I wonder at the bravery of people in North Carolina who are standing down and not leaving in their voluntary evacuation. 1.5 million people? How the hell? What the hell?
Are we planning on building ocean deep brakers to cut incoming water surges? Imagine the number of lives saved. Property saved.
They’re saying power will be lost for “weeks” and the Mayor of the small town being hit the hardest has an attitude of “get out now and don’t blame me if you…” I’ve friends on both poles who say, “yeah, right, go dude!” and then Quakerlike peeps who cringe at the assumption of bad will.
I had originally set out to write a brilliantly woven story or blog about the storm, set in particular people’s lives and how it manifests into multivarious outcomes and climaxes and sad points, if any at all, but here I sit with a fever from the Flu.
And yet, even so, I wonder now about my mortality. Am I dying? At this age. My age.
I have had a good life but a short one. A mere half century and some change. I have yet to walk Machu Picchu and the Great Wall (my mother’s unmet goal), and I’d like to see either the South or North Pole. Leningrad, Moscow, Poland. Train in during winter. See it like Jack Reed and Louise Bryant did before Lenin in ’17.
I want to revisit Bourdeaux where my parents and Florence (my sister) was born in 1960. Visit Alcocer with the thick white walls and cold interior lit by only the wood burning firepits they cook on there. See Toledo and have picnics in the foothills with the cactus and the pine trees and it smells like cedar. Wake up only with light beside Beloved and walk fifty feet for hot crispy oily sweet churro’s to dip and eat with cafe con leche.
I have yet to scale up the webbed care network and health home that is replicable.
I’m too young to die yet. My woman to love. My woman to love me.
Were my sister Florence actually sitting here with me she would be languid and assured, smiling as she cradles a cup of coffee and I would be touched.
I very tentatively and intentionally watched Anthony Bourdain’s PARTS UNKNOWN SEASON 10 (CNN).
Bourdain is an unwilling participant and reticently, sarcastically and often in his caustic rapid fire spitted out, “… what do you want to see?”
Waffle House fills that deep homing context and Bourdain proves it. He’s satisfied downing a pecan waffle at Waffle House with a 5 star chef. It’s followed by a t-bone and fried eggs, spearing and breaking the soft yellow orange egg yolks dripping from the toast onto the platter with hashed browns. He says one word in Japanese to the guest chef that translates into, “I’ll suck your cock for that (porkchop)” and the chef and Bourdain fall into hysterics.
Fun aside Bourdain says at the top of 10 about believing in hope over despair and I get the need to lie about one’s belief in hope when you actually don’t trust that hope will stay with you (anymore). You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, friend.
To be alone
It is of a color that
Cannot be named:
This mountain where cedars rise
Into the autumn dusk
[12th Century Poet, Jakuren]
My girlfriend asked me a few days after the Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain inundation and my comments here and there, filled with thoughts of death, dying, despair and a total acceptance of living life on life’s terms’ meanings to me. “Are you doing ok tonight?” she asked me when I laid in bed, my voice low and we were whispering together quietly now, again, in ritual and in an easy beat. I said, “… you mean, am I thinking of suicide?” and I knew full well that only I could see my face in bed, under the bed sheet. It was a hot Atlanta June night and I wasn’t smiling and I just laid in bed in the dark listening to the quiet whirring of the fan overhead. Thinking.
“No, I’m not,” I whispered quietly and I went on to describe that because I forensically and behaviorally am talky to the point of being rude while in my own parts of despair, I often resist stubbornly, reaching in the dark and groping, working to be socially appropriate.
“But it is always a question whether I wish to avoid these glooms. . . These 9 weeks give one a plunge into deep waters… One goes down into the well & nothing protects one from the assault of truth.”
Completing is one’s inherent truth to living a life that is fully cognizent of one’s mortality and living it fearlessly of death or of dying in this physical body.
Dying a good death is, “… tangent to reason and consideration and is almost always… (and) seemingly best way to end (the) pain, the futility, the voices, or hopelessness… decisions about suicide are not fleeting thoughts than can be willed away in deference to the best interest of others. Suicide wells up from cumulative anguish or is hastened by impulse,” (Jamison, K.R., 1999).
This opting-out has greater permanence because Bourdain shares death with us so publically. My fascination with death and dying has to do with my own experiences of trauma, of loss, of near deaths, of seeing people die, of holding them near and dear with the death knoll morphine drip (ICU) ending the writhing pain from invasive cancers of the body, mind and spirit.
I see that blank lie in the eyes of many of my professional Peers, Colleagues, Leaders. I’ve shared drinks and listened to birds singing at 4 AM with the sun not too far on its’ way, talking smack and ingesting anything to abate my own numbness. I’ve sat in cars listening to, “… I’m ready to go” uttered a colleague who remains a national suicide prevention expert, an innovator and leader but also painfully, a survivor lover from a long gone love and it comes out barely, quietly as a whisper.
I get it. The national Peer communities direly require all supports to sustain physically, well and to grow whole. I care for longevity in sum.
The uneasiness, the disruption, the slap in your face, the quick right to the side of your cheek will make you bleed and sweat and hurt when life happens. Discern the greater good for how you live, truly. “The meanings of life aren’t inherited. What is inherited is the mandate to make meanings of life by how we live. The endings of life give life’s meanings a chance to show. The beginning of the end of our order, our way, is now in view. This isn’t punishment, any more than dying is a punishment for being born, ” (Jenkinson, S., 2017). For Bourdain, “… having a conscience (now) is a grief-soaked proposition,” and “… Dying is active. Dying is now what happens to you. Dying what is what you do. We should be able to tell the difference between dying and being killed,” (Jenkinson, S., 2018).
You see things which you cannot unsee. Many deaths and many times later, I remain drawn to trying to make my peace with my own death and dying, an unforeseen misnomer as I sit in my mid 50s struggling to regain ground with daily physical beat-downs in my 1st year teaching in a Title I impoverished Central Georgia high school.
We will not romanticize. We must not sentimentalize. We must see with clear and bright eyes. We must be astonished when the truth of loveliness or atrocious a reality as inevitable as our walk is quietly moving on, really.
JANE: Did I hear you say commit death?
PILKINGS: Obviously he means murder.
JANE: You mean a ritual murder?
PILKINGS: Must be. You think you’ve stamped it all out but it’s always lurking under the surface somewhere.
Wole Soyinka, Death and the king’s horseman, 1975
So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love. Sometimes you want to say, “I love you, but…”
Erich Seagal, Love Story, (1970)
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
Today, this morning actually (Sunday) was 2 weeks since I happened upon what was later called a fatality and total loss.
I remember and I think about the young man in the car and wish and hope his loved ones were gently given privy to his loss that terrible rainy day on a 4 lane highway with no divider.
It bothers me. His dying that way bothers me. I know it isn’t up to me how anyone dies. We walk our own journeys and it is our own. Mine is mine. Yours is yours. His was his. Still, that death holds no glory and I wonder if all deaths, or only a few, should be glorious and brilliant.
I was waved down by a lone man standing stopping cars from passing because a car accident was ahead >500 meters down the 4 lane highway. I pulled over. I got out. I double timed it when seeing only individuals running to the black sports car, down, not on fire. An RN got to the driver first. Army Convoy trucks were stopping. 2 Army Medics sprinted to the down driver and car.
The driver was pinned inside the car and when a MD ran to the scene, several of us left the man.
He was cared for. He was loved.
I got into my car and tenuously drove away. Down the hill some 15:00 later ambulance and Volunteer Fire Department trucks made their way up around the curves, in the pouring rain, in the cold, in the flooding highways both directions.
I drove on to Peerpocalypse ’18 and later heard the accident was a fatality. I stopped and grabbed myself and sat down when I was told.
The thought of his death colored my lonelier moments at night knowing full force that life is fleeting and we must love and work as if on fire because this all ends quickly and not without a single notice.
When my mother was dying from cancer in 2008, my dad told me that there were 22 others living on Trailwood Avenue who were positive for some type of cancer concurrently. “There’s a lawsuit,” I told my dad. We were driving and it was warm outside and the air smells like Central California does in the Fall. Fog, basically. There is no mystery that most probably embedded land subdivisions were watered by wells driven by the local growers and irrigation seepage will occur. Their water is screwed, no less. Now more than ever with the heat that will not stop and wells are drying. People are stealing their neighbor’s water in California.
My mother died in ’08 and my only sibling died from cancer at 53 years old in ’12 (also in November).
And so at my age, I have superseded the mortality for both, my biofamily and that of the <25 year early morbidity for people living with an SPMI who have received continuous US Community Public Mental Health services for at least 25 -30 years.
Which is worse? Cancer or the US Public Community Mental Health System? I’m laughing because I’m really not joking.
This writing’s intent is to at least touch upon the notion of how disease, chronic illnesses and malhealth – when not self-managed or self-cared for – will manifest physically and you will die sooner than later, probably.
Things to practice then:
Carefully discerning that which takes your concern(s).
Be Kind to yourself and to others.
Get that energy of others that is hurtful away from you.
Work your body out.
Walk with all of your senses as often as you can.
Get REM Sleep.
It’s okay to let yourself dream.
Walk in water.
Talk with your best friend.
The day is short. The night is shorter. Mind your time.
There always has been a strange cultural divide with certain kind of women my entire life. There was the case of Kelly, a tall-leggy just flat out hot blonde whose goal was to make $26,000 a year and she figured she had it all planned. That may have been 1985, as far as I can recall.
And artists. Artists are wild. They are individualistic typically. Highly intelligent. Very introverted usually. Autonomous. Not great communicators. Theirs and their alone “family” networks of others like themselves borders on the hip, chic, exclusive and well, not very open to the rest of us. Women artists I have known were largely bisexual and fucked up about it. We were young.
The woman I know now, is acclaimed and well known, on exhibit throughout the Southern US region and doubly famous, respected for her work. She’s a tough cookie and hard to follow with any other woman and I regret at the soul level having run out of her already, or maybe it was the other way around. I adore her loveliness and her body makes me dream of the forevers I was told were there and had never before ever laid palms and hands and fingers and mouth on.
The one who got away is embedded in my memory and painful to allow out and to float down the river and into white water, famously wild and divergent maybe of all intention, all wants, all needs, any expectation, any Love that there may have been.
Long, langorous hot Atlanta Fall nights (Indian Summer and Yellow Moons) met for long, deep slow kissing during any film festival spent in her bed forgetting time and all memories other than this one now. She was lovely and my lousy picker picked her winding legs, small ass, long lean muscled arms and with all tangly limbs in the night, mouths and throats howling, howling.
As impossible as it may seem, to move forward and mindful prayer and loving intentions may help the blessed alone. Bless me, bless me. God bless this bruised heart.