I just reread The Holy Man and The Holy Man's Journey, a really stunning pair of books by Susan Trott. They are simply written, expressing peace and wisdom in essential terms, standing pretty well outside the discussion framework of any specific religion or philosophy. The stories take place in some unspecified place that seems to be in Europe, and the holy man in question is named Joe. I recommend them highly.

I've been wanting to enable closed-captioning on our TV. This would let me follow a television program while listening to something more interesting, like music. (Yes, I'm kind of a stimulus freak. I used to do my homework with the TV on, sometimes with the volume off, listening to music. I still code to music.) So I searched through the TV's menus (we have a 30-something-inch Sony which is really big and complex, but actually works really well given how big the Comfy Room is) and found what should have been the CC options, and played with all of them, and none of them seemed to work. Except that there was closed-captioning for a single, solitary commercial, the last 6 seconds of it at least, and then it went away, and I haven't been able to make it come back. It's terribly frustrating, because I'd like to have it working, but I guess I know it can work some of the time, so it's an ongoing challenge.

I love Doonesbury.

Feeling a little blank and empty today, without much energy for dealing with the world, or even thinking about it. I'm currently floating around with the fact that at least two of my ex-girlfriends seem to actively dislike me--the two most recent, no less--while a couple of others seem to view me as a sort of inconvenient joke that they had to get over. I don't think that's a good omen, really, and as I think about it, I really haven't been very good to most of the women I've been involved with, one way or another (or the one or two guys). I don't think I've been abusive, and I've been mostly Caring and There When I'm Needed and so forth, but I haven't been very communicative or careful with their feelings, by virtue of not having a clear grasp of what's going on with me, what I actually want or need. So I've set that thought process in motion, and it will incubate and stir and conglomerate and settle and eventually something will come of it. I'll pay conscious attention to it when I feel I can stand it, or when I'm feeling low.

On the other hand, I have to let go of these things even as I think about them. If I beat myself up repeatedly (which I'm very, very good at--there's only one person harder on me than I am), I become paralyzed. I can't discover anything, I can't work through any problems, and I can't enjoy my life. I get so attached to the family is big on photographs, and I've carried that to a point where I have a compulsion to remember the past, and I'm upset that people from my past don't want to talk to me. (Yes, I realize that doesn't solve the original problem.) But the world goes on. My world goes on. If I'm a shitty boyfriend and/or lover, well, I'm a good friend. And I don't kill people, and my problems don't overflow onto anyone I'm not dating. Overall I think I have a positive effect on the world.

There's something more important than being good, though, and that is focusing on the greater unity with the Way from which good things spontaneously arise. That unity is expressed by the precepts--or maybe embodied. As you go down through the three groups of precepts, they get progressively more explicit, less esoteric...but in the process of explication you lose fullness. When we apply words, we narrow and limit whatever we're talking about. This is why Beckett said "Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness": silence holds unlimited expressive power, encompassing the Universe, while words are encumbered by history and prejudice and thoughts. Using words to describe something is like taking a wide open meadow and building yourself a closed tunnel of wood to get across it. Sure, you crossed the meadow, but what did you miss because of the tunnel?

It's okay to be sad about what's happening, and I am, and I desperately hope it changes for the better. But I have to keep my eye on the ball: I'm doing okay. I'm still willing to look God in the face and say "Yeah, my ex-girlfriends hate me, but I'm doing the best I can". More for my benefit, of course. God would already know these things.

You know, if there's tolerance in Illinois, I have real hope.

I leave for Massachusetts the day after tomorrow, and of course I'm looking forward to seeing the homeland and the family and recharging somewhere far away from here. Also, two weeks of easy access to Dunkin' Donuts, which can only be a good thing. It looks like I'll be spending chunks of time traveling around seeing relatives, but that's okay too.