Category Archives: Essay

A Heartfelt Wish

We just can’t win, I guess. Our previous president was articulate, personable – but was a consummate liar, in word and deed, about so many important things. Our current president can barely express what he means, knows very little about most things [except how to screw people out of money] and will probably go down in the annals of history as the nonpareil deceiver of all those who have so far held the office.

If I were a believer, I’d spend my days and evenings in prayer on my knees or even prostrate, begging god or the gods to deliver us from this scourge and the nefarious actions he and his minions will deal out to all of us, here and overseas. But I’m not such a believer. Yet I do trust in karma, and so I accept that this wretch is somehow payback to our nation for allowing our government to do all the wicked things it has done here and around the world for the last 225 years and counting. With MLK, Jr. I recognize that our government has been, for quite a while, the greatest purveyor of violence and mayhem in the world.

Perhaps we’ll finally come to our senses, rise up, and cast off all the greedy, hateful, and bloodthirsty bastards. Hoping against hope, I think love in thought, word and deed will bring us through this dark night of the soul.

© Gregory V Driscoll 2017

SPAM of a different kind

I received an email the other day from a staunch Christian whom I’ve known for over a quarter of a century.  She’d sent it to her group code members.

She included this in her email:

Without GOD, our week would be:
Sinday,
 Mournday,
 Tearsday, 
Wasteday, 
Thirstday, 
Fightday &
 Shatterday.

I couldn’t resist answering her.  The text of my reply email follows:

Each of the days of the week in English are, as you probably know, named for ancient gods: The Sun, The Moon, Tyr (Norse god of war), Woden (the Norse supreme god), Thor (Norse god of thunder), Frigga, (Norse goddess of married women, and wife of Woden), and Saturn, the only god selected from Roman mythology and, paradoxically, god of both peaceful opulence and destruction.

So, in one sense the week is always filled with “the divine” – which I find an oddity. Other languages – for example, Vietnamese and Chinese – simply name the days of the week, starting with Sunday, as Day One, Two, etc. – an apparently much more logical, even scientific, and decidedly non-partisan way of doing things, for not everyone believes in “the divine.”

In my experience, good people are good by nature, not by believing in a god or gods. And good people are found all over the world; some of them are Christians, others are Muslims, still others Jews, Buddhists, or animists, and even atheists and agnostics. Many heinous crimes have been done in the name of one religion or another, one ideology or another. Even the Old Testament has GOD demanding that the Israelites totally exterminate “non believers”, including innocent little children and babes in the womb.

The touchstone of goodness is keeping your mind and heart open to the facts of existence, not sealing them shut by thinking all knowledge and wisdom for all time is contained in passages from some holy book whether The Torah, The Christian Bible, The Koran, Sutras, Vedas, Das Kapital, or even The U.S. Constitution.

So I’d rather believe in the evidence of the good I can see and touch and know all over the world, no matter a person’s religion or lack of one.

And besides, look again at that list of altered names for the days of the week: Even “with GOD” (as the sender of the email would say and believes) and despite – maybe because of – so many billions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims believing in ”GOD”, there are still “sin”, “mourning”, “tears”, “waste”, “thirst”, “fighting” and “shattering” in our world – a lot of it done by those very same believers in ”GOD” whether Jews, Christians, Muslims, or whatever.

Give me an honest agnostic any day. [Some of those atheists are just too overbearing.]

– Greg
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. ~ Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, 1973

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2013

Wildness

The word wildness comes from the old English roots, wilde and –ness, together meaning: state of being untamed, uncultivated, undomesticated.

The typical synonyms listed in thesauruses and online are: fury, unconstraint, abandon, wantonness, violence, vehemence, furiousness, ferocity, fierceness, turbulence, barbarity, savagery – all terms denoting lack of control, restraint, rules or limits.

Rather than these, though, I thought of the following: state of being unfettered, freedom, openness, lack of confinement – terms that have a less negative connotation, that have less of the derogatory about them.

This little exercise shows how language can easily color thought, how language many times has imprinted in it certain perceptions – perhaps from time immemorial – that may not be true or fitting in all cases or circumstances – and that it can sometimes be stifling or deadening; that choosing certain words over others can change the whole intent or direction of a piece of writing, of what one is saying, or how it is perceived by the reader or the listener.

Looking at those standard synonyms again, one gathers that wildness is something we should always seek to avoid. It’s filled with uncertainty; it may bring us to places or states of being or courses of action that we may not be able to handle or understand, or that aren’t civilized, predictable, artful, wise or prudent– at least in a cultured sense – the way that language itself is managed and manageable, controlled and controlling.

Well then, I thought, long live wildness!

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll 2011

Gulls

A few years ago, I was on the ferry, returning to Staten Island from work in Manhattan. It was a perfect late summer afternoon, warm with sun pushing the clouds around one of those blue skies you see sometimes with your heart’s eye. As the boat neared the dock, I saw gulls riding the updrafts above the ferry building next to the one our boat was approaching.

At first, I thought the gulls were hovering to spy fish or crabs near the pilings. But as they soared and glided silently, weaving invisible connections and barriers to one another, I realized that they were coasting in the air, and diving, and rising up, not for any purpose other than the sheer glory, the naked joy of doing it. Their motive wasn’t to fill their bellies, or to gain advantage, or to compete with their fellow gulls.

They were enjoying a little piece of the world, a little stretch in time. They were playing.

And there in the afternoon, amidst a crowd of strangers, I started laughing. You should have seen the looks I got! One woman even moved a few feet away. I couldn’t blame her: After all, when you see a middle-aged man laughing, for no apparent reason, as he looks off into the sky, be assured that something unusual, something unforeseen may happen…

And it did. I had understood that that’s the way life should be, not just for gulls, but for us all: Doing things for the sheer glory, the pure joy of doing them. But that gets more and more difficult in our world these days.

So, when we find that what we’re doing no longer holds meaning or joy for us, then maybe it’s time to move on, to find those updrafts of the spirit, those hidden forces that will bear us up and away to a better place, a better moment — to make new those connections and barriers that will challenge us to play, to dwell in the beauty of the present, to accept the gifts of simply being, and living simply.

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll 2011