GRADUATE STUDENT

I left my idealism somewhere

Back in early manhood, apprenticeship

For getting by only.

My knees hurt

Not like they did before, to pay the bills

Walking behind a power-mower

All day

 

Isn’t it ironic that Wordsworth will sing of

Quarry workers singing as he

Wanders in his daffodils

Whitman praises the common laborer

As he loiters in the grass

 

The privations, the deprivations

The catalog of things to do without

Logged into my bitterness–

Formerly an occupation–I try not to be bitter.

 

I read Hemingway to buoy my spirits–

His Catholic poverty in Paris,

His un-Christian feeling of superiority

To the vague wealthy.  I guess I feel superior

 

Or try to feel superior to buoy my spirits.

The indignities,

The fear as I lie to a bill-collector,

slough subordination,

Try to feel above it all.

While the town keeps me down.

 

To dignify the working class—

Which I am now and a grad student

And the town keeps me down—

Your sore knees

Must speak more than their pain—

The bills that demand their “dignity”

The landed idle

Still demand my money

As they loiter

 

Though,

In the end

I will have to forget

The laborious pain

Of achieving a place of less pain.

Pain where?

 

Will I be able to forget adulthood?

When eternity speaks its demands.

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Reflections about Money

For 3/4 of my adult life I’ve lived in poverty.  My impoverished life, though, was of my own making.  I was chasing a goal–education–and that was why I ended up poor.

I resented my poverty quite a bit, when I was in school.  I didn’t see why poverty was a necessary condition for education.  The English department at my university had a motto, “Going for broke!”  Back then, I spoke with a young woman once, and asked her if she were considering Ph.D. studies.  She said that she wasn’t.  When I asked her why, she replied, “I don’t want to spend the next 8 years of my life in poverty.”  However, pursuing the goal of higher education made my poverty bearable.  I had a higher purpose; it transcended the pecuniary world.  I tried to make myself feel better by thinking about Hemingway, and his poverty in Paris while he was learning to write.  Nobody likes poverty; but when one likes a calling more than money, one accepts one’s condition.

Now I have a comfortable income.  That has been for 12 years out of my 40 adult years.  I am still getting used to the feeling of having enough money, in fact more than I need.  But I am still pursuing a higher purpose, though, with my money.  I am recording a disk of my original music.  And that is draining a considerable amount of my income.  Some might consider this an extravagance, in that I’m not a professional musician and I’m not in a band.  But even as higher education is not always a money-making endeavor, but a meaningful pursuit, so music is not always a money-making endeavor, but art is a meaningful pursuit.  And without the CD project, I don’t know what I would do with the several thousands I am investing in this enterprise.  And for me, the purpose of money is to be used–not just possessed.

Most people secure gainful employment at a young age and spend most of their lives financially set.  I think self-image for many depends on money.  Sociologists have given us status labels.  They made up the categories, “upper-class; middle-class; lower-class.”  In doing so, they told us how we were to think of ourselves.  I try not to measure my self-worth by money.  But when I was an impoverished student, always riding in the back-seat of someone else’s car, not being able to buy “nice things,” not being able to take a girl out on a date, I felt worthless.  This, despite my higher calling, higher education.  My brother, a rich engineer, told me, “It’s only money.”  That didn’t help.  Now that I’m in a good financial place, I don’t think about money at all, don’t measure myself by money.

Growing up, my generation disdained money.  The rock music of my time sung songs against materialism and money (Pink Floyd wrote a song with that for a title).  We talked about love and peace; looked to get back to Nature.  Perhaps that’s why I didn’t pursue money in my life, but went for more spiritual acquisitions.  I made my bed and I’m happy to sleep in it.  Everybody makes their own bed.  They must sleep in it, and hopefully they are happy to, as I am.

CALENDAR AND SOUL

And the calendar marks another

Year, month, day, hour, minute, second

Calendar and clock

Time and the soul’s time

Long ago, a crushed career, crushed future, crushed life, carved time in my soul

Giving my soul relations

Before and after, what I am now, since

Pain

And moments at church camp, church, with pastors, watching the sun, stars, synergy at interfaith

seminars

Mark states in my soul, relations

To the material world

Calendars and clocks

Year, month, day, hour, minute, second

To meaning, moment

Revealing and retreating, manifesting and hiding

Holiness

And Blessed time with a beloved

Grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild

Friend, colleague, fellows, congregation

Leaving lasting moods measuring remaining

Movements of the soul

Community

Meeting the world, a world of people

Success, triumph, embarrassment, achievement and failure

Summa Cum Laude, Harvard, Ph.D. articles published, a book, professor, pastor, money, poverty

Personal achievement, recognized success, successes

Status

Time marking—soul and calendar

Year, month, day, hour, minute, second

Pain, holiness, community, status

Measuring, containing, marking time

Age and state

Time and the soul

Another year today

And all that has made me

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