When I was eleven

When I was eleven my Dad wore
a fedora hat to work each day—
Took it off and placed it on the
piano when he came home—That
was the fashion then for ambitious
Madison Avenue executives

A restless wide-ranging curiosity

Lucien said he became a painter
because he used to tell everyone
he was a painter and had to, for
that reason, make good on it
He lived within himself and
didn’t try to conform to us

People love what’s bright and shiny

Heifetz had few students, though
he wanted to teach, because most
violinists found his level of perfection,
and him, too intimidating—He played
with the intensity of one who wants
to live and knows his life will end

True pleasure is simple

There was no trade to speak of
in our little city—“nothing to please
the eye or amuse the fancy”—We
tried, ideally, to cultivate a strategy of
civilized openness among friends—We
learned how to say just what we think

The highest good is the pursuit

“He read my resume and seemed
genuinely unimpressed”
“You should do something more
profound” my violin teacher  advised
me, as he sipped some sherry—“Being
a third-rate violinist isn’t profound”

of pleasure and the avoidance of pain

“If you were a drunkard” said the famous
old country singer, “you might just get drunk
and fight—and I’ve done that too! I went
through all that”—We strain our moral
fiber in those totalitarian moments when
we say one thing and think another

Extravagance isn’t pleasure

Darwin thought maybe he’d become
a country parson who dabbled in
natural history—Real creation’s made
in a trance by a mind’s well-trained
intuition—Then you find your own voice
and identify as a stranger in this world  

and neither is addiction

-February 20, 2021-