The Rifle on the Beach, 1967

July 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

Beach in Gaza Strip, tb040305579_thumbForty-seven years ago, July 19,1967, I was traveling in Israel with a university study group. I had anticipated this trip for months, reading whatever I could find and watching as our itinerary began to coincide with sabre-rattling and then the explosion of the Six Day War. I was old enough to fill my journal with grand ideas about the world and my place in it but young enough, and protected enough, to feel excitement about going to a place where something was happening. « Read the rest of this entry »

Writer’s Retreat, Day Four

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

344024659When I had a one-year appointment at the Johnson Museum many years ago I had a phone very much like this sitting on my desk. It wasn’t red and I don’t remember those buttons on the right but the ones along the bottom were for the different lines and they would light up when a call came in. It was very distracting. No matter what I was doing at my desk, if those buttons lit up, my concentration was broken and invariably I would wait to see if the signal came that the call was for me. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cultural Encounter

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Central Highlands, Vietnam

Central Highlands, Vietnam

President Johnson: Things are going reasonably well in the South [Vietnam], aren’t they?
McNamara: Yes, I think so.
President Johnson: What are these 6,000 men doing? They’re trying to locate the enemy, I see, and they’ve run them into caves.
McNamara: Yeah.
President Johnson: Do you know anything about that?
McNamara: Yeah, and they’ve–but it’s a small–it’s just so typical, Mr. President. It’s a relatively small enemy force. We think we’re taking a heavy toll of them, but it just scares me to see what we’re doing there with taking 6,000 U.S. soldiers with God knows how many airplanes and helicopters and firepower and going after a bunch of half-starved beggars … And the great danger – and it’s not a certainty, but it’s a danger we need to look at, is that  they can keep that up almost indefinitely.

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Firing Range

June 19, 2014 § 3 Comments

imagesIt happens in the morning, usually. I am reading, or in the garden, or writing at a table outdoors, so lost in my own thoughts that at first it doesn’t register. Because it is unlike the other sounds of my day, for a long time I just didn’t have a place to put what I was hearing. It didn’t fit, which meant I couldn’t identify it. I’m lucky. My life is so supremely peaceful that I simply could not find room in my brain for volleys of gunfire.

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Going back

April 24, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Monastery garden in Pleiku, Viet Nam

Before I made my first visit to Vietnam three years ago, I put a message on a Linkedin group for UNC alums, asking for memories of the 60s in Chapel Hill. I had in mind a community-building reminiscence about a challenging and exciting time, shared with the benefit of the wisdom that comes from decades of reflection.

That didn’t work out so well.

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Game Changers

April 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

dvcoyote_2“Why did it take you so long to tell me you saw some of my cousins?” Coyote asked. “I’d like to hear about that!”

He was painting the dining room. I was a little surprised. When I left he said he was just going to paint the pantry so that had been fine with me. Now there were drop cloths everywhere.

“Well, yes, I did, as a matter of fact.” I said. “In Death Valley, between Mormon Point and Split Cinder Cone.” « Read the rest of this entry »

Signs and Wonders

April 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

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lizard tracks in the sand

I couldn’t see the lizard and then I could. I will never forget the moment. It thrills and haunts me. It wasn’t that I found it by scanning or that I was looking in the wrong place and got redirected. I was looking right at the lizard and I couldn’t see it and then I could. “The scales fell from my eyes,” is the Biblical language and I don’t mind using that language here because the moment did feel mystical. It felt like a gift had been given to me, one that I had longed for without knowing it.

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