The Years Teach Much

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “The years teach much which the days never know,” and as time goes on I feel that much deeper.

I carry a weighty sadness for not being able to get out of my own way through the years, and I don’t know whether I was just lazy, or didn’t really want what I said I wanted, or what I said mattered, or if it truly was that most of the time getting through my day was a laudable accomplishment.

I have so many questions if this is not a random universe and my being is not an astounding stroke of luck in such a universe.

I don’t know what the difference is between someone who attains their goals and lives a fulfilled life and someone who doesn’t – even when they sincerely try – or believe they sincerely try.

It’s not like nothing happened. A whole life was lived and managed – for better or worse.

I grew up, procreated, and am coming into my declining years – kicking and screaming.

I am a writer. I am writing. I have been an actor, and I have been a singer – in a band even!

Those were the goals I had. The famous part eluded me. Maybe that’s a good thing.

I was a hurt, vulnerable person in a sick and suffering world, and likely would have been prey as I had been anyway – but maybe not. There is no control me to know for sure.

Maybe I would have had protection from the predators – or lots of dumb luck.

Or I could have died in a back alley somewhere, or become what was done to me.

I did none of that.

I did want to end me – sometimes still do – but it’s far less than it was (most of the time.)

Worries about facing consequences in a spiritual realm kept me from offing myself – that and my son.

I rose as much as I fell though. I battled my way back after every down turn. The problem is the cycle never ended. It was exhausting. It is exhausting.

I couldn’t find a medication that worked, or that I could tolerate. I know several people who have said that they would likely not be alive if they had not found the right medication. Why am I such an anomaly?

That’s rhetorical. I just am, is the answer. It’s not personal. It just sucks.

If I did choose this, why can’t I un-choose it? If karma is real, what the hell did I do (or what hell did I do)? Why don’t we remember how we screwed up before so we can avoid repeating it?

I look around at the world and it seems to be on a perpetual rinse and repeat doom cycle everywhere.

If there is a harmonious, functioning, peaceful society who won’t tolerate predators, they have hidden themselves well away from the rest of us. If there’s a secret handshake, or phrase, or code – I want to find it out and join them.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

The Story So Far – A Pirate’s Tale

Did I ever tell you that I grew up on a pirate vessel?

There were eight total – a small pirate crew – nine if you counted the dog.

Yes, it is unusual to have a dog on a pirate ship.

She was a good dog though. The best.

She knew when storms were brewing, and the crew knew to heed her ears down and tail lowered.

The captain was like most pirate captains you read about – abusive, demanding, unpredictable.

The captain’s wife was part of the crew. Again – super unusual.

I would not have wanted to be first mate on this ship.

First mate is a misnomer, by the way, or at least it was on this ship.

The captain trusted no one to run the ship, but demanded more than was possible from the first mate – and second – and the whole crew. As you imagine, the crew was bone weary before the ship was very far out to sea.

But out to sea she went, that shitty old vessel.

The crew was constantly plugging leaks, and even though they did their best job (and also never signed up to be pirates), they were met with the captain’s insane demands for more and better.

The youngest of the crew had the misfortune to be incorrigible. Because he was so different, and the captain’s wife promised to keep him out of sight and doing the only thing he was good at, which was taking things apart (whether they needed to be or not), he was left mostly alone.

The captain drank – a lot – as many captains are rumored to do – and the more he drank, the more onerous his instructions and demands. Even the captain’s wife began imbibing as much as the captain, and their fighting became more and more ferocious until finally the captain challenged his wife to a duel.

Ok, there wasn’t actually a challenge, but the captain did tell his wife to walk the plank because he wanted to see how quickly the sharks would get her.

She did walk the plank with the captain’s musket trained on her – and she plunged into the murky depths.

The rest of the crew did not know what to do. And only three of them were on deck when the captain challenged her thus, and they got themselves below decks as fast as possible and started pushing barrels and crates, and all manner of objects to thwart the captain’s attempts at finding new targets.

Turns out, the captain’s wife jumped straight into a pod of humpback whales on their way to their breeding grounds, and they took pity on the strange creature they seemed to know was not of the sea (the lack of gills or fins was probably a giveaway).

The whales surrounded and buoyed her up to the stern where she was able to climb onboard unnoticed by the captain.

But the whales weren’t done.

The captain’s wife edged her way toward the ladder to reach the crew below decks and assess any damage in her absence while the captain screamed obscenities from the bow into the night air.

The captain was so enraged that he walked onto the plank, challenging Poseidon himself to a duel.

The whales took that very moment to ram the ship’s side, and the captain fell open-mouthed into the drink.

The first mate climbed up to the deck to see what had bashed into the ship, and he saw the captain flailing about in the sea.

He turned away and set a new course to the first harbor without a backward glance.

Most of the crew came back on deck to assess the damage for themselves, surprised and delighted to see a group of whales breaching nearby, spouting and gamboling through the deep.

Several crew mates watched as the whales surrounded the flailing captain before dragging him down to Davey Jones’ locker.

The captain’s wife, unaccustomed to freedom, decided to finish the barrel of rum left in the hold and was no good to anyone for the rest of the trip.

The crew managed the best they could until they found the nearest land.

The youngest crew member did not come above board after the captain was relieved of his command because he had been terrified by the captain’s screaming, and the whale’s blows against the ship, and convinced himself that rival pirates were about to come aboard and kill the whole crew.

He locked himself in the hold and ran in circles until he finally knocked himself out when he ran into a beam he mistook for a group of marauding pirates.

After the crew docked at Satan’s Den, the nearest harbor the first mate found, the crew disembarked, carrying the unconscious youngest crew member with them.

They found shelter above the village tavern.

The two oldest crew mates sold the pirate vessel for a more seaworthy ship, replenished their stores, and told the crew that they were setting out for the new world. The captain’s wife was sad to see them go, but she chose to stay ashore and kept the four other crew members with her.

Later, in relief at being liberated from the terrible captain, the captain’s wife went down to the tavern where there was laughter and drink, and she stayed all night.

The rest of the weary crew went up to their quarters and slept.

The next morning, the captain’s wife was nowhere to be found, so the four crew members talked about what they should do. They decided to set out from Satan’s Den to find a life away from the sea.

The youngest crew members missed the captain’s wife, and after tearful goodbyes with the next two oldest crew members, they turned back to Satan’s Den to wait for her return.

The captain’s wife did return several days later when the youngest crew members were about to give up hope, but she seemed annoyed at seeing them waiting for her.

She told them that a group of landlubbers she met at the tavern told her about a life she could never have imagined existed, and they wanted her to come with them. She reluctantly said the youngest two crew members could come with her.

They looked at each other, each deciding that their best chance at survival was following the captain’s wife.

Unfortunately, the youngest crew member only knew how to function out at sea, and even though the next oldest tried to help him learn the ways of being on land, he told her that dragons were surrounding them and wanted to burn them and eat them.

Even though the older crew member could not see the dragons, the youngest insisted they were there.

She didn’t know what to do, and the captain’s wife had started out without them.

The youngest was too afraid to live on the land or at sea, and even though she tried and tried, she could not help him.

She gave him all she knew how to give, and told him where she would be if he ever needed her.

And that’s the story so far.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Go Tell It On The Mountain

James Baldwin’s book: Go Tell It On The Mountain is a masterful work.

Set in three sections, the narrative weaves the struggle of a family and its individual components through their church lives, and their salvation or resistance to their salvation.

What happens around them and throughout their experience as black people, whether in the south or in the north, elevates the characters’ deep existence in God’s world. Their religious belief and expression is their answer to enduring senseless violence and unwarranted hatred threaded throughout their lives.

The themes of sin and redemption, or striving for redemption, of rage, and of being saved – yet still a sinner – is felt in each page, in each individual’s journey.

As the novel opens with the eldest son, John, recalling his family’s church rituals and ‘the sinners’ the family passes on their way to Sunday services, the reader peeks at the family’s life in Harlem through John’s eyes. John expresses embarrassment by the demeanor and characters of the ‘sinners’ they pass as the family walks the four blocks to their storefront church, where their father is a deacon. John’s brother Roy expresses amusement at the ‘sinners’ behavior he witnesses as they walk past, and he expresses an attraction to that life.

Snatches of gospel song and verse propel the narrative forward through the several main characters’ thoughts and experiences, while the women elders and other sisters of the church, hover in the background, or come forward in prayer for the characters’ collective and individual souls throughout.

Instances of the family’s reality in a white world are shown through several scenes, but do not overpower the narrative of these characters’ lives. The reader experiences the world of the various characters and their choices, but are left to make of it what they will as they are propelled through the pages in a sometimes raw and dreadful torment.

The narrative compels the reader to bear witness – to understand the requirements of God to these characters – a forsaken people and their cries into the wilderness. The reader is kept rooted in each character’s living reality outside of the church, while unfurling a deep sense of these lives, and in the lives of their community through their spiritual connections and disconnections, and knowledge that their nearness to God is their only succor inside or outside of the human world.

Retreat And Reset

A dear friend and I were talking about this dark time of year, and how she, like me, experiences the desire to go away right before Thanksgiving and not return until after the new year.

Maybe it is the expectation of the holiday season and all that pressure to be glad and giving and grateful.

It’s not that I’m ungrateful, and while I can’t speak for my friend, I’m close to 100 percent sure that that is true for her also.

It’s just my dark time. I don’t have to try to be different anymore, and it has taken me decades to understand that.

We’re told, directly and indirectly, not to be a “downer”. But it’s not down, really. It’s more like the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

Demeter, the goddess of grain and the growing season, was angered and grieved when Hades abducted her daughter, Persephone, and brought her into the Underworld. Zeus had to strike a bargain with Hades and Demeter to let Persephone come back to the living world for part of the year so that Demeter would let crops grow again, or so the myth goes.

Perhaps ceasing growth in the living world was Demeter’s only bargaining chip for her daughter’s return, but Demeter’s powers may have been sapped in her grief and distress – she may have had nothing left to give. She may have needed that time to recover her abilities, and Zeus needed her powers to keep humanity going, so an understanding and remedy was had.

Persephone’s return, bringing back her bond, connection, and belonging with Demeter, revived creativity and growth into the observable world.

Time to refill our reserves is essential. Going deep into my Underworld is necessary, and some of us need more time than others to replenish ourselves.

My work now is to find a retreat that my friend and I can go to each year to disconnect just enough to come back refreshed and ready for what’s next.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

December’s Message

An unease came over me in December’s first days. What was it? I couldn’t understand why, but I kept ticking off the days:

December first, December second, December third – each day feeling more ominous.

December fourth – fifth – sixth (What is going on? What am I feeling? It feels like something big happened.

I did not remember all that had unfolded until December ninth. My mind only let me remember in the rear view mirror.

On December 5, 2019, I had gone with my partner, a system’s administrator, along with several of his work mates, to a computer technology conference, which was attended by hundreds of others in their field.

It was held at a casino a few hours away from where we live – a big draw being a weekend of free food, booze, and casino chips, with chances to win more during the break out sessions.

I drank for the first time in three years the night we got there. I had no defense – and my partner was understandably upset with me.

What I couldn’t know is that I was somewhat paralleling my mother’s experience – only, I later learned, she was drinking that night to not care about terrible pain she was trying to manage with ibuprofen and booze. I had zero excuse. I did not know that she had started drinking again after a decade of sobriety, and that she had been drinking fairly heavily since that Thanksgiving.

I am filled with anxiety and deep sadness writing this, but it needs out.

It needs telling less because of what happened, and more because of the deep family dysfunction it revealed.

When I drank after three years of sobriety, I knew I was screwing up. I was chasing relief from my depression and anxiety – but that relief is temporary at best, and I had one of the worst nights in a very long time.

I may have had slight alcohol poisoning, I don’t know, but I had no sleep that night. I felt deep dread, and I kept seeing shadow figures in our room all night, along with feeling deep shame for blowing the gift of sobriety I had been given three years prior. I suppose an upside was my constant prayer that night.

The next day, the last day of the conference, my partner wanted to talk with a man who had several others vying for an audience with him during breakfast, and on the first break, and my partner did not get to talk to him then. We planned on leaving as soon as he got a chance to speak with him.

I got a phone call that I ignored during breakfast, and I looked at it an hour later.

It was my mother who sounded like hell, asking me to please come get her and take her to the hospital because she thought she had a flu, and was very sick.

I tried to call her back, but there was no answer. Normally, I am a twenty minute drive from her – fifteen minutes without any traffic (and driving as fast as I dare go over winding country roads), but now I was two hours away and my anxiety kicked in.

I asked my partner if we could leave because I was sensing that my mother was in serious trouble, but his whole purpose of being there was to speak with that in-demand dude – and this was his conference, after all.

I thought about hitch-hiking home, calling a taxi or driving service, or a bus. Nothing would be fast enough though, and I did not have the money anyway.

I called the Wendell police, but no one answered. It’s a small town with a small budget, and I had to leave a message. I was nearly outside of myself in panic now, and I dialed 911. My emergency, I told dispatch, was my mother a state away, who might be dying.

“You’ll have to call your state police, ma’am,” I think I heard – or something close to that. Or maybe she had me hold and patched me through to the state police, who patched me through to the Massachusetts state police – I was fairly greyed out by then and I only remember bits and pieces.

Close to an hour had gone by, and there was still no answer at my mother’s house. Was she dead?

The state police asked why I hadn’t called her local police. (You’re fucking wasting time, I thought). “No one is answering, and no one has called me back,” I told him.

“Okay, we’ll try to get someone out there.” Please do more than try, I thought.

A call a half-hour later from dispatch told me that the state police cannot find her trailer. “It’s hidden from the road, but there’s a path, and her trailer is about a half a football field down it?”

Finally, at lunch, my partner gets to talk to that guy.

I was so upset with him at this point. He said something about my mother saying she felt sick, not that she thought she was dying. I couldn’t explain how I knew this was an emergency, and I nearly begged him to please let’s go!

He did cut his discussion short because I’m crying now. I was also worried that I was wrong, and it would all be fine, and it is just sensitive, disaster-minded me, after all.

Finally on the road, it began to snow. (Are you fucking kidding me with this shit?)

It was really snowing – slowing us down to a crawl at one point – and then it started to lighten up, but the highway had not been plowed.

I get a call from the state police, who I now want to marry, that my mother is at the hospital. I thank the caller – did I tell them that I love them? Was it finally the Wendell police? I have no memory of who it was, or of the rest of the drive.

We’re at the hospital. I get into the emergency room where my mother is on the bed behind a curtain, and a nurse and ER doc are attending my mother.

The doc says, almost accusingly it seemed, “Your mother has severe liver disease. She is bleeding out, and we do not know from where. We’re going to run tests – maybe transported out if we cannot find where…” His words were mostly a blur after the first sentence.

My mother is awake. Her first words: “Well, I guess I am not going to live as long as I thought I would.”

Blood is matted in her hair and still on the side of her face. The nurse said she wiped up as much as she could. I asked the nurse if she could get me a warm wet washcloth.

I tell my mom I love her, and they are going to help her. I have no idea what words I said, but I do know I told her at least that.

I wiped up all the blood I could with the washcloth the nurse brought me. I held my mother’s hand, and I kissed her forehead, and told her she’s in good hands now.

Then a worker came to take her for the tests, and said it would be a while – at least an hour.

I told my partner we could go home, which was fifteen or so minutes away, and I would take my car back to the hospital if she wasn’t transported elsewhere.

By then, my oldest sister called me to say she was on the way to the hospital.

A nurse later told me my mother had high blood pressure in her esophagus, rupturing it, as a result of taking ibuprofen and booze together, and her liver couldn’t process any of it. The bleeding had stopped, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I heard nothing else, even though I tried to take it in.

In my mind, she was going to be okay. The bleeding stopped. She would need special care – stay hydrated, which was vitally important – get B vitamins in her, and some nutrition.

She stayed with me until our family holiday gathering a few weeks later.

I was diligent about getting her what she needed, probably annoying the hell out of her, but, oh well.

My mother was to stay at my other sister’s, who is a nurse, after our family holiday gathering. The presumption was that she was best suited to help my mother heal.

My partner and I went to my sister’s on Christmas day and had dinner with her, and our mother, and my sister’s friends who are her upstairs tenants.

I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my mother because of all the activity, but she was in good spirits, and eating, and drinking lots of water.

My sister called to tell me that our mother wasn’t feeling good the next evening, and it was probably all the food and excitement of the holiday, and that she had slept most of the day.

That night I was overcome with foreboding. I could feel my mother’s energy, or spirit – something. I tried to visualize healing energy over her body, but all I felt was heaviness. Everything felt stuck in her, but it was like a prayer, and I continued to try to send healing energy.

I called my sister and told her I thought she should take our mother to the hospital to be checked out the next day. My sister said she was watching her, and that she was getting up to use the bathroom, and take sips of water.

Sips of water? Our mother needed cups of water. She needed to stay hydrated, but I didn’t say that. My sister and my relationship was not very good. She had been prickly, and snippy, and unkind toward me for the last several years, and I avoided conflict.

I texted her the next day, and called my sister’s upstairs neighbor to ask her to please check in on my mom. My sister said our mother was just sleeping a lot, and she planned to take her to the hospital on New Year’s day if she wasn’t better by then.

New Year’s day? That was two more days! I couldn’t tell her that, either, though. I did not want to cause a scene, or be berated. And what did I know? I’m not a nurse and I wasn’t there – so I had to trust my sister.

I am deeply ashamed that I did not follow what I knew to be true, that our mother needed help beyond my sister’s capacity to do so at her house.

New Year’s day dawned and my sister called to tell me that mom was unresponsive, and they were in the hospital.

A wail came out of me that I did not know was possible. I was outside of myself.

My partner drove us the two hours to the hospital. I held my mother’s hand and I patted her hair. I sang a bit of “The Rose,” one of my mother’s favorite songs. My sister said she couldn’t feel anything, or hear anything, so it was pointless to do that. I kept doing it anyway.

Our mother died early the next morning, even though the doctors thought she might be alright – or maybe that’s what they say in that situation. Hope is positive.

Mostly, I do believe it was all for the best. I would have had my mother in the hospital, hooked up to machines, and not passing away relatively peacefully at my sister’s house.

The bigger issue is that I tried to tell my sister three times that I believed our mother needed more help, and to please, please, bring her to the hospital, and she ignored me.

What I failed to do was show up. I failed to call 911 and say my sister was unintentionally being negligent and my mother needed more help. Because I felt it, and I knew it in my being every day, from the day after Christmas until she died.

But was I just feeling my mother in her dying process? I felt like she was asking me for help. I am deeply sorry if that is true. I want to have just been in tune with what was happening.

My sister’s friend and tenant upstairs had a sweet relationship with my mother. She told me that on New Year’s day – before she had heard the news of my mother’s passing – that she had been woken up by her cat. Her cat that never did that before, she told me.

She said she got an insistent feeling to go look out her window. She told me she fought with that feeling because it was early and she wanted to sleep, but the feeling would not let her be, and neither would the cat.

She went to the window and looked out. She told me that the sky was full of color – so full of color that it was indescribable, and she was seeing colors that she had never seen before – and she heard my mother say: “I am at peace.”

I am so grateful for that. It does not take the trauma and shame away from my experience, but it does make me feel glad for my mom, out of her suffering.

My mother’s death brought my deep dysfunction with my family out in the open.

I was so bewildered with grief that I screamed at both of my sisters, howled all that I had held for years and years – grief about losing them too, grief that had never been expressed. Grief that nearly led me to suicide on several occasions.

It does not change what has passed in our lives, or who we have become by choice, or by circumstance. I can, and I am, trying to forge new relationships with them. I have also chosen to not have anyone in my life who disrespects me, or treats me badly anymore.

I have learned to love myself more than I fear losing others.

That is probably the best gift my mother could have given me.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Steeped

I want to say it’s dark, and suffocating – but that’s only a moment. It’s somewhat neutral, isn’t it – this grief?

It sinks like a stone to the bottom of my soul – but I no longer release it in a howl of pain.

Still, it has changed me.

Doesn’t all of life change us though? Doesn’t the every day living – the dashed hopes, the missed opportunities, the not being able to get out of my own way?

There are jealousies, revengeful feelings (if not actions), betrayal, scorn, gossip, lost connections, anger, hate, sadness, depression, anxiety.

But also love – especially love – and connection, jubilation, contentment, peace, calm, joy, fondness, ease.

But loss – all of these losses – the ones that Judith Viorst called “Necessary Losses” in her book I read so long ago all I remember is the title and the gist of it, loss has not left me.

I am learning to live with it.

The cupboard it lives in was dark and grim when I first discovered it. I kept it as it was for many years, only approaching it to lock it back up when the winds of my life blew it open.

It flew open so forcefully the other day that one of the doors broke off its hinge. I tried to nail it shut, but the nails wouldn’t hold anymore.

I mustered my courage and looked inside.

It was musty and the old paint was peeling, so I decided to clean it out.

I painted it a light, sparkling green. I put vanilla-scented sticks tied with a purple ribbon on the center shelf, and placed my cozy blue comforter on the bottom. The top shelf is filled with pictures of loved-ones gone on before me.

It’s nicer to weep there now.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Tell Me!

Some time between Halloween and Thanksgiving I start holding my breath.

I don’t realize I’m doing it, but it’s the day before Thanksgiving and I feel like I’m starting to turn blue.

What, what, what?

I didn’t know I have this deep inner recess. For years it was mostly hidden, and I didn’t know I had learned to avoid the area.

It has been like living in a haunted house. I explained away every odd noise, every displacement of objects, every shadow or shiver when I walked into the attic.

I never even realized I had an attic – that’s how well the thing was done.

But now, it’s become more obvious, less able to deflect – but still a mystery.

I walked around yesterday, knowing I had a million things to do, but couldn’t settle into anything I started.

Focus, I kept telling myself. Just stop, I kept admonishing myself. What the hell is wrong with you? Get over yourself!

It never worked when I was little, and it doesn’t work now. I just went deeper inside, feeling more and more wrong.

But I’m resilient. I’m still here. I started saying “It’s okay – you’re okay,” over and over, which allowed me to get some things done for a while.

Does that mean I win? – because it sure doesn’t feel like winning.

There is still so much to get to, and I am doing what I can. I need to fit several days worth of tasks into today, but here I am, writing.

It’s a balm, even if temporary.

I will go about my business regardless of the dank heaviness trailing me. It’s just harder.

There is something in that dark, drippy, echoing recessed inner cavern that needs me to figure out how to get down there, and get us back safely – or something like that.

I know this has to do with the trauma of neglect, and of my trying to resolve it by finding people or circumstances that would helpfully replicate it for me so I could work on it, but that didn’t fix it then, and it’s not fixing it now – dammit.

I can continue what I’ve always done, and power my way on through sheer will, but it never really leaves, it just gets quieter.

It feels like a rescue mission that I have no idea what equipment I need to be successful – because I do try – I am trying at this very moment.

What do you need,” I ask, or “what do you want me to do?!”

It’s like when my son was barely verbal and he wanted something from the cabinet up above the kitchen counter. I tried the crackers he liked, and several other items. With each thing I grabbed he just wailed harder – his little face all screwed up with his frustration that “I didn’t understand!”

Any idiot should know what he needed – get a clue, woman!

So I picked him up and put him on the counter and told him to show me what he wanted. I think it was canned peaches.

Maybe I just need some peaches.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Moments Like This

I’ve gotten scared a couple of times while driving in the last month or so. My hands are on the wheel, eyes on the road, but twice now I have caught myself having to remember to be in the world?, Something like that. I haven’t figured that out yet, which is what’s terrifying.

Have the leaded gas fumes from my father’s Lincoln Continental that I breathed in deeply several times after he had parked in the driveway finally melted my brain? He must have caught me doing that because I only remember getting to stand there breathing in the lead fumes a few times. It must have been better than the smell of bread or cake or cookies baking, because none of those aromas made me want to stick my nose as close to the oven as I could to breathe it in as fully as I could.

But worse than that, could I be getting some form of dementia?

It’s hard to write about this because it’s embarrassing and scary, but it’s real, and maybe someone has an answer, or has experienced something similar.

In both incidents the eerie displacement of time, or space, or space/time, or whatever was happening to me, left me hyper-vigilant, and desperate to seem normal, to feel normal.

I got to my destinations fine, and I’m now realizing that the drives home were unremarkable.

Maybe my senses aren’t as acute as they were a decade ago (or even last year)?

Maybe this is what getting old is.

Bite your tongue, I hear my rebel yell. Fuck off, and then come back and fuck off again. Old. Pssshh!

That’s like saying I’m defective, used up, yesterday’s news – and that’s stupid.

But I can’t stop what happens to my definitely time-based body, even if my, what? – id, ego, and super-ego? – are up in arms at the seeming injustice of it all.

I just have to accept what is, not approve of it.

I also have to figure out if there is something wonky going on in my brain.

Maybe it’s something simple, something fixable.

The fear underneath everything else is whether or not I matter – whether I have relevance.

Well, that is completely self-determined, isn’t it?

No one else defines me unless I let them, and I don’t have to let my worst thoughts about myself decide who I am either.

Full human – still here, still crushing it … 8 times out of 10 – so far.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Avoidance

Stuck.

Stuck.

Stuck.

I’m noticing that the night-blooming jasmine flowers, that rarely bud out anymore, are budding in a cluster of five or six.

(is that my mother making them bloom now – maybe? or is it my Aunt Lee, checking in on me. Or is it nothing because there is nothing, and they are gone now. All the aunts except my aunt Cathy are gone.)

I pulled out my Halloween decorations yesterday, and I really enjoyed that last year, but I’m having a hard time enjoying anything this year. It’s getting chilly here in Western Massachusetts, so I pulled out my fall and winter clothes too.

(mom kept all her clothes until they were practically rags, and I have the same wardrobe I’ve had for the last ten years, except underwear, of course, and a few shirts and a pair of pants I got from Costco.)

I’m having a coffee, trying to savor it. Be present to now, I think. Be present.

(mom loved coffee. why don’t I feel her? If spirit is real, and true, then why the fuck don’t I feel anyone who has gone on that I loved?)

I like how the steam rises up, and the rich smell of the beans is so delicious. I go out onto the back deck steps on sunny mornings to sit for a few minutes before starting my day in earnest. The willow trees, the small garden, the bright sky – I appreciate all of it. I am grateful for all that I have, for the time I’ve been given on this good Earth.

(and there’s the garden shed where some of mom’s things are that I have yet to go through and try to salvage anything or chuck it all out)

It’s different now. The raw grief has subsided, but sometimes it overwhelms me again. Mostly, it’s just part of me now.

(i think I’m angry with you, Mom. why are you silent? why don’t you visit me in my dreams? why won’t you make your presence known if you still exist? what kind of a shit universe is this?)

All unanswered questions. The Universe doesn’t bend to my will, or care how angry I am. I have to choose what I believe – if anything. I can be as wrong believing as not believing, or as right believing as not believing that there is a point and purpose to all of this.

I’m older now. I didn’t want to get older. I didn’t try to get older. Life just moved on – often without me keeping up – and definitely without my consent. My pain is often because I refuse acceptance too. I try to remember that I only have to accept, not approve. I can yell all I want that this is against my will, but life just doesn’t work like that. Life is neither for nor against me – or any of us – no matter how it seems otherwise.

Mom’s passing was just that. Whether it was ‘her time’, or whatever justification I might throw at it – it’s just a fact. I am on a temporal plane. Do I not enjoy what beauty and camaraderie and joy and struggle there is just because it’s going to end? Do I sit in a corner with my arms crossed until my own death comes? Joy and play are important to me! My people make life tolerable. The right music and free-spirited dancing lifts my spirits. So, I will grow older, and have more difficulty until the end. So will everyone on earth who doesn’t die young.

There is goodness, and there is terribleness. I can be as upset as I want, and rail against life’s ridiculousness – and I can make the best of this nonsensical experience. It’s not either/or for me. It’s all of the above.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Rainy Monday

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” from Rainy Days and Mondays, Carpenters, 1971 album

I wish I could empirically know if it is my mother’s spirit that I feel in certain moments like this morning when I heard her voice inside me say “what a rainy day,” as I looked out over the tiny garden this morning.

Her voice came unbidden. I wasn’t thinking about her in that moment, but I’ve been thinking of her since.

Are there gardens wherever she is – if she’s anywhere at all anymore?

There must be gardens, because she’d create one.

Doesn’t all our creativity speak to something beyond us? We dream, and plan, and build. We create worlds within worlds – aquariums of fish sometimes replete with real or plastic plants, old time scuba outfitted people, little plastic treasure chests, or practical items like miniature caves or structures where the fish can swim through or hide.

There’s Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona – a town I once briefly lived in – where a dreamer designed and built a sustainable living environment for when we have thoroughly trashed this one (as we seem unable to stop ourselves from doing).

My mother was curious about everything. She pondered life’s mysteries, and whether we continually recycle into flesh beings – or whatever forms we might take in an endlessly diverse universe.

I could and did talk to her about anything, and while I still have my scholarly and philosophical friend who also ponders the extraordinary, and the mundane, my mother’s voice is silenced except for memories, and a few video and audio recordings.

But maybe her voice isn’t silenced. Maybe consciousness resides outside the body. Maybe my mother has just changed form, and carries all that she gained from being on Earth with her – willing her thoughts into my brain once in a while?

It’s frustrating that I can’t know for sure, and it feels like searching for the roots of truth in mythology.

I once read that God(dess) is an “unknowable essence,” but has sent, and will send, messengers throughout all time to tell the rest of us why we exist, and what It hopes from us.

My mother once read me some other sage’s words: “Why do you seek God(dess)? Does a fish seek water?” I don’t know the author of those words, but they often sustain me.

I sense my mother’s smile and encouragement too, and that will have to suffice.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current