old notebooks

I come across another dusty notebook every other day, forgotten scrawlings I once imagined would find a way into order… it occurs to me now that I may as well post some of the random musings here instead of just waiting until I write something into which I can integrate some silly little one-off thought.


Sidewalk upturned in jagged spiderwebs. Disaster is just time, accelerated. Weeds push through between the bricks of the cobblestone walkway.

Next to this, the smooth comb of the new cement squares. Someone’s careful work, someone meticulous enough not to add some personal mark to at least a portion of the grey squares of his life. Did it never occur to him? Did he fight the urge for fear of losing his job? Did he decorate his first thirty or a hundred squares, and then only here or there, on special occasions, and eventually just tire of the whole egotistic process? Was he a zen master from the start, and never interested in imposing on a tiny bit of sidewalk, as if it would actually mean anything? And how would this mindset, really, be distinguishable from the first?

The fluctuation of what seems important surprises now and then. You may think someone slow, dull, behind you, but then you catch up to them, and realize their perspective was right. Oh, you say, but just because the course of action is the same, doesn’t mean the course of thought was. We may be in the same place now, but I have run the track a few more times. Perhaps – but is this really something to be proud of? “we may play the song equally well now, but I have practiced it far longer”. Is it a weakness to grasp things intuitively? Maybe to have to think so much is the sign of a weak mind.


8 Responses to “old notebooks”

  1. Carol Says:

    I suspect those of us who became interested in Eastern philosophy during periods of our lives when we could still slow time, came close to or even achieved enlightenment on occasion. But I don’t know if it could be possible to retain such a state of consciousness, living an American life. Perhaps, like Sidhartha, tho, some of us will return to a place we once knew when we become old and disengaged from the rat race again.

    There is something about being removed yet connected in Eastern perspective. And removal is difficult when struggles occur in the workplace or with bills or kids. But I like to think there may be a time ahead when things quiet down and I’ll rediscover something I once knew. I take heart in knowing the blooming of flowers, flittering of bees about, and return to wonder and quiet resignation may be here, now, as just a time accelerated moment I’ve been looking forward to looking back upon.

    Oh, I suspect a zen master would not think to put his name in cement. But flowers or decorative designs would be likely.

    Enjoyed your past perceptions. Found them very poetic. And your insights brought back memories of another time, reminding of a person I’d once hoped to be. And oddly, I’ve written this in long-hand. Haven’t done that in ages. You really did tap me into an old self, long unvisited.

    Best regards,


    I remember why I stopped. I’ve got to make myself into a secretary, now, to copy what the boss composed. Oh, well. It was still fun.

  2. Barney Says:

    There is one aspect from my previous quest for enlightenment I fear I could never return. I felt when in tune, so to speak, I could make others understand where I was. At some point, later, I concluded I couldn’t. I believe no one can and we’re all alike in that respect of being mutually alone.

    Only I can come close to understanding what I am thinking and experiencing and not always even I. Once I realized that, I was no longer on a quest to commune. Thereafter I realized I could at best be an entertainer. That’s when I decided to become a clown. And my goal became to perform little stories, hoping consequent misinterpretations would be well received and shared by all. It matters not to me if 100 people are all laughing for different reasons. So long as they’re laughing, that’s all the connection I need.

    The nature of parties I attended became drastically altered. But at least then I didn’t feel I was surreptitiously acting any longer because I realized we’d been but pretending to comprehend each other in my old groups. We’d sought to deceive ourselves that we’d actually succeeded in deeper than normal empathy. Nah, I decided, henceforth, all of my acting would be deliberate and open; not feigned and hidden. My newer party acquaintances recognized the impossibility of true understanding and said, “What to Hell! We’ll have fun together anyway.

    I do recognize, however, we have special friends and family who appear to understand us better than others. But more often than not, with them, I think we may start to feel too well understood in ways that fence us in. We feel we’re more than what they see. But they don’t want us to go there because a comfort level of knowing has been established. And going beyond could result in problems. That’s why roadblocks were established that I find my makeup takes me beyond. In a way, I just fly over them as a clown.

    So I return to my theme. We are all alone, even those of us with friends everywhere. But it feels good when I can make them laugh. And for a moment, when I do, I feel as if I have been understood. It’s kind of nice, you know?

  3. Jack Says:

    I was looking through some old writings and discovered I once wrote something similar to what you did, long ago. I think at the time I liked imagining there was something exceptional about me. It was fun while it lasted. But you know, we all have to grow up and eventually I had to accept I was just a plain old Jack Cass. And really, that wasn’t so bad. It was only resistance that had made it hard. Acceptance to my fate ended my restlessness. I discovered, then, I wasn’t alone. And that has made all the difference.

    It’s movement holds the jungle back.
    lest abandoned roads crumble
    to a cricket’s beat
    of vast, wild prairies.
    where violins cry
    for when buffaloes grazed;
    that from out of a maize
    long abiding in hiding
    quietly and patiently
    what was too-long extinct,
    become remembered once more;
    this, when rigid civilization be broken through
    to embrace a new future.

    Wild eyes know
    Nature grows, even when seemingly stifled,
    to ever threaten
    despite fruitless efforts
    at obliteration.
    So, too, have our jungle eyes remained,
    subdued and submerged,
    long having awaited this precious moment
    when resistance becomes too hard to bear.

  4. drinkme Says:

    well thank you, Plain Old Jack Cass 🙂 , for sharing that – I really enjoyed it.

    I wish I could say the same of my restlessness, but it comes and goes. I suppose I have accepted that my fate is restlessness, and in a sense that has quieted the anxiety about it. So while I am not calm, I am at least one step removed from my turmoil – sort of more existentialist than zen, I guess – I’ll rage against the dying of the light, but sort of light-heartedly as of course I understand the light will die.

  5. drinkme Says:

    oh stupid smileys, i forgot again they were translated in real grinning orbs. my apologies as always.

  6. Jack Says:

    I awoke wondering if it may have been a societal light you were feeling fading. Whatever it was, I thought you could use something to light your way. So this gift is from me.


  7. Barney Says:


    I think you should consider that perhaps you have one too many references to eyes in the second stanza of your poem. If you made it, for example, ‘wild ones,’ rather than ‘wild eyes,’ I would think your ‘jungle eyes,’ would have more impact.

    Just a suggestion,

    Barney the Poetry Critic

  8. Jack Says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah! I concede ‘wild ones’ would be an improvement. So does that mean I have to give you writing credit, now? That’s going to look great if we get our poem into some prestigious poetry magazine, with Jack Cass and Barney the Clown listed as coauthors. I can’t imagine there have ever been coauthors of a poem before in the history of either Western or Eastern civilization.

    I suspect you’re smug, again, and feeling confident all the women will be looking your way. I tell you, it’s nothing new for me. I think there’s hardly a day when some clown doesn’t get the better of me. It’s probably why I ended up the person I am.

    Jack Cass

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