A short while back, I bought four more journals. I’ve never bought them “in bulk” before, but about a year ago I found one I like (the ink soaks through the paper a little, but the absorbency is just right for capturing a sharp-edged line that still has plenty of body—paper with no soak-through gives me too slick a surface and spidery writing ((the ink never really becomes part of the page)) and even a stitch more absorbency both fuzzes the line edges and soaks through to a degree that legibility is shot—modern paper is not fountain pen friendly) so I bought a bunch. Looking at that little pile of blank books is both exciting (because I like new books) and a little sobering (because I’m just a little terrified about what might have to be written there, given the current economic trajectory and my tendency to do much better at most everything when the trajectory is, well, exactly opposite).
Here I would like to insert an observation about feet. From a design standpoint, they can be a little odd, if you look at them in a certain way. I mean, your leg is coming down in this well-proportioned taper, a taper all the more interesting because it’s not entirely predictable, given the bold protrusion of the knee, the graceful swelling of the calf and the subtle punctuation of the ankle bone, not to mention the infinitely variable undulations of cellulite on the way down. Then this taper unexpectedly splays out in a sudden slab of footage, with little buds of toeage frabbling insolently on the end of it—the entire body ending, as it were, not with a bang, but a frabble.
But don’t look at them in this way. They are, remember, of divine design, and also doggoned functional. Still, as nature blurs the divine design and nurture frustrates it altogether (the Asian practice of binding women’s feet ((what were they thinking?)), the Euro-American conspiracy of high heels ((what were they thinking?)), the Neo-sadists’ refinement of cowboy boots ((what were they think… no, let’s not go there)) ), feet can become odd. Mine, for example are possessed of at least one pinky toe that has not a nail, but a sort of lump. The same foot juts in a triangular manner that I am told is arthritic—a “spur.” The other foot is okay, but will not be hung with a blue ribbon by anybody this year.
To connect journals, feet and finer things, I give you the two final entries in the last journal, just finished:
14 November 2010
“In the middle of the night, unable to sleep, I thought about the Lord asking that I have ‘an eye single’ to His glory. His glory is ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ If I celebrate and enjoy what I can’t do (to help Him), and help with what I can do, maybe I can obey this. Worrying about doing this, preparing to do this, regretting my inability to do this—none of these things is ‘doing this.’”
16 November 2010
“To harmonize with and give wings to the idea of having an eye single to God’s glory is the much-quoted passage in Isaiah 57, ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace…that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!’
“Most of my life, especially including now, is spent in ‘pre-publication mode.’ Now I will ask myself ‘What will I do to publish peace today?’ It can certainly mean getting my witness-in-art into people’s ears. That can happen almost daily, if I work at it. But it can also mean simply bringing light and covenant-based encouragement to individuals—peace.
“Yesterday this simple resolve urged me to drop by the Hale Theater box office just to visit Rachel Woodward, a ‘110 In the Shade’ friend whom I like a lot. It made her glad. Me, too. It published *peace.”
(*I’m putting the footnote right here, since pages are artificial on the Internet and so are their feet. The following was in the same entry, and relates. “Don’t we, perhaps more than anything else, want to make somebody happy? What could be more fulfilling, more focusing and self-affirming? What feeling is more godly? How important is it, then, that our children ((or our friends, certainly our spouses)) know that they’re making us happy? What better gift can I give my child ((friend/spouse)) than my gladness? If we’re not enjoying one another, we’re marching piously around the exterior of the temple, and with each revolution we are blindly passing by the glowing open door.”)
Back to the body of the entry, as opposed to the foot—although a fitting title for this whole column could be “Foot Note.”
“After the Hale, I drove down to Barnes & Noble and bought four more journals just like this one. Last night I taped a number on the spine of each—27, 28, 29, 30. I want them to be records of publishing peace. Looking at those blank books gives me hope for a brighter future than otherwise might have been.”
In Isaiah’s vision, whose are the beautiful feet? The Savior’s, of course. But in Abinadi’s final sermon to King Noah the Ugly Footed, he explains that many other people may stand upon those mountains and publish away as though the publishing of peace were going out of style, which, happily, it isn’t. He suggests that there is plenty of room on those mountains for your feet and mine, even.
I am now going to hold myself up as an example. It may turn out to be an example of somebody trying to start a fad, or of somebody obsessing when they ought to be preparing their Sunday School lesson, but here’s a record (omitting all the journal stuff that hasn’t much to do with publishing peace).
17 November 2010
“What will I do today to publish peace?”
(Passage of time…)
“Created a page on my web site called ‘Publish Peace’ where I embedded a recording of ‘How Pale the Wind’ and ‘Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee’ (going from a song that’s thirty years old to a song that’s nine hundred years old), then posted a link to it on Facebook.”
18 November 2010
“Published on Facebook a link to the Backstage Graffiti column that appeared yesterday.”
19 November 2010
“My beautiful wife and I had a sweet time doing sealings today at the Draper Temple. The celestial room there is awe-inspiring.
“I wondered how I might publish some peace today on this side of the veil and decided to go home teaching.”
20 November 2010
“Published on Facebook a link to my ‘Mormon.org’ profile (you know, the ‘I’m an astronaut, an ambassador to Switzerland, a power forward for the Celtics, and a concert violinist—I’m a Mormon.’ Mine is more modest.)”
23 November 2010 (Two missing mystery days. I’d tell you what happened to them, but I didn’t write anything down, so I don’t remember.)
“My house concert tonight in Mapleton blizzarded out (This is not precisely true—what happened is that we cancelled it because everybody in charge of weather around here warned us of ‘The Blizzard of 2010,’ like it would be remembered on the scale of ‘The Market Crash of 1929.’ Then we all huddled around our kerosene heaters and cracked open our 72-hour kits and held our breaths and nothing really happened.
The wind blew some), so to publish peace I swapped out the song on my ‘Publish Peace’ page from the concert version of ‘By the Virgin Born’ (heavy stratocaster content) to the studio version (only as reckless as a harmonica can get).”
24 November 2010
“Published on Facebook a link to the ‘Soapbox’ page on my web site (Warning: This is where I preach).”
25 November 2010
“Published on Facebook a link to ‘Thank You For the Baby Jesus’ on the Publish Peace page.”
26 November 2010
“Played a house concert in Eagle Mountain for Claudia Dorsey and her daughter Erin Carbajal and friends. Heidi Saunders, my mad wife from Jane Eyre, was there. Everybody’s attention and generosity made the evening practically perfect.”
28 November 2010 (Was there a 27 November? Couldn’t prove it by me.((I skyped my daughter Eliza, who lives in England, on Thanksgiving Day. I knew that they have a Fourth of July there, but I had to ask if they have a last Thursday in November. They do. According to her. But she was an American for a pretty long time.)
“We learned about the 47th chapter of Ezekial today in Sunday School and I sang ‘If Jesus Was a River.’ It’s what the OM (‘Orchestra Model’—it’s one of my Martins) is for.”
(I now have all the proof I need that Microsoft Word has emanated from the realm of the Adversary. It won’t allow that “Ezekial” is a word, nor “bringeth,” nor “publisheth,” nor “saith,” nor “reigneth,” nor “sealings.” Of course, it also won’t allow “stratocaster.” “Skyped” and “Carbajal” I can understand, but “stratocaster”?)
29 November 2010
“This morning I authorized somebody in Illinois to copy the choral version of my song ‘Were You There When the Angels Sang?’ That might be publishing peace.”
1 December 2010
“Swapped out songs on ‘Publish Peace’ to ‘What If Love Became an Apple.’”
2 December 2010
“Played a home concert for Tamara McNatt.”
3 December 2010
“Sent somebody (Liz) from last night the Gifted Seed (concert) version of ‘By the Virgin Born’ (heavy stratocaster content). The lady had liked that song.”
4 December 2010
(I won’t share what I actually wrote on this day, except to say that the two music rehearsals, one choral and one Celtic, and the long afternoon playwriting meeting were probably more successful at publishing peace than the evening’s pick-and-grin offering at a local ward’s Christmas Party. The Bishop, my family, and about six other people in the cultural hall wanted to have peace published at them and the rest were publishing other stuff at each other like they were at the BYU-Utah game ((Utah fans were very kind in church after that game—that was nice)) and were afraid they wouldn’t be heard over the din of the crowd—or the din of the guy publishing peace. But I guess that publishing peace to eleven courteous people is better than if I hadn’t tried.)
5 December 2010
Home taught again—same people.
6 December 2010
“Sent somebody a 2010 Planemaker bootleg. Publishing peace.
“Caroled into the evening with some nice ward members at the live nativity in Alpine (you’re not supposed to know about this, because some journalist crept in last year and published peace about it and now bazillions of people come from all over the countryside and we’re in trouble with the city).
“And right now, I’m writing a Backstage Graffiti column about…” Oh wait, this really is now. Oops.
Okay, here’s the deal. Big laundry list of peace-publishing attempts. But, as you all recall perfectly from exactly one hundred eleven columns ago, if you know that you’re writing a book about your life you’ll live it better. I told Facebook I was gonna publish peace. I told myself in my journal. Without those two reckless declarations, I’d have published maybe a fifth of the peace I’ve published in the last couple of weeks. The rest of the time I’d have merely thought about it (maybe a lot), imagining that someday I’d be ready. We can all do this.
Publish peace. It’s cheaper than a pedicure.