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 . . .

these days

tomorrow is another chance

but what about today?

11/29/2022                                                                                                               j.g.l.

Mondays are just young Fridays

Morning fog limits perspective.
As much surprise as wonder,
as isolating as illuminating,
we naturally want to see further.
Your vantage point stays the same.
Captivated throughout the day,
you may well stand where you are,
only the focal point broadens.Daylight eventually finds its way,
you can easily see the difference.
Darkness will come, it always does,
the view will be different tomorrow.
11/28/2022                                                                                                                                                                                        j.g.l.

be content

hold the image
speak the silence
feel the clarity

11/27/2022                                                                                                                 j.g.l.

cloud songs

                  Direction uncertain,

                   destination unknown
   or definite

               We share
                                                 the same sky.

                         Look up,
    know where you are,

       if only for a moment.

                           If only for your self.

11/24/2022                                                                                                                                                      j.g.l.

unencumbered thought

Take what is there, observe the
confluence of ideas, the merge of
unexpected honesty with the
reality you gaze at.
Unencumbered thought is simply
too easy to ignore, yet we put off
decisions we need to make all
too frequently.
We don’t question our behaviour.
We wait for conclusions to be
made for us, thinking it easier to
simply go with the flow. In doing
so, we avoid what is right in front
of us. We look no further.
Observe what is there; do with it
what you may. Discover the true
consequences of your own actions.

11/22/2022                                                                                             j.g.l.

Wicked Winters

The hints of winter remind us what is to come: snow squalls, icy storms, those horrendous wind chills and descending temperatures.
   We can only imagine what is ahead of us, our fears augmented by seasonal memories of the coldest nights, frostbitten fingers, slipping and slipping on highways, and slip and falls on neglected sidewalks.
   Our minds can go way back in time documenting wicked winters, but we still must think of the present, and the future, and the vulnerable. The unhoused and the hungry will struggle with what is ahead: the birds and the people.
   Is it within our humanity to find simple charity, a gesture in kind, shelter, food when required, a hand up to those who need it?
   It is the season to feel more than the frigid temperatures.

11/20/2022                                                                                                    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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You Can Taste The Details

Posted on May 20, 2015 Leave a comment

_MG_0264

 

It’s amazing how the written word has the power to stay with you.

We all have favorite quotes, or poems, lyrics, lines, and chunks of dialogue from stories we’ve read, which somehow become trapped in our psyche. We made a connection with the words or found value in the message; they cling to us, returning time and again.

In times of hardship, or heartbreak, the right words can cauterize a wound. Appropriate words can soothe the senses and prolong the pleasure of those moments of sheer joy or passion. The words are always there; the ones we rely on to appease our emotions and guide us through this thing we call life.

More than four decades ago, I read something that continues to come back to me. It wasn’t an epic piece of literature or classic prose, just an everyday magazine article. It was an article so well written that it has permanently changed the way I approach this one specific task.

In 1973 I broke my leg in a skiing accident and spent a few weeks recuperating at home, essentially sitting and reading, mostly in bed. My mom bought me paperbacks, and there were always newspapers around our house, and a family friend brought a couple of bags of magazines from her husband’s reception area. I read, cover-to-cover, Time, Newsweek, People and the New Yorker. I can’t totally recall the politics and personalities, but I am often reminded of an article that has always – subconsciously or consciously – had an impact on me.

The article (for the longest time I thought it was from Reader’s Digest) was titled ‘How To Eat an Ice Cream Cone’. Every time I take a lick, I remember the writer’s well-crafted instructions about the circular motions required, and the art of using your tongue to push the ice cream deeper into the cone as you progress. These practices have now become habit. I am always — always — circling the cone to prevent drips and dripping.

I write about this not because I had ice cream on the weekend, but last year I did one of those mindless Google searches we all occasionally do. I typed “How To Eat an Ice Cream Cone”. Lo and behold, I found the article, the actual article, I read all those years ago. It was not Reader’s Digest, but rather The New Yorker (a magazine traditionally dedicated to all things important). Even though I read it in the ‘70s, I still think of this article when I get one of those cravings.

Now I didn’t remember the “classic ice-cream-cone-eating stance” mentioned below (and surely now I have re-read the instructions I might well take up the posture) but so much of this article comes rushing back.

I’m not sure if I have read other pieces by L. Rust Hills (certainly none as memorable as this one), but you can tell he is a great writer; one of those writers who can take a topic, capture the scene and take you there.

Hills does more than educates and informs. A cautionary tale, the article concentrates less on the taste and texture of the flavorful delight and focuses on the nature of the product, the environmental effects on it, gravity, and the perils of incorrect consumption of both the ice cream and the cone.

I’m always in awe when a writer can take an everyday topic, or other times an operose task, and turn it into something both interesting and informative. The words sink into your memory and actually change how you act or alter your perception.

This is what all writers want to do, each time they write, using the same 26 letters everybody has access to and creating a piece that will be read and remembered. Hills succeeds, on so many levels, providing deft and dutiful instructions to a task everybody takes for granted (“Real pleasure lies, not simply in eating the cone, but in eating it right.”) You can taste the details.

All instructions, for anything, should be this complete. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to assemble a gas barbecue, or install a new laser printer, if the instructions were written better than they usually are?

I’ve attached a link to the article. Yes, at almost 1,000 words, it may appear lengthy, but as you read you may find that the time it takes to read is about the same time it takes to actually eat an ice cream. Real time. Real good.

Delicious.
“How to Eat an Ice Cream Cone”  *

 By L. Rust Hills
 
THE NEW YORKER, August 24, 1968




Grasp the cone with the right hand firmly but gently between thumb and at least one but not more than three fingers, two-thirds of the way up the cone. Then dart swiftly away to an open area, away from the jostling crowd at the stand. Now take up the classic ice-cream-cone-eating stance: feet from one to two feet apart, body bent forward from the waist at a twenty-five degree angle, right elbow well up, right forearm horizontal, at the same level as your collar-bone and about 
twelve inches from it.



But don’t start eating yet! . . .

 READ MORE: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1968/08/24/how-to-eat-an-ice-cream-cone

*Reprinted without permission, but with total respect.

Note: If the link doesn’t work for you, send me an email and I’ll gladly send you a copy.

A Telling Truth

Posted on May 13, 2015 Leave a comment

IMG_0734

 

We are all liars.
In that
we find truth.

I don’t like that statement: We are all liars.

It speaks to all that offends us, it ruffles our feathers, it confronts the widely-held belief where truth is a virtue held in the highest regard.

We believe ourselves to be truthful; in many ways we believe it is the strongest plank in our moral platform. We tell ourselves it is our goal, our destination, and our destiny.

Truth.

Truth; we listen for it, we search for it, and we live for it. Fuck, at times we believe it is all we know. Or all we want to know.

We don’t.

So we tell ourselves things to make us believe, we lie to ourselves to make us believe. We lie to others to make them believe, in us. Where we slept last night, how we performed at our workplace (or what we actually do), how we feel about something, how we enjoyed dinner at our best friend’s home – we don’t always answer those questions honestly.

We are liars. We don’t always tell the truth.

We tell untruths. Falsehoods.

Fibs.

Lies.

We might even classify it as a rationalization, a self-medicating myth we feed to ourselves to help us believe we are who we are, and what we are, or to make people believe we are better than we are; even better than them.

We lie to them. And worse, we lie to ourselves.

We say things — under pressure, out of guilt, perhaps in the throes of passion — that are simply not true, things we know will never happen, and still we say them.

We even say them truthfully.

We are all liars.
In that
we find our truth.

 ©2014 j.g. lewis

  “People need good lies. There are too many bad ones.”
                                                                                    – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Above illustration photographed off the wall of some Starbucks, somewhere in Toronto. The artist’s name was not on the sketch.   Please contact me if this is your artwork, so I can give credit where credit is due.           Much respect j.g.l.

 

All That A Mother Is

Posted on May 6, 2015 // 1 Comment

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Over the coming days we are going to hear a lot about mothers. Whether through media advertising or the chatter about the office, it doesn’t take much to remind us this Sunday is Mother’s Day.

Once a year we collectively honor the person who brought us into this world. One day, surely, is not enough to celebrate the miracle of motherhood.

Throughout our lives we learn, each day, about ourselves, and about others. We learn from mistakes and accomplishments, we learn from teachers, partners, and friends; but at the core of our knowledge are the lessons learned from our mothers.

The first person we imprint on, mothers teach us the basics of eating, sleeping, and living. They teach us comfort, just by being. We learn, through them, the power of a hug, how to communicate, the importance of clean underwear and a good night’s sleep. From our mothers we know kindness, forgiveness, and humility. Sadly, we never fully learn how to appreciate all that a mother is.

Motherhood is the act (or art) of sacrifice. Mothers do what they do to keep their kids safe, and to help them grow. They do it without question. At all ages they comfort their children through skinned knees, prolonged hospital stays, broken hearts and broken marriages. They are there for us, always, in all ways. That’s what makes them mothers.

Mothers give us something to believe in. When hungry, as a child, we knew mom would have dinner on the table, or lunch packed for school. When we had to get somewhere, or be picked up later, it was mom who was there. When frustrated, or disappointed, a mother’s ear was always available.

A mother makes growing up comfortable, they make growing up bearable; they make growing up necessary.

In a world where expectations are high, rules are set, and guidelines placed on just about everything we do, we intrinsically know a mother’s love and acceptance is there unconditionally. And they provide it whether we say thank you, or not.

Mothers give us someone to believe in. My mom, now long gone, remains the greatest influence on my life. She not only provided me with lessons on parenthood by example, she also taught me to believe in myself. In athletic, artistic, or career pursuits, her words of wisdom have always guided me. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

I haven’t done everything I want (not yet), but I keep trying. I continue trying for me, and for her. Mothers are there your entire lifetime. Even when they are gone, the morals and moments keep coming back.

Mothers do amazing things, every day. In fact, a mother is charged with the most amazing thing of all. The role, in its most elemental description, is being the one to give life. Think, just for a moment, of what a mother is able to produce from her body, a body that is able, has the power and capacity, to produce another human being.

From the womb come eyes that take in beauty, lungs that fill with air, fingers that touch, and souls that transcend time; all produced from a mother’s body.

I can pride myself in what I have been able to give, or pass on, to my daughter, but I didn’t give her life.

Anybody who doesn’t believe in miracles need only think of childbirth. Any one who doesn’t believe in true love only needs to think of their mother.

Larger Than Life

Posted on April 29, 2015 Leave a comment

_MG_9752
She first held my hand
five delicate fingers, swallowed up
in my palm. Fingers grasping
                            at my fingers.
Tiny.
No indication of such a big life.
                           There was comfort
                            Reassurance.
                            A small hand, I thought I could
                            hold it forever.
              Tighter
              to keep it there.
              Stop it from growing

The hand has grown, still delicate
                           there
                           in my palm.
Now that of a woman
like no other
a part of me.
Like
no other woman.

                 She is full with 
                 room to grow
                                    to emerge.
                            She is what I have, and
                            the one who is
                                             always there.
As I have tried to be.

A strength more than physical
difficult
to comprehend.
A gentle patience, a
small hand,
wisdom larger than
life itself.

                            I want to hold her hand
                            a while longer
                                                  to reassure
                             I have done something right
                                                          in this world.
When there
I have no questions.
None of myself, as a human being
                                     or otherwise.
                           I host
                           too many doubts
                           which have withered
                           my ability
                           to see.

In her I see what I am and
what I could be.
If nothing else,
the one good thing
I can be
and will always be
to her.

©2015 j.g. lewis

Leave A Mess

Posted on April 22, 2015 Leave a comment

 

IMG_0528

I could warm milk on the stovetop, but that
would only leave a mess. Sometimes you don’t do
what you need to do, because it leaves

a mess. The day still stings, long gone now. It’s shadows
of commerce and confusion invariably run up
against ever-present fears. My heart is restless, doubting

all intelligence my head provides. My body rises,
on its own will, against tepid protest, returning
slowly to an empty kitchen. Six minutes

past three. It feels later. The clock denies. Laughter outside,
from wayward teenagers, scurries through the window.
I wonder how, in the past, I could sequester myself

from day-to-day cruelties. I wonder why I no longer
could, or was allowed to. Or why I let myself
express everything I felt or what I didn’t. The soul

recycles its madness, the night still the night, taking
on the tensions of a thunderstorm that will
never come. My body is weary, all of me is

weak. I am tired. Yet my fingers move, like this is
automatic, like this is what they should be doing. My
mind is all over the place, but my fingers are here. Words

appear, recounting, repeating, earnest thoughts of fears
splattered across the page. Sometimes you have to do
what you need to do. Even, if it leaves a mess.

©2014 j.g. lewis

 

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