Phases and Stages

I’m going through a phase.

It’s not numbered. It wasn’t “phased in.” It’s not a change of life. It’s decades past puberty and, I hope, a good deal ahead of dementia. I’m probably the last person on earth who would declare it maturity, a concept about which I have been in denial since it seemed like a plausible goal.

Too much of my childhood was spent uncool. I’ve been trying to overcome that disadvantage for decades. College gave it a good start, but that was so long ago.

Look at me. I write novels and songs. I’ve spent most of the day producing amateurish video. I blog habitually. I try to sing songs as I’ve never heard them sung. I follow up a book on old-timey music great Ralph Stanley, written conversationally, with a book on Franklin D. Roosevelt, written by an English lord. The latter book may endure for much of the year, so I’m hedging my bets right now with a book on Paul Simon that I purchased at Dollar Tree. That’s the one I’ll take with me in the car. The FDR book could lead to a hernia.

To compensate for the serious study of Roosevelt, I try to go out and have a few beers from time to time. A single beer has been in my refrigerator for nearly a month. I don’t drink beer. I drink a dozen, once or twice a month.

Decades after I had to memorize the poem, I’ve finally learned “Delight in Disorder” by Robert Herrick:

A sweet disorder in the dress

Kindles in clothes a wantonness

A lawn about the shoulders thrown

Into a fine distraction;

An erring lace, which here and there

Enthralls the crimson stomacher;

A cuff neglectful, and thereby

Ribands to flow confusedly;

A winning wave, deserving note,

In the tempestuous petticoat;

I see a wild civility:

Do more bewitch me, than when art

Is too precise in every part.

I lack a petticoat, of course, but if I had one, you can bet it would be tempestuous.

Providing testimony to my personal dichotomy is that, while I spent last week completing my income taxes in a fit of civicmindedness and want of money, I’ve spent much of this one to date writing fiction and shooting videos of my songs. It’s a case of money I need and money I might get should I hit the fiction- and songwriting Powerball.

A man’s got to make a living, but he’s also got to dream.


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