Tag: Memories of S

The road from grief to Zen

HIS TRAVELS

CONFESSIONAL CULTURE

I began this biographical log as a place to park my short stories, hoping to add new ones as I went along.

When my wife died two years ago, it became more of an autobiographical log, mostly about our life together, her death and my grief, becoming at times (in retrospect) an embarrassingly personal confessional.

My self-centered grief for the loss of a soulmate and my sorrow for her loss of life have not diminished. Some people find that pitiful and annoying. They lost loved ones over the years and they moved on, met other companions and so forth.

AGED BUT UN-TATTERED

Why haven’t I? I’m reminded of a line by the poet W.B. Yeats: ‘An aged man is but a paltry thing / A tattered coat upon a stick.’

Certainly I’m aged now and in the scheme of things I’m definitely paltry, but my coat is still of good cloth. I could put it on and don my fedora or my Panama, depending on the season, and take a walk along the boulevard like I used to in my relative youth and perhaps, as I did then, catch the eye of a fine lady, older now but still jolly attractive.

The fact is I don’t have the interest or the inclination. I have my memories of S and my books and a most companionable cat — not to mention my 80-proof security blanket (and yet I mentioned it!).

I began this biographical log as a place to park my short stories
Ryokan (1758-1831)

ZEN MASTER RYŌKAN

Lately I am revisiting the Zen literature of Japanese writers and poets — Ryōkan, Bashō, Buson, Issa and others. The publishing house Shambhala Publications of Boulder, Colorado, has a large collection of excellent translations. They arrive on my doorstep. I never have to leave my bungalow, my ‘hut’ in the haiku-imbued north. It is snowing today.


The new year’s first snow / how lucky to remain alone / at my hermitage — Matsuo Bashō


Late at night, listening to the winter rain
Recalling my youth —
Was it only a dream? Was I really young once? — Ryōkan


Drawing at top by Matsuo Bashō in his classic travel chronicle ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North.’


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Till death do us part

OVER BILL

Living the High Life in the Dead Room

American Daze Purple Haze lived alone in a bungalow in Upstate New York with Memories of S. They woke up together, spent the day talking about their life of many years together, shared cocktail hour and went to bed together. This went on for two years.

As the months dragged on American Daze Purple Haze became more and more depressed. One morning he told Memories of S that he was going to look for an apartment in another state and try and rejoin society. Memories of S said that sounded like a good idea, time to move on and all that stuff.

She asked him what state he was moving to and he said New Hampshire because of the liberal gun laws as opposed to New York where you can’t buy a gun to save your life and Memories of S said, I hate guns. Why do you want a gun?

The revolution, said American Daze Purple Haze. Live Free or Die and all that.

Memories of S said straight out, I think you want a gun so you can shoot me

Are you insane! said American Daze Purple Haze, I would never shoot you, I will love you forever and be with you forever.

Well, let’s not get carried away, said Memories of S. She was not the sentimental type, always practical and down to earth. American Daze Purple Haze was the sentimental one, a dreamer and a romantic.

And then Memories of S asked, Are you going to shoot yourself?

Well, since you mention it, I suppose, said American Daze Purple Haze, when I feel the time is right.

It works out the same, said Memories of S, if you shoot yourself you also kill me, and you said you would never do that.

Hmmm, said American Daze Purple Haze, you always were the logical one.

So what are you going to do, Socrates? asked Memories of S.

American Daze Purple Haze said, Just stay here, I guess, and not buy a gun.

To hell with the revolution, said Memories of S. Look, it’s five o’clock, how about you fix us a couple of cocktails and roll a joint and I’ll meet you in the living room.

You mean the dead room.

Whatever.

American Daze Purple Haze made the drinks and rolled a joint and got back on the not-so-merry merry-go-round.

That is one sad merry-go-round. There’s no one on it.


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