The ripple and the rock.

September 27, 2015 § 5 Comments


Ray waved me over to see this traveling circus of a vessel tied to the dock in Apalachicola.

In the company of this lavish floating box all the other boats were suddenly homogeneous, minor stabs at individuality like signs about Goin’ Fishin’ not withstanding.

Most of us want to express our individuality. But not too much. We value our membership in collectives where we unite around shared opinions, fads, social norms, disciplines, traditions.

These norms are around us all the time, traveling like ripples on water. Most of us ride those ripples.

Short skirts are in. We wear short skirts.

Everyone in our graduating class goes to college. We go to college. « Read the rest of this entry »

The shirt of the contented man.

September 20, 2015 § 9 Comments


There is a proverb about a king who, despite having everything, was unhappy.

Hearing from a trusted advisor that happiness would be his if he put on the shirt of a contented man the king ordered the advisor to find that man.

But the quest seemed futile.

When questioned, seemingly contented men revealed that, no, there were many things they lacked, so how could they be content?

The advisor was about to give up when, walking along a dirt road, he heard a man singing at the top of his lungs.

He stopped, hung his elbows over the fence and watched the bare-chested man working in his field; after all it was hot. Overjoyed he climbed over the fence and interviewed the man.

He had finally found him! The contented man. But his joy was short-lived.

The contented man owned no shirt.

Of all the things we buy only a handful are necessary: the basket of groceries, the blanket, the roof over our heads. Everything else is an attempt to buy the shirt of the contented man.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow’s morning glories.

September 12, 2015 § 3 Comments


We learn a lot in the course of a life, but much of it sits on the dusty back shelf of memory like winter mittens waiting for snow.

It took Matthew to remind me that I know what tomorrow’s morning glories look like, and that the best way to dust off that information was to share it with him.

IMG_9765I told him that today’s morning glories are wide open—but nothing is that simple.

The morning glories themselves reminded me that this is only true until the sun gets high and hot.

After that they look exactly like yesterday’s morning glories, which hang on the vine, bunched shut like draw-string purses.

But when we visited the vines growing on the fence at Matthew’s new house early in the morning the explanation was straightforward.

Open: today’s morning glories.

Puckered shut: yesterday’s.

Furled like umbrellas: tomorrow’s.

We’d walk along the fence pointing out tomorrow’s morning glories. We never found very many. Each day surprised us with the number of deep purple blooms that had come out of hiding while we slept.

« Read the rest of this entry »

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