The Mystery

There is something about childhood that, once lost, it changes how you see the rest of the world. We can call it magic, mystery, or anything else but it’s that that in us that doesn’t understand everything…and it’s OK.

As we get older want more control, we want more agency in our lives and as such we pull the wraps off of things, want explanations for everything, and we want to know the Why behind every action of inclination. There’s wisdom in all of that, of course, because adults have motivations completely alien to what kids have and by the time you reach adulthood you have learned some hard lessons, from kids AND adults, and we build up armor to protect ourselves. It makes sense. It’s reasonable.

But in creating so much armor we lose something.

We lose our sense of hope, and wonder, and yeah, magic.

Just think of movies, and how we view them.

We want something safe, familiar, and known.

We want franchises and sequels and shared universes.

And that’s fine, that’s swell, but it closes us off to discovery. To finding those new worlds and adventures and stories that may show us things in ourselves that we have forgotten or never knew were there.

By explaining everything, showing everyting, and demanding all mysteries be revealed we cheat ourselves of that discovery. It’s the spoiler and troll culture that has popped up, demanding to know all so we can be better informed, warned, and, honestly, so we can ruin the fun for other people.

Why spoil a plot, a reveal, or a mystery?

There’s a difference between boasting to have seen or to know something and then there is the bitterness that comes from a need to ruin something for others. Knowledge is power, as they say, and to be able to force your knowledge onto others gives you power over anohter’s own agency.

It’s the sort of mentality of looking for presents as a kid. Sure, you’re curious, but once you know, well, you know. There’s no ceremony, no anticipation, and the fun of What If is gone.

It just is.

Doesn’t mean that IS is bad, just that the build up is gone.

Movies, for me, are  away to connect to my youth so it’s movies that become touchstones for me. I remember when the movie CLOVERFIELD came out and it came out of nowhere, all mystery and unease and I loved that. I loved that I had no idea what I was getting into and loved that there was a mystery to unravel. My hope is that when I write I Can capture some of that mystery. Some of that wonder.

Sure, I want to know it all. I want to know the where, why, when, how – all of it.

I also want to be able to discover it and put it all together myself. I admit that I like to compare what I saw and felt with what the ‘real’ answer is, deciding for myself, but it’s that feeling of being on the edge of a high building that draws me. The exhiliration of discovery.

The more we remove the mystery, the wonder, the more we pen ourslves into safe, obvious lives where the only mystery left is when we’ll die. Magic is that feeling that the world has dropped out from under you, where you don’t know what is coming but cannot wait for it to come. It’s not a feeling of danger or fear but of expectancy. That feeling you got as a kid when you realized how big the world was and how many things you didn’t know and didn’t care. The darkest places in the night held horrific that frightened but excited us. We could be anything. We could do anything. We could dream anything. Even if we knew deep down that those things could never pass we did it because our imaginations drove us and controlled us.

But at every turn we want to stamp out the wonder and mystery of things, trading that itchy nervousness for the icy comfort of the known. Preferring the safety of the light than the danger in the dark and learning nothing of ourselves and who and what we are in exchange.

…c…

The Change

In this rapidly changing world I think we tend to lose sight of the fact that we want and oft times demand things of people at a speed that is unreasonable. We want to put the past on trial every few years, looking at it with new eyes and new social and cultural viewpoints and want to try the lives of people and how they lived based on how we live.

Continue reading “The Change”

End Times

2018 will be a year that sticks with me for many reasons but the biggest is the loss of my mother, something we knew was coming but which, as they say, you are never prepared for when it happens.

With mom it was a slow decline that we could only bear silent witness to. It was an awful burden but never more awful than her own, a woman who had suffered enough in her life.

I remember getting the call that mom was going to be entered in hospice and it felt like the world had fallen away beneath me. It was early in the year and while there had been talk that she was nearing the need to enter hospice care, her finally entering it meant that the silent clock that had been ticking was suddenly very, very loud.

Time was running out.

For several years now I have had the awful understanding that eventually we would have our last Christmas together as teh full family. I have been very lucky to have my family alive for as long as I have. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. I can tell you though that it was an awful feeling last Christmas, a feeling of sick dread as the day drew on and it became time to leave because I knew that vague fear was turning from cold chill to ragged bone and time was just running out. It was a good Christmas, we had had better, we probably had had worse, but it was good. I won’t say I knew it was the last one but I had a bad feeling.

You just never know.

The reality of hospice care hit me when I went out to see my mom after finding out and saw the packet that was left – it detailed what Hospice was, had a series of forms to be filled out, including a Do Not Resuscitate form, and it ran through the signs that death was imminent. Then it was real. It was all real. I kept going back to that, over the next three months, wondering when the signs would begin and not realizing that things were already underway.

The hospice workers were good to mom. She’d never have to go to a doctor again. Her medications would be ordered and delivered. They brought air for her. They eventually brought a hospital bed for her. Nurses came, a social worker, and everyone we dealt with was sweet and genuinely cared about her. My mom was a charmer, a sweet woman who won over people easily with her humor and laughter and that stuck with her until the end. She had changed, to be sure, but she was still mom. After the stroke the onset of dementia crept slowly in but it did change her, her moods, her mind, bht she was always mom. That, at least, never changed.

The final three months were a slow march towards the end. The hospice care dropped off a photo album which would allow mom to record messages but she never did. Mom and dad were never ones to take to technology and that was just one more thing to figure out and it just never happened. We had a good day, I remember, when all of us got together with my wife and went over pictures together. We laughed a lot. Especially mom.

When the end came you could almost follow along with the symptoms in the material we’d been left. The curse for the living is to live with the regrets. The moments you regret. The things you said. The things you never said. We got our time to say goodbye, before, and at the end. As awful as it was, I am glad we were all there for it. I had taken to staying at my family’s house for the last two weeks of her life, only going to my own home to clean up and change, then it was back to the house. As the last few days came the nurses told us that she was close, that she was holding on though. It’s an awful thing to have to give permission to someone you love to die but I did, my sister did, but my father couldn’t. Until the end he began to believe that maybe she was just sick. She hadn’t eaten in a week and was barely taking fluids. She had lost so much weight she was literal skin and bones. I had the nurse talk to my dad, to insist that yes, this was the end, that we needed to let her go. To let her be at peace. My family was never one to say ‘I Love You’. It wasn’t that we don’t love one another but that it just was not something we did. That changed, for me, when she had her stroke. I probably didn’t say it as much as I should but I said it, and I said it a lot at the end. I was a terribly flawed kid, troubled, and I put her through Hell. I don’t think I could have ever said I Love You enough to make up for it but I tried. All I wanted is for her suffering to end. It seeemed to go on and on and on.

I had mentioned it before but it was a sweet bit of Providence that my wife and I took our dogs out to see mom about a week before she died. She loved dogs and our dogs were so sweet and gentle with her, our one Husky pup, Banshee, wanting desperately to get into the hospital bed with mom. We lost mom not long after and Banshee not long after that. I am glad they got to enjoy one another’s company before the end.

Family came to see mom. Friends came to see mom. People wrote. People called. Mom was afforded the time to say goodbye, though I can’t imagine how you even do such a thing, how you process it, but she at least got to see many people that meant something to her.

We were there at the end, her suffering finally ending after her body finally ran out of fight. We were able to be together, and were together when the nurse came to clean her, then the funeral home came to collect her, and then when we had to start dealing with the fact that she was gone. The finality of it all struck me hardest as I saw her name on the television during a local channels obituary list. I knew she was gone but it was so new it was as if she was a phantom limb but that was the first dirt on her grave, the funeral the last, and since it has been dealing with the aching realization of her absence. That the world didn’t stop spinning. That I was back at work a day after her funeral (my decision, having been out of work for almost three weeks), and that there could still be joy in the world all seemed strange to me. But we HAVE to laugh. We HAVE to move on. We have to or we die with those we lose. It’s only through that laughter, those tears, that love, and that pain that we keep their candles lit.

All of us have a life to give, and, as has been said, the price of loving is to suffer the grief of loss. It’s part of the deal. We are all flawed, and damaged, and most of us try to do the best we can, knowing that it’s never as much as we wish. We never pay the debts we create with people, not all of them, we don’t finish ever project, or live every dream, We do the best we can because a life is not meant to be perfect. It’s a long path that leads us through the dark towards an end we cannot imagine. All we have is one another in the end and the love we share together. Hate is a fast burning fire that will take all there is of you if you give in to it. The hope we have is that we have grace and wisdom enough to learn to let go of the slights done to us, large and small, and hopefully we can learn too to forgive ourselves.

There was no way to repay mom for all that she gave to us but hopefully she knew how loved she was. That was the last and only gift we could really offer – To be with her and to love her through the end.

…c…

 

The Only One Screaming Is You

I think it’s pretty obvious to say that American society is at a breaking point. People will argue that, saying that it’s Fake News and that things are fine and all that but these are also many of the people who are tuning out things that upset them or disrupt their vision of how the world is. People tune out because of ‘too much politics’ and ‘too much social justice’ and any number of reasons, preferring the cat videos and baby pictures they hold in quiet disdain instead of the political and social stuff which tends to bring out the worst in people.

We deserve our personal safe places. Our safe havens.

Life is hard enough without feeling under constant barrage, whatever your opinion and feeling on things. We deserve it…within reason. The problem is that reason isn’t in use much these days. We are isolating ourselves, picking hills to die on, and by god, if you cross some line that you have, well, then you’re a terrible person and are blocked and deleted on social media and ignored in real life. There is nothing common about decency any longer and the notion of civil disagreements seems lost. And I am no different. We’re at a point where the divisions seem bigger, the stakes higher, and for me, it’s hard to want to listen to someone make excuses about a world I see gone off the rails.

And that is me, just me.

Everyone is different.

Everyone has their own views and ways that the world works for them.

And I know full well that my outrage weighs no more, and no less, than anyone else’s. We live in a world where outrage is the default, leading to the great Tune Out.

But the problem here is that, in tuning out the Other, we’re tuning out the whole, not just the part, but the whole. There is a narrative being written about this nation, this gneration, and this world, and it’s being written by a very few people to represent the many. That’s always been how politics works, that’s not new, but it’s also never been more contentious or dangerous. Even the Civil War’s main effect was on America, today our policies and decisions shape the world. We’re in an era where it is easier for people to believe in nothing, than it is to buy into anything. An era where people can adamantly believe that the world is flat, despte evidence of the ages. We live in an era where it is easier to believe that the whole of the government is part of a conspiracy to lie, to obfuscate, and to kill us. It seems laughable, heck, it is, that people’d rather believe not even the worst but the utter worst, but you an see why things got that way. You can see why people would take the lies that are told, that are bought and are sold, and we are living in a time now where the lies of the President seem acceptable to many, so long as he holds the Them at bay, whomever they are for someone.

Every day brings a new twist to a nation that once prided itself as the leaders of the world. We have turned against all of history and have decided to wrap ourselves in our national flag and want to close the borders and do for us, with us, by us. Unfortunately the genie is out of that bottle and we can’t go back. We are part of a global community, something we used to take pride in, and all isolation will do is keep our allies away. The thing is that the enemy is within. The disgruntled, the broken, the lost, the angry, and the militant. We have created our own monsters and that isn’t slowing down.

There comes a time where you have to open your eyes to the fire that’s around you. A time when you either accept that you are being willfully ignorant or you take in a situation for what it is.

While truth is a flexible, malleable thing, there are things we cannot deny and right now, this national house is on fire and many of us are choosing to stay in the house. Social rights, personal liberties, and climate devastation should not be topics we are willing to fight as they seem to be part of what oure nation is founded on, for the first two, and what may be our undoing, on the second part.

Climate science denial is the new flat earth buy in. People refusing everything that seems to say that we are adversely effecting the world. I always look at that idea in this way – sit in a car for a few hours with a smoker and the glass will fog and be covered in a yellow film. Now imagine that you were in there for not just a couple of hours but many hours, days, months, years, and you are starting to get a vague notion of how we are damaging the ozone and planet. To think that humans are not having an effect on the world is nuts. Pure and simple. But again, the hills we choose to die on.

In the end, our outrage is our own.

Our upset, our rage, our disdain.

We can join it to others and to causes but you need just read between the lines of society and what is happening to see where we are going, and it’s not a good place .

It’s not a happy future.

The house is burning around us, and unless we decide to wake the heck up and get out, we are just aren’t going to make it out alive.

…c…

Letting It Go

It’s a heck of a thing to be able to walk away from the last word.

To close your mouth, push your tongue against the backs of your teeth, and to set your jaw firmly. Harder still when you feel, as most of us do from time to time, you have been wronged.

I HAVE BEEN WRONGED!

You want to scream it to the world, to call out those who have done you ill and to burn the earth around them and then salt it so nothing can grow for them again. The righteousness of the perceived transgression pushes to take hold of you and to pry open your mouth and let out all of the things you are compelled to say.

You have to say them

You have to drain the poison from your mind lest it slither into your heart and poison that.

The thing is…that poison, like the pain, is yours. While it’s for you to figure how to dispel it, it’s also yours to live with.

But why?

Why live with poison when it feels best to share it and to poison another?

To speak to the fact and not around it – there is a righteousness in pain and in being done wrong. Perception is always dependent upon who you ask, the person done wrong will tell a different tale than the person who was on the other side and the truth often lies in the gray emptiness between. Once you spread that poison, once you tell someone else the blackness that is in your heart you become as much of a villain as the person you feel did you wrong.

You will never be as eloquent, as intelligent, or as thoughtful as you imagine you will be once you open your mouth.

You’ll be singing a song of pain for someone who won’t hear it.

And finally, once you aim your angst and upset in the direction of someone else, whomever they are, you lose any claim to righteousness, you’re just another villain in a play filled with them.

No one wants to be fired, broken up with, ignored, cheated, or just simply done wrong and having to, no, CHOOSING, to swallow the feelings that come with something like that is a hard, hard road. But swallowing it down is the only way forward. Finding an outlet for it is the key. Finding a grave to bury it in, or a house to burn down around it, figuratively speaking. Or, if you are able, to find a place to bury it and a way to turn it into a forest to shade you in coming years.

But once you let it out, once you fail to let it go, you are suddenly as much a part of the problem as whatever it was that caused you to feel wronged.

And there’s the rub, as they say – the only way to move forward is to move slowly, deliberately, dragging that baggage behind you, until you can find the right way to process it and move on. Moving on doesn’t come with dragging someone down to where you are though when you are at your lowest. Getting over it, whatever it is, doesn’t come by digging down but by finding a way up. Some how. Some way.

The only way through is up.

So get climbing.

…c…

Our Lonely Gods

Since the beginning Mankind has looked to the great Other for guidance. It was a Creator, or a Punisher. Or an an all seeing Eye that We have always looked to something else/someone else for guidance.

This is not a dig on religion at all, because the needle of faith, the heat of faith, can guide a life forward in a thoughtful way. This is not me saying There Is No God.

This is me saying – we keep creating gods.

We want gods for everything.

Our own, personal gods that will care only for and about us.

And that’s sorta weird.

 

We have gotten so that we build gods from anything.

Everything.

We build our gods as walls to keep others out and armor to fight others off.

We want our gods to watch out for us, to take care of us, and to love only us.

We want them to forgive without question and judge without measure.

We want our gods that will make us rich.

We want our gods that will get us laid.

We want our gods that will let us win.

We want our gods make our teams win.

We want our gods to make us famous.

We want our gods to shine on us like an undying sun, forever and ever amen.

 

We play the lottery, make bets, and fill the casinos praying god will make us rich.

We pray during sporting events that god will favor our team over another.

We tweet, and video, and capture every moment of our lives in the hope that we’ll go viral or find some strange piece of fame.

 

All of these things we do to our other gods, the lonely gods we speak to only when we want something.

We don’t give them love, or faith, or fealty.

No.

We take.

We beg.

We demand.

These gods without faces that we put together out of found parts and abandoned hopes.

The gods we turn against one another when we don’t get our way.

 

Faith, true faith, is found over time and contemplation. It is found with introspection and patience.

Faith doesn’t build walls to keep one another out.

Faith doesn’t run for the fame or the money.
Faith, true faith, is the foundation we can build lives upon.

It’s not a get rich quick scheme, or a means to punish the people we oppose.

Faith isn’t about making our lives bigger but making our lives more meaningful.

We forget all that though in the drive to be bigger, better, faster, and more.

We have gotten lost in the glitter of fame, thinking that that is the love we need, that the money is the support we need, and that power is the path to happiness.

LIke everything else in life, if you try to cheat the system it won’t feel nearly as authentic.

You will feel like a fraud.

And hey, if being a fraud still makes you rich and you can find your happiness in that wealth then boss.

You do you.

 

We have a new pantheon of gods in our modern world. Similar to how many niche saints we are.

Gods of wealth.

Gods of power.

Gods of fame.

Gods with no names, no faces, no bodies, just some invisible will that we can call upon.

We have taken to looking to others for so much of our lives that now we want these imaginary gods to step in and lift us up.

Where real faith can guide us or encourage us, this fool’s faith simply encourages us to keep still and wait for you to get what you deserve.

Watching other people’s lives via videos and pictures and stories and believing they have it so much better than you because we can’t see the clutter that’s just out of frame.

The mess that exists in everyone’s lives.

 

Oh lord, oh god, oh great and mighty whoever you are, gimme what I want-need-gotta have because I deserve it.

 

Only, we are better than that.

Stronger than that.

We can accomplish so much if we trust in ourselves and our own power

And if faith can guide you then swell.

False gods will do nothing though but distract you and derail you.

The thing about life is we are not made to get all that we desire.

We have to make choices.

Make sacrifices.

That’s what makes the things we DO get, that we EARN and work for, so special and meaningful.

We will have days where we will wonder What If but the fact is that all we can do is forge the best life for ourselves and go from there.

And no faceless god of fortune can make that happen.

You can.

And there’s the rub.

 

…c…

(I write books. Go to the links and check them out).

 

Good Grief

Grief is a different monster for every person. To some it is robed and silent, watching from a distance, for others it is hulking and ever-present, pushing in on every breath. Everyone experiences it and it’s lifequakes differently. There is not a right way to go through grief and until you get into self-harm and self-destruction it gets blurry as to what the wrong way to deal with it is. You just – deal with it. The best you are able to. The last thing anyone can do is tell you how to go through it. That amounts to telling someone with their eyes closed how to navigate a room with no light. Sure, you can point things out and give ‘tips’ but in the end the person has to find their way forward for themselves.

The thing with grief though is it isn’t an enemy.

It isn’t a villain.

Even though we see it that way it is but a pale sheet in the form of the thing we loved and lost, ever with us, step by step and hand in hand. We can embrace it or fight it and it’s that decision which forms what it becomes to us.

It is as featureless as the pain we feel, forming its face to match our hearts.

Angry.

Sad.

Outraged.

Heartbroken.

Guilty.

Comforted.

Continue reading “Good Grief”