Monday, July 11, 2011

Vultures and a Tune

I mistook a vulture for a raven this morning, high above my garden.  Either because of the hour, or because he was very dark on his underside, I was briefly fooled until his flight pattern became evident.  Vultures are some of the smoothest gliders among birds.  I watched him, without flapping his wings once, afterwards negotiate the high branches of a eucalyptus, tilting slightly to avoid them, banking eloquently on the thermal.

When I was manic, which began almost a year ago before my great January crash that put me in the hospital for 45 days, I decided to change my favorite bird, the raven, for the vulture, because vultures clean up the detritus of death and their utility in the chain of nature's degradation is invaluable.  Life issues in death, whatever we do.  My father used to say, "None of gets out of this alive."

The Parsees, who are Zoroastrians, have for over a millennium disposed of their dead amid the towers of silence, where they are quickly consumed by vultures, a practice called "Dokhmenashini."  Their consecrated ground, in the middle of pricey Bombay real estate, has now become an embarrassment, I found out through this link.  Apparently the vultures have been devastated by a virus, and without their consumption of the corpses, a stench has risen in Bombay deemed a public nuisance.  Nevertheless the orthodox Parsees are resisting any interference in their ancient practice, hoping to raise vultures to replace the flock.  Given that timeline, Bombay will continue to reek.  But I hear the city doesn't smell too good to begin with. 

I "decided" to quit smoking today, but quickly succumbed to the habit, as I had four cigarettes left.  I ratiocinated that it's better to quit on a day with no cigarettes, i.e. tomorrow.  To quote the bard:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Coincidentally my father used to recite this speech from time to time, a vestige of his brief career as a thespian in college.  Pretty dark stuff from Macbeth.  I do not wish to embrace this existential void, but in my present state I'm much more comfortable with death than life.  I've never really been afraid of death; it's life that scares me.  Not that I intend to do anything about it, but when I examine my habits--a lousy diet combined with too many cigarettes and only a daily walk for exercise--I see that I'm not caring for myself, that I may be hastening my death in a sort of slow suicide.  In this I am hardly alone.  But at present I have the willpower of a mayfly, having little to do and resenting whatever is required of me, or I deem required of me--like taking out the trash and paying the bills.  I'm a minimalist, reading mystery novels and chain-smoking, for the most part avoiding human contact, though I am not a misanthrope.

I'm not in a "pure" depression, as I'm not suffering weeping spells, but I suffer mightily from indecision and anxiety, not to mention the warring voices in my head, which I know are my own, which avoids the diagnosis of schizophrenia.  I know all of us are plagued by voices in our head, or sometimes tunes we cannot extirpate from consciousness.  I've had just such a tune in my head for several days since I thought of going to a studio and recording a new album, something I haven't done in almost two decades, despite the plethora of songs I've meanwhile written.  Here's a link to the tune, "Act Like a Man."  It's a solo acoustic version for which the original title was "Killing the Goddess."  Its 4/4 beat drums in my head.  If I go to the studio I will fill it out with harmonies and a bass line and drums and the rest.  If you listen to it, I hope you will not be haunted by it as I am.

If I had to summarize my present diagnosis, I'm a nutcase.  In interactions with others, or even posting here, I can pass for normal, just as Ted Bundy did so well, though I don't consider myself a Republican, as he did.

Not that I have it in me to be a serial killer, if you discount my drowning Raisin Bran with milk.

All for today,


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