Letter in 40 point font written to James Womack in Nicaragua

I will clamber through the clouds and exist.

John Keats

Hello. Broken man.

I think if one writes -largely- the sound of the voice in the reader’s head will come out (or go in) like some telegram.

Perhaps. Stop.

Crutches, eh?

Not good.

Well, maybe good. I like the idea of the time it gives you for guitaring. And I very much like the idea of The Vacation For Those Locked In.

I suspect or fear some version of this (not the vacation, the locked-in-ness).

Here in Austin my friend Joe and I walk up hills most days and often discuss not the death but the drooling. The chair and the little red blanket.

Inevitable for us all of course, it’s just a matter of the blanket’s color.

But not stop just yet.

Stop.

In other news, all is well if predictable. I am also playing basketball. Madam and I put together (it was a formidable test of our relationship) a large and somewhat pro hoop and for the first time in my life I have been bouncing the ball and aiming it at the surprisingly small circle they provide you with.

Takes some practice.

As ever I have made it into a game (not the original version, another version). It struck me that there are few things I might be interested in doing or have the opportunity to easily do that I have never previously attempted, but are in themselves quite common.

Basketball is one.

In truth this avenue of entertainment is directly linked or was in fact presaged by your visit to Maine this past Summer and our discussions as regards plateaus.

Very soon after beginning to think (just think) about the beginning of thinking about throwing this ball into this circle I recognized that it would be a matter of plateaus.

That one would start, be foolishly poor, but improve a little, and be able to do so in a measurable manner:

If I take 100 shots every day from within a certain and similar distance I will know precisely how many go into the little circle and how many refuse to.

I can make charts, graphs, assumptions, draw conclusions.

And so that is what I have been doing. Every day. And, in addition, I discovered that it was a mostly mindless exercise, once one had decided a few basic and replicable things as regards form and approach.

And, as a result, thoughts about the specific process and then, soon afterwards, about many other processes associated with many other things, began to slide into my head without invitation or premeditation.

And it was as I realized this I also realized that without premeditation one, through this repetition, jumped or fell straight into meditation itself. Or something resembling what others who consciously seek this brand of unconsciousness describe or discuss as being so.

Mindless.

And so along with the counting and the marking and the keeping of my own esoteric scoring method, I found and find that at the end of every daily session I possessed a thought or an instinct or a conclusion I was not originally in possession of.

I have been doing this same thing with swimming in Barton Springs. Go. Swim four long laps and then see what has arrived in the mind. Sit on the bank of the Springs somewhat damply and write in the notebook brought along for the purpose.

But of late it has become colder (for here) and thus swimming has ceased. And I missed this ritual (the writing not the swimming).

But, now, basketball.

I began, not much better than any assigned control. My rates of getting the orange ball into the fixed space was no more effective than randomizing the arms of some mannequin roboticized for the purpose.

Perhaps 10 per cent.

Quickly, a week, ten days perhaps, this was up to 30 per cent, but then I hit or found a plateau. 28 per cent. 32 per cent.

Because of our conversations about the guitar and plateaus therein I didn’t care at all. I just continued. Making the consistent effort to try, but not expecting any particular result.

This was so accidentally zen that I would even agree that I enjoyed the plateau. Quite leafy. Green. Pleasant.

And then one day, without any change in my regime and very strictly without any further thinking or the application of strategy I noticed I had reached 41 per cent.

I presumed this to be an outlier, an anomaly. But it wasn’t. There were times in the next period that I returned to the thirties, but I was  more often in the forties. And then always in the forties.

And then the fifties.

And then the sixties.

Currently I am around the mid-seventies. And at another plateau. Which, thankfully, resembles all the previous ones. They are not barren. They are familiar. Far spread out footprints. Oasis.

I move around. Shooting from all points on the 180 degree arc. I have my favorite spots or there are spots I feel, for a while, are my favorites, but this doesn’t last. It changes.

I am well aware that the intercession of another, waving their arms or waggling their tongue in front of me, would alter the success rate of this activity.

Sometimes, increasingly, (now sufficiently fascinated) Finn comes out to join me which ruins my experiment or meditation, but is most welcome, of course.

We play this ‘one on one’ that fathers and sons are supposed to do.

He has grown and is quick, certainly quicker than me, but not yet big enough to allow me to play as I would naturally do.

This is probably good. My muscle memory game is rugby and I have no doubt that even with delicacy engaged I would foul out of any organized basketball game in less than two minutes.

One cannot break ones own boy however. Twelve years old. Lithe and athletic.

Instead I stand tall and tell him to use his speed. Later on or on another day when he is not there on our perfect concrete apron, and I am drifting, I think about this.

Perhaps all fathers, at root, wish to communicate to their sons, their children, that they, the fathers, will stand tall and that they, the child, should trust the world and use their speed.

Stop.

JGx

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