“One Hour to Madness and Joy”

The distant spire between two buildings: The old Mercantile Bank Tower. Now a sort of "second home." Taken from Klyde Warren park on a January day.

The distant spire between two buildings: The old Mercantile Bank Tower. Now a sort of “second home.” Taken from Klyde Warren park on a January day.

I said I’d never write anything serious here. But life happens.

That doesn’t mean what follows is serious. It simply means what follows is not intended to be particularly funny. It’s meant to be joyful. I’m so unaccustomed to joy—real joy, not happiness or fun, but real joy—I don’t have a clue how to write about it or what pictures to upload to capture its essence.

The style of ottoman I'd been trying to find for years is not my most important find at the Merc on Main.

The style of ottoman I’d been trying to find for years is not my most important find at the Merc on Main.

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But bear with me. I’m going to find a way if it kills me (There! That was my version of a joke—no one ever gets my jokes, I think). Sort of like my mother saying, “If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don’t come running to me” (didn’t everyone’s mother say that?).

Here are some pictures that I would never in a million years (well, that’s a bit of hyperbole we all understand completely, isn’t it?) would have taken before about this time last year (let’s say March 14 is the anniversary). Are they joyful? Yes. On more levels than I can say. Are they simply ordinary pictures of a city that is not thought of particularly as a beautiful place—Dallas? Yes. Joy, like beauty, is in the eye of the subject. Since I can’t write about my joy, my observations of some scenes others may not find beautiful will have to do.

If these pictures are not your cup of tea, scroll down to the bottom and see what Walt Whitman says about joy. Surely you will approve of his description.

In case you haven’t figured it out, let me say that my joy arises not so much from what I’ve seen in the last year as from not being alone when I took these pictures.

A metaphor? This block was a parking lot - for the federal court building across the street which has sorrowful memories for me. Now -- a playful fountain.

A metaphor? This block was a parking lot – for the federal court building across the street which has sorrowful memories for me. Now — a playful fountain.

Early on Sundays, a "morning bun" and coffee.

Early on Sundays, a “morning bun” and coffee.

 

The strangely beautiful "Harrow" by Joe Lubben in another park built by the Belo family. Who would have known Dallas had such exuberance?

The strangely beautiful “Harrow” by Joe Lubben in another park built by the Belo family. Who would have known Dallas had such exuberance?

We agreed: no Christmas exchange.

We agreed: no Christmas exchange.
But when you find the mixing bowl with a handle the cook needs, what can you do?

But when you find the mixing bowl with a handle the cook needs, what can you do?

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[A correction (I had too much trouble posting the pictures to fiddle with them): The park itself is called Lubben Plaza.  The sculpture is called Harrow; it’s by Linnea Glatt of Dallas.]

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.
22. “One Hour to Madness and Joy”

ONE hour to madness and joy!
O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?)
. . . .
O something unprov’d! something in a trance!
O madness amorous! O trembling!
O to escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!
To court destruction with taunts—with invitations!
To ascend—to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me!
To rise thither with my inebriate Soul!
To be lost, if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.
(The entire poem is here.)

2 Responses to “One Hour to Madness and Joy”

  1. Alta says:

    Lovely, Harold. Just lovely.

  2. E Miller says:

    Joy, joy, joy! To Jerome for being the one who gets to share “our” Harold – Hallelujah! Let us all celebrate his joy.

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