The Cottage and The Castle

I took a nap this afternoon and had a very lucid dream; I dreampt I was outside of a small cottage, posting an old wooden sign bearing the namesake of my blog – only the S was gone: 7Saturday. I then heard a stirring from within the interior of the cottage, which prompted me to egress. As I walked away the French doors of the cottage opened. I turned back and explained the landlord had granted me permission to hang the sign, at which the young woman, a beautiful brunette, told me she knew this. She then asked if I would like to come inside, whereupon, after entering, she asked me if I desired to have sex with her (That escalted quickly).

Being in this small cottage, which contained scarce more than a queensize bed drapped in a white down comfoter, I felt a sense of peaceful desire. Yes, I replied.

We made the angel with four wings and it was pleasant, as she was beautiful, but I was overcome with a brooding melancholy whilst engaged. Through heavy breath, I told her that it would be so much better if we were in love. An utterance she, in closed eyes rapture, ignored.

And the dream ended; I awoke with the brooding dissapointment still with me.

What had the dream meant?

Surely it was a reflection of my deepest desire and a reminder that without Love the act has no wings. As Shakespeare wrote, we were making the beast with two backs. That isn’t to say the thing was beastly – for it was good, but it wasn’t beautiful as love in love is.

And why dost thou not love me fair lady?

Was I merely a caller who had come to her under the banner of my pen, posessing nothing but pleasing title and pleasant countenance?

I suppose I was. And for a time, I thought this enough: Lawrence Black, the writer with a good heart. But words are cheap and intention alone falls short. An identity is but a name and by any other just the same. And perhaps the lady could not love a man who called upon her at her address, one which she rented, the man having nothing beyond his person and his persona. For there are aspects to love that reside beyond the soul, in the material world. A prince charming after all has more than charm. For instance, ahem, a castle. And for that, the lady waits in want of love that brings more than the warmth of a body. For the lady lives in want of a hearth, which her cottage hath not.

And by this hearth she will be wrapped in warmth that extends beyond the reach and security of her lover’s arms. And in this castle, however large it may be (For it is larger than her cottage), a lady feels she has been chosen, rather than she has done the chosing. And I, having no castle, was but a caller, one of many perhaps, and distinguished in little more than name.

And so, through analysis, I have discovered the meaning of the dream; the truth, which, through dream, my soul has carried from depth to daylight. Truth I don’t believe any other metaphor could suffice for as elegantly or aptly. This dream reflected my reality and the way to the fulfillment of my deeper desires.

I am not yet a Prince, for no such title was mine through birth, but I will be.

A Delightful Life

Delightful day; what more can I say; I ran, I hiked, I swam, I read, I cooked, I napped – I did everything but make love, which, in itself, is another kind of delightful day, just not the one written for today. But I conspire with fate for days like that too. I’m working on it, which is to say I am working on myself. And I’ll be damned if I’m not becoming a a really decent man. As Socrates wrote, “Make yourself the sort of man you want people to think you are.” I’d like people to think, to know, that I am the man I have always known myself to be but never before was. G-d willing if I shall fall in love a third time, I will be a man worthy of making love to. It sounds silly but nonetheless, I aspire to be so.

There was a time I thought two halves could make a whole. Today and evermore I know better, for I am whole – not alone but on my own – a Man: world unto himself; complete. I’m not looking for someone to make me feel home; the world is my home, my soul no longer restless. Wanderlust has faded into a dream I no longer dream, and I no longer desire to go back in time.

I go forward, I look ahead, my lust for life deepens with my understanding of myself; I know who I am, and it’s greater than the sum of things come and gone. I am everything I am and nothing I am not (or was).

But before anyone accuse me of an excess of esteem of self-idolatry, let me be the first to tell you, I am beyond not proud of the multitude of things I have wrongly done in my life. But I am not ashamed. Shame tends to self-perpetuate; and I’ve learned, as Alice Hubbert believed, that sin is it’s own punishment. As David Foster Wallace wrote: “The parts of me that used to think I was different or better than anyone almost killed me.” No, I am neither egoic or ashamed. I am a man.

He had his foibles, his faults, and even his crimes. That is to say, he was a man. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Yes, I am a man.

But I am trying to be more human than my mistakes, as Ric Elias so beautifully put it. And I am doing a good job at this. Besides, confidence is an aspect of the soul; however, the confidence of the soul arises from wholeness, knowing yourself, virtue and vice alike – unlike the confidence of the ego, which believes it is different or better than anyone else. No, I am not good, I am whole. My heroes are no longer the Edmund Dantes’, the martyrs; my heroes are the Jean Valjeans, the true heroes, those who acheive victory over the enemy within. There is no other adversary that has defeated as many men as man himself. This is the battle each man is conscripted to fight, for victory over the self brings a peace as sweet as the defeat is sour. As the French proverb says, there is no pillow softer than a clean conscience.

And this is my pillow. I rest in the bosom of my soul, as only a man at peace with himself can.

Victory over the self is not the ego death as the guru promises, but a kind of armistice, an agreement which is upheld in the daily care of the soul and communion of the spirit.

There is no resting on ones laurels when the lions come at night. Changing ones thinking is not sufficient in itself; a new way of being, of relating to life, requires surrender, which is half of the battle. This is where right action begins, in surrendering the self to the soul rather than sacrificing the soul to the self. For me this required that I form a new relationship with myself, a relationship with my soul. One in which my soul is not only a conscious part of myself but the dominate aspect of my conciousness.  The mind, when left in charge, places the soul in exile. Security, true security, comes from being able to trust in your inner voice.

That begins slowly, for first it requires being able to hear it. Modern life has silenced man’s communion with the soul by tearing down the channels man used for centuries to understand and acess his higher self. Myth, great literature, religion, ritual, these are all dead and dying arts. The Matrix is simply a life deprived of all these bridges. The job of the shaman is to teach these. I wish to be a doctor of the soul as Jung was. This is my art, my dreams, dreams birthed through the nightmare I made of my life. But the nightmare is over. I’ve graduated. And today, I have true security, unshakable inner peace.

Fuck wit me you know I got it. – Jay Z

While I may not be [“good”], life is. My second cup of tea now cold, I will collect myself from the sandy spot I am on and walk home to read and retire for the night.

I have dreams to live and life awaits me tomorrow. A life in which I am an aspiring doctor of the soul, an artist in the highest sense. A life in which I am whole, a man worthy of making love to. A life I am building to share with the family of my dreams. A delightful life.

Walks home listening to Taylor Swift FTW

Lean Capitalism: Little Questions, Big Picture

There’s a difference between cutting corners and not turning them; to cut a corner is to take a shortcut, to fail to turn one is to face a wall. And some walls must be walked around, the time it takes to scale them simply not worth the benefit, the cost being too great. I’m speaking in proverbs but I refer to my work.

The past three days I have beat my head against a wall in the way only an engineer can. The enginnering being web engineering, but whether the medium be code or steel, square pegs do not fit round holes; and sure, were I more skilled I would be able to solve the problem at once, but I am not.

Every man must make great from his own share of good, conforming to his limits rather than bending to them. At the heart of the matter is the question of inherent neccesity. Is problem X of inherent neccesity to solve? If not, there need be limits to the amount of time wasted on it.

At thirty I am goal driven as the migrating whale, called to waters beyond the horizon by something bigger than myself, bigger than my stubborn inclinations. I’m learning that self-mastery includes mastering even the best of intentions; as much as I would like everything I output to match my mental conception, I simply don’t have the time to be Michaelangelo. Some ideals simply aren’t neccesary. This is the art of living; to know that doing your best requires a degree of comprimise between what is possible and what you can do. This, I suppose, is practicality. Something I’ve never been big on.

I’m an idealist – but I’m coming to see that it’s better to be a doer than a dreamer. I met a man tonight who has been writing his book since 2000. Sixteen years and he never went around a wall.

I’ve often quoted Joyce, but the longest way round is not the shortest way home. The shortest way home is to limit the points between two distances.

The Buddhists have a framework for right speech consisting of three questions:

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it neccesary?

If a thought meets these essential requirements then it is worth speaking. But what of my engineering problem? Might I have my own framework I may use to determine if the thing is worth doing? Surely.

Here goes:

Is it neccesary to completion of the goal?

That’s it. The buck stops there.

The answer in my case being no. So, it will go on a prioritized list pending surplus time and money. That’s called pragmatism.

My books will be my Sistine Chapel, my businesses simply the financing.

I intend to put this lean capitalist principle into use immediately. For while we all have problems to solve and needs we wish to meet, there do exist more important principles, bigger pictures.

This Unlived Life

You were not my final sunset
I’ve yet to have my best kiss
I’ll again be loved and loving,
More than the girl I miss –

Oh how I’ll share bed and dreams,
And so certain this seems
So sweet this wife…
This unlived life

Another day, like and unlike any other; although I feel a the weight of heavier things tonight, having impulsively checked my blood pressure today to discover it not what it once was; however, neither is my lifestyle. Heart disease is called the silent killer, for going on visible looks alone I look great, aging well as some fortunate men do. Had I been overweight I would not have excused myself from the gym as I have these past twelve months. Too many brevé lattés and not enough vigirous exercise have put me in the first stage of hypertension. The men in my family have not led long lives; in as many generations as I am familiar with, going back to my great-grandfathers, I believe at north of sixty, my father is the longest lived of the bunch – quite the miracle when you consider the fact that he suffered a massive heart-attack three years ago.

Needless to say, it is not without irony that I put my arm in the BP sleeve at the pharmacy where my father was picking up his heart meds after we met for lunch today. How frightful it is to know your mortality exists. As one writer wrote: “The young never think they are going to die,” which every person young or old knows to be true; and excepting that bout of blood poisoning last year, where I did stand one foot in the grave, I have never before thought serious my own death. True, I’ve written about it, thought about it – as a Stoic does – contemplated it in earnest to the best of my abilities, but now, now I see the waterfall at the end of the river, and the abyss is all at once real. And what of those spots I sometimes see? Yes, I – like you – will die.

I hope the benefit of today’s glimpse is twofold: firstly, I intend to alter my lifestyle, begenning with oatmeal breakfasts, no more luxuriant coffee drinks, and resuming a workout routine, and secondly, having felt the sand running through the hourglass today in those red numbers, I intend to double down on my dreams. Tonight I will lay me down to sleep and perhaps not since losing my virginity or falling in love, will I know that life will never again be the same. This is a big deal to me; going off the lifespan of my predecessors, it’s a late life wakeup call. Yes, I am only thirty. My dream of dreams is to be a grandfather and I face mortality with honest eyes not yet even having children. Scary, scary stuff.

If I was religious before I shall be saintly now, and if I had goals before, well, it’s today or never now.

Crazy, crazy thing this life is. I feel blessed though, for even while I contemplate shadows I see light: two ducks have presented themselves upon the dark glittering shore before me – and if the waters were pretty before they are brilliant now.

Yuna’s ‘Lullabies’ begins to play as I write this and I am sorry; like those two ducks we had peace and providence once upon a time, and G-d willing I shall not face my morning oats alone forever. Wanted: smart, enchanting girl to eat oats with – love part three: the sequel to the sequel.

I don’t even date now but given todays wake up, perhaps I ought. None of us knows when our final sunset will be; our final kiss.

The Layman Sails Not

Standing on the banks
The layman sails not
But intent on succeeding,
He plans, toils, and plots
Only he’s living in a dream,
For he accomplishes naught
And without the tests of time,
His craft lay in rot

While he watched men of the world go forth
He judged himself still provincial and stayed hither
Hence through age and not mediocrity,
Unspent passion soon withers

Years on and gone wasted,
He recalled the voyages of great men:
How they were once but mediocre,
And he was once but one of them

##

Unproductive day, dissapointed. Perfection is surely a lesson only the great can teach; the rest of us damned to learn it, aiming to be great and failing to venture forth and acheive what may be called good, even great. There’s a diffference between living a life that is a work in progress and making progress.

Maybe it’s just patience I Iack, but I’ve been here before. I made that great mistake mediocre men make in trying to be great: I turned back at the water’s edge. Yes, I built a raft and made ready to venture across the river but on reaching the water’s edge and not feeling my craft swift or good enough, I turned back.

But what if I would have cast off?

Oh the pain in not knowing and then knowing! This is hindsight: to see,  years later, the mediocre man made great by the greatness of his voyage. Not to say any person is mediocre – that is to say, not mediocre in the downcast view the bourgeois have of their self-imposed fate – no, when I say mediocre, I say it with reverence, I refer to the Latin mediocris, meaning: moderate, ordinary, from medius: middle. Great men were no more than ordinary men who took great voyages. The voyage great, simply because it was made. The anchor of mediocrity that weighs the ordinary man down is not his lack of greatness, but his lack of courage to venture forth into greatness from mediocrity, for it is not the greatness of the man that makes him great but the greatness of his will. How many men build and beat on their craft only to turn back at the rising tide of time!?  For there is an eternal winter from whence only the willingness to be mediocre can lead one to greener pastures. How the sun might shine resplendent on the faces of the mediocre if only they would go! Swim across the damning bank for the sake of living, will ye.

In the book Into The Wild, Christopher McCandless reaches such a bank. After months in the wilderness he prepares to egress, only to reach the river and turn back after judging his swimming skills inadequate to cross. The author remarks that had he simply walked a few miles downstream he would have reached a spot where he could have safely navigated tamer, shallower waters. Of course, this is an easy observation, and we know what tragic fate young Mr. McCandless meets; needless to say, he does not die a drowning death.

I hope I am forgiven in using this anecdote – for I only use it as metaphor and the story of Christopher McCandless has doubtless inspired countless youth to venture forth from the banks of mediocrity into greatness – for Christopher McCandless crossed many such banks before he found the one he dared not cross.

And I write this standing on the edge of my own banks – staring into the abyss of possibility – beating on my own craft: my business, my writing, my concept of self, all works in progress, all mediocre, all inadequate, all laden with excuses for not doing the damn thing.

So it is, I write this to call myself to account. I’m still young and through the process of self-honesty I have staved off the eternal winter of mediocrity, but I am not as young as I might be had I crossed this river sooner. Now I am thirty. That age when men stand in the river of time whether they dare chance it or not. A man at thirty faces his possibilities and whether he belives in himself or not, he knows in his heart what he might be.

I don’t want to grow old standing in the cold bank of the river. I know that luck is not preperation meeting opportunity, but action creating it. The needle of probability which directs our fate is controlled by each of us. Whether we take action, moving chance from unlikely to likely, or whether we stand in the evermore freezing banks of the river, our craft decaying in the eternal winter of preperation, we hold our future in our own hands. I personally have never in all my life failed at anything, except relationships and those ventures I did not undertake. And only the latter of the two I regret.

In ten years I will be forty, and in less than a year’s time I will be thirty one. Perchance I could speak to him, what would my great grandfather say to me?

I’d like to imagine he would encourage me to venture forth from as many banks as I could as fast as I may. He would tell me not to strive to be great but, rather, to strive to do great things. The doer of great things being the one who does them.

I have a friend who makes half a million dollars a month. He did not attain this through perfectionism – he did it by casting off the lines from the dock and putting his ideas to sea. His compass – his needle of probability – pointing
straight to likely, while mine, so long as my ideas do not sail forth, will remain on the banks of mediocrity – my needle pointing straight to mediocrity.

I challenge myself (Having no other choice in the face of such hard truths) to set sail. Every idea, every dream, every plan, is no more than a mist, a vapor, a fog. The only measurable and worthy idea – the only plan or dream that may come to fruition, being the one we deem worthy of releasing into the world. Until then, they lie buried beneath the crushing weight of our egos, decaying with an increasing tide of self-consciousness. A plan is a dream with a deadline. A failure is one whose time either passes or never comes. What are you afraid of? What are you afraid of?

Money meet mouth. For mediocrity is a river, possibility an abyss. Only action and its palpable results, only what may be called good enough and done, may be called great.  While you are here be not a master architect or shipbuilder; be a sailor, mediocre as your untested craft may be.

A Writer at Work

Edit: What began as a freeform entry, like any other I write, turned into a realization of a shortcoming in my writing ability, this illumination, no doubt, due to the fact that I have applied myself to read countless books this year, sometimes reading more than a book a day (As I did today, reading Robinson Crusoe this afternoon and returning to Les Miserables tonight). Put simply, I am not up to snuff with my imaginary peers, and I can finally see it. That being said, I intend to go to work on my writing and make a bounding leap in quality. There’s a reason I have not completed any of the two novels or the three novellas I have begun; I have known deep down for a time that my skill as a writer does not yet equal my talent nor my passion, and therefore does not do it justice. There being no other way to improve on writing than to write, I have used this blog as a cathartic medium for that endeavor. Tonight, I am finding it is serving it’s purpose well. I hope to emerge from this quest for betterment in visible possession of what I now lack. The rest, which made my inadequacy clear, follows.


The heart is light,
The time right;
I’m finally doing it

There’s a line in Robinson Crusoe that says something about a man’s good fortune sometimes being the seed of his demise, and so it was the case for me.

But I could have torn down anything, no matter how beautiful. I was too young then – too young to be a man, too reckless; I was destructive, and I destroyed, and consequently lost all.

However, youth is no excuse.

Men younger than I: boys – gamines, as Victor Hugo called them, little Gavroches have shown more heart than I. It wasn’t years I lacked, but resolve. And beyond that, I was horribly entitled – a funny thing for a boy who grew up something of a gamine himself. Humble and tough upbringing aside, I had a big chip on my shoulder; and sometimes, a chip on the shoulder of one born in deficit is worse than a chip on the shoulder of the spoiled child. The spoiled child, while more arrogant, doesn’t posess the capacity for self-pity the poverty born child does. Arrogance is far less of a threat because it is far easier to see – being on the surface – whereas self-pity is far more than skin-deep: it’s an inadequacy of the Soul, where arrogance is an inadequacy of the world. The spoiled kind of entitlement results in an ego that compensates for this, making no apologies, for he feels himself superior. Whereas the entitlement that sometimes results from impoverishment creates an ego that

Pause. This is garbage. Not the form, but the substance. This is the second night in a row I have been unable to succinctly express something I felt deeply. As last night, tonight’s sentences are entangled and jumbled, tripping over themselves, the ideas knotting up, the substance lost.

It’s clear to me I am lacking something in my toolkit. Something missing from my employment of words is causing my ideas to explode on launch.

What this missing component in my writing technique is, I know not. But I can feel it; intuitively, I know there is a technique, an approach I might apply, that will render my sentences as clean as a bone, to borrow the words of James Baldwin. I want the ideas as pure as Shakespeare’s and as eloquent as Hugo’s. But, while I want them bone clean I do not want them bone dry, lacking in marrow, as the sentences of Hemingway or Conrad feel to me: palatable and fine in syntax but wanting in richness. What I want are sentences containing ideas as gorgeous to the reader as the finest equations are to the mathematician. Great ideas, genius ideas, these are devastatingly simple in their beauty. While I am a failure at math, having failed at algebra twice, I do know something of its beauty, being that I can parse clean code (front end Web).

Also being that I am not a savant as a programmer, I know that writing clean code requires I thoughtfully compose each line, neat and indented, using Notepad++, in order that I might see every bit, knowing it’s role and lack of superfluousness. There is an approach to coding known as DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself), which, in its focus on minimal output, embodies this.

I feel clumsy now just looking at the above paragraph. As if I have caught myself in the irony of my own overdoing it.

Anyhow, it’s clearly time I take to the drawing board. I’ll collect myself from the sand I sit upon and mosey home to supp and figure out how I might better parse my thoughts. There’s work to be done, no doubt.