Forgotten Art: Jasper – Seth 6

A reply to: A letter from Seth


Dear Seth,

I reread your letter again. I have read it at least five times. It’s a sacred text.

I enjoy the Spice Festival, too. I live near the plaza, close enough that it’s an extension of my living room, and I visit often, sometimes even during the festival.


I’m not a spice hound, though I love saffron.

You asked about how I became friends with Bjorn and Raj. I met Bjorn at the meadows one afternoon when we were both young–he was a student; I was a young professor. We started talking about Bach, and the conversation continues to this day. We don’t talk about much else besides Bach, his life and his music, and maybe that is why we are such fast friends.

I met Raj… how did I meet Raj? He’s a neighbor. I see him in the plaza. We take morning coffee together. We don’t talk much, and maybe that’s the secret of our friendship.

I don’t have a good understanding of how I become friends with others. I seem to find myself in friendships with nearly everyone I meet. My wife told me that it was because I have no expectations of my friends: I don’t expect them to agree with me or do things with or for me or to meet specific conditions. I simply know that I like nearly everyone I meet–and those I don’t like, I learn to like. Somehow, that leads me into friendship with them. I don’t know if they like me, but then I don’t expect them to.


Perhaps I know what you mean when you write, “There is meaning and notmeaning, and I always have too much of both,” and  also, “The hell of it is that the notenough is just as beautiful and infinite and painful as the toomuch, and I cannot contain either one.”

Yes. This brings to mind your question about how many Jaspers there are. My answer is connected with the experience of meaning/notmeaning, notenough/toomuch.

In the lifetime before Bess passed, there were many Jaspers: Professor Jasper, Scholar Jasper, Rebel Jasper, Iconoclast Jasper, Barefoot Jasper, Bess’s Jasper, Bearded Jasper, Bard Jasper, Uncle Jasper, Brother Jasper, Jasper with an awl in his hand, Jasper with a book in his hand, and Jasper with a beer in his hand. I didn’t even attempt to integrate them.

When Bess became ill and through the years after her passing, there was no Jasper. It was as you write, and I became lost in the infinity of both notenough and toomuch, sometimes bouncing from one to the other, sometimes stuck in the delta of both. In the pressure at the center of meaning and nomeaning, I dissolved.


I surfed the oceanic oneness. I thought I was experiencing attainment, enlightenment in this anatta that devastated me.

Now, I am finding bridges back to myself: doors don’t work, but bridges do.

What was that that John Lilly wrote in Center of the Cyclone?


I am a single point of consciousness, of feeling, of knowledge. I know that I am. That is all.

Lilly found this single point when he was out-of-body: I find it when I am fully in-body, embodied.

I agree with your definition of freedom: “an escape from this finite universe.” The only escape I know of comes through the finite universe: through the bridge to the infinite that is created when we are fully embodied. When the attention of conscious awareness sparks the consciousness within each cell inside of us, we light up. A light-bridge joins inside and outside, and we are both. Yet we are also fully and completely here, aware, and in our bodies. That’s freedom. That’s the bridge I traveled to become One Jasper.

Feel for a moment that one of your cells gains awareness. Imagine they all do. Each cell, aware, conscious, individual, and yet part of the body that makes up the existence of you.

Now feel that you are conscious. Imagine that each of us is. Each one of us, aware, conscious, individual, and yet part of a cosmos that makes up the existence of all-that-is.

When I realize that this single point exists within each of us, just as it exists within each of our cells, then this brings me to individuality within unity.


Yes… it’s the space between the toomuch and notenough where I strive to dwell. I’m not there always. Sometimes, I’m in the toomuch. Sometimes, especially when I wake, I’m in the notenough. But when I can feel the spaces in my body vibrating with that hum of electricity that is life energy, then I’m here, in the in-between.


When I am with my friends, I see that same unity of being–both individual and universal bridged within them–and maybe that is how I am able to become their friend.

My editor friend is actually a collector of doors. He loves old handmade Spanish colonial doors, preferably carved in mesquite. He is a very linear person, my editor friend. And he has a good many selves. I am fortunate enough to know at least six of them.

My editor friend takes his press very seriously. He says, “Printing is a holy act. And rebellious. It’s holy and rebellious.”


He prints books designed to restore people, to help them find and recover the broken up bits or, even better, to develop flexibility and resiliency so that those pieces never break in the first place. He’s a good man, my editor friend.

You say you’re wondering about the differences between bridges and doors. A door lets you cross between space that has been divided. A bridge connects a gap.

It takes, generally, one step to pass through the door. To cross a bridge takes many more.

I asked my editor friend what he would do if he were on a trestle and it began to hum. He says he would hum along with it, in a resonating key.


You asked, “How do you know when you’re bound to someone else in the same time and space?” Ah, but I am not bound to them: We are both bound, individually, to the same time and space–but we are not bound to each other. We are able, in that moment, to connect with each other, because our individual binding, for that moment, to the same time-space/space-time forms the bridge which allows us to exist, at that moment, in shared reality.

I was speaking of music as having that bridging power. But any shared experience can do it.

You ask if my self works the same way I say music works. I have never considered this before. I am tempted to say that the vibrational energy of music and the vibrational energy within my cells operate on the same principles, but I will need to give this more thought.


I think there’s something to your speculation that “perhaps all the different Seths are different notes, and if [you] could find the relation they have to each other then [you] would make sense to [your]self.”

As for me, the answer to your question regarding the “relation all the Jaspers have to each other,” the answer is not profound. All the Jaspers were various suits of clothes for various occasions , that’s all. Simply the dressing over this changing form that is me.


I once asked a friend who is a yogi, “How do I know what is me when I don’t know who I am anymore?”

He replied, “Breathe. Just breathe. Is that enough?”

It wasn’t, not then, when I had lost myself entirely. But it is now. In fact now, to breathe is enough.


Wishing you peace and space, my dear friend.


<< Jasper’s Previous Letter


City Tales: Life of Don


He had to admit she was beautiful. Not in the glamour-magazine-cover/swimsuit-edition style of beauty, but in the something real, something warm style.

In the style of beauty that said, “These are my eyebrows! They’re perfect. Just the way they are.  I don’t need lace when I’ve got a cotton T. Why take half a portion when I’m famished? And besides. Your cooking is superior.”

In other words, Mac was down-to-earth. She was a natural beauty.


McKenzie was not Don’s type–at least that’s what everyone who knew Don said, and to his face, as often as they could.

“Congrats, but what were you thinking, dude?”

Most people gave it eight days. Then, after eight days passed, they gave it eight weeks. Now, after eight weeks, they gave it eight months.

He’d been thinking even eight years wouldn’t see it through to its end. This was a long-time type of thing.

They all said that his type was flirty, sexy, hot–the kind of woman you called a “chick.” Not the kind of woman you called… a woman.

He wouldn’t even call her a lady–and for sure, not a girl–because he knew enough to know those were not PC.

Not that he cared about PC. He didn’t give a damn. But he cared about her.


He cared about her enough to marry her.

Yeah. It surprised him, too.


Sure, you could call it a whirlwind.

It was more like an acid trip. Or maybe an endorphin explosion.

He looked out the window of her apartment–their apartment–out over the coastal mountains. It had been a weird, endorphin-thing, acid-trippy thing, with no drugs involved. Just love and sex, which were the two strongest drugs known to man–err, humankind–anyway.


He was still high.

They’d been married two months, and he hadn’t come down yet.


Now and then a brief moment of clarity intruded: He was married. And not to one of the Caliente chicks.

He was living in an apartment, of all things, and he had to ride an elevator to reach their floor.

He was living in the fricking city. In the city. With fog all around. And tugboats. And honking fog horns in the middle of the night. This was about as far from the desert as a dude could get.

And his wife was An Artist.


She said things like “This gruyere has a flowery, fruity note, don’t you think?”

“It’s melted,” he’d say back. “Like melty. You know?”

But that was what he liked about her.


She may not seem like his type, but that’s exactly what made McKenzie his type.

Some nights, they’d be sitting watching “The Bletchley Circle” and McKenzie would start talking about coded messages in shifts of light.


“You know that’s what Seurat was after,” she said one evening. “Every dot of light received by our brain is processed into a seamless whole: we reconstruct it into meaning.”

He watched as she finished the painting the next day.

“I see what you were talking about,” he said. “Like I gotta do the work in my brain to finish it.”

“That’s right,” she replied. “You’re the co-creator. It just dots until you complete the process and turn it into something that signifies.”


“I like that you don’t talk down to me,” he said.

“Why would I?” she replied. “You’re intelligent and perceptive.”

No one had ever called him that before.


Of course, he could be intelligent and perceptive and still be a hunk. What would his wife say? “One did not preclude the other.” Dang! He was getting good!


Easels stood before the windows in McKenzie’s studio. Mac often had two or three paintings going at once, but one or two easels were always empty.

Don found it tempting to paint.


“You should!” McKenzie said, when he told her he was thinking of picking up a brush. “You’ve got an artist’s soul, Don. That’s what first drew me to you!”

“And here I thought it was my abs,” he said.

“Well, they don’t hurt!” she replied, with a wink.


He felt afraid to start painting. He’d reveal how inartistic he truly was.

He stuck to leaving his shirt off when they were hanging around the place.

“Only an artist would slice tomatoes with such care,” Mac said. He was pleased that she noticed the precise angle of each cut.


“You think you’ll ever get bored of me, babe?” he asked her sometimes. They were good together, chemistry-wise and between-the-sheets–he knew that. But it was in the area of conversation and learning that he felt incompetent.

He knew he was smart. Anybody attracted to Mac would have to be smart. But he wasn’t educated, and that was the rub.

Why, she could have any college professor, doctor, psychiatrist, writer, editor, book publisher, art dealer–anybody intelligent that she wanted. Intelligent and educated.

And here she was with him. He hoped his brain was man enough for her.


Author’s Notes: City Tales is back with a new installment, following Don and McKenzie in their fancy apartment across town. It wasn’t my idea to have Don and Mac get together: This was entirely the game and MCCC. While I was playing CT for “My Lovely Landlord,” I received notification of their marriage. Don moved in with McKenzie to the beautiful apartment that MCCC had moved her into. They’re very happy.  I’m writing Don true to how he is in the game, so don’t blame me if he’s nice! And even if somebody is sweet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is entirely innocent, especially with Lily Feng as a neighbor!

Septemus 16


Dear Sept,

Today, everything is right.

You’ve been smiling all afternoon.


I told you about some of the bizaabgotojoto I’d met at the forums and their bizoopagotogo.

“They’re all really nice,” I said. “One of the little guys only likes chicken nuggets! You want to try chicken nuggets sometime?”

“Ah, it depends,” you replied. “What’s it made out of?”


“Uh, no thank you. I’ll have mine made out of faux.”

“Faux?” I asked.


“Yeah!” you replied. “To-faux!”

You’ve got a good sense of humor when you’re happy, Sept.


“What do they have to kill to make tofu, anyway?” you asked.

“Kill?” I replied. “Nothing. It’s made of soybeans.”

“Oh,” you said. “So they kill beans.”


I guess you have a point. I’d never stopped to think about it, but all the soybeans that go into making tofu are, in a sense, killed. They’re cooked. They’re not allowed to sprout and grow into the plants that they have the potential to grow into.

“Dang,” I said. “Here I thought I was making the ethical choice.”

“Sebastion, it’s OK. Don’tfeelbadSebastionwhenyoueatthetofu–”

“Spaces, Septemus.”

“Don’t feel bad because what would have been the cute little bean sprout is now part of you. Andyou’reverycutetooSebastion. It’s just transfer of cute.”

Aye, little bug. You keep me thinking. Now I’m going to have to think about transference of energy and the global footprint of growing soybeans, and where do the ones that go into the tofu we buy grow, and how are they grown, and maybe, if it all comes down to energy transference, we should go ahead and eat chicken nuggets, anyway. Or even real BLT.

I was thinking all of that while I was washing the dishes, and then when I turned off the faucet, I heard you singing from the other room.

It was that same haunting song you’d sung a few days before:

“It’s empty.
It’s empty.
It’s all gone and black and empty.

“When the sun is not the sun
and Night sucks all the light
and then the little ones are gone
And it’s all gone and

“It’s empty.
It’s empty.
It’s all gone and black and empty.”


I looked in on you, to make sure you were feeling OK. You looked wistful, but you didn’t look sad.

I thought of the songs we sang as little kids. London Bridge falling down. Pockets of poseys, ashes, and we all fall down. Old women who live in shoes and children who starve. Horrid, wretched memories of our collective history of war, fire, starvation, abuse–entire torrents of cultural trauma–turned into songs for little children–for what reason? To inure us to the horrors of our past? And does this song fill that same function for you? Do you have, in the memory of your DNA, the recorded experience of seeing a black hole suck up the sun?

So much of you–who you are, and what you’re doing here–still remains a mystery.

You were calm and peaceful when you finished singing.

“Sebastion, can I read to you?” you asked.

Of course I said yes. You pulled out your school workbook. You read. You forgot to speak aloud the words you were reading, but I heard them all the same. It was a story about Steven Hawking, “who was born 300 years after the death of Galileo.”


At this same moment, I realized, 99 other little tykes, each one a mystery, fill their bizaabgotojoto with wonder.

Now that I’ve finished this letter, I’m heading back to the forums. I’ve got to see what all these other parents are thinking.

Sleep well, moon-munchkin. Your siblings are sleeping, too.

Your pops,


<< Previous

Forgotten Art: Norman – Mel 5

A reply to: A letter from Mel


Dear Mel,

I’m glad the package arrived safely, and even more glad that Zee loved the cat. You know, that is also Ira’s favorite collectible.


I’m happy, too, that you found one of the ducks that you liked. I admit: Those ducks are pretty cute. We’ve got them all over the house!

Gari sounds like an interesting child. I’ve noticed through getting to know my step-daughter Aari and my niece Jena that not all kids think alike. Aari definitely has an inquisitive approach to life.

Lately, she’s become obsessed with being a ninja. She keeps asking me ninja questions. For example, “What do ninjas eat for supper?” “Do ninjas need long division?” And my favorite, “Why do ninjas wear masks? Is it because they’re afraid their noses will get cold when they go out at night?”


I’m glad you’re still painting. We’ve always got easels set up with works in progress, it seems, what with me and Ira both being painters.

I’m glad you’re meeting neighbors, too, especially the kids, and finding ways to sign with them. Ira’s been teaching me that communication can happen with more than words.

You asked how life’s been going with me. Well, it’s been busy and stressful, if I’m perfectly honest. That’s why it’s taken me so long to write back. Sorry about that.

I think I mentioned that we’re trying something new with the business. It’s been one complication after another. I think we’ve finally got everything back on track. We’re behind schedule, but we’ll come out all right. At least, that’s what I tell myself.


I’m also becoming Mr. Dad, it seems. Actually, Mr. Primary Care-giver. That’s Aari’s term for what I am. Her mom is her mom, and I’m the PCG.

Maybe you can help me with one of the challenges of being the PCG. Aari asks tough questions, and I don’t always know how to answer them.

In addition to asking about ninjas, which at least I can bluff my way to answer, she asks about life.

“I think I figured out the solution!” she said the other day. “If we got poverty and hunger and not enough water because there’s too many people on the planet, then why don’t people just stop having babies? That’ll solve it, won’t it?”


I did not know how to answer that one. What would you say?

She also asks about why we have to have foods like cereal and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Why can’t we have them for supper?

I said, “Because those foods taste good in the morning.”

She said that was a dumb answer. I think she’s right. I honestly can’t think of a better answer, can you?


Her mom seems to score better at the answer game. Before bed the other day, Aari asked why she had to go to sleep at eight.

“But I want to stay up until midnight!” she protested. “For ninja training! How will I ever be a good ninja if I don’t have midnight experience?”

“It’s a time-honored tradition!” Ira answered. “Ninjas always stay up to the hour that’s one less than their age! So. You’re nine now. That means you go to bed at eight. When you’re ten, you go to bed at nine.”


“That stinks,” Aari said. “That means I won’t get to stay up to midnight until I’m thirteen!”

“Don’t worry,” replied Ira. “Minimum age for ninjas is fifteen, so you’ll have two years of midnight practice under your belt by the time you’re official!”


Even if I can’t get the answers right, there are some things that Aari says I do OK at. Like jumping, for example. She likes it when I say, “You say jump, and I say how high.”

Then she says, “As high as me!”

I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there! Maybe with a little more practice.


I’ve got to tell you, Mel, even with life being so busy, there are still moments. Ira makes sure of that.

You ever have moments where time stops, and silence sweeps you up, and, just for the space between a breath, life feels very, very sweet?

Ira brings moments like that into my life.


I never had those kinds of moments before I met her.


Well, I’m wishing you and your boys all kinds of happiness. I hope it doesn’t take me so long before I write the next letter.

When you write back, please let me know all that’s going on with you and yours. What kind of questions do your boys ask, and what do you answer back?

I don’t know why it’s so hard to end this letter. I somehow don’t want to say good-bye.

Take care, Mel. Is it weird to miss you when we’ve never even met?


<< Norman’s Previous Letter

Septemus 15


Dear Sept,

I was so excited to greet you when you came home from your first day of school. I had so much to tell you.

I spied you out the window, and you looked really happy.

OK, I reminded myself. Let him (meaning you) go first.


In spite of my news, which I knew you’d been waiting for for years, really, I realized this was a significant day for you, due to starting school.

I didn’t want to pack my news on top of yours until you’d had a chance to tell me all about it. And even then, I wanted to break it to you slowly, so as not to overwhelm. Happy news can sometimes be just as hard to process as the tough stuff.

You came inside looking confident and peaceful.


“How was the day?” I asked.

“So good!” you replied.


“Didja make a lot of friends?” I asked.

“Yeah!” you replied.

“Woot!” I shouted.


I’d been worried. So far, everyone you’ve met has really liked you. We haven’t had to put up with any name-calling or teasing, and even though you’ve been lonely for your siblings and look up at space with longing sometimes, you seem to feel the world is a friendly place.

I want to keep it that way as long as we can.


“So?” I asked. “What else?”

“My teacher is really cute! Her name is Caroline Swits, but I decided to call her Care-a-lot Sweets, because she cares a lot and she’s really sweet. All the kids like her, and when she comes into the corner to read to us, we all say, ‘Shh! Sweets-time!'”


You looked so happy. I felt a moment of worry. If you’re this happy now…

“So, what else?” I wanted you to have a chance to tell everything before it got overshadowed by the big news.

“I made a very important discovery,” you said.

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I love everybody, and everybody loves me!” you said.


“That is an important discovery. Anything else?”

“Nope. That about does it,” you said.

“All right,” I said. “Take a deep breath and rest your smiling muscles for a sec, because I made an important discovery today, too.”

You took a breath and got very still waiting.

“Don’t forget to exhale,” I said.


“So,” I began, trying to think of the gentlest, most round-about way to say it. “Have you ever heard of ‘When it rains, it pours?'”

You hadn’t.

“What do you think it means?” I asked. I was hoping that switching your mind into curiosity-mode would make it easier to take in what I was going to tell you.

“It probably means to not forget your umbrella!” you said.

“Always a good idea to be prepared,” I said. “It means that when something of a sort happens, it’s usually followed by lots more of the same sort. Sometimes, it’s used for bad news. But it can be used for good news, too. Today, I’m using it for good news.”

You looked up at my with your eyes of space.

“So,” I continued, “if we’re talking good news, and if I were to tell you I was really busy doing something for us–for you–all day, what kind of good news do you think I might have to share?”

“A puppy?” you asked.

“Not a puppy,” I replied. “Better. What’s the best–”

“–Bizoopagotogo?” you asked.

And when I nodded, I thought we might both explode from happy.


I told you all about the forum and how we now had a way to get in touch with your siblings, and how you weren’t alone anymore, and we didn’t explode. We just smiled til our cheek muscles cramped.

Oh, son. This day makes it all worthwhile.

Your happy dad,


<< Previous | Next >>

Septemus 14


Dear Sept,

This is a big day, and not just because this is your first day of school.

I’d decided to spend the day writing. I had the house to myself. I had my editor on my case. Our savings are scraping the bottom of the barrel, and bills are coming due, and I have a growing list of things I want to buy for you: an art kit, a chess set, maybe a chemistry set, and definitely a violin, if we can ever afford it. So my plan was to knock out five chapters today.

Before I got started, while my mind was warming up to the rhythm of words, I thought I’d do another search. Just in case anybody was posting anything that might be of interest to us.

For the heck of it, I decided to do a search using words you’d taught me. Squeegee, of course, brought up cleaning supplies.

The next word I tried was bizoopagoto.


And there it was: top search item. Staring me in the face.

Forum for Participants in H9110 (Extended Jury Duty)

Hot damn!


Sure enough. A complete forum. For us.


I read the Forum Rules and Guidelines carefully.


And the rush of feelings just about broke me.


Support. A safe place for us. Searching for answers. Everyone can talk freely and feel supported. Possibilities, issues, and challenges.

Hot damn, yes.

This was what we’d been searching for.


Needless to say, I didn’t get any chapters written today.

I spent the whole time reading posts on the forum.


There weren’t many. It seems that the forum had just been created a few days before. There were only a handful of members.

But each one was posted by someone like me, with a kid like you, looking for someone that might just understand them and help them feel not so alone.


When I read a post from a parent asking for help communicating, I felt impelled to reply.

I created an account for myself.


I replied to that post. I made a few posts of my own. I shared what you’d taught me about your language. I offered a few ideas about how to be open to the type of visual-imagery you use to enhance your communication.

Just as I was getting ready to sign out and get to work on my book, a message popped up in my forum inbox.


Be sure to tell your son.

Oh, God. It hit me right then. I can tell you. All these years when we’ve been looking for your siblings–and here they are, living with other mothers and fathers who are caring for them, trying their best, and feeling very alone.

Sept, we are not alone anymore. None of us. We’ve found your bizoopagotogo.


I can’t wait for you to come home from school so I can tell you.

With love and gratitude for the benevolence of this friendly universe,

Your dad

<< Previous | Next >>

Author’s Notes: Yes! We really do have a forum! I think I mentioned that this was part of a collab (and we’d love to have you join us, by the way!) Well, the brilliant and endlessly creative Charliimai really did create a forum for us:

Many thanks to Charliimai and to the others whose posts I’ve used here: Rainydayz (SynceFrk42) and allysimbuilds (CodyMcTesterson8)

Septemus 13


Dear Sept,

I watched you sleeping last night, so sad and still in your slumber. It was hard for me to comprehend that you would be starting school this morning. I couldn’t help but worry.

I think you might have been worried, too.

You woke in the middle of the night with a start.


I tucked you back in to bed and asked if you wanted to talk a bit before falling asleep. You said no, but then when I got up to go back to my bed, you grabbed my hand and said, “Just sit.” So I sat with you until you fell asleep.

I woke early this morning to make your sack lunch. Then I fixed our favorite faux BLT for breakfast.


A special day deserves to start with a treat.


“What if they tell me I have to sit in the closet?” you asked me.

Where did you get that idea?


“Or what if they say that if I get a math problem wrong, I have to write the rightest answer five thousand and twenty-one times on the black board?”


Then I realized: We’ve been reading way too much 19th Century children’s literature.

“OK, son,” I said, “it’s not like it was in the books anymore.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I studied to be a kids’ teacher,” I replied. “And all us teachers studied how to make learning fun and help kids feel accepted and safe and ready to learn.”

“That sounds nice,” you said. “I’ll be happy if my teacher is like you.”


You stopped eating and got quiet.

“What do we do there,” you asked, “if we don’t write math on the board?”


“You’ll probably draw and listen to stories and write and sing,” I said.

“Can I make up my own song?”

“Sure!” I said.

And you started singing a strange song about a lost planet that got eaten by a black hole and the chorus went:

“It’s empty. It’s empty. It’s all gone and black and empty.”


“Think we’ll sing that song?” you asked.

I said no.

“What will we sing?”

I sang the tea-pot song for you.

“I’m a little tea pot
Short and stout…


“Here’s my handle,
Here’s my snout.”

“It’s SPOUT!” you said, giggling. “Everybody knows tea pots don’t have snouts!”


“See?” I said. “You know the song already! You’ll do great at school!”

“I’m so ready,” you said.


We had a little time after breakfast, so you asked if we could go outside and play.

Your doll was the teacher, and she was very nice and not at all strict.


And my doll was the student, and she was rather naughty and did everything wrong. But the teacher was nice to her anyway.

“OK,” you said, after we played for a little bit. “I think I am ready.”


And with that, you grabbed your sack lunch and walked down the street to school, just like we’d practiced every day leading up to this.

I’m proud of you, son. You will do great.

Your dad,


<< Previous | Next >>