I'd suffered many losses in recent years after my father mother uncle aunt and cousin had all passed away. In her final years my mother often lamented that there was no one alive who had known her as a girl and I was starting to understand how spooked she'd felt. I wasn't sure I could take any more abandonments. One succumbs so easily to mind spasms, worry spasms. [p. 95]
In our heart we know that life loves life. Yet we feast on some of the other life-forms with which we share our planet; we kill to live. Taste is what carries us across that rocky moral terrain, what makes the horror palatable, and the paradox we could not defend by reason melts into a jungle of sweet temptations.
Studies show that the IQ range of most creative people is surprisingly narrow, around 120 to 130. Higher IQs can perform certain kinds of tasks better--logic, feats of memory, and so on. But if the IQ is much higher or lower than that, the window of creativity closes. Nonetheless, for some reason we believe more is better, so people yearn for tip-top IQs, and that calls for bigger memories. A fast, retentive memory is handy, but no skeleton key for survival.
Metaphor isn't just decorative language. If it were, it wouldn't scare us so much. . . . Colorful language threatens some people, who associate it, I think, with a kind of eroticism (playing with language in public = playing with yourself), and with extra expense (having to sense or feel more). I don't share that opinion. Why reduce life to a monotone? Is that truer to the experience of being alive? I don't think so. It robs us of life's many textures. Language provides an abundance of words to keep us company on our travels. But we're losing words at a reckless pace, the national vocabulary is shrinking. Most Americans use only several hundred words or so. Frugality has its place, but not in the larder of language. We rely on words to help us detail how we feel, what we once felt, what we can feel. When the blood drains out of language, one's experience of life weakens and grows pale. It's not simply a dumbing down, but a numbing.
We tend to think of memories as monuments we once forged and may find intact beneath the weedy growth of years. But, in a real sense, memories are tied to and describe the present. Formed in an idiosyncratic way when they happened, they're also true to the moment of recall, including how you feel, all you've experienced, and new values, passions, and vulnerability. One never steps into the same stream of consciousness twice.
One morning as I closed the cyclone-fence gate / to begin a slow drift / down to the cookhouse on foot / (because my truck wheels were glued / in deep mud once again), / I walked straight into / the waiting non-arms of a snake, / its tan beaded-bag skin / studded with black diamonds.Up it coiled to speak to me a eye level. / Imagine! that sleek finger / rising out of the land's palm / and coiling faster than a Hindu rope. / The thrill of a bull snake / startled in the morning / when the mesas lie pooled / in a custard of light / kept me bright than ball lightning all day.Praise leapt first to mind / before flight or danger, / praise that knows no half-truth, and pardons all.