Ode to Healing – Part One

John Updike

updike_062612_620px

A scab
is a beautiful thing — a coin
the body has minted, with an invisible motto:
In God We Trust.
Our body loves us,
and, even while the spirit drifts dreaming,
works at mending the damage that we do.
That heedless Ahab the conscientious mind
drives our thin-skinned hull onto the shoals;
a million brilliant microscopic engineers below
shore up the wound with platelets,
lay down the hardening threads of fibrin,
send in the lymphocytes, and supervise
those cheery swabs, the macrophages, in their clean-up.
Break a bone, and fibroblasts
knit together the blastema in days.
Catch a cold, and the fervid armies
swarm to blanket our discomfort in sleep.
For all these centuries of fairy tails poor men
butchered each other in the name of cure,
not knowing an iota of what the mute brute of body knew.

— Continued —

For further reading:
Updike The Jew

 


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A Life In Fragments

Fragment ManI’ve been writing living my life in disconnected fragments.   I’m whiplashed.  Thrown back and forth like Freddy Grey of Baltimore infamy.  No flow:  tried to express things so primitive, so primeval, so…   …   …Neanderthal utterances; grunts and growls, would sound right at home in my screaming painfulness.   There are no words…   … …before there were words, there was the pain.  Nine point three, in my humble estimation,  on the Comparative Pain Richter Scale.  Yes, it rocked me.

Torquemada’s Iron Maiden, if it didn’t kill you, mortally wounded your soul.   You’d make any devil’s bargain; piss yourself, beg and plead, for relief.  And I did.

painscale

 Yes, I survived.  Not only I:  many others have survived as well.  I’m proud and humbled to be among them.
Pain at that level is gone.  For now.  More of the same is bound to follow.  I am a hearty, full-bodied man.  But also a vulnerable man.  My names are legion:  colchicine, allopurinol, hydrochlorothiazide, digoxin, benazepril, metoprolol, oxycodone,clonidine, warfarin, fentanyl,  simvastatin, nortriptyline.  Slowly, ever so slowly I turn; turn towards my struggle towards health.  My physical therapist, and The Lord, are my shepherds.  Wit sustains me when muscles weaken.  Melancholy is a guilty treasure.  Prudently mined; it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Along the trails thru the frontier, lonely outposts were manned to give succor for the weary explorer.  I’m at one of those existential waystations now, waiting for few moments to catch my breath.  A new day is before me, but it’s getting late.  Got to get on my way.
Saddle up, Taxi Dog!  It’s time to ride.

Norman Is In Ireland (apologies to R.J.Squirrel)

Falling.  Bottomless.  Tumbling.
Bloodless,
painful joints;
Grasping

nothing.

Writing
to know You.
I is nothing with out U.

Writing this,
like this,
formless, meaningless….

I;

nothing

Meaning?
No meaning.
Am!

All I know, can know, hope to know, hear, see, feel:
no form. 

Am?
Was!

Pin-ball wizard!
Damaged hands.
Motion. Memories of motion; e-motion.
Broken/English, back-hand, left-hand, no hand.
No spin; dead ball.
For(n)ever!

Wish it’d “Go”!
But it won’t.

TTD

Musings on Forgiveness

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2013/06/practicing-forgiveness/#more-3510

Practicing Forgiveness

June 13, 2013 By Vic Sizemore

A few months ago an old friend of mine emailed and asked me to forgive him for any harm he had done me in the past. It seemed odd to me. I told him he hadn’t done me any harm but if it would give him any peace then sure, I forgive him. The very next day I saw a Facebook post from my friend and fellow “Good Letters” blogger, Caroline, also asking for forgiveness.

What was going on? Had Caroline and my old friend both joined AA and it was time to start telling everyone sorry? I didn’t even bother telling Caroline she had nothing for which to apologize—which she didn’t; she’s only ever done good by me. I just commented, “Done.”

Then I watched the same response, by different people, pop up over and over again. There was some variation in wording, but it was this: I forgive and God forgives. Please forgive me.

It was only then that, feeling rather stupid, I realized this is an Orthodox practice. The tradition in which I was reared eschewed every kind of liturgical practice, and I have to admit, though I’m somewhat familiar with the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, the Orthodox tradition is still something about which I am largely ignorant.

I googled the response phrase and discovered Forgiveness Sunday: on Sunday the eve of Great Lent, Orthodox Christians attend Forgiveness Vespers. The two teachings that Sunday are on forgiveness and fasting. I wondered why these two teachings are paired, but was satisfied with this explanation for the strange string of mutual forgiveness running on Caroline’s timeline.

A couple days later I heard a piece on NPR about how studies have shown that, while people feel better when they apologize, they also feel pretty damn good when they flat out refuse to apologize. As a matter of fact, according to researcher Tyler G. Okimoto, “in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have.” Apparently, though it doesn’t heal relationships, it does boost self-esteem and give a sense of empowerment.

So if you want to feel empowered, in control, if you want to have good self-esteem, sometimes it is best to not apologize. I suppose refusal to forgive probably works in the same way.

In Works of Love, Soren Kierkegaard examines Christian love. He differentiates between the love of the admired, and the Christian love of neighbor. Kierkegaard…groups together friendship and erotic love into… the love of preference. His focus is on love for your neighbor, which, if you are a Christian, you are commanded to practice.

The love of preference is focused on self, and is necessarily limiting, grows more intense the more exclusive and focused it becomes. I am not disparaging the romantic love of the poet. Lord knows it is rich and beautiful and worthy of praise, tacky and trashy as that praise may be in pop culture.

Love for your neighbor is the opposite; it grows and spreads as it intensifies. That doesn’t mean it feels rewarding. Most of the time it does not, because this kind of love requires self-denial, which, Kierkegaard writes, “is Christianity’s essential form.” Nietzsche agrees with him on this point: oh how Nietzsche despises the self-denial of Christianity; at the same time, he claims most Christians neither understand nor practice it.

The purest expression of this love for your neighbor is in forgiveness, giving and receiving. Both in asking for and in offering forgiveness, you put yourself in a place of vulnerability, deny yourself. You are also offering a gift in both cases, a chance to experience eternal love.

Kierkegaard’s conclusion: “Love for the neighbor has the perfections of eternity. An accounting can take place only where there is a finite relationship….But one who loves cannot calculate. When the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing, it is impossible to make an accounting.”

This is where fasting relates. [Note Bene: Fasting symbolizes the self-abnegation, unpretentiousness, the humility, so as make sure you’re not doing it to make you ‘better’ than the other] The [teachings] on fasting stress the necessary secrecy of it, of not letting the ‘right hand know what the left is doing’, not seeking recognition. Most peoplelike to trumpet their fast, make a game of it like a New Year’s resolution, which of course misses the point entirely.

The common ground of the teachings on forgiveness and fasting is self-denial. Not much fun either one. Fasting is training in self-denial. Forgiveness in love is putting self-denial to work in the world of human relationships.

Kierkegaard again: “However ludicrous, however frustrating, however inexpedient loving the neighbor may seem in the world, it is still the highest a person is capable of doing.”

Forgiveness—giving and getting—is the load-bearing point, the place at which human love breaks into the realm of the eternal.

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2013/06/practicing-forgiveness/#more-3510

Practicing Forgiveness

A few months ago an old friend of mine emailed and asked me to forgive him for any harm he had done me in the past. It seemed odd to me. I told him he hadn’t done me any harm but if it would give him any peace then sure, I forgive him. The very next day I saw a Facebook post from my friend and fellow “Good Letters” blogger, Caroline, also asking for forgiveness.

What was going on? Had Caroline and my old friend both joined AA and it was time to start telling everyone sorry? I didn’t even bother telling Caroline she had nothing for which to apologize—which she didn’t; she’s only ever done good by me. I just commented, “Done.”

Then I watched the same response, by different people, pop up over and over again. There was some variation in wording, but it was this: I forgive and God forgives. Please forgive me.

It was only then that, feeling rather stupid, I realized this is an Orthodox practice. The tradition in which I was reared eschewed every kind of liturgical practice, and I have to admit, though I’m somewhat familiar with the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, the Orthodox tradition is still something about which I am largely ignorant.

I googled the response phrase and discovered Forgiveness Sunday: on Sunday the eve of Great Lent, Orthodox Christians attend Forgiveness Vespers. The two teachings that Sunday are on forgiveness and fasting. I wondered why these two teachings are paired, but was satisfied with this explanation for the strange string of mutual forgiveness running on Caroline’s timeline.

A couple days later I heard a piece on NPR about how studies have shown that, while people feel better when they apologize, they also feel pretty damn good when they flat out refuse to apologize. As a matter of fact, according to researcher Tyler G. Okimoto, “in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have.” Apparently, though it doesn’t heal relationships, it does boost self-esteem and give a sense of empowerment.

So if you want to feel empowered, in control, if you want to have good self-esteem, sometimes it is best to not apologize. I suppose refusal to forgive probably works in the same way.

In Works of Love, Soren Kierkegaard examines Christian love. He differentiates between the poet’s love of the admired, and the Christian love of neighbor. C.S. Lewis broke love down into four types of love (natural affection, friendship love, erotic love, and agape love). Kierkegaard does not bother with natural affection, and he groups together friendship and erotic love into the love of the poet, or the love of preference. His focus is on love for your neighbor, which, if you are a Christian, you are commanded to practice.

The love of preference is focused on self, and is necessarily limiting, grows more intense the more exclusive and focused it becomes. With this love, “the intoxication of self-esteem is at its peak, and the peak of intoxication is the admired [the one who is loved].” I am not disparaging the romantic love of the poet. Lord knows it is rich and beautiful and worthy of praise, tacky and trashy as that praise may be in pop culture.

Love for your neighbor is the opposite; it grows and spreads as it intensifies. That doesn’t mean it feels rewarding. Most of the time it does not, because this kind of love requires self-denial, which, Kierkegaard writes, “is Christianity’s essential form.” Nietzsche agrees with him on this point: oh how Nietzsche despises the self-denial of Christianity; at the same time, he claims most Christians neither understand nor practice it.

His example is of a military officer crowing about his Christianity even while he rattles the sword on his hip and warns you not to cross him. I think of the scene in the movie Saved when Mandy Moore’s character blasts another girl between the shoulder blades with her Bible and shouts, “I’m so much more full of the love of Christ than you are.”

The purest expression of this love for your neighbor is in forgiveness, giving and receiving. Both in asking for and in offering forgiveness, you put yourself in a place of vulnerability, deny yourself. You are also offering a gift in both cases, a chance to experience eternal love.

Kierkegaard’s conclusion on love of preference versus love for your neighbor: one is temporal and passing, the other eternal and lasting.  “Love for the neighbor has the perfections of eternity. An accounting can take place only where there is a finite relationship….But one who loves cannot calculate. When the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing, it is impossible to make an accounting.”

This is where fasting relates. The Forgiveness Sunday reading on fasting stresses the necessary secrecy of it, of not letting the right hand know what the left is doing, not seeking recognition. Most of the people I know who give up something for Lent like to trumpet it, make a game of it like a New Year’s resolution, which of course misses the point entirely.

The common ground of the teachings on forgiveness and fasting is self-denial. Not much fun either one. Fasting is training in self-denial. Forgiveness in love is putting self-denial to work in the world of human relationships.

Kierkegaard again: “However ludicrous, however frustrating, however inexpedient loving the neighbor may seem in the world, it is still the highest a person is capable of doing.”

Forgiveness—giving and getting—is the load-bearing point, the place at which human love breaks into the realm of the eternal.

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2013/06/practicing-forgiveness/#more-3510

Practicing Forgiveness

A few months ago an old friend of mine emailed and asked me to forgive him for any harm he had done me in the past. It seemed odd to me. I told him he hadn’t done me any harm but if it would give him any peace then sure, I forgive him. The very next day I saw a Facebook post from my friend and fellow “Good Letters” blogger, Caroline, also asking for forgiveness.

What was going on? Had Caroline and my old friend both joined AA and it was time to start telling everyone sorry? I didn’t even bother telling Caroline she had nothing for which to apologize—which she didn’t; she’s only ever done good by me. I just commented, “Done.”

Then I watched the same response, by different people, pop up over and over again. There was some variation in wording, but it was this: I forgive and God forgives. Please forgive me.

It was only then that, feeling rather stupid, I realized this is an Orthodox practice. The tradition in which I was reared eschewed every kind of liturgical practice, and I have to admit, though I’m somewhat familiar with the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, the Orthodox tradition is still something about which I am largely ignorant.

I googled the response phrase and discovered Forgiveness Sunday: on Sunday the eve of Great Lent, Orthodox Christians attend Forgiveness Vespers. The two teachings that Sunday are on forgiveness and fasting. I wondered why these two teachings are paired, but was satisfied with this explanation for the strange string of mutual forgiveness running on Caroline’s timeline.

A couple days later I heard a piece on NPR about how studies have shown that, while people feel better when they apologize, they also feel pretty damn good when they flat out refuse to apologize. As a matter of fact, according to researcher Tyler G. Okimoto, “in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have.” Apparently, though it doesn’t heal relationships, it does boost self-esteem and give a sense of empowerment.

So if you want to feel empowered, in control, if you want to have good self-esteem, sometimes it is best to not apologize. I suppose refusal to forgive probably works in the same way.

In Works of Love, Soren Kierkegaard examines Christian love. He differentiates between the poet’s love of the admired, and the Christian love of neighbor. C.S. Lewis broke love down into four types of love (natural affection, friendship love, erotic love, and agape love). Kierkegaard does not bother with natural affection, and he groups together friendship and erotic love into the love of the poet, or the love of preference. His focus is on love for your neighbor, which, if you are a Christian, you are commanded to practice.

The love of preference is focused on self, and is necessarily limiting, grows more intense the more exclusive and focused it becomes. With this love, “the intoxication of self-esteem is at its peak, and the peak of intoxication is the admired [the one who is loved].” I am not disparaging the romantic love of the poet. Lord knows it is rich and beautiful and worthy of praise, tacky and trashy as that praise may be in pop culture.

Love for your neighbor is the opposite; it grows and spreads as it intensifies. That doesn’t mean it feels rewarding. Most of the time it does not, because this kind of love requires self-denial, which, Kierkegaard writes, “is Christianity’s essential form.” Nietzsche agrees with him on this point: oh how Nietzsche despises the self-denial of Christianity; at the same time, he claims most Christians neither understand nor practice it.

His example is of a military officer crowing about his Christianity even while he rattles the sword on his hip and warns you not to cross him. I think of the scene in the movie Saved when Mandy Moore’s character blasts another girl between the shoulder blades with her Bible and shouts, “I’m so much more full of the love of Christ than you are.”

The purest expression of this love for your neighbor is in forgiveness, giving and receiving. Both in asking for and in offering forgiveness, you put yourself in a place of vulnerability, deny yourself. You are also offering a gift in both cases, a chance to experience eternal love.

Kierkegaard’s conclusion on love of preference versus love for your neighbor: one is temporal and passing, the other eternal and lasting.  “Love for the neighbor has the perfections of eternity. An accounting can take place only where there is a finite relationship….But one who loves cannot calculate. When the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing, it is impossible to make an accounting.”

This is where fasting relates. The Forgiveness Sunday reading on fasting stresses the necessary secrecy of it, of not letting the right hand know what the left is doing, not seeking recognition. Most of the people I know who give up something for Lent like to trumpet it, make a game of it like a New Year’s resolution, which of course misses the point entirely.

The common ground of the teachings on forgiveness and fasting is self-denial. Not much fun either one. Fasting is training in self-denial. Forgiveness in love is putting self-denial to work in the world of human relationships.

Kierkegaard again: “However ludicrous, however frustrating, however inexpedient loving the neighbor may seem in the world, it is still the highest a person is capable of doing.”

Forgiveness—giving and getting—is the load-bearing point, the place at which human love breaks into the realm of the eternal.

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2013/06/practicing-forgiveness/#more-3510

Who’s Afraid Of Golden Pond?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (film)I’m back!!  From a couple of hellish weeks of non-life threatening, but very ugly, illness, tax audits, family difficulties, and friends in distress.  And even more.  Nothing that your ordinary, death defying taxi dog doesn’t soak up like a dry sponge in the Gobi Desert after a decades long drought.  But this time its gotten the best of me.

Apparently, I’m very much attatched to my self-concept as a survivor.   “He takes a lickin’; but the keeps on ticking”.  Oh, how I love that image!!  So, when I can’t keep up with my image, I stop writing.  What am I suppose to do?  Discuss all my 70 year old’s aches and pains?  Would you read that shit?

I wouldn’t.

So; slowly I turn.  Step by step.  Inch by inch.  What do you guys [and guy-ettes] do when you’re in a piss poor mood?  When I was younger, many, many years ago, I had the luxury of blaming others.  My wife and I used to do our “Virginia Woolf” act in summer stock for years.  “On Golden Pond” is better theater.  And a more satisfactory role to play.  Still, its only human nature to look for scapegoats.

I have this discussion with myself every once in awhile.  Bitch and whine?  Or take control of myself.  I’m embarrassed to say I don’t always live up to my press releases.

I can’t tell you my greatest fears.  I don’t know all of them yet.  Death isn’t one of them.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have them.  So here I am, literally alone and in the dark, at 2:07 AM.  Sharing.  Questioning.  Wondering.

That’s all I know for now.  Tomorrow, if it comes, will be another day.

TD

Sunday Morning Poetry

Please Hold

This is the future, my wife says.
We are already there, and it’s the same
as the present. Your future, here, she says.
And I’m talking to a robot on the phone.
The robot is giving me countless options,
none of which answer to my needs.
Wonderful, says the robot
when I give him my telephone number.
And Great, says the robot
when I give him my account number.
I have a wonderful telephone number
and a great account number,
but I can find nothing to meet my needs
on the telephone, and into my account
(which is really the robot’s account)
goes money, my money, to pay for nothing.
I’m paying a robot for doing nothing.
This call is free of charge, says the mind-reading robot.
Yes but I’m paying for it, I shout,
out of my wonderful account
into my great telephone bill.
Wonderful, says the robot.
And my wife says, This is the future.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand, says the robot.
Please say Yes or No.
Or you can say Repeat or Menu.
You can say Yes, No, Repeat or Menu,
Or you can say Agent if you’d like to talk
to someone real, who is just as robotic.
I scream Agent! and am cut off,
and my wife says, This is the future.
We are already there and it’s the same
as the present. Your future, here, she says.
And I’m talking to a robot on the phone,
and he is giving me no options
in the guise of countless alternatives.
We appreciate your patience. Please hold.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold.
Eine fucking Kleine Nachtmusik.
And the robot transfers me to himself.
Your call is important to us, he says.
And my translator says, This means
your call is not important to them.
And my wife says, This is the future.
And my translator says, Please hold
means that, for all your accomplishments,
the only way you can now meet your needs
is by looting. Wonderful, says the robot

Please hold. Please grow old. Please grow cold.
Please do what you’re told. Grow old. Grow cold.
This is the future. Please hold.
.
.

by Ciaran O’Driscoll
from the journal Southword