Sunday, December 09, 2007

What Do We Know?

"She tells her love while half asleep,
in the dark hours,
with half-words whispered low.
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
and puts out grass and flowers
despite the snow,
despite the falling snow."
- Robert Graves

No snow falling in San Diego. But the winter rain for the past two days has been softly washing away my gardening mistakes. I woke this morning to the sound of rain on the roof and smiled to think of my tiny vegetable starts stretching their roots beneath the soil like a sleeper stretches her arms upon waking. Self, I said to myself. Self, let’s play a game of Wadda-We-Know, in the old Math Net sense of the word.

Ok, I know for sure that faith is ok unless it’s blind certainty disguised as faith. I know that before faith, there must be doubt. If you just believe it without even thinking about it, it’s totally not faith. It’s fundamentalist cant. It’s laissez-faire tolerance of disbelief, buried under a ton of self-righteous dirigisme beliefs. A steaming pile of certainties that smell worse than the imbalanced compost and the fossilizing heaps of dog poop in my back yard. I prefer when my doubt and certainty are more equally balanced; 1:1, like eggnog and Southern Comfort.

I do know some miscellaneous other stuff about myself, like for instance, that I love arguments that end: Shut UP. No, YOU shut up. Or that I’m easily distracted by seed catalogs these days, and I fear that if I want to remember one more plant-related fact I’ll have to make room by forgetting the name of my first best friend’s dog. It was Guess, son of You Know. That was circa 1954, before “you know” had quotes around it. We kids would love it when somebody asked the names of the dogs we played with.

I like run-on sentences and off-message asides, interspersed respectively with short ones and laser-like, conclusory judgments. I’m learning to teeter slowly at the point of uncertainty, and getting comfortable with not knowing it all. More than 50 years after I learned to ride a 2-wheeled bicycle.

I’m pretty sure that the phrase “working in a garden” is an oxymoron. I’m not crazy about self-referential writers who put words in “quotes” as a sort of non-verbal warning that they’re hip and ironic. Sometimes it backfires and you just look like a jerk. You know who “you” are, website called Korean Food Recipes, that has a hot link called “dog recipes”.

These days, I am sure I could garden longer than the day has sun. I’m not as angry as I used to be before I turned to gardening. I buy too many garden books, and I’m probably not going to stop. I like when K makes pancakes and eggs for dinner and he flashes the V for victory sign and says, “I am not a cook”. I once had a friend named Susie Miller who was a dental hygienist, but I lost track of her, and I miss her. I would have liked to talk about our daughters growing up with single-mom moms.

I love it when people talk with good fake accents, using slang that matches their accent. Think Monty Python’s “Sorry Guv’nr. Gobbed on yer rug.”

There’s some stuff I that I no longer need to know. I bet it’s the same for you. Like, I no longer wonder what would happen if I forgot to change the cats’ litter box for a whole week. I don’t need to keep looking up to confirm that the clock over the desk stopped at 3:00 weeks ago, and it still says it’s 3:00.

Here are some things I’m uncertain about. I suspect that when two people try to do the same thing, it usually ends up not the same thing after all. I’m learning to contemplate the mystery of my existence, rather than to insist on the truth of my beliefs. I suspect that the need to download one or two tunes a month on iTunes is an addiction harder to break than heroin. That’s what I think, anyway.

Finally, the 2 most important things I’ve learned so far today. I love it when after a rain, a tiny raindrop on a leaf can contain a reflection of the entire surface of the sun. And I have (finally!) figured out my life’s work: to slow down and exist in the present.

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