Lost.

Ocean caveIt’s been happening so long that I don’t know when it started. I might start in one chapter, then remember a preceding chapter or a later one. There is a thread of commonality, a series of  knots tied together sewing together a life – earlier, rough and uneven, the frankensteinesque. Later it becomes smoother, and more types of weaves hold it together, but what they hold together is common.

It never presents itself as new, even when new is what I seek – a way out of a cave I find myself in, perpetually climbing through one to another, an aqueous Sisyphus, swimming… always swimming away a place I no longer belong, always to another place -the coarser knits where I was looking to belong, the finer and more even stitches were I simply moved to get away from not belonging. Always leaving behind things once held dear – why else would I have them? – always making myself lighter, more agile. Always moving, always growing, like the lobster that keeps growing a new shell. As conscious of things as ever, yet never quite knowing when something begins or ends. Thinking it does doesn’t mean it does, thinking it doesn’t doesn’t mean it doesn’t.

It all flows, landmarks shift in the ocean. Nothing is constant. There is never a way to go back; there is never the same place to go back to. A lifetime of sandcastles on beaches lost in time. Retrospect evolves.

There was a point to all of this when it began – when did it begin? – and there were thoughts, emotions, passions. Lost, gone, empty shells outgrown; ambitions achieved, dreams attained, dreams forgotten, lives touched, lives lost, lives gained. The faces of enemies shift into those of friends without morphing. Cages change from those rusty to those clean, to the gilded, to removed every time only to reveal a different cage.

At any point it makes sense, and yet together it makes none. And when together it makes sense, that point in time makes no sense. The future that shouted now whispers conspiratorially, the past that was not there is now there.

It is good to be lost.

Grief

GuiltWhen we lose someone, we feel varying degrees of sorrow. There’s no real scale; it’s the common wisdom of counseling that there are varying scales of sorrow and that some who have a mental illness feel things more… but that’s all based on how we react to emotion and is hardly an empirical measure across different people.

We all feel things differently.

Here’s my thought: When we lose someone, we lose everything that person meant to us – consciously and unconsciously. We grieve this loss, sometimes without even understanding the losses involved, and now and then we are reminded of the loss. It’s only when we come to terms with what was lost that we can move beyond grieving. The things that remind us are the things we need to address – not necessarily to forget, but to understand what exactly was lost.

As they say, you do not know what you have until it is gone – but the depth of that is lost in a two dimensional expression, and is impossible to communicate to others without the context of that loss. The more complicated the relationship, the harder to communicate – the more commonality, the easier.

In a way it’s very strange to me that it took me all this time to figure that out, and in a way it makes sense that it did.

And it was a great lesson from a candle that burned fast and bright in my own life, and one I shall not forget – and shall cherish.

It’s only when we learn the lessons we need to that we evolve beyond grief.

Solitude/Relationships (Advice to a Young Man)

Trust?The first person you have to trust is yourself. This means you have to be able to depend on yourself first, then others.

You have to stay open and appreciate the people you have close to you. You might stay close with them, you might not – there’s a whole bunch of stuff that happens in life that can drive people close together or far apart.

Some of it can be good or bad, either way – you can get stuck with the wrong people close to you for parts of your life, as an example, or you might drift apart from some of the good people.

Life isn’t very good at making sense, and it has the capacity to drive smart people crazy. It does sometimes – and sometimes, smart people just don’t act normal (there is a difference). Nobody knows exactly where that line is, but people go to school and draw it with big fat neon crayons. Stay on the right side of those lines – the side where you’re not considered crazy by people in white coats armed with neon crayons and diplomas signed by other people with diplomas who got them, eventually, from someone without a diploma if you go back far enough.

But back to people leaving. They leave, new ones come in, new ones become old ones, some die, some move away, some change (or suddenly you find out who they really are…).

In all of that, you have to be your own rock. You have to be that one person that you can depend on, and you also will be the one person that others depend on – if only one person who you might even know or appreciate, or a crowd of people that you despise.

You’ll figure it out. You don’t have a choice. But remember, enjoy what you have while you have it, and understand it’s not yours – that at some point, it might disappear – but you’ll have the memories to smile at, the people who you absolutely wish the worst on, and you’ll move through life in directions you won’t expect.

The only thing you truly have is who you are; you do not yet know that completely, you will explore it as you grow older. You will think you know who you are at points, and then you will learn something new – it happens fast at first, it slows over time as you stay true to who you have found you are. One day, you will look back.

And one day you may give advice to a younger man.

Adapted from a conversation with a teenager. 

Solitude

SolitudeSilence is so fragile that by simply saying it’s name we break it. Scientists have demonstrated on more than one occasion the health benefits of silence.

Solitude, though, is more than silence. Solitude allows for awareness of the surroundings unencumbered by others – of particular use to those who notice more than others. To be alone with one’s thoughts, to soak in the world through our senses in a calm setting – this is the way it was when only a few humans roamed the planet.

Today, with 7.6 billion humans occupying 15.77 billion acres of habitable land, in theory we could be averaging 2.075 acres per person. A visit to a city will show you that this is not the case – in fact, people build houses on less than 1/8th of that, right next to each other, in suburbs. In cities, people get stacked as high as possible.

At what cost? Solitude; something we only know the value of when we have it.

(In/Co)Dependence

The PondWet season in Trinidad. The grass has overgrown, the cassava risen taller than me in some places, shorter than me in others. The road progresses despite challenges, materials coming from a sandblasting company that needs a place to put it – my road will eventually benefit, but not right now. It’s all dependent on the weather, and for the last few weeks I’ve been paralyzed.

Yesterday, the sun finally came out and I went for the wayward center of the cassava and papaya (paw paw) to spray, disentangling the crops and other trees from weeds – pushing back against the inevitable march of a tropical climate.

Even with my experience and Artsy (a Ford Ranger I so named), there are places I don’t go in Wet Season – the valley almost completely off limits for someone who doesn’t know where to put the tires, and even then not casually. The wayward excavator that had pulled out the hog plum tree from the pond had created it’s own drain, a tribute to no one else doing anything on my land without my presence, making the area around the pond an unnecessary quagmire in wet season.

The sand dropped on the road despite my saying not to drop it on the road further underlines the need for my presence when people come to do things on my land. It’s a silent rage that steers me when I see these things, a thought of how people don’t think before they do things, of how people don’t listen to directions.

And yesterday, driving over the pile of sand an idiot driver left at the top of my drive, compressing it slowly as I drive in and out every time, I managed – of all places – to get stuck. I laughed, immediately grabbing my spade from the back of the pickup, and began shoveling Artsy out of the sand. In it’s own way, the sand pile does something for me – and me getting stuck was something I expected at some point – the tires on the pickup are for mud, not sand. Having just sprayed weedicide, I didn’t want to handle the camera so there are no pictures of this.

A half hour of shoveling at least showed me the problem. The weight of the pickup was on the sand around the center of the chassis, the right side of the pickup unable to get purchase with its tires. A break; the sun had come out completely, a phone call to someone who might be able to help with a tractor – useless. As usual, this person was telling me what they couldn’t do instead of what they could. Back to shoveling.

Another break. I looked across where I knew another tractor was, but they are related to the people who had built a house on my land without permission and who said they were going to buy but instead decided to continue working on their mansion – swimming pool included – instead of begin paying for the land, and had the gall to complain about a price 1/8th of the market value. Next year it goes to 1/4. I would see no help there, even with the best relationship, such help would be seen as a betrayal of family.

I laughed.  No doubt someone over there was watching. A few more phone calls. More people telling me what they couldn’t do instead of what they could do. Here I was, the dependable person surrounded by undependables. Another call, an offer to call someone else… I could chase that ball of twine like a kitten, but all that happens when you chase a ball of twine is you get twine.

Shovel. Shovel. Shovel. Stones, wood, under the tire. No purchase yet. Break. Shovel, shovel, shovel. Purchase. 2 hours and elbow grease got me free of my dilemma, not a soul having lifted a finger despite calls – an array of platitudes, explanations… but no actual action except a promise of one I explicitly asked for, from the one person who doesn’t let me down when I need it but who was in a tight spot.

With the rear tires on top of the pile of sand, I laughed. Once again, I solved my own problem, once again, I had negotiated a compromise with the land – an inanimate object that I could depend on as opposed to all the bipeds I could call. Understanding it and basic physics had gotten me out. Not the winch I didn’t get just the day before. A cutlass, a spade, and grit.

All someone really has, all someone can really depend on, is themselves – a lesson learned in childhood, a lesson re-emphasized more than once, a strength gained by pulling dead weight, a determination forged in heat and tempered in extremes.

And by getting out, I know that they all think now in the back of their heads that they don’t need to help should I call. That I will find my way as I always do while they cannot, that they call upon me when they have a problem because I am dependable – and maybe, just maybe, my dependability ruins their dependability, making them dependent and weak when I need them.

I should work on that.

The Moon’s Night

International Observe the Moon Night 2017We see each other

Living our own lives,

Our own orbits all we know

Our rotations all we know

And yet all we know of others

Is the side we see

As they go through their own orbits,

Twist on their axes

And judge us the same way.

…..
….

..
.

Judged by the darkest night or the brightest day
Neither is true between tomorrow
And yesterday. 

Ugly

UglyWe live in an ugly world. Oh, you can sing me the praises of this place or that, this person or that, but we know that those are increasingly minorities, and that much we see as beauty is easily scratched through.

We seek beauty, the beauty that appeals to us.

We are told as children that the world is a fair place, that we should share, that we should be kind, and that we should think of others – but somehow, in such a world where all of that is taught to children all over as rote – somehow, that isn’t the world we live in. We live in a world of quiet isolation, whether surrounded by people or not, our inner values a stark contrast to the world around us.

Some of us become ugly. Some of us meet parts of ourselves that are ugly. Is it ugly? Is it that we were taught that it was ugly? Why do we think it is ugly? Sometimes it simply is what it is; the person who revels in nature loses their mind when they step in shit. Irony. Ugly.

So we grow up, and come of age fighting with our inner values and the values that the world shows us. We all find some beauty somewhere to treasure, but around us all is ugly.

Even marketing makes ugly common enough where we think it is beauty when it isn’t. It finds what we can’t look away from and mistakes it for beauty, then to keep our eyes for selling ugly things, or things to become ugly, it makes us think everyone thinks it is.

Maybe we should be teaching children not that the world is a place of magic and beauty, but instead that it is a scary and ugly place filled with people who do not care about us – and that way, the magic of true beauty will be that much more appealing.