Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Month: August 2004 (page 1 of 3)


Politics is like doughnuts. To me at least. No, I’m not saying watching the RNC is full of sugary goodness, glazed with delight, and each moment a new shape of doughy smiles. For me, doughnuts are that, too much. Everyone has their weakness, and most people have several. One of mine, a strong one, an unusual one, is doughnuts. I love ’em.

If someone leaves a dozen doughnuts in a box or on a plate I can sit and eat one after another until both they and I are gone. Every bite is a delight.

Yes, I have learned restraint, and now have some measure of control about eating six doughnuts, or more, in a row, with a slight pause before eating six more until they all are gone. Not much control, enough to put a pause after each one, at least.

The problem is I grew up in a home where rice krispies was the ‘special’ cereal, and the choices became more bland from there. We had juice, never soda. Ours was a fairly sugar free home.

Trips to my grandmothers were always filled with mysterious glasses of coke, or morning bowls of alphabits. My best friend always had Coke or the diet variety as permanent staples, though they were originally from Arkansas, so I chalked that up to a Southern tradition. It wasn’t the case in my home.

So, sugar has to this day a peculiar effect. It makes me scattered and often depressed. I eat doughnuts, and I spent much of the rest of the day wallowing in discontent. As there are real areas which can foment this discontent it is not good to encourage their voice. Doughnuts do, and I can’t stop eating them.

I keep away. For while I enjoy them with my whole palate and soul, in too much bounty they turn against me.

It’s convention season, during a particularly fractious political fight. Well, not particularly fractious, only present realities are always more vital and pressing than past history.

I listen to speeches, read the thoughts of journalists, professional or otherwise, wallow in the words of those claiming one thing, and those another, finding a vague, unsatisfying, satisfaction in experiencing the maturation of new media. Internet access and a flexible schedule means I can hop around, from dawn to past dusk, engaging in serious thought, sharing my opinion, establishing my biases as unassailable bulwarks.

Only at the end of the day, and well into the next, creeping discontent fills my mind and soul. Lax focus gains sway, deep thoughts sit on the edge of the shore waiting for me to return.

Politics, or other social concerns, have a quality of religion. It can become our god, in that we expect salvation from the victory of our cause, candidate, or dogma. We fight and argue, reading our scriptures, listening to our preferred preachers, even secretly supporting the fanatics of our cause.

The essential quality is missing. There is no real end. There is no ultimate satisfaction, as such stimulation is appeasing a part of our being which can only be truly appeased by real Divinity.

I sit and I read, I find myself wallowing in discontent, and not just about the political situation. Suddenly, my writing seems impossible, my hope seems wane, my strength to fight through seeming darkness has been lost. All because mine eyes have been turned, from the light of glory to the artificial light of strident politics.

I think it’s time to acknowledge the temptation for what it is, close the box, and refocus my heart.

The moon helps. It moves high across the living room window, shadows of deep craters and cliffs clear, beckoning one to deeper things, to consider eternal truths, to put aside the emaciated answers and seek that which truly can satisfy.

I think I will listen to it today, rather than the voices of internet news. A person has to watch their soul. It’s the only one we have.


Keep the sliding door shut. That’s my lesson of the day. Opened it to clean offthe various leavings of nature , and forgot to shut it, and forgot to put out new seed. The jays know where to find it. I hear a pecking behind me, near my closet, and on my floor sits a jay, poking at the bag of seed.

Now not as surreptious as he would have liked he flew out. Hot weather prompted me to open the door again, again the jay snuck in, and back out the same way. I put out seed, as the bird watched from a branch.

Turns out he didn’t want that kind. Again in the afternoon he was back, pecking at the critter seed which the jays tend to love more than the critters.

One, I don’t think the same one, even went for a couple of laps around my ceiling before flying back out.

He was quick, so I didn’t really see him, only hearing the fluttering of active wings above and near my head, before turning and seeing a dark blue flash go out, land on a branch, looking thoroughly mystified.

The jays are getting out of hand. Not quite as bad as the woodpeckers down the street, but close. And there was a woodpecker eyeing the place, and tapping on the cedars.

This was day of editing, editing. And seeking to recover focus, though on an over eighty five degree day which lessens the odds.

I also didn’t eat until after the sun went down, haven’t done that in a while, and not sure how it snuck up on me today. Part of the plan, I suppose. Which plan is the question I don’t know.

So, sharpening the prose, trying to write something in a different style, hoping to appease an editor, wanting to be popular in style for opportunity, trying to retain some literary sense for integrity. Not sure I’m able to do either, but have nothing else to keep me busy.

Realized also that after this last weekend I had fairly decided to be done with social events until my own life pans out a bit more, and find every weekend from now to all saints filled with a party or gathering or some such event.

The person whose party I went to last weekend wrote a reply to a note I wrote saying, ” Hope life is hip-hop-happening for you in a serene, theological sort of way.”

I don’t really know how to interpret this. But like most of our attempted conversations it is almost meaningful and fairly awkward, so I suppose it’s alright and fitting.

The politics thing didn’t pan out, as I watched it and read about it throughout the day. It must have been the heat. At least I have something to show for my time. Is winter coming soon? I need cold weather again.


Ever have a day in which it seems that nothing quite goes right? And when I say that I don’t mean things become disasters. I really mean everything is almost, but not quite right. A couple of hours of work… at the end noticing a simple, correctable flaw. At least simple and correctable had it been noticed at first. Plans change because of some slight notice, that was obvious, but one doesn’t notice. Throughout the day this happened, making me end with a day without any ‘product’. That’s a disappointing day. I didn’t even go kayaking, or running.

Almost focused, waking up on the cusp of genius, and finding my mind taking flight in scattered directions. Not like an eagle, like a goony bird.

Scattered, almost, just about… words of the day. I know it is my fault, only I don’t know at what point I missed the boat. The RNC began tonight with rousing, and dare I say funny, speeches. Had that on in the background while I once again worked on a task, not quite getting it to work out as I had hoped.

A coyote announced itself just outside my window, barking, crouched, and not particularly caring who else was about. Calling for its mate I imagine. It is an eery sound, and more so when one watches it under the dull light of a full moon.

late night

I wake up in the morning distracted by other concerns, spend the day at a pool birthday party with a group of people where my entire relationship is based on seeing them at various birthday parties, then spend the evening playing FIFA 2004 Soccer and Eating with the Young Turks of a rigidly conservative Christian School, who teach while battling more than they should the antiquated perspectives of a bubble loving administration.

Get home roundabout 1:30 in the morning.

There. That’s my day.

A good one too.


The streets here are very well laid out, conveniet for the passage of the moon. It rises through the trees on one end, and sets down on the other side, passing in front of the living room window all the while. I squinted my eyes, and I think I saw a tiny flag near one of the shadows. I’m a very good squinter you know.

Sirens erupted early this evening causing the usual canine cacophony, and making me feel a little nervous. Sirens used to have an intriguing quality for me. Living in a city I became used to their regular passage. Since the fire I become watchful, hoping they do not portend another trauma for the mountain. (That I actually have good memories of those several weeks stranded is a curious sign of my own personality… coming alive at moments of stress).

A squirrel was in a tree an hour or two before that. Not an unusual sight. It was climbing to the ends of the oak branches, making me worried it might fall, while all the while being harassed by a steller’s jay. I’m not sure what mischief it had gotten into, but it had all the appearance of a juvenile in over their heads and looking for a way out.

The two little beasties went out of my sight behind a fuller cedar, so I don’t know the outcome.

And me? Too wandering today, too easily distracted by the vagaries of the blogosphere, and its peculiar mix of unintelligent intelligence. This, as I’ve said several times before, is like the dark side of the force to me, entreating me to spend time in worlds which beckon, only to reveal an emptiness at the end. Politics is wonderfully interesting to me, the problem being its bad for my soul.

Not the voting bit, or the choosing my stance on an issue or candidate. It’s the obsession bit, the wallowing in minutiae to strike a slightest point, having to engage in systematic hypocrisy so as to be able to support my candidate when he does ‘it’, but vociferously attack an opponent when he does ‘it’.

Spending time (wasting time?) like this reminds me of my true calling, and why I am here. The emptiness of other pursuits drives me back to the source of filling, which is only found at those times and moments I earnestly pursue those tasks which seem divinely prompted.

These are also great reasons why it is very good for my soul that I didn’t end up becoming a lawyer as I intended. I think I would have lost my soul in the process, even if I was doing some fine work.

Who’s to say. I am here today, with a mystery role, and only have now to sleep and wake up tomorrow to try it all once more.


Coyotes howl, the moon shines bright through the window, lighting up the living room, enough to read by. Rarely visiting neighbors are up for the weekend, quiet and calm, so not a bother.

I realize today the reasoning for renaissance men, and women. When one pursuit becomes tiresome or bogged down, immediately turning to others is a fine way of wasting time while still being productive.

So my day. Thoughts of writing were shrouded by a lack of focus, and oppressed by a vague depression which revealed itself more through impatience and overall feelings of lack, rather than more specific blues. So, I become a bit creative, and learned a thing or two in the process, ending the day with something to show for it, even if it wasn’t the showpiece highest on my list.

That’s a good rule, I think. End each day with something to show for it, some little, or large, piece of creativity, however, defined, which would last. At the end of a life a person would have quite the portfolio of an imagination.

Now, though, my fingers seem to be rebelling, my delete key being used as much as my ‘e’ key it seems.

I pray I find renewed focus, and continue my quest back to a deeper realm of spirituality. If it is this difficult as my primary focus, I can’t imagine how far I would drift with earthly concerns calling for my continual attention.

Which is why, I suppose, God has me here.


I’ve taken to drinking coffee around dusk. It has been years since I tried that, and maybe never since I did it a couple days in a row. Why now? I’m not at all sure. Of course, it’s a poor man’s brew, the morning grounds recycled for another go, tasting tonight vaguely of cigarettes. I have no idea why. Never have I smoked and the last time around here someone did was when our house was being painted, and the helper helped herself to a good pack while she… helped.

Better not to ask the source of that taste, and value the smokey brew for what it is, or what it does, or at least for what one think it should do which is a lot more than it actually seems to have done. Try it again, that sentence did in fact make sense.

The moon is near full, coyotes howl and yelp from a valley quite nearby, and a heavy bladed helicopter flies low overhead.

I’m at the point now where whether I become a real writer is seemingly up to me. Can I pull off a well turned phrase, weave a cogent tale with endearing and authentic characters? I don’t know. I realize my own limitations in perspective, how my imagination seems unable to translate well. Or, I find my own interests and tendencies not matching up to what others would seek.

I write quick, can get words down with hardly any time or effort, but then shaping those into something which transcends the average is the trick. And it is my prayer that inspiration would bite in a way it hasn’t bitten before. Either I’m going to come out of this a brilliant writer, or I’m going to crawl back down the hill seeking restoration for a misplaced self.

And folks I know try to interest me in gambling for a couple of dollars with some printed cards. A life, an existence. Making it or falling flat. Those are high stakes. The game is indeed on, and I’m all-in.


I woke before dawn, and I’m not sure why. Thoughts of today’s tasks passed through my head, but instead of leaping out of bed and engaging the editing and research of the day, I leaned over and picked up a magazine of logic puzzles, which I bought a couple of weeks ago in order to ‘stimulate my mind’. I’m not sure it’s working.

With a new desk I have more space for books, or cups and plates, only the larger size made me turn from my previous perspective. From the corner of my eye I could see outside. Now, I dwell more firmly in the corner, and have to make a physical effort to see the goings on of this forest world, hence my lack of noting how the natural world looks this morning. Though, I should add that the sight of chipmunks rustling through the needles and dirt on the hillside opposite never becomes tiresome. They are engaging little beasties, alert and quick, cute beyond description.

After a puzzle or two I did get to work, first editing, then researching. For whatever reason it seems that a great deal more is written about Sepphoris than Capernaum. Methinks I’m going to have to stir from my mountain perch and wander once more in a library.

The editing is daunting to be honest. I’m feeling restrained, like a great writer is within me, only I self-edit myself too much, not becoming loose and fluid with my words. I feel like if I would to close my eyes and let my fingers go I could come up with something brilliant. But, thinking inhibits. I don’t feel the looseness, and need to find that breaking out point in which my writing takes on that quality which I know it can.

I think this is an aspect of my seeking to control my various moods. Depressing tendencies have, for the most part, been overcome, only in doing that I’ve stifled some measure of my release. I’ve lost my poetry, or rather I’ve buried it deep within with suspicion.

Somehow I need to find out how to let it out once more, gain back a freedom in my writing, unrestrain my heart and words so that my imagination is not shackled by my conscious self. It’s up there, and it is wanting release.

Inner conflict. That’s my present state. I hope I win.


The cool summer continues today, though it seems like this day will get a bit warmer than days past. There does seem to be less animals about, the outside zoo of yesterday has become more settled.

I woke up with thoughts of writing stirring around in my brain, and haven’t stopped until those thoughts found release. I’m not sure if they are quality words, but that is often more a measure of continued editing than initial typing — a fact this page could likely benefit from at times. For the most part I feel like a beginning tennis player who knows enough to hit the ball back, and occasionally will make a great shot. The goal is to make these great shots more purposeful and regular, then I’ll know the game.

Also tumbling about it this head of mine are thoughts about evil and people. One of the trickier aspects of ethics and spirituality to get ones hands around is the fact that very good, very loving, very earnest people can at times be used as tools of darkness, or worse. They are seeking light, but for whatever reason seem trapped into being easy tools which fight against light. These people destroy themselves, and others, all the while having a veneer of goodness, a veneer which even they think is real and deep.

The condemning of sin or wrongdoing too often either makes us reject a person as wholeheartedly evil, or makes us embrace someone as good who should be kept at a distance. There is only discernment to tell us the right response… which of course why the reactions of Jesus to various folk is so often confusing and even contradictory. He knew what he was dealing with, and with wisdom we can as well. For while the enemy is bad, no one is more destructive than a friend or family member who is not truly fighting with or for us.

Reacting to evil is easy. Responding to those who carry evil while seeking good is quite a trick. But, it is something which we must learn, for confusion can reign if we do not.


The cool air is a delight and surprise. It feels fall, even thought August has not yet ended. I woke up early, and sat for a while, not doing a thing, letting my mind wander over fields walked and thoughts considered.

It didn’t take long for me to realize there was a latent depression forming withing my soul. Like a weather forecaster keeping an eye on the developments of a tropical depression, I take stock, look around about and within, and try to prepare for the possibilities. It could dissipate, or it could develop into a storm. The chances of a hurrican are slight these days, fortunately.

Coming back I am faced again with the uncertainties which never quite resolve themselves. Light shines for a moment then disappears, becoming bright once more, but in a different spot. I wander after these lights, waiting more specifically for dawn where all and everywhere is light.

Nothing severe in my soul at present, merely questions put aside for a bit are clamoring again for attention, and I feel their weight.

Patience and prayer are my weapons now, only they feel heavy and cumbersome.

I’ll wade through this day, and pray I wake up tomorrow feeling delight and hope once more. The plan is to jump into the tasks at hand regardless. So, today will be spent in simple recovery and easy restoration.

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