The Restless Spirit

Under a pale blue morning sky a long plume of white misty cloud softly touches the Sea of Cortez, and I ponder the spirit of the restless.

In fact, it is my own restless spirit that dictates this post, given energy by the ghosts from an Appalachian youth of mobility and uncertainty, by my own selfish need to describe the nature of my beast. This restless spirit is not something that embarrasses me or shames me in my eyes. It is a constant companion which I have nourished all my life with impulsive, spontaneous acts. It is something I accept as I do the color of my hair, my skin, the whole DNA networking inside my body walls. It is likely not so distinctive as one might expect. This restless spirit, this wanderlust component, must reside in legions of us.

This post began with a description of the beautiful sea that displays its gaudy deep green beauty outside my windows. This sea, this constant sun, this life style is the stuff of dreams. How could anyone be restless watching the sail boats, the ski jets, the parasailers high above the crystalline water, the people frolicking along the long stretch of sandy beach? Grab a Corona, a Tequila Sunrise, and live your dream, right? Well, that great big sea reaches out to a far horizon, and, after a few Coronas and Tequila Sunrises, the restless spirit can start its gnawing litany of thought… What’s beyond that horizon? Where have I not yet been? What have I not yet done? I’ve been here for a few years now. Is it not time to go? Even Paradise has its limits!

Okay, here’s the deal! I buy a new car. In a year I tire of the car and want another make and model. The same with living quarters! After a few years I want new quarters. It does not matter to the restless spirit that it is contemplating giving up ‘heaven,’ its life style of which other people can only dream. In this case, it is a stunning, luxurious two-level penthouse where the host of the restless spirit has come to retire, where the only really pressing decisions to make daily are food selections, social media caretaking, and the book-writing periods. There are people who live in the same house in the same town in the same state all their lives. Not me! In the past thirty years, I’ve lived in twelve different places. You do the math! I’ve probably lost count.

Yes, I’ve still got a lovely wife who is a polar opposite. She is calm, patient, puts up with me, would have been happy to live our lives out in that first place thirty years back. Guess she loves me to keep uprooting her the way I do. Is this crazy, or, what?!

So, anyone interested in a 3600 square foot penthouse? I’ll buy yours. You buy mine. I’ll be fair, even leave all the furniture, utensils, everything, totally turnkey — just bring your clothes and a toothbrush. You will have constant sun, constant sea, constant beauty. The only catch is, you need to have something equally as nice, something that turns on my restless spirit, and your place has to be free and clear like my place. Any takers?

Worried about Mexico and all the media hype? Been coming here from Arizona for over forty years. I’ve felt safer here than any place I’ve ever lived. The people of Mexico are friendly, helpful, kind, and appreciative of our US dollars. Crime, drug cartels? I’m sure they’re around somewhere in the country, killing off themselves, mostly. One could be reminded that my great country, the US, has its share of drug cartels and crime…

But back to this restless spirit thing… Do I wish that it was not there? ‘Yes’ is the honest answer, but there is an honest qualifier. The books I’ve written, the poems, the songs, the posts, all the penning? Are they worthy? Of course, I think so, but the true judges are the readers and the lovers of poetry and song. But ‘worthy’ is not the point I’m making here. The point is, maybe all my words would not have been out there in print and Cyberspace had I not had the restless spirit — not that one cannot write without it. But, me, could I have ‘done all that’ in ‘my way’ without that restless spirit.

I’m just saying…

“Portrait In Time”

“Portrait In Time”

 

Young man, do you not see me as once I might have been?

Is it the wrinkle, the sagging skin Time laid upon me that you see?

Once I stood, perhaps like you, with noble thoughts and dreams

A new bright morning might bring.

 

Time wore me down with its ceaseless ubiquitous ways and subtle promises.

Time taunted and tempted me with its guile and deceptions,

With its beauty beads of love.

 

Time gave me its reins to run wild with the wind toward sunrise and sunset.

 

Time now leaves me here along the sea, better to have had its moments of joy;

Sad to have you see the frail and broken parts of me.

 

Young man, can you not see me as once I might have been?

 

(An ending poem in a book by Billy Ray Chitwood, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son”)

“Mirror Images”

“Mirror Images”

 

I once looked at men like you,

old men, frail and haunted…

That was when youth declared

that I woiuld live forever.

How hard it was to see then…

how easy it is to see now.

Life was moonlight and promises…

So soon came ecstasy and joy.

 

When did it get this late?

When did the tree sap harden?

Where is the gold I sought?

Where is the key I held?

Why is the day no longer long?

Why does morning come so late?

What is the mystery to solve?

What day the reckoning?

 

(A poem by Billy Ray Chitwood, taken from his book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections From An Appalachian Son”)

Hidden Within

Exploring the dimensions within myself! Inviting you along for the ride, should you care to come. Who knows? Maybe something useful can be gleaned.

Some younger readers of this post will likely find no lucid relevance to their own lives but might gain some insight into the working of a mind still ticking away the twilight seconds. Hidden within this time-pressed body is one of the darkest, most menacing demons it’s been my misfortune to confront. Meet my number one demon, Guilt. This bleak gnawing beast has been with me since the beginning of my thought processes, no doubt an atavistic part of my quaint DNA. Guilt has been with me since my Bible Belt days in Appalachia, in truth nourished by those very disquieting days of Southern Baptist fire and brimstone, of family disconnect, and of mobile nomadic yearnings. Guilt has ruled much of my life, and it has not been pity and some nebulous acclaim I seek in the books I pen, in the simple characters and plot lines one might find therein. It is the endless desire to better understand the soul that is hidden within that Guilt.

If you do not already know him, meet a friend of mine, James Kavanaugh, the rebel priest who would finally hold his ‘masses’ at local taverns with some rowdy blue-collar workers, or, in one of his most beautifully written books. There were some doctrinal issues with the Catholic Church, and Dr. Kavanaugh would take a leave of absence from the Priesthood, travel to California in his VW Bug, and write books. He became a most popular public speaker, and a widely acclaimed poet-author. He is no longer with us. He died in 2009 at age 81, but he has left a beautiful legacy in his books and in his papers. The two books of James Kavanaugh I shall most remember are: There Are Men Too Gentle To Live Among Wolves and Will You Be My Friend? It is his first book of poetry (“…Men Too Gentle…”) that awakens some part of me, that helps me to exist alongside my number one demon, Guilt...not to be rid of it but at least to dull somewhat its visits. It is my hope that some followers and friends who do not know James Kavanaugh will discover him as I did, particularly if Guilt plays a role in their lives.

There are other demons that are hidden within that torment me at times, the old standards, like, Prejudice, Pride, Greed, Selfishness, and Self-Loathing. There are good people in our world that seemingly have few demons, and I’m always shocked when one of my heroes or heroines fall from grace. Are demons hidden within all of us? It has taken a lifetime but I am beginning to believe that they do.

It helps me at demon-calling time to read James Kavanaugh’s Will You Be My Friend?

Will You Be My Friend?

Will you be my friend? There are so many reasons why you never should:
I’m sometimes sullen, often shy, acutely sensitive, My fear erupts as anger, I find it hard to give, I talk about myself when I’m afraid And often spend a day without anything to say.     But I will make you laugh
    And love you quite a bit     And hold you when you’re sad.

I cry a little almost every day Because I’m more caring than the strangers ever know, And, if at times, I show my tender side (The soft and warmer part I hide) I wonder,     Will you be my friend?

A friend Who far beyond the feebleness of any vow or tie Will touch the secret place where I am really I, To know the pain of lips that plead and eyes that weep, Who will not run away when you find me in the street
Alone and lying mangled by my quota of defeats But will stop and stay – to tell me of another day     When I was beautiful.

Will you be my friend? There are so many reasons why you never should:
Often I’m too serious, seldom predictably the same, Sometimes cold and distant, probably I’ll always change. I bluster and brag, seek attention like a child. I brood and pout, my anger can be wild,     But I will make you laugh     And love you quite a bit     And be near when you’re afraid.

I shake a little almost every day Because I’m more frightened than the strangers ever know And if at times I show my trembling side (The anxious, fearful part I hide) I wonder,     Will you be my friend?

A friend Who, when I fear your closeness, feels me push away And stubbornly will stay to share what’s left on such a day, Who, when no one knows my name or calls me on the phone, When there’s no concern for me – what I have or haven’t done – And those I’ve helped and counted on have, oh so deftly, run, Who, when there’s nothing left but me, stripped of charm and subtlety, Will nonetheless remain.

Will you be my friend? For no reason that I know Except I want you so.

 

‘Beauty And The Beast’

Jack Durish (http://www.jackdurish.com) and Chris Martin (http://www.chrismartinwrites.com) write some provocative posts and they stirred my neurons. They got me to thinking about this frenzied two-polar high tech and emotional world in which we live today. They got me to thinking about a simple phrase uttered by Arnold Swartzenegger in one of his films: “I’ll be back!” They got me to thinking about the ‘yesterdays’ that can be no more…two talented writers, concerned about, confused about, thinking about the misty elements that control the hours of our collective existence.

Does anyone really doubt that the ‘machines’ have taken over the world? Sure, the takeover was helped along by the dual wizardry of Computer and Corporate genius. It is very likely that these minds envisioned what they were creating. It is also likely that their creations far exceeded their expectations. For certain, these minds had no choice…their visions, their competitive juices, their incredible brain power made the reality of our ‘today’ inevitable.

As Jack Durish opines in his most recent post, most of the world has fallen into the routine of fast text messaging while dining out in a fine restaurant, while driving, while taking a walk, virtual slaves to their new world of electronic gadgetry. Writers of great talent wonder why their books are not selling. They are trying everything they know in promoting their novels, but nothing seems to encourage sales. The naysayers might suggest the product has flaws, that established authors always sell their books (sure! with mega-bucks for promotion, TV appearances, media blitzes, and, sure great writing), but the issue is not so basic and simple, methinks. The ‘future’ is now, that ‘future’ many of us saw coming but were so beguiled by its on-rushing dazzle and seeming utility that we accepted it without thinking…but, then, what else were we to do? Life could be handled by the ‘machines’ and without our expending too much effort.

So, here we are, smack dab in the middle of a ‘science fiction’ movie and we can’t walk out of it. Our lives always had its routines, but today the routines are connected to the laptop, the internet, the social media, so many avenues of choice. Our days are gone before we know it as we lose ourselves in the magic of cyberspace. My wife still reads her books (on her laptop). I still pretend I’m a writer (on my laptop). God forbid our internet system goes down! We’re lost, even angry at the down time. My wife gets her reading done. I get my writing done, sort of, because there is the need to nourish my twitter, my facebook, my goodreads, my, my, my!

We don’t talk so much anymore because we might be interrupting each other as we peck away at our laptops. We don’t talk so much because now we have gone through the laptop wars of the day and are watching our favorite TV shows we taped over a period of days. We don’t walk as often as we once did. Our ‘get up and go’ just ‘got up and went.’ We don’t go out to dinner as often as we once did, socialize one-on-one with friends as often as we once did…we do so much socializing on the laptop. We don’t read as much or in the same manner we once did, and we perhaps don’t read the classics so much anymore, or, that big old tome we call the Holy Bible.

The other consideration, even with all the above rambling, this new world of electronic gadgetry could be a fun and good thing. Maybe many folks still have time for conversing, for reading, for socializing outside the web fare, and for walking and staying in shape. For this ‘old dog learning new tricks’ the new digital world can get confoundingly frustrating at times. It is during those times that I wonder just where the world is heading. One thing seems rather certain to me: the machines are indeed a controlling factor in my life.

One thing is also sure, should I awake in the morning, I’ll be sitting in this spot on the love seat beginning my day of routines. I’ll still be promoting my books, still writing posts, still finishing my next book, and still waiting for some bright light to go off in my head that makes sense of all that I’m doing. I’ll still be trying to figure it all out while I’m thanking my God for blessing my life.

Hope you were not thinking this post would offer some quick fixes to potential problems. Hell, who is smart enought to outwit these machines? Me, I’m hoping for ‘Divine Intervention.’

And, how was your day?

The E-World And Writers

Emily Frankel who has a blog called “Em’s Talkery” had a recent post about all things ‘chic’ in our modern world, not the least of which is the E-World of publishing. With all the smart, stylish, elegant gadgetry in the E-World, we can communicate our ideas and thoughts within seconds all around the orbiting globe. Guess that’s pretty awesome, particularly for us ‘old dogs trying to learn new tricks.’ Awesome, chic, whatever the defining adjective used, it is a rather incredible world we’re living in today.

Not long after reading Em’s post on ‘Chic,’ I read another post from an author who has some major concerns as to how he can best market and sell his books. This writer was concerned that his books were not selling to his satisfaction, even though he was getting 5-Star reviews in good numbers, even though he was utilizing the social media networks and blog sites to the max. He was asking for suggestions, replies to his post that just might open a door he had not thought to open. In essence, he was asking, does social media and do the blog sites sell books?

Along with many other writers I responded to his post. Without exception, each responder felt that the E-technology we have today is indeed awesome and mind-boggling, ‘Chic’ with a the big ‘C.’ With the praise for the technology came the resounding ‘I don’t knows.’ Other than providing consistent name recognition for your brand name (you and your book titles), social media (twitter, facebook, et al) and free book give-aways, author interviews, and even 5-Star reviews aplenty were not selling a lot of books for some very good writers. A few of us responders told the inquiring writer that we had just about run the ‘daily wars’ gamut, you know, where you begin each day catching up with your followers on twitter, facebook, goodreads, linkedin, whichever, check your blog sites, write a new post, plus maybe fit in some family issues — and I’m talking about us ‘old dogs’ in this new ‘Chic’ world, already in or approaching retirement from the world of work. A few of us told him that we loved to write and that we were getting caught up in this new E-World fantasy and not doing a lot of tapping on the old laptop keys…told him basicallly that we were just going back to our writing, keep our blogs updated with our books and let the chips fall where they might.

Sales and Marketing was my business for some years and I must admit that I’m stymied in this digital environement — amused with it but also confounded by it. Now, I’m smart enough to know that some savvy folks have found some E-Doors to open that I don’t know about, are younger and have the brain power, energy, stamina, and wherewithal to cope with this new E-World. I’m happy for these people, envy them in a nice way, and wish they would ‘pro bono’ themselves to my website and let me know their secrets. It’s doubtful anyone would be so disposed.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, that maybe we authors are too much in love with our writing efforts to see the flaws in our ‘product.’ Not a chance! Our works are great! Remember the 5-Star reviews we have, and not from friends and relatives with false names. I’ve read some of these writers, and I know they’re good. I rather suspect that the devil is running loose somewhere within this E-World technology…there is too much free stuff out there to read that people don’t have the inclination to buy books. Would you? When you can get them free?

Anyway, me! welcome to the E-World! If I find the magic key and a door, I’ll get back to you.

Keep writing, good authors ‘of the pen!’ Remember, we’re in cyberspace…if not now, maybe we will be bought and read in another millenium.