Disclaimer: this is a casual trip around the cosmos, with absolutely no direction whatsoever. Caution: Read at your own risk and not while driving.
Years ago, I read a poem entitled “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain dreamer. I strongly suspect that this was not her given name but it matters not. She gave it to herself kind of like my non de plume Madam Truefire. I’m sure each has its own story of origin. Oriah’s prose poem is not flowery and it doesn’t rhyme. I envy her that poem because every word speaks directly to my heart. After many years, it remains timeless and most of all precious. I wish I would have written it, but that’s the beauty of words that fly across the page. Sometimes they are mine and I have to wait for the ink to dry. Other times they are on a printed page written by another author. I get to choose a variety of options: asterisk the line, put a tiny pencil mark at the side, roughly turn the corner of the page down or use yellow out. It then starts to appear “dog eared” which is an intriguing term.
When I’m reading something fabulous, the yellow out marker makes some chapters literally glow in the dark, and somehow this means I’ve owned the book.
I love buying used books on Amazon and in cool old book stores. In truth, Amazon gets fairly prissy over the amount of usage. They don’t have a loved to bits and beaten up and scribbled on choice. Some of the kooky old nook stores accept books with notes on the side. I love those notes. They say: someone out there read this book too and this is what he/she thought. Getting a brand new book is a different story. It is clean, immaculate and no thought forms stalk the pages save one’s own. It feels sterile and requires owning in the reader’s hands.
When I was in my early twenties , I found myself smack in the middle of what Kerouac called the Beat Generation. By day I worked in tropical medicine research at UCLA so I wasn’t exactly the type to drop acid and lie around in a pile. However, my student dishwasher in the lab explored the universe nightly with his eclectic friends. I was invited to some of those soires where philosophy majors, drugs and wine and much pacing and dialog occurred. I always stayed straight and sober enough to drive home. And hallucinogens were off limits. I figured I did enough spontaneous trips on my own without them.
When I left that position at UCLA to go off on a wild goose chase love affair which ended in an off shore marriage, two kids, and a divorce, I felt duty bound to divest myself of certain things. After all, I was “in love” with a conservative Australian physician. I needed to rise to some level of dignity. I needed to grow up. So I began to divest.
I gave that dishwasher my wine stained, dog eared copy of “On the Road”. He could have squeezed it out and had a good modicum of wine to sip. That day, he looked at me like I had handed him the Holy Grail. It’s been over 40 years since that book flew into his possession by fate, and I wonder where that darling boy is. I’ve tried to find him a number of times, but he remains elusive. With the way he lived, he may have left the planet. He loved marijuana and LSD and living on the edge. His life was one trip after another. I’ve often thought of that ragged book and that look on his face. It became his bible.
An aside if you will,
I proved my somewhat straight laced life style a number of years later. The “traveling folks” had progressed from LSD to Ecstasy, the feel good hallucinogen. I called my friend, an opera singer in Malibu. It was New Year’s Day and I wanted to wish her well. She was the Empress of Events: kooky spiritual gatherings in a salon in a mansion above the cliffs that overlooked the Pacific.
I was there for several of her eclectic events and I’m here to assure you that she would never lose her position as Empress. Of course she was gorgeous with long flowing blonde hair and a voice like an angel. Couple those attributes with exotic Thai silk caftans and she looked like she floated several feet above the ground. She also possessed the keys to magic. We all played our parts in her royal court. I dutifully lit 100 candles and then set up projectors with slides of beautiful transformational images. A lovely older black man always showed up to spontaneously create ambiance on the grand piano and jam with that exotic diva. And then there was the grateful audience who often brought poems or just jumped from their silken pillows to spontaneously recite some eternal truth.
I’ve often wondered if Walden Pond was a bit like this. Still, Emerson and Thoreau were New Englanders not Californians so it probably was far more reined in.
What I’m remembering now is that during one of her majestic salons, the Empress taught us all freedom, the ability to express beauty in any way we saw it.
But I digress. It happened to be New Years Day around noon. I dialed her number and that sweet voice of hers drifted across the line.
“Darling! Happy New Year, Darling! You must come up and join us! We’re all nude lying around snuggling and need your Divine Presence. We’re about to do another round of ecstasy.”
Maybe there was a time when I would have accepted that invitation and jumped for my car keys; but that day, the vision of thirty or so nudes on ecstasy, cuddling in a scattered pile was not my preference. I wasn’t ever a goody two shoes but walking into the room, cold turkey, let alone into a pile of stoned naked hippies did not appeal to me.
I graciously bowed out with an excuse of having children returning from time with their dad, or maybe the biblical I am sorry I have bought me a team of oxen…Even the bible is rife with usable excuses.
But hey! Back to page one after this rocky trip around the universe. I long for the salon gig. I’d stand and read Oriah’s “Invitation” with a background of the sea and a hundred candles twinkling. Then again, I just might read some of my own prose while someone spontaneously dissolved those images of mine on the wall.
But, now there would be interruptions of dings of approaching texts. Unless of course, I demanded a cell free zone and put a basket outside the door where one could dump all electronic devices.
Much to ponder as the bath water cools and the snow outside melts.
Another day of of What if I had Nothing whatsoever I had to do today at all.