People are Funny at the Round Table
by Brother Mosche (with a long O)
I’m the coming days – let’s face it, it’s every day – I try to do my best to ease out the positions of the Round Table crew.
Today, Jim confessed that he did not know what “woke” meant. I was surprised… he seems to have strong opinions about most subjects and is not afraid to put them on the table. I have a foggy sense of its meaning but am not certain as to what are the definable parameters of its semantic space….
However, it was obvious that the term had negative connotations for Jim. According to him it is used by conservatives to claim that liberals have extreme positions, “defund the police” fits that category, “gender neutral” language is another. I asked Jim where he stood on those…. he gave me a dismissively disdainful sneer as if that should be clear to me…It wasn’t, but Randal’s arrival at the table moved us in a different direction.
Sally and Phil joined us at about the same time… They had some sort of disagreement about an arranged meeting that was supposed to have happened Saturday morning.
“I was here at 10 O’clock and waited for you to show… you didn’t,” Phil complained.
“I didn’t see you… why didn’t you call?”
“You didn’t give me your phone number… so I didn’t have it… couldn’t call.”
“Well, here it is,” Sally said producing a stylish business card. She moved to the coffee kiosk for a cup of coffee.
Phil showed us the card. “Darcy ….” something… too complicated and too long to memorize… Sally was back. … a mumbling exchange between the two Round Tablers…. Sally settled down to finish her lunch. Nothing more from Phil or Sally on the subject. Sally rose to leave… stopped at Phil’s station and asked for her card back… Phil had buried it in his wallet somewhere. It appeared we may have an altercation over the card…. but Phil retrieved it, handed it to Sally and that was that.
The whole incident reminded me of an encounter between Sally and Jim that happened several weeks ago.
You may remember dear reader: Some time ago Sally let it be known that she wanted someone to paint her fence. Jim claimed that he had done lots of painting in years past, he had plenty of experience.
I thought, ‘here’s a fortuitous match. One of our number needing help and another able and willing to help… a bonus is there would be a change of a few dollars from one to the other: a mutual satisfaction. I witnessed the exchange of information… The terms of the informal contract seemed clear to me: Sally was to purchase a gallon of Rust-o-ilium, a small amount of tri-sodium-phosphate and maybe a paint brush… though Jim assured Sally that he had brushes and such.
The appointed day had come and gone when we learned that communication between the two precious people and gone astray.
“He never showed up,” Sally complained, when I asked her how the paint project had gone.
“She wanted me to do something I never agreed to do… She’s whacko,” Jim responded.
“He never showed up.” Sally repeated.
Having been a disinterested third witness to the earlier dialogue, I thought Sally was right… that Jim had caused her to purchase paint, etc., and now in need of finding a painter. Add to that… the fact that Jim had entered into an informal contract with me to do some work in my back yard on an appointed day at an appointed time, for an appointed fee and never showed up, reinforced my feeling that Jim was the confused one. But now we were witness to a miss-understanding between Phil and Sally. (Yes, I did get my backyard job taken care of… I hired a gardener).
You, dear reader, would surely like to learn the truth in all the above accounts. I will stay alert to find out… but must tell you that I will not bare my neck to find out… I promise that, if by some trick of nature, I do find out… you will be among the first to know.
In the meantime, I’m fairly certain that you will agree with me and Art Linkletter:
“People are Funny.”
The Round Table Goes to the Gardens
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
It was yesterday that four of us frequenters of The Round Table took advantage of a free senior citizen’s tour of the local botanical garden. The good people at Parks and Recreation arranged it. . . we had immediate parking for our cars and powered wagons that shuffled us around in the park.
A variety of plants from all over the world grow in the garden. The docents glibly bantered their official names and native locations… information overload for this senior and I suspect for the other three as well. I managed to get the popular name of a carnivorous meat eater called the Pitcher Plant (see photo). You wouldn’t want to be a butterfly settling inside that plant’s throat.
Well, of course, there were hundreds more. I enjoyed listening to the docent banter with Randal and Dave. Sally had skipped off to find her own wonders. And with 37 acres to explore over 5300 varieties and species to look at, it wasn’t a surprise that we didn’t see Sally again until we were on our way out of the garden and on our way home.
Dave and I paused at the entrance while he unloaded a disconnected barrage from his stream of conscious arsenal of feelings and ideas: conspiracies under every rock, robber barons stealing from us all, lies everywhere, can’t trust anyone, there is beauty in the simplest flower… beguiling complexity in relationships.
I’ve a growing consciousness that threaded throughout Dave’s reservoir of intellectual, mental, and spiritual life is a theme of something that stays… an organum that one can sink his mental teeth onto… but not yet. Nevertheless, he is an interesting person… one that continues to fascinate me.
It’s a joy too to observe Randal relish life in the simplest events. Lots we disagree about, but I treasure our relationship and know that he does too. Randal and I each came home with a potted rosemary plant.
Mine will go outside my front door.
Photo by Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Words, Words Words at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Once again, I asked Bill what he was up to these days and once again he remained closed, “Walking,” he said… Was tempted to ask where but didn’t… Bill remained mute until he has devoured his meal… muttered an excuse, picked up the disposable eating gear and left.
Not so with Jim and Randal. The three of us opined about how the Internet works for us. Jim uses the computers at the library. Randal has a primitive system but doesn’t know how to get the most out of it. I have a smart TV which gives me bragging rights… but since its complicated features leave me confused too, I may as well have an ancient system.
Randal and I touched on Facebook. “I notice you post often on Facebook,” I said to Randal.
“Yeah… and I see you from time to time.
“Yeah… I do some, but not like you,” I returned.
“I can’t stand big mouths lashing out about others’ opinions without knowing what they are talking about.”
I smiled. I wanted to say, “Yeah, like you Randal… can’t tell you anything contrary to your opinion. You have a soundproof head,” I wanted to say it but didn’t…One of Randal’s charms is his transparent honesty… I didn’t want to dampen that quality… as if I could.
Jim called our attention to the rich complexity of the English language… “Rack.. where did that word come from?”
“Interesting,” I said… “Could apply it to Putin…. he may be finding himself on the rack in Ukraine.”
Randal added, “Yeah Zelensky is asking for racks of weapons…”
Jim, “Hope he gets them… the Ukrainian people will smack the Russians.”
Laughter all around….
“Will Smith smacked Chris Rock… didn’t he?” I opined.
Jim added, “Should have been ushered out of the ceremonies… no place for violence.”
“Funny how words are like slippery eels… what did Smith say that was so violent?”
“’Words, words, words’” Hamlet said to Polonius… indicating the importance of words…” I said.
“…And the lack of importance of words,” Jim said joining the fun.
“What about, ‘This man cannot remain in power?’ What did Biden mean by that?” I asked.
“Said he wouldn’t walk back any of what he said,” Randal noted.
I stepped in, “Sounds a bit like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty.”
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean— neither more nor less.’
Not a good time in the world to have uncertain meanings for words.
It’s Phil Day at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Weatherman predicted rain for most of Southern California. It’ blustery and overcast but so-far, no rain. You’d think we were about to get a deluge. The Center’s leaders were terrified of precipitation enough to cancel a day trip to Gardens. They rescheduled for this coming Wednesday. The good people of Oregon and most of the west coast for that matter, must be falling off their lounge chairs in laughter. With a yearly precipitation average of 10 inches, there is near certainty that we’ll be desert dry.
Phil, our Round Table weather authority, got his weatherman start being a meteorologist for the Navy. Knowing the weather is an ideal must for commanders of Navy ships at sea.
“Lots of fancy equipment goes into predicting the weather conditions today… When I was doing it for the Navy, we had pretty crude technology,” Phil said holding up the index finger. We all laughed.
It appeared that it was Phil’s day at Round Table. We all know that he works for the grocery… stocking store, cleaning and such.
“You get another shift?” I asked thinking that he had said he needed to add more hours. He seemed surprised… guess I had imagined his saying that he wanted more work.
“I get so bored… don’t get much stimulation from cans of soup… packages of pasta.
“Why don’t you suggest they put pianos in their stores? You could play…providing live music for shoppers.
“They have music over speakers: Selena Gomez… Justin Bieber. I hate it… I do play at hotels… Played at the Pink Lady… yesterday. The bar tender loves my playing.?”
“And the hotel patrons do as well, I’ll bet… Is there pay in it?” I asked.
“No pay. Just satisfaction of having an audience. Professionals get paid, but you have to be a member of the union.”
“Bummer! How about a tip jar?” Randal asked.
“Don’t allow that….”
“How about accidently leaving your hat resting on the piano?” I asked.
“I can and do supplement my income as a masseuse,” Phil added casually. “Last month a wealthy patron gave me big bucks to come to San Francisco to give him a water massage.
We’d heard about Charles’ being a masseuse before but not this detail. I returned to my car wondering what other interesting qualities of mind and talents our gentle friend could reveal to us. And I wondered how such a talented person could be content to be stacking and boxing at the grocery store.
I guess he wasn’t. He told us so… but what is…. is…
We have to admire Phil’s ways of muddling through.
Maybe the members of the Round Table can show up at the Pink Lady one day and slip a sawbuck or two in his top hat.
Random Thoughts at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
I was first to settle to central table in the great hall. Shortly, Dave joined me.
“You are always quiet… always thinking…what’s on your mind today?” he asked.
“My mind slips from one topic to another without warning,” I said. “Fragments of ideas and images flash to mind. Any given moment ideas are likely to come from anywhere… on any subject… this afternoon I’m thinking about my camera and I heading for the lagoon to find an absorbing image or two.”
“I take photos too,” Dave inserted.
Landscape or portrait?” I asked probing his semantic space on the subject. I suspected that he was a point and shoot photographer.
“Sometimes a person. . . sometimes the scene or surroundings.”
I thought… ‘not enough data to make a judgment. I’ll come back to this subject another day.’ So, I asked, “What do you think about, these days?” I laughed and launched into one of my favorite quotes from Fiddler on the Roof. The Russian officer come to warn Tevia that a pogrom was coming to his village. Half in jest, Tevia offers the officer a left-handed compliment, “You are so good to us… good enough that you could almost be a Jew.” To which the Russian officer laughs and says, “That’s what I like about your Tevia… always joking?
So, I brought us back to my question… with this variation, “That’s what I like about you, Dave, always thinking.”
He offered me a good-natured laugh and continued, “When I wake up in the morning I I open my being for a guiding mantra… something to be a guiding star for the day.”
“That’s rich, Dave… You recognize your spiritual self.”
“Try to,” he said, then his thoughts morphed into a random series of reference points and guru truisms we find he often visits.
Randal arrived settling into chair opposite me. He referenced the garden tour being offered by the Center… apologized for not being able to come as though someone were assigning grades. Randal seems to be torn between wanting to please everyone and asserting uncompromising positions.
Phil arrived… was soon referencing his considerable knowledge on many subjects. There doesn’t seem to be many fields of popular culture that he has not experienced… from what actor or actress played what roles. He hums the theme music and even bits of dialogue. I visualize him doing well on Jeopardy. He pulled out his iPhone and produced a photo of Rita Hayworth reminding us that love idol did 61 movies during her long career in Hollywood.
Dave praised Shakespeare in Love… We were all shocked a bit that Phil had not seen it. I saw it some 25 years and was glad that I could actually make meaningful comments. I joined Dave in citing movie’s many wonderful qualities.
Okay, this day is winding down to shadows… I capped it off by taking a couple of photos of a yellow rose in my back yard.
Snippets of Things at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Today’s plight’s crew started with Dave joining me at central table. He had on a faded aqua scrubs-shirt with nondescript words or figures… couldn’t discern the message… learned from Roger, who had just joined us, that he also wears scrubs a lot. “They are comfortable,” he said. “Sometimes all day… day scrubs in the day and night scrubs at night.” His wife’s a nurse so he should know.
Before long Dave, Roger and I were joined by Randal, Sally, and Phil. It had been a while since there had been six at table. With that collection of intellects and personalities I was sure there would be varied, witty, and at least sometimes insightful tidbits of information.
I’d activated my hearing aids, but as effective as they are, tracking conversation is still problematic. We hard- of-hearing feel like we are always behind a fraction of a second or two picking up only snatches of what is being said. Of course, when asked, a speaker is always willing to repeat his or her comment or question. But that scenario quickly kills spontaneous, lively conversation. So, we learn to lip read as best we can and try desperately to keep up. We often resort to faking our understanding of what is being said.
Snatches of conversation I gleaned included the recognition that Sally had been through a rough patch dealing with a stomach ailment. She’s wonderfully fine now.
Phil has settled into his new apartment and was getting used to having a clean freak for a partner.
“The guy makes lists of where things go and a schedule who cleans what and when.”
The irony of Phil’s living with a hoarder and now a clean freak was not lost of those of us who have listened to him complain.
“Has Joanna found someone to replace you?” I asked.
“I doubt it… no one will want to move into that mess.”
Phil mumbled some sort of retort, but his mumbling didn’t get past my hearing loss filter.
Sally pointed out that she was the only woman at a table of six, “I like men,” she said with a grin.
“Men like you,” I said embracing Sally’s warm openness.
Randal is attending a yoga class on Mondays… encouraged me to do the same. “The teacher is big burly guy… but gentle as a lamb.”
“Lot of getting up and down?” I asked.
“No… does it all siting in a chair.”
“You are talking to my good ear. I may well join you one of these first Mondays…. next Monday, I’ve signed up to take in a free tour or the Gardens… 1:00 to 2:30. I’ll take my Canon camera with me… look for those eye-catching shots…”
On the subject of exercise, Dave’s mother had him as a young boy use those exercise elastic bands to help him stay fit. “Didn’t work for me,” Dave asserted…. “Put your feet in the extremity loop and pull up… the loop slips off your feet and zap! A rubber band in the face… NO thanks… gotta be a better way to exercise.”
Roger has had some health concerns… stayed out of contact with others for a couple of weeks. “My wife and I don’t want to expose others,” he said.
“You’ve had Covid?” I asked.
“Don’t think so… ordered test kits from CDC… they didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come…. called them…ordered a couple more to replace…. they sent those…. The replacements came on same day as the original order…Now, we are well stocked… We used two with negative results… so we felt secure in coming out to be with others.”
Snippets of tease from several about several… such is a part of the charm on being at Round Table. “What is going to happen to Putin?” Randal asked. Steering us toward treacherous waters… The unanimity of opinion on the subject helped us to avoid foundering on the shoals of acrimony. “He’s not doing in so well…got himself in a spot.”
“What will happen to him?” Sally asked.
Phil opined, “He and his oligarch buddies will find an isolated island somewhere away from retribution.”
Randal laughed, “Like Bali.”
“Not likely,” I said. “Putin would be afraid of Dave. Isn’t that where you are settling?”
Dave laughed at my reference to his oft repeated praise of that South Pacific paradise.
“Don’t wish that on that wonderful island,” I said. “Let’s hope that there are wise heads around him urging him to stand down… and if not, one of his cronies should take him out.”
The conversation turned to movies and lighter subjects… I again found myself struggling to keep up with the fast pace of subject hopping.
Oh, for an ear transplant.
Longevity Reigns at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
A friend sent me the results of a study she’d found on longevity.
What are the salient indicators that determine which among us will live the longest?
Of course, the list included those things you would expect – such things as: exercise, diet, smoking or not smoking, etc.
But I was surprised at the two factors that are most associated with living longest – close relationships and social interactions.
This morning, with this revelation in my mind, I entered the great hall of the Round Table. Could I count on close relationships or social interactions to add minutes… years to my life?
There was Jay sitting alone at the accustomed table. I joined him with a bromide greeting… of course, he returned it with an open-mouthed guttural Waann a ha. Translated, the twinkle in his eye said, “I am glad to see you and wish I could be more fluid.”
About that time Joe lumbered into one of the two remaining places. He had his earpiece plugged into each ear. ‘A repeat of last time,’ I thought… but was determined to get passed the barrier to social interaction.
“What do you do to keep yourself occupied?” I asked.
Joe seemed surprised that anyone would be interested in what he did to occupy himself or was his look one of, “It’s none of your business?”
Nevertheless, Joe said, “I have a project…”
“What sort of project? Do you mind my asking?”
I sensed that he would guard the innards of his project…. He reluctantly said, “It has to do with computers…”
“You manufacture a product here in the US?”
“Yeah,” came the reluctant reply.
“You do the engineering?” I asked to draw him out.
“No, the fellow I work with does that.”
“You flesh out the finished product… Couldn’t do it without you…” I smiled.
“Yeah,” he said and brought his iPhone into range… thus, with me at any rate, he was gone to further ‘social interaction.’
No sooner had Joe disappeared into his gadget when Bill took a seat at the remaining spot our table. He was no sooner settled on his chair when he brought his iPhone within range and disappeared into a demanding connection with his mechanical companion.
“What do you do to occupy your days?” I asked testing my determination to engage with others.
“Walk the streets,” came the answer and that was that.
Finally, Randal skipped to a nearby table, grabbed a chair… motioned for me to make a place for him at the vacated spot.
I was glad Randal had chosen to join us… well, join me. Jay was busy devouring the last crumbs of his junk-food supplements he always brought with him. The other two humanoids at table were lost in their gadgets.
Randal was accustomed to engaging others in conversation… so, at least I could count on him for social interaction… moving our encounters in the direction of a close relationship.
Almost as soon as Randal had arrived, Jay wheeled away and was gone, Joe and Bill scooted their chairs back, rose from chairs, and moved to leave. I can’t be sure but am fairly certain that Joe excused himself. I remembered that Joe was a multitasker… could do more than one thing at a time… that he had been on his phone all the while keeping track of what was happening around him… another piece of evidence that what I had always thought was standard polite standards for conversation were no longer pervasive. I’ve a feeling we will come back to this subject again….
Randal often arrived at table in the nick of time, i.e., just before lunch distribution ends… always huffing and puffing… sure enough he was late again because he’d found himself engaged in a conversation that had ended in a “dust up” as he had put it… one that he couldn’t leave hanging.
I tried to get from him the cause and character of the dust up… but his professional councilor training intervened, preventing him from disclosure. I did learn that the problem came from disagreement over strongly held ideas and feelings.
“Is the dust up serous enough to disrupt your close relationship?”
“Oh no… it’s like a marriage… strong disagreement but coming together after tempers have cooled.”
I was tempted to probe further but didn’t… content to leave Randal’s and my social interactions as they were.
As I toy with the idea that today’s Round Table interactions had added a minute or two to the lives of each of today’s participants, there was Shirley, who, today, sign us all in, Nancy, who supervised today’s lunch, Richard, who served it, Ruth, who turns 91 on Thursday. Those four, and Jay, Joe, Bill, and Randal help each to add specks of longevity to each other’s lives. And I mustn’t forget myself. As I write this, I feel younger.
Limerick Contest Day at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Editors note: Who better to win the Center’s St Patricks Day Limerick Contest but Brother Mosch? Here are his first place submissions. Kudos Brother Mosch.
There once was a dancer from Cork
Who went by the name of O’Rourke
He danced night and day
Was wasting away
So he gouged himself on
Tasty pink pork
There was a Russian named Vlad
Whose behavior was exceedingly bad
But Zelensky stepped in
Determined to win
And now Vlad the bad
There was a baby from Cenitas
Who burst forth in life from a fetus
It studied hard
And now plays music to treat us
A Trying Day at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Fridays upon Fridays have come and gone… come and gone… and come and gone … the plights of the Round Table knights have warped our spaces into patterned living.
And today the calendar has settled on Friday once again. Joe, a largely overweight man with earpieces hanging from his ears settled in the space opposite me. He’d been there before with the same iPhone appendages and had shut the rest of us out apparently content to have a chair on which to sit and a table on which he managed his paraphernalia… and nothing more. Jay sat on my left so I knew that we would get little conversation from him except staccato eruptions.
I was irritated on several levels.
I wanted to say, “Listen Buster, you’re occupying a space which could likely be filled with one of the Round Tables’ regulars… say Randal or Sally or Martha or Rpger or Jim or Angie or Dave… so move out.” I wanted to say but, course, I didn’t.
I turned my attention to Dave who had arrived and had noisily settled to my right. We were in mid conversation about acid reflux… I was trying to recall the over-the-counter anti acid I used from time to time.
Dave is hard of hearing, and I speak with a soft mellow voice, so Dave had to ask me to repeat… “How do you spell it?” he asked.
Being the world’s worst speller of course, I couldn’t remember… but did make an effort. “Prilo something,” I mouthed.
“Prilosec!” Joe… said with authority, “You have to keep taking it… otherwise, it doesn’t work.”
That was it… Joe was listening to his iPhone but was also listening to us. But that’s all we got from him for the rest of the lunch hour. So, suspect that my assessment of how he would fit in as a Round Table Knight was likely correct. However, I have no control over where Gary sits… as the days pass, we may find out whether or not he can or wants to multitask or will he be content to retreat into his world of gadgets.
So much for conversation with Joe.
Jay was eating a portion of the junk food he always brings with him to Round Table, so we weren’t talking.
Dave’s stream of consciousness style led him to talk about Supai Arizona (said to be the most remote community in the United States). “Miles of dirt road to get there…” He said as if I should understand his train of thought. “It’s beautiful in that canyon… like heaven, if there is such a place.”
Despite his cynical tone I’m convinced Dave yearns to end up in such a place… He might call it by another name, “Elysian Fields” or such, but it’s all one and Dave wants his soul to find its way there.
Inventing Reality at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
When we don’t have real information to support our view of reality, do we invent it?
This morning Phil provided evidence that do. What is the reality in the question? Since the beginning of Plights of the Round Table, Phil has engaged our thoughts, our sympathies, our imaginations with beguiling narratives. I suspect that his words are designed to keep us mesmerized with his realities. Or maybe I miss-remember. After all, the narratives we share at Round Table live in the context of phatic communications and ought not to be taken too seriously.
You may remember, we’d learned, by his account that Phil has lived a complex life filled with varied interests and fascinating life experiences. He revealed that he works part time for the grocery store as a stock boy. You will agree with me that varied “interests, fascinating experiences” and stock boy at a grocery store don’t neatly match one another very well. Nevertheless, there you have it… another life filled with incongruities… and some of us manage our meager experiences better than others. We’d also learned that for the last year, or two, Phil has lived in a single bedroom belonging to the single lady who owns the property. A few months ago, Phil announced that he was looking for different place… one close by and one within his budget… say $1100.
“What’s wrong with your pad now?” Randall asked.
Thought I knew… Phil had told us on previous occasions that the woman and two other boarders who shared in the three-bedroom house…. the woman had her bathroom, but the three men had to share the other bath. But I learned that it was better than we had thought and worse than we had been led to believe.
Phil interrupted my thoughts. “Might instead ask what’s right with it. The woman is a hoarder… every corner of every room is piled high with stuff… furniture on top of furniture everywhere… and narrow paths through bundles of newspapers, magazines, books, and you name it, she’s got it.” Phil paused for a breath.
“What about kitchen privileges.” Randal asked.
“Are you kidding? The kitchen is full of trash too… I don’t even have a shower… have to take showers close by… at the gym… just came from there.” I wondered what happened to the other two boarders Phi had mentioned. Had he forgotten them or were they aspects of inventing information when it is needed to enhance the narrative?
Nevertheless, I returned the conversation to the obvious question, “Dear God… Why haven’t you moved?” I asked.
“You try to find a place to live around here for less than $1300… Good luck,” He paused then plunged on. “But I found one… $1100… $400 retainers fee and its mine… I change my mind and the $400 is his…a four-apartment condo… I share one unit with the owner… he gets the large bedroom… I the smaller.”
“A hoarder… is he a hoarder?” I asked tongue in cheek.
“No… not yet at least,” Phil grinned and almost wistfully, added, “I keep asking myself, ‘should I have let that place go?’”
There it was . . . The Stockholm Syndrome… living right in front of us.
Phil expressed our judgment, “Dear God… Maybe you need to go to gym and take a cold shower.
Sans Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Today is one of those holidays when the mail isn’t delivered, schools are vacant, government offices are closed, and many other establishments find an excuse to vacation. The senior center’s lunch program is suspended for the day… Thus, I am left scrounging for food for myself. Fortunately for me, my generous neighbor to my north blessed me with a liberal portion of tasty beef/vegetable soup. I’ll not have to scrounge today.
No lunch at the Center also means I’ll likely be alone for the day. Actually, I don’t mind being alone… I can entertain conversations I’ve already had in my head and engage in new ones as inspiration comes and goes. And I can catch up on my reading the Wall Street Journal or from an in-exhaustible library of online sources.
A book review in that section in the WSJ caught my eye and curiosity. Max Norman reviews “Nothing” by Roy Sorensen. How appropriate… no lunch at the Round Table, no fellowship. No other human being in sight… just nothing. Sorensen discussed the history of “Nothing.” Three million years ago (give or take), scores of millions of years a humanoid looked at the markings on a stone and suddenly saw what looked like a human face. “Voila” he or she thought it looked like a face… from nothing there was something.
Dave, our Round Table philosopher, has explored spirituality by investigating, and to some extent, following spiritual gurus he has come to know.
“You can learn the spiritual practices online,” he says. “Some of their chants are just beautiful.”
I had had no experience with eastern religions so was unable to discuss with him one way or another.
On this empty day… I decided to go online and see if I could call up a chant or two to learn what was there. I googled chants… dozens came up. “O” was the first… A low baritone voice struck a single note, “O” and the O shortly morphed into “M”… a short pause then “O” followed by “M” and so forth. I don’t know how long the chant would have lasted… I moved on to other things. Later I logged onto a Hare Krishna chant and found the chanter repeating variations of Hare Krishna over and over again. In all cases the voices seemed to be enhanced by the use of sound enhancing mixers and so forth giving the voice echoing, haunting melodic tones and overtones.
I can see how one could become hypnotized (or there about), by staying with the chant for extended periods of time. I can see how such chants could eventually lead one to a place of nothingness… of emptiness… what one might call Krishna consciousness… of nirvana.
In the meantime, I found that I needed to turn up the heat in my house… the weather had gone a bit cool …. The chill got my attention.
Mumbling at the Round Table
By Brother Mosch (with a long O)
Sally joined Randal, Dave, and me for a lively Round Table. Some discussion about understanding one another. I thought it was mostly me… but learned that Randal and Dave also have a tough time deciphering conversation as well… especially, when coming from soft spoken Roger, Jim, Phil and to some extent Sally. She was born in India…. still has a moderately heave accent. She often has to repeat herself, but she does so behind a soft spoken, friendly grin.
Roger is soft spoken, but Jim and Phil just mumble. Jim, behind his scraggly beard, and Phil just mumble.
Dave is pretty articulate and easy to understand.
So here we are a gang of nearly deaf octogenarians struggling to remain relevant.
The conversation turned to religion… well, spirituality at least. Sally was raised Hindu which she long ago abandoned. Randal studied to be a Catholic priest. He also gave up his faith. But his verbal content is peppered with the language of the church. Phil seems to find the whole subject of religion a source of ridicule or jest at best. Dave talks freely about his journey to find some sort of spiritual home. He has spent much time following various spiritual teachers… and practicing rituals… dancing in the spirit… talks about the power of chants…to transcend mundane existence… singing in the spirit. On the other hand, he has an acid tongue when referencing Christianity and its leaders.
“Paul was a murderer,” he glibly pronounces.
“That was Saul,” I said, “Before he was converted.”
Randal agreed with me… “His conversion changed him.”
Dave, “He was a tyrant nevertheless.”
I didn’t say anything… his mind was made up… is made up and is likely to remain made up on that subject. Guess I am too in many respects…. I’ll continue to listen to him.
On our way out of the great hall, Sally told me that she wanted my opining about something. She led me to her car… took an aerosol can from her back seat.
“Is this good for cleaning my tires and wheels?”
I took the can read the bold print, “Says it’ll do what you want… let’s try it.”
Sally reached for bit of a rag… I sprayed a bit on the cloth and handed it back to her… she made several swipes on the tire… inspected the results and was delighted.
I left her going after dirt on her tires wondering why she needed my input.
Maybe she’s trying to give me a hint. I looked at the tires and rims on my own car… a 2004 Chrysler convertible… New tires at least once since then… but the rims haven’t been cleaned in 15 years or so… Maybe it’s time.
In all the clutter in my garage there must be a can of tire and wheel cleaner somewhere. Aerosol application agent, 15 years? Probably not…