SMILEY’S DICE   Adventures in Livingness

Adventures in beginnings, starting over, and rewriting a story you’ve lived many years is the same as re-writing a story. It takes the same blind courage.

Behavior change (James)About half between forty and fifty years old, you hear people say, “It’s too late to start over,”  It’s not true. I hope it never feels like that when I wake up. Just thinking about it makes me run in circles. Behavioral change is essential to living a full life. In the middle of the night I woke up as if it was morning.  When I looked out the window, the moon was white as a  laundered tablecloth, staring back at me. It said get up and write.

I retreated to my corner of the world, a tiny room bathed a blush pink and gold, and wrote from beneath the goose down comforter. The moon watched.   Now that the lights and decorations are placed in the cartons, the wrapping and ribbon tossed away, a landfill of disturbing, distressing, and terrifying global news is dumped on us.  I do not understand the external world of political and international power, wealth, and motivation.

I fled that world a long time ago when I learned that men who controlled the paths of others were dangerously self-serving.  I recall my father sitting on that green velvet sofa, holding the remote in one hand and watching a news program. He turned it off and said to me, “Luellen, everything that goes on is fixed; you cannot hide your head in the sand and think otherwise.” I nodded my head in understanding, while internally I thought my father was suffering from his usual psychosis.  Eventually I crossed over, and forfeited my interest in politics. The forces of evil have shattered that glass of indemnity.

This year is not about vapid resolutions catering to our comfort, it is about survival. It’s about transforming behavior and habits, excesses and denial. Doing it in a group, makes us feel less traumatized. Imagine, all the thousands of people paddling the same current; forcing back the mortgage lender, relinquishing precious possessions, driving a car with a shattered windshield, wearing coats without any down feathers left, and wondering when the pink slip will arrive. Alienation and neurosis are at the root of people’s aggression and discontent. It can lead to unexpected violence, and then to massacre and war. It is a collection neurosis that grows worse every year.

The inner world, where each of us faces a truth no one else knows, is ruptured. All I can think of is bringing a little bit of light to someone you know is in darkness.





“Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous.”

 Anais Nin.  1931

Expecting snow, expecting pleasure… we are all in some range of expectation. Where you may be hunched under an umbrella waiting for the light to turn green, so you can find shelter inside a café, a shop, where someone else waits for the arrival of a friend, the death of a loved one, the offer in writing, the publication, the house to sell, the decision to resonate, the pain and suffering to subside.

I think of something my father used to say, “You made your bed, now you lie in it.”  And another one, “It’s your lot in life.”  I began writing Smiley’s Dice in 2002 from a desk in a Solana beach rental.  Maybe in two years I’ll have a column in a newspaper or magazine, and maybe I won’t.  It’s my lot: to not give up.

Santa Fe is blistery cold, the street dry and the sidewalks baking sheets of white snow.  Out my window is a metallic sky that hints of more snow.  This sky slows the rhythms of the body and mind; it invades the hurried motions of pedestrians, vendors and hotel staff. There is an absence of light that intercepts outward vision, so we turn inwards.  I do anyway.  And because I gorge myself on the emotionalism, and interior life, I have not slid into home base.

That is why it has taken me longer to launch my writing for worldly consumption. Some of us are not in a rush to wave the “I made it” flag.  Some favor holding back, until the other elements of our character life are lived; our destructiveness, fear, pettiness, falsity, greed, so many steps to climb.

You and I have to trust in the pattern of our lives, the invisible thread that taunts us, teases us, and even torments us. My lot, postponed progress, maturity, development.

I was an A cup until college, without direction, a major in English, Art, and Psychology, before dropping out.  My major interest was the countryside beyond Sonoma State campus walls, the roaming cows, and flock of geese over the swamps, the crooked paths winding through eucalyptus woods, the poetry pasted on bulletin boards in the coffee house, the farmers in the pasture.

“When are you going to start taking your life seriously?” My father asked this question every few years, and every few years, I lied.

I was adulterated when I was first employed at the old Gibraltar Savings & Loan on Wilshire Boulevard. I was serious about how they measured my performance, and was vicariously unconcerned with personal gratification. How excited could I be about trust deeds? I cannot even recall what I was doing; just the name of the department, the Beneficiary Demand department.

All that restrictive training, in punctuality, production, and prudence, exploded late in life. I did not discover my passionate interest in writing until I was forty.I didn’t own a home until I was forty-seven, did not stop biting my nails until I was fifty-four, did not learn to love and trust until last year.

I developed friendships late in life, now I honor a treasure chest of sterling gems that glitter from near and far. Friends that abandon tasks to listen to me talk about moving the furniture again, and consent to my absence because the victor of writing has kidnapped me.

It is a day later, the sky is unchanged; still the cloud cover is nailed to the sky. In random conversations I have heard of people’s hardships, of sacrifice and compromise during this holiday season.  No more travel talk about Paris, and the Orient. No more extended vacations or extravagances.   We have to give ourselves a holiday from lament, from error, and from exasperation.  I tell myself not to be combative, not this year, and don’t polish the guilt and remorse, just let it fade away. Don’t open those links to real estate values, retirement funds and investments; open the link to History. Remember what the greatest generation was handed; remember soup lines, suicides, and World War II.

Mostly don’t reprimand your partner for unrealized expectations; They are most fragile to your voice and touch. The adventure in livingness is to look at your lot; and ride it with amusement and wonder.

A Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: