Category Personal Reflections

Farewell, Rascal

Life, death, suffering, grief, loss, love—it is always more affecting and close-at-heart than we like to let on in our mostly defended moments against the too-muchness of life, its power to overwhelm the barriers we erect to tamp down the great roiling emotions that drive so much of our inner experience.

So we leave it to therapists, or spouses, or late night drinking companions, or the ceiling above our mid-of-night tossings in bed, or the sky gods beyond that, to receive our wails, our ponderings, our miseries and questions—and sometimes even our wholly undefended joys.

Deep in the pit of our stomachs, we know we are engaged in an epic crusade, at least to ourselves and our intimates, to drink as deeply as possible of every last opportunity for love and wonder that the world affords us.

And as it happens, dammit, a good deal of that wonder blows in the door when we’ve opened it—or had it opened for u...

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What a Wondrous Time To Be Alive

So we lurch from crisis to crises, seeming to come in multiples now. Pandemics, hurricanes and fires. Protests erupting anew with each same-old same-old death-by-police of a black person. A mad king’s 98-minute prime time tantrum giving way to a shocking mid-of-night revelation, and before the sun descends again, a 5-minute helicopter lift straight to a fabled army hospital’s “presidential suite.”

Things falling apart, the center (was there ever a center?) no longer holding, dark possibilities going darker with the coming winter and its portents of an ever greater discontent.

We gasp at the news, the world going freeze-dried, suspended, instantly unforgettable as we take quick stock and begin to consider the implications, vast and sprawling and mind-bending as they are.

Up against that dismal constellation, just why is it that I walked out into the slightly chill October air yesterday morning and discovere...

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An Homage to Durham Weather, One Year In…

When I went out at 10 p.m. last night to walk the dog on our evening constitutional, my phone told me it was 90 degrees with 95% humidity. I didn’t catch the “Feels like” temperature estimate below that data because my head was by then lolling down around my navel somewhere as I prepared to drop down to all fours.

My intention was to see if I could clear a path through what felt like thick, suffocating butter so my dog could follow in my wake and we could stagger safely back to our air-conditioned house, despite the threat of a heart attack which could easily ensue from the shock of crossing the threshold from the hotbox on one side to the icebox on the other.

And you know something else?

I really, really love living in North Carolina, and am very glad I came (a year ago as of September 1).

And some of that love has to do with the weather.

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See that snowman at the top of this post? It was not 90 de...

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Saving the Caterpillars

I have taken to spotting the sudden August profusion of caterpillars making their way across the park path before the sun makes it over the trees. Danger is everywhere, a veritable Omaha Beach, but with unwitting enemies. A steady fusillade of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists go about their morning through the park, unknowingly poised to crush the hapless creatures in but one more episode of natural, deadly roulette. Deliberating hardly at all in my mission of mercy, I begin scooping up first one, then another and another caterpillar and depositing them on the grass three feet and an eternity away, abutting the forested hillside. Then I turn back to espy two more, just a few feet ahead as an SUV turns in from the street coming at us...

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On Lives Mattering

Domestic tranquility has been taking a beating lately. Ditto the “pursuit of happiness,” and any number of other noble sentiments enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that preceded it by 11 years.

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see” wrote the poet Theodore Roethke in 1960. Assuming he was right, what we are seeing now is the eye of a hurricane, only metaphorical at the moment, in which there swirls interpenetrating currents of a pandemic, a violently imposed upheaval in race relations, a worldwide economic slowdown, and a presidential administration defined by chaos, conflict and calumny.

And an election (in less than five months!) that will surely be among the most bitter and strange ever conducted.

People die every day in horrid circumstances, but to behold it specifically, visually, individually, is to move beyond abstraction and thrust it into the particul...

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