Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: August 31, 2004


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.

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