“The cemeteries are full of indispensable people.”
When at first I quit smoking, that is to say, when I first quit smoking. I did so with the assistance of the 21 mg NicoDermCQÂ® transdermal patch, one of which I wore 24/7. For weeks I had wild, vibrant nicotine dreams. Since I smoked until I had holes in my lungs where alveoli once existed (those little tiny cilia weren’t simply counterfeiting death), every few months I experience an exacerbatory episode that I treat with antibiotics and a prednisone burst. When this occurs, instead of nicotine dreams, I often awaken in the early morning hours and have wild, vibrant prednisone thoughts. Those of you who have perused this blog in the past may recall reading posts recorded even as these thoughts were occurring in my relative spacetime. This night, though, I managed to go back to sleep. (Actually I’m going on my third morning after the night thoughts before.) Thus I write this post, self-consciously, after the fact. How much of the original experience I decide to memorialize with my shame-monitor firmly in place remains to be seen.
Previous readers also know that I’m writing, in fits and starts, a novel entitled The First Voice. Yesterday marked another start. I’m presently writing Chapter 15 wherein I explain sapience, using, in part, the story of Adam and Eve. Wanting my account of the Edenic events accurately to reflect the episode as set forth in the Bible, specifically, Genesis, Chapter 3, verses 1 to 7, I reread said same. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) tells us Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it was “good for food, and a delight for the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” Genesis 3:6. Sapient means “wise or learned.” So far, so good. When I read the second half of verse 6, however, my brain stopped. “[A]nd she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Id.(Emphasis added.) Huh? I said to myself. There it was, clear and unambiguous: Who was with her. Well, I admit it. Adam in attendance at the scene during the encounter with Satan was news to me. How had I missed it all this time? At first, I thought perhaps that part of the verse had been added to the NRSV in its attempt for better accuracy in the translation. But no. I checked the King James’ Version (KJV). There it was, Eve ate the fruit and then “gave also unto her husband with her.” Id. (KJV). I checked the wording in all the Biblical translations included in my 8.0.4 version of Quick Verse, my Travel-Size Edition of the Torah and Commentary, and David Rosenberg’s translation of The Book o f J, considered to be the origin of the Hebrew Bible. Only the Torah and a translation called The Message: the Bible in Contemporary Language leave room for a different interpretation of Adam’s whereabouts. These two versions provide that Eve ate and then also gave some of the fruit “to her husband, and he ate,” without specifying whether the two events occurred contemporaneously. What difference does it make? I leave that explanation to Elfredge, Johanna, and Michael in Chapter 15.
This blog entry is about my realization last night (x3) that when I first finally read the last half of Genesis, Chapter 3, Verse 6, I really, really wanted to talk to someone about my discovery and its implications. I ran it by my friends and family, most of whom agreed that yes, how interesting. They too had missed that the Bible put Adam at the scene, but nobody much shared my enthusiasm – well enthusiasm is somewhat understated, make that my shock and awe. In researching and writing Voice, I have had several similar moments of illumination over the years. Indeed, much in my life causes such moments. And when they happen, half-formed thoughts shoot around in my brain. More often than not, these thoughts remain incomplete, elusive. Some may make it as far as a cryptic note in a computer file entitled “Writing Ideas” — my current enigma being , “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today (Faustian overtones).” No idea. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I’ve parlayed other thoughts into blog entries. But most fall back into the depths of the collective unconsciousness. It’s simply not worth the effort to articulate them to/for myself.
I may think, therefore I am, but I articulate because you am. See March 16, 2006 Post. At least I endeavor to articulate; i.e., express thoughts, ideas, or feelings coherently. I endeavor to articulate these thoughts because, like it or not, I need, I want, to communicate with you, my fellow human beings. There, I said it. I am not, after all, a rock. Queue Sounds of Silence, Track 11. Whether the preceding few sentences (and the next few anticipated sentences) make it into the blog remains to be seen, as I can feel my heart rate increase and the shame-flush spread. I am a card carrying, off-the-chart introvert, and these cravings I’ve been experiencing over the last few years for what I will call meaningful communication, in any of its many forms, are rather disconcerting, and frustrating. I recognize some of the frustrating part is a byproduct of my illness. I read somewhere that emphysema is called the “sitting disease” because exertion of almost any sort, well, just takes the wind right out of ya’. It’s damn hard for me to get to the coffee these days, much less out the door. Moreover, especially this time of year, germs are not my friends, so limiting live contact is wise. Besides, cravings aside, I really am an off-the-chart introvert. If I really think about it, I (mostly) do “want to be alone,” so I suppose I may be venturing into the area of “be careful for that which you wish.”
Notwithstanding, each of us may be here for different reasons, but I believe one of, perhaps even, the core reasons we are here in the human realm is to take time to engage in meaningful communication, verbal and nonverbal, with one another. Obviously, there are degrees of interaction ranging from the txt msg: “how ru?/Good u?” to On the Road’s Dean Moriarty a/k/a Neal Cassady sit ting in the bathtub with Sal a/k/a Jack knee to knee and eye to eye and talking until there isn’t anything left to say, in a word, grokking, to borrow a term from Stranger in a Strange Land.
So when does communication make the change from the quantitative state of cleaning out the email box while listening to the now elderly remaining parental unit advise as to the weather conditions, food consumed during the week, and which second cousin twice removed finally crossed BifrÃ¶st to the qualitative state of a meaningful exchange of ideas and emotions between two or more human beings?
My Buddhist buddies use a couple terms that speak to this question. They talk about being “mindful” and living with “intention.” To me, “mindful” means keeping my mind in the present instead of letting it think about past events or plan future ones. My concept of living with intention may be a bit simplistic, but essentially, it means paying attention to what I am doing at any given moment. My friends and family often remind me it is good if I can remember to drive with intention. Clients or witnesses being prepped for depositions are admonished to “answer the question that is asked,” rather than respond as if they were asked the question they, in their eminent wisdom and with their uncanny telepathic ability, just know opposing counsel really meant to ask them. Simple experiment: Ask folks, “do you have a watch?” and see how many respond “yes,” or “no,” as opposed to those who tell you what time it is.
By extension, to answer the question, one must hear the question. Accordingly, and as important, if not more important, one must listen mindfully and with intention. Meaningful communication is a two-way street (or in a group, a multi-lane freeway). Why should I expect my friends and family listen to my subject du jour if I fail to accord them the same honor? And here, three nights ago, to bring this full circle, my prednisone charged brain reminded me, I have been remiss. How many times has someone tried to speak to me about a subject, and I have either taken steps to peremptorily dismiss it and move onto my preferred agenda, or locked onto a buzz word and used the time the other continues to speak to formulate a response that will take the subject in my preferred direction? Well, no more. I will endeavor hence forward to remain mindful and listen to you with intention.next post: Happy Bloomsday
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