Sunday, February 22, 2015

Good Morning Jacob

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 22 February

Good Morning Jacob…

It’s raining outside.  The last of our snow will soon wash away.  Today will no longer be cold as temperatures return to the fifties.

I try to live my life objectively – making sure everything adds up correctly, no matter how I slice it.  But I try to bend the rules to my way of thinking and the setbacks are predictable.  Still, I remain committed to bargaining with life.

I draw pictures that start as doodles.  There’s very little thought given them at the time.  I just proceed with whatever seems an opportune image.  Maybe I visualize just a mouth on the paper.  There is no plan.  This isn’t always the case, though.  Sometimes I attempt to draw something real.  Later I doodle over it.  The item becomes a story.  Here’s an obsessive quality to be exploited.

There’s a downside to everything we choose to do.

Words usually tie things together that makes sense.  It’s rational but incomplete.  We can’t quantify everything, thank God.  People want to move beyond common sense.  We need mystery.  Our greatest minds feed on it:  Einstein, Newton, Shakespeare.  They had no desire to ever stop puzzling.

Reason is useful in avoiding loss of life.  We want to stick around and puzzle over all the pleasure of physical existence.  What is love?  See – here is something that can’t be quantified.  Why would you want to?  Do you really want to erase enjoyment of its mystery?  Like I’m actually worried that would happen.  How much thought has been given love in writing and song?  Rhetorical question; the point is how little progress we've made in its understanding.  For instance, what motivates its evolution?  I assume love has progressed up the evolutionary scale.  But what does all this matter to two people finding themselves alone together on a June night?  Mystery lets imagination go to work.  This can make for a wonderfully personal reality… something worth posting on the refrigerator door.


© Tom Taylor

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Good Morning Jack

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 15 February

Good Morning Jack…

The NAACP held an event at the North Carolina capital, Raleigh.  It was Saturday, Valentine’s Day.  The weather was cold but nothing like what had been predicted.

Our group, the Cabarrus County NAACP, went to the rally by bus.  Some of us slept along the way.

It was a six block walk to the capital building from our rallying point.

People from chapters around the state came to hear their concerns addressed.

Small children were part of the mix and they were tended to.

If you like watching people this was the place to be.

There were a surprising number of different groups that showed up and joined in.

It was a festive occasion – not like dancing in the street, but people were having a good time.

Folks everywhere were taking pictures of each other.  Oh, isn’t the Coal Ash group a colorful lot.  I've just got to have a picture.

The union guys staked out a territory and held to it.

Dr. Barbee, state NAACP head, gave a strong, gospel-infused speech.

It’s good to periodically have people with a common view come together.  We find out who’s who and what’s what.  This year people spoke of issues with gravity but short of alarm.  People were friendly.  It is as if we are all born amiable and good-natured.  Pack up all your cares and woes… sugar’s sweet, so is she.  Valentine’s is a terrible day for a serious political rally.


© Tom Taylor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Jessicca

Letter to my Daughter
Monday, 9 February

Happy 21st Birthday Jessicca!

I did a drawing for you for this day.  It’s called Sunny and Warm.  I can’t say much about it, though, because I haven’t yet figured it out.  There’s a lot of overlapping images – kind of like a movie poster – but there’s no story here.  What’s the point?

Maybe it pictures a feeling where I can’t find the words.  That’s what I’m thinking anyway.  See?  I don’t even know what I’m talking about.  I’m betting that doesn’t matter.

I feel a bit queasy with this picture.  My legs are in danger of going out from under me.  A woman points at something but… so?  It seems the merry-go-round is suddenly running berserk.  Oh, the calamity of it all.  Mother Goose with motion sickness; nursery rhymes tumbling everywhere.

Get a load of this guy.  He sees futility in every human endeavor.  Why bother?  I have to ask myself why I put him into this picture.  My best explanation is that he was easy to draw.

So let’s get back to lighting the candles and singing Happy Birthday!  We've opened the windows to let a breeze through the house.  It’s seventy degrees today – Sunny and Warm – and in the midst of a Carolina winter.  A lot happens in the course of a year.  I feel certain your year ahead will be filled with moments of extraordinary interest.  I know.  I read it in a fortune cookie.

Happy Birthday Jessicca!


© Tom Taylor

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Good Morning Jessicca

Letter to my Daughter
Sunday, 8 February

Good Morning Jessicca…

We’re suddenly having a flood of birthdays.  Three are being celebrated here today and then there is yours tomorrow, Monday.  What is it about June that makes it such a fetching month for lovers?  Maybe it has to do with spring being in full bloom and the summer heat hasn't yet arrived.  Everyone seems naturally attractive.  People get playful beneath the glow of lightening bugs and the distant sound of music.  There’s a fragrance for all of this.

It’s difficult to write anything these days.  There’s little by me that ring true.  Truth is not an approximate location.  You have to be standing directly on it to know it.  It’s a dangerous thing to break free from a life of unnoticed, small lies.

Maybe lie is too strong a word.  We have misunderstandings; basic ones about the nature of life around us.  We aren't meant to know too much.  Too much truth creates new falsehoods in our minds.  True believers in knowledge of any sort take their conclusions to the point of absurdity.  We make grand conclusions with little supportive evidence.

Feelings enter into our thinking.  Life must have its rewards.  Fear gives our thoughts immediacy but it warps ideas subtler than survival.  I quickly arrive in a briar patch if I pursue a thought very far.  There are too many variables.  There’s too much I fail to understand. 

Much of my truth is based on hope.  I hope there’s something decent managing this whole complex affair.  I’d like a soft landing at the end – not just for myself but everyone I care about.  Life has beautiful moments but we deserve heart-felt congratulations and a period for recovery once it’s over.

You've a birthday tomorrow.  Everything is still ahead for you.  You’re entering prime time here and now.  Blow out every candle with a single breath and wish upon a star.  Birth is the magical trial of entry into this curious realm.  Happy Birthday, Jessicca!


© Tom Taylor

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Good Morning Justin

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 1 February

Good Morning Justin…

What Super Bowl?  The Chargers aren't in it.  I don’t know a thing about it.  Who’s playing?

We've got both George Washington and Abe Lincoln with birthdays this month.  Everyone’s favorite event for February, though, is Valentine’s Day.   The women in our life get a box of chocolates and a gift certificate to Weight Watchers.  All that chocolaty adoration finds a home somewhere.  My guess is the hips.

Where are you anyway?  My guess is it’s someplace that grows strawberries this time of year.  Argentina.  Who’d a thought?

The actor John Barrymore said in the movie Twentieth Century:  If I’m a genius it’s because of my failure.  It was something to that effect.  All genius must end with failure.  The question is how impressive will your ultimate failure be?  Here is the true key to genius.  What does it take to bring you down?  Of course, you don’t have to be a genius for this to apply.    We all reach the point of bafflement.  It’s not like a switch though.  We’re not completely in command until the point arrives when it’s all incomprehensible.  Our successes never required complete understanding.  We push forward from the start with myopic vision.  Our confusion is merely contained.  We make decisions and they somehow work for us.  We continue to explore new areas.  The problems become increasingly challenging.  Uncertainties build and our confidence in making choices becomes increasingly hesitant.  Finally we stall out.  Here is our outermost boundary – the limit of our frontier.  It’s a moment to ponder.  Here is the sight of my penultimate failure… the magnificence of my foundering human quest.  The grand ship tilts itself stern up, then slides beneath the waves with all horns blowing.  Sounds romantic.


© Tom Taylor