AFTERMATH OF LIGHT

I live with someone who loves to augment the air around the place. Her friends know this about her, and so we are on the receiving end of aromatic gifts, candles and incense from the wide world. The math of incense is like the math of life, I suppose: the rumour scent of what could be, and then some kind of ignition, and the whorls of beauty waft, disperse, go invisible and for all of that linger a good while in the fabric of things. But the aftermath of incense is there too: a little dust pile of leavings, like the shucked-off skin...

ORDAINED IN A WORD

An irony of a kind: I make what living I do with words, with speaking, yet my handwriting is a marvel of economy. Or was, before fine motor skills began obeying the passage of time. I'm careful with words, mainly, and careful about them, and for their sakes. We've flown underneath the down under. Hobart it is, Tasmania. Any further south and its penguins and calving glaciers. It's the edge of someone's world, to be sure. It's the middle of someone else's. The conscience of the tour ranges back and forth across those mythic, poetic soundlines. Here every event, every departure...

DRASTIC

Drastic: from Grk. drastikos "effective, active, violent", from drasteon 'a thing done', from drao,' to make, do, act,' which is of uncertain etymology. The sense of 'extreme, severe' is recorded by 1808. Not before. That's something to love about language: the words just obey the rolling in of the mists, the abrasions of time. You have something you hold, you pull, and you leave most of it in the ground. When it comes to drastic, things aren't so panicky as we'd have them be. Go back far enough, and drastic is just 'something that gets done'. We had Nights of Grief and Mystery on the road for five of 2023's months...

SKY VOW

We are all of us children of a troubled time. We are surely other things, noble and ignoble things, capable of remarkable goodness, capable of making our ancestors proud. But we moderns do need to decide and decide again what it means that we could have been born in more favoured times and were not, what might be the mythic and poetic and moral criteria and condition of our citizenship in such times. Once, such a responsibility was the particular purview of political and heirloom leaders, sanctified pulpit masters, masters of ceremony, court jesters in court, orators with a cause. But the entry requirements and...

THE LOST LETTER

Night before last, carbon payback for daring this kind of air voyage: after a five hour drive and a five hour connecting flight, a two hour layover, and three immobile hours on the tarmac we're informed something doesn't work, and at 2 a.m. we're off the plane, wandering aimless in an empty San Francisco airport, sleeping rough on the floors, curled in against the aircon cold of the place. Turns out a big airport takes about three hours off during the haunting time of the night, where the line marking night from dawn is smudged and gone. Then, as...

MAUI RECKONING

I've been a pulmonary refugee for some time, and have been obliged to join the geese and the butterflies and head to less acute climes when the native cold comes on. It's probably extended my days. I was ongoingly grateful for the respite, and uneasy about the clear disfigurement of the locale that mass migration of the seasonal kind inflicts. My reasons for going weren't any more noble or mandatory than anyone else's. I couldn't get clear of the tourism thing. I did two podcasts on the matter with Chris Christou's End of Tourism. The trouble of the thing doubled down. Half way through the...

MOVIES

There are marvelous things about being on the road. There are the reminders that the world's a big place, that humans are a disparate lot, that life's not long, that you're often older than you think you are, that being right is more a coincidence than a plan, that being in the right place is at least as good as being right, that 'timing' is God's middle name sometimes, God's middle finger other times. It depends on severity, and on how you are with happenstance. The carbon complicates things, so it's a lot of work to make sure that...

TOYNBEE TRAIL

When the end of my thirties loomed my mother play-glared at me on the eve of my birthday and half declared and half prayed as follows: "I don't have a forty year old son!" She did, though. And the current odometer would gall her still: she has a son who's all but seventy. Someone sent me a kind of psychic get well card a while ago. The text inside included the following bit of intolerance: "You don't stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing." Honey, listen. It's more like this: you'll get old, or you won't....

THE GONENESS OF A FUTURE

If you're in the mood for meme-length considerations, I'd move on if I were you. This is likely to be lengthy. It'll cover some ground. In the lobby after last night's show a man outwaited all the other patrons to offer me dramaturgical advice, to wit: the end of the festivities should not leave the paying public where it does, hefting a life's stonepile of regret. It should release them to the limit defamation of the stars in a night's sky - where it starts, in fact -  that they might revel without compromise, I guess, and break even on the evening,...

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?

It's called 'a world tour', this thing of ours. Grand-sounding. Over the top for Canadians to say about themselves. And there isn't much agreement about the scale or range that makes up a 'world' jaunt. One thing's more certain than not, though: small places don't usually qualify for world tour inclusion. If you're on a world tour, you go to those places that have those 'I--whatever the place is' t shirts everywhere. You go to places whose names, even in short form, even in a couple of letters, prompt torrents of association, the kinds of places where if you...

TWO BEWILDERMENTS, AND THE WIND BLOWING THROUGH

Some days stagger to their conclusion. We're far from home, in someone else's land, holding out for a kindly reception for our heart's labours. The morning's day off has been spent not touring the haunts of my Harvard days, but in a hotel foyer, waiting on the repair of the rental van's flat tire, each band member after their fashion nursing the beginnings of what turns out to be food poisoning. You can guess this is not going to go well. By mid afternoon we're by the highway side, and the roar, door flung open, some of us doing what you...

A LINTY THING

Torrid Tucson night   The second act of your three act play - if you get one - is there for you to find those with whom you'll live out the reasons for your birth and your persistence up unto the present moment. It's outrageous good fortune just to get one. It marks you for keeps as a citizen. It gets you up over the fence of your romance and your self-esteem, and out into the rolling fields of your people. A couple of days ago I'm standing in the arrivals concourse at the Albuquerque airport, and I'm waiting for my wife,...

Love, and Grief and Mystery

I know - or I'm fairly sure, and that's as close to 'know' as the circuitry of being modern and home-seeking and confused by freedom allows - that there are people out beyond my ken who receive, and sometimes read, and sometimes consider these things I compose and send. I know there's a daily avalanche of things to consider that compete for your give a shit. Here's one more. I did an interview the other day in which the host opined that perhaps the whole of my life's work came down to an attempt to make the case on behalf of...

A STAY

It's a delicate business, this boycotting. The best of people wants justice to prevail, starting anytime. Starting last week. Starting now. Good will: we could start there. But good will is a complicating business. Boycotting a country is a bit like taking the hippocratic oath: maybe, if you withhold your little something, maybe nothing bad will happen. Or maybe it will stop happening. Or, at least, in the great merit calculator in the sky, your withholding will by an increment of one act not undertaken tip some kind of balance. And if everyone withheld their little somethings ... It is...

If I were you, I would be skeptical

Two months from now, I will be heading to the old Kilbey place, the home of the Orphan Wisdom School for the fifth time in the last eighteen months. Compared to many of you reading this, I'm probably relatively new to StephenJenkinson (I usually say it in one breath, no space between),. In August 2021, in a cesspool of being canceled, having my "communities" of breathwork and yoga and birth ravaged by gender politics and germ + terrain theory debates and a loss of a common view of reality as well as having many personal relationships threadbare or gone, Matthew Stillman...

BE/LONGING

I've toured a lot in the last decade, though things pandemical put a crimp - a proper, necessary crimp - in automatic travel for a while. When I started all this, paper maps - the ones with the worn folds obliterating some of the critical information, with road food stains making it hard to read - were vital to the proceedings. They were paper hints, really, that we traced with our fingers, guessing how long it would take to drive an inch. Since that time, as everybody seems to know, it's mapquest and google map and the like. I watch the drivers...

Birth and Death Among Us

This life of ours isn't ours. The brevity and happenstance alone shows us that. It isn't a circle, not really. It's not a line from here to there. They're fine enough shapes, but they've no depth, not much room for mystery and consequence. This is surely a time for mystery and consequences. For them you need a spiral. A spiral gets you memory without repetition. It wrings wisdom from experience. It's from the spiral that you draw down the rough magic of being born, the alchemy of Godparenthood, the greying heart of age, the grief love of dying, the awe of all of...

Can’t Fix Wonder

I'm invited to a lot of interviews. I think I cooperate with the interviewers. It's an honour to be asked. I try to be a good guest. I find that even the confrontations seem to go fairly well. I'm a fan of mystery, which keeps me saying yes. The last one was uncommon, though. It led me again to wonder about the wisdom of wondering aloud. I don't have a programme of sorts for 'change'. I'm no more an agent of change than you are. I have answers to go along with the questions. I have responses. But I don't...

Knotwork

Event Details Birth & Death Among Us with Stephen Jenkinson and Kimberly Ann Johnson Part 1/3 of an 3 part on-line conversation on successive Sundays starting January 15th R e g i s t r a t i o n link ($225 Regular Price). You've misheard your spouse. In most people's' worlds - even the morally and ethically single, even the polymorphous - those four words spell out foreboding, and things going sideways. 'Giving' heading off in the direction of 'misgiving'. Or worse. A while ago my wife's birthday was coming on with haste. She's a person prone to giving herself. I don't know why...

A Rabbi For a Minute

Maybe a year before the pandemic set in, maybe two, I was on a bit of a European speaking tour. Somehow an invitation came to appear in Israel, from a standing start, with no prior contacts that I knew about. What might I have to bring to a place and a people that have seen so much?, I wondered. We landed in the middle of the night, as I recall, to a true spectacle of overlapping and recurring security measures. Within a few days I was taken through old Jerusalem and to the Second Temple wall which, for a...

The Stranger Silence Between

Why do we say silence ‘falls’, like it’s some kind of cloud lurking in the rafters just waiting to descend uninvited, when it is The Host that welcomes us in to an empty space in the first place, there before we arrive and there after we leave? A man walks alone, from pool of light to pool of light along the walkway that hugs the theatre on Vashon Island, WA. He is tall and thin, older and masked up, and he spots me lingering in the shadows of the recycling bins trying to quell post-gig anxiety that can pop up now and then....