First and foremost, attention must be paid to such a man.
I'm waiting for my lucky day.
That's not some sort of generalized wistful longing. I literally have a lucky day. It's the same day every year. It's been lucky for at least the last 22 years— perhaps longer, perhaps since I was born or before. It's coming up soon, and I'm waiting for it.
To be perfectly honest, I have an entire lucky week, which actually lasts 8 days. So . . . I got that going for me. . . .which is nice. I'm a little shy about saying exactly when my lucky day is. I feel like it's kind of like telling what you wished for when you blew out the birthday candles. I'll say this though: it's coming up soon, and I need it.
We found out last week that the cute little bungalow we live in, just blocks away from Green Lake in Seattle, won't be ours after May. I suppose it never was ours. Such is the curse of renting. So me and my wife, six months pregnant, now go in search of another such happy little house for ourselves, our three year old and our baby to be. People say, "Haven't you guys ever considered buying?" which is, of course, closely equivalent to asking, "Have you thought about being richer?" Sure, we might be able to afford some piece of shit 30 miles out right now, but do we really want to make one of the most important business decisions of our life under the gun like we are? As miserable as it promises to be, I'd rather move all our crap, yet again to yet another rental, than pledge my corporate slave wages for a tantamount eternity to some place I hate just so I can call myself a homeowner.
I've been re-reading the Tao Te Ching, since—I don't know, November?— at no more than one chapter a day. I'm up to 35. If one is serious about getting anything out of this deceptively plain-spoken book, this is how you must approach it. You'll also need at least two reliable but divergent translations. I go with Gia-Fu Feng for the more conservative, lofty approach, and Ursula LeGuin for her wonderful down-homey feel, that I can only suspect, cuts closer to the Old Man's heart. Consider this excerpt from Chapter 11:
Clay makes a pot.
Where the pot's not
Is where it's useful
I can almost hear her saying, "Why shy away from the children's book rhyme? Do you think for a second that Lao Tzu would?"
Lately the the old man has been counseling me to lay low, wait and see, do nothing and watch while nothing goes undone. I suppose if I wanted or expected different counsel, I wouldn't be reading the Tao Te Ching. Still, there's a way this old man who never existed speaks to you that no old man who ever existed can. The verses aren't as smoothly impregnable as classic Zen koans, but similar to them in that they certainly don't crack at the first blow of the hammer either. Not hardly. If you think you have, you haven't. If you think you haven't, well ... that's a start.
So sure, if you've never read it, go out and buy it and read it cover to cover in an evening and say to yourself, "Man, that's the driest, dumbest, most repetitive collection of greeting card crap I've ever read." Then please, after a few months, take my advice and read it a chapter a day, out loud to yourself, checking yourself at chapters that don't sink in right away and re-reading them until they do. Will it change your life? Yeah, it'll change your life. Just like regularly meditating changes your life, in ways so profound and subtle that you're hard-pressed to articulate them, or to convince anyone else how you've changed, and that you're not just trying to convince yourself in first place.
But does it matter?
Give it a shot. It honestly doesn't take much to allow yourself to allow that this ancient, ancient book about how the universe is bigger than you is bigger than you.
And isn't that a glass of lemonade on a sunny day?
I recently pushed a relative noob to get her ass out of the catbox and post another of her fabulous daylogs about her hectic job. She protested that E2 purists hate daylogs almost as much as they hate posted poetry. Well, first of all, I'm pretty sure I've never met an E2 purist, and I hope to god I never do. And secondly, who the fuck cares? I wanted her to write for me and my selfish reasons alone. I can't think of a single unselfish act that I've committed here. It's part of the reason this place works for me. It's driven by selfishness, as the self keeps expanding. It's like Adam Smith butt-fucked the Buddha and got lost inside.
Theatre's a wasteland. And I find I'd rather die in the desert of script-writing than move to the jungle of prose.
The old man seems to be with me on this.
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
I'm working on some ideas to produce some pieces in completely new ways, and I'm working on some grants that would bring me more money than I've ever seen writing plays, but I'm also not holding my breath.
I have, however, been toying with some poetry, and shockingly enough, posting it with some success here. Frankly, I can't think of a better place to put poetry. It has all the immediate impact of a slam, with none of the slam's protective pretensions. You may only reach JohnnyGoodyear with your brilliance, but then again, even if you manage to get yourself published in one of the country's most prestigious journals of verse, you still may only reach JohnnyGoodyear, or worse, his lesser, snootier "legit lit" equivalent.
Thus I smile with all my Irish happy bar fight viciousness at all these nodergeeks who automatically downvote poetry. I don't think I'd post it if they didn't. All true art is based on the proposition that art is impossible.
This notion is directly related to another one of my pet laws of human nature: people nearly never change. The fact that they do some times, in light of the fact that it's practically impossible to, is the only thing that makes them interesting, and the only reason, ultimately, that art exists. If you believe you have a hope in hell of reaching anyone, you're damned near deluding yourself, and thus, damned near the right neighborhood for creating meaningful art.
A hope in hell. That's all it is. That's all we have here, or anywhere.
I'll take it.