A message for a Golem one morning

img_3534Clouds spun out in pillowy strands, like cotton candy. The frozen leaves on the rhododendrons collapsed in on themselves like umbrellas. They had a copy of The Corrections in the lending library on the dead end street so I nabbed it, and when I got to the lake I sat on the book on a rock watching a crow; the sound of its dung slapped the ice, and it flew off.

They’re getting bullish about the ice on the lake and some, gathered on the docks dangling off the edges, testing it with their feet. Three boys using their skateboards like hammers beating it, trying to get it to break, but the ice just stares back cross-armed, not blinking.

Remembering last Friday coming off the trail with Ginger, back to the car collapsing my poles, thinking about my job, they haven’t formed a complete impression of me yet so I could be anyone/anything: I’m like that myth of the clay Golem from way back, a formless clump of matter waiting for someone to give me a command, to breathe new life into me.

When I got ready to look for a job at the end of the summer I started by getting new clothes and shoes, thinking that would refresh my look: but I gravitated to the same style I had in my last job and stopped, and thought I needed something new.

Before, when we lived in Europe and spent last winter in the UK, I’d take whatever I wore that day and just leave it in a pile by the bed, get up the next morning and reassemble it, the same procedure in reverse, starting with the socks.

In that myth of the Golem, they thought you could make a creature out of dust or mud and then by summoning the divine, you could animate the thing by writing a note and putting it in its mouth, or through a slot in the forehead.

I thought about my job and what I’d do to keep it. And I realized I was walking the same way an old friend of mine used to in college, who died young and was troubled, and like me, wanted to write.

We traded books and tapes and spent nights on the golf course by the university dreaming, trying to figure it all out, so close, and so far away.

And I realized at the lake, all the dumb things I used to do just to make my life more interesting, to give me more to write about. I tethered my life to writing and when I didn’t write, I questioned how much I really mattered. I thought the most interesting parts of life were around the edges, and didn’t realize how much more there was in the middle.

My friend Peel walked with his head at a slant, like he was thinking about something, or slept badly on his neck. He looked like someone had stepped on him, like a bug partly broken, that’s how he looked every day.

And as I remembered Peel, getting into my car, thinking how I’d always wanted to bring him back to life in a story, I wondered if I’d breathed some part of him into me, his memory—and if I was that same, formless clump waiting for someone to put a note in my mouth, to bring back life to me, too.


Categories: Memoir, writing

Tags: , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. First.

    The Corrections scares the shit out of me. Do you know how long it takes me to finish a book?! I might have to commit myself for years. Is it worth it?

    College dreams inevitably melt into reality. A shift in focus is nothing more than the passing of time. Seriously. How many people do you know who dreamed the dream and had to shift slightly? It’s part of the human condition.

    I’d like a friend named Peel.


    • If I reread The Corrections I’ll let you know. I read it shortly after it came out, 01-ish, and loved it. But I preferred Freedom. I think I’m in the minority on that. But in general I would say yes, about him. I reread the very first paragraph of The Corrections at the lake, and it whet my whistle.
      I like your observation about college dreams melting into reality. I like to go back and try to tap into those times too, not because I miss them really — but more, to your point, that there may be something there worth paying attention to, still.
      My friend Peel. Yes, I need to write about him.
      Thanks for reading and catching up with all this. Bill


  2. Ah. That last paragraph. A BIG starting point for something?


  3. Love that photo – is that your golem, waiting for his command?
    Recognise so much of this – that limbo in a new job, where they don’t know you really and you don’t know them. You’re outside of everything – the in jokes and the past references – and only time changes that. Your yearning to write and to make something to write about – a young man’s game, trying to make yourself more glamorous, more interesting by taking risks, not realising everyone is interesting, even the people who do nothing are interesting because of the fact they do nothing.
    Sadness and longing – nicely told Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, on the photo Lynn: I went looking on wiki commons for a good image, found none, then realized I had one myself that fit perfectly! It’s a sculpture from a German friend of my moms, a really neat guy (makes his own eyeglass frames! Who does that?)
      I always appreciate your insights on the stories too. You got it, re: the new job: an ‘unknown commodity,’ and then that becomes an interesting look at how we identify with work, and life, and arguably how empty we are…what fills us up? I like noodling on it, thanks for playing on the notion with me. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ooh, that could be a long conversation – how we identify ourselves through our jobs, through our passions, our relationships with others ( our roles as child, spouse, parent) and what – if anything – stands alone from all of this and can be identified as the essence of us, unmarked by exterior influences? Too tough to answer for my feeble brain, but fun to chat over 🙂


  4. is this a jumping off point for you? not from a cliff but from where you are?


  5. In my work, identity is a powerful theme; a key element of the human condition. Your words evoke a strong sense of self-evaluation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dean and happy new year! Great to hear from you and I admire the therapy work you do to help people. Would be curious to hear more sometime about how identity factors into that. It’s an interesting topic for me, one I’ll likely always play with and never resolve. If it’s a Rubick’s cube, maybe I get one or two sides, heh…without having to cheat, and remove the stickers. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Bill, Happy New Year to you, too. Thanks for your kind comment. Identity is a vast subject and a fascinating one. I will get to work on writing something on the subject. I wonder where reinvention would fit with the Rubick’s Cube, for many people reinvent themselves. All the best and thanks for reading. Dean.


      • Cheers Dean, and look forward to more from you on identity, on your terrific blog. Best, Bill

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think you’re the kind of golem that provides its own notes. Hey, maybe The Corrections is the note for your slot!

    I probably ought to reread that book too. I remember liking it a lot at the time, but I can’t recall details now. I do recall appreciating a writer who was in true command of his stuff and wishing that he hadn’t had that whole Oprah dust-up.


  7. These comments are all too deep for me today, I can’t hang. But Walt was here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Interesting analogy with the golem; but consider, if you switched a note in the mouth with a voice in your ears…

    If you read Terry Pratchett at all you might consider Feet of Clay. If you haven’t read him, you should. (Humorous social commentary disguised in stories.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Since we seem to be on the subject of books in this thread, the theme of the golem features prominently in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw that cited in the Wiki footnotes page as I was fact checking myself on the Golem. I began rereading The Corrections for kicks, about 15 years older now. Doing the same with a Bukowski reader though unclear which will hold, kind of fun exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: