Thursday, June 18, 2009

the wisdom of Bill Keezer

I don't want to embarrass Bill Keezer by making a habit of slapping his emails up here on the blog, but I do want to hold up a recent email of his.

Bill has been sending emails regularly since this crisis began, and was already a correspondent even before that. He maintains an excellent blog called Bill's Comments (with lengthier thoughts posted at Bill's Big Stuff). He and I probably fall on different parts of the political spectrum (Bill leans more rightward while I'd call myself a centrist), but we share a non-traditional view of Christianity and a great love of scientific thought. The major difference here is that, while I'm a scientific skeptic by temperament, Bill is more: he's an actual scientist. Along with that, and despite (or because of?) his non-traditional stance toward Christianity, Bill is highly active in his own church. I don't want to reveal too much about his personal project, but he's putting together a book that I'm very eager to read.

I often feel I don't deserve the wisdom that Bill dispenses so freely. But he's an excellent, thoughtful writer, and he seems fine with directing so much of that excellence and thoughtfulness toward my family, despite the fact that we've never met face-to-face. Bill generally sends his emails to my address, but I often share them, when they arrive, with Dad. As I said earlier, I don't want to embarrass Bill by making a habit of slapping his emails up on this blog (would you write private emails to someone who consistently made them public?), but I thought you might appreciate his latest. To wit:

I read your post on "Dressing" this morning and the first impulse was to send a quick note then a longer one. But I decided I'd rather take time and do it once.

Your last three paragraphs really grabbed me. I have been in and seen too many situations where not anticipating reality made things so hard and so impossible to ever properly deal with. Your zen knowledge stands you in good stead. I read some in zen and have an inkling of what it is about, and agree. I would express it more in Western terms, but this is where there is conceptual equivalence. "... we can't hold on to her, any more than we can hold on to anyone or anything else." It is the hardest lesson to learn sometimes. Holding things too hard simply makes them harder to hold or even causes their loss.

You and your family can rest in the knowledge that you did everything humanly possible to give your mom the maximum survival time. It is now up to God, the laws of nature, and your mom's constitution. Do everything you can to focus on the good side. So many people dilute the present with anticipation of hard times. Once you have done what you can to prepare for them, enjoy the present. It is much like a Samurai writing his death poem before going into battle. It may not be THE death poem, but it releases him from everything but the present. I have done that a time or two.

It is good to see your mom improve so much. Also, she may understand more than she can express. We don't really know where things occur in the brain except in the crudest of terms. Is output function separate from input and analysis? It is in computers. Just do your best with it. She will have some understanding, at least emotionally.

All of you remain in my thoughts and prayers,



Thanks so much, Bill, for this email and all the others, past and future.


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