The words I do not utter
The thoughts I do not voice
The photos I don’t take
For taking is thievery
The memories I’ll never share
And the ones I let slip
The moments I refuse to tarnish with my speech
These are the most important to me
For the greatest things in life
Are ineffable, indescribable, transcendent
And attempting to capture them
They will always elude you
And you will rob yourself
Of that moment
That deep breath
That knowing smile
It is only by letting go
That we can begin to grasp
This morning my hands were so full that I left In Rainbows on the kitchen counter by accident. I had to choose a CD on the commute, so I picked one from my case that’s been neglected for weeks: The Shepherd’s Dog, by Iron & Wine. At work I got a tweet from Sholeh. She hadn’t tweeted in over a month. It read, “One year since I came back from Haifa: http://sholeh.calmstorm.net.” I hadn’t been to her blog in months. I read her prose and poetry and realized I hadn’t written in just as long. I was inspired, so I wrote this:
deep in diodes
the world at a stop
my lifeblood pulsed
the same shade
as the light
cast off by electrons
funneling down the rabbit hole
at the moment
providence beamed upon my crown
of the essence of red
now drinking daily
from the only watering hole
the ripples calm
to reveal a change in stripe
is this some new animal
some tender new shoot
or the same heart
sheathed in endless years?
what use is fluttering
in a cage designed
not to confine
wings newly wed
for now they flutter
for ultimate reunion awaits
more powerful than any
in this life
At the exact moment I finished writing, I got a text from Lorenia reading, “New blog post!” I clicked through the link to fresita.org on Sholeh’s blog, read all about psycho kitty (qu’est-ce que c’est?), and promptly posted a comment. The second it posted, I saw that Sholeh had commented at the exact same time, down to the minute.
Ok. So great coincidence, right? Just wait, the braid draws tighter. I was lost in thought on the drive home, Sam Beam
cooing my worries to sleep, when I realized I had just heard The Lovesong of the Buzzard, the song whose meter inspired my last good poem, Alhambra, written about Lorenia. Down the road, I glanced up at the glowing, green traffic light passing overhead, right at the moment Sam sang, “Like stubborn boys with big green eyes.” In fact, I saw it precisely as he said, “green.” It struck me that in the poem I’d just written, I referred to sitting at a red light, staring at the LEDs. Now the light was green, a symbol of hope, and I was moving forward. The song ended, and the very next track was “Boy With a Coin,” which Sholeh had first clued me in to on 07-11-07, while she was in Haifa, the place she wrote about today. Coincidentally, we had one opportunity to launch of STS-127 this week, but a faulty GUCP valve scrubbed it until 07-11-09, exactly two years later. Furthermore, on the poem Alhambra, Sholeh’s comment was, “makes me think of sunsets, for some reason. lovely.” The poem she wrote that inspired me today? It’s entitled, “sunsets always make me miss everyone.”
In searching for where she mentioned that song, I entered “coin” on sliding thoughts and came up with exactly two entries…both about coincidences. In searching on LJ for the same, I found a fitting end to this post.
into my heart’s treasury
i slipped a coin
that time cannot take
nor a thief purloin, –
oh better than the minting
of a gold-crowned king
is the safe-kept memory
of a lovely thing.
Just in case you were wondering where I’ve disappeared to lately, here’s a quick recap:
I spend half my time in Florida testing, fixing, and launching shuttles, and the other half in Houston helping to design the GNC systems for the new Orion vehicle.
It’s a sweet gig. I ain’t complainin’.
This new MacBook Pro ain’t too shabby either.
All bragging aside, I checked my voicemail today and had 20 messages. In my defense, they aren’t showing up in my inbox. I need to give Verizon a call and have that fixed. My gmail inbox is below 100 unread messages, and that’s good. I get around 40 work emails a day, so when I fall behind, it’s bad. If I haven’t gotten back to you, I apologize. Life’s going to be busy for at least the next couple of years.
Kayaking today was a bust. We woke up early to have brekkie before the sun rose (this is the month of fasting for Baha’is), but then we went back to sleep. By the time Lorenia and I got out of bed at 11am to find her sister Marianna already awake, the prospect of driving to Tampa to spend $225 for a half day at Busch Gardens had lost its appeal. We settled on kayaking, in spite of Lorenia’s sunburn and allergy to mosquitoes (kudos to her bravery in that regard). Rather than drive an hour to Orlando for kayaking in Wekiva Springs, we called a local place and decided to paddle through the mangrove swamp. Unfortunately, upon arrival the owner informed us that he had rented his seven kayaks to a large group before we could get there. Unfazed, we regrouped at Starbucks (for Marianna, obviously, it is the Fast) and revised our plan of attack. We settled on putt-putt golf.
On the way to Starbucks we drove through the intersection where, three and a half years ago, I witnessed a fatal motorcycle accident. I thought about it as we passed, as I do every time I drive through that intersection, but chose not to voice the memory to my passengers. After Starbucks we got back in the car to drive about five blocks north to the miniature golf course. Spring Break traffic was poking along at about 35mph, moving in pulses through the redlights. We passed a motorcyclist tailgating an economy car in the left lane. He was wearing a black helmet, but no shirt.
“I’m glad he’s wearing a helmet, but if he gets into an accident, his chest, arms, shoulders and all the skin on his torso are gone,” I said aloud. I was thinking of a skidding accident, though, not a collision.
At that moment, someone about six cars ahead in his lane slowed to make a left turn. I could see the traffic braking in his lane. My lane was clear, but his was quickly coming to a complete stop. I watched him in my rearview mirror, trying to inform him telepathically. I lost sight of him behind the traffic in his lane. Suddenly I heard his engine rev to the redline. Was he being impatient? A split second later, a sickening, crunching thud. No tire screech. Just 35 to zero in an instant.
I lifted my foot from the accelerator, unsure of what to do. I remember thinking, “If I were I doctor, I would be required by law to stop.” As distance grew between us and the accident, I saw the driver of the economy car get out and walk to the rear of his car to see what the heck had just transpired. I considered calling 911, but most times I phone in accidents they tell me I’m the fifth caller. Within a few seconds we made our turn into “Fantasy Adventure Golf.” I sat in the car for a few minutes while Lorenia patiently talked me through it.
Looking back, it’s quite possible that his engine revved by accident as he panicked when reaching for the brake and hit the throttle instead. At the time, however, it sure seemed as though he was using it to voice his impatience. And it certainly isn’t intelligent to follow a car with only five feet between you and the bumper. As Lorenia pointed out, physics always wins.
Still, he was wearing a helmet. Shirt or no, I don’t wish accident or injury on anyone. We all make our own choices when faced with this reality. Were we callous to keep going? Not really. The world cannot afford to stop for every human death. That is, assuming he died, which is a very good possibility. We humans die at a rate of more than one per second. We’re born even faster. Life, for better or worse, always moves on. Your circle of influence affects the size of the ripple through the fabric of society that your absence leaves, but in the scheme of the universe, we don’t register. Thankfully for my sanity, I believe in an omnipotent and benevolent Creator, or else this line of reasoning might drive me to suicide. I said two prayers for him: a healing prayer in case he survived and is in a hospital as I type, and a prayer for the departed in case his soul has moved on to the next world.
You might find it interesting to go back and read my account of the last time I witnessed a motorcycle accident in Cocoa Beach, contrasting it with this one, given the knowledge that when I wrote the 2005 entry I was not a Baha’i and could not bring myself to believe in God. I figure now that if I’ve seen two of these wrecks in five years, it must happen all the time. Just like people dying. And life always goes on, just like it did for us.
We played eighteen holes.
I am getting chills…chills…listening to Oprah’s interview of Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight Schrute on the Office. To hear Oprah, vanguard of American opinion, the billionaire African American woman with a direct line into living rooms across the country, mention the Baha’i House of Worship in Chicago in reverent tones sent a shiver down my spine. Do yourself a favor and tune in to this funny, enlightening, and uplifting interview about acting, Chicago, the Baha’i Faith, art as prayer, service to humanity as our highest calling, and the meaning of soul pancake.
So I’m sailing down the highway on the way into work this morning, spacing out to Moon Safari, when I notice a white Ford SUV on the other side of the highway slowing down. As soon as it pulls into the median I know I’ve been had. I gulp. There’s a new zero-tolerance policy around these parts, and the police force has been instructed to crack down on speeding. The unmarked cruiser makes a u-turn and starts to accelerate toward me, but I’ve been coasting since the moment I spotted it. I slowly apply the brakes and pull over onto the grassy shoulder before the SUV even catches up. The cop pulls in behind me and opens the door, steps out and starts walking toward my car. Then, strangely, the officer does an about-face and leans into the cruiser over the driver’s seat. Only then do the blue lights, hidden in the cab of the unmarked vehicle, flick on. I chuckle.
I roll down the window, turn off the car and get my license and proof of insurance ready. I hold them up as the cop approaches. I’m surprised when a female voice intones, “You’re spoiling me today. Usually I have to chase people down. Thanks for pulling over so quickly.” I smile and hand her my documents. “Registration?” she asks. I find it in the glove box and hand it over.
“Do you know why I stopped you?”
“Well, I knew something was wrong when I saw you pull into the median.”
“Do you know what the speed limit is here?”
“I think it’s forty-five,” I say sheepishly.
“Well, you were doing sixty,” she says in a motherly tone.
“I’m sorry,” I reply.
“Do you have any outstanding tickets on your license?”
“Not that I’m aware of. The last time I got a ticket was in 2008. January 1st, in fact.”
“Ok, I’m going to go run your license. For my safety and yours, please stay in your car.”
I watch as she walks back to the cruiser. I consciously avoid sipping from my tea, so as not to appear too nonchalant. It’s not long before she comes back and puts the license in my hand.
“I can’t do it,” she says. “You’re just too polite, too cooperative. I can’t give you a citation.”
Well I’ll be.
I smile, say thank you, and shake her hand. I roll up the window and do my best to coax Kashmir back onto the highway without too much herky-jerky (the intake hose is cracked and as a result the engine bucks and stutters at low rpm). I don’t want to get pulled over a second time for faulty equipment. My satisfied smile fades, though, as I realize the things I’ve said about police officers in the past. Perhaps I was too quick to judge. I probably shouldn’t generalize. Maybe this is what happens when you’re pulled over by a cop of the opposite gender. Perhaps being observant, polite and cooperative actually pays off. Or maybe it was just my lucky day.
At any rate, today I have nothing but good things to say about the police. And that’s refreshing.
Didn’t think I was gonna get a post up in January, didja? HA! That’ll show ya.
Here’s a month’s worth of hope in one short film. Watch it full screen.