The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day #8-Underground Freeway

Notes from the Underground
Underground Freeway–Day 8, May 29, 2009
By Pi Kielty

[See author’s note on Day #7 of “Underground Freeway,” about writing notes #s 7, 8, and 9 upon returning home from the “tour d-question”].

Day Eight began with the now usual waking fresh in the morning, rustling from the tent at almost 10:30 AM. The night before, Thursday (Day Seven), enjoyed a night out, perhaps playing pool on Stelliga’s uneven table. Lucky and I stayed home with her younger child, and the older one came home as we watched movies. The movie we watched the one movie of the 21st Century to make my favorites lists, an independent flick, small budget, beautifully done, sweet and sad as simple and awesome movie making can be done. The movie, Sweetland, I suppose, entertained my dreams as I found myself thinking about it as soon as my eyes opened. I owned the dvd we watched, and the message and theme–about liberty, life, land and love–always speaks power to my spirit.

Most friends think that I think too much. Yes, I guess I do, in their point of view. For myself, it depends on the Bunny speed or tortoise crawl at which my brain accelerates. My general goal in a day of life seeks to discipline my thinking on good, positive things. It did no wrong to me the morning of the eighth day to think the good. . . not thoughts, but concerning a bright spirit, or better, and the joyful feeling of knowing that good, right and happiness in life happen in the miracles we only forgot to observe. Miracles indeed happen in untold numbers everywhere, like the miracle of new life in any animal or flower upon birth. May be indeed if birth is such a miracle in this world, death could be a happy miracle as well, but one we often fail to capture on this side of joy and suffering. Observed from another side, what happiness does a reverse birth bring parents in a world we cannot see or know? Are we afraid without remembering when we enter the old and new worlds through a womb?

I read that morning, Day 8, and into the afternoon. Lucky and her family caroused in and out of the house from lunch with her mom, to all their jobs, from school, to errands. Friday was a clear day without rain and I took advantage of my last full day in Stone Mtn. to film the neighborhood and the house. Around 3 PM, I drove the seven blocks to the downtown. Why I did not walk dumbfounds me. I guess I think typical American-like. I walked into the bookstore I briefly visited the day before, Mr. Chet’s Book Nirvana Emporium. Like the rest of Stone Mtn.’s architecture, Chet’s had a white stucco exterior, with a black trimming and accent framing, what I believed an early 1960's rural but rich small urban community found in functional yet formal design theme. Stone Mtn. looked very busy and prosperous, past and present.

As a rail junction and depot, one through which rail traffic still crawled several times day, the community most likely grew wealthy on steel track highway traffic transferring the Wisconsin and Upper Plains commerce to Chicago and vice versa. From that point of departure, a strong middle and better-off working class might have developed to give their city much of the impressions I absorbed, in design, diversity, and even the words spoken by people I met. And as all communities with hard working, successful, earlier generations have done, and located so close to the one of the largest and most advanced Universities in the nation, Stone Mtn.’s founding families (I conjectured) would have sent their latter generations to higher learning. Such is an advantage of combining natural intelligence we all possess with the ability to invest return on labor in a better education. Nothing separates wealth and poverty like education, except perhaps nutrition and addiction, (with all the attendant effects of poor diet and over-indulgence). But, again, this is a quick theory, not a thesis I can prove.

Chet’s bookstore occupied two and half floors of space, the half floor containing the military history in a cubby hole mezzanine between a full third floor above the space that appeared to be a living space. I spent over an hour browsing at this book temple, on all three floors. Chet’s Book Nirvana Emporium displayed used books, new books, rare books, collector’s antiques, many signed by someone or owned by a yoohoo of esteem. Some great collections of comic books, movie franchises, and games of those, along with the BOOKS, filled me with desire to buy the entire store. Tens of thousands of good quality paperbacks, good quality in title and bindings, filled huge floor to ceiling stacks in the well-lighted dry basement. Without question, the entire store contained as many books or more I would guess four of the public libraries back home could compile at once and together. Thank the god I have not the wealth to feed that addiction.

After browsing, I talked with Chet, a man in his late 50s who chained smoked, about his views on the world. He was well-informed, to little surprise, considering the knowledge, ideas, and peer creativity contained in book-form within his store. While not sure if Chet himself read much, he had to know something about some things at least. Chet’s views, I decided, differed in a lot of ways from mine. He, a conservative dispassionate, and a cold-hearted realist about dollars, sense, and “god,” did not offend me in any regard. I, a libertarian, internationalist, and myopic utopian-optimist, just listened more than I shared. Chet did have knowledge, and he knew facts. In the spectrum, since neither Chet like myself appeared overly successful with life in business, we got along as equals yet in different worlds of viewpoint.

As a reader of these notes might guess by now, I do read more than average. Reading fills me with facts and theories, strategems, entertainment and fictional gambits. My friend, Ozzish back home, once commented that I hungered for knowledge, as we sat among the stacks of my library in temporary placement in the basement where I live. Indeed, I have at least a few thousand titles, if not several, of books, magazines, and other diverse media of music, movies, collectibles, antiques, games, etc., just like Chet’s, but not as many since I’m not yet 40. Such is my love of knowledge and entertainment, facts, fictions, sounds, and visions–art and letters, science and not quite science.

When talking to Chet, at one point I commented how I would like to spend part of eternity in his store, since such a vast vault of accumulated thoughts in print form appealed to me as some little, but not quite entire, slice of a universal “good place for me.” Chet asked, “Do you want to buy it?” Tempting as a day dream, thank the god I do not have wealth. I would never sell any of it if I owned, in all likelihood, as I would sub-real dream a delusion that I really could read all the books in Pi’s Book Heaven Store.

I wondered after visiting that cigarette smelling store what I would trade for even more knowledge, or the opportunity to gain as much as I could in this life. That question led me to explore more about the whole matter, that of knowledge by any means, and wisdom gained through life, after which I recognized that knowledge from sources like books, people, music or films, about real things or pigments of colorful imagination, never implies experience in life itself. Experience comes by doing. In my life, paralysis can stem from too much self-Socratic dialogue, contemplation; questioning or questing every premise, every solution. When I reach mental apoplexy, my life becomes frozen, wondering whether I missed one fact, made one error, too many. A life thinking about things, and paranoia about what might happen can really happen, would keep me in bed and never up and in the greatest game of all, life itself.

Knowledge does have certain advantages. It merely predicts the “offence to what is really happening.” And without some knowledge, humanity must start from negative infinity in everything, and do it all the time, just to get to the start of zero. I hope humanity can find satisfaction that Dante already wrote the Divine Comedy; Michaelangelo sculpted David for us so we do not have to do it ourselves, though we would only do it worse than he; that Einstein solved relativity; and that Leonardo da Vinci could very damn well have done anything he pleased. The trick with my contemporary fellow humanity must be: How can we take the next step from the past within our present, to get us to the future we want it to become?

The key, I think, comes, yes, with knowledge and experience, and more of that thing called WISDOM. All that I believe at this point in life about wisdom comes down to one moral, one axiom, one axe-edged blunt instrument that can lop off the branch of naive innocence from any tree of life: That WISDOM comes more so from pain than pleasure.

If where we fail brings greater learning than the lesser evils of triumphs, then humanity still has a lot to learn. I feel old, though, because of weariness and exhaustion from catching up with the high ideals that I think should be possible in my life. How many others do not feel the same, that fewer minority who reach mid-maturity and cannot deal with themselves in honesty. My friend, “Archon Lasan” was right when he said, “We are born human, and we grow up tribal. At some point, we spend the rest of our lives trying to be human again.” May the northern lakes’ very own Jack Armstrong rest in peace, for he taught many well. May we all reach humanity.

In this ruminating on Chet’s, in the days that followed since I’ve been home, the question of Day #8 on the Underground Freeway started to gestate. It had a hard birth, and I’m more grateful now than when I was at Chet’s. We learn for some reason; we build knowledge within and collectively for some purpose. In that sum of reasoning, facts, entertainment, and the pain of experience, would we trade all to relive a smarter life, a less painful one, or even one where we found more happiness than we did? History is like a repeating record on the stereo. Are we stuck on something past which we fail to rise to the next level of human spirit? toward another song, another thought, another pleasure, our muse which truly makes us happier to be us? Do we ever learn enough in life just to be in total peace before dying? I hope I’m not the only accidental optimist in thinking we can someday do better with all we know.

Question: “What do we do with whatever wisdom we suffered to learn if few, especially those younger, have to learn the same mistakes and successes as we?”


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