Cat and Gale on pond 02A young Gale and her cat Karen boating on the farm’s pond.

Ode to Karen, Age 14
My little cat Karen died Monday. A dog or something killed her under the maple tree. For 10 years she was the best friend anyone could ever want. To be living without Karen is something totally new. She grew up with me and was a constant and faithful companion. I will never forget how she followed me wherever I took a walk, how she followed me up in the treehouse and was patient with me when I put her in a bucket and pulled her up.  She took boat rides willingly and once fell in but remained undaunted. She would ride in a pillow in my bike basket. She would follow me out to look at the stars at night. She enjoyed ice-skating on my shoulders. Everyone loved Karen and she loved everyone. She would dart in an open door and loved to be inside. Sometimes she got inside the house and would turn up in my bed or closet. She was always loving, always playful, always beautiful. I loved her very deeply, and I miss her very much. In my head I know she’s dead, but my heart cannot believe it and will never believe it. I keep looking out the door expecting to see her familiar form, sitting there as she has sat ever since I can remember. My soul doesn’t think of her as dead but only gone, and someday I will again embrace her lovingly. I know it will take time until I can again think about my darling Karen cat without breaking into tears, as I’m doing right now. But I can’t help it- the tears on this page were well spent because they were shed for a small cat I truly loved and miss terribly.

Musings About Inner Self, Hopes and God, Age 15
I don’t think I’ve ever said that my idealistic future career is to be a park naturalist somewhere beautiful, where I could make studies, photographs, write articles, and be surrounded by mountains and green forests and rushing rivers. A silly little whim, you say, but I’ve clung to it for at least four years now. I said my idealistic career. I hope I make it.

Strawberries are here. Nothing better in the whole world. I realize what deep roots I have planted in the farm and country—I could never live in the city.  I would shrivel up and die. As of yesterday, I am 15 years old  (June 7, 1975). This is a slightly scary age, but I can almost see myself maturing. Childhood is receding rapidly. It is somewhat sad but also exciting…

I sometimes wonder, am I good? Does God think I am, for the most part, doing OK? Or am I bad? I worry sometimes. Of course, it’s been years since I’ve gone to Church, or kept Sabbath or any such thing, but I don’t believe in rigamarole anyway. But am I good? Am I living right? Are my intentions good? (Don’t tell me—I know where they lead to.) Am I too selfish, not generous, loving, caring enough? I can’t possibly answer those questions, but I ask them anyway.

I wonder who will ever read this book. Will I become famous, or die of some spectacular disease and thus have it published like Anne Frank’s diary, or will I be the only one ever to read these pages? 

If I spread more beauty, some good to other people, I will be happy. I rejoice in nature, for nature is living proof of God. The delicate little butterflies, flowers, birds, all proclaim with their beauty the beauty of God. … I adore flowers, I look at them and think how on earth could evil exist alongside that beauty? I always feel optimistic when I see flowers. … Nothing beats being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine and among green growing things.

I must write to capture this feeling, for I would like to feel this emotion for the rest of my life. I am at peace with God, mankind, the world, the universe. It’s all one and I am part of it. I am one with it. Later I will have doubts, but now, I know this is happiness, this is true external bliss. It will be like this in heaven.

My secure home has left me with being perfectly contented never to be famous. If I spread some beauty, some good to other people, I will be happy.  “I rejoice in nature; for nature is living proof of God.” … What a motto, to keep throughout life. Twenty years from now, will I still have this feeling about life? Or will I lose my faith, and instead be cynical and believe in the evil, not the good, of the world? Or please, God, not that.

I suppose I should just set down my religion now, for I’m afraid it might change. Here goes: A superior being, called God, or Allah, or Brahma, or Buddha or WHATEVER exists. But not in heaven. He (she? it?) is everywhere that love is. God, Love, Beauty—all are united and are closely related. God is Love. Love does not punish, therefore God does not punish. There is no hell except what man creates himself. As for heaven, when one dies, the soul returns to the One from which it came. There is no place in the universe that is specified as heaven. Man is in constant war with evil. Evil is unnatural; love is natural. Expressions of beauty, such as art, music, literature, and therefore God, are one means of fighting evil. Such “works of art” exist to strengthen other men long after the men who created them have died.

Prayer, Age 15
Hi there, God. How are you? I am fine. Real fine. Why am I always fine? Are you saving a really good series of disasters for me? I’m sorry, that was unkind. There’s just no law saying you have to be mean to everyone. It’s just that I wonder because I have so much and I am grateful, I really am. But it seems like sooner or later everyone gets zapped.   And I’m afraid that when I get zapped I won’t be a bit prepared.  See, having everything has made me pretty weak, I think. But don’t get me wrong—I don’t want anything to happen, honest I don’t. But if anything did, I’d probably die. How can my life get any better? I am afraid to go out in the world, afraid to leave the comfortable shell I have here. I have no ambition. How can someone completely satisfied have ambition?

I love my flute, I love music; I love books; I love my parents, my home, my friends; I have no needs, whatsoever. I am satisfied with me—inside and outside. I live in a wonderful world. I have a cynical shell that protects me from the outer world. Then why am I writing this? Because I have to tell you that I am afraid of the future and what it might bring. Don’t get me wrong—I am a very happy person, really; it’s just the future that scares me. Well, live and get the most out of every second while it lasts.

I want to leave something behind me when I die. I want to do something that affects, however so little, the world for the good. I don’t want to be a parasite all my life. I want to contribute something to the world that has been so good to me.

I am afraid because I don’t know if I can bear children. Is there a disaster you’ve been saving? Because I told you how much I want to leave something behind me; and if I cannot conceive children, it will be frightening. I want lots of children.

I wish so much I could compose music, or paint or write. I have no genius. I am 15 years old and I am very strange. God, you have to help me because the fact I have no problems gives me big problems and they are hard to cope with because not many people have these problems. Please have me fit in somewhere, God. It doesn’t seem like there is anything I am destined to do. A doctor is a doctor and some people are trash collectors and some are secretaries and some are football coaches; but what am I? Please show me or tell me what I must do in this life. Is that asking too much? I’ve already asked so awfully much of you. I don’t suppose you would do such a thing. I have to find that out for myself, and it ain’t going to be easy.

Notes on Travels, Age 15
I love my travels, and especially the intimate, wonderful things I did alone. For some reason, I’d rather travel alone. I believe I enjoy adventures better when I’m by myself. Such as hiking up Idaho hills with two stranger-friends, exploring a 19th-century pioneer cabin. Or sneaking out to watch a Mexican sunrise over the Gulf. Or floating down a Mexican river, just you, the sky, the sun, the river and the trees. Or exploring a Mayan ruin—alone with the past so close you can feel, hear/see it and the jungle around you. Or finding the bower of the satin bowerbird. Or coming across aboriginal rock paintings, and just sitting there absorbing them. Or finding a niche just made to fit you in the City of Rocks. Yes, I’m very grateful for the many unique moments I’ve experienced and treasured.