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­I’m writing this toward the end of June — Friday, the 18th — and just beginning to breathe (some wheezing involved) sighs of relief at what I hope are indications that some of the worst of the past ten months or so are falling behind me. The medical stuff I will be unable to leave anywhere except where it has permanently settled; but there is hope offered by down-the-road, ameliorating surgery, but not until months have passed. ­I’ve behaved myself in unaccustomed ways and healed much, er, lifestyle damage over a long stretch. The alternative is a much abbreviated life expectancy, very much so, ­I’m given to understand; and I am convinced I am not being misled. Nor have I been given any guarantees, even if I become a rosy-cheeked poster boy for health and ­fitness.

Like most anyone else, however, I do have the summer. ­I’ll be crossing the Coronado bridge by bus, armed with novels and a towel. ­I’ll go to see Robin Hood because I really like Russell Crowe with a sword. Also, ­I’ll seek out a place to move into — probably with a roommate — that has air-conditioning and is in a neighborhood that will not depress the crap out of me and send me running blindly into the forest of cheap hotels ­I’ve become familiar with in recent times — and all without getting frantic about it. I ­don’t have the breath or, yes, the heart for that sort of thing these ­days.

Speaking of the heart, I have to see what I can do about reestablishing contact with my son. For one reason and another, none of them hostility or resentments, we ­haven’t seen each other or spoken since last November. Largely, this is because, last I heard, he refused to own a phone (as well as other electronic technology, an expensive lot of which he rid himself of, irretrievably, via Dumpsters and other methods). Though, I did hear he had again agreed to take his medication, but that is outdated news and could easily have changed. My ignorance is due in large part to my having been cut off by his mother, who will no longer return phone calls to her reprobate drunk of an ex-husband. I cannot blame her for this very much and ­don’t. Besides, I could well be wrong: ­I’m a bitch to get hold ­of.

In short, ­I’m working on a resolution of slow building, to make the most of the summer, that is, to remind myself ­I’m not dead yet and I can no longer afford to be a self-indulgent maniac. No point in regretting my long-standing misapprehension of myself as a kind of Keith Richards, but I do anyway. Regret it, I mean. I think I wrote somewhere that those who claim late in life that they have no regrets are either flat-out lying or belong to that capacious category of sociopath ­fools.

­I’ll work as much as possible and write what I can in the days ahead — stuff that will have little to do with work and will quickly be lost in the way that the largest percentage of anything ­I’ve ever set to the page has proved ephemeral, mostly disposable. ­I’m speaking of writing for its own sake. Why the compulsion to do so, ­I’ll never know, never did. It certainly has nothing whatever to do with fame or fortune. It is a mystery, a mostly harmless one, that I consider to be one among many others that are somehow at the heart of all ­things.

Reading — something linked closely to my concept, since childhood, of heaven as a vast library in eternity — is a thing I should take greater care about now. I have read enough Stephen King and enjoyed much of it but feel those books should be relegated to the category of amusing and not at all unpleasant memories. ­I’ll read ­what’s left of the Graham Greene works I never got around to, go back to Marcus Aurelius, more poetry, but only by the tried-and-true practitioners that have moved me in the past (several still living), some works by old friends I never met. Speaking of which, I will no doubt reread some works like Anthony ­Burgess’s ­You’ve Had Your Time, the second volume of his autobiography. Ah, but these are simply good intentions; I will undoubtedly end up reading whatever is on the labels of items in ­friends’ medicine cabinets while using their bathrooms. I have done exactly this many ­times.

I can resolve to do more good works, attend church, and in general attempt to imitate the behavior of the kind of man thought of as “good.” But under most circumstances, this would be an exercise in pulling the wool over my own eyes with little hope of fooling anyone ­else.

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Comments

xians421 July 7, 2010 @ 3:22 p.m.

Four in a row! Holy crap, somebody's sober. John, if you read this, please contact me. You know how.

P.S. I still have your pristine copy of Wirecutter and I'm sure Jeff would love to read it.

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nan shartel July 7, 2010 @ 4:11 p.m.

wishin' ya well in this endeavor John

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EricBlair July 8, 2010 @ 6:55 a.m.

I liked this essay very much, John. I hope that you continue the long climb back up. You are worth it.

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EricBlair July 8, 2010 @ 7 a.m.

Also, John, remember your Jung: you are what you do, not what you say you'll do. If you strive to be a good man and father, that is what you will be.

Is it a struggle? It is for everyone. But the good and honorable things in life are seldom easy. Good luck!

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