Friday, June 30, 2006


My hope in writing these blogs is to keep the content somewhat thematic - to steer away from rambling about life in my little nutshell. Themes seem like a good method to keep this space conversational - where you can gain a little insight into our family life while also gaining an opportunity to think with me about a certain issue.

Today I would like you to consider the theme of comfort. Comfort has come to my attention in the last few weeks - comfort gained by being back in a land familiar to me, comfort in the food and culture of the Midwest and South, discomfort from being temporarily without a home, and comfort arising from family.

The sky outside is a blue-gray and off in the distance thunder rumbles and growls. It is not a hostile storm when a cold and hot front collide and fierce winds tear through the woods. This storm carries with it a heavy silence and a comforting breeze. But even if it were a fierce storm, I would welcome it. Growing up in Indiana, I've long come to accept these days in late June and early July as a gift. They are a respite from the sun. It has a way of putting you at ease, even to sleep.

As I drove up a long stretch of country road from Owensboro, Kentucky to Greencastle, Indiana earlier this week, I discovered a similar dozing effect. It was late evening but since it was the height of summer the sun was long in descending. Mile after mile of farmland rolled behind me and every twenty minutes or so I'd roll by some sleepy roadside town that hasn't seen much action since the height of railroads. Maybe a young boy would be out mowing a lawn or somebody would be pumping gas to move their car along, but largely the road was a testament to solitude and simplicity. Amish restaurants, crafts and farms were not uncommon. Those who lived along this road were living in a place were not much has changed, where not much is going to change. Comfort was a matter of stability, although it ran the risk of descending into depression - the pit of despair.

Likewise there were many advertisements for comfort food along the way be it a Cracker Barrell billboard or the local trucker's stop. The square meals promised a full stomach - a safeguard against hunger which every farmer subconsciously feels. Never mind the fact obesity runs through these parts much more frequently now than starvation does. I guess the echoes of depression linger unawares. There is a fine balance between finding comfort and being weighed down - from being refreshed and being restricted. But where the Midwest and Southern cultures run the risk of settling in too much, the life on the West coast always ran the risk of never providing any sanctuary or place to slow down.

It's not just about places. One of the biggest factors of comfort for Anna and I these last few weeks has been family. Comfort comes in arms willing to hold Wyatt, ears to listen to our tales and voices to speak assurance into our journeys. Our families have been this and much more in the last few weeks. Besides, it is deeply satisfying - even comforting - to see great-grandparents hold Wyatt. It symbolizes fulfillment and continuation. Yet again to be comforted by family, to be nourished in the nest is itself a danger if taken to extremes. For all the comfort we are deriving from being with and loved by family, we are also mindful that this is not our last stop.

We are being refreshed to move on again to our next home. In one week, we will load up some trucks and drive back down that stretch of country road I just described. We are moving to the land of southern comfort so we might be embraced. Already we've received promises that others will be there to assist in our unloading. That's very comforting.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Poems from the Past

One of the joys of being back in Indiana was discovering a bunch of letters I had once written to Anna - an ordinary cardboard box holding lots of memories and treasured thoughts. And in the box were a few poems inspired during my Indiana days of love and the land. Here below are some of those poems ... Wes

His Love

And this is how His love moves and acts …

It comes in absolute humility and meekness,
Yet its pulse is strong with truth, conviction
and perseverance.

It is not subversive.

It is direct right up to the point of total commitment,
but it never goes beyond in an effort to dominate.

It is patiently forever in pursuit, and it runs with arms wide open –
over great lengths.

And then it stops …
and stands beside you with arms still opened wide.

And it waits to catch us as we turn and fall and trust –

But we must turn and fall and trust.

Luke 23:44-49

Three storms beat against the earth,
Two of them expand their fury –
Forcing the land to roar against itself,
To become restless and to hurry.

And shaken is the tree,
Shaken are the branches.

Then a flash and pierce from the bolt,
Thunder billows the whole tale.
Torn apart in the sky in the day of trial –
The Lord’s plans certain to fail?

Well, shaken is the tree,
Shaken are the branches.

But, lo, look closely to yonder cross.

Thy beams are firm!

Thy Savior not lost!


I make my arms a wall
and spread them across your back.

You rest your head against my chest,
and my chin falls favorably onto your crown.

And for a moment
love has ample territory
and intruders have no chance.

This is where I long to be.

As you lift your head from my chest,
the intimacy explodes
into a wild passion in your eyes.

So I pull you close again,
feeling more comfortable in your love
than I do the object of it.


It is the time of dry stalks
and autumn leaves
of echoing songs on a crisp Autumn night
and of gatherings,
of community,
the harvest of the many
by the society of the few.

Blades of grass don’t reach quite as high,
and branches undress as colder winds blow.

It is a season of separation –
a division of the crop.
It is a season of frustration –
all is laid bare
as all is humbled and retreats to the ground.

But even here, during these howling months,
the world collects –
gathers again,
bending to the dirt,
Claims nothing but its loss and its gain
to find itself fallen upon its foundation

And it waits again
for the sweet spring rain
That heaven would call it upward,
and to heaven it would go!


Have you ever heard a whisper
that touches the teeth?
Perhaps the lips too are articulate
and speak what is beneath.

Then sweetly a whisp in the air
could mistakenly be a hiss,
But listen more closely with ear –
that whisper is a kiss.

Faith Absorbing Reality
Matthew 14:25-33

Feel much differently,
Where love is accompanied
By pain, and hurt
A reality of ghosts past?

Where the strength of many
Is meek in light of
Those who embrace vulnerability.

While those who wish to achieve
Thoughts of bliss
Achieve such things with patience fast.

Feel much differently,

As our greatest joys
Bring us nearer to fraitly
And we march with certainty timid.

Oh, few will dare venture
Where love becomes
Life’s greatest chance of divinity.

For love comes from great depths,
But when absent,
Like water – so real and frigid!

So feel much definitely
Uncertainty,‘Til faith absorbs reality!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Wyatt approached the sleep of the dead last night or at least the sleep of a teenager. Astoundingly, he slept for nine hours in a row, undisturbed. He awoke only to nurse and now he sleeps again as though time has been forgotten.

He – dear child – is a barometer for the trip our family has just completed: one week, one plane ride, twenty hours of driving, four beds, two hail storms, and one darn car seat that has become the bane of Wyatt’s early existence. For reasons still uknown to us Wyatt just does not like the car seat. As soon as he realizes he is fixed and restrained by belts and buckles his lower lip begins to tremble, his eyes glaze over with tears and then he begins to cry. There was a stretch on the ups and downs of scenic I-68 when he cried for forty-five minutes, and our minivan took on the cramped feel and terror only Edgar Allen Poe might construct. (I need to say something else. Besides the car seat, Wyatt has been wonderful. Every day he grows and learns, and Anna’s and my delight continue to increase.)

Our odyssey began last Tuesday when we left our apartment in Pasadena and flew to Indianapolis where Anna’s parents graciously picked us up and carried us home to the Cooper estate. After one down day, we then loaded up a minivan and drove out to Washington, D.C. – taking Anna’s grandmother along with us as Wyatt’s babysitter – for Andrew Smith’s wedding.

The wedding itself was a marathon day, especially since it was outside in ninety-degree heat. By ten o’clock in the morning it was clear the sun would be victorious, and even at nine o’clock in the evening (as the reception was winding down) the heat still lingered around the dark in a taunting manner. Still, the joys and merriment of the wedding could not be surpressed. In fact, the image I will probably remember most might just be the face of the Episcopalian priest presiding over the service. He was a British gentlemen dressed for the day in a linen suit, carrying himself with class. Perhaps from afar he looked entirely composed, but from my vintage point (two deep in the groomsmen line) I had clear sight of the sweat building up on his forehead, running down his brow between his two eyes pursed like Clint Eastwood’s in a western, and down to the tip of his nose where it gathered and fell in large drops to the Book of Common Worship he was using to steady his pace and maintain his focus. The sweat stains will probably stay in that section of his liturgical book, which I find appropriate. There on those pages is mixed the lofty, holy words of a divine gift with the real, of-the-flesh experiences of humanity.

Weddings are one of the easiest things to idealize. When I imagined Andrew’s wedding a week before the event, I could only conjure glossy images in my mind, abstract thoughts about soft music, radiant dresses, timeless smiles. Those are the things photographers are paid to capture or create. But, the reality of the wedding day is always so much more faulted. For Andrew’s wedding the heat was not the only nuisance; there were also planes – lots of them. We discovered at the rehearsal that the wedding site was in direct line with the landing path for Ronald Reagan International Airport, which meant every two to three minutes a plane would fly over and drown out certain words and music. Despite all the inconvenience the planes produced, they also produced memories which will bind us as witnesses of the ocassion.

“We are immersed in particulars, not absorbed into generalities,” Eugene Peterson says.* And while we might prefer life to turn into a glossy, idealistic vision of abstractions, the best of life comes with wrinkles and blunders. Which means even the hottest of days and longest of roads are not to be avoided. But, for a day or two, I think we’ll try to avoid the car seat. There are some particulars all of us are not particularly fond of.


*Eugene Peterson. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Hand of God

Whenever Wyatt is asleep our apartment is filled with the subtle noise of a baby monitor. Through its crude acoustics we can always hear our fan running in our bedroom window – what I would equate to a microphone placed deep, deep in the sea. But instead of picking up the faint bellow of a blue whale or the happy chirp of dolphins, our monitor occasionally picks up the fusses of baby Wyatt. The monitor’s readings go up from one red dot to as many as five dots – depending on the severity of Wyatt’s complaint. Of course, when we first started using the monitor, any blip on the radar would send one of us rushing into our bedroom to check on Wyatt. Now, though, we are more lax, and sometimes our patience pays off as he coos himself back to sleep.

Still there are times when our intercession is necessary, like tonight when Wyatt needed four or five good rockings before he fell into rest. In those instances, Anna or I will enter our darkened bedroom and silently reach down into the crib – lifting Wyatt up in one quick swoop into our arms and into a steady motion of up and down or back and forth. In Wyatt’s young mind this must certainly be a strong providential act, as though the very hand of God were descending and cradling his tired bones. Our arms must seem like power and assurance all at once.

“The hand of God.” That’s an interesting phrase. I was drawn to it early Thursday while watching world cup soccer on KMEX 34 – a local Latino station in LA. I was reminded of an Argentinian soccer – um, excuse me, futbol – player named Diego Maradona. Unfortunately, my memories of him relate directly to his addiction to cocaine, but through the wonderful world of Wikipedia I discovered Diego Maradona is credited with two of the most famous goals in soccer history (in the same game mind you): “The hand of God” and “The Goal of the Century.” The second goal – as I saw with the aid of internet broadcasting – was truly a marvel; Maradona dribbled his way through and around and by five English defenders only to sidestep the goalie as well and punch the ball into the back of the net. In the world of futbol, it had the basic necessities that embody this beautiful game: skill and passion, talent and grit. Add that to the fact he completely embarrassed half an English futbol team, and it was nothing short of miraculous in the minds of most Argentinians. It had the touch of the divine.

But it was the other goal that won the name , “the hand of God.” Sadly, this second goal was a complete fluke. Actually, it’s probably better to just call it what it is: it was cheating. Diego Maradona managed to punch the ball into the back of the net – literally. He sprung all of his 5’ 6’’ body off the ground to head a descending ball into the goal. But as the English goalie came rushing at him with his 6’ 1’’ imposing figure, Maradona realized his chances of getting to the ball fairly were lost. So, he deftly lifted his left hand, jabbed his head as though punching a header, and instead jabbed the ball with his fist. For some unknown reason, which the British fans immediately took as lunacy and idiocy, the game’s referee failed to call a handball. Diego Maradona used his left hand like the great biblical judge Ehud – a swift left jab of trickery and deceit that dethroned a giant.

So, which is more like the hand of God? Is it the strong and secure image of a parent swooping a child up for soothing, or is it like Maradona’s slight of hand, which is mysterious and vexing? What does the hand of God look like in our lives? What has God’s hand looked like in our four years in Los Angeles? That is the question I am asking myself tonight as we close up boxes and prepare to leave the only place Anna and I have called home together.

As I reflect back upon our time here, there were many days when I felt the hand of God was more like Maradona’s than anything else, like the time Anna broke her collarbone or the time we seriously considered leaving Los Angeles after less than a year because it was clear the city was taking a toll on us physically and spiritually. Taken in small snapshots, I suppose there are limitless circumstances and situations where God can be accused of trickery, or worse, absence.

Yet, as I look at the whole tapestry of our stay, I am overwhelmed by the strong, secure image of God’s hand moving in our midst. When needed, when our red dots got up into the threes, fours and fives, there is always something benevolent and kind to remind us of God’s care. And the community that has surrounded us and befriended us here is only further proof of God’s hand.

Anna uses an image to describe how and when she knew God had prepared this place for us, and I think it’s an apt closure to our time here in Los Angeles. For the first eight months we lived here, Anna had a very hard time considering this place home. It was too crowded, too urban, too noisy, too unlike what we knew. She went through the late heat of summer missing the cool of fall in the Midwest. She lamented time without family during the holidays and started the New Year with low hopes of any change. After eight months, she had no tangible proof this was our home.

Then she did. In May, the Blue Jacaranda trees blossomed on Del Mar Avenue for the first time. They opened up their soft violet-blue flowers as if the trees had sprung floral leaves. Up and down the avenue, magnificently, royal clothed trees lined the busy street as a testament of nature rising above concrete and (noise) pollution. This was it for Anna. This was the hand of God – a benevolent touch in an alien world. She relaxed. She grew. She blossomed.

When we leave here on Tuesday we will drive on Del Mar Avenue, and those Blue Jacaranda trees will give a silent farewell to us – waving gently in the early morning breeze. Our hearts will be stirred into remembrance and gratitude. This place has been so very good to us. This place has been our home. In it we have seen the hand of God, and we leave trusting that God’s reach is far and wide and will go before us again to prepare yet another place. God will pick us up as though we were children in a crib and carry us along.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Monologue Blog

I persuaded Anna to watch Jaws with me last night. I figured since we are moving miles away from any ocean (and any gigantic great white shark looming to devour us), we had no cause to fear lost sleep or ruined beach trips. Anna wasn’t so sure. As a little girl she had snuck a quick peak at Jaws against her parents’ forbidding. Just a little bit was more than enough to scare Anna. Of course, the clip she saw was when Quint (Robert Shaw) finally succumbed to Jaws’ tremendous appetite for destruction – going down in a mess of blood and boat rubbish. The scene is a sad end to a great character.

Robert Shaw’s portrayal of the cantankerous, old fisherman in Jaws is timeless – one of my personal favorites in all cinema. He unfortunately does not get the best line in Jaws. That prize goes to Roy Scheider’s character when he first sets eyes on Jaws and stammers in shock, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” (If Jaws was on television, my father – a compulsive channel flipper – would invariably put down the remote and watch the film just to hear this one line.) It’s a great line, but to me it’s not the greatest scene in the movie. The best moment of the entire film comes from Shaw when he delivers a monologue about the USS Indianapolis.

Shaw’s monologue late in Jaws emerges from two competing personalities (the book-smart, rich scientist versus the life-battered, poor loner) finding themselves stuck in the small cabin of a boat. Thankfully, they’ve been drinking, which allows their animosity to drain away. It also allows Quint to open up about his harshest life experience – surviving the sinking of the Indianapolis and day upon day of circling sharks in the Pacific. Two-thirds of his shipmates were eaten by sharks; he manages to survive with the pledge he would never wear a life vest again. It is a pivotal monologue – allowing the viewer to get a brief glimpse into Quint’s thick-skinned soul while also adding significantly to the overall drama and danger of a shark attack.

As I watched Shaw’s monologue last night I started thinking about what makes a monologue effective. Are there commonalities between good monologues? What purpose do they serve?

Monologues are terribly difficult to perform, and they can be death to the overall pace and rhythm of a movie. But, when done well, they can be the greatest opening (like George C. Scott’s thunderous speech to begin Patton), closing (like Nicolas Cage’s comedic dream at the end of Raising Arizona) or centerpiece to hold a movie together (like Mel Gibson’s raucous speech before a major battle in Braveheart). Good monologues can make great movies.

Good monologues have a transcendent quality to them. They allow the audience to step out of time and space with the character or narrator and see things in a brand new light, often providing a prophetic or moralistic voice. In essence, the monologue is not too far different from another form of oration: the sermon. And like a sermon, a good monologue must strike a fine balance between being bold and being relevant. It must raise the audience’s awareness of a major theme or truth while not seeming trite or prefabricated. It must be important enough to stand alone, yet seamless enough to fit with the whole.

Beyond those important characteristics, I also found five other key elements for good monologues:

1. All is fair in love and war, including monologues: Not surprisingly, good monologues need good drama and/or good comedy. Some of the greatest war stories are anchored by classic monologues: Robert Duvall’s fiery declaration in Apocalypse Now that he loves the smell of napalm in the morning or R. Lee Ermy delivering a verbal beating as a drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Likewise, good romantic comedies also have great monologues: Woody Allen delivering deap-pan comedy to open and close his quirky relationship tale or Billy Crystal offering a defeated, depressed and realistic description of life during career day in City Slickers.

2. Get a Jack of all trades: If you want a good monologue, you’re best bet seems to be Jack Nicholson. Whether it’s Five Easy Pieces or About Schmidt, Nicholson is great at being both an everyman and a strikingly different voice. He cuts both ways. No, in fact he cuts many ways – going from funny to intense to sincere to apologetic. His best monologue – one that many feel might be the best in any movie – comes in A Few Good Man with his “you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall,” tirade. And, luckily he also gets the perfect environment to deliver this monologue in A Few Good Men: a courtroom.

3. A final word (or a monologue) your honor: No stage seems as appropriate or oft used for a monologue as the courtroom. To Kill a Mockingbird, Inherit the Wind, 12 Angry Men, North Country, I am Sam and limitless other films have used every conceivable angle of a courtroom (witness stand, plaintiff’s opening arguments, defendant’s closing remarks) as a platform for the monologue. If you leave a movie with a crucial courtroom scene and there is no good monologue in it, you’ve been robbed.

4. When there’s nothing else left, there’s always a good monologue: Sometimes the only thing we have left in the world is our voice and our words, or at least that’s what some good movies have discovered. Marlon Brando uttered the famous line “I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody, instead of a bum which is what I am,” in On the Waterfront as a desperate plea to escape the filth around him. Paul Scofield playing Sir Thomas More delivered a haunting farewell of words in A Man for All Seasons as both judgment and witness. My personal favorite of this type of monologue comes from my favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption. When Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, is confronted with the question of his rehabilitation, we the viewer get a wonderful monologue that perfectly captures Red’s indifference to a punitive system that has tried to take away what he took away from himself. The monologue as defeat and as victory. Touche!

5. Those who dare to monologue dare to be different: No ordinary Joe Schmoe can deliver a monologue, mind you. To be a monologuer, you’ve got to be a bit different, like Quint in Jaws. You’ve got to carry weight or significance, which sets you apart from the other cast of characters. It helps to have a booming or distinct voice like James Earl Jones so you can go on and on about why “people will come” to a baseball field in the middle of Iowa without the audience stopping mid-thought and wondering “why does this really matter?” But don’t worry if you can’t separate yourself as a strong presence. You might fare just as well being a mysterious Mr. X – like Donald Sutherland’s character in JFK – as you unfold secrets and hidden truths as a voice-over monologue. Still better is the half-crazy, biblical-prophet voice of Peter Finch in Network. No other movie may utilize the monologue as frequently, and Finch is a huge reason why the movie is a success. His fed-up attitude allows him to finally rise above just being an average newscaster to unveil the truth.

So, in summation, the perfect recipe for a monologue appears to contain the following: a war movie which concludes in the hallowed confines of a courtroom with Jack Nicholson on trial while dancing a fine line between sanity and insanity (which is about the only role Jack can play thankfully). And just for good measure, make sure there’s some important moral issue at the center of the drama. Oh, wait. I guess A Few Good Men was the perfect storm of these monologue forces. No wonder Jack stole the show, although I don’t think Robert Shaw is too far behind.

But, that's just me. What's your favorite monologue?


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Of Mice and Men

We've started to clean out our kitchen - amongst other things - in preparation for the move. Even still, there are a few items which passed the cleaning and have therefore been labeled must eats before we leave in a week and a half. That's how I found myself eating a small bit of hardened parmesan cheese just a few minutes ago. It's okay: it's not Kraft parmesan cheese that's been slowly galvanized down into a block from powder form. We get our cheese from Trader Joe's, and I routinely eat it every chance I get.

It continues to be hot here in Pasadena. I can hear children splashing and playing outside in our pool. We've been holed up like mice in a dark barn today ... except we've cracked and turned on the air conditioner in our bedroom. The fossil of a coolant system that is our air conditioner usually goes for about two hours max and then begins to pour out hot air. That and when you turn the thing on its like powering up a large, city-wide generator: lights dim for a brief moment, a power surge can be heard and large rumblings from the fan drown out all other noise in our bedroom.

Anna and I have already begun dreading our approaching flight back to Indiana. We feel a great need to apologize in advance to all the folks on the plane for Wyatt's screaming. Perhaps we could obtain a list from Northwest Airlines of the entire crew and planned flyers and issue some lengthy discourse on our gratitude for their understanding. I've also thought about offering my iPod to whomever shall have to sit next to us for the four hour flight - a minor gift of courtesy to ease their pain and suffering.

When it comes to flying, I personally cannot think of any greater misfortune than being seated next to a screaming baby. I've flown enough to have it happen more than once. So nowadays the second thing I pray for after a safe flight is for a quiet, uninterrupted seat. Well, check that. I guess for this plane ride the second thing I will pray is for a quiet Wyatt. And God bless the pour soul that is sitting in seat 15D.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

In the Heat of the Night

Today was a hot, wind-of-fire day in Pasadena, the kind of day that is usually accompanied by news of fire in the mountains. The sun stood alone all day in the sky, beating down on the city, accepted and magnified by the layers of asphalt and tall buildings of glass and stone. And when night came, the heat fell to the earth in one last desperate gasp – surrounding and filling our little apartment, weaving itself into alleyways and remaining hidden from the coastal winds which must blow somewhere far overhead. I won’t miss these days.

I rode my bike back to work after lunch today like I always do, and the heat formed an imposing force – like pedaling full bore through the ventilation system of a furnace. Heat wears me down, and even the air-conditioned confines of the branch weren’t enough to revive me. Just now before midnight, the apartment is cooling. I have awakened with the need to write.

Wyatt cried a lot again tonight. Anna and I spent the whole of the evening playing tag-team – taking hour-long turns trying to woo Wyatt to sleep only to eventually tap out and beg for the others assistance. Someone at work told me about his first six months of parenting and the strange memories he had of passing his wife in a hallway during the early morning hours as if she were a ghost … or maybe it was that he felt he was a ghost. That image scared me, but not as much as having to recognize its accuracy at times for Anna and I.

Intimacy is constructed of sustained, focused attention from two people. It requires touch and words spoken and heard without distraction. It requires time and energy and the assurance of a person’s worth. Right now, those basics of intimacy are being restricted or challenged by the ever-pressing needs of being a parent. Anna said she feels like Wyatt can be a sound-proof glass positioned cumbersomely between myself and her. She is right. Sometimes our best attempts to speak to each other – to reach each other, to be intimate – are thwarted. So we are learning new ways to be with each other. I guess we are also learning that our intimacy has born a work between us – a work to be shared that in itself is and will cultivate intimacy. Wyatt is both gift and labor.

Anna has been thinking more and more about land and gardening. I noticed today she was checking out a book by Wendell Berry (from Kentucky!) called “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture,” which is about our divorce from the land and how it has led to a crisis in our families and culture. summarizes the book with the following:

“Since its original publication in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural development and spiritual discipline. But today's agribusiness takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families, and as a nation we are thus more estranged from the land - from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it.

Sadly, as Berry notes in this edition, his arguments and observations are even more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economics dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits.”

There’s a connection here. Berry’s lament is largely one of intimacy; we have as a nation lost a sense of intimacy with our land, and consequently with ourselves and each other. Without the daily restrictions and disciplines of living off and from the land, we’ve become consumers and demanders of goods. We no longer have to give sustained attention and care and energy to the ground beneath and around us, which allows us to go through the day with much greater ease, but at what cost spiritually and communally?

I’ve started reading “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories” by a British journalist named Booker. It’s a weighty, thorough examination of the whole of human storytelling, and it strikes out with the claim that there are really only seven basic plots that all stories (novel, play, film or folklore) draw from. I usually try to devour an exhaustive book like this every so often with mixed success. I’ve got about two weeks before we move, and I have to return it to the library before we go. Odds are not good, but I’m hopeful.

iTunes has carried me through these last couple of nights. Tonight I’m listening to a playlist of more mellow rock classics – Wild Horses by the Stones, The Times they are a Changin’ by Dylan, The Boxer by Emmylou Harris. Right now, I’m jamming internally to the good vibrations of a young Elvis singing That’s All Right. It’s more than all right. It’s cooling off, at least until the sun rises over Pasadena for another long march across the sky.