Thursday, July 23, 2020
Friday, July 17, 2020
Driving from Belfast, Maine back to Camden, I run into a sweep of fog. I’d been driving through full sunshine up until then. My car climbed and descended a small hill, and there it was: a white presence drifting over the hills and the road before me. The road is not a half-mile from the sea, so it makes sense. Still, a surprise.
Fog like this—not obscuring the road completely for the foreseeable future and so not striking fear in a driver—is a delight. Just enough white to be called fog and yet not enough to be perilous. Fog can be treacherous, but not today.
The fog is delicate, snowy, insubstantial; yet it’s there. I know it’s entirely water, yet, unlike water, how graceful and airy and white it is.
When fog moves, it often drifts, taking its good time, like a jellyfish being eased on by the current.
Sometimes, of course it stubbornly sits there, unmovable, the last person at the party.
The poet Marianne Moore writes about an ocean storm: “It is a privilege to see so / much confusion.” I think it’s a privilege to see this little world of fog. I bask in it.
After five minutes of driving, I’m through its presence and back in sunlight. Regrettably.
Was I seeing things?
Who knows why there was fog in just one short stretch of land and road and nowhere else? There’s a reason, of course. But I think if I knew that reason, the science that is, I’d be the less for it.
Leave me with my child-like wonder.
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
It's almost impossible for me to go through the day without telling a lie. I lie in order not to hurt someone, for example. Of course, the truth isn't necessarily called for when not asked for. But sometimes you're asked for it, and sometimes it's better not to provide it. If they ask you, are you going to tell your child she or he wasn't less than wonderful in the school recital? And if you do tell them they just weren't that good—which is the truth, mind you!—well, go live with the look on their face.
Someone asked playwright Tracy Letts what he says when he sees a play written by a friend that he thinks is awful and the friend asks him his opinion.
"I lie!" Letts said. "I lie magnificently!"
I agree with what one of Graham Greene's characters has to say about this: "The truth, he thought, has never been of any real value to any human being—it is a symbol for mathematicians to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths."
Of course, sometimes lying is despicable. If the intent is to deceive, to cause harm, simply to gain an advantage, well, it's ugly. Sometimes you have to tell the truth. You're a coward if you don't. I often fail here. I lie when I shouldn't. Not proud of that.
I side with Tennessee Williams. I trust his sense of morality. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Mitch confronts Blanche with some unsavory details about her past:
Mitch: You lied to me, Blanche.
TW was the same guy who said the worst sin is deliberate cruelty. And a lot of times a well-fabricated lie prevents me from being deliberately cruel. In those moments, I'm content to be a liar.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Sometime in the early 1980s, when I was living in New York City, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In those days, I went often. It was a sunny fall day. I climbed the familiar marble steps and walked into the main entrance hall. It’s a vast space. It was, as it always is, crowded with humanity. There were uncountable scattered individuals, and there were groups. I looked about absently, trying to decide what part of the museum I would explore that day, at which point I would enter.
I noticed a group directly in front of me. There were about fifteen people in the group, all of them, I could see, wearing name tags. For some reason, and now I wonder why, I walked closer to them. I saw that the tags read, “Cranbrook School Alumni.” My old school prep school! Surprised, I looked to see if I recognized any of them. I did not.
Then I heard a male voice. “Ok, let’s go!” it said commandingly. I turned my eyes toward the voice. Instantly, I knew who it was. It was Pete Dawkins. The great Pete Dawkins, West Point graduate, football legend, all-around hero and Cranbrook School alumnus. I had studied his face so carefully so many times when I was at Cranbrook that even with the gray hair he had now, I knew it was him. That chieftain, that granite-hewn face! And, it made sense, of course, that he was leading a group of alumni of the school he had once attended.
There he stood, the ultimate alumnus, leading the chosen few. What had they done to be part of this elite group? What had they promised? A personal tour by none other than the mythical Pete Dawkins. Just for an instant, I had the urge to walk up to him. I wanted to talk to him. I had some things I wanted to know about his time at Cranbrook. Did he know he had been used? Did he know he had been a lure? He raised an arm and waved the group forward, like the soldier he was. Then Pete Dawkins turned and began walking away, the group following eagerly behind him. I watched them move through the throng toward the heart of the museum, this gray-haired hero leading them. Very soon, they began to be swallowed up in the crowd. And then they vanished completely, as if they’d never been there.
My heart was pounding.
I turned and walked out of the museum, down the stone steps, and away from the throng, so I could breathe.[Please read the rest of the story here: https://medium.com/@richgood711/becoming-pete-dawkins-4073cff4bb7c]