Waters of Life Flow Within, explained

We posted this mashup on July 2nd to minimal response. Perhaps a rewrite might help. 

What’s a mashup you may ask?

For one thing, it’s a bit of this and that; often with excerpts from Waiting for Westmoreland. That memoir covers my life from youth through Vietnam and beyond into relationships and marriage; plus the advent of Buddhism.

For another, a mashup is creative thoughts and links from songs, life experiences and other Snippets of time, places, people and events juxtaposed. AND thoughts or perspectives on writing, thematic observations, etc.

I’d like to think it’s a literary thing–but maybe it isn’t. Densely packed allusions fill Gravity’s Rainbow. It’s the doorstop fruitcake cliché in print. But all fruitcakes are not all doorstops—nor are all award-winning books, I imagine.. My wife’s rum-soaked fruitcake is soft and moist, and rich in its varied flavors. The critics loved Pynchon’s novel, awarding it a national book award. I hated it. I tried reading Gravity’s Rainbow three times before giving up. If it takes hours of research (I won’t brag about my honors degree from college), no thanks.

On the other hand, I loved Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. It received a nomination for that same award, but didn’t win. It also got nominated for Hugo and Nebula science fiction awards–but lost out to Ursula K. Le Guin’s book, Left Hand of Darkness that same year.  The film version of his book DID win a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Vonnegut’s book was eminently more readable than Pynchon’s. Fifty year’s from its 1973 publication, Gravity’s Rainbow has yet to be made into a movie (although one seems to be in progress, finally).

Contextual clues to the post; it includes these items:

  • Fair use lyrics from the Talking Heads (the song is “Once in a Lifetime“–lots of allusions to water, above and below ground).
  • References to waterfalls that we have visited (my wife of nearly 42-year and I love them)
  • Allusions to a major character/term in Dune–(both the movie and the book)
  • Traveling the US
  • Integration with  movie scenes and the life of yours truly

Waters of Life Flow Withinedited

My water of life needed more than a Kwisatz Haderach (Dune) could giveNearing age 30, with two former wives, I was still searching for answers. .

Minnehaha Falls laughed. (In Minneapolis)

Cracks in self-confidence were widening after Liz (2nd wife) left. I thought a path would appear once I learned enough. It hadn’t. Couldn’t blame Liz after five years of indecision. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The over-examined one is very frustrating.

Falling Water—loved it, but wouldn’t want to live there—(even if Frank Lloyd Wright built it).

Amidst the dull peoplescape of the party, Lisa sparkled like a mirrored ball above a dance floor. Who is that person? Why is she so alive, so different from the rest? So I asked her. “I’m a Buddhist. I chant,” she said. Words I’d heard once, two years before—out of mind but not forgotten. She wound up in my lap, where we blissfully exchanged kisses, heedless of others. Eventually, she stood up to go.

Blitzed, I said, “I’ll remember your number,” repeating it several times.

“I’ll remember your kisses,” she replied, with a blissful smile promising more.

I called her the next day. I had to know more—and how I could get the zest for life she had. She gave me a thick book and took me to meetings.

We were on the phone at all hours—day or night. I wanted it all—her mind, her power, discipline and self-control. I wanted her body too, but I couldn’t have it. She was trying to remain objective about whether she’d be marrying this other guy. That didn’t keep us from getting very intense. Like her unexpectedly spending the night.

Liz and I still talked. I visited her in an apartment miles away. While there, in a bedroom voice, she called a guy. For my benefit? My heart bled on the 30-minute drive home but I got over it. She called me for rides. Were we still friends or was she was using me? I didn’t care. We spent one night spooning naked after she had had an abortion.

Journal notes  3/2/77—What a curious state of affairs; I love two women yet may have sex with neither! But I’ll settle for two birds in the bush in the absence of one in the hand.

And—It is truly exhilarating to perceive the prospect of finally leaving the postgraduate womb and entering the world. A rite of passage nears. It inducts the spirit of joy into the coming challenge. Change will be abounding; in change there is growth.

On March 31, Lisa and I stopped for drinks at Coco’s, an Arlington (Virginia) bar. The next night, I went with Liz to a Fools’ Party. How apropos. There were no singles at the party. It was all couples, whose common thread was wives working at the same place as Liz. While there, Liz made a remark of some sort to which I jokingly said, “You can be replaced.”

“I already have, by Lisa,” she retorted—she knew about her.

The following night, as typical as it had become, Lisa called me at 1:30 a.m. We stayed on the phone until 3:30.

Waters of life flow within.

In between time spent on Lisa and Liz, school, clerking 20 hours a week at the law firm and odd hours devoted to sleep, I continued going to Buddhist meetings. Toward the end of law school, Liz and I saw a movie.

Liz insisted on attending my graduation. She did, after all, work at a shitty job during my first two years of law school. Afterwards, we had a relaxed dinner at the Magic Pan Créperie, reprising the ending scene from Annie Hall. As Diane Keaton [Annie Hall] departs, Woody Allen so oddly but aptly concludes with, “Guy goes in to see his psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken.’

‘Why don’t you turn him in?’ The psychiatrist asks.

‘I would, but we need the eggs.’ I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships—they’re totally irrational and absurd, but we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.”

Water flows below ground, like the spring fed Cedar Lake in Minneapolis where Jill and I went six years before—the cold water upwelling if you swam over it. Similar, but not like life’s water within.

Soon, Liz and Lisa were gone. A break from serious relationships was past due. I had been chasing intimacy as a substitute for happiness through someone else. I had been worshipping the womb, insistent on a communion of souls through the offerings I left there. I needed to find happiness first within myself.

In the summer of 1977, I went looking for the social life I had never had. In 15-months, I went out with more people than I ever had before. Mostly fellow members. Strong, self-assured vital women. Like fish, they needed no bicycles. I went to bed with none of them. I enjoyed conversation and company for a while, calibrating my interpersonal sensor for the future.

At a Halloween party in 1978, the sensor went off. I had known my future third wife for over a year. An attractive woman, trim at 5’6”, with relaxed hair falling around her café au lait face. Not among those I had casually dated. Now we hit it off dancing. I came dressed in a caftan, carrying a staff. I was Gully Foyle, from The Stars My Destination, with his Maori tiger-face painted on mine, NOMAD and all. She was a silver-skinned alien of uncertain origin. No lap, as with Lisa, just bliss.

The next time, we had just returned from a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We smoked a little dope at a gathering of friends. That led inevitably to the munchies and then the cheap wine.

“Whoa, man, skip me on this round,” I said to the proffered produce. “I’m green enough already.” She was warmly sympathetic, compassionately comforting me in my discomfited state.

“That’s OK, John, just sit back and relax for a few minutes,” she said, stroking my cheek. “Do you want some Alka Seltzer or Mylanta?”

“Nah. I just need to sit still for a little while.”

“All right.”

Nobody had been so felicitous to me in a long time. Maybe she cares about me. It had to be time to go for the eggs—she even liked SF! Soon enough we were an item, going together to one party or another.

Caught in Anita Baker’s rapture of love? Yes and no. Same as it ever was? (Talking Heads) No. The water flowed above the ground. Then I told her father we wanted to get married. Told you that story already.

Niagara Falls, Maid in the Mist. Blackwater Falls, West Virginia. We like falls. Trails in the woods. Sci-fi. Trains.

The kayaker paddled silently in the still waters of St. Mary’s Lake, Glacier National Park, leaving a widening wake behind him.

Her words and phrases start stories or scene snippets. She is my muse. She is my beautiful wife who lives with me in a beautiful house. A house that comes from causes made in decades past. The third time is the charm in this lifetime.

So, what say you? (dialogue from Morrowind—a computer gameI’d like to know.

2 thoughts on “Waters of Life Flow Within, explained

  1. I enjoyed reading this, John. I’ve been to Minnehaha Falls as I’ve got a brother who lives in Minnesota. In, fact, we’re heading to the shores of Lake Superior for a Springer Family Reunion this summer.

    Way more plusses than minuses in the balance sheet of life. We just learned we will be first-time grandparents, though they haven’t made the news public yet. I got a pacemaker a little over three months ago, and other than the mysterious aches and pains of aging, I can’t complain. Like you, I’m with the right woman.

    1. Thanks, Pete. 🙂 Superior is really something–600 feet deep in the center and gets only barely warm enough for a dip on the southern shore in August or September. We had a nice trip to Duluth and Two Harbors a few years ago.
      Need to replace the battery (and the whole thing) of the loop monitor this spring sometime; no pacemaker, just a tracker.

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