Last week I picked up my daughter from college in Massachusetts and drove her to Utica, NY for her first vaccination. Then back to her dorm, and home again, all in a day. 720 miles for a body that is no longer dependable after taking abuse. It seems like only yesterday that I was able to plan 300 miles of driving without the threat of complete bodily shut down the morning after. I am hunched over in pain as I write. Still, my daughter got her dose (glory be to the microbiologists!) and now I feel ready to climb out of the hole coronavirus dropped us into.
During the drive I listened to a book on tape: Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich. It was the right book for me. I found myself nodding throughout, and sometimes declaring out loud, “Yes, that’s right,” and “Absolutely!”. She covered several of my own cultural concerns and criticisms. Apparently those of many others too (it’s a New York Times bestseller). For instance I always believed doctor and dentist visits to be more ritual than effective medicine. Because my heart sometimes beats like a Tom Waits syncopation, I’m on a regimen of drugs that have side effects that should kill me, but haven’t yet, and I’m always on tenterhooks when taking them. Cardiologists continue my prescriptions unchanged, although my heart is out of A-fib and my blood pressure and pulse rate resemble that of the healthiest person who has ever lived. I’ve written about the irony here, and my mind has dealt with the dissonance for far too long. A big part of me is ready to die. I’m just looking for the path to take me there with some dignity and beautiful acceptance.
She ended her book with hope for a godless world where, depressingly, self worship has become the norm. Pointing out a way to kill the self to welcome death, she alluded to recent studies on psychedelic drugs and their positive effects on the dying. Controlled doses of psilocybin to see the oneness all around and replace an impotent daddy god who made promises 2000 years ago which he still has not kept. She never mentioned Zen Buddhism, and probably for good reason. The sick and dying are in no position to undergo an intense discipline toward satori. Chew on a psychedelic mushroom and instantly grasp the meaning/un-meaning of squirrels. Die with the dignity and unmentionability of a daisy. Take your Soma pills until it’s time to go to the phosphorous factory and fertilize the grass.
That’s it. My back is out. It hurts to breath and write. I’ll try painting standing up:
Read more from a cranky curmudgeon and claim your free gift!
Here are some things on my mind that I won’t put into paragraphs, mainly because of the acute back pain:
• I don’t want to have another thought about medications, doctor’s appointments, tests and procedures. I’ll take a blood pressure and blood thinner pill every day until I die.
• Absolutely no colonoscopy for a man of my age. Only one person has grudgingly looked up my back end in 54 years, and I want to continue the trend.
• This might be the last decade to have fun. So, have fun.
• You are reading the worst Friday Freeflow ever, therefore I have a gift waiting for paid subscribers. Please go to my Etsy page and pick out a free painting. Let me know which one you prefer, and if it’s not already taken, I’ll mail it to you on Monday. This includes all paid subscribers, no matter what the amount. We’re nickeled and dimed enough already by systems we don’t trust. Also, by giving back to you my time and self, I feel freer to squash the self, which I’m gonna do come hell or crippling back pain.
Meanwhile, here’s another painting (For some reason I was able to sit in the studio, but not at the computer. Could be the different chairs—could be the joy of painting versus the colonoscopy of writing).
All the paintings on the page were made this week.
My friend and I are planning a Bob Dylan birthday party art exhibition and music performance fundraiser during the month of November. He turns 80 in May, but we’re setting a later date to celebrate so coronavirus isn’t invited. Please stay tuned. Musicians, learn a couple Dylan tunes to perform on stage in my town, and artists, get to work on Dylan lyric inspired pieces. All proceeds will be split equally to the local art association and a charity that distributes musical instruments to disadvantaged youth. I hear that if I ask politely, Bob might show up for a few numbers. Here is my latest painting for the exhibition:
Inspired by a verse in this song.
I saw my old friend Kevin this week. First time in years. Here’s a poem of what he was once to me, before :
Poor Kevin is stuffed with that even tempered love hate thing
so he told me to smile more last night because there aren’t men
Now they tell you to smile and count da money calmly
and order in tonight and watch baseball on TV
and live and let live
and love until someone else hates the very sight of you
Most times I would agree with Buddha
but those were the nights of personal rice
and wooden bowls
and day walks over mountains
and society talk about sun and storm
when a man respected the hot wind
and not the sweaty cheeks of fat bankers
“Ugh” is a brighter word than “presumptuous”
There were men walking through rice in China saying “Ugh”
And they were Buddhas!
Not Jesus not Buddha not Chi-Lee the rice sower
These folks would waste a minute on you
running to save their pure, right lives
When all is taken away everywhere
all computers, planes, metal things
and factories where clothes are made
then men will pop up like flowers
and be what flowers are
exactly like Buddha said when people were flowers,
He said “Everyone is me, ugh, ugh...”
And then he went back to work—
just like Kevin does always
God Damn tonight’s Buddha!
Even with plastics
We play in the cool moonlight
like the first blackflies
That’s it. The worst Friday Freeflow ever. At least some of you got a painting you didn’t ask for.
Thanks for visiting!