Words To Bring Back: “Reverie”

– Definition: n. Abstracted musing; dreaming.

– Used in a sentence: Since late 2016, my reveries have been somewhat disturbed.

– Why: Although it comes from an Old French word meaning “dream,” it also reminds one of “revere” or “reverent.” And aren’t dreams something to hold in reverence?

Let Us Sit Upon the Ground and Sing Glad Songs to the Memory of Groovy English Teachers

WHEN MRS. BOISVERT TOLD ME in ninth-grade English class that I had the soul of a poet, I grimaced.

“I want to be a scientist,” I said.

She had no answer to that. But she had answers to lots of other things: the importance of Shakespeare, how to compose a good headline, and to write both tightly and brightly. And always to show. Never tell.

Because of Mrs. Boisvert, and my eighth-grade grade English teacher, Mr. Sullivan, I have had a career in newspaper journalism and a modest pile of writing awards. (Also, this nifty blog.)

365 Names (sort of): The Fragility

“THIS IS WHY SOME PEOPLE drink,” I told my friend, provoking him into loud laughter.

We were talking about THE FRAGILITY: that immediate realization of the tenuousness of life, and its property of drastically changing in a cold heartbeat through death, incapacitation or other sad surprise. (So immediate is this experience that I’m listing it as one of the [unofficial] 365 Names of G?d.)

You’ve heard it before: “Live each day as if it were your last.” “Nothing is forever.” “It all goes by like that.” These phrases have become cliches, because they’re all true. What can we do about it?

“Free Moon Rides!”

THERE MAY BE NO QUICKER way to evoke reverent awe than by looking through a telescope at the night’s rich bounty.

I was 13 when I first trained a small refractor, a gift from my parents, on the planet Saturn. My jaw literally dropped when I saw that yellow disk floating in a golden ring. Just like the photos, I thought, only it’s REAL!

It is that reality, of actually seeing the moon and planets, which brings with it those tingling fingers of Wow running through our brains. It’s not necessarily a “religious” experience. But focusing on the vasty star-deep can be deeply spiritual. It’s also addictive and contagious.

Larry Niven Calls This “The Funniest Prayer in Literature”

TUCKED INTO MY INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH siddur (prayerbook) is the following supplication. It’s there to keep me riding the trail of Faith without falling into the trap of thinking I know everything — or, really, anything — about that-which-some-people-call-God. Ladies, gentlemen, friends, Romans, countryfolk, I give you … The Agnostic’s Prayer, from Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness (© 1969):

Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness.

Street Light (Fourth Indigent Sketch)

HE WAS A FLORID, BEEFY man in his mid-to-late 30s, perched on a high concrete bench in San Francisco’s lunchtime-crowded Justin Herman Plaza, and wearing a grey beltless trenchcoat tightly buttoned up to his thick neck. Every minute or so he loudly proclaimed in an operatic baritone:

“What a friend we have in Jesus.”

A minute went by.

“What a friend we have in Jesus.”

Another minute.

Why I Love: Grocery Shopping

IT’S THE ANTICIPATORY PROCESS OF scrawling ingredients on a shopping list. It’s the simple pleasure of browsing a well-stocked and -stacked produce display. It’s the ritual of interacting with the people at the butcher/fish/cheese counters. It’s the Dad-inspired satisfaction of saving a few nickels here and there. It’s the smell of the various aisles — even the one with laundry and dishwashing products. It’s browsing three different stores: Safeway for staples and housekeeping supplies; Sonoma Market for meat and produce; Whole Foods for croissants, frozen fruits and spices. It’s the structure it gives to my days.