Bent to the task of reconstruction, this endless need to improve myself, no less intense at forty-seven than at seventeen. My serious plans, shining like new cars on the dusty lot.

Discipline takes off his coat, tosses it in the corner, puts his feet up on the desk. He’s here to stay a while.

The Shadow is always alert to noble declarations, to talk of spirituality, to the effort I make to impress others or myself. Fresh starts, resolutions: they’re icing on the cupcake. He wolfs it down in one bite.

The questions I ask of those who know, or ask of myself in the darkening hour. The questions I hug like big older brothers, or push away. The questions that come disguised as answers, as some kind of holy certainty. The questions I ignore until I can’t stand the smell.

The last automat in New York closes. I remember my mother’s stories about eating there as a young woman. Now, her memory is adrift like an old barge, barely visible in the fog. The questions I might have asked.

N. tells me about a man, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, who insisted he was being followed by the FBI. He fled to Canada, where he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. There, a curious doctor checked out his story. He was being followed by the FBI.

Michael Meade says we have five great appetites: for eating, though we can live weeks without food; for drinking, though we can live days without water; for breathing, though we can live minutes without air; for thinking, though we can live seconds without thoughts; and for imagining, though the instant we stop imagining, we die.

I want a candidate whose imagination is bigger than America’s; who has to squeeze into ordinary life, ordinary lies, like a man stepping into a crowded elevator.

Hannah Arendt says a fundamental contradiction of the United States is political freedom coupled with social slavery.

Money, too, dreams of love. It’s tired of being crumpled in our pockets, insulted and maligned, blamed for everything that’s wrong. Money didn’t ask us to run up all these debts, thinking money would save us. Money knows nothing will save us.

I want a candidate who doesn’t look at suffering as if it were a television show he had some choice about watching; who takes out his wallet when the waiter arrives; whose money is the color of sky, spent like a storm.

Simone Weil says before Christ is Christ, he’s the truth and the light. So even by turning away from him, if you’re turning toward the truth, you fall into his arms.

The door opens. Beyond it is something vast, wordless. Yet I stare at the door, study the door. I sand off the old paint and varnish the door. I replace the old knob with something shiny. Brass, maybe gold.

To come to You without my briefcase, without my wife beside me, without a name for You, without a position to defend. Without having found perfect happiness or perfect sadness.

The earth, says Matthew Fox, is a living, sacred being, resonating with the mystery of incarnation. The rape of the planet is like the crucifixion of Christ.

Everything’s a tool when everything’s broken.

Sadness arrives in the middle of the night, in his 1955 Cadillac, and waits with the engine running. “Get in,” he says. “Don’t ask questions.”

I want a candidate who remembers what it was like when we were kids: strapping on our wings in the morning and taking them off when we got to school, tossing them in the closet with the raincoats and galoshes; who remembers when pencils were living things, warm to the touch. We wrote down our dreams, then folded them into paper airplanes and sent them flying.