Nov 16 2008

Currently, the weather in Turkey Hollow is at it's worst. The temperatures are too warm for snow, but perfect for a continual cold rain. The gray of the sky has solidified in my body as a horrible cold. Right now an engaging conversation with me involves a couple of grunts, maybe a cough and warning handwave signaling the boundary of germs. "Sick" is not something I do well. I can have a major health crisis and be a champ, but when stricken with the common cold, all courage and nobility evaporate like the vicks vapor-rub on my chest.

So I retreat into myself, reflect on the world and try to be generous in spirit when aid is offered by kind Catskills 1-08 (16) and thoughtful people.

My mind is full of post-election images, and they dance through my mind in my quiet rest. Most prominently, I see the mind-boggling victory of President-elect Obama and the devastating defeat of No on Eight. Reflection upon both, brings me to a great theme of my life and I again am reminded once again of the power of words. Obama's elegance in his acceptance speech in Chicago reminded so much of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream Speech".

As I watch the self-righteous, right wing religious extremists cheer because of their victory with Proposition 8, I thought of the old anarchist Emma Goldman who said,

"Heaven must be an awfully dull place if poor in spirit live there"

As I watch the amazing young protesters fighting for marriage equality at the barricades across the nation, I think of Socrates speaking in Plato's "Symposium":

"How I wish, said Socrates, taking his place as he was desired, that wisdom could be infused by touch, out of the fuller into the emptier man, as water runs through wool out of a fuller cup into an emptier one; if that were so, how greatly should I value the privilege of reclining at your side! For you would have filled me full with a stream of wisdom plenteous and fair; whereas my own is of a very mean and questionable sort, no better than a dream. But yours is bright and full of promise, and was manifested forth in all the splendour of youth the day before yesterday, in the presence of more than thirty thousand Hellenes."

In my youth, I always sought support by reading the words of those that came before me. I relished hitting the books and finding that one passage that resonated with me and I could carry it into battle. There is nothing like that quote from an amazing spirit before you that just blows you away. When I would get ready to go into the streets, I would always carry the quote from that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who wrote in his poem "Your Laughter":

"My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the streets,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

And in times like defeat and when I was feeling tired I would always love Tennyson's last lines from "Ulysses" that Bobby Kennedy used to love to quote: .

.."Come my friends,
"Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push Off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset and baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down.
It may be we shall touch the happy Isles,
And see the Great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are:
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Make weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Finally as we fight for equality and justice don't forget the words of Yeats from "Easter Sunday, 1916" In the greatest of darkness, we must not forget to live life, embrace joy and make love because as he states:

"Too long a sacrifice
Can Make a stone of the heart