Saturday, January 9, 2021

Texas notes: Thoughts

     Austin bureau chief Caren Jeskey files her Saturday report:
     So much to talk about— where to start? First of all, happy new year to you. I sincerely hope you are doing well, and if not let’s get you some support. In the past week, clients have told me “I passed on your wisdom. It has been a game changer for me.” Also, “I channeled you.” Of course I reminded them that I am simply offering them cognitive behavioral therapy techniques grounded in research. Neuroplasticity is real. We can change the tune in our heads. Yes, it takes work, but it works. Our minds play the same thoughts over and over again. They are like the grooves of a record playing the same song on repeat. We can, however, lift the needle and change the song. We can stop ruminating about the same goddamn thing every day, and ch0ose new thoughts.
     Our resentments can stack up if we let them. We don’t have to let them. I watched the third season of Cobra Kai this past week. (Such fun, in the words of Miranda, a BBC show you must watch if you want to laugh your butt off). I learned from Ralph Machio that if we choose to seek revenge, we must start by digging two graves.
     I tried to be mad at a friend group recently. Then I realized that we are here on earth for a time delineated period. Do I want to spend another day engaging in egotistical gymnastics that will catapult me into righteousness? No. I’d rather take it easy, express my concerns, work them out if possible, let it go if not, and move on.
     I wanted to quote from this poem but I can’t leave any of it out:
Walt Whitman - 1819-1892

Of the visages of things—And of piercing through
to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as
there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are
not, in any respect, worse than undetected per-
sons—and are not in any respect worse than I
am myself;
Of criminals—To me, any judge, or any juror, is
equally criminal—and any reputable person is
also—and the President is also.


Of waters, forests, hills;
Of the earth at large, whispering through medium of
Of vista—Suppose some sight in arriere, through the
formative chaos, presuming the growth, fulness,
life, now attain'd on the journey;
(But I see the road continued, and the journey ever
Of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time
has become supplied—And of what will yet be
Because all I see and know, I believe to have purport
in what will yet be supplied.


OF persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies,
wealth, scholarships, and the like;
To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks
away from them, except as it results to their
Bodies and Souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;
And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and
mocks himself or herself,
And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness,
is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often, to me, those men and women pass unwit-
tingly the true realities of life, and go toward
false realities,
And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has
served them, but nothing more,
And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked son-
nambules, walking the dusk.


OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not
at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate
them into himself or herself;
Of Equality—As if it harm'd me, giving others the
same chances and rights as myself—As if it
were not indispensable to my own rights that
others possess the same;
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the
same ample law, expounded by natural judges
and saviors,
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according
to decisions.


As I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while
the music is playing,
To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral,
in mist, of a wreck at sea,
Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations,
founder'd off the Northeast coast, and going
down—Of the steamship Arctic going down,
Of the veil'd tableau—Women gather'd together on
deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that
draws so close—O the moment!
O the huge sob—A few bubbles—the white foam
spirting up—And then the women gone,
Sinking there, while the passionless wet flows on—
And I now pondering, Are those women indeed
Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so?
Is only matter triumphant?


OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not
less complete than my poems;
As if the shreds, the records of nations, could possibly
be as lasting as my poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of
all the lives of heroes.


OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
following the lead of those who do not believe
in men.


  1. Thanks for the Whitman treat. Certainly a good decision to include the whole poem rather than an excerpt or two. It all hangs together.


    1. You are so welcome, and thanks for reading.

  2. That moment when a poem comes exactly at the time it is needed. THANK YOU.

    1. Glad you are here. Walter, aka the Bard of Democracy saves the day!

  3. Thanks for the beautiful rationale.
    I really needed that today.

  4. Just gonna throw this in here. The May, 2019 "Atlantic" magazine contained this portrait of Whitman made out of real grass, which I thought was very cool. FWIW! : )


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