Side Street Egress

Billy here: Work today was one of those tornadoes that keeps going even after the work load lessens because you are still swept up in the chaotic head space. This is perhaps a good analogy for the whole season as I have been experiencing it. A lifetime of catching up: catching up on sleep, catching up on culture, catching up on my own heart gone racing ahead…I found myself saying out loud today to my sister that I wasn’t expecting to lose heart quite so hard coming back to the city from the mountains. But it’s not that I’m losing heart now, it’s only that I realized I lost heart a bit ago and now I’m catching up to it again. The last couple of weeks work has been stressful but I’ve been playing piano almost every day and my emotions have been stirring again. The bits are coming up from the deep, evoked by music, a flower, or a film. The dulcimer and the grey-greens of the moss and vines are swirling the sediments of heartaches already passed up through my eyes, spilling up that mother salt water.

New art projects are cracking the shell that has been frozen for a while. I set out the day planning, but the most important task could be cracking that shell. The Earth opens up her skin and we all come out, all sorts of life from her pores. This is what I remember from being a kid – listening to beautiful music with the trees and the plants, and being moved to tears by the heartbreaking beauty of it all – the elegance, the decaying, swirling river of leaves. I never noticed the blossoming cherry next door behind the stand of birches. Perhaps because I did not smell it until now. There is the acrid intensity, almost like urine, that sickly sweet of spring. There is a poem by e. e. cummings I remember having to copy as a kid and it has stuck in my memory for eternity, though now I realize how dark this must seem!

O sweet spontaneous

earth how often have



fingers of

prurient philosophers pinched




, has the naughty thumb

of science prodded


beauty,            how

often have religions taken

thee upon their scraggy knees

squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive




to the incomparable

couch of death thy



thou answerest

them only with


– e. e. cummings

The Earth, I feel, will only take abuse so long. I walked by a sticker on the crosswalk button just now that said: “old wounds abuse”. Although it may have been a snarkism, I found it profound, for it seems accurate that the old poison keeps us stuck in the patterns that are no longer necessary. How many thousands of years will pass before we realize that violence, sexism, racism, and all the other -isms, actually do not help our survival?

How many breaths will it take to breathe out the anxieties of childhood, the dangers we learned, the violence we absorbed just by living in a world that condones cutthroat tactics to rise to the top of dominance in war and finance? Are they not the same? Have not all the saints and poets eschewed them as such? Not to say that that I am either! And if I were, perhaps I would not be taking a paycheck at all. Perhaps I would be sleeping in the shelters for the homeless. It struck me a bit ago that the difference between madmen and prophets is perhaps that madmen still retain a shred of ego after having been annihilated and hold on to it for dear life, while prophets have had their ego annihilated completely and therefore are content to give everything back to the world, because they know that they are the world already.

Spence here: Yesterday I was having a hard time. It was one of those days where I felt of the entire planet’s surface area there was still no nook left for me to sit alone and be quiet with my thoughts. City life just isn’t for me. No wonder people for centuries have taken off across the ocean in vessels towards mystery and salty wind. Perhaps they were driven by a need to have a cup of coffee without a dog barking, a small child yowling, a ranter on a cell phone or a cop car sirening. Looking out at a vast openness of sameness waving water–that sounds like the perfect remedy. So when I saw a cool old door leaning up against the wall on a side street, of course I went through it and spent the day in peaceful anti-caterwauling. I saw flower petals, trees, green patterns of every shape and color, grand old retired fossils and new blooming life. I saw a light-filled structure called “The Sky Building”. It had a foundation and windows, but mostly was made of mirrors, so when I was near the base of it, looking up, it disappeared into the sky and had no roof

Of course I didn’t go through the door, but went to work instead, where it was “go time”. I clocked in and before I knew it, time had evaporated. I had a nice walk on the way though, and was reminded that walking is its own kind of solitude, even in the city. It is good to have time to dream, for it gives us space for hope. While the Buddhist’s may argue that we, as humans, are caught in the loop of hope and fear, my retort is hope is a remedy for fear. I am not talking about controlling an outcome, but rather conjuring feelings from our childhood, the forgotten brightness, of what we wanted to make our world like in the future and sticking to it–creating and replenishing magic time. Even finding magic time in the seemingly mundane. This week it’d be good to get to the ocean for a day I think.

Speaking of nautical sea-faring ways, there are three knots I would like to master soon:  the Bowline, the Trucker’s Hitch and the Blood Knot. There are several useful knots I know already, like the Simple Fisherman’s Knot and the Lark’s Head Hitch, and the Reef Knot. The bowline I have successfully tied, but can never remember on the spot how to do it when I need it, so therefore it is still on the list. The blood knot isn’t always needed, but it is a very attractive knot and permanent for those times when a commitment is necessary. The Trucker’s Hitch has been listed as a backpacker’s “go-to survival” knot in many articles. Similar to a Sheep-shank, this knot can be load-bearing and easy to adjust. One can use it in place of cord tensioners on the ropes securing a tarp or tent, thus saving weight and lessening one’s gear pile. I was thinking about knots today as I looked up where to take sailing lessons and small wooden craft classes. I am sure there are many more I need to know, but for now, that’s a start.

Sometimes it seems I know a collection of random things and how could they possibly add up to anything relevant. I guess if someone is talking about the knowledge in terms of a career, I’m certainly not going to profit from randomness, however, I like to think I am preparing for something. There is a quote that lives on our fridge in the main house, and is similar to one I have read before about how all the experiences we have prepare us for what we do not know, but it is still important and necessary.

There will come a day for all of us that shows us without a doubt or room for discussion that all the roads of our lives have led directly to here.

–Tyler Knott Gregson

This week I fixed a stool, two doors, my drums, my own bike, the bike at work, (which I have to name soon I think), some shelves, a sticky desk drawer, a dishwasher and my attitude. Pretty good week. I am looking forward to taking more photographs this week with “real” film, and submitting 6 new poems to various publications… stay tuned!

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