What is in the big cardboard box resting on the coffee shop table?
A distinguished-looking gentleman sitting patiently behind the box compulsively checks on its contents as though there’s a domesticated animal inside... but I doubt there’s an animal in there.
For an hour-and-a-half, the distinguished gentleman considers the box, drumming his fingers next to the box on the coffee shop table. His fate seems enclosed within the box along with whatever is in it. What is in it?
Finally, a well-dressed young man shows up at the coffee shop to claim the box and, more importantly, its contents. The distinguished gentleman who has been babysitting the box with its mysterious contents seems relieved.
As the distinguished gentleman takes a large object out of the box, a passerby walks in front of me, blocking my view.
The distinguished-looking gentleman places the unseen object back in the bow, closes its flaps, and transfers it to the younger man, who walks out of the coffee shop.
I open the door for him because his hands are full...full of the mystery inside the box.
When I was a Cub Scout many years ago, we proudly marched down Elm Street in a grand parade officially sanctioned by the Boy Scouts of America.
My parents, sister, friends, and just about everyone who was not a scout were on the side of the street behind barriers watching us make history.
Our parade was the first and best of all time, the greatest display of scouting prowess ever witnessed in these United States... indeed, in the entire world.
No doubt the Soviet Union Communists were shaking in their red boots as they witnessed the pride of the United States marching proudly down Elm Street as it intersected Main.
After all, we had Tucker Blankenship, our expert in knot tying, an ancient craft passed down from scout to scout.
And there was Dougie Lewis, our campfire expert who could make dank wood burst into flames using only a flint from his shirt pocket packet. Invariably, Dougie would do this while cracking great jokes on just about any subject. He saved our lives on many occasions.
I won’t bore you with the many other experts we had at out disposal in Den 9 of Pack 507, but they were legion.
This parade of parades took place in the Spring of 1956.
Eventually, the Berlin Wall came down, and the United States won the Cold War.
You can find them anywhere... students doing what we did long ago when we knew nothing, when we read our textbooks as though we were reading Bibles of secular religions.
We thought we were working mighty miracles of pulling ideas out of our heads that questioned possibilities put forth by professors who professed sacred knowledge caught in the web of dispassionate debate that had no end, save to make us “curiouser and curiouser,” as Dodgson put it in his wonderland where white rabbits were always late for very important dates, where Mad Hatters were mad with our ignorance, and where little girls in blue dresses grew as large as a student coming across new ideas that challenged the Bible, McCarthy, Vietnam, his or her parents, or whatever Sacred Cow was being milked at the time.
But that was half-a-century ago.
Now students hang out in coffee shops instead of libraries or dorm rooms with their laptops, I-phones, I-pods, and other I-gizmos that allow them to peruse Library of Congress or Harvard bookshelves with the click of a key while sipping their cafe lattes in ease.
In the corner of a Starbucks, a student relaxes. He seems too comfortable to become “curiouser and curiouser,” too smug to doubt dogma and question professors who are not there to provoke him into feeling short and tall at the same time
We thirst for “The Ultimate Equation,” the Universal Signifier, the Unified Field Theory, the end-all and be-all formula for what LIFE is all about.
But real LIFE is too nuanced, too delicate and amorphous, too whimsical and creative for the limitations of even complex mathematics, isn’t it?
Maybe if we were computers living on ones and zeroes, either/ors, and other simplistic and false binaries, it would be a piece of cake to reduce us to a calculus of tidy existence instead of humans on a dangerous and often inconvenient journey to a destination that morphs despite our best and sometimes worst intentions… impervious to our stubborn and uninformed wills…always turning left or right or halting into beginnings that breathe by a logic all their own.
The logical positivists thought mathematical formulas, symbolic in everything but symbol, explain LIFE, explain humanity, explain everything, every person, place, animal, and epoch of history.
I guess they hit their target, but what target? Too bad their aim wasn’t blood and guts reality…just a target…and an easy one to hit at that… a straw dog, certainly not a fully-developed and uniquely self-actualized human. No, that would be unfathomable, wouldn’t it? Certainty is the bane of humanity…the assassin of the creative spark…the lobotomizer of imagination…the death knell of wisdom.
Believe me, we don’t want mere existence. We want LIFE, and we will die until we find it.
It doesn’t add up, but the human equation is always greater than the sum of its parts.
I wish I could say you take the words right out of my mouth, but you are the one who put them in.
Words do not come out before they go in... or at least, they percolate within the mind after pieces of the world go in like doves flying into the wind and give the mind something to think about and the heart someone to love.
The words in my heart are placed there like a transplant by the world, by the people, places, and things of the world...most of all by you.
If there were no world, there would be no mind, no words, no ideas, no thoughts... just trees falling where no one would see them.
There would be no trees, no thoughts without the world to impregnate the mind... no mind to put words into the world and my mouth so I could say I love you as doves fly into the wind.
It’s still dark, and I’ve already gotten myself into trouble.
I noticed a server here has the same first name as my middle name (Alexander) and remarked upon it to him.
He thought I was saying we have the same middle name and noted, “There’s no way we can have the same middle name because mine is “Laningowhahooie.”
Instinctively, I laughed...really loudly.
Then I added to the harm by asking, “What kind of name is that?!”
Laningowhahooie (also known as “Alex) said it is a Filipino name that means (roughly) “He who washes dishes gladly without any prospects of promotion for the rest of his life and goes on to become a drug addict.”
I said, “Oh” and made my way to a table where I shut up and meekly drank my arsenic-laced coffee.
When I’m no longer here, it won’t make a bit of difference; and I don’t mean to sound despairing or depressed... because I’m not.
You see, when I’m dead, I’ll be here more than ever in a thousand ways you will never realize.
If you want to find me, you’ll have to seek me out to know me... to realize what was, is, and will be on my mind.
Then, everything will be clear.
When the body dies, the mind goes on, on, and on. Mind never dies. It is continuously reinterpreted.
I’ve tried to share many things with you; but you don’t speak my language, and I don’t speak yours. Don’t worry. Most people do not speak the same language. Yet, ironically, we are on the same page. The words just get in the way.
However, there is an infinitely powerful and multifaceted method of communication that is not subject to the pitfalls of the spoken word. It is called
Many people like me leave their writings behind like Charlotte’s eggs.
Yesterday, when going through a box of my father’s stuff, I found a ring he always wore. My Dad didn’t write much. That ring, though, is his writing; and I’m wearing his ring. It’s amazing how much better I understand him.
My father’s been dead 11-years now. He’s more here than ever now that he’s no longer here.