Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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Science can’t explain it, but science can’t explain aspirin.
The usual assumption about power is that there is only one kind — physical. Spiritual power exists too, though the two are not entirely unrelated, in my experience anyway. I don’t mean only the kind of spiritual power you find in church, synagogue or temple. Spiritual power sometimes manifests itself mysteriously in the arts, in the streets, in the schools, and occasionally in politics or the martial arts as well.
“A veggie restaurant in Raleigh? It’ll never work” was the reaction of most folks who consider Raleigh a meat and potatoes town.
But the day is an answer to the night and not vice versa.
To begin with, I don’t believe in alternate life styles. Having lived communally, having been married, having lived alone, it all comes down to the same thing: you live, ultimately, with yourself. If you’re not your own best friend, no one else can be. You can fuck a stranger and call it love. You can build walls around you and call it community.
I’ll start with feeling bad. It’s a bone with a little — you should pardon the expression — meat on it. Tears are tears. Nobody needs to tell you how to feel bad. It’s as natural as bleeding. As natural as concentration camps, impotence, or saying the wrong thing. Just today I said the wrong thing. I told someone I was getting married.
Pin-ups make us feel good. Marilyn Monroe and Baba Ram Dass make me feel good. Why else did I spend the first half of my life jerking off into her picture, and the second half into his? An exaggeration, of course.
Years ago, while chasing my second-grade friend Margaret, I suddenly became acutely aware of feeling “here and elsewhere” at the same moment. This experience persisted even as we stopped our game and sat down to rest. My friend, curious about my silence, asked me what was the matter.
As you all know, we continuously contend with preachers who promote their productivity in Cosmic Shithouses all over the universe. And when they wipe their Cosmic Asses, there’s nothing there but the same old shit that you and I have been living with for years.
I feel some anxiety about touting a book again. The act calls up too many embarrassing memories of talking friends into reading Ram Dass or Castaneda — believing that something important turned on it. That kind of spiritual arm-twisting has consequences; if nothing else, it reminds us, as Hesse observes in Siddhartha, that “what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.”
Everywhere out of doors that I go — city streets, roadsides, country fields, dense forests, wherever there is water and soil and sunlight (and these can be in the smallest quantities or poorest qualities) — I see plant life of such great beauty and uniqueness that I am dazzled with appreciation and wonder.
This time we’re talking about feeling good — what an elusive state that is. Just when you think you’ve reached it, it’s gone. The advertising and consuming genii would have you believe that happiness/success/love can be found in this bottle or in that shiny car. Why, if it’s so easy to obtain, do we usually feel so miserable? And what does it mean to feel good?