That Timeless Space

The serenity in our creative selves…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel  written…” So said Anne Lamott. That is why I spent a delightful part of my last seven years writing three memoirs that emptied my soul of experience that tickled me,  inspired me and brought meaning, by God’s grace,  to my life.

My question to you is have you created songs or blogs or novels or memoirs or still lifes or portraits or poems or gardens, that, make you whole? The serenity and joy I have found in my writing can only be treasured by those, who, by the grace of our Creator, have found that beautiful place that can make them whole.

On your journey, with it’s loveliness and ugliness, meaning and chaos, intimacy and loneliness, don’t miss that serene, timeless space, if, it has managed to…

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Love to the Point of Madness.

“I have loved to the point of madness; that which is called madness, that which to me, is the only sensible way to love.” Francois Sagan, the late French playwright, novelist, and screenwriter

Is it a good idea to marry someone who will be changing for a lifetime? Since one person usually has the greater love, should they suffer through that indignity? If a successful love is a role of the dice should one jump in with both feet?

The answer to the inquiries, for me, is yes. Love, however difficult, is a wonderful expression of our humanity. Don’t you think?

The Golden Bear

Ohio’s gift to golf…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

In 1962 I attended Ohio State University’s Summer Center of the Communicative Arts as an ardent, 17 year old high school debater. I had an opportunity one day to visit the Sigma Alpha Mu frat house. During my visit we heard cheers well up in a nearby fraternity house. That was Jack Niklaus’ fraternity house and he had won his first PGA tournament, the US Open.

In 1974 I played tennis in a doubles group in Augusta, GA every day for a year. One of the four of us was a superb golfer. Not surprisingly he was the best tennis player in the group. Somehow he had befriended Jack, the Golden Bear, on one of Jack’s many visits to Augusta, the home of one of golf’s four majors, the Masters.

He described watching Jack on his basketball court where he would drop one jump shot after another with intense concentration…

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Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott, a Review

One wonderful writer…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Anne Lamott was born, raised and lives in northern California. That she is an inductee in the California Hall of Fame, as a writer, is an understatement about the extraordinary skill with which she pens her work. Ms. Lamott speaks directly to our hearts.

She did so in this masterful book that perhaps enhanced my own life’s journey to forgive my father. There is even an outside chance it has made me easier to live with, no small task.

The core of her book is her journey to become more loving, forgiving and merciful. That is, specifically, more merciful to herself and others.

Her personal journey has involved a battle with alcoholism. Its ups and downs are embedded here. To the believer it was our Lord’s speaking through others that guided her in her successful journey as a recovering alcoholic. To any reader, whatever their demons, it is an unforgettable…

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Control?

“What is sanity, after all, except the control of madness?” Josephine Winslow Johnson, the late American novelist who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1935 at age 24 for her first novel.

The schizophrenic dream in daylight and the rest of us dream at night. There is a shortage of physicians but psychotherapists are numerous and busy. The contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton has said we should ask each other on our first dates, how are you crazy?, if a successful, serious relationship is our goal.

An article in Time four years ago declared, “Antidepressants are some of the most popular drugs in the United States, and their usage shows no signs of waning.” Panic attacks, depression, psychosomatic disease; and so, the list of common conditions continues.

There seems an emotional component to many physical ailments as well. There is a strong emotional component to the anti- social media. Each of us who faces Facebook appreciates that and that sometimes posts are completely over the top. There can be a fine line between emotional illness and “normality” whatever that is.

On top of everything else, there is an American stigma towards emotional illness and Covid-19 has made matters worse as to emotional health, generally.

“Houston, we’ve got a problem.”

The Good Life?

My thoughts at Christmas in COVID, 2020.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

There has been at least one good scientific study that shows that boardrooms benefit from honest exchanges of differing points of view from board (not bored) members, reducing BIAS when a decision is made. That’s no small feat. It’s a lesson for individuals, families and nations. It involves speaking the truth non-offensively and listening.

The objective of the board is to enhance the corporation’s profits. There has been at least one good scientific study that shows, as to those individuals who “gain,” once one has food on the table, and, a roof over one’s head differences in people’s happiness based on income are nominal.

Recall in the musical Camelot when the King and Guinevere are wondering what the simple folk are doing to cope, as the royal couple deals with its difficulties. Frederick Lowe wrote for the couple’s duet:

“What else do the simple folk do?

They must have a…

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Good Teaching, What Does it Take?

“Good teaching is 1/4 preparation and 3/4 theater.”  Gail Godwin, an American author

It was my junior year in college. I was taking the most difficult pre-med subject I would ever give my best shot. It was taught over two academic quarters/two courses (1965-1966). The subject was organic chemistry.

The course was taught by a marvelous professor named Dr. Leon Mandell. As best as I can gather, now, via the Web, he moved from Emory University, where he taught me, to the University of South Florida (USF). He is retired and thriving, likely in his early 90s.

He was totally prepared, having taught for years prior to 1965, having received his PhD from Harvard in 1951. His theatrical skills were impressive. Though small in stature he had a booming voice and spoke with great clarity. He was chock full of enthusiasm, deeply attached to his life’s work.

The lesson he taught me was that despite my two miserable “C’s” in his courses, I could love the challenge of the subject and the quality of his teaching. Dr. Mandell was just one of those unforgettable people who according to the USF website, “continues to write letters of recommendation on behalf of past students.”

I, of course, would not be among them. I was likely the most forgettable student he ever taught.

Oh, the Contrasts

“Is there anything more frightening than people?” Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian investigative journalist

The human bite is more infectious than any other animal’s bite. From being drawn and quartered to spine breaking moments on the rack, the Middle Ages, we think, was an era at the height of incapacitating, human torture. I’d rather not delve into specific modes of torture anymore or my innards will develop into a large corkscrew. I used to see the 20th Century mayhem, at, perhaps, its worst in Baltimore, MD as a medical examiner, about 45 years ago.

But, to the contrary, there are some wonderful moments humanity presents to most of us. Baltimore, back then, was a place of great learning, research, cuisine and beauty. Here in the 21st Century, I can listen to a parade of my favorite music, ever, blue-toothed to my digital hearing aids care of Amazon Music. I can and have visited Jerusalem with my beloved spouse experiencing other-worldly days. I can watch a combination of Rudolph Nureyev and a tennis legend, Roger Federer. I can watch, relative to Babe Ruth, a swifter, more gymnastic, equally effective power hitter in Fernando Tatis, Jr., a man who shines in the biggest moments.

It’s all a contrast, humankind’s earthly presence. I am deeply thankful the good Lord has provided us any life at all.

Great Love

What does she see in him and visa versa?

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Per, Wisława Szymborska, a Polish poet and Nobel Laureate: “So what does she (he) see in him (her)?” Such questions are best left in peace: great love is never justified. It’s like the little tree that springs up in some inexplicable fashion on the side of a cliff: where are its roots, what does it feed on, what miracle produces those green leaves? But it does exist and it really is green — clearly, then, it’s getting whatever it needs to survive.”

As our marriage slowly approaches a half century of life, I ask: How can two such different people have found a life together and raised a boy and a girl to adulthood? The great love that Wisława Szymborska addresses above sounds, at first, like a step removed from reality.

Two people spend that long together and they have each perhaps been married to five different people, in other…

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As Tennesee Williams Called it, The Sweet Bird of Youth

Last night I saw a wonderful ballgame where the San Diego Padres had a walk off, stirring victory before their first packed house since 2019. Lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions in California, in large part, provided that opportunity.

I noticed the Cincinnati Reds manager was named David Bell. In the 50s as a child I had watched David “Gus” Bell play All Star level outfield for the Reds. He hit with a good batting average, lots of power and nearly 1000 runs batted in through his 15 year career.

It was the 50s via black and white tv when I watched Gus at the Reds home in Crosley field. I lived in Dayton, Ohio a few miles up the road from Cincinnati.The Reds stopped playing at Crosley Field in 1970.

I knew as I watched last night, that, Gus’ son, Buddy Bell, had played and managed in major league baseball. What I didn’t know until I saw David manage last night was that Gus also had a grandson who played and managed in major league baseball.

Apparently all three have worn #25, Gus’ number. I really felt old noting I had seen this 48 year old manager’s long deceased grandfather play ball.

So much for baseball being a sport, that, gave me, in spectating, some of that joy of my youth. On the other hand, I sure am glad I am around to watch Gus’ grandson manage.