Thursday, June 27, 2013


June 27, 2013

Vagabond Journey

No. 2,007


The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath:



Hello Linda


I sat out on the porch this evening in the gentle rain. High in the sky the lightening was flashing. Unconcerned with them thunder rumbled distantly. The rain felt good on my shoulders and head. There were no voices out there. People were inside, at home, with each other, safely away from the gentle storm.

But what does a loner do in such a storm? Is it really safe to go inside to be by myself. Wouldn't it be better to stay outside safely away from myself, to let the rain cleanse me and protect me from the eternally unfinished business of my life?

I sat in the rain thinking about how deeply we must dig to really know ourselves, uncovering ancient artifacts of tests not passed, ignorant mistakes, forsaken loves, forlorn losses. Why do we keep on living when fumbling through such ruins?

The birds and bugs don't mind the cleansing rain. They have no regrets. The people in their homes with rights and wrongs can change the subject if necessary. But what does the loner do?

Two of the most important words we will ever speak are "forgive me." I will forgive myself. I will try. Tonight I was cleansed by the gentle rain of mercy. I am the place beneath. I will have mercy on myself. I will try again.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Sunday, June 16, 2013


June 16, 2013

Vagabond Journey

No. 2,006


Happy the man, and happy he alone,

He who can call today his own.

(John Dryden)


Hello Beth


There has been rain, serious rain, enough to claim itself as a typhoon if it wants to. Then there has been the long slow steady rain that isn't dangerous but just enough to leave everything damp and soaking.

There have been flashes of light in the sky, startlingly unexpected in the night. Lightening not concerned with the mundane earth but rather speeding across the upper atmosphere in a race with its neighboring bolts.

There has been thunder, deep and dark. Distant groans, rumbling long and loud, often strong enough to shake my building.

There has been wind. Trash cans thrown across the parking lot. Too cool on my face when I step outside my door. I close the windows or the papers will be strewn around the room.

There has been sunshine, bright, warm, liquid light to make one forget the rain, wind and thunder. Warm beams across the pages lighting up the shadows.

And through it all, the days and nights have been mine, mine to call a few friends and share good news, mine to read and write, mine to think and paint, mine to search, to stretch, to reach, to climb into the secret places of the day, to discover, to rediscover the endless wine of wisdom from the ancient philosophers, ancient poets and ancient scientists.

My father died in 1943. He was a World War One hero and veteran. Here I sit, in my day, a 21st century man, so far removed from my father's world, and yet so aware of the seeds planted in the long ago which made his world and my world what they are.

Today, my day, I celebrate the Ancient Fathers.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up


Saturday, June 1, 2013


June 1, 2013

Vagabond Journey No. 2,005


There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.

(Annie Dillard)


Hello Margie


For some reason, I can't remember why, I have a lot of photos of roller coasters in my screen saver file. For many roller coasters are a lot of fun, although for some the idea of being whipped around at a dangerous speed and plunging down a steep descent into an unseen and unknown destiny does not appeal to them.

Nevertheless roller coasters hold a fascination for many people. You can think about them, hear about them, read about them, see pictures of them or go to the amusement park and watch them. But it is just not the same until you ride one.

I haven't ridden one in many years. There are none around here to tempt me. I would enjoy another trip around the winding rails but if I tried I would probably be stopped at the gate by some kindly attendant who would say "Yo, where do you think YOU'RE going, old timer?" So what, I would still give it a try.

The last coaster I rode was years ago at the Westchester County Fair in Yonkers, NY. It had a double loop and I carefully slipped my hat and my pen under my thigh so they wouldn't fall to the ground when we went upside down. Truthfully, the whole ride went so fast I don't even remember being upside down.

When I was a teenager my buddy Paul and I used to find roller coasters that were closed for the Winter, sneak in and walk the tracks. We would start from the end so that we would climb the first big cascade. We though it was probably safer than trying to walk down it. Some of them had tunnels which were creepy and noisy places. Eery step we took reverberated through the whole tunnel. I'm surprised we weren't arrested. I guess no one was watching, or if they were they were admiring our bravado.

I don't watch television now. I don't even own one. When I was in NYC I only watched if there was a program I wanted to see. But when I lived in New Hampshire I used to watch every night. Since it was a small northern New England community with no cable and only an internal antenna, I could only get one channel. As a result I had no choice but to watch the Tonight Show with a host I considered insipid and world-ignorant. Today I rue the many hours I spent glued to that TV set watching that irrelevant program.

Why was it irrelevant? Because the net work was giving me only something that resembled life. It wasn't real life. It didn't involve me beyond my eyes and ears. To watch and listen was to do something instead of life. When I woke up to that I realized in how many other ways I was not living my life. That realization took me out of New Hampshire and back to New York City and the frightening but courageous marathon of starting my acting career all over again.

In my early 20's a blessed teacher implanted in me an energy cell of enthusiasm for life. That cell has brought me through dangerous attempts, out of hopeless failures, plunged me into not too safe adventures and to the gates of gratifying successes. Timidity is not an option.

You can think about life, read about it, hear about it, you can even watch it. But it's just not the same until you get on board and live it.


Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

Never Give Up