Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pretending; Norm's Triumph; Botanical Gardens; Poem

This morning I had a dream where I sought to thread three wires, one large and two smaller, through various entry points on my body to places far distant. For example, I opened up both shoulders and threaded the wires down through my abdomen and legs to my feet. The procedure burned. There were many insertions. At the end I was slumped over and I could feel the too-tight pulling of the wires from my shoulders to my feet, causing me to slump over. I was naked. As I walked forward the wires bent my head forward. With my hands clasped before me I looked like Jesus or a convict. I remember being surprised at how easy the wires were to thread, marveling at my skill in discovering the surgical "empty space" all through the body.

The wires reminded me of the new cable wires I plug into my laptop now that I have high-speed Internet at home. The feeling I had during the procedure was one of a necessary torturer; I was not enthused at the procedure but it was something I had to do. I was slightly embarrassed at being so pitiful a spectacle but I kept my head down.

At one point I think Kathleen discovered, or was about to discover, my high-tech flagellations, which would of course have resulted in a scolding and pleading to remove the wires.

The dream can be taken many ways. I'm a slave of the Internet. My depression is actually some strange form of penance I inflict on myself. I miss doctoring. I see myself as a suffering figure, although this suffering was self-inflicted. Nevertheless it required my hard-earned expertise to thread the wires properly.

This is a revised post. Amazing that LKD suggested below suggested three daughters being the three wires, the largest, of course, being Rachel. Who died July 29, 2007.

Mostly in the dream I felt resigned, "like a lamb led to slaughter." A dutiful sacrifice. That's the feeling tone, often the most important aspect of a dream.

Does anyone get up in the morning and sing and proclaim "How Great Thou Art" and revel in morning toiletries with plenty of time to make it to work? Who are these happy, positive-thinking people, and why don't I meet more of them? I think they are rare, and besides, what happy soul would want their buzz diminished by Eeyor? Perhaps they are rare and they avoid me.

I want to be that happy person. For years my ambition has been, my the grace of God, to cheer others up, to be a disciple of joy--in contrast to my sinful nature that tends toward the melancholic. This would be a miracle and in keeping with God's strategy; he made the greatest persecutor of early Christians, Paul, into their greatest apologist. Although Moses stuttered badly, he made Moses his mouthpiece. It's God's way in the Bible to use his servanults in a capacity for which their natural inclinations are ill-suited, so that the power comes from God. One aspect of grace. Remember I'm a Lutheran when I posit this strangities.

I supposed the years in my life where I brought joy, or at least entertainment, to others, likely exceed my depressive years. But time passes quickly when you're having fun and depression drags on forever, so subjectively it seems the other way around.

Nevertheless I am committed to pretending to be myself. Even my stepson found me verbally irritating yesterday, a good sign. People don't expect me to be quiet; for whatever reason they want me to talk. When I'm depressed I try to avoid talking, naturally. In my present pretense I actually initiate conversations.

And here's a conundrum, easily explained. When I went to my shrink's office yesterday I became progressively more sad, to the point of tears, until I saw the sign on his office door proclaiming that he was ill, which I received with relief. Because the one place I allow myself to weep is behind his door, behaviorally I am already being programmed to weep because of the repeated nature of the experience, just like Pavlov's dogs drooling to the bell. This makes me suspect that in my condition, if you see your psychiatrist too often and let yourself ventilate there, it could impede your progress. Should I tell him he's making me worse?

What makes me better, however briefly, are challenges in the real world. I bought four nearly new tires and had them installed yesterday for a total of $160. That intervention seemed to do me more good than all the medications I take. And yesterday, in a good prognostic sign, I forgot all my medications in the morning. That only happens when you're not thinking about your illness.

Tomorrow I play guitar and sing for "Heart to Heart" in the afternoon, a ministry to the homeless and mentally ill; tomorrow night I serenade the browsers at our Botanical Gardens members' spring plant sale. My fingers should be raw after all that; just hope I don't lose my voice in the evening. I gave Beverly Sills' old voice coach a call but he wouldn't speak to me.

I planted four kinds of heather and a flowering maple in the garden yesterday, hoping they are large enough that the cats won't dig them up.

The James Sisters did bring me a vole this morning, but luckily I had the sliding glass door closed so they couldn't bring it into the house to play. I rewarded Topaz, today's hunter, with a treat, then mystified both of them by tossing the dead vole over the fence into a gully where they will never retrieve it. Kathleen said such inconsistency could screw them up. I said she ought to know. At least a vole is better than the potato bug ("Jerusalem Cricket") they played with in the bathroom yesterday. Since childhood potato bugs are one of the few creatures that cause me a visceral revulsion.

Our friend, Norm Ball, made the top thirty in a recent sonnet contest through Garrison Keillor; the winner was chosen randomly from that group, but at the site you can scroll down and see Norm's poem, listed sixth.

Way to go, Norm! I plan ride your coattails until they rip. Here's the link for "Thornery."

On Tuesday's hike along the coast after work, Kathleen and I saw four whales and some beautiful woodpeckers whose underside wings flashed orange.

When Kathleen was late coming home from work yesterday, I, slightly enhanced, rigged up my Stratocaster and Fender Twin Reverb so I could play it on the front porch. Strangely, it didn't spook the deer. I can't say if they enjoyed it, but playing to the beautiful coast certainly made my musical interpretations much mellower.

I'm leaving now for a refresher tour at the Botanical Gardens, a great place to visit, as I'm a docent who leads tours there as a volunteer. So far my experience has been that the people I've taken on tours were rarely interested in the plants, more often in taking pictures of each other and finding plants they had in their own gardens. I guess my chief function is to keep them from being lost. One tour of old folks I dubbed "the bench tour," since their chief interest was to find the next bench to sit on before we moved on. We never left the front of the garden; there weren't enough benches to go deeper into the gardens.

With that I'll wrap up today's post. Here's another new poem of questionable merit. I was glad Cynthia liked the last one.


You think you're so
goddamned important
as if your being late for work
might undermine
the basic laws of physics,
but when you behold
the flowering apple tree
on the bluff above the lighthouse
you must know you are
neither light nor lighthouse,
just a small figure on a Chinese lantern.

Beyond the headlands
the sun falls through
the low wall of clouds
and gilds the ocean silver
in a blinding horizon of sea.
You could go blind staring at that.
You see the fallacy of your importance?
Try to arrange yourself
at the beginning again
by the flowering apple tree
where your only contribution
was/is assent.

Thine in Truth and Art,

C. E. Chaffin


  1. Anonymous3:58 PM PDT

    FYi - this weak - end
    i will fly to see my little angel roll her heart out.

    always hated when people would write little notes saying "smile, it's easy"

    -- my new reply is to Be - " I am
    smiling --- on the inside" -- So F- off"

    he he.

    luv n stuff.

    p.s. there's lot of poodles in this here town so didn't have a chance to read the ntire post.. sometimes that'll happen.

  2. Poodles are rumored to be the smartest of dogs. Where the dog IQ ascendeth, the human IQ descendeth.

    And what little angel would that be?

    Five letters, begins with an 'S'?

  3. Anonymous7:19 AM PDT

    Hey C.E. I sent you an email did you receive it? Kathy

  4. Perhaps the three threads are your daughters.

    I want to be a happy person too.

    Someday, I keep thinking. And hoping.


    Thanks for sharing the bit about Moses.

    It delighted me to read that you'd forgotten to take all of your meds.

    I know you need most of your meds. Still, as a society, I think we're all highly over-medicated and a little too eager and willing (or maybe our physicians are) to find the answer to every little problem in a pill.

    Patient, heal thyself.

  5. "I forgot all my medications in the morning. That only happens when you're not thinking about your illness."

    Hi C.E. Glad you're keeping busy. I have this feeling you're going to pull out of this Thing sooner rather than later.

    Wishing for you many good things. And contentment.

  6. Anonymous8:45 AM PDT

    thanks for the plug CE...but where's the groundswell pointing out the Thorney link is a wrong turn? Come on, ground. Swell!

  7. Anonymous3:57 PM PDT

    well, yes, Sweet.
    she is/was/remain/s
    need to spend
    more time on that one
    well, yes.

    {H}uman {R}esourses

    Still kan't figue why the headless horseman won't quit sleeping under my Pwindow and just nock on door # blue.

    cottage indust ries


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