Author Archives: Joe

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces.

The Eyes Have It

I usually write my posts the night before I post them in the morning. Sometimes, if I am not busy working from home, I write them during the day. Sometimes, I am inspired by the news or random thoughts. Other times, I am inspired for a picture that I see, and it evokes certain thoughts. This post was one of the latter. Since I was having my MRI last night and did not get home until late, I didn’t have much to say today. I hope I will get the results sometime today, but until then, here are some lovely pictures of men’s eyes. One of the advantages of everyone wearing masks is that we get to focus on a person’s eyes. Some men have beautiful eyes, and I am often attracted to the eyes of a man (okay, as is evident by a lot of the pictures I post, I also usually check out their butts as well, LOL).

This brings me to another interesting phenomenon of the pandemic. We have all heard of catfishing (if you haven’t, it is the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona). There is also another less devious term I heard the other day: Hatfishing, when a handsome man looks hot wearing a hat, then, when he takes it off he goes from “That man is gorgeous!” to “What was I thinking?” During the pandemic, I have noticed one more version of this: maskfishing, where a person appears to be more attractive because they are wearing a facemask. In both hatfishing and maskfishing, we often notice the eyes first (or his butt, according to which way he is facing).

Here are some wise quotes about eyes:

  1. “The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter —often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter —in the eye.” —Charlotte Bronte
  2. “Eyes so transparent that through them the soul is seen.” —Theophile Gautier
  3. “Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.” —Samuel Richardson
  4. “The eyes only see what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” —Henri Bergson
  1. “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” —Henry David Thoreau
  2. “No one can lie, no one can hide anything, when he looks directly into someone’s eyes.” —Paulo Coelho
  3. “The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero
  1. “The eyes shout what the lips fear to say.” —William Henry
  2. “The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  3. “It’s true about the eyes being the window to the soul. Your face can be etched with worry, and twisted by ageing, but the eyes tell the true story of who you are.” —Naomie Harris
  4. “The real lover is the man who can thrill you just by touching your head or smiling into your eyes —or just by staring into space.” — Marilyn Monroe
  1. “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” —John Vance Cheney
  2. “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” —Audrey Hepburn
  3. “The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pic of the Day

Wild Geese

Wild Geese
By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

About the Poem

The American poet Mary Oliver published “Wild Geese” in her seventh collection, Dream Work, which came out in 1986. The poem’s speaker urges readers to open themselves up to the beauty of nature. While people focus on their own struggles, the speaker points out, the natural world moves along effortlessly, free as a flock of geese passing overhead. The poem celebrates nature’s grandeur—and its ability to remind people that, after all, they’re part of something vast and meaningful.

The poem tells readers that they don’t have to be perfect, nor do they have to beat themselves up by wandering the desert as if paying for their sins. Instead, people only have to treat their bodies like the vulnerable animals that they are, simply letting them love whatever they want to love. Oliver offers to commiserate with readers about their suffering and unhappiness, but adds that while they talk about this, the world will continue like normal—sunshine and rain will move over the earth’s wide-open plains, tall trees, mountains, and rivers. No matter who you are or how lonely you are you can always lose yourself in the wonders of nature, since these wonders call out like the urgent squawks of wild geese—a sound that, again and again, puts people back in touch with their surroundings and makes them feel at home in the world.

The poem acknowledges that human beings are soft, vulnerable creatures prone to suffering and despair. At the same time, it frames the vast, awe-inspiring beauty of nature as a soothing and comforting force—something that reminds people that they’re part of something bigger and more meaningful than their everyday problems. “Wild Geese” seeks to put the pressures and difficulties of everyday life into perspective. The speaker acknowledges the burden people feel to be “good” and also notes that everyone inevitably experiences “despair” or loneliness from time to time. Beating yourself up for perceived mistakes or failings, the speaker implies, is a fruitless endeavor that drains people’s happiness.

About the Poet

Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019) was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is inspired by nature, rather than the human world, stemming from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in the wild. It is characterized by a sincere wonderment at the impact of natural imagery, conveyed in unadorned language.

On a visit to Austerlitz in the late 1950s, Oliver met photographer Molly Malone Cook, who became her partner for over forty years. In Our World, a book of Cook’s photos and journal excerpts Oliver compiled after Cook’s death, Oliver writes, “I took one look [at Cook] and fell, hook and tumble.” Cook was Oliver’s literary agent. They made their home largely in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where they lived until Cook’s death in 2005, and where Oliver continued to live until relocating to Florida. Of Provincetown she recalled, “I too fell in love with the town, that marvelous convergence of land and water; Mediterranean light; fishermen who made their living by hard and difficult work from frighteningly small boats; and, both residents and sometime visitors, the many artists and writers. […] M. and I decided to stay.”

Mary Oliver Reading Her Poem “Wild Geese”

Pic of the Day

Another Week Begins

I had several errands to run this weekend. Luckily, I was generally feeling okay with a dull headache during much of the day. However, by nightfall, the headache is usually at its worse. Last night was no different. I was watching TV and realized I needed to put together a post for today, but my head was aching so badly that I gave up trying to say anything of substance. I hope all of you had a good weekend.

Pic of the Day

The Great Physician

O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

—Psalm 30:2

When you’re going through a difficult time — be it emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual — it can be easy to lose faith and feel like you may not overcome the challenge; that the pain will envelop you and take you down. But the good news is, you can move past it. After all, the Lord doesn’t throw anything your way that you can’t handle. If you forget that, it helps to look at those around you and remember that you are never alone. We always have God with us, but we also have our friends and family who care about us, and hopefully, we have someone we can lean on in times of trouble.

During his earthly life, Jesus was very active in his ministry of healing. He cured the blind so they could see again. He healed the lame so they could walk once more. He let the deaf hear again. He raised Lazarus from the dead. The early Church Fathers gave our Lord the title of “the Great Physician.” However, Jesus did not cure all disease and sickness once and for all. Instead, he asked us to have faith in Him. Jesus came to give us a life that will never end, not even with death. 

Jesus is widely considered to have performed many miracles during his three-year ministry, from turning water into wine at the beginning to the second miraculous catch of fish towards the end. He also healed people. He healed a lot of people, with approximately two-thirds of his recorded miracles involving healing. Healing people was important to Jesus. But time and time again he used the opportunity to heal someone as a practical way of teaching us something else. Something that is as equally relevant for us today as it was 2,000 years ago. 

There is a hymn called “The Great Physician” written by William Hunter (1811- 1877) who emigrated from England and settled in York, Pennsylvania with his family when he was 6 years old. He graduated from Madison College at Uniontown, Pennsylvania and became a Methodist minister.  He later taught Hebrew at Allegheny College. Though he wrote 125 hymns, the only one still in use is “The Great Physician” (initially called “Christ, the Physician”).  Originally, the hymn had seven verses but hymn books generally print just four of them. 

The Great Physician
By William Hunter, pub.1859
Ref. by Richard Kempenfelt, 1777

The Great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus!
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

Your many sins are all forgiv’n,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus;
The veil ‘twixt you and God is riven,
Redemption wrought by Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

All glory to the dying Lamb!
I now believe in Jesus;
I love the blessed Savior’s name,
I love the name of Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

His name dispels my guilt and fear,
No other name but Jesus;
Oh, how my soul delights to hear
The precious name of Jesus!
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

And when to that bright world above,
We rise to see our Jesus,
We’ll sing around the throne of love
His name, the name of Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song;
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung:
Jesus, blessed Jesus!

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Golf

I miss playing golf. I played on the golf team in high school, which is when I learned to play. I thought it would be a good skill if I became a lawyer, which was my original career ambition. I loved playing, even if I was never very good at it. It was still fun. It’s been a decade or more since I have played. My favorite golf course used to be the 9-hole “Deer Haven” course at the Roland Cooper State Park in Camden, Alabama. It used to be a beautiful course that ran along the Alabama River.

Pic of the Day