November Thoughts

November Walk

I have a pinched nerve in my lower back that affects my left leg which hurts with every step and is in no way alleviated with the aid of a cane, but I made the walk today with Akram and friend Tom from 96th Street to the Conservatory Garden stopping at every bench. Over the past three years I have fallen (slipped, slid) down two flights of stone steps and once off a ladder. The doctor says these were not falls, but missteps. Whatever, I thought these were the cause of my bum leg, but the physical therapist tells me no, bad posture from stooping over a typewriter, laptop or pen and paper for the last fifty-five years has finally pinched a nerve in my lower back that can only be relieved by doing exercises in the opposite direction, most predominately a yoga-like standing Cobra that will slowly ease bone from bone and muscle from muscle, unpinching at last this constantly hurting nerve. It wasn’t foolish to have taken this walk because I must do what I do, living through the pain which is going to get worse before it gets better as the therapist and I make all of the pain in my leg go into my lower back where it really resides, and that is when we can start to end the problem. I must get there from here, and when you are looking at a month of recovering pain, there is no time like the present. I’ve thought of autumn as a beautiful end, but this one begins.


The weather is brutal. The mayor who I fully supported, but feel less inclined to day to day, has warned parade goers to dress warmly and get inside if they have to because the weather can kill. The autumn this year began as a heat wave so the leaves didn’t really change. This morning a swirling flock of pigeons suddenly became as I glanced away and back again at my window a swirling flock of leaves green as the day they were born, hurried by the relentless wind that had torn them from their boughs. Green leaves in November shouldn’t be there, but there they are. We are born living on the edge of existence, one glance away from the destructive face of God ready to explode like a volcano or a tropical storm. Death has always been there. Children like me who grew up in the early fifties during the cold war with the atom bomb have always expected the end of the world, but these days are more certain, not a science fiction movie with a radioactive giantess or giant ants surrounding Los Angeles. The fires today are way more real. What is there to be thankful for? I’d say for the one moment to the next, the promise of epiphany, a steadfast family, the kindness of strangers and friends. In the photo, London, 1940 (photographer unknown), a boy reads in a bombed out bookstore thankful for the book he holds. It wasn’t that long ago; it is possible that the little boy is living now although very cold. That some will say that same about the children today—that have lived to be old—is my hope.

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