A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Thursday, November 8, 2012


In the Moment

Some days the pond
wears a glaze of yellow pollen.

Some days it is clean-swept.
The trout leap up, feasting on insects.

A modest size, it sits
like a soup tureen in a surround of white

pine where Rosie, 14 lbs., some sort
of rescued terrier, part bat

(the ears), part anteater (the nose),
shyly paddles in the shallows

for salamanders, frogs
and little painted turtles. She logged

ten years down south in a kennel, secured
in a crate at night. Her heart murmur

will carry her off, no one can say when.
Meanwhile she is rapt in

the moment, our hearts leap up observing.
Dogs live in the moment, pursuing

that brilliant dragonfly called pleasure.
Only we, sunstruck in this azure

day, must drag along the backpacks
of our past, must peer into the bottom muck

of what's to come, scanning the plot
for words that say another year, or not.
"In the Moment" by Maxine Kumin

* * * *

While I have virtually no desire to be a dog now  or in my afterlife, I do confess that I am envious of the ability of Kumin's dog to "live in the moment." She said the dog's "...heart murmur will carry her off, no one can say when. Meanwhile she is rapt in the moment, our hearts leap up observing."

Long ago, when I was approaching driving age, during a routine physical exam that would permit me to participate in high school athletics, the genial old family doc, spent an unusual amount of time with his stethoscope listening to my chest in something more than his usual cursory manner. Years later, when I was about thirty and seeing a more "modern" internist for quite another issue, the doc once again spent what seemed an inordinate amount of time poised over my chest, listening intently, eyes half closed and focused on some distant shore.

"Have you always had this heart murmur?" he queried in a deliberately understated way. "What's a heart murmur?" I blurted, and somehow remembered the moment when the family doc had listened too long to my heart years before. The internist's explanation, I fear, fell on unhearing ears because I was struck deaf and dumb by a fear so profound that I was rendered immobile. I had been struck dumb by the recognition that I was mortal after all.

I have always been a person who automatically catastrophized almost anything having to do with my health. I blame this unfortunate affliction on the example set by my mother who yearly won first place honors for her ability to turn a bubble of stomach gas into the early symptoms of stage four colon cancer. Perhaps my generation's preoccupation with polio during the pre-Salk era also bent me in the direction of being much too aware of my body and its various little pains, irregularities, temperature changes, and appetites.

The point is that I envy that dog who actually knows nothing of  its heart murmur and lives life without a care or "personal" need  beyond his daily ration of Purina, some fresh water from time to time,  cower in fear of thunder and strangers, engage in giddy runs in the park with a ball or frisbee, swoon with lots of fondling, and collapse into a soft place to catch some Z's without interruption. 

In my case, I have lived  more than half my life with an ongoing and acute awareness of my chest and gut and sensitivity to what's going on inside there, scanning regularly for warning pains, pressures, etc. I've never been able to "pursue that brilliant dragonfly called pleasure" without the attendant concern, not really 'worry,'  about how I am as a physical organism.

There's a lesson to be learned here about living in the moment , I suppose, but perhaps I'm now  too old--and full of too many new real and imagined afflictions of one sort or another--to chase that dragonfly of pleasure anew, at least in the same way. I know it's increasingly hard to allow myself to attempt such a chase when I am weighed down so much by the "backpack"of my past and my concerns about what's in the "bottom muck".

Maybe I need to exchange my perpetual thinking and pondering for injections of positive, uplifting emotion-- perhaps I need to read more poetry for the pure non-physical joy of it, listen to melodious and romantic opera that gives me chills, and linger with more sensitivity over the magnificent sunsets arranged for me by the gods who live just out of sight over the snow frosted peaks of the Front Range of the Rockies.


  1. This is really terrific dad.
    I'm thinking that there is, perhaps, more exquisite beauty in moments that we allow that kind of innocent joy and beauty in-the-moment awareness to seep in, in SPITE of all we know, as if it is the fact of that very knowing that sweetens it.

    Love you so
    and more than that

  2. Something interesting I've learned about pleasure. The amount of pain and pleasure in my life is an apparently unconsciously deliberate balancing act. The time spent consuming each side of this circular spectrum is where things "appear" to have been out of balance. However, I've experienced the extremes of both halves of the pie and come to this conclusion. Choosing happiness as a result of the experience which led to these sensations was/is the message in my point of view. Choosing to be happy or moving in the direction of happiness as quickly as possible in moments where I seem to have lost footing has become the matter of import. Pleasure is very good at masking sadness. Pain is very good at burying happiness. A healthy blend can lead to an orgasmic experience of joy through the sadness of the human condition. Laughing and crying at the same time... Moderation is wisdom in other words. I love your openness and even more so your honesty.