Shortly before taking this photograph…
…which I processed with Picassa…resulting in this beautiful portrait…
…which I shared in yesterday’s post “Innocence…?”
my daughter asked her little one to “Smile for Papa…,” and this is what she gave me…
…hence the question-mark in reference to her innocence…. She is precious, though.
Photo by my son, NDB…following his little one…. Used with permission.
Hmm…this might be one of my first “serious” attempts at photography…from twenty-some years ago. The boys and I went for a short walk out into the forest that was near our house and tried to get some decent pictures to frame for the approaching Mother’s Day celebration. We got some nice individual shots of each of the boys and then this group photo. I have caught more than a little bit of harrassment over the years for the serious looks…Mom said they should have been smiling. I wanted something more natural…serious even. I suppose it would have been more “natural” to have them playing and smiling and knocking each other off the rock…. Anyway, I was pleased with the result…thought it was actually a bit of an accomplishment to get the boys, from three to six years of age, to sit still long enough to capture them in a less animated moment.
It rained again in that place where memories are stored, where the synapses fire and storm and lay things waste and then they are gone again or whole again and the images and sounds and scents live in the memories where we laid them those years ago, where they got tucked away somehow and have been waiting, if memories can wait, for us to rekindle them to their cogent prescience, for us to make them live again.
Those pictures lived, then, they were images and words wrought together with footsteps down hallways, belts rattling into their drawer at the end of the day, a rough hand on a cheek, the smell of gum and tobacco smoke, and the image of a big yellow car slowly easing itself into the driveway,Vitalis in his hair and the shuffle and hitch of the arm or hand into his waistband, keys and coins rattling and black-framed glasses surrounding the dark, sad eyes again…and the gift of a shiny red pocket knife…and after sand through the glass, a car in a time of need, a gesture, an attempt…what can I do? Moments and years and two or three lifetimes and the breath stops and the cheeks are tucked into place with clay or toothpicks or whatever the embalmer uses, and a little smile lives and holds that rictus shape until the crematory’s fires take it away. He was an old man early, and gone, limiting his life by wanting to live only so long, so that’s what he did, just for so long…testify, prophecy…. And I wonder what he really wanted, what he really desired and didn’t quite get. What dream remained unfulfilled, what heights weren’t reached? I don’t know. I have tainted memories and the taste of ocher, but that was my experience…what was he to someone else, what was he to his friends, what redeemed him when nobody else was around, or when he was in some others’ eyes, and not mine? What unconfessed sins tormented his soul, or what happiness lived there, even, beyond others’ eyes and mine? I don’t know what made him happy, or sad, or what left him feeling empty, what defined loss for him, or love…what stranger did he long for, what living or dead person didn’t fill a void that he needed filling, what or whom did he mourn, or caused him to smile when nobody was watching? Did he really believe in a god, did he really believe that he was going to live with a heavenly father when he died, that he would walk on streets of gold up there when his life was informed by asphalt and broken concrete…was that going to be his reward, really, did he actually believe that…did he have to turn off a part of his brain to do so, or did it just come naturally, did he like flowers or football, or what about weeds and wild grasses that grow along rushing mountain streams? Did he love his father, or even know him…or forgive him…or sin against him and not forgive himself after all those years? I don’t know…and at the end of it all, it’s for naught anyway, the deeds are done, the tears fallen, the regret swallowed and poisoned the body to the marrow, and maybe the only redeeming truth is that he didn’t know how to be what he was, didn’t know how to be what he wouldn’t have chosen to be, and he had no guide along the way to steer him out of the footsteps that had been laid before him….
And it rained again as the thoughts fired upon themselves as the fingers tapped the keys and as the neurons kicked themselves and rocked themselves and curled around their own shadows again and shot again into the void, into the primordial abyss of eternity that ranges in the wasted spaces between the fibers and strands of the cerebral mass.
Why are you crying, Daddy?
*neuron activity photo found via google at www.darkgovernment.com
There is no book that falls down from the sky that gives you all the answers to the questions you will have in life. You have to find them on your own. The contexts will vary and cannot be summarily covered in simple platitudes and phrases that can be molded to fit any and every circumstance.
When you find that your explanations aren’t understood by the ones to whom you are offering them, you dig into yourself and find other words, you make stories or render analogies that the other person will perceive as pertaining to them; you keep looking until you find those other words.
When your heart is breaking, you have to tell the ones who broke it that they need to stop doing whatever it is that broke your heart. You need to trust and love them enough, sometimes, to make yourself that vulnerable.
If it seems that only one side is heard in a contest, in an argument, in a positioning of hearts and souls, you keep looking for ways to make the other side heard…but you look for the signposts that tell you that they and you have passed those same and other markers…again and again, so you find other words, explore other pathways and avenues of thought and reason to express that other side…and sometimes you keep your mouth closed and listen with the ears of your soul and hear things that your brain doesn’t want to hear…and sometimes you learn, you understand that the other side has already heard and understands the side you defend and knows in their deepest hearts that what they say is true…and sometimes it hurts.
When your loved ones don’t understand you, they still love you, they still cherish the air that you breath and their hearts still beat with yours…they just don’t understand…and you love them, too, anyway…and you find the words….If it’s you who is speaking, make sure your family knows it’s you, and not someone else. If they think it is someone else, a someone else who may be pulling your strings and making you dance or sing or writhe in pain, find the words to help them understand that it is your heart speaking…only yours….
If the day comes and you find that your family isn’t fond of the person you’ve chosen (or who has chosen you) to be your life partner, sometimes that has to be ok. Your aching heart can love both of them, your family and your partner. They don’t have to love each other…they didn’t choose each other, you did. And you don’t have to choose only one or the other…you can love both, separately. Sometimes that’s just the way it is…sometimes.
Understanding will come to your family that you do actually love your spouse and that your spouse makes you happy…if it is visible in your life…if the part of your soul that you reveal to them contains that joy, if they are able to see that unmistakable joy outwardly in your life. If they hear you say those words, but only see you living your life in a contrary manner, or under a burden that isn’t yours, and one not joyfully borne, they aren’t going to buy it…they will not believe your words and they will not share in the understanding of your love.
Family is, they will, they are going to talk to each other about some things before they talk to you or the other ones involved in whatever the situation. They find out what each other thinks…they find out what they themselves think…before talking with you. It’s like writing in your journal; you give voice to your thoughts in a safe place before delivering them to the one who is the intended receiver.
Sometimes you’re supposed to be uncomfortable. Sometimes the un-ease is what makes us reflect more deeply on what is being said to us…in love. Not to oversimplify, but growing-pains hurt…because we’re growing…sometimes it sucks, but you endure and learn and grow and continue loving…because you love.
When nobody wants to talk and it is important that you do, then talk. But talk with new words that haven’t been dragged around the block several times and now only have ragged holes in themselves and are empty of meaning.
One tells their spouse that it’s “ok” by saying and meaning that it’s “ok.” Sometimes “ok” is all there’s going to be…and sometimes “ok” is the seed for a better future….
When someone says they can’t be more cordial to your spouse, I believe they really can be…maybe not today or tomorrow, but with the passing of time, they will be able to…because they, too, will endure and learn and grow…and continue loving…you.
You already know that life isn’t fair…it isn’t fair in opportunity, in love, in war, in simple living…in complicated living. Sometimes what makes the difference is compromise, sometimes it’s concession…sometimes it’s in changing one’s perspective, cherishing what one has and not what one hasn’t. Sometimes it’s in understanding that your strength complements the other’s weakness and with the two of you, even in that unfair situation, whatever it might be, it is good…but don’t expect life to be fair, don’t even ask it to be.
When family speaks-out hurtfully, out of line, out of turn, uninformed, inform them. They aren’t speaking-out that way “to” hurt you, but because they are hurt, too. Even when your side is so crystal clear to you, so goddamnably crystal clear, the other side carries hurt and love and emotion inside of themselves, too, and sometimes that is what’s speaking. Understand them, too…even if you don’t like what they’re saying, understand them.
When one family compares itself to another, that’s normal; it simply is. They want to identify things in themselves that make them distinct, that make them family, that make them Them; and that is done, sometimes, at the cost of naming what is wrong or different in the other, identifying in the Other what is not Them. It makes them feel more secure in their Them-ness, and that’s not good or bad, it just is.
When it’s important, when it’s important, to respond to the one family about identifying the other family’s Otherness, then respond. Tell them what disturbs you about that identifying process. It might not change anything, but don’t sit and say nothing…silence equals complicity.
Speculation and rumor are going to fuel concern…the concern might turn into action, and something good might come of it. Something good will certainly not come of it if there is no action. And loss doesn’t have to happen. It seems, in this context anyway, that loss becomes the result of choice…someone chooses to turn-away, someone chooses to abandon, someone chooses loss.
In a place where boundaries have never existed, their sudden appearance gives the indication that they are full walls. In a place where boundaries existed, but were often stepped-over with ease and back again, the sudden and marked appearance and enforcement of boundaries gives the impression of fortified walls. When the observers have known in the context of their lives, all of them, that boundaries are honored when they become sensitive, but otherwise danced around, to have them suddenly guarded with force makes the observers wonder at what changed…for they know that they haven’t.
If your family ever feels or says they feel that you throw your relationships away, make it clear that you don’t, or didn’t. How could they feel that way if they didn’t get a clue from you that you did? Look at it through their eyes…just like you ask them to do…and really look. How could they, loving you, come to such an erroneous conclusion if that was not the message that you sent? How could they, loving you, adoring you…really?
In whatever situation, you show that you tried by doing…and doing…and doing…not just trying…and doing again.
If you feel that your family has given up on you, let them know that that’s the message you are picking-up from what they’re putting out there…call them on it…love yourself enough to do it…love them enough to do it…even if it hurts or confuses. Chances are…they haven’t. Chances are…you are so deeply mired in your own situation that you can’t see what they’re doing, really…so call them on it.
And if you’re ever called to the task, you show your family that you really care…by really caring; yes, do actually say the words…because the words are important, but make sure your action, your attention, your attending…speaks louder than your words…consistently.
Those are just some of the things that my father never told me….
He also never told me to change the oil in my car’s engine every three to five thousand miles. My father-in-law told me that…after I had driven about 17,000 miles without an oil-change…in the first car that I owned that I didn’t have to add a quart of oil to the engine every week…but that’s for another posting.
When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?
And how could we not see its fleeing?
There were baby hugs
And finger paints
Sand in her tennies
And potted beans on the windowsill
Pound-puppies and princess’s ponies
And bubble gum and pig-tails
Now she wants to drive
And her iPod is in her backpack
With her cell phone at her ear
Long curly hair ironed flat in the mirror
And she’s ready for the prom
When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?
When we were young, we noticed that it took forever for special days to get here; whether they were birthdays, Christmases, the last days of school, etc…they took an eternity, as marked by our child’s minds that registered time’s passing by those ultra-special days coming and going. Now that the years have gathered, so many more things mark time…payday Fridays, her birthday, your birthday, her mom’s birthday, vacation, the first day of school, early-release every third Thursday, progress reports, report cards, the annual re-bid at work, a trainee for five weeks, the boss is gone for two, the weekend stand-by form on every Thursday, monitor each employee every month, we just checked your messages, it’s Thanksgiving and now it’s New Years and another move or not, and Christmas or winter break is passed and past, and one more semester until it’s done, and this process takes four weeks and that one takes seven, and the puppy needs his next set of shots and three more months until that movie comes out, another week to read the book, pay this bill on the 15th and that one on the first, and pay it again on the 15th, and the other one again on the first, and next month there are three paychecks for you and for me, so we look forward to yours and to mine and we pay extra on this one and it’s time to trim the bushes again, and the bug-guy is here again, and it’s time to change your oil and rotate the tires again, and it’s her birthday again then mine and her mom’s and my mom’s and school’s out again for the year and then she’s 21 weeks along and they can do the ultra-sound and see if it’s a boy or a girl, and which type of paint and trim do we get and we’ll know pretty soon…it does seem to rush by, unbidden, just passing with speed beyond belief, sometimes like tempests and torn in the way, and images of youth and what used to be has gone in the swirling of leaves and thought and remembrance, our encumbered spirits and minds loose (not lose) those things of yesterday and try to gather them back again before they are ungraspable in their passing, gone in that spirit of has-been and collected somewhere up in the ether where lost thoughts and radio waves linger unhitched for evermore. We used to think that our grandparents and parents were old or getting that way and now we find ourselves noticing the little lines by our eyes…and the ones that run down into our cheeks or spread like the sun’s rays from the corners of our mouths…we find that the singular gray hairs have multiplied into a profusion that creeps into our vision until it’s time to dye them again…or not…and the moustache had a couple and the chin several more and it’s no longer possible to trim that one or pluck it away as before…they aren’t going away…our memories hold when our bodies won’t…and our children are getting older…the lines on the door frame that used to be fun to mark once or twice a year are slowly catching-up with our chin and eye-level reaches…and we wonder where it’s gone…we wonder how it not only learned to sprint and spring away but to indeed flee and leave us watching…making yet more notes of its passing…she was only 11 months-old when we saw her the first time and she just turned 13 years-old…another was captured in a picture at almost three years-old with her arm in a cast and now she’s 26 years-old…and the first-born is crowing at 28 years…and those in between with babies and lives and house-payments and then…and my friend, Byron, whose gentle soul found the words that title this writing, noticed in awe the beauty and unbelievable 16 years of his daughter as he took her to school one day last week…it struck him how she’s not that little girl anymore who used to crawl into his lap with a favorite book or doll and sit there playing with his chin…time has fled with that little one and brought a beautiful young lady to take her place…unbeknownst to anyone watching…suddenly she is here…and we wonder again…where did the clock find the wind to sprint like this?
Thank you, Byron.