On Kierkegaard and Backyards

(photo by m.a.h. hinton)
(photo by m.a.h. hinton)

MontanaWriter has been on a bit of a hiatus again… a stepping back. Work on other projects and trajectories has been taking time and energy. The end result: there has a been a weariness in my bones I have not been able to shake.

Writing requires a peculiar kind of energy… an introspective enthusiasm. As a recalcitrant introvert, introspection usually comes naturally to me. It is social interaction after all that wears the introvert down. A lifetime battle with melancholia just complicates the whole matter.

In a bit over a year, MontanaWriter had 200 posts… a nice round number. Round numbers appeal to the very human desire for order and symmetry. Today’s post makes a not so tidy total of 201… a number that also appeals to our very human desire to stir things up every once in awhile with a bit of disorder.

In preaching class, they used to say that the role of the preacher in any sermon was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In art the goal is only slightly different: sow order where there is disorder and disorder where there is order. The result is remarkably similar.

Summer has come, after a fashion, to the North Country. The pessimist in us cannot help but mark the fact that in less than a week days will again begin to grow shorter. The optimist in us ignores the whole issue and concentrates on the joy of being outside again and in the feeling of warm sun on our skin again.

My daughter Dylan has now graduated. She has been down already to register for her first semester classes. Like her father, she is a learner. She is energized by learning new things. Flipping through the catalog of classes she finds one course after another that she wants to take. Like me she is also energized by possibility and worn down by necessity.

Kierkegaard talked about the “despair of infinite possibility” and the “despair of infinite necessity.” In our family, there is a even divide between Dylan and I who feel constantly the despair of necessity and my daughter Morgan and my wife who easily feel the despair of too much possibility.

Sue will not go shopping in a large department store. She needs smaller stores where choices are limited. Morgan is the same way. They are both happier also when they have schedules and things on a checklist that they can and need to accomplish. For Dylan and I, schedules, like checklists, are only another burden. They make me restless… her listless. Her last year of high school was a constant chafing at necessity. I am happy for her upcoming life of possibility. I also envy her.

MontanaWriter it seems will continue. I have had a few more inquiries about guest posting. Some of them seem legitimate. I am happy to offer the opportunity to someone who wants to write. I admire their willingness to send their writing to a stranger… their willingness to risk rejection.

June is half gone. Summer in full swing. The Twins are finally playing well and Mauer is due to be back in the lineup by the end of the week. Jeff Gordon won another race this week and the best NBA season in over a decade finished strong. Next year seems like it could be as good.  Outside in my backyard all the landscaping I have been doing is finally paying off. Soon I hope there will be time to sit on my deck and drink a cold beer and waste time watching my neighbor’s cottonwood tree again. My soul could certainly use a little less necessity and a lot more possibility.

On Dandelions and Other Erratum

(photo by Henry K. Kaiser)
(photo by Henry K. Kaiser)

Each year it catches us by surprise… this change in seasons. One morning we are standing at the kitchen window and we notice that it is full spring, green and alive. It is like someone somewhere flipped a switch and winter – cold and dark – is gone… already forgotten.

In the North Country, where gradual changes in seasons seem an anathema these days, we went from snow to 80 and full humidity in less than two weeks… and the dandelions are out in full force, celebrating.

I have never made peace with the whole suburban lawn thing. Grass seems to me a peculiarly fragile thing to hang so much hope on…so high maintenance, so easily corrupted. And yet I spent the last two days after work in the heat and humidity pulling dandelions… yet another battle in the war between nature and order.

It may be heretical to say, but I happen to like dandelions. They always make me smile. Bright yellow and friendly looking, they light up the ground and the day like bright yellow stars. And when they turn to seed… what child does not love picking a full-headed dandelion and blowing it away? One of life’s first glimpses into the mysterious wonder of nature.

And yet social convention and Midwest conformity say I must do my best to rid my yard of these bright yellow erratum. And so I do my part, though my heart is not the least bit in it. Another obligation I have found hoisted upon me by where I live.

Spring blooms beautiful
our hearts
like dandelions

like stars