Random quote of the day:

“No pain means the end of feeling; each of our joys is a bargain with the devil.”

—Charles Bukowski, Notes of A Dirty Old Man

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“What everyone ignores—that’s where wisdom lies.”

—Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I have written about weird things before but for the purpose of this project I am going to repost and rework those posts under the “all weird things” tag. This is the first of those posts:

We’ve all probably had a number of things in our lives that made us go “huh.” I know I have. I embraced the weird some time back, and even though I always try to find logical explanations before accepting anything para-weird, there is always going to be stuff that skirts the edge of rational and . . . other.

One such incident happened when I was about thirteen at our old house in Venice, the one I grew up in, which was in itself a strange place full of odd corners and unusual atmospherics. We lived on a huge lot with a big house on the front of the property occupied by our landlady. Our house was a little ramshackle place with four front doors because its basic structure consisted of four beach cabins strung together to make a house. (Beach cabins: those things from the early 20th century set up on the sand where people would go to change out of their street clothes and into swimwear so they didn’t have to immodestly walk from their vehicles to the shore in “scanty” clothing.)

A prodigious backyard sat behind our little house in which my father grew a legendary vegetable garden every year. A large but very old and dilapidated shack sat at the very back of the southwest corner of the lot where my father kept tools and such. It hadn’t seen paint in centuries, it seemed, the wood chipped and splintered and that wonderful grey barnwood patina people pay big money to acquire these days. Between the back of the shack and the next property over (a dairy processing plant) was a passageway about five feet wide. My father put trellis up on the shed back there and grew banana squash, letting them crawl up the trellis rather than spread across the ground. I liked to sit back there in the summertime because it was always cool, even on the hottest days, and smelled loamy and of growing green things. It was one of many small, urbanized sacred combes I had on that property—but not a perfect spot.

We had the dairy processing plant to contend with, for one. Just across from the growing banana squash was a two-foot high concrete boundary marker topped by an enormous chain link fence—at least twenty feet high—that ran the entire length of the back end of our property. The fence was loose enough at the bottom that I could push it inward and sit on that concrete ledge to stare at and smell the growing things, wiggle my toes in the loamy earth, and think my solitary thoughts. Just the other side of the fence on the dairy property was a massive ice freezer and ice crusher machine. Again, it was at least 15-20 feet high, but seemed larger because the boundary marker was part of an elevation of the land between our property and the dairy. It towered, to say the least. Another fence sat behind the southern end of the thing, as well. A very narrow passageway ran the length of this monster, maybe three feet wide at most. A grown person would have had to walk sideways to go back there. There was a long freezer compartment (maybe 30 feet?) which held big blocks of ice, and on the front end a platform and some ice crushing machines. The dairymen hauled out these blocks of ice, crushed them (usually at about 3 a.m.), and loaded it into bags so they could pack their trucks (parked along the northern length of our property) and keep their dairy products cool while they made their early morning deliveries.

(The ice crusher was also part of a harassment campaign because the dairy wanted to force our neighbors and our landlady to sell the property cheap so they could gobble up the entire block—but that’s a separate story. Suffice it to say, it didn’t work because we were all extremely stubborn and adaptable poor people.)

Anyway, I was in the backyard proper one day, lying on the grass the other side of the garden, reading (though I don’t remember the book) but also feeling restless. That kind of restlessness that’s an itch just beneath the skin. A disease common in early adolescence, I believe. I put the book down wondering what I could do with that restlessness when I became aware of—how to put this?—another consciousness inside my brain. Yeah, I know. I’ve only experienced such a thing a few times in my life, mostly in connection with premonitions, but it’s a very distinct feeling. A restless itch of the mind, if you will. It was telling me to get up and go behind the shed to my sacred spot and if I did, something would happen. There would be a gift there for me. It scared me, frankly. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be kidnapped by aliens or other things, but the consciousness was reassuring and insistent. So I got up, walked through the garden, and behind the shed.

I stood there a minute thinking, “Okay, I’m here, now what?” I walked down to the end of the passage where our property ended and the low fence of our southern neighbor started. I turned around and looked back the way I’d come but . . . nothing. Then I glanced to my left. Lying on the ground, just the other side of the chain link fence, was a black, leather-bound notebook, maybe 6×4 inches. It looked brand new so I reached under the loose links at the bottom of the fence and pulled it through. It was a spiralbound notebook and full of crisp, new ruled paper—and completely blank. No writing inside, nothing to identify an owner. Like I said, an adult would have had to walk sideways along the passage beside the ice crusher, and this notebook was deposited at the very end of the freezer compartment about a foot from the other fence that ran behind the monster. It wasn’t something someone could have dropped from the platform. They would have had to purposefully sidle down that passage for it to be there. It’s entirely possible that someone could have slithered down there to take a secret whizz (although why go so far?) or maybe someone came back there to spy on our and our neighbor’s property (given the underhanded nature of the dairy owners) but . . .?

I dunno. All I know was that I was delighted with the notebook. Although I had known I wanted to be a writer since the second grade, I was flailing around about it at that stage of my life and getting a lot a flak from my mother about how impractical my expressed career goal was and what a foolish dream and etc. That notebook seemed like an important piece of encouragement to me at the time. I wrote a lot after that, despite discouragement. I’ve never really stopped, although I have had a couple of bouts of prolonged writers’ block wherein that restless itch beneath the skin became agonizing. Writing has always been the cure for that.

And remembering this incident also reminded me of something I encountered recently in my reread of Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality:

I have long thought of my art (any art, all art) as an act of worship—or if that’s too strong a word, an act of gratitude and devotion. To whom? The Universe for giving me this means of scratching that itch? Maybe. It doesn’t even matter if it’s good art or bad, whether or not you’re acknowledged publicly in galleries or publishing houses and the like, the act of doing of art shows the Universe that you have the passion and the practice of that devotion. The doing is the important part. That’s why I’m an emotional wreck when I’m not doing that work and why I’m always supremely grateful when it comes back to me.

That notebook long ago was something of a talisman. I may still have it buried somewhere around here, though I haven’t seen it in years. But like any talisman it was good for the time in which it came to me and lasted as long as I needed to look on it and be encouraged. It was indeed a gift, whether from the Universe, some mysterious being, or from some random dude taking a whizz out behind the ice crusher.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Good seanchaidhthe—storytellers—never really tell you anything…. They set the fire in the hearth; they draw the chairs in close; they shut all the windows so the old lore doesn’t fall in the wrong ears. They fill the room with a sense of ease, a sense of all being as it should be. The words, when they spill quietly out of the mouth of the one who has been entrusted with them, dance in the space, at one with the flames of the fire. It is, as always, up to those who listen to do with them what they will.”

—Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Thin Places

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I have known books written on Tolerance, the proper title of which would be — intolerant or intolerable books on tolerance.

―Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

For as far back as I can remember whenever I’ve closed my eyes in preparation to sleep the faces of strangers appear in my mind’s eye—like on the cinema screen behind my eyelids. They stare down into my face, quite close. Sometimes they back off and I see details of their clothing—from many different eras, but mostly the 20th and 21st centuries. (As I write this the vivid memory of a blonde curly haired girl in a red fifties-style flare dress with large white polka dots comes to mind. Her hair was just above her shoulders, and she wore a white headband. She looked to be in her twenties.)

These people almost always have serious or concentrated expressions. I can’t recall an instance of them smiling, though sometimes they just have a curious neutrality. It’s as if they want something from me but I never know what. Maybe just to give them a spot of attention? They know, I’m convinced, that I see them with my eyes closed but not with my eyes open and want to get that attention while they can, though sometimes they seem genuinely surprised to be perceived. They never stay long, and I rarely feel anything menacing, just their passing flare of interest before they move on. These are people I’ve never seen before in my life or since. It isn’t a nightly occurrence, but a fairly frequent one.

I used to think this happened to everyone. Diana Gabaldon even talked about it in one of her Outlander novels. But when in my latter years I mentioned it to friends—“You know that thing where sometimes when you close your eyes you see the faces of strangers?”—they were incredulous. “No,” they said, “that’s never happened to me.”

So I realized that my eyelid friends were one of those things—like styles of thinking—that we assume are universal, a part of everyone’s experience, because we only live inside our own heads and can’t know how others perceive the world. I didn’t learn until fairly recently, for instance, that not everyone has a constant running monologue in their head.  I started seeing articles about it. I was dumbfounded. It made me think of my friend who has synesthesia. She didn’t realize when she was little that not everyone had specific colors attached to each letter in the alphabet or that sometimes words had a vague flavor to them. The chatterbox in my mind doesn’t drive me crazy because I’m used to this state of being but it is always narrating. (Okay, yeah, when I’m in a worry cycle it does drive me crazy, but I’ve developed coping mechanisms.) (And yes, my synesthesia friend also has a running monologue in her head.)

So I wasn’t worried about all those strangers clamoring for my attention. I didn’t know any better for most of my life and once I knew it wasn’t that way for everyone I was curious as to what it was but still not alarmed. I did wonder if it was some weird way of seeing spirits of the dead but didn’t really pursue that. Until I mentioned it to a witch acquaintance I had at the time (we’re no longer in communication) who practiced necromancy.

“Transient spirits,” she said. “They are attracted to you because they know you can see them, but you have to be careful. They can suck your energy, make you sick, and do other harm if you don’t protect yourself.”

For the first time in my life I became uneasy with them. She was a necromancer so she had to know more about this than I, right? Forget the fact I’d never perceived harm from these folks, I took this unsolicited advice to heart. From that point on whenever the strangers showed up I’d say, “You’re not welcome here. Go away.” Poof! They were gone. Their visits got less and less frequent then stopped altogether. But the funny thing was I missed them. I felt bereft of these “companions,” as if something essential had been taken from me. Worse, that I’d taken it from myself on the advice of someone who was just guessing.

I started saying to the Great Whatever, “I welcome all spirits who mean me no harm,” but the damage had been done. They didn’t return. And, of course, I don’t really know if they were spirits at all. They could have been an aspect of my active imagination and I’ve wondered since if that’s a component in why I sometimes struggle more with my creative work then I used to.

I want them back, those strange transient companions. It’s not the only time I have forcefully shut down an “ability” because I got uncomfortable, but that’s a story for another day. Today I’ll just say that the mind is a curious enclosure and we all live in an illusion of the world to one degree or another. We can only perceive the world as our minds allow us and can never truly participate in the thought processes of anyone else. Perception is a closed circle—or more precisely, perhaps, a labyrinth in which we wander endlessly.

Random quote of the day:

“Whatever a person frequently thinks and reflects on, that will become the inclination of their mind.”

—Buddha, Dvedhavitakka Sutta 6

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“History isn’t something you need to bring to life. History already is alive. We are history. History isn’t politicians or kings and queens. History is everyone. It is everything. It’s that coffee. You could explain much of the whole history of capitalism and empire and slavery just by talking about coffee. The amount of blood and misery that has taken place for us to sit here and sip coffee out of paper cups is incredible.”

—Matt Haig, How To Stop Time

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“It’s such a perfect arrangement for wisdom to hide away in death. Everyone runs from death so everyone runs away from wisdom, except for those who are willing to pay the price and go against the stream.”

—Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“My deplorable mania for analysis exhausts me. I doubt everything, even my doubt.”

—Gustave Flaubert, letter to Louise Colet, August 8-9, 1846

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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