As an atheist who believes in God, paradoxes and contradictions are something I am entirely comfortable with. So, it should come as no surprise that I don’t believe in ghosts… with notable exceptions.
Cool song, right? Did you listen to it? It’s a song about ghosts. It’s a lot older than I am. And the singer here, Burl Ives, has been dead since April of 1995. Hearing it today, at random, proves that Burl Ives is a ghost I believe in.
He came back to haunt me today as I am recovering from pink-eye, reminding me of my childhood and youth when he was the snowman in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer on TV around Christmas time.
He is also haunting me because 1995, the year he died, was the year I got married. I was married to my wife in Dallas in January. In March, we found out that we were going to have our firstborn child before the year was over. And we also found out that my grandfather was dying.
I was not able to make it from Texas to Iowa to see Grandpa Aldrich before he passed away. But he was told while he was in the hospital that we were expecting at about the same time that he got to hold my cousin’s newborn second son. Grandpa loved the music of Burl Ives. In many ways he was like Burl Ives. He even vaguely looked like Burl Ives. And we did get to attend his funeral. (My Grandpa, I mean.) And shortly after that, Burl Ives died and I saw the announcement on the news. This is one sort of ghost I believe in. He came to commune with me as I lay on my sickbed thinking about death. And on a day after finding out that my son, now in the Marines, is about to be discharged after five years and will be home next week. He is ghost of memory. A vibrant and talented spirit of the past who lives on through his work. And he brings with him the ghost of my Grandpa Aldrich, They are both no longer living, but lingering still in the echoes of memory, and still affecting life.
Then, of course, there’s the whole matter of the ghost dog. Yes, I continue to see flashes and images and shadows of a brown dog in our house, larger and browner than our own dog, that disappear as soon as you look directly at them. My oldest son has said that he has seen the very same thing, so it is not merely brain damage or impending insanity on my part, unless it is something that also runs in the family. And it has been suggested to me by an elderly neighbor that two families ago, a brown family dog lived in this house and may be buried in the yard.
I believe it is possible that life and love in a family leaves its imprint in many ways on a house, a home, an inhabited place.
I know it can easily be put down to misinterpretations of things seen in peripheral vision, or even mental misinterpretations responding to subtle suggestions. I doubt that there is actually a protoplasmic or energy form that continues after death. But if there is something there, it is benevolent rather than malevolent. Ghosts, if they exist, are a good thing, not a bad one. It doesn’t scare me to live in a place that has a soul capable of absorbing and incorporating a faithful family dog.
Basically, I am insisting that the existence of ghosts is irrelevant. I do not require the artificial reassurance of belief in a life after death to make me unafraid of facing death. I am a part of everything that exists, and I will continue to be a part of it even after my body is dissolved and my consciousness is silenced. Even if life on Earth is extinguished, the fact of my existence is not erased or invalidated. The poet says, “You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.” -from Disiderata by Anonymous
So, I am ill and thinking about death, for it is not very far away now. And I do not fear it. As I do not fear ghosts. For I don’t believe in them… except for the ones I do.
I needed something to reblog while I struggle with pink-eye. I chose this because of the picture, not the semi-incoherent Paffooney wisdom.
Do I believe in the little people? Of course not. If Tinkerbell depends on me, she is dead meat… or maybe dead fairy dust.
But if they do exist, then they are like the rooster riders in my picture, exploiting the world in the same way the big old slow ones do.
They are not our inferiors or our superiors. They are us. They mirror us and our beliefs, our dreams… our nightmares, and all the things deep within us that could ever possibly go bump in the night.
The world that I grew up in has disappeared into the past. I do not know what the future will bring. It used to be that spring was a time for flowers that reappear and fill Iowa with color again after a gray-and-white winter of cold and snow. And you could protect the little garden that exemplified your whole world with chickenwire, that Midwestern thing you see between the kids and the flowers in the Paffooney above keeping the beauty from being picked or trampled during games. As I write this, a massive cold front and potential blizzard threatens Iowa as a result of the changes industry has made to our climate. Will Iowa survive? The breadbasket of the world should be starting to plant the new summer’s crop. And floodwaters have spoiled enough of last years harvest to influence gas prices and raise food prices as there will be less ethanol and corn oil this fall.
And will I myself make it very much longer? I am ill today. I seem to have developed a pink-eye infection out of nowhere. I feel bad. And having just paid an exorbitant amount of money for Trump’s “beautiful tax cut”, I don’t have enough left for both a doctor’s visit along with antibiotics and food to last the rest of the month. Ah, the joys of being ill and bankrupt! Hopefully my body can still fight off infection by itself.
So, I end here today, feeling awful and still being a pessimist. We shall see if hope survives tomorrow. The fight is set before me for today.
Be careful of this tiger kitty
He rules with an iron paw
And every rat and egg and bird
Can end up in his maw
He pees where he likes
And buries poo in your garden
And sings to the moon off-key every night
And never begs of you pardon
Yes, I have been writing epically bad poetry for a long time… This is an example from 2013.
Hear the Music (a love poem)
The singer sings his song,
And wants the world to sing along,
Though the world has gone all wrong,
And the darkness stays too long.
The singer warms and croons,
Under bright romantic moons,
And carries hopeful tunes,
To the listening dolts and loons.
Can a song bring truth to light?
Can it help us win the fight?
Does it ease the world’s plight?
And set the wrongs aright?
Yes a song can save the world,
Though the truth must be unfurled,
And the listeners’ ears are twirled.
So the hurts will all be pearled.
Okay, okay… goofy poetry, I know. That’s the way I am. I have a goopy-sappy-goofy faith in the power of words. I call the chapters of my fiction Cantos because I believe them to be musical compositions and pieces of…
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