer in the train but have stepped onto another platform, into another room, an email room, then OK but what are the characteristics of that room?  Can people see me, understand where I’m coming from, catch my attention and communicate as fully as possible with me?  I don’t know.  I read the email from Paris and I gather the transaction we’re discussing is a lost cause.  She wants way more than the building can likely sell for at this time.  My job would be to make this Owner proximate with someone who can actually pay her price.  That may take time, yet there is the chance that this Buyer is out there even now, standing in front of her property looking at it.  Yet Buyer and Seller are not proximate to each other.

I sit outdoors at a cafe in Berkeley and to whom am I proximate?  I distance myself from my email, from home, from work, and here I am. It’s an early fall day not really Indian Summer but sunny and OK for sitting outside in a sweater.  People are coming and going and of course I’m not really close to them.  I am significantly alone…although sharing this space, being seen by these others.  The short order cook comes out and presses down the garbage.  I smile and wave to him and he says “hi” so happily.  How can I call this alone?  He remembers me from ten years ago when my son was a toddler.  He hasn’t changed much but he works so hard, and he seems a bit sad.  Florencio.  His name that of the city where I began writing about moments almost twenty years ago. The hard work he cheerfully endures so different from the situations that I have been in these past decades, yet…he helps me recall Florence, and that ties together my passion for writing and travel over my lifetime.  Even though (did he say he has four children?) it doesn’t seem like he can travel much, as he puts on his helmet and wheels his bicycle into the street I wonder where he has been, the man who is always at the cafe.  I’m often at a cafe, just not always his.

I’m proximate to Florence and Florencio and an endless string of cafes and emails and photographs of places.  And of course stories that begin to tie them together into a meta-place where old men press down garbage for students and old men and women who scribble in journals long after their coffee is cold and bitter as death.

 

Cake

Deeper magic from before the dawn of time.  Because eating the cake is never enough.  You know we’re waiting for something beyond what we can see and touch, because even the dawn of time, that Big Bang when we really get started, or, if you look a little farther, right now, is never quite enough to satisfy.  That’s why we seem to need the even deeper magic from before, beyond and Outside our experience.  And did anyone ever mention you can’t have your cake and eat it too?  You know why they say that?  Because you have to either live in this moment or wait for another one.  And what they mean is you should wait, for a Better World.  Oh yes, wait.  ‘Cause if you eat your cake now you won’t have it any more, and everyone wants to have cake, right?  Wait, did I ever say I wanted to “have” cake?  Aren’t there contrasting parables about not storing up your grain, or hoarding your talents, and that birds and grass are happy even without “having” anything?  Oh, those radical Leftist Christians rallying against acquisitiveness and greed!

Don’t believe it.  We always have our cake and eat it too.  You can’t have one without the other.  How can you eat the cake if you didn’t spend some time wanting it first?  You can’t; even if you’re a dog you anticipate the treat.  To lose yourself in deeper magic from before the dawn of time you’d have to be dead.  Then you wouldn’t count anymore, not independently.  And so, the deep magic we have in the present is just the eating, just the reveling, and despite our fears (or hopes) of where that may lead, it’s worse than it seems:  not only does the reveling lead nowhere but it’s also unachievable.  You can’t get there.  Sorry Bohemian, your journey is just that, a journey.  You have no place to lay your head, not even Noplace.  No break, not really one moment of eating the cake that isn’t shot through with anticipation of eating it.  You can’t take one bite and just enjoy it.  Do I dare to eat a peach is the philosophical question of daring to think about these things, be aware while eating the cake.  The ultimate hubris (even though the philosophers would tell you it’s only natural to think about things while you do them, they secretly admire the proletariat freedom to just enjoy things, and so J. Alfred Prufrock is afraid of losing his teeth, missing out on sex, and dying; thank you T.S. Elliot, for sharing this perspective, but, sorry, this admiration for those who just do things is ill-founded: nobody, not even a dog, just does things).  I can try to lose myself in eating cake or peach but will inevitably feel the pull of the bungee cord of human reflection drawing me back to thinking about it.  If I jump in while conscious of the cost, the ramifications, the inevitable pull-back, the alternatives, something different may happen.  Do I dare to think about eating cake, the cake that I must forever both have and eat, that no matter how hard I try I cannot stop having and eating?  That’s the thing the Buddhists understand but the Western philosophers miss: the thinking about it mingled with the doing it is the real daring.  And the Western philosophers are doing exactly that.  They should pat themselves on the back!

Why is it all reversed?  You can’t have your cake and eat it too is wrong, you can’t not have your cake and eat it too.  Do I dare to eat a peach is actually do I dare to think about eating a peach.  The core of the Christian Gospel is radically leftist even though Conservative and Christian are words that travel intimately with each other.  Try too hard to do anything and you end up with the opposite.

What about this: sentimentality rots the core of our lives, it’s maybe one of several ways to ruin everything.  I listen to Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd and see two miniature rat terriers lying side-by-side on a woman’s lap outside the cafe and recall the times I lost myself in that song waiting for another time to come.  There’s a lot of Waiting in rock music.  And of course isn’t there also a lot of Eating Cake — do I miss something to say there’s a lot of Waiting to Eat Cake?  Kind of crosses all the Political Divides because I could say I like Little People’s Mickey Mouse Operation better than Lynyrd Skynyrd, but would it actually be true?  I can’t bring myself to mention any politician’s name but what would it help?  If a woman breaks the Presidential Glass Ceiling this year does that speak more about her or about our society’s need for her (and for her opposite) now?  Can I deny I get a good feeling when I hear the opening bars of Titanium by David Guetta,  though I’ve got to slog through the rest to get to another, anemic rush when the woman shouts “I am Titanium”?  If I have the right speakers the off-beat bass is good, if I’m distracted during the build-up I may start thinking again the song is cool.  But there’s almost nothing left for me in that song but sentimentality.  And guess what?  The sentimentality, while it rots the core of our lives, cleanses us.  Your core rots out, you’re left with nothing, an empty husk, and then you go on and let yourself get filled up with something new.  So it goes: we begin this paragraph with the claim sentimentality is our best shot at destroying ourselves and yet its rot is the lifeblood of renewal, laying down the sod for the growth of new things.  Because to eat cake you must have someone go out and plant it, grow it and harvest it, and after all humans don’t know how to eat grass…  But if there were no cake we’d stop eating it, yet we wouldn’t stop trying to have something even while we’re eating it and saying it’s impossible, and always getting it backwards, except for the part we may notice about humans always thinking about things and never just doing them.

 

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We Have It All

Chaamah, or something like that. Adele’s Rolling In the Deep plays as the background. Both kids are here.  Went to the Magic shop, the earring shop, and we’re eating at the Thai place my daughter found on Yelp, near Union Square.  Was about to write my kids were “turned off” because they’re watching TV.  But things move quickly: dinner comes and goes, squabbles over shrimp pass as dark clouds, suddenly here and gone.  Diners pass through.  The kids order dessert.  Feels like nighttime now, so quickly…

The place has become crowded at 7:30 PM on a Sunday with people looking in from the street.  The waitress doesn’t understand the word “dairy.”  For a moment back there I tasted the green curry and recalled a recurrent dream of a trip to Thailand.  In the dream I can eat at any restaurant in a whole park full of restaurants, and there are so many, and something heavenly about having my choice, and they are all good.  For a moment tasting that green curry I’m there, the dream is here, this little hole-in-the-wall Thai place in San Francisco is one of the Good Places.  I think Paris and eat Thai.  In other words, moments that feel good can connect and momentarily coexist.  Paris is a place of mind, a background for experience, a lot of yellow gravel walks and noisy cafes.  When the sound becomes just loud enough you rise up into a different plane…and it’s easier to experience this Paris when you’re not there.  The kids learn about magic and discount deals on earrings, we enjoy half-price Uber rides on a darkening Sunday and the patrons press in while the waitresses with their broken English try to help and the busboy with gold rings folds napkins and laughs with them.  He may as well be in Thailand, or Laos or Vietnam but of course with his gold rings he is definitively in America.  I’m momentarily as much in his place as he in mine while I dine in his restaurant.  And the ultimate secret of Paris and Thailand is revealed while the kids grow restless and the arguing starts, and it starts to seem ludicrous that we’re holding this table while the kids fight over a bite of mango.  The secret is it isn’t just a place.  And there is no milk in this sticky rice sauce, and despite too much broth in the soup there was a moment when the music mixed with the fast motion of the staff here, and their positive energy, and it all came together.  As we weave our way through the narrow entry corridor to the sidewalk, those outside add a final push of value to here even in the moment that it becomes there for us.

Another day.  If I think hard about Paris, recall the summer I lay out on the grass in the park after rising at 5 AM to buy croissants leaving my newlywed spouse to sleep, I feel it  pressing down onto this unusually hot Berkeley street side.  Sitting in the shade at the beginning of a UC Berkeley semester while the heat of Paris comes down onto the roofs of the single-story retail shops on this street.  In other words I sense the world, the hot, dry world, all around me as I sit at my table at the side of the pedestrian way.  Yesterday, deciding how to spend my time while the kids were in school I found I’d divided it up finer and finer until there was little pleasure in it and after a meeting with my boss that morning regarding best sales team strategy I wondered if I’d spent the last minute before 2pm the best way I could.  Actually the minute was well spent, it’s just various other minutes of which I’m unsure.

And today, as always the minutes pass while I, wander?  Not quite, the Uber Pool brought me on a random walk to my several destinations.  A less expensive, erratic path, nevertheless arriving with certainty.  And I wrote during the last-minute again before arriving this time at my house.  No one in it and still it was distracting.  I have a lot of collected experience there.  So much easier to write at a sidewalk cafe…  And I’ve invited the kids to come down here and work with me and they are not here.  So there is a gap between the potential to be with them and the actuality of it.  It all happens in the gap.  A former Berkeley professor called it liminality, the moment that you step from one thing to another.  Really the only moment that matters.  I step from here to Paris to Thailand and back, and you know, all these people driving and walking about North Gate at Cal are doing it too, I’m sure of it.  It begins to feel like home.

Rain

It’s back. And I Ching says “immaturity is a household,” “a leader must bring children to knowledge” and “the child takes over the family.” Today I feel taken over.  Not only by the children but by the indirectness of my path. Yesterday I toured a building for a second time with a client.  Why do it twice?  And today I toured no building and yet made few sales calls.  I did swim in a pool, at 7:30am, that was so filled with people that at one point I had to circle, three to a lane.  After that the day followed no direct course, and I essentially sat by and watched it go, while came the wind, then the rain.

I read some hexagrams of I Ching and now the rain plaps and draps, trickles and shimmels around me in this room that I keep saying I’ll use for…this. Yesterday in the building we toured for the second time I saw a room within a suite that I hadn’t seen before. In the room sat a man at a desk facing a row of many-colored bottles before a window.  Quiet music seemed to come from an old wood-encased amplifier. He didn’t turn, in his modern, 1960s chair, to face us, but continued to work. This tenant has an office that is so much more beautiful than mine. Mine at work, that is.  At home, I’ve set up two offices. The first one is business and my wife uses it also, and the kids and she are in there now watching gymnastics videos.  Here I am, in a jutting peninsula of the house that presses into the rain, before a diamond-shaped window, the very desk and window at which I stood twenty seconds after entering this house for the first time fourteen years ago and thought to myself, “I like this.”

The rain is back. Perhaps to stay?  To end the drought.  I feel positive energy coming into me in this room. I thought I’d feel that in the other office that faces green trees and faces south. But I find recently that this quiet room facing north is the place that rejuvenates the most.  So I have my office retreat just like that other guy…I only have to remember to use it.  Corollary for my brain.  I only have to remember that my mind, my very choices, are opportunities to retreat, to build, and to create beauty.  I remember when I first bought this computer and began to use it as a writing sanctuary, a special place to work.  I tried to set up shop in various places, in San Francisco.  Tried to and it worked to some degree, but I wonder what is next.  Typing in the small quiet office at my home.  How fortunate I am to have three offices plus the ability to work anywhere with my laptop or my smart phone.  Really begs the question of what work shall I do, doesn’t it, and when?

The sun comes partially from behind the clouds and my wife turns around from the little table where she’s eating lunch to see what is all the fast typing.  She laughs and says she had imagined I was sitting here in this little office entering numbers on a calculator.  That’s about right: I’m always calculating return on investment from real estate.  And as a salesperson, much of the time the returns are not mine or even realized by anyone I know.  Just quick math on a calculator and then it’s over.  I even wrote an email to a client between when she laughed about the calculating and when I continued writing here.  Email said Hey look at the deal you’d be getting at this rent multiplier, do you want to proceed?  I actually did that.  So in a sense some of that furious typing was from making calculations.  Then back to writing.  Sun’s still out; rain fell hard earlier.  I’m passing time until this waterproofing consultant comes by to inspect some areas above our unit.  Then I have to pass the time before doing a tenant walkthrough inspection at another property.  Strange, but filling in these gaps with writing can work.  I’m not sure how it all ads up across sales, investment and writing, plus family, but I get the feeling I need to take a step back and see how things go for a bit.

I Chings says nothing because I’m not reading it.  Just sitting here at the quiet desk with my son looking over my shoulder.  It is early morning, barely seven, and I can hear the water trickling in the fish tank, the low howl of the water going to my wife’s shower, the clump as that water stops, and perhaps above all the sound of my son reading and exclaiming “Don’t say that!” to everything I write.  Now he’s hitting me.  He says Why do I like writing so much, only math is fun.  Writing should not be used in this way, to describe one’s situation, one’s momentary experience.  Now he huffs off to take his shower.  Quiet returns but is infused with his concern for me, his perspective.  I can feel where he head-butted me in the shoulder after I wrote the “Don’t say that” comment.  And still I Ching says nothing.

Now he plays his guitar while I type on the bed.  Older now, enough to be real but not felt, (a week, maybe less), so I can’t just say Oh it’s been three years, see how my life has gone… No, it’s only been three to six days so it’s hard to really say I’ve gotten older, surely not noticeably.  The children haven’t grown visibly taller.  But you know, they have grown more mature.  And I’ve changed a little.  I can see myself coming a tiny bit farther out onto the rim of the crater we seemed to fall into some years ago with the Great Recession (do people still remember that?).  Perhaps there’s another crater a few days ahead, but thank God I’ve crawled out of this one.  Uh oh.  Now he’s taking my computer and setting it aside before he jumps onto me for some wrestling, his once-tiny but always round chest hammering down on me, his legs strong enough to lift me off the bed even though I outweigh him two-to-one (correction: 1.5-to-one…when did he get that big?).  There’s nothing to get away from, only moments to attend.  Maybe the sun will come out and everything will be fun, fun, fun.  Or maybe it is already fun and can just keep raining.

Tunnel

There’s something exiting about traveling through the Transbay Tube on BART.  Just finished watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and have that after-dinner-on-a-Friday-night-after-the-movie indestructible feeling.  I feel I must rise to a higher level of engagement with the world around me and need to write.  BART and all trains, but especially trains that look like a 1960s future series of railcars pulled by an engine and make lots of noise but mostly hollow hissing, move you magically along while you continue your business inside.  Like life moving us forward except simpler.  The train, the seat, whatever I have in my lap.  Perhaps a companion.  And the outside world sliding past.  Maybe the darkness of the Transbay tunnel.  Anyway, if a train is pulled by an engine and BART has every car powered individually, does that make it not a train, or only similar to a train?  BART is like a train except that it’s very silvery and hisses, doesn’t choo-choo

A different vantage:  the Saturn Cafe in Berkeley.  All windows around the outside and people walking by all the time.  I wouldn’t have thought it the best pedestrian corridor at the bottom of UC campus where Oxford is full of fast traffic and you can’t get into campus through the baseball field.  Guess I was wrong as lots of people are walking by and I’m inside the fishbowl of this cafe, but I know from experience I don’t really look in from outside.  And from inside one sees the world going by.  Like being on a train except the world is moving and you’re still.

Before I could write much about the Saturn the Uber came and I’ve written most of this in the Toyota Sienna with Arabic-looking rugs on the floor and an Asian-looking man named Rommel driving.  Now I’m getting dropped off.  Thus ends my commentary for two weeks.  Back on BART again after coming through the BART tunnel during Friday, Oct 30 afternoon commute in my Halloween costume.  Dropped off, picked up again by the Uber.  Just like my job making three hundred calls this week to buyers and sellers and lookers and listeners.  Givers and takers and movers and shakers…and fakers.  And it seems to come down to chance, and I get dropped off at the same intersection where I broke my leg a year ago.  Coming back around to the same places.  Traveling through the same BART tunnels.  But you know, every time something changes.  Today the sun has just set and it’s warm and there’s a different feeling in the air that autumn carries.  So this moment is not the same as others were.  It’s more fall and sunny.

Here’s an interesting idea related to seeing the same places again and again, working on the same piece in different but similar places.   To me that has come to seem like a tesseract, a construct with an additional dimension (in this case time) allowing for a series of similar events to compress together, accordion-like, into a common moment. Ok, yes, that’s really cool, and in watching my favorite TV show I came across this idea for a fifth dimension:  if you see time as unfolding and in the process linking everything and everyone together as a fourth dimension, in what dimension would time travel occur?  Or, here is the kicker from Continuum:  would traveling in time require a fifth dimension because of changes time travel causes in the first four, creating a dimension of alternate worlds.  Because we’re used to the idea of time moving only forward, if you jumped backwards to a prior point in time, how would that affect things?  How would we understand the relationship between the world before you did that and the world afterwards?  That is what works as a fifth dimension, the dimension consisting of different possible outcomes based upon our choices.  I just realized something maybe too neat, so obvious I’m surprised I’ve never heard anyone talking about it.  Suppose we define a fifth dimension to our ordinary lives as the parallel worlds created by our choices.  Then…all the ramifications of choice are evident in the resulting continuum.  Choice?  Free will, right?  What are the areas of human endeavor most associated with free will and choice?  Besides career planning… philosophy and religion!  I’ve always tried to interpret Christ’s statement “The Kingdom of God will come as a thief in the night,” at a most unexpected time and place, to mean that it is concealed within each moment.  Existentially, if something big is going to happen at a surprising time, something really big, then there is probably only one surprising time it can happen.  1999?  2112?  No, now!  That’s the only existential time that has any real utility.  Everything else is unreal, who knows may never become real because…there are so many possibilities.  In a fifth dimension we have a way that literally everything from dropping your ice cream cone on the ground to the Rapture of good souls, the separating of wheat from chaff, goats from sheep, the end of the world, can coexist.  All the predictions were correct, every one of them.

So many paths to consider.  What about this one: in the Continuum series the most disturbing aspect was to have to face a reality in which one did not belong, say by coming into a time where there is already one of you there.  You can’t very well both sit in your favorite armchair at the same time.  You also can’t both spend one-on-one time with your child at the same time, or your fiancé… So, what about these groups that have predicted the end of the world.  What if it ended in some timelines as the believers predicted, but not for us in this timeline we happen to be on?  If there are parallel worlds initiated by every choice each of us makes, then any of us could be heading down a path to any one of those worlds any time and the people we know are doing the same.  So there might be really cool worlds that we might or might not get to depending upon the choices we and others make, and we might get there with our friends, but only with the ones who made certain choices.  All religious thought that supports an afterlife or a consequence from our free will might be proved out in one of these parallel worlds right here and now.  Heaven and Hell can literally exist in parallel worlds that we could get to really easily by means of our choices…

By creating disturbing situations such as persons meeting themselves, Continuum made it more clear that each moment we make decisions that may remake our future.  The kicker was the decisions that had the greatest impact were the ones made with the greatest degree of caring and insight.  That makes sense in that the decisions that affect humanity will be the ones that in some way take its interests into account.

For a second I’d step out of the flow of time as it rushes past in the form of fire engines, students, three lanes of cars, someone nearby playing a guitar.  As a bassist rolls his acoustic instrument, taller than himself, with an electric amplified monitor, past the bicycles and bystanders while the sun goes down behind the Revival Bar & Kitchen across the street from me in Berkeley.  But I wanted to step out to enjoy this moment.  The hedonistic impulse may or may not be culpable, maybe without it I’d be bereft of any meaning, so hedonistic impulses have their purpose in bringing us closer to truth through creating a frame of reference.  If I seek a certain pleasure at least I’ve created clarity of intent and action.  I say taking a step back is one entry to that fifth dimension of free will and choice, a dimension not easily perceived and not easily used to good purpose, or even used at all.  Let’s say I’m using it now because let’s say I actually care that I use my free will.  Say I engage in an exercise, a practice whereby I take note of what I perceive and what I feel.  I thereby create a different world.  And the only way it can be different is through use of free will, and free will is tied, inevitably, to action, and the only premeditated action is practice (because otherwise it’s just vague ideas, not acts we can actually count on making), and so by a practice, say of meditation, or swimming, or stopping and listening to my kids, I give myself a tiny almost invisible moment to use my free will.  And that is creativity and that is magic.  The glass that holds the wine.  And all along you thought it was your hand that held the wine.

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Easy

Continue reading “Easy”

Cool

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.

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