‘Strong’

Scenes from Laguna Mar (Blanchisseuse)They call you strong so that they do not have to support you, where your own strength makes you an island.

A rock. Self-contained.

When things go wrong, they come to you, and with a good heart you board the boat, make it to their shores and pitch a tent – and they leave garbage around you, which you sort through with a good heart. And then when it’s clear they are done with you, you board your boat and go back to your island. You have acted with empathy, put up with slights and being ignored – the sign for you to go – and you push out past the waves to return to your island.

There is a comfort to the island, an easy familiarity, a distance from the problems of others as you weather your own storms as you always have – as you have always had to, your fire a lighthouse of sorts for those that venture onto the beach.

It takes time, but you learn that there is no reciprocation – that the relationship itself is toxic.

Embargo.

There are other ports.

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. 

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. 

A Morning Wasted (The Tonka Bean)

In Search Of...I hadn’t seen him since 2010, this gentleman who had turned 72 yesterday, but in a few short years as I took control of my land he had been a staple visit on my rounds. And since I landed on the land again today, and because I was in no hurry, I visited and spent the morning with him.

“Aye! Taran! That’s you?”
“In the flesh!”

He went on to talk about people who wanted to see me, and I walked up to him slowly, waving my hand. “Let’s not talk about that.”

He continued.

“None of that is important. I was sorry to hear about Mama.”

He stopped. His wife. He looked at me, and we embraced as old friends, “It was her time and she had to go.” We talked about life, about what had transpired in our lives since last I had visited him all those years ago. I was not here with him, in the present, to talk about things about my land or the surrounding areas, or whatever the latest drama was in the village. We would get to that. We had both felt loss, we had seen people come and go in our lives, and we had seen the world change in our own ways.

We now studied each other to see how the other had changed, and to take our new measures. It is the way of men. We saw that the world had not changed us but had changed how we saw it in some ways – cracks of meaning here and there we found in our own realities.

We had coffee – him making it, insisting on adding honey – he used to keep bees, and he had given them away to someone who now gave him honey at a reasonable price. His daughters had returned – one was selling punches, the other doing other work. He had maintained the business of his life, staying active, and we discussed the plunder by OAS, the plunders of OAS and the blunders of OAS.

We talked about common relationships, the people in between. How this one never heeded advice, how that one never returned, and we filled in blanks for each other. Hours passed as two old friends chatted. We spoke of the dead and how they had fought for things that they did not take with them, and we spoke of those fighting now for things that ultimately do not matter.

Then, he decided we should look for Tonka beans, and so he had me drive his old tractor with him coaching. I’d not driven one before, but it was a manual transmission and once I found the clutch, accelerator and brake, it was a simple matter. He knew the path, and we went to the very edge of his land to find the tonka tree. We kicked around, finding no seeds, but enjoying being outdoors. Outside. We were like two children with grey hair until adulthood set in. We went about finding his boundary picket – something people sometimes pull out, something that benefits a neighbor who wants a road there, but something not easily proven.

We look at each other knowingly. There is always someone testing a boundary, seeing if you lack vigilance enough for them to take something. It’s the way of the world, be it with land, or money, or anything of perceived value.

I drove us back down, now more comfortable with the tractor, kicking it into 4th gear as we navigated the wayward materials left from the highway. I parked the tractor almost as we found it, and he went inside – bringing some fried roti, and curried baigan with aloo. We sat and ate as if no time had passed away from each other, as if nothing had happened.

We had searched for something and not found it, we had searched for something and found it, and we had found each other once more.

Some would call it a wasted morning. We were two men who wanted nothing from each other, and a lot of people see no value in such relationships.

And yet, those are the best relationships, built not on need or want but on common respect.