Secrets of the Toad

E.B. White wrote: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.”

As a self-addled idler, I say screw the former part of that personal conundrum and let’s fall helplessly into the enjoy part. Mixing hedonistic pastimes with little bursts of languid philosophy, I’ll take a lazy swipe at the idea that so much thinking is now done for us that it’s damn time we indulge in all kinds of idleness until we are all over Descartes “I think therefore I am.”

If I don’t see the sun soon, I’m going to contemplate taking up heliotropism.

Yesterday it was the mercurial swiftness of 3,000 words added to my novel. Today it’s the slow burn of 800. I wonder if lawyers have similar problems? Shit, I got that guy off with a fine. Now my new client is looking at 20 years to life!

Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is a staple in our house in the middle of the Maine woods. And our favourite woodland character?

Why, Mr. Toad, of course. You’ve got to love an animal that gets 20 years for being green. And I don’t like motorcars as much as Mr. Toad, but I just love his obsessive nature.

Here’s me as Mr. Toad explaining the need for a life that is more than just spending, getting, jumping in the first available lifeboat to make it to the other side. “Why, I’d say anything in there, Badger. You’re so eloquent and persuasive in there. But, no, I’m not at all sorry for smashing up life to get to the gems.”

The year I owned a motorcycle and split the air
in southern Spain, and could smell the oranges
in the orange groves as I passed them
outside of Seville, I understood
I’d been riding too long in cars,
probably even should get a horse,
become a high-up, flesh-connected thing
among the bulls and cows. Stephen Dunn

“A battler is someone who struggles forever and will never, ever, really get anywhere. And in Australia that’s a really honorable position.” Peter Carey

“A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.” Nelson Algren.

Here are some Scots.


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