The Wolfku Garden - 22

The Northern Lights of
Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in
D-Minor: My home

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Did you know that the aurora borealis makes a sound? It emits a sort of electrical hiss, a subtle shifting of audible frequencies, as it both shapeshifts and colorshifts across the black, star-studded sky.

I count myself very fortunate to have been born and raised in northern Sweden where each winter we had vivid northern lights (norrsken—literally, northern shine) a dozen or so times a year.

These were gigantic, multi-colored church organ pipes covering half the northern sky, fluttering or shivering slowly in the sun-particle breeze while whispering its unoiled song to all little humans standing in the snow, head back in awe.

The first several times I saw the northern lights I had yet to hear of Bach or any of his music, but I was introduced to this god of music sooner than most in that we lived a five-minute walk from our local church which sported a very impressive (I’d go so far as to say magnificent) organ, and in that the church organist was also my music teacher and he had invited me to come hear him practice any time I wanted.

The keyboards to this organ were housed in the choir loft (some call it the church balcony) at the rear of the church which you reached by climbing a narrow and spiraling set of stone steps.

Sometimes of a quiet winter night I could actually hear him play even from our house (yes, I’d have to be outside, of course, and yes, it would have to be very quiet) and then I’d rush up to the church, climb the stairs and debouch into this wonderful space that housed not only the multiple-keyboard organ cockpit, but also the seats for the choir and (of course) the magnificent pipes.

And there he would sit (his name was Harald) both hands and both feet busy with their magic. He’d sense me arriving and turn and smile at me without stopping. Me, I’d sit down and just watch and listen.

Now, it was not that I knew that the music was written by Bach—yes, he may have mentioned it but that did not register at the time. What did register, however, was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, which Harald played more than once (he obviously loved it, too). Those ten heavenly opening notes found two eager ears and a forever home in this young boy, listening in open-mouthed wonder to his music teacher’s conjurer’s trick.

The association between the northern lights and the grand pipes of the church organ is easily made—they do sport the same features—and it’s only a few short associative steps from there to seeing Bach up there in the winter sky (once I learned that he had written the Toccata and Fugue).

To be honest, perhaps it’s not so much that this stellar piece of music was my home (as I wrote in the Wolfku above); it’s more that I became a home for it, and from there on, looking up at the divine winter-night spectacle, there they were, both Harald and Johannes Sebastian, smiling down at me.

That said, let’s fast forward a few years, and I now live in Stockholm in a very cold little apartment with a very good stereo system. One night—and, yes, I must admit to being high on hashish this night—I put on Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, and as the heavens opened in those first ten notes, I saw the familiar northern lights right there in my room, real as anything, descending through the ceiling.

Fast forward a few more years, and I wrote a short story about just that night called “Bach Lights,” which I’ve included it below. It tells of the wonder and why I still am a home for Bach, and he a home for me.

:

Bach Lights

The Winter Dawn is timid this far north. That is why she tiptoed up to my window and then hesitated, as if unsure about what to do next.

Within, Night, her brother and contrast, lingered in many places: on the windows and along the floor as frost, in the cold hash pipe as ash, in the lava lamp as yellow and red bubbly ghost still rising and falling and rising and falling from the heat of the little bulb that could.

On the table as story.

The sun scaled the sky a little more before Sister Dawn finally worked up the courage to pry herself through the frosted glass and heavy curtains and onto my face where she settled and with the help of pure physical (as in bathroom) needs found and excavated me.

I opened my eyes to wonder at the ceiling, then turned to my left to wonder at the all the little letters written on the wall, then turned to my right to wonder at the table, then at the large sheet of paper on the table with many more inky letters scrawled all over it, all mine. And when I say wondered, I really mean wondered, for as yet I could not imagine what I might have written on wall and paper.

I heaved myself halfway up and onto my elbow to wonder a little harder at the sheet of paper: so many letters, all running around scratchily in my barely legible hand. And looking, and looking again, and making out a word or two or three it came back to me, little by a little more: that long, glorious and wordy exhaling under the spell of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor.

I sat all the way up now and retrieved the sheet from the table, wrapped the blanket around me (noticing my breath as faint mist in the cold air), leaned back against the thick wall behind me, and began to read in earnest.

Reading, I returned to the night before and again fell in with Brother Cold and Dark (aka Brother Night)—Cold and Dark despite the two gas burners on my stove burning as high as they would go and hissing heat into his icy heart and despite the little kerosene heater that did all it could to give the gas burners a hand from its frosty corner.

But those were only gestures at warmth, for I live in Stockholm and it is deep winter in the capital N North with a meter of snow outside my window, glittering now and would be sharp to the touch, I could well imagine, and would squeak now underfoot, I could well imagine.

And in this capital N North my room is a tall rectangular box of frigid space: a three-meter-high ceiling with two almost meter-thick walls colder than death facing the outside, another wall nearly as cold facing the entrance way, and a fourth (not so cold but not-at-all warm) wall that I shared with my neighbor. It is in this box of winter that Brother Night and I spent an interesting evening; a cold and stoned evening—just me, though, with the stoned part, Brother Night doesn’t smoke hashish.

Initially, after a pipe or two, I had sailed across first one ocean (the Atlantic) and then a continent (USA) to reach the next ocean (the Pacific) and the big city by the water they call Los Angeles which had gifted me the Doors and their Strange Days Long Playing (LP) record. Leaving my very good speakers as stereo adventure I listened through all of side one and then all of side two and still my frosty wings were spread and eager to go places so I carefully lifted the Doors LP off the turntable and returned it to its sleeve (only touching the record edges), then found and disrobed and carefully lowered a Bach LP onto the turntable instead. Then, as carefully, brought out the stylus from its cradle and lowered it, slowly, slowly, respectfully, the way you should always lower even the most eager stylus onto Bach.

I have a theory: Bach is God. Well, if not God God then at least of the same substance, of that I have no doubt.

:

Of sounds there are none more God-like than those first measures of the Toccata and Fugue in D-minor (or D-Moll as my Archiv German pressing says). They arrived through the ceiling, from a distant somewhere up there in the darkness, as descending lashes of beauty to kill the frozen silence.

Stunned, I reached for pen and paper as would a photographer for his camera when suddenly stumbling upon extraterrestrial aliens—slowly, carefully, centimeter-by-centimeter—hoping not to draw their attention, you know, spook them.

I had to get him down om paper.

Him God. Him Bach. Had to. For were I not to let what now flowed into me, flow through me and then out of me as ink onto this stiff paper I would overfill and drown in beauty. Not a bad way to go mind you, but I was young then and not ready that final passage just yet.

But I did not reach for pen and paper inconspicuously enough. Those first few measures, midflight, spotted my movement and rushed me and wrestled me to the floor where some part of me, some sunny sandy California part of me somehow remained in the Doors’ Los Angeles: prostrate upon Santa Monica beach sand, warm ear to the warm ground listening to the Pacific, listening to wave upon wave reaching sand like wind reaching trees but another part of me—most of me—remained in the wintry Stockholm here and now hearing Bach/God descend and I scrambled back on my feet and discovered a pen in my hand and the sheet of stiff paper on my table and then I began to write down all that Bach said.

Those first few measures again, resurrected in a lower register, circling, then entering me like so many lovers: through my ears, through my eyes, through my skin, embracing me each as they entered. My body sang with Bach. Then the vision.

It was brother North Wind: the ever dawn of the northern lights, their shimmering pipes of icy organ rising shifting rising in a mid-winter fantasy making snow sing. It was God coming down through my ceiling as the aurora borealis and I knew then and there that Bach and God are indeed one and the same.

Then the world rises. It starts somewhere in the engine room of time, his feet on the lower pedals, hands too to the keyboard left as he begins to lift the planet. My room vibrates with the effort, with the strength and sheer joy of that rising. I am water I am wave I am blue ink and I flow onto stiffly white frame after frame of photographed aliens or no one will ever believe me I actually hear this.

The lifting escalates and crescendos and is done escalating now and flings open the door onto Spring.

I hear and see and follow with the tip of my very costly fountain pen which I bought just the other day knowing full well I could not afford it. But these were the days when a check was automatically good because you signed it and gave it to the clerk who then handed you the pen with smile. I have since learned the meaning of the word overdrawn, but meanwhile here it is in my hand and anyway, it’s too late to take it back now, no matter how expensive it was, so I do with it what I hoped and dreamed I would do with it and I write with it.

And out into Spring: The doors are flung wide open, onto narrow crystal steps that dance up into the morning into sky. No more brother North Wind now, just dawn and dew and those little lakes of silver that form on my petals and leaves and do to sense of smell what Michelangelo does to rock.

I wish I could cry matching tears.

Though for whose benefit? I am overcome, yes, but not beyond control. So, un-crying, I keep writing. I no longer know exactly what I say or why really just that I know that this is a capital M Moment and I am having some sort of epiphany here and maybe just maybe I’m a genius of some kind that someone is waiting to discover and make immensely rich and warm and to move out of this freezing almost ceiling-less room so full of darkness and frost and this immense music.

Sound as Mountain. Physical. And I confess I lose my way. In Him.

I reach the end of the paper and there is more to write as I sail on, cast about by waves—a soul in blessed turmoil. And then a new cresting that lets me sprout wings and out and over I glide. He does this to you, you know, God does. Bach does.

I have taken leave of Stockholm of winter of snow and Boreas’ and Bach’s Light and now there is only ocean reflecting soul and I cannot comprehend how anyone encumbered with arms and legs and fingers and toes could possibly have conceived and composed beauty such as this, wings such as these and again I remind myself that I am in His presence, sailing His air, and that for Him all is possible.

I turn the sheet over. The one sheet. I only have the one sheet? Why have I only the one sheet? But wondering does not turn it into several, so instead I turn it over and continue this scribbly dance on the other side and I hope that at least some small vestige of what enters actually exits as I race ahead by one inky Swedish word after another and turning my head now I see a path that perhaps can be followed, perhaps should be followed, perhaps must be followed, or I will never find my way back.

What goes through God’s mind when he writes music like this? What could possibly inspire Him, source of all inspiration? But something does and did and am I really the first to hear this? To hear what He meant. To see what He saw.

There are islets below. They could be Greece or they could be Australia or they could be our own Stockholm archipelago in the summer I don’t know and really, I don’t care as long as my wings carry me and I don’t fly too close to the sun.

My speakers make a faint hum from an inverter I need in this old apartment, so old it only has direct current (DC) electricity which needs chopping up into little AC bits to drive my stereo and that’s what makes them hum but God doesn’t care and I no longer notice. Now there is only space and the windy tapestry of pipes as I approach the edge of the second page and there is so much more to say but nowhere to say it so I turn to the clean wall behind me and now I have a sheet to last me.

We sail on, Bach and God and I for the final measure.

Timid Sister Dawn (she is very perceptive) sees all this of course which is perhaps why she finally ventured through frosty panes and heavy curtain to find my face, beneath which I sleep the sleep of last night’s frost and though I slowly know her on my face up there on the somewhere surface I choose to ignore her for a while. But she has come to stay and soon manages to dispel her brother to some nether, even colder region, to under my bed perhaps and into corners where he will sulk till the sun sets again to set him loose and she tugs me gently and tells me to wake up, to wake all the way up and to open my eyes.

:

“So what do you think?” I ask.

My friend gets to the bottom of the stiff sheet and mumbles, without taking his eyes off the text, “Amazing.” Then he turns the sheet over.

“Do you think your dad might publish it?” I ask. His dad is an editor of some sort. It’s a small magazine, but quite prestigious I’m told.

“I would think so,” he says and keeps reading. “Surreal,” he adds after another while, still not taking his eyes off my scribbles.

Then he gets to the bottom of the second page and says, “Does it end here?”

He turns the sheet over again and over again and over again looking for a better ending. “Where is the rest?”

“On my wall,” I remember.

::

 

The Wolfku Garden - 21

Young man meets woman
  In a sexless
  equation
Do they still attract?

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On a distant desert planet in a galaxy far, far away, one young traveler, a boy—thirsty after days of little (and now no) water, meets another young traveler—a girl not so thirsty after days of ample water and at this point close to her destination.

Why is boy a boy and why is girl a girl?

On this planet a boy is a boy in that only a boy-kiss can make another boy or a girl split (amoeba-like) in two and so propagate the race of desert crossing, adventure-seeking boys and girls.

Let’s define kiss in this context. This is a spiritual race, and a kiss is much more than lips on lips (or forehead or hair or hand or foot or take your pick), it is a sudden invasion by the boy spirit into the body of the other boy or girl, a gushing a breeze a wind a settling of storm suffusing the body and by extension the spirit as well of the other, a lovely sharing of everything so intense and so embracing that the other now, atom by atom, cell by cell begins the joyful dance of replicating him- or herself. This is a slow process. Four full circles (ovals, actually) round the distant (reddish) sun, will culminate in a new boy (or girl) stepping out of the existing ditto to double the number of him or her. The copy (bad choice of words, I now, but it is true—in other words, the newly minted boy or girl is an exact copy of the original), usually takes a brief look at the original and seeing him- or herself mirrored laughs at the joy of creation and saunters off in search of his or her own adventure.

Age. No such thing, the copy is the same age as the original; probably because there’s no time on this desert planet, not as we know it anyway.

Death. No such thing either. No one dies here, or—let me clarify this—everyone lives for so long (tens and tens of thousands of trips around the sun) that death seems quite absent.

Overpopulation. Logically speaking, that should be the case, eventually, but very, very eventually. The creator made only two, boy and girl, and these two have slowly, over millennia replicated to a small tribe of identical boys and a small tribe of identical girls. They’re scattered over the whole (very large) planet in search of adventure and only occasionally run into each other, and if one of them is a boy, chances are that a kiss might ensue and four years later there’ll be another one looking for adventure.

At the current rate of population growth, the planet will not see its first city for another eight billion years. So, overpopulation? No.

Also, it should be said, kissing is a very civilized and polite thing. No such thing as a rape-kiss on this planet.

“Would you like to be kissed?” is usually the question.

“No,” is usually the answer.

“Okay,” is usually the answer to that.

“Any good adventures lately?”

And so it goes… All very civilized and polite.

So, is this desert encounter a sexless equation?

Yes and no.

Replication is a joyous thing, but also rather long and tedious, which is why the answer is usually no, making the equation sexless in all respects. Also, everyone (though there are hardly enough of them to qualify as an everyone) is usually on an adventure (or looking for one) and don’t want to disrupt it or give it up for replication (the official term).

Should the potential kissee, however, be between adventures, or (usually the case) have never replicated before and might view it as an adventure, then and to that small degree there might be the attraction involved with looking forward to growing a copy and so, yes, a flirtive glance or two might be cast in one direction or another, but that’ll be the extent of it as far as attraction goes.

This is a very peaceful planet.

They’re all vegan (there are no animals to kill—well, a few birds fly about, but they are all too large to ever consider killing if the notion of ending a life could ever occur to these boys and girls, which it cannot).

They’re all terrific runners.

They’re all terrific walkers (when they don’t run).

They’re not very good sitters (bores them).

But here’s the point: when boy meets girl its much, much more like traveler meets traveler or adventurer meets adventure.

So, in this case, “You look thirsty,” said the girl.

“I am,” said the boy. “Do you have any spare water?”

“I do,” said the girl. “Here,” handing him her canteen.

::

The Wolfku Garden - 20

I tread memory—
  Soft and treacherous
  carpet
Falling, falling through

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Memory is not solid ground. Although quite roamable—and we do roam, seemingly love to—have you ever tried firmly to plant your feet on any one memory spot, on any one plot of exposed memory ground?

The amazing thing is that you soon might find yourself free-falling, having punched a fallable-through hole in the memory fabric with your far too heavy memory foot. Even lighter feet will often burrow through (and the rest of you with them).

Sometimes memories arrive bidden (especially joyous ones), though mostly they—like pesky relatives—arrive unbidden with no intention of leaving anytime soon. It’s as if they hover in the air, all of our memories, surrounding us at variable distances ready to pounce at the slightest sign of an exterior commonality detail (sometimes crude, sometimes subtle), no matter how slight or un-pin-point-able—as in: how on earth did I wind up in this memory?

So, take heed: while the memory carpet is soft and treadable, it is almost always treacherous, and will leave you some temporal ways apart from where you started.

The notion or image of a bog comes to mind, or the thick and fecund mosses that sometimes cover and encroach on the surface of dark water (I believe the term is marsh), solid enough to tread up to a point, though one more step (as treacherous as memory) and you will sink through and into the strange waters below: such is memory.

At times, just for the hell of it, I have traced the path back—how on earth did I wind up in the Daily News (Dagens Nyheter) employee cafeteria watching a colleague taking a cigarette smoking break midway through his cheese omelet, the image as clear as anything? What triggered this one, what carpet hole did I fall through to land here?

It was an unpaid bill, not due yet by a long shot, just waiting for me to get around to it. These days I pay all bills electronically, but there was a time when bills were all paid by check, and a time before that (1960s) where I’d take the bill to the post office and paid it there, with cash—they gave me a checkbook once in 1969 but I was such an enthusiastic checkwriter (and such a bad record keeper) that they withdrew that particular privilege giving me very strange looks, the bank officers did; talk about a black financial eye, but that’s neither here nor there.

Still, this unpaid bill did create an unpaid-bills hole in the memory carpet and I saw myself first writing checks and licking envelopes making sure the check was in fact signed before I sealed it then digging through my pocket for correct change at the much earlier post office then digging through my pocket for correct change in the employee cafeteria, then wondering how on earth my colleague could stop half-way through his omelet to smoke a cigarette (Pall Mall was the brand), the half-eaten, wounded omelet oozing offended cheese on his plate, awaiting his return to the primary task at hand.

The thread of commonality between the current and the past and the earlier past and the earlier past and the et cetera past can be the craziest little thing, links seem to form on whims—but there is a commonality, there is a somewhat logical path that this rabbit hole takes as you plummet further and further back and sideways and down again before you finally wash up on the shore of the present wondering what that was all about.

Sometimes, if the water is deep (and interesting or captivating or plain ornery) you can be gone for a long time, and not ever entirely wash up on the shores of now, a little bit of you still down there, fighting for air but seemingly okay with drowning.

So, these days, when I see the memory carpet spread out before me, I take very light steps, one slow one after the other slow one testing the marsh’s floating moss to see if it’ll hold before shifting my weight. This way I’ll be sure not to fall through to find myself lost (unless I want to lose myself, of course—that happens, too: we call that reminiscing).

There was a time when I did not touch type, there was a time when we did not have laptops, there was a time when we did not have electric typewriters (IBM Selectric), there was a time where we hardly had typewriters at all… and here I go again.

::

The Wolfku Garden - 19

The two guides I trust
to lead me through
  this life are
Frugal and Simple

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 It seems to me that this is a universal truth: Unless you stay vigilant and pay constant and close attention life will complicate itself. And when it does, you lose sight of important things.

Important things like: Who am I and what am I doing here? Who are we and what are we doing here?

Looking back at my quarter of a century in Los Angeles leading my then gainfully-employed life, I see one day after another rushing by in a whirl of a thousand things to do from the very moment you awake to the very moment you finally fall asleep, not a quiet moment: a life constantly filled to the point of choking with things, things, things.

Of course, some things are more thingy than others. Some things are quite lovely, like wife and children and your very green back yard, while other more thingy things just pile up in their consumer-world insignificances as more and more things to buy and own and store in the house and then store in the garage and then eventually get rid of and one wonders what on earth…?

Some things are pressures, things you must do (or fake doing) to earn (or fake earning) that all-important paycheck to cover the mortgage and the car payments and the groceries and the thousand things she needs to buy and the thousand things the kids need and the thousand reports we have to write to keep our employer informed and impressed: barely time to breathe, and when you get home, there’s more work waiting to make those extra bucks to pay for those extra things you and yours need—yes, unless you stay vigilant and pay close and constant attention life will indeed complicate itself beyond the enjoyable.

I am proud and pleased to report that I have left that life behind now, though it still rumbles around (turning up stones) looking for me down in Los Angeles, but I am nowhere to be found in that end of the state. Yes, I have escaped, severed ties, found a life where I can pay close and constant attention, where I can be vigilant, and where I can be frugal and keep things simple. Zen-like in a way, and enormously refreshing.

Why I never thought of this before amazes me.

Or not.

::

The Wolfku Garden - 18

Pages, red pages
History: vast and pregnant
with man killing man

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Living as I do in the 21st century and during a stretch of relative world peace, and now of an age that I risk no enlistment in anyone’s army, it is so very easy to lose sight of the brutal, the near inconceivable violence of our human past.

I guess Cain is to blame for this trend—should we lean on the Bible as authoritative reference; though the notion, the utter blindness caused by hatred so deep that you would kill another human being (whether brother or not—and aren’t we all siblings, anyway), is so enormously alien and more than I can fathom as to not even belong to this galaxy.

I read somewhere that mankind—throughout recorded history anyway—has never experienced a single moment of total world peace; there has always been some conflict, some skirmish, some battle, some war in progress. There has always been some field soaked in red-turning-to-black blood of the often-still-alive-and-in-agony fallen.

So, History’s pages are all red, should all be red, should scream in anguish at all readers to for heaven’s sake wake up to the insanity of our pain-soaked past and look to what goodness we can find in our souls to make sure this carnage stops now.

But then a new story breaks and ISIS has slaughtered another village, the Syrian dictator has killed another countryside of his own people, and some lunatic decided to mow down forty-three people with a rented truck in a now-shocked metropolis.

All is not well with the world, seemingly never has been, and I wonder how history will view us who did little or nothing about it.

::

The Wolfku Garden - 17

Put in a small box
They named it me
  wrapped it tight
with soft steel ribbons

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I’ve been a home to this image for many years, this conviction (or notion, perhaps) that our planet Earth is nothing but a long-forgotten experiment gone terribly wrong—and with that in mind:

No, I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” did me/us no favors.

I don’t know if everyone travels the same route, whether everyone is shuttled along the same conveyor belt in bardo, but I have the distinct feeling of being red-flagged by the overseers and operators at my last death and bardo visit:

“Special treatment, this one,” stamped on my long karma-tail, “the knots are loosening, he’s about to slip out. Yes, give him the extra special, this one. Make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.”

I’m not saying that this was actually said or meant or done, but this is what I am saying: judging by the effect—my insistent and crazy desires and compulsions, all the way from just a little boy through adolescence, through young adulthood, man, older man, retired man, spitting-death-in-the-eye man—they must have given me the special treatment, making very sure I was well and truly messed up (and not escaping) this time around.

No, I’m not saying that this actually happened to me, but what I’m saying is that it would not surprise me one little bit if it did.

A wise man once suggested that unless the overseers did their bardo-job properly: one after another, we would, like the Buddha wake up to what is truly going on here and begin to loosen the fetters that bind us. Judging by what I see both within and without me, I think his suggestion was a good and true one.

I can still hear the splash when as a box I landed on open ocean with not so much as a “good luck” to see me onto nearest shore.

::

The Wolfku Garden - 16

Waiting for the sun
A thousand lilies, heads bowed
Listening for light

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It is a young summer’s morning along the Pacific. The actual field of flowers may or may not have been lilies, and they may or may not have been a thousand of them—perhaps they were only a handful or two, but they were definitely flowers.

Either way, when I see something like this—a field of flowers, or a group or a family of flowers, heads bowed (yes, heads were bowed and petals were unopened in this natural cathedral)—I easily and readily adorn the image with a poetic brush and they become lilies and, yes, a full thousand.

In truth, their posture is of those who listen very carefully.

And what would a lily listen for, so attentively? What would be of such importance to a flower? It struck me as so obvious: sunlight, of course. That far away source of lily-sustenance. They were listening for the rising sun, dreaming of her rising, wishing for her rising, anticipating her rising which would unfold their petals and straighten their necks to turn their faces toward the her.

Oh, yes, I was very, very sure of this.

And the sun, huge, warm, motherly, ever-so-slowly climbing, silhouetting the eastern tree line, seemed very sure of this as well.

The Wolfku Garden - 15

Too often these days
I don’t apologize, I
look for Control-Z

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It took quite a while (months, anyway) for my left-hand little-finger and long-finger to settle in the perfect motion of Control-Z, but now they can do it in their sleep.

And is there a more useful finger-movement combination on Earth?

You deleted the wrong file? No problem: Control-Z.

The formatting did not work. No problem: Control-Z.

You copied the wrong picture? No problem: Control-Z.

You added too much salt to the salad: Control-Z. Well, you wish.

You really should not have married her: Control-Z. Wish again.

Really, life should have a workable Control-Z, and each person born should be given at least a (non-transferable and non-inheritable) handful of them, to spend as they see fit in order to revers anything, and I mean anything that they regret or for whatever private reason (virtuous or not) intensely wish undone.

Yes, there needs to be a limit to how many Control-Zs each person gets. An unlimited supply just would not work (just imagine the havoc); I’d say five from birth, and then, by extremely good deeds one should be able to acquire additional ones but under no circumstances more than five more (i.e., never more than ten per lifetime). Also, there has to be a time limit on this thing. Any reversal must take place within, say, twenty-four hours, that’s my gut feeling. Longer than that and, again, havoc—say the guy who after thirty years of marriage decided to reverse: impractical would be the word. But within a day or so, manageable I would say.

 So, you threw away a winning lottery ticket: Control-Z. See, how handy is that?

So, over missed (as in overslept) a crucial job-interview: Control-Z. And this time you’re up on time and make it to the interview just fine. And wouldn’t you know, you got the job. See?

So, you realized you should have proposed last night, for now she’s mumbling about leaving town (and you) forever: Control-Z. And here you are, refreshed courage and ring and all, and she says yes. See?

As a lark, you voted for the most unlikely (and unqualified) presidential candidate ever, and OMG, he won!! Control-Z. And the world’s a better place for it. See?