The Slinky We Live In — Double Helix pg291

Colorful companion to my memoir The Incompetent Psychic

Hudson River Sky 2019

I had been beating my little boat upwind for some time now, slowly gaining distance from that frightening start-line on the day I stopped drinking long ago. I had rounded the far mark and eased the tension on all the sails. At last I was cruising on smooth water under a sky of gentle clouds. Of course there are always crazy gusts out of nowhere. When you can’t see them coming, the trick is to react with calm sanity and make deft, precise adjustments. This keeps a boat upright and moving forward. Reacting badly crashes the mast against the water. This is inconvenient and embarrassing. People have to rescue you — or not. Why did it take so long to learn that? I was pretty confident I knew this by now.

Just to make sure I was ready to graduate from the University of Overreaction, the Universe gave me a final exam. — From the Epilog

I titled this epilog ‘Double Helix’ because that pattern sums up the ultimate behavior of everything (except architecture).

Straight lines are a human construct; even when they turn corners to become two dimensional. The natural world doesn’t behave that way. Every line in a landscape curves, flows and dog legs… except for buildings (and the edge of the canvas itself). Hard lines in life are great when they protect our curvy, vulnerable selves from the harsher reality of nature and weather. I have nothing against houses. But life is bigger than that. I know because I’ve been in a house for a year. This same screen I’m typing on has been a virtual connection to what’s out there for too long now. I’m not sure what’s real other than the love of a good dog and the onset of spring. I’m spiraling, but there may be a simple explanation why.

Hard walls and roofs will keep us safe, but philosophical hard lines are unnatural, problematic and so one-dimensional. The flow of life and community is much more complicated as we circle back on ourselves over and over. A double helix is an elegant, sub-molecular pattern that forms the building blocks (usually globular) of every living thing. Enough of them together form working systems — lichen, whales, nations, whatever. Spiral patterns also form as planetary systems orbit, spin and race across an infinite cosmos. Macro and micro.

Everywhere in between are living things interacting in complex circles like billions of Slinkys on stairs. Our stories do that, too. They curve back on themselves over and over… only a little further along each time. Patterns form. Time is the dimension where lessons are learned incrementally as the same challenges circle back again. If we are lucky, we remember just enough history to do it all a little better this time around as we revolve and evolve—individually and as a species.

The painting today is a note to myself to take a deep breath, pause and appreciate a pretty sunset.

A signed copy of Mernie’s memoir is available at

Unsigned copies can be ordered wherever books are sold.

Mernie paints and writes in Woodstock NY. A signed copy of her memoir The Incompetent Psychic available via