Doug Bruns

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In Life on January 30, 2013 at 6:05 am
Michael Dingle in 2009, on his wedding day.

Michael Dingle in2009, on his wedding day.

I haven’t made all too many friends in my years, and very few of them I truly loved. I learned yesterday that Michael died in an accident. He was a friend and I loved him. He was a member of our tribe here at “…the house…” and showed up in at least three posts, most recently just a week ago, My Breakfast with Michael. I honor him with a post I wrote a few years ago.


June 25, 2009

Michael, a close friend, considerably younger than me, pitched a shop-worn cliché recently, declaring, “There must be more to life.” He had arrived at that life transition, where with one foot planted in the autumnal flowering of youth, you find the other foot up and striding to that other place, the parking lot of mature respectability. The older we get, the more assuredly we conclude, ‘Yep, this is it, it’s all she wrote.’ I think Michael was expecting wisdom from me. But I came up short. I kicked the dirt and glanced around, nervously. The young feel the urge of expectancy, the call that a unique life of challenge and discovery awaits them. I remember it well. Later, when that call grows hoarse, then turns to a whisper, you wonder what happened. I didn’t know how to break it to him. He was entering a place in life where the wild genes struggle for attention, as the stable genes manufacture cravings for a sofa and a beer and a Sunday football game on T.V. The stable genes always out-maneuver the wild genes. That is maturity at work. Eventually he will understand.

Everyone does.


Indeed, Michael did come to understand. Shortly after the exchange above, he got married, then, later, became a father. He embraced the “stable gene,” telling me at breakfast last week, “I love my wife, I love my daughter. I love my life.”

Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros*

In Creativity, Death, Happiness, Life, Music, The Examined Life on February 1, 2014 at 11:00 am

It is late in the evening and I am especially missing my youth. This is probably why I don’t stay up late. Why subject yourself to such a thing? It isn’t so much missing the days of youth as it is creeping closer to the remove of those day altogether, the permanent remove of everything, frankly. What else would explain why, after so many months absent, I write these notes. It is late at night when we need one another most.

I haven’t been here, …the house, for some time and looking at the statistics I see that a couple days ago I had a spike in site visitors. Yes, even with endless months of no participation there is still a struggling readership. A few days past was the one-year mark of my friend Michael Dingle’s death and maybe that explains the spike. I wrote about Michael a few times. Perhaps friends visited to refresh his memory. A year later I still miss him and miss more the magic potential of not growing old that he somehow represented. We would run our ropes and I would belay him, or him me, and we would climb strong as if there were nothing else. Such is the course of climbing–and the course of friendship. Those moments were singular, or at least seem so, presented by that old trickster, memory. But eventually his luck ran out. And, now on a lonely evening, I think on that and wonder at it all.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” wrote Fitzgerald. Despite training and wishful thinking I lose grip on the present and drift away, receding from the present. Agreeing with Sandburg, there are too many of me and they all are incomprehensible tonight, all of them in the past tense seemingly, waving goodbye.

But that is the stuff of navel gazing and that never really gets a person anyplace but thinking of their belly and that is never good. Fat or skinny, belly pondering is a dead-end, I suspect. Instead, tonight I listen to music for joy, Edward Sharpe and the merry band of music makers. I am grinning to this music like an idiot and perhaps that is the key. Good music and a smile on one’s face. It is enough to be satisfied with that. But it is late and I get silly in the late hours. “Come dance with me,” sing the band, “over heartache and rage.” Okay then. Tonight I will dance on, over heartache and rage, to the sunny fields of morning. Thank you for listening. Good night.


*  Yes, I lifted the title. Sort of. For a real writer-thinker, you’d be well served to read Lewis Thomas’s Late Night Thoughts On Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. 141634

Since we’re on the subject: there comes along occasionally a personality that fills my heart with joy and aspiration, such are the emotions when I watch Alexander Michael Tahquitz “Alex” Ebert, lead-man for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I can understand why he is held in almost cult-like status by his fans. Here, listen to the band’s best known tune. Turn up the volume and decide for yourself.

(I’m sorry if you’ve received multiple copies of this post. My tools are rusty and I sent things out before they were ready.)