Before I continue with JWG’s DONE AND NOT BEGUN, I thought I would enter this prelude. By now, you have noticed that I frequently use the word “aloha”. In fact, I do like to live Aloha. These entries from JWG’s GRACIOUS ALOHA will help explain a bit more about me, John William Garand (known to my Friends as JWG), and, how that word, Aloha, entered my Life.
JWG's GRACIOUS ALOHA
Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico February 18, 2009 9:26 a.m. AST
The following book was written as a muddlement of my befuddlement.
During the last thirteen months, I pondered — my things, my place, my garden, my life, my love, my luck…
Yesterday, when I placed the last words on page two-hundred forty-two, I did feel that sense of accomplishing something.
Something worthwhile? This question I cannot answer, nor, should I attempt to answer. When I read this book, ten years from now, I will answer my question.
Obviously, I saved some pages — or, reserved some pages — at the beginning so that I could write an introduction to my entries. This was a mistake. Filling these final pages is too much of a task. The first pages of a book either entice the reader to continue reading, or shut off any interest the reader had. “They” say a good cover helps, too.
Oftentimes, I, myself, skip the introduction and get right to the book. If I enjoy the book, I read the introduction and am usually glad I did and, also, wonder why I skipped it in the first place.
For these first pages, I considered their importance and began to make notes of what these first eleven pages should say. This was a big mistake. My notes ended up being for another volume, not this one.
My entries in this volume were written by transparent scribbling. Yes, I would think of something — an idea, an image, a place — or see my environment — and place it on the written page — or rather, the blank page to create the written page. I feel no reason to explain anything. In that way, I am very like Mary Poppins.
Oh, I will explain the skip of, and between, the dated entries January 28, 2008, to November 2, 2008. I utilized my time during those weeks to finish a notebook given me by Peter Landroche during my Studio 54 days. It is entitled “The Gnome Notebook” which is a very fortuitous title considering my situation today. (Zwergli is Swiss for gnome; thus, Zwerglipatch, the name of René’s and my garden is very apt. But, that story will arise in another volume, not this.) Yes, over thirty years it took me to be bold enough to bare my breast, brain, and brandish my reality in JWG’s THE GNOME GNOTEBOOK. Therefore, the fact that only thirteen months were spent on this volume is an accomplishment.
This year, 2009, will be the first year I have made a point of writing every single day. Being only February, this statement is written with a great deal of Hope. Hope, however, is now on my side. Perhaps, not Hope, but the will to now write and share the words I do write. [And, I did keep to my word.]
Struggling. Choosing. Finding. Writing is all of these. Writing is my puzzle. Writing is my game. Writing is my physical recreation. And gardening, too, is necessary for my health and well-being.
Well-being is synonymous with being happy. Yet, well-being implies good health. I know that one can be happy and unhealthy. One can be happy that one is breathing. Each breath, like each heart beat, assures another moment of Life. Another moment of existence. Another moment in which one is scudded by the winds of time.
I laugh at those who claim not to travel. Each day, we travel thousands of miles as this planet rotates. Each day, we travel tens of thousands of miles while orbiting the sun. Each day, we travel, probably, countless miles as our galaxy hurls through space towards the unknown. And to think, many actually enjoy riding a Ferris wheel or merry-go-round whirling about even more while we all twirl towards the unknown. Such is our collective recreation.
When exploring one’s place in this world, one is negligent if one doesn’t delve into the self. My attempt to place a myriad of mental notes on paper has been a task which has resulted in many surprises. Surprises I never knew I had held within me are now glaring at me from these pages.
These silly diversions of mine which I have placed on paper have been festering for over fifty years. Yes, five decades of collecting are explained in these pages. Five decades of “seeing and being” mean that my life’s stew is akin to the fabled stone soup. It fascinates me that one “thing” leads to another; one “idea”, when placed by an object, becomes a mirthful tale of explanation— of me.
A few years ago, I almost lost my mind due to a bacteria eating brain cells in my head. (Now, where else would one’s brain be? My recovery is still in the present.) This experience is most upsetting when one wants to think quickly and with precision. I am exploring what I do remember from my past. My explorations come upon many closed doors — or cells — that need reawakening. I am happy that the film is still rolling in my mind. Some of the prints are scratched, but the images can still be made out. That is one explanation of these scribbles.
Further explanation would be superfluous. I, like Mary Poppins, do. I do without too much thinking. What happens, happens. What is, is.
In fifth grade, when I first saw the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” [I am surprised that this word is in the Oxford dictionary!] in our “Weekly Reader”, I had to run to the library to see if it held Mary Poppins. My thrill to see, and read, that book is still with me. Disney’s movie, “Mary Poppins”, taught me other big words such as cinematography. [Never mind a lifelong admiration for Julie Andrews.] That is just one example of how, in my life, one thing led to another.
I look about me on this vacation patio and see a lizard eyeing a group of ants eating a crumb on the floor. The lizard hops to the floor. It ignores the ants, but, eats the crumb. The lizard hops back onto the wall and waits to see another group of ants find another crumb.
Many days, I feel that I, too, am a lizard. I wait. I look. I hop, or rather, saunter down to gather my sustenance. The crumbs I gather are images — bits of information used to assist my understanding. Of course, understanding still seems out of my grasp. There is too, too much to understand. I still find that one thing leads to another; one question asks another; one fact is never enough. Thus, I will continue my transparent scribbling.
Before I start my daily scribbling, I sip a cup of green tea. The Brits have it quite right: a cup of tea not only soothes, it nurtures and makes things better. Where would we all be without tea? These pages are now all filled. This final task is done. My tea needs to be warmed.
I look up. I see white, cumulus clouds, in a clear, blue sky through palm fronds. The lizard eyes another crumb. And I, myself, am numb.
Nassau, Bahamas January 24, 2008 6:41 a.m. AST
I am continually asked why I insist on saying and writing the word “aloha”. I am told that it is Hawaiian (as if I did not know) and that I am not in Hawai’i (no comment). I respond, with aloha in my voice, that: “Yes! Aloha is from Hawai’i.”
Ever since Hawai’i has been made one of these United States [I was in first grade.], I have been fascinated by Hawaiian history. “Aloha” is a catch-all word meaning: Hi! Bye! Love! And numerous other meanings boiling down to this: a syrup — tonic, if you will — of goodness that brings smiles, laughter, and serenity to one’s day. I know of no other word that, by itself, brings and means this sharing of emotion. I hope, I really dream, that one day, every American — nay, every citizen of this planet — will have “Aloha!” as part of their lifestyle. We, as Americans, must begin this transformation.
I, myself, am a New Englander. My friends in New England, as well as New York, California, and Virginia, use the word “Aloha!” with a spirit that makes Hawai’i and Hawaiians realize that their sentiment, and greeting, and love, and farewell can permeate throughout this nation and, ultimately, this world.
The understanding of “aloha” is now deeply held, I know, by citizens in ten of these fifty states. A statistician would expound on the fact that twenty-percent of our States have “aloha”. (Now, I know there has to be more “aloha” out there that I am ignorant of its use and presence. But, how is one to know if one doesn’t hear it — or see it?) My heart tells me that the other forty states have “aloha”, too.
When looking upon a globe, one sees how precious and isolated Hawai’i is with respect to the rest of this planet’s terrain. This tiny island nation — yes, I do use the term “nation” — has been very important in exporting “aloha” to the mainland. Some of us have tried to continue and extend this simple, complicated sentiment — and lifestyle.
Gracious, all I can say to that is: Aloha!