He snapped alive with a sulfurous urging in his hallowed place, reflecting then on those around him. He pondered, considered, and postulated about what they and he might be. “What am I that, or who, is able to exist only softly, attached for life to my waxen, wick-ed anchor, knowing only what…I don’t know. Of what am I comprised? What constituent parts have been arrested to make my whole? What molecules render me soft enough to flee like a thought in a slight breeze? What have I to do, but to live and reflect? Who is to know? Who.
In a dark room, were I to be placed upon a post to shine from its center, would I be as bright as if I were placed next to a mirror at the side of the room, with only half of my light being real and shining as from my soul? Is that solitary, yellow dart of my being enough to light in half, though reflected, as though from that post in the middle of the otherwise dark room? What design orders this? Why do I live only anchored here and not aloft in the sky? Why do those around draw away from me as if in fear of harm?
I am a solitary, gilded whisper of light, shining upon those from whom I am ordered, without will, or otherwise. My stepward cousins and unrelative conflagrations burn with an unintelligible force, magnified and multiplied beyond reason, my small frame. What soft caress would touch my delicate skin? What gentle lace would adorn me? In the place of never-thought would it live beyond my kiss. It is unknown. For it is, and not being. If a scientist were to analyze my being, would he find only the mist of paraffin, or the shadowing remnants of tallow, rendered from the fatted calf? What am I? And why does my touch bite? I cannot win friends; I cannot feel the embrace of another. If I am drawn nigh unto my own kind I am lost and shall never be regained unto myself. Am lost.”
This is a Favorite Repost from September, 2009.
I wanted you to know that I love you.
I wanted you to know that I still love you.
I wanted you to know that, even with everything that has happened between us, and even not between us, but between those others who we loved or love, that I still love you.
I wanted you to know that there is a piece of my life that is missing because you aren’t a part of it like you used to be.
I wanted you to know that even when my words have been infrequent or nonexistent, my heart still speaks; it still loves you and misses you.
I wanted you to know that even when you’re gone, I will still love you.
I wanted you to know that I will still love you when I’m gone, whenever and however that might happen, or whatever that might mean.
I wanted you to know that even though you’re gone, I still love you.
I wanted you to know that I haven’t taken you for granted.
I wanted you to know that I haven’t been uninterested in you and your life just because I haven’t asked you questions about you and your life…I was giving you space.
I wanted you to know that the others still ask about you, still think about you, still wonder about you.
I wanted you to know that it’s not too late.
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I wasn’t what you needed me to be when you needed me to be different than I was.
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I didn’t grow or change fast enough to make the difference that you needed me to make.
I wanted you to know that I was there when you thought I wasn’t, but I didn’t know how to make myself more known to you.
I wanted you to know that my anger was really sadness…or shame, but I didn’t know how to express it as such.
I wanted you to know that when I seemed to be distant and unconcerned, I was really hiding inside myself because I was hurting, too.
I wanted you to know that I never meant to hurt you…even though it appears that I didn’t try hard enough in meaning to not hurt you.
I wanted you to know that there were times that I was selfish and wasn’t thinking about you and others, and I’m sorry for being that way.
I wanted you to know that I know the past cannot be undone and that some things cannot be fixed.
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I hurt you when I did what I did.
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I hurt you when I said what I said and wrote what I wrote.
I wanted you to know that I will understand if you can’t forgive me, if you don’t forgive me, if you won’t forgive me.
I wanted you to know that I still love you.
I wanted you to know that what you did to the others hurts me, too, and I don’t know what to do about it.
I wanted you to know that regardless of the decisions you made yesterday, or last week, or last month, or last year, I still love you.
I wanted you to know that regardless of the decisions you make right now, or tomorrow, I will still love you.
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I didn’t protect you when I should have.
I wanted you to know that I’m sorry I didn’t speak-up for you when I should have.
I wanted you to know that I don’t expect you to be like everyone else; I love you for who you are.
I wanted you to know that I don’t like the distance that exists between us, the obstacles of time and place and not-talking and isolation that have grown like fences and rivers and mountains and dotted lines on maps…like boundaries that split and divide us.
I wanted you to know that I love you, still.
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.
We look at the calendar today and know or understand that we are at the end of another year, the end of another demarcated segment of the passing of time, the end of an illusion of something that we have created to guide or note the passing of our lives, and others’. It is the end of a period, a mini-eon, a turning of the earth on its axis around its star, an exhaustion of common moments and days and weeks and months that share our contrived labels.
I took-down our Christmas tree and the other decorations yesterday, marking the official (?) end of the holiday in our household. Our home is now as bare of this seasonal celebration as it was the day before it started. The Christmas CD’s have been returned to their storage place, the strings of lights and garlands and hand-chosen hand-made and picked-just-for-you ornaments and stockings and wreath and ceramic hand-made Christmas tree with the birds as lights resting in the branches and the little teddy-bears that were crocheted and stuffed into the red plastic cups that were also stuffed into the also crocheted stocking boot things, one for each child of Yesterday’s Christmases, all packed back into their storage crates and returned to the garage where they will sit and wait for the end of the non-Christmas season when they will be resurrected, brought back to their temporal lives out of hiding or hibernation or nothingness to once again adorn, decorate, and symbolically remind us of their importance or taken-for-granted-ness that they do as only they can do. Many of our neighbors still have their Christmas lights up and lit and making the outsides of their homes sparkle in the afterglow of that esteemed-as-blessed day that is now part of the past. I think they look lonely, somehow. They are pretty in their own way, of course, but they shine for something that has passed and is past…something that has ended…and something that will be back in the cycle of time, like most things.
The football season is in its final weeks; the playoffs will commence very soon and then end in that glorious display of something that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes good, and sometimes not worth near anything that has been spent on it…not even the moments we took out of our lives to observe it or think about it. I remember watching the final game of this year’s World Series, the one that put the 27th notch on the victory belt of the New York Yankees, the one that kind of seemed like another ho-hum moment in sports history…all those grown and pin-striped men bouncing on the infield in a big group-hug of arms around each other or raised with fists or fingers up and triumphant, jumping up and down in unison with plastic smiles of perceived wonderfulness and greatness…the entire image of which somehow reminds me of a dog humping someone’s leg. Anyway, that was the end of the baseball season, the end of summer…the end of the other team’s dream, their fans’ dreams…of something.
The end of dreaming, our sleep, with waking, facing our lives in their cycles of beginnings and endings, startings and stoppings, commencements and completions…the joy of picking-up a new book and opening it, smelling and feeling the smoothness of its pages and sensing the tiny and barely perceptible ridge of each line of script, and noting the crispness of the binding, the essence of its newness, unread, untraveled, untried, unfelt, and unlived…and a few hours or days or weeks later, when we have finished it, turned the last page and come to the end of the last thought and image of the last sentence of the last paragraph and that final period of the book, we set it aside, return it to the shelf where it was waiting for us those hours or days or weeks ago, beckoning to us for a visit, a journey, a co-existence and a shared life. Its pages are now familiar to us, some marked, some words underlined, some pages dog-eared or crumpled, maybe spotted with a fingerprint or drop of coffee, the story read, felt, and lived, and our lives are different. We have another perspective, another view of another’s view, another experience or life lived from within those pages…and it’s over.
Our children’s Christmas vacation, or winter break, will soon be over, our staff assignments and current work rotation will also end soon, the computers at work and home will mark the hour and date with a final ‘2009;’ we will open and post our new calendars with that ‘2010’ on our kitchen and bathroom walls, work walls, desks, partitions, and may open new journals, pocket and purse-sized weekly or monthly calendars…and make errors on our checks, payroll forms, and the other assorted papers in our lives where we leave our dated signatures to mark the significance of our passing.
While the actual physical substance of matter can neither be created nor destroyed and we understand that it only changes form with its constituent parts and components being rearranged in other forms, we do measure the end of physical items or objects as they move through our lives in their insignificant and momentous states. It is nothing, to us in our everyday lives, to finish a bottle of laundry detergent, a bar of soap, a package of napkins, a roll of toilet-paper, a package of frozen taquitos, a box of cereal, a tank of gas, a ream of paper, a package of razor-blades, a box of dog biscuits, a carton of eggs, a bottle of soda or can of beer, a package of CDs, or a cartridge for the plug-in air freshener…but it does mean something to note the end of a life, a relationship, or other significant existence. In this year that has almost passed, our friends and family members and pets have died, sometimes unexpectedly in tragedy, sometimes after long illnesses, sometimes in almost expected circumstances as they were young soldiers fighting in old men’s wars, and sometimes they passed when they were two months or eight months along and had yet to draw a breath of their own….
Sometimes the things that end are not lives but significant relationships or things or measures of accomplishments or adornments of our lives or homes that come to their expected or unexpected ends. The cottonwood tree that has been the symbolic guardian and watchful eye of our backyard and family events, celebrations, pool-parties, hushed conversations and confessions, and carefree afternoons and evenings is nigh unto death as its top half to two-thirds has withered and died after 17 years. That once beautiful mass of trunk and leaf and branch that would bend sideways in monsoon storms and was so tall that it could be seen from several streets away and housed numerous birds and bugs and offered dense shade in the summer and a golden wash and blanket of leaves to the yard in the fall and winter has passed into its own December…where it awaits its executioner on some unknown and approaching date…and my in-laws’ garage and workshop and hangar passed into a charred and skeletal nothingness on a fiery desert evening that consumed hand-made airplanes and a life-time’s accumulation of tools and lived dreams and celebrated accomplishments…and friendships and relationships and reputations were marred and lost over misunderstandings, deceptions, ill-spoken words, rekindled affirmations of differences in philosophies and world-views, too-personal revelations and fear, self-disclosures meant to validate and encourage that shook foundations of confidence and intimacy with the past.
These things and people and situations have gone away from us in their familiar and everyday forms, but they still exist in our minds and as substance that we might not readily perceive or recognize. Our loved-ones and accomplishments live in our memories and in the pictures on our walls, the stories we tell across the fire-pit in the backyard, around the dining-room table, or in the living and remembering ‘living’ and ‘family’ rooms of our gentle homes…they become the standards against which we measure love and closeness and commitment and desire, the benchmarks for future accomplishments and lived-dreams, the substance for the stories that we have to tell so that we can live and endure our sometimes harsh and un-tender lives. The cottonwood will continue to nourish the grass and other shrubs and bushes in the yard, as well as whatever tree we plant in its stead, as its monstrous roots decompose and reform in their mineral elements as nutrients and sustenance and the other stuff of life.
Some things end and some things continue on their circuits, cycles, repetitions, re-happenings, and re-constitutions…hopes and dreams that expired can be grieved and mourned and reborn…lives and relationships hurt or lost can be gleaned-from and cherished with lessons learned and priorities re-evaluated and commitments recommitted and memories relived in the expanse of eternity in the retellings and re-livings and the passing-on of his mother’s eyes to his baby boy…and it’s another moment and another day and another year that we celebrate and another opportunity to do those things that we didn’t do in the many yesterdays of the past year, to accomplish those minor and major goals and dreams that populate our sleeping and waking moments…and to tell those we love that we love them…that we love them…and we go on….