Mythos & Marginalia

life notes; flaws and all

j.g. lewis

original content and images ©j.g. lewis

a daily breath...

A thought du jour, my daily breath includes collected and conceived observations, questions of life, fortune cookie philosophies, reminders, messages of peace and simplicity, unsolicited advice, inspirations, quotes and words that got me thinking. They may get you thinking too . . .

Look

When it’s not right, we see
only what is wrong instead
of trying to make it better.

Look past the faults.
See possibilities.

Keep moving forward.

08/17/2022                                                                              j.g.l.

Mondays are just young Fridays

So, I make mistakes.
   An oversight or three, here and there, or an error or lack of judgment can (and will) happen. My lack of foresight simply happens.
   We do not learn from our mistakes, but rather we learn from the experience.
   You cannot prepare yourself for all probabilities knowing a mistake is a likely possibility.
   Pay attention.
   Experience comes from noticing what you are paying attention to.

08/15/2022                                                                                     j.g.l.

 

That Moon

 

Maybe this Moon

with the power it bleeds

      will illuminate more

      unnecessary violence

     and greed.

       Maybe this Moon

         has memories

    it simply cannot forget.

       Some of us will relate

    while others regret.

  Maybe that Moon knows

        what it is all worth

   and sets an example

       for those looking up

         from this earth.

07/27/2018                                                                            j.g.l.

React

Speak up for yourself, for others,
and for those who can’t or won’t
or don’t think for themselves.
   Don’t remain silent.
   React.
   Give voice to valid concerns and
don’t accept what some of those
bastards are trying to pass off
as truth.
   Know better.

08/16/2022                                                                             j.g.l.

Find Peace

I am in need of nature’s nurture; a couple of days away from the concrete and cacophony of this impatient city.
   I need to be made aware of the lack of noise and the softer surroundings Mother Nature provides.
   Will I find peace?

08/14/2022                                                                               j.g.l.

I am here

What is going on with you?

Can you believe what’s happening?

Everybody sees things differently.

Take care of yourself.

08/11/2022                                                                                         j.g.l.

I'm like a pencil;
sometimes sharp,
most days
well-rounded,
other times
dull or
occasionally
broken.
Still I write.

j.g. lewis
is a writer/photographer in Toronto.

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No Other Word

Posted on March 4, 2015 // 1 Comment

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I struggled with it. Yesterday, when the flow was right and each letter appeared to be falling into the correct order, and as each word seemed to propel me along, I stopped.

A dead stop, an unmitigated stop. An unintended stop; it was more than a pause, more than a period.

A stop, a full stop; a debilitating stop.

One word
.
One word was all that was stopping me from continuing with a deeply personal poem I’d been working on. It was a one-syllable word at that.

I didn’t want to use it.

I searched for alternatives, but nothing else worked. Not one other word, or a series thereof, could substitute for the word I had used. No other word could convey the rage, or the frustration, in the exact way this word did.

Fuck.

The F word: it’s one of those words. It’s one of those words that traditionally raise eyebrows. It’s one of those words you are told, as a kid, you shouldn’t say. It was a bad word. I remember my brother said, “fuck”, one time, in the company of my parents. It was the only time. I recall Mom’s eyes bugging out, and Dad always had that look when he turned angry. I learned then I wasn’t going to make the same mistake, ever. Fuck, no way.

Yes, its one of those words, one of those fucking words there are really no replacements for, certainly in certain circumstances and depending, of course, on its usage. Check your thesaurus; in many or most (probably all) there are no offerings. I’ve got Roget’s Super Thesaurus 4th Edition on my desk, and it’s not in there. It’s not even offered as a synonym under ‘intercourse’ (which casts doubt upon the book jacket’s “Amazingly Comprehensive” claim).

I don’t use it often, not as often as I should or feel like (more in dialogue than description), and it really has lost its shock appeal; you hear it often in movies and music.

It’s one of those words.

It’s one of those words that has been censored, avoided, painted over, hushed, and stifled for generations. It still appears on public broadcaster’s list of words you cannot say on the airwaves. It’s one of those words that will get bleeped out. It’s one of those words that would get your mouth washed out with soap, or get you sent to the principal’s office. It’s a bad word.

It’s one of those words there are no real replacements for, like ‘peace’ (and I realize the folks at Roget have listed a handful of options for this word but, when you think about it. there are no synonyms, not in the true sense of the word).

Now fuck is in the dictionary, noun and verb (Oxford here). ‘Sexual intercourse’, ‘mess about’, ‘fool around’, and, ah, there it is: ‘expressing anger’ (I knew it fit into what I was writing). It’s no longer listed as slang, as it once was, but it is listed as “A highly taboo word.”

Come on, fuck off: “highly taboo”?

It might have been taboo, at one time, like even before my Grandparents were procreating. Yes, there are times when the word just doesn’t seem appropriate (but they did, by my calculation at least four times), but these days most everybody uses the word, from politicians to sweet little Grade 3 students, and their mothers.

You hear it all the time; sometimes it is not well used, and other times it is placed properly. A lot of times it’s as common as ‘um’ or ‘uh’ or ‘like’, like, you know, like, like that (and I’m sure you do).

It is a word that means so much, and can say so much. It is a word like love (and if you love, you are probably going to fuck, but you don’t have to love to fuck then it’s just sex and if it’s just sex then you are going to fuck a lot . . . but I digress).

I’ve heard fuck described as the Swiss Army Knife of words: a word for all purposes (perhaps not all occasions). It’s so utilitarian, with many functions. It describes rage (fuck you) and joy or happiness (fuck yeah), sheer disappointment (oh fuck), sexuality and sensuality (depending on the accent), be it a mistake or a misfit (fuck up), and for a one-syllable word there are so many inflections which make it sound bigger.

It is a useful word, in the right circumstances, and it is a wholeheartedly purposeful word.

Fuck is a great curse word. It could, or can I suppose, be a hurtful word. But there are many and more hateful words in the vernacular that are publicly acceptable and are used far too often. I can think of words associated with any of the isms (racism, sexism, fascism, capitalism) that I find more offensive, and you can say those words on television and get away with it (it still doesn’t make it right).

It should probably be used more than it is, but it may never be. There are far too many stigmas, stereotypes and old wives tales that will continue to silence the word. Sadly. This world has made progress in so many ways. Times have changed: women can vote (at least on my continent), my gay friends can marry, and even prime time television images can graphically illustrate the actions involved when fucking (they just can’t show certain parts).

Still you can’t say fuck, not everywhere, not when you want to or need to. Not always. 
It’s a bad word. Fuck.

But yesterday, despite my best efforts to find another, it was a good word.

It was the right word.

Fuck yeah.

What’s The Hurry?

Posted on February 25, 2015 Leave a comment

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“When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care
about it and you want to get on to other things.”
                                                     – Robert M. Pirsig

I’ve been re-reading Persig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance over the past couple of months. I breezed through it the first time, but now I’m reading slowly and paying more attention.

A newsroom colleague lent me the book in the decade after it was published, and some of Pirsig’s philosophies have struck a chord in the years since. The 40-year-old book is based around a journey (aren’t all stories, really?) but just as the author states; the book actually has little to do with maintaining a motorcycle and even less with Zen Buddhism.

The book explores society’s relationship with each other, with technology, self-satisfaction and Persig’s profound philosophies on life’s fundamental questions.

An engaging book, I first read it over a weekend and many of the ideals have come back at certain points in my life. Persig speaks of quality, and how to mindfully squeeze more out of your life. It’s ironic, however, that when I first read the book I missed the lesson quoted above. I was hurrying through the book. Decades later I realize I may have not absorbed one of the greatest lessons in the pages.

Much of my life has been chronic hurry. I’m not sure when it started, or why it continued, but I have spent a lot of time rushing to meet deadlines or obligations, to reach my next goal, to get something done, or to be somewhere. In my early years it was keeping up with the latest trends, or getting to the next party or happening. Later it was rushing to the next appointment, or the next city.

I know it’s not just me. I think we, as a society, have developed into a culture of hurry. Multi-tasking is part of our daily dialogue and the introduction and rapid advancement of technologies has enabled us to do more and see more, at the same time. Along with this progress we have heaped expectations onto ourselves, as have others.

As a result, more often than not, it feels like we are always rushing.

We are continually off to meetings, to dinner, to work, to the theatre; we always seem to be hurrying. Commerce and capitalists embraced this change and have created ways that allow us to do whatever we could before, but quicker now with express lanes, drive-in restaurants, and online banking and shopping. It is, apparently, called convenience, as much as it is called progress.

We take on more work, because apparently we can. And we hurry.

‘Hurry’ is described by Oxford as moving or acting with great or undue haste. All of us have become hasty; we rush to get the job done.

Look at your work at the office; was it completed accurately, thoroughly, and properly, as you multi-tasked your way through the allotted time? Were you getting the job done, or just getting through the day? Did you care about the work you were producing, or just the next task on your agenda?

As our professional lives creep into our personal lives in this imbalanced work/life balance, we take the attributes of hurry along with us. Did you care about the meal you prepared after speeding home from the workplace, or did you rush it?

You know what it’s like to hurry a meal, to sit at the dinner table and discover a little too much pink in the meat, or too much bone in the broccoli. Or, more so, you arrive home hungry after battling rush-hour traffic and don’t even bother preparing the nutritious meal you were planning. Instead you zap one of those microwave entrees designed for people in a hurry, or you take only the time to boil water for your instant noodles. Even then you rush through the chore because you had other things to do, or things you thought could be done at the same time.

In the process you hurried through both tasks. Did you care about either? Really?

As we hurry we learn shortcuts that allow us to keep up the frenetic pace, like ironing only the collar and front of the shirt (you’re wearing a blazer anyway). But like that shirt, the job is never really complete. Take off the jacket and you will see the wrinkles of a job done poorly.

There is no efficiency in hurrying. Still it is expected of us: at work, at home, by ourselves, and in life in general.

I’ve hurried through preparation and presentations, relationships, and lunches with friends, all with the perception that I had something else or something better to do. I’ve also hurried to pack for a business trip only to discover half of my wardrobe was left hanging in the closet or at the dry cleaners.

How efficient was my hurry? I’m reminded of a bumper sticker (or coffee mug) I saw years ago: ‘The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.’

Whatever happened to patience, to persevering through the pain and annoyance and even the mundane tasks to arrive at satisfaction in what you were doing?

I used to think patience meant slowing down, but that is not the case. It’s about taking the right amount of time to do the task right. I’ve hurried through manuscripts; I wrote in a hurry, I edited in a hurry, and I submitted in a hurry. It’s not that the work wasn’t good . . . it just wasn’t good enough.

Hurrying is not economical. You spend more money on gas, on food, on your clothing. You misuse your energy. When you hurry you make financial decisions that will plague you for years. A split-second decision can disrupt, even kill, relationships. How many times have we heard the idiom ‘haste makes waste’?

I’ve been trying, over the past couple of years, to find and implement my patience. It has been trying because you need to unlearn and relearn what it is you do, and what it is you want. You have to cultivate patience, and you have to allow it the proper time.

Patience comes from within; it must be nurtured, it must be respected, and it must confront all the hurry that is imposed on us. Patience is not always there. As I write this I’m trying not to hurry to meet a self-imposed deadline. Still I keep trying to have more patience with myself, as I take the time to plan and organize (and not hurry though the process). I try not to think of what comes next.

I try to care. I try not to hurry.

Most times our lives are hectic and hurried. Does that mean we no longer care about how we are living? I hope not, because there is only one option to living, and I’m in no hurry to do that.

More Lost Than Found

Posted on February 18, 2015 // 1 Comment

 

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Lifeless mitten lays in wait. Abandoned, stiff
atop a crunchy snow bank. The sidewalk
passes by, unknowing. Throbbing red fingers,
a child’s frostbitten hand, shiver beneath a
coat sleeve. Somewhere. Seeking warmth,
comfort against winter’s harsh reality.

Unclaimed. A mitten separated from its
purpose. We all, young and older, leave
pieces of ourselves scattered throughout time.
Paperbacks, pens, sunglasses, yoga mats,
carelessly or accidentally discarded.
A laundromat sock with no mate.

Possessions or promises, more lost
than found. Feelings, emotions cast
astray. Hopelessly lost. A lone mitten,
pieces of ourselves. Where do we
go when a bit of us is missing, when
our purpose is unrealized?

Where then, when we seek warmth.
are we? Waiting to be reunited with
missing parts? Another hand to hold?
Another day. Our fingers still numb, the
lone mitten still there. The sidewalk
passes by. We remain incomplete.

Music and the Moments

Posted on February 11, 2015 Leave a comment

 

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Alice Cooper turned 67 last week.

It may not mean a lot to a lot of people, or it may mean everything to a generation of fans, but it meant something to me and I didn’t totally realize why when the date flashed on the screen. Each day we hear news of a celebrity birthday, or death, but this one scratched a scab on my psyche.

Alice Cooper was my first. He was the first singer/band I actively followed, and the album Killer was my first record. Well, I owned records before that, and I’d always listened to my brother’s albums (it started The Monkees), but Killer was the first rock and roll record I had an interest in. I didn’t own the whole thing; I was only a shareholder (my brother was 50 cents short, and managed to talk me out of the few quarters I had), but that initial investment launched me on a lifetime enjoyment of music.

I finally owned a piece of rock and roll.

Killer was everything rock music should be to a 1l-year-old kid. From the cover image of the boa constrictor to lyrics that fascinated and delighted a young mind, the album was dangerous. It was revolution; it was three-chord, loud and proud, guitar-based rock and roll with a backbeat big enough to wake the dead (or your parents). Cooper was a screamer, and the band played to its shock rock limits and were, perhaps, even more creative than what others offered at the time

The music sounded like everything you heard and read about the musician.

Through the years other artists have come and gone, or fallen out of favor. Some have remained cherished favorites; I still can’t explain a lifelong affinity for Pete Townsend and The Who, or Joni Mitchell. I was saddened by the news of Joe Cocker’s recent passing, still have a moment of repose on the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and have millions of moments inspired by other artists and albums.

But Cooper is significant because he led me into this journey. He was my white rabbit. The moment the turntable’s needle hit the vinyl, I embarked on this path of searching for great music. I’ve purchased, collected, and accumulated thousands of records. My love of music led me to writing a weekly review column for a daily newspaper, and eventually led to a full-fledged career as a writer. It may have been because of Alice Cooper.

That’s not to say Cooper remained at the top of my list. When I recently changed cities, I was forced to select only about 500 albums from a massive collection to bring with me. None of Cooper’s albums made the move.

I guess Cooper no longer spoke to me. I knew I tired, decades ago, of the form and format of most of his follow-ups. He never again rose to the brilliance of Welcome To My Nightmare, the epic 1975 disc in which everything the singer represented was distilled into a near-perfect thematic album. The record contained perhaps the first top 40 single that openly spoke of domestic violence, and was stuffed with the lush keyboards and arrangements producer Bob Ezrin would later use with Kiss (an act that took more than a few moves from Cooper’s playlist. I hesitate in using the term ‘rip off”)

But it’s not as much about the music as it is about the moments etched into the dusty grooves of an LP, the clean crisp bytes of a CD, or the hiss and pop of a mixed tape.

We all have moments in time easily brought back by music. A love song, a chorus, chord or hook that takes you back to doing nothing important with teenaged friends, or a particular night at one particular party, a first kiss and more, a breakup; or a person, a lover, or a daughter. Memory. The songs may belong to the artist, but the music belongs to you.

Alice Cooper’s birthday took me back over four decades.

Now Cooper is not getting any younger . . . and neither am I. Still I can return, even if just briefly, and fondly remember a time, a certain time, when I discovered the magic of music. I found something that interested me enough to keep listening. It was my introduction to pop culture.

There are many such moments, and others I probably reference more than Alice Cooper. I still remember the first time I played Springsteen’s Jungleland and was in awe of not only the melody and musicianship but of the sheer lyrical poetry. Behind Blue Eyes from Who’s Next does the same thing. A certain selection by Yo-Yo Ma can transport me to a certain place. I remember the radio recognizing a public shift in style each time I hear I Love the Night Life by Alicia Bridges, or Doobie Brothers Minute by Minute or, much later, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

All are moments marked by a particular passage or piece of music, steps on our ladder as we move on and move up. And we keep moving up that ladder.

Music changes. So do we. Alice Cooper is older, and so am I.

Moments and reflection, these days, are not as easy to come by. Artists, like us mere mortals, will not live forever physically, yet through their music times remain immortal. That, in itself, is a reason to keep on listening.

“Man makes your hair grey, he’s your life’s mistake
All you’re really looking for’s an even break
He lies right at you, you know hate this game
he slaps you once in a while and
you live and love in pain.
She cries alone at night too often,
he smokes and drinks and don’t come home at all.
Only women bleed . . .”
                                                       – Alice Cooper

She Wants To Breathe

Posted on February 4, 2015 Leave a comment

 

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Restless now. Really for months, an urge
a need, to do something. Feel something.
An interest in objects, as much as anything.
Certain things mark a time. A sugar bowl, a
cookie tin; items, almost sacred. Empty, at
a glance, yet brimming with moments.

Grandmother long gone, she now finds
herself in a place. Voices. Ushered forward
by a child, young woman now, and held back
by memories. Her flesh, her blood, those
who raised her. Comfort. Restless still.
Words and thoughts, she wants to write.

She wants to write, but never has. Not like
this. Father’s firm disposition, a mother’s
tenderness, a voice that softened her reality.
She wants to write, like she wants to believe.
Decisions made, not regretted, but pondered.
The ink is fresh, the pen permanent.

A snap of memories, broken, diminished joys
not of parenthood, but of partners. She wants to
write about love; past and present and perhaps
more. She wants to write like she wants to breathe.
Ink flows smoothly. Her blood. History always
an interest, this is more personal.

Shameless, blameless admissions, only to herself
and a page presenting itself as a stranger. Now
it offers its skin as a lover. The smooth, thick pen,
heavy and hard between her fingers, finds a rhythm.
An object desired. She wants to write, like she
wants to feel. She has, and will again.

Never like this. Minute details reiterate her faults. The
pen’s nib, ever constant, captures lives left behind,
but still within. If only her heart, if not in her life.
The pen moves forward, she still there. Now. Every
letter, each stanza reveals a voice. A need.
She wants to write, like she wants to bleed.

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