Of Shadows And Ghosts

ghost of mahinThis is not a sad article. This is about connections and weights, about people as we see them and people as they were.

It’s been almost 13 years since my father passed away. It’s been about 5 months since my mother passed away. There are many others that are significant – the number never goes down. Every time, every single person is significant to us for reasons that are sometimes easily explained despite how complicated the relationship is. To say that I have ever had a simple relationship is an understatement. Everything is complex, nuanced, and open for discussion.

Yet when a person hits that full stop of life, some things simplify as we get to know them beyond the frames we put them in. Other perspectives weigh in. The people typically grow in death as we learn more about them from other people, good and bad, right and wrong. An example: My father, who was proud of me joining the Navy, was once forbidden to join the Navy by his father. My mother left a trail of artists who were affected by her passing, and that was truly her audience for her writings – complex, passionate, and a trail of breadcrumbs through a life of difficult exploration in being human.

But we only know people in certain ways, as we know them and are allowed to know them – as they permit us, as we permit ourselves. Framing them, judging only by what is available, we form sometimes strong opinions about things much more nuanced, only shadows of who they were.

And the ghosts, in the end, tell us more.

This extends into our digital worlds as well.

Emotional Bandwidth

Full Moon MeditationIt’s been a rough week, between my mother’s death and keeping myself busy as a way of dealing with it, pushing a vision of a future on a canvas of land. I know she wanted all of her children to sculpt parts of the world leaving bits of their poetry of achievements as pillows in our lives to cushion us from the pains of living.

I am familiar with how I grieve all too well, and I know that I would need the emotional bandwidth to deal with it. There have been plenty of relationships I’ve been in that have not had reciprocation, that were one-sided, and that needed to be addressed – as we all have at some point, perhaps giving us a false sense of comfort until we figure out how toxic they are. Until we realize how much they distract us from things that are of worth, of value. They rob us of time, of energy, of emotional bandwidth… they rob us of life, for what else is life but time, energy and emotion? And so I ended some toxic relationships.

In such times, with the death of someone, you find out who is really of worth in your life. You treasure them and keep them.

And you find those that you were there for but couldn’t be bothered. You let those go.

Bridges cannot be burned if they do not exist, and if a bridge doesn’t work for you it does not exist.

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. 

The Lurker

Liminal IIHe’s out there. Right now.

An elderly man of East Indian descent, working as security outside the coffee shop. We’d chatted a few times, and every time he felt compelled to tell me about how stupid it was to buy a cup of coffee when it would be cheaper to make it at home.

He’s right, of course. It’s so much cheaper, if I could actually get some writing done – and then, too, I’m not really in a place I would call home. I exist in between right now, waiting for people who owe me to pay me so that I can create a home. Things that I don’t share with him. Things he doesn’t know. Things that I do not have to explain to anyone.

Things I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone.

And he’s out there. He shouted to me a few times over the last few weeks, across the road, and I ignored him or briefly waved. I bit back a few times, restraining myself against his barbed comments. I bit back  that if he was as bright as he was portraying himself, he wouldn’t be a security guard making small talk with anyone polite enough to listen. About how his theories on governance and his expressed thoughts on race went beyond dating him and actually seem to have married him unhappily.

About how his anger at the way the world is has nothing to do with me.

He is outside right now. He is unhappy.  Why is he unhappy? I imagine the world is not what he wants it to be – why else would he be unhappy? Why else would his negativity overflow through his mouth so readily? What stories would he tell? Decades of misplaced hopes and dreams made into human form….

We all have stories. We all have disappointments. What path took him so far down this lonely road? What was it that made him so unhappy?

There would probably be a woman. Or a man. Some romantic interest that didn’t work out. To fit the stereotype, they probably didn’t even look at him or acknowledge his presence – and if they did, it was to unconsciously let him know that they had found someone they liked who, in his opinion, had the misfortune of not being him. Maybe they made more money, maybe they were better educated. That sort of thing twists people into knots, making evil caricatures of them until they unravel.

Or maybe he lost someone close to him that he couldn’t help, and so he blamed himself – but in being unable to accept that pain, he pushed it into the mirror of the world so he could look at it and be angry at it. People do that, you know. Life is unfair, and we all have our ways of dealing with it.

Or, perhaps – just perhaps – he’s an asshole and has simply been refining it over the decades.

Regardless, he does not speak to me anymore. What he thinks of me is a topic for the next person polite enough to get trapped in that web. And he’s outside, lurking for the next victim to twist into his evil circus of a world.

Thinking Is The Best Way To Travel.

A StartTravel is always interesting because, even if you have been to the destination before, it’s new again. Time is that stream we dip our cups in; the contents of the stream change even though we still call it a stream.

I was on an airplane not too long ago – I got up at 2 a.m., drove for an hour, parked, took a bus into an airport and stood in a TSA line for 45 minutes – where I quipped that they better have found a terrorist during that time to a few of the 500 or so people herded together by people in uniform, constantly reminding us to be in single file lines and to have our documents out and ready for the inspection 45 minutes away. We didn’t know it was 45 minutes away. For all we knew, there were people waiting for us with baseball bats around the next corner. Fortunately, this was not true.

Still, myself and a few others found hope in the imagining of all of this being worth it, that some would-be terrorist would be in stocks when we got to the end and that there would be rotten fruit provided to throw at them.

This was not to be the case.

From there, our new found friends scattered to different gates where we sat, waiting to be pressed into long sardine cans with wings – with windows that might as well have been a Hollywood set. We got in the air, and at 7:30 a.m. were allegedly in the air. By 8:47 a.m., we were allegedly in another airport – 6 hours and 47 minutes spent traveling to a destination that was really only 2 hours away from where I started, had fear-driven bureaucracy not given credence to what we endured.

In a shift of luck I have not experience in all my travels – and that is a lot – the gate for my connecting flight was almost immediately next to that of my arriving flight. I had time to get into yet another line for a protein shake since, without appearing despondent, the woman informed me that there was no coffee available at this hour. I am not so certain I mirrored her expression.

The next flight included 2 gentlemen on either side of me – one of which found an empty seat elsewhere, the other who was bravely maneuvering a pinata through 6 connecting flights… successfully. There should be a ribbon for that. And as the flight progressed, I decided to forego the pleasure of watching the latest Star Wars for the 2nd time, instead planning to doze. Pinata-man’s post nasal drip had other plans for me; his constant hawking lacked enough rhythm or lack of it to sleep to; I took the trouble to find my headphones so that I could block him out.

I ended up watching the movie, and one of the light saber battles began – an epic battle, twisting and turning, slicing, parrying and thrusting – a show that might have amused Musashi. Right in front of the screen, a woman apparently was so excited that she had to go to the bathroom, causing a wave of heads across the screen during the battle. Inwardly, I groaned. The battle ended as she hurried by. I sighed. A gentleman who had been dozing with his window blind down suddenly felt the need to open it and fill out customs forms during a dark part of the movie, allowing the sun to blind one of my eyes as I watched at a despondently dark screen – as if it were depressed by his actions.

And lo! At the very ending, my favorite part when Luke says not a word but volumes with his face, Mr. Pinata PostNasalDrip had an emergency requirement for the toilet.

We landed, and 12 hours later I was at my destination – eeking my way through immigration somewhat familiar, somewhat different, where invariably because of my passport the immigration officer would predictably say that I could have gone through the other line and it would have been faster (regardless of which line I was in). I grabbed my 15 lbs of belongings at the baggage claim, made my way through customs with decades of experience and absolutely no wit– something they do not appreciate  – and made my way out into sunlight, into a familiar land that was not so familiar, to meet people who were familiar but different, to deal with issues that were familiar but different.

Thinking is a much better way to travel. More leg room.

Hat tip to the Moody Blues for the title.