21 February

The Foolish Man. Dark Sweetness.

by Jon Katz

There are a lot of different men inside of me. There’s the Writer Man, and the Photographer Man, and the Husband Man, and the Friend Man (he stumbles a lot) and the Angry Man (he got help) and the Farm Man, and the City Man (he moved away), the Blog Man, and now A Radio Man.

There is also the Foolish Man. I am awkward at best, but my Dyslexia makes even more bumbly.

I drop things all the time. I can’t open a bathroom or kitchen cabinet without knocking something over or dropping it. I can’t remember anything I can’t see. Maria follows me sometimes like a doting mother after a runaway two-year-old, picking up after the chaos and detritus I leave behind.

Maria is not so neat herself, and sometimes I follow her around and clean up, I’m just not as efficient. People tell me they wouldn’t be patient with their partners if they had to clean up, but I think that is not really true. A lot of women resent me who don’t clean up after themselves, I try very hard to do that.

Dyslexia is not a bad habit, it’s a serious disease, and if you love the person who has it, you will help them get through it. I do plenty of shopping and cooking and cleaning up for Maria as well, as I should. She is just more efficient than I am, and she doesn’t have Dyslexia.

My hats and jackets and books and papers are everywhere, in every room, in piles, stacked together. I know where nothing is, and remember nothing not in front of me. When I lived alone, it was terrifying – and expensive – I had six winter jackets because I kept forgetting the ones I hung up. I never look in a closet, my mind is allergic to closed doors.

My writing is different. Sitting at my desk, in front of my computer, the words and pictures are my salvation, I know where everyone belongs, I might misspell them but I never lose them or displace them. I know where everyone belongs. Sitting and writing, my fingers flying, I am home, where I need to be, and ought to be, and was meant to be. I am not Foolish Man then.

Last night, Foolish Man stabbed himself in the hand with a kitchen knife while cutting a piece of fish. He scraped his leg on a car door, then fell down scraping ice off of our cars in the dark. I found my winter jacket but have lost my gloves. Maria can be impatient and distracted, she can also be saintly and compassionate. She never complains about the Foolish Man, or gets annoyed.

Mostly, she smiles and laughs at my bumbling and stumbling.

She is not really laughing at me, she is laughing at life, and how remarkable it is that we found each other. Foolish Man is a lucky man.

Real love is different from the other.

It might be nice to say I am getting older, and I am, but the truth is I have always been like this, from my earlier memories, and my parents were not as nice as Maria, they screamed and shouted and punished when I broke things or lost things, and assured me I was stupid and lazy. To them, my troubles were a character flaw, an obvious obstacle to success.

In the night, I knocked over a  can of diet soda I keep by the bed to drink when my throat gets dry in the winter. In the process I also knocked over a book, a tube of skin lotion, and a box of tissues. It made a big enough racket to wake the dogs, fortunately Maria mumbled “are  you all right,” and I know if I’m silent, and don’t yell for help,  she will go back to sleep. She did.

I used to think she was laughing at me, that she thought I was clumsy or stupid. But that is not what she is doing.

Good old Red. When I get up in the night, I usually step over where he sleeps, which is right beside me on the floor. When I move, he moves aside, he knows when I am getting up. I am Spirit Man to  him, I think.

I hate drama, but the funny thing is my life is almost always dramatic, especially when I think I am doing nothing.

This morning, I got up at 5 a.m. and I was Peaceful Man, ready to work on my book in the dark and quiet. First I read a Rumi Poem from my book “A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings.” I like spending time with Rumi in the morning, it settles me. I feel a dark sweetness.


Dark Sweetness

“The ground turns green. A drum begins.

Commentaries on the heart arrive in seven volumes.

The pen puts its head down.

to give a dark sweetness to the page.

Planets go wherever they want,

Venus sways near the North Star.

The moon holds on to Leo.

The host who has no self is here.

We look into each other’s eyes.

A child is still a child

even after it has learned the alphabet

Solomon lifts his morning cup to the mountains.

Sit down in his pavilion

and don’t listen to bickering.

Be silent as we absorb the spring.”



Audio: Reading “Dark Sweetness,” by Rumi




  1. You are always open and honest and this piece is very revealing. I think we all do some of these things daily, for whatever reasons, mostly from distractions around us. I think these traits have made you more perceptive, sensitive and accepting. But I’ll admit I wouldn’t always be as patient picking up after you !

    Foolish Man sounds too harsh to me. Maybe Forgetful Man ?

    1. Mostly, I pick up after myself Laura, once in a while we do it together, once in awhile, Maria organizes things..She isn’t so neat herself, we both do it for each other..I do all the cooking and shopping…but I have to say the Dyslexia is reason for it, not laziness, and I think if you love your partner who was doing it, you would also be helpful. It’s not really something I can help much of the time..Dyslexia is no fun for me, either, and if I could help it I would of course…I appreciate the good words. Foolish Man is the the term, I have often used, I’m not forgetful, I just don’t know these things exist if I am not looking at them.

  2. “The pen puts its head down to give a dark sweetness to the page.” What a lovely image. One of the things I like most about your blog is how you broaden my horizons. I will buy the book.

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