Drinking Coffee in the Early Morning Rain and Thinking of Donald Rumsfeld

It’s been raining incessantly for three days. It is a cool early morning at the beginning of July and I have just made a cup of coffee. Now an electrical power outage has occurred and so I am sitting in a rocking chair in the semi-darkness savoring my coffee and feeling thankful that I made it in time. I have a close relationship with coffee and the end of the night and the break of the day. Coffee is a beloved drink for so many of us, it is no wonder that quite a few will buy their coffee wholesale, especially if they are a business that needs to exude quality (you may want to check out this coffee wholesaler to see what I mean), but for me, I’m just glad to be sitting here with my own cup. As for time, that is as mysterious to me as the fact that I am sitting here in its embrace. The electric clocks have stopped. I think: To exist – how amazing!

More than the coffee, however, I am luxuriating in the sound of the tumbling rain. Its beautiful music creates a cocoon of peace within which I find temporary joy. The joy of doing nothing, of pursuing no purpose. Of knowing that whatever I do it will never be enough, for me or anyone, and the world will continue turning until time stands still, or whatever time does or is according to those who invented it. I will be gone and others will have arrived and the water will flow from the skies and the clocks will still tell people what they don’t know – time – although they will continue to tell it.

Humans are the telling animals.

A few weeks ago, when this area was in a mini-drought, the local newspaper, in the typical wisdom of such cant, had a headline that said “there is a threat of rain later this week.” They are experts at threats. This is the corporate media’s purpose. Rain is a threat, joy is a threat, doing nothing is a threat, the sun is a threat – but the real threats they conceal. To create fear seems to be their purpose, as they do not tell us about the real threats. Their purpose is not to tell the truth, but if you listen closely you can hear it.

In the middle of the night I woke up to go to the bathroom, and outside the small bathroom window I watched the rain engulfing the lower roof and sluicing down the shingles in two heavy streams. Wow. If I had ever wondered “what does roof hail damage look like?” then the answer was in front of my eyes. Although there were no hail stones that night, the heavy rain was equally destructive and so, easily pulled down man’s prized creation – the roof over his head. I thought how the desiccated mind of the headline writer must be feeling now, but then I realized that he or she was asleep, as usual. There is a moist world and a dry one, and the corporate media is run by arid souls who would like to make the world a desert like their masters of war in Washington.

Then as I sit here my brief peace is roiled by the memory of reading Tacitus, the Roman historian, and his famous quote of Calgacus, an enemy of Rome:

These plunderers of the world [the Romans], after exhausting the land by their devastations, are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; unsatiated by the East and by the West: the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

I think of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on his recent deathbed. Here was a man whose entire life was dedicated to the American Empire. He spent all his allotted time making war or making money from the spoils of war. He was a desert maker, a slaughterer for the Empire. No doubt he died very rich in gold.

I can no longer hear the rain because my mind is filled with the loud thought of what Rumsfeld thought as he lay dying. Was he sorry? Did he believe in God or was his god Mars, the Roman god of war? Did he smile a bloody smile or say he was sorry and beg for forgiveness from all his innocent victims? Did he see the faces of the children of Iraq that he slaughtered? Or did he pull an Eichmann and say, “I will leap into my grave laughing”?

Your guess is as good as mine, but mine leans toward the bloody smile of a life well spent in desert making. But that is a “known unknown.”

Rolling thunder and a lightning strike in the east jolt me back from my deaf dark thoughts. The sound of the rain returns. The coffee tastes great. Peace returns with the unalloyed gift of the ravishing rain.

Yet the more I sit and listen and watch it soundly stipple the garden and grass, the more thoughts come to me, as my father once told me: Thoughts think us as much as we think thoughts. It’s what we do with our thoughts that count, he said, and like lightning, if we don’t flash when we are given the gift of life, when we’re gone, it will be as if we never were, like the lightning before it flashed.

Thomas Merton’s prophetic words from his hermitage in the Kentucky woods in 1966 think me:

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By ‘they’ I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

There are moments in many lives when, if one is lucky, they are initiated into a ritual that sustains them throughout life. To others these experiences can easily seem paltry and meaningless, but to the receiver they offer a crack into deeper dimensions of being and becoming. For me it was my introduction to coffee during a hurricane.

My father had driven my mother, three of my sisters, and me to Jones Beach on Long Island. This was before people checked the weather every minute. The sky in the southwest grew darker as we drove, but on we went. The beach was deserted except for some gulls and the parking lot empty. My father parked the car close to the beach and while my sisters and mother sat in the car, and my mother, listening to the weather reports, issued warnings to us, my father and I ran like wild dogs into the heavy surf despite her admonitions that the hurricane from the south was arriving sooner than expected. It started to rain hard. The surf picked up. We swam and got battered and shouted exultantly and came out shaking with the chills. A pure white sea gull landed on my wet head and my father laughed. Awe-struck, I stood stock still and my shaking stopped. In its mouth the sea gull held a purple ribbon, which it dropped at my feet as it flew off. I grabbed the ribbon and we jogged up to the concession building where there was one man working. My father ordered coffee and a hot chocolate for me. But they had run out of hot chocolate. So my father ordered two coffees and filled mine with three or four sugars. I had never sampled coffee and didn’t like the smell, but my father said to drink it, with the sugar it will taste good and it will warm you up. It strangely tasted like hot chocolate. We toasted our adventure as I drank my Proustian madeleine at eleven-years-old.

I had put the ribbon on the counter as we drank. When we were going back to the car, I noticed there were words on the ribbon. They said: Rest in peace. I have long lost the ribbon but retain its message.

So now every morning between the end of night and the break of day, I sit with my coffee and listen. And even when it isn’t raining, I watch the birds emerge from their nightly rests to greet the day with their songs. They tell me many things, and they are all free.

This morning I am wondering if Donald Rumsfeld ever heard them.

I suspect their message was an “unknown unknown” for him, just like the gift of rain. He preferred the rain of death from the skies in the form of bombs and missiles. He was only doing his job.

He made a desert and called it peace.

21 thoughts on “Drinking Coffee in the Early Morning Rain and Thinking of Donald Rumsfeld”

  1. Thanks Ed. I just read your piece as, outside, thunder and lightning accompanied a bit of heavy rain. An umbrella in the car kept me from getting drenched minutes before. Then (but before reading your thoughts), finding myself alone in the kitchen I sang the first couplet of the Marseilles at the top of my voice over and over — need to bone up on the rest. It’s still Bastille Day.

    This morning I had coffee over some breakfast with my wife and later lots more and a muffin with a friend. I’ve been thinking of Donald Rumsfeld and his career, which also included being secretary of housing and urban development early on. A brilliant, capable person, wrapped up in warmongering for most of the rest of his life. I remember his handing a pair of sixguns to Saddam. Much more recently I remember catching a glimpse of him laughing with a bevy of leggy beauties on a morning or afternoon TV chat show; I thought he may have been ruing his years devoted to mayhem and accumulating wealth and someone had arranged the session to cheer him up. Who knows.

    Life is unfair. How the weather here seems “right as rain” (as Robert Redford said in a movie, I think)! While much of the U.S. West is burning up. Not to mention what’s going on throughout the world.

    (If this seems Curtinesque it’s because I rushed to finish and get it in before you closed this section to comments. Now I’ll go back and see what others said.)

  2. Ed, when reading your writing I think of things like this:
    – truth is knowable (at least in part)
    – quite contemplation – alone
    – honesty
    – sincerity
    – transparency
    – humility
    These values seem to be very rare during these days of near universal deceit. Maybe they have always been. Everyone has the time allotted to them. I think you have done a good job focusing on what is important. Thus you see how important you are to many of us, who also value these things.

  3. Thinking of Rumsfeld’s deathbed thoughts sparks the idea of what might weigh on our own minds on a deathbed. Ed was and is an active and vocal opposition to wars, and many of us were always opposed to war, if not part of an organized resistance.

    In the ’70’s, I knew I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. I wasn’t concerned that all of SE Asia might fall to Communism if the US did not intercede. I didn’t know about the coup which had occurred in Dallas, though I felt something strange had been going on when, as a third grader, I was told that the President had been killed and everyone was sad.

    By the time my turn came to be registered for the draft, the war was coming to a close, and I had a high enough number that I was not drafted. I’m not sure what would have happened if I had been drafted. Conscientious Objector status was on the radar, but I had not acted on it. I cannot see myself getting through basic training and becoming a killing machine, but probably that is true of many who did go through it and land in Vietnam.

    At any rate, the idea that people who went into the service would participate in atrocities and would often be maimed or killed themselves was not unknown to most people. Many knew it, but thought that the pursuit of Democracy was worth the price.

    All of this leads to the idea that I will not be regretting not informing people that they should not go into the military and fight in wars on my deathbed. But there are things that could trouble me then.

    One of them is current. I read everyday about many reasons to doubt the mainstream narrative on what is called the pandemic. I also read of reasons to avoid getting the inoculations on offer. In fact, there is a serious school of thought among some scientists and medical professionals that a genocide is in progress, affecting those receiving the injections, and that within a few years a large percentage of them will die.

    Even now, more people are reported to have died due to inoculation with the current concoctions than all others combined since the reporting was initiated many years ago. In the past, such adverse effects would have caused the alleged medicine to be pulled from the market immediately. But now, the designated “experts” still claim the risks are justified, despite the extremely low risk the targeted disease presents to most people.

    The only social platform I participate in I got into after it started looking like most people were leaving Myspace. I dislike it intensely, more now that censorship has become so pervasive and it is obviously being used to sponsor conformity to certain ideas being floated from moneyed interests.

    I have posted quite a number of articles I have read there, though I have slowed down in that regard lately, as it seems such contributions have very limited reach, and the platform casts aspersions on most of them.

    But we have a situation where many people do not understand what is going on and are conditioned, as are we all, to obey the voice in the box. Many friends and relatives have been persuaded that the only reasonable thing to do, the only community spirited thing to do, is to accept the safe and effective solution which has been made so readily available and cost free. Why, they will give you things if you get it!

    It has been said of social media that if the service on offer is free, then you yourself are the product being sold. The same could be said of medical services which someone is so anxious you get that they offer them for free and even offer incentives. Your conformance is the product on sale.

    So, I suppose that on my deathbed, some of my regrets (if I have them) might tend toward what I could have done to prevent friends and relatives from taking this course, especially if some of them die or are seriously injured by it.

    With a few exceptions, most people I know who take an interest in world events are persuaded that one or the other of the dominant US political parties is responsible for things getting worse. And they are correct. Where they miss the mark is in the degree to which they excuse the crimes of their chosen party.

    Currently, many of the red party people are concerned that an illegitimate regime is in power and selling out the country to China. The blue people are outraged at the Trumpian attempt at insurrection and are worried that he will somehow engineer a coup – perhaps this time with actual weapons – regain the levers of power, and sell out the country to Russia.

    Meanwhile, can anyone tell me which party it is which recommends against accepting the novel gene therapy?

    1. Thank you Eddy Minimum….my brief response and summary…., We live a lie, we are proud of our life which is nothing but a lie…, and we even defend that lie while lying to ourselves and others.

      Nothing real, for we justify the destruction of anything real. It happens right in front of us and we do not notice. If one does notice, they silently look the other way only simply feeling something is not real then forgetting.

      I’ve always liked this quote; “man has not only accepted his enslavement, he has even become proud of his enslavement and this is a terrible thing”. I will add, man is unaware of both occurrences because we are asleep, not present!

      1. Joseph I totally agree with you.
        The human species is asleep and, I would add, dangerously imperfect…
        When humans go to get the “vaccin” injections into their body they make history. Yet they know not what history they make…

  4. Thanx so much Edward for this article and many others you’ve crafted over the last few years which i’ve found primarily at ‘offguardian’.
    Your words have helped re-balance my world (our world) , under threat on all sides, an assault on reason and spirit.
    Your new book finaly arrived at my house down here in New Zealand, i couldn’t recommend it enough.
    And I really can’t express how much your writing has enriched me, your particular blend of truth pitched at soul-level.
    thank you, jon

    1. Thank you kozandaishi…, Dr. Martin stated it is an orchestrated illusion. What other illusions and delusions do we suffer from?
      World wide hunger and starvation, poor nutrition is ignored. Poor immune systems, breathing tire dust from tires wearing, the exhaust pollution, the spraying of pesticides and herbicides, the chemicals in junk food and energy drinks. Water filled with chemicals. We can see people suffering from bad, malnutrition every single day. We have normalized this while it goes unquestioned for the most part. And who are the agencies that approve of this unethical fraud so to put poisons to market for Profit? It is ALL a gigantic scam with numerous examples.

  5. To try and plumb the depths of Rumsfeld’s mind reminds me of the saying about trying to explore the root cause of darkness with a flashlight.
    I am now 68 years old. My first coffee was on a Sunday. I was 10 years old, staying overnight at an Uncles. At the breakfast table. I remember it as clearly as I remember anything. A window in time. Uncle Charlie says “want a cup of coffee?”.
    Having now given up tobacco and alcohol (and alcoholics anonymous), I reverently roast, grind, and savor my reportedly addictive beverage; My final refuge.

  6. Edward, thank you so much for sharing with your readers your living without a motive.
    I wish you many more mornings like that without forgetting “panta rhey”/”everything flows (passes)”, in the sense that each such a morning is unique and unrepeatable.
    An to the readers as well.

  7. Simply superb.

    For the famous speech from Tacitus’ «Agricola» you no doubt also had in mind this tacit intertext:

    I am concerned that, at the end of it all, there will only be more Americans killed; more of our treasure spilled out; and because of the bitterness and hatred on every side of this war, more hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese slaughtered; so that they may say, as Tacitus said of Rome: “They made a desert and called it peace.”

    ~ Robert F. Kennedy, from a speech during his Presidential campaign, Kansas State University, March 18, 1968

    What is richly suggestive, at least in the present context, about the Latin of that passage is the word which is translated into English as “desert”: solitudo (“atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant”). Which in its ambivalence embodies perfectly the contrast between your worldview and the Rumsfeldian one, not to mention suggest by a kind of metalepsis the voice crying out in/from it.

  8. Bastard or Saint, all must die. At least that bastard Rumsfeld was so lucky and “blessed” that he died peacefully at his own affluent home, unlike millions of his victims, especially children who had been starved into slow death or/and blown into pieces by American democratic missiles!

    “Humans are the telling animals”. Ah, yes indeed… and a very creative ones. Perhaps humans are the only creative, inventive animals. And this makes humans are the most stupid animals. They’ve created many things just to hurt, harm, and destroy themselves. They’ve invented many things just to enslave themselves. The worst invention of all is not the atomic bombs but the concept of “authority.”

    Rumsfeld and all his ilk love and obsess with “authority”. They crave for “authority”. They are addicted to “authority”, since only “authority” give them the unlimited and unchallenged power to enjoy people’s sufferings.

    I lived through Vietnam War. I witnessed creative animals enjoying hurting other telling animals.

    The invention of concept of authority and the creation of system of government is for the type of Rumsfeld. No decent people would survive in such system much less enjoy in it. Under the system of “authority of the state” a.k.a politic, other human beautiful inventions such as virtues, morality, honesty, righteousness, compassion etc are detriments to their own physical/material lives!

    I despise him and his ilk but don’t blame him. For without people ‘s belief in “authority” Rumsfeld and his ilk could not have been able and even would not have dared to hurt or harm some other people. Without “authority” that people believe, adore, and respect, Rumsfeld and the likes are just cowards or, at best, some petty thugs at some corner of some street!
    With such system and such belief, without Rumsfeld, others would fill up the place as he himself filled the place after such monster Robert S. McNamara.

    We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
    BTW, I often brew my own coffee with dropping filter in French/Vietnamese style. Still do after 38 years away from “home.”

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful thought Ed!
    (I hope my Vietenglish can make some sense)

      1. Thank you Joseph with much appreciation for your kind words.
        Even though I already knew those humane values are not compatible with our human political system and are detriments to physical/material success, this real-life story “https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2021/06/28/covid19-the-final-nail-in-coffin-of-medical-research/” “Covid19 – the final nail in coffin of medical research” still made me sigh heavily. However, in a special way this story also made me felt warm for at least there are still some decent human beings out there still cherishing those values fearlessly despite heavy costs.

        Please read if you have not done so

        1. Thank you the taoofanarchy for the above link. Scientific research is left to Marketing Agencies; “This product is good for you, it even states so on the label” ! When a society narrows their vision to dollar-profits, we can’t expect a broader awareness. Imagination, curiosity, despair are exploited!

  9. Thank you Edward…yeah…, I’ve reduced the amount of coffee I drink. No matter what brand or grind or roast, it all has the same negative effect on my health…., exactly like politicians!

  10. Although there are many more to go I’m glad the bastard is dead. As far as the others out there are concerned, it DOES give me comfort to know that they, too, shall die.

  11. I am struck by the idea that our thoughts think us. I have considered in the past that ideas come to us via the ether, depending on the frequencies we can “hear”.

    After all, we know that the air is alive with messages via the various electromagnetic fields people broadcast to us. With the right receiver, we can tap into that cornucopia. Human or celestial ideas may not have such raw power behind them, but if we are attuned to the proper frequency we may be thought by greater thoughts than we imagine.

    Although they do not yet charge us for the rain, there are signs that such a thing could be on the agenda. The CEO of Nestle has said that there is no human right to water, and his company treats it like a commodity and attempts to corner the market. In some places, they have regulations against collecting the rain water which comes off your roof.

    Rumsfeld no doubt was tuned to the heavy EM of power. It seems some people come to a point where they have been thought by the idea that they are in a position wherein they have a right and a responsibility to determine what the common man or woman should think about the threat of rain.

    It was Rumsfeld who appeared on TV on the evening of 9/10/2001, announcing the small matter of some trillions of dollars found missing somewhere in the almost limitless budget of the Pentagon. One might have thought that a hard rain was going to fall with such a revelation.

    Needless to say, the events of the following day cast a giant shadow over the nation’s thoughts, and Rumsfeld himself was busy on camera offering his physical help to the local rescue effort at the Pentagon, though it seems he was in the line of command, and should have been thought by greater thoughts, perhaps offering some leadership in the face of an onslaught by 19 lightly armed and extremely lucky terrorists and the inexplicable failure of US defenses.

    But heavier thoughts were probably already on his mind, along with the peace of the desert.

  12. Yes, I’m reminded of the movie made about US Secretary of Defense [sic] Robert S. McNamara and his justification for bombing the shit out of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, that before he became SecDef, for him it was just a bunch of calculations to be performed in Visicalc, ergo, the number of bombs needed to kill one Vietcong. Death and destruction reduced to a spreadsheet and the financial and logistical costs involved and was it worth the expenditure. Seems I’ve heard this before in another war involving Germany and the ‘logistics’ of extermination.

    Thank you Ed.

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