from my backyard, facing west
I’ve solved the problem that has baffled mankind through the ages. It’s taken me many years and I thought it might take as many years again to explain it to the world, to help others come to the same realization that I have reached singlehanded about the true nature of God when seen face to face.
Except that now that I have reached my final conclusion I feel like blurting it out simply, for the sheer relief of moving on. So here it is, take it or leave it: God is the voice inside. Now, that feels better, I’m no prophet, no philosopher, no poet, just a “nobody”, that is, a human being, which is good enough. I will carry no “white man’s burden”. I can tell little stories, in no particular order, stories of no particular significance.
When in doubt, go walking, that’s what puts me in the right frame of mind. Or I would say do something physical. Everyone alive can do that, if it’s only breathing. But don’t talk to me about “only breathing”. I’ve done enough of that meditation to last a lifetime. Literally.
Today I passed a tree which twenty years ago inspired a certain thought. It was in the position I remember but didn’t look the same, for now it’s all overgrown with ivy so that it looks like an ivy tree, if there is such a thing. Then its leaves were delicate, all a-quiver in the breeze, so that I could look right through the tree and see each one moving independently, and I thought how much was going on all at once, and my consciousness merged with the tree trying to take in all the leaves, as if I had a thousand limbs and possessed proprioception for all of them. I’m sure that is more or less what I thought at the time. I wrote it down in a notebook, but all those notebooks have been thrown away, and in any case it would take hours to go through my illegible handwriting. And why would you care, dear reader?
Perhaps when I looked at the tree twenty years ago I was recalling my trips on LSD, either reflecting on them or having some kind of a flashback. Those trips all took place in ’71 and ’72. Since then, no psychedelics, but some aspect of those experiences hits me almost every time I go walking, as if the very outside air, or some invisible rays from the open sky, are soaked in mescalin. Can I describe the feelings? I’ll try. It’s as if my essence is entranced by the ambience, I mean the complete sensual array of my immediate surroundings. Each place has its own special quality, recognizable on every visit; perhaps as a dog recognizes the scent of a person or animal when chasing a trail.
I’m not much of a moralist but I feel like saying it’s not necessary to consume psychedelic drugs. I actually am a moralist when I think of my children’s welfare, not wanting them to get trapped in bad scenes like addiction, debt, criminality and bad company. My children have in any case all grown up. The last one left home yesterday, to live independently. It was a momentous day, that would have felt even more momentous if it were not the second time in four months that she has left home finally.
There’s a neighbourhood cat, all black with pleading eyes, who sits on the fence and looks in the window. Sometimes when it’s been cold I’ve let it in for a while to get warm and it has been grateful but I didn’t want it sharpening its claws on anything or treating this place as home. My daughter liked it when she was here; but last night it managed to leap into the house through an upstairs window by climbing a low roof. I chucked it out but it kept coming back in. It was like a burglar: the house was under siege, we couldn’t open any windows now. So I chased it with a water spray, which it didn’t like; it looked at me reproachfully, as if it were prepared to wait until the human’s apoplexy passed and normal kindness resumed. How long before it realizes it can never come in uninvited? You can’t teach morality to cats, so I’ll make it simple by never inviting it again.
People expect me to solve their problems. Someone phoned me from her car the other day. She was on her way to Birmingham but her sat-nav system was showing an error message. Could I give her directions? I could see where this was going, even if I couldn’t see where she was going. I did have some advice for her: go to the next petrol station and buy a map. Half an hour later she rang again. She was on her way to the bus station in Slough, having decided to drop her passengers there so they could get to Birmingham by bus. Could I look up the internet to tell her the bus times? I had more advice for her: go to the bus-station and ask.
Then I was woken at 3am by my cellphone, having forgotten to switch it off. A dear friend works as a barmaid, and seemed to be saying the pub was wrecked. I imagined it on fire, and leapt out of bed instantly awake. Her manager had asked her to ring anyone she knew who was a computer expert, because the bar till was showing an error message. She started to read out extracts from the instruction manual, as if at 3am or any other time it would make sense to me. I was able to advise her: write down the amount of each bar purchase using pen and paper. She received the advice as if from an oracle. She was excitedly intoxicated. By way of thanks, she offered a titillating party invitation whose proposed sleeping arrangements were unsuitable to my married status, which through the haze of cocaine (? I'm guessing) she then remembered, inviting K along too. For a few moments her 3-in-a-bed fantasy fired my imagination. I hope she remembers nothing.