Breaking the Silence


Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“To choose to write is to reject silence.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whois a Nigerian writer.

I like the idea for people to understand what is deep inside my soul, what drives me, what brings me joy and what does not. For me, silence is not an option.

There are times I can do that with greater clarity through fiction. It’s the most surprising part of dipping my toe into those waters.

At this point, thank God, I am immersed in those waters completely in the joy of trying to make my novelette a thing of beauty, hoping, ultimately you and I know that is what it’s has become.

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“Once the working classes were in chains, now they’re in chain restaurants.” Will Self, an English author.

I wonder if some people get confused and call him Self Will. Perhaps they call him Willpower. I suspect he has the willpower to avoid fast food. He certainly isn’t asked to spell his name much.

Chain restaurants? Good way to describe them. Any careful evaluation of the non-nutritious food dished out at most of them could keep you up at night.

Hope you have the will to avoid them. To your health and willpower.



Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

“Wit is the lightning of the mind, reason the sunshine, and reflection the moonlight.” Marguerite Gardiner, a 19th Century Irish novelist 

Our best one-liners seem to come out of nowhere like a bolt of lightening. Our rationality helps light our way.

But as we reflect, creative thoughts percolate from deep in the oceans of our mind. They enrich our lives.

To those of us who believe in one, holy Creator, those thoughts can draw us closer to His loving presence. They are the moonlight of our days.

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When We Can Be Alone

“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”  Bell Hooks, the late American author.

A good friend once told me as a student, don’t try to live with a woman until you learn to live with yourself. I hadn’t learned that lesson before my short-lived first marriage, but I did before my long-lived current marriage. I should have listened.

It is a long, arduous journey we take. Isn’t it? Mine would be far more difficult and far less joyful outside the hands of God.

Casablanca, the Film, Revisited

On the 13th of November, it will be 78 years since the premier of the film Casablanca in New York City. 

It is arguably, the finest movie I have ever seen.

The film mixes two strong human passions, the need for justice and the sparks of young love. The key characters are Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman, Victor Lazlo, her husband, played by Paul Henreid, and Rick, Ilsa’s “first love”, played by Humphrey Bogart.

 The justice is expressed in the strong anti-Nazi feelings in Rick’s Cafe. All but the Nazis in the café sing the French national anthem despite the hated Nazi presence. Ironically many of those who play Nazis in this film from the early 40s are Jews, who, had escaped the Holocaust

Equally engaging is the love between Rick and Ilsa. It is a love that has never died despite Ilsa’s marriage to Victor, a hero of the resistance. Rick tells Ilsa in the final, airport scene, that, their love is of little consequence in a war-torn world, where her brave husband must escape Casablanca with her. But, Rick reminds Ilsa, “We will always have Paris.”

The film speaks to our first love, the illusory one with few conflicts and no children, mortgages or financial shortfalls. It is that part of our lives to which “You Can’t…,” in Thomas Wolfe’s words,”… Go Home Again.” We were but puppies.

Rick and Ilsa’s love gives the film an incandescent quality enriched by their song, As Time Goes By. It shines even more fully in the distinctive black and white images of the film.

The Academy Award for Best Picture was no accident. This is a film which is unforgettable in its portrayal of heartbreak mingled ever so delicately with justice.  It is a sweet, haunting melody that lingers on. It is a picture that took a piece of my heart.

The Memorable

“Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves—that’s the truth. We have two or three great moving experiences in our lives—experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

He was named after Francis Scott Key, a distant cousin. His father’s first cousin twice removed was Mary Suratt, hanged as a a conspirator in the assassination of Lincoln. His life included a schizophrenic wife, Zelda, a life long battle with alcoholism and death from a heart attack in his 40s.

Moving experiences? Funny, some of the things I remember vividly.

I was an average hitter without much power as a little leaguer. One day Tim Russ was pitching a no hitter with a blazing fastball. I held my breath, swung hopefully the instant he released the ball, and hit a ball over the glove of the leaping shortstop, Billy Fieldus, into the gap in left center field. The ensuing triple was the only extra-base hit of my entire, short lived, baseball career.

Why do I remember their two names? Why can I easily picture myself at bat that day?

Some moments in our lives just take on an extra level of intensity and joy. Such was that swing, some sixty five years ago.

A Distraction

An upbeat part of my adolescence…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

At a summer camp at 13, after way too many attempts to bring myself above two water skis, I finally got the hang of it. That is all I remember from the Alabama, camp experience. When I was about 15 at home in Miami, FL, I followed up on that wonderful distraction.

With the small powerboat my father purchased, splitting the cost with him, I tried to ski with an experienced driver, a school friend, at the helm. I got the picture. I drove while he skied. It started one of the most joyous aspects of my adolescence.

The ideal was to ski in about 70 degrees emerging from reasonably warm water. That standard included a mirror-smooth Biscayne Bay. With the sun shining off my unscreened body (Who knew from sunscreen?), I would surge out of the water with the initial torque from a 35 horsepower Kiekhaefer, outboard engine…

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“Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than night.” Henry Beston, a 20th-century writer and naturalist. He saw it as a peaceful period.

The night? It is the period when daylight pain might amplify. In the middle of the night, if one awakens, things can appear more fearful than in bright sunshine.

And the darkness flashing us into sleep. What an amazing instant. We cannot perceive that moment falling headlong into the first stage of sleep.

It differs from deep anesthesia. There, under bright lights, getting pinched hard doesn’t wake us as it would with sleep. When I was a med student, a prof said something unforgettable about deep anesthesia. It is the closest thing to death in the living patient.

So much for the solitude of darkness.

Poof, Where Did it Go?


Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Poof! Where is the melanin going? I think it migrated down to my eyes, that, are darkening.

I am breathing and I have a pulse. As an added bonus, I don’t feel like I have been hit by a Buick this morning.

On the other hand, I have no burning desire for an all-electric, Ford 150 truck that can power my house in the event the grid goes down.

So much for staying young. Didn’t Peter Pan make that mistake?

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Those Rhythms

“If life is not always poetical, it is at least metrical.” Alice Meynell, an English, 19th and 20th-century writer. 

Oh, the rhythms of life. Gershwin takes a cross-country train and hears in the rhythm of the wheels and the exterior a Rhapsody in Blue. The humorist, Mark Twain, timed a phrase well describing one composer’s works. “Wagner’s music is much better than it sounds.” 

We are different people in different phases of our lives. I don’t know why we live in different rhythms in those phases. The late Gail Sheehy expounded on those life phases and advised, after 100’s of interviews, that older is better. 

I think dotage’s rhythms have their up and downs, but they don’t seem as drastic as in earlier phases of life. The finale is a bit strong, they tell me.