|San Jacinto, Palm Springs|
So I scheduled two appointments, long postponed, one with an ophthalmologist; another with a dentist and oral hygienist. My mood had been fluctuating like the stock market, hitting some bruising lows, and I enjoyed meeting new people and giving my usual reply to “How are you?” with my usual “Happy as a clam.”
No doubt it’s an act, my playing the cheerful cancer patient, but it fools me, too, and that’s more than enough excuse for the duplicity. My dark mood lifted and was gone. The stock market could sink like the Titanic.
In the meantime, I am reminding myself of what I have learned from the practice of meditation: moods are only passing mental weather, transient, not real, and not me. So I try to suspend disbelief in them. Call it denial; call it magical thinking; I prefer to think of it as having a calming effect on brain chemistry.
|View from dentist's chair|
Another high point this week was dropping off 35 books for the book sale at the Palm Springs Public Library, where the two of us got library cards and roamed around the spacious, air-conditioned interior, at home with stacks upon stacks of books which look like they contain nearly anything we might ever look for or hope to find.
Standing at the end of one shelf, my eyes fell on a copy of The Last Angry Man, which I remember reading back in the 1950s. It was nicely preserved and still in its original dust jacket. We didn’t have time to stay long, but I’m eager to find out whether the place has a well stocked western section.
While I’m reading Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, I’m also looking for books by or about Albert Camus, the next stop on this journey. It’s time to reread The Myth of Sisyphus. Just about anyone’s attempts to wrestle with ultimate questions (Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the meaning of life?) get my attention these days. So far I have found a variety of answers, enough to persuade me that no one really knows. But as they get mashed up together, they make some interesting connections.
|Red arrow on Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs|
I continue to begin each morning with thanks for another day to discover what it is to be human, and I marvel that such a thought has taken so long to really register with me. I am reminded that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But better late than never.
Today the answers have something to do with the little ego one presents to the vastness and the eternity of the universe. Sam Harris thinks of it as the illusion of self with its ongoing internal commentary and its moods, that attaches itself to consciousness. One can with meditation switch it off for moments at a time, but the novelty of a blank mind quickly wears off for me.
We are here, I think, to notice, to pay attention—not necessarily to dwell on the past or anticipate the future, but just to be here now—to be human here now—for whatever that means for each of us. Cancer, alas, has a way of reminding a person that we don’t have forever to figure that out.
My thanks today are for the readers who stop by here to leave their own thoughts on what ultimately matters for them. I take truckloads of encouragement and strength from these words. You remind me that we are all finding our way and that having company on this journey is reason for heartfelt gratitude.
Jazz remains a source of revelation for me, and I’m closing today with a video of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, sent by a friend and former colleague. Listen especially for trumpeter Lee Morgan on the left below.
Any other readers here with jazz favorites of their own, links to them are welcome.
Previously: As if