The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the month “February, 2017”

Hope Springs Eternal, Damnit!

First published Aug 13, 2015

praying hands

Mo

Hope ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen people invest their entire lives hoping for something that will never be when they should be making something out of what’s right there in front of them.

I wasted most of my best days chasing something I wasn’t ever gonna catch. I neglected my family. I neglected my finances. I neglected my health   People in my church told me to “have faith…it will happen!” and they thought they were doing God’s work. I will tell you, they were doing the Devil’s work, because what did I get in the end? Nothing. Sure enough, not what I was running after all those years.   My wife was long gone, hitched up with some guy who treated her a lot better than I did. My kids? They barely knew my name. I never supported them, not in any way.   I had no money. I was living hand-to-mouth. I was chasing smoke.

When I was in my younger days, I would look at the guys who give up their youthful dreams (whatever they were), got married, found steady jobs, raised their kids in a decent place, in a decent way; I’d look at them and think, “Coward!”   I thought they were all pussy-whipped, in one way or another, at least the ones whose marriages lasted. But I eventually realized that for most of them their wives made them better men, and they knew it. Without that steady hand at the rudder to keep them on course, they would have drifted off in a cesspool of booze, cheap women and no commitments to anything.   They would have been like me.

Except I was taught it was a sin to stop hoping. I thought it was a sin to give up faith. I believed in myself. That was the most important thing. I had to keep plugging away, as a sign of my devotion.

I knew a woman with a very sick child. That little girl was sick for years, and the mother prayed every day. She hoped and she prayed. She counted on God to make her daughter well. But in the end, the girl died. And that mother was inconsolable.

Instead of eventually understanding that such things happen in life; that one must mourn and grieve and move on (which is not to say forget the person, but rather move them into our past) she was consumed with guilt.

She had, on occasion, sat in the hospital or fretted in bed at night, wondering what it would be like if the child died. Maybe it would be better for everyone. The girl would never be well; she would be a burden to someone all her life. Her care would be expensive. Was it terribly selfish to want a life without such a burden? She was only in her 20s herself, with her whole life ahead of her.

But everyone told her to “Never give up hope.” “Have faith!” “Believe in the lord!” They said it as if they were channeling Jesus himself.

When the girl died, the mother was consumed with guilt. She knew she had put aside her faith to think about herself for a moment or two, here and there. What a horrible mother she was! She didn’t deserve to have children! It was all her fault. God was punishing her because of her inherent selfishness.

You get the idea.

She ended up in a mental hospital.

That’s where faith got her.

She was never able to work through the untruth of all that.

Some things just have their time. We walk through the corridors of the maze of our life, only able to see what’s immediately around us We can’t know what or who is on the other side of that wall or what or who is around the next corner; certainly not what’s around the next three or ten corners.   Sometimes, we come to a split in the path and we have to choose a direction. Sometimes we find ourselves at a dead end. Sometimes we are on our path alone; sometimes with others. But no matter when we die, it’s always one short corner from the end of the maze of that particular life.

Faith, by itself, it not a virtue. It can even be a vice when it’s faith in the wrong thing.

Maybe the best kind of faith you can have, that only one that makes any sense, is a belief that you are listening to the universe correctly… the faith to be open enough to allow the spiritual realm to guide you – not where you want to go, but where it wants to take you.

 

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Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

Working the System

First posted August 10, 2015

tree against night sky

Ipo  

It is in the nature of human beings to place their faith in a system of logic in which the world makes sense. They seek the type of structure which best suits their outlook. If they are the kind who need tangible, visible proof, they turn to science. If they are the kind who need ritual, they turn to religion.   If they are the kind who don’t cotton to authority, they take a more nebulous spiritual path.

Strict adherence to any of these paths is not the answer; these are only the ways to the answers.

Most humans don’t get beyond the specific rituals of their chosen path.   They follow, but they don’t chart their own way. They stop seeking long before the real quest even begins.   They become distracted by easy answers to their questions and quick solutions to their problems.

Gurus speak of becoming one with a higher consciousness. Scientists speak of the wonders and secrets of the universe. Priests and rabbis and imams speak of abandoning oneself to God (i.e. giving up the ego.)   They all speak of the same thing. When one understands that, they are just beginning to comprehend.

Humans look for word from on high. They seek guidance.  They look for signs.

There are no signs needed. All the answers are within your own heart.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

ofthedead

Will to Live

girl_affected_by_famine_in_buguruslan_russia_-_1921

NEW!

Nur

When you are healthy and happy, secure and well-fed, you believe you can withstand any hardship. Sacrifice, discomfort, deprivation are all abstract, as they were for me until the end of my life.   Before then, I never understood what it meant to have nothing.  I never understood starvation or thirst.  I never understood the true meaning of “the will to live” until I lost mine.

The deprivation began slowly. Shortages of this or that.  We made do, hopeful that things would soon go back to the way they were.  But they did not improve.  Rather, they got worse. The things we took for granted were no longer available.  We had to find other ways to survive. There was no place else to go and no way to get there, and even if there were, we wouldn’t have had the strength. All of us, men, women, and children were starving. We fell sick easily and succumbed to things that would not have killed us if we’d been strong to begin with. Slowly, we dwindled in number. Those who were left were skin and bone.  Hollow ghosts of what we once were.  Eventually, it became apparent that few, if any of us, would survive.  Deliverance, salvation, was never going to come.

There was no honor, no satisfaction being the last to die. I’d been welcoming the end for a long time.  I simply did not have the energy to stay alive.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

Only the Lonely

Originally posted July 14, 2014

Lonely_Old_Lady_by_Nocturnatum

An

I didn’t start out being depressed. It just came upon me insidiously and gradually. I stopped caring about the little things and soon, I no longer cared about the big things either.

I’d never felt much compassion for depressed people. I thought it was self-indulgent to wallow in one’s own misery. Get up! Go out! Help another human being! Get a hobby! Take a new lover!   To me, depression was a result of a sense of loss of control of one’s circumstances. The only way to shake off the feeling was to regain control, in any way possible, even if it meant shifting one’s expectations; setting a lower bar for what was considered “success.”

This theory had worked for me for most of my life, but then, perhaps as a result of my age or my hormones, I no longer felt I had the ability to control my life. Either I wasn’t physically able or because I no longer had the time to master something new or because I didn’t have the connections to those who could help me.   When I was young, everything was possible. As I got older, I realized I would never learn to ski or climb Kilimanjaro or sail down the Nile.

In any case, my usual remedies stopped working. Every day, I felt less able to shake the sense of hopelessness. I had friends, but they had their own problems. Ultimately nobody cared if I left the house or not; if I wore the same old clothes day after day or if I dressed to impress; if I ate right or if I subsisted on a tin of sardines and  some crackers. Nobody cared more than superficially if I was happy or blue.  For while,  I followed the news and latest technological and scientific advances so I could remain current, but nobody cared what I thought or had to say. Only the opinions of young people mattered. The world was moving so fast, and I just didn’t have the energy to keep up.

I felt increasingly isolated. Perhaps some of this was my own doing. I withdrew, and as I withdrew, nobody seemed to notice. And the less they noticed, the more I withdrew, until my world was sad and small. I lived with the realization that I was nobody special and never would be, despite believing all my life that I had something unique to offer.   My problems, my needs, my feelings were of no significance to anyone.

My death was slow and by a thousand cuts, as is often the case. I gradually took less care of myself until the cumulative damage did me in. I never had the nerve to kill myself, but I was relieved when the end finally came.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

Fields of Dreams

Originally published on Mar 20, 2015

Jean-François_Millet_(II)_-_The_Gleaners_-_WGA15691

I am republishing this one somewhat out of order.  I thought it was appropriate to read now,  given the recent outrageous  round-ups by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) here in the USA.   They were targeting parents when they went to pick up their children from school.  They are rounding up people in raids all over the country. We are in frightening times.   

 

Ju

When things got too bad to tolerate, my mother took my sister and me across the border. We didn’t have papers, so the only kind of work we could get was in the fields. I was ten, old enough to get a job picking fruit alongside my family. I wasn’t sure how much better it was than where we came from, but my mother believed it was, and so I eventually believed it, too.

To me, my mother always seemed like an old woman but she was only twenty-three years older than I was. When I was fifteen, she was thirty-eight but she looked sixty. The sun had dried and darkened her skin. Her body was bent and permanently contorted in pain from hard labor and injury. Her hair had already begun to turn gray. She seemed to be biding time until it was her time to die.

When I was 17, I met a girl. She also worked the farms, like we did, doing seasonal work. We fell in love and wanted to marry.   My mother discouraged it. She wanted me to make something more of myself. With the burden of a wife and then, inevitably some children, I’d be caught in the same trap she was – no hope, no options with too much responsibility for the luxury of suicide.

Maybe it was a good thing that fell in love when I was young. Another few years and I think I might have also felt as my mother did — that it was a hopeless situation and it was madness to bring children into the world. But I was young enough and naïve enough and passionate enough to throw caution to the wind.

My girl was smart, and she had the idea that we should move to the city where we might find better opportunities. Even though we could not work legally, we were willing to do anything. We were grateful for the kind of jobs that so many others felt were beneath them — cleaning houses, digging ditches, working in hot kitchens, caring for elderly or sick people when their own families could not.   Together we made just enough money to rent a tiny place over someone’s garage.

Life was hard, but we were always looking for new chances and ways to move up. We went to night school and learned to read. I was never very good but at least I was no longer illiterate, and that was a great source of pride for me.

Eventually we did have children, a boy and then a girl. They were born in our new country. They could not be forced to leave. Even if we could do nothing else for them, at least we gave them this. Even my mother had to admit this was a good thing.

They went to school and it wasn’t very long before they knew more than we did.   My boy was a good man but average in every way. My daughter, however, was special. She had a way of seeing the angles that nobody else could see.   You could show her a tiny corner of a page and she’d be able to figure out what the whole book was about.  She could tell upon meeting someone for the first time whether they were the kind to be trusted or if they were only being friendly to get from you whatever they could for themselves. She was a natural at navigating the often complex legal and educational systems. Even as a teen, she knew how to talk her way into or out of anything.

She was smart, that one! She finished school at the top of her class and went on to college, where she figured out how to apply for scholarships which mostly paid for her education.

She eventually became a successful lawyer.   My son did OK for himself. He had a good sales job and was able to support himself and his family. But oh, my girl! It was hard to hide my pride in her! I tried not to make my son feel less loved because he wasn’t, but even he recognized how special she was. He knew she would always outshine him. He never minded. Never saw a hint of jealousy in him, and I loved him for not forcing me to choose.

My daughter was not only smart; she was a good girl, too. She never forgot the debt she owed both to my mother, and to us, her own parents. She took care of us as best she could, forsaking nice things she could have had for herself so we didn’t have to live in constant worry. This is a blessing at any time in life, but especially in old age.

My mother did not live to see her great-grandchildren but my wife and I were very happy, doting grandparents.

During my life, I often thought how lucky it was that I didn’t listen to my mother when she discouraged me from marrying so young. It was the right choice for me, and I never once had a single regret. When I died, I died content knowing I had added good to the world; left it better than when I came in. Because of that, I’d knew I’d earned my place in it.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

The Path to Power

imam-zanzibar

New Post!

Mus

I will tell you the story of how I,  a man of little substance or deep knowledge, came to great power.

When I was a boy,  I was not well-accepted by the others.  I did not have the talents necessary to make friends. I had a birth defect that made my body weak on one side. I could not kick a ball.  I was serious-minded and dull,  with little sense of play and no sense of humor.  At best, the other children ignored me.  At worse, they physically abused me.  Even many adults regarded me as dim-witted because of my infirmity.

I found my protection by becoming the errand boy to the village imam.  I was happy to fetch him tea, or deliver papers for him, or sweep his small study.   Under his aegis, I was safe. The other boys dared not bother me.

I quickly learned to make myself indispensable.  Certainly, I was obsequious and flattering, and assiduously followed the studies the imam set out for me. But more importantly, I was efficient.  I learned to anticipate his needs.  Once my basic schooling was finished,  he kept me on as his assistant and secretary.  I became his gatekeeper.  Nobody got in to see the great man without my permission.

He took me under his wing, and allowed me to sit in on many of his meetings – consultations with people in the village who had personal or spiritual problems, legal proceedings which required his judgment or seal, the issuing of decrees which became local law.

He had no living male children, so he groomed me to one day take over his position.  He taught me the book and he taught me the law.

He was a good and wise man, but there were many times when I felt his decisions were too lenient.  I believed in stricter punishment for those whose morals strayed too far.

Eventually,  my teacher passed on.  He was an old man.  I was only in my forties.   And I immediately took over the role of village imam.  Nobody objected.  Clearly it was the old man’s will that I succeed him. In any case, nobody else was qualified.    Since I, myself, had never rendered any judgments or given counsel,  there was no reason for anyone to believe my decisions would not be as sage as my predecessor’s.

But they were not.  I could not remain as objective as he was. Those boys who abused me when I was young did not remember,  but I did.  And now they were men, in need of rulings and favors and advice.

I was severe in my punishment.   I was often cruel with my advice.  My decisions often leaned against those who’d hurt me.  I was strict with most everyone because few of them had been very kind to me.  They had no choice but to obey me. I was the law.

I, too, died an old man.  I had no wife or children to mourn me.  Few were sorry to lose my guidance.

I had been given the opportunity to become a man of God; to nurture the spiritual in both myself and in others,  to deepen my understanding and compassion.   Instead, I abused my power.  I took pleasure in petty revenge.  I was no more loved going out of the world than I’d been coming in.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

The Path of Least Resistance

first published July 8, 2014

seaweed

 

Ne

I was swept along by the tide of indecision. Always afraid of making a mistake, I never committed wholly to anything. The minute I walked into a new situation, I was already looking for the exit doors. Life happened all around me but I was not a full participant. I let others lead me, mold me, direct me. I was, indeed, nothing more than a piece of seaweed, drifting along, catching on some flotsam and clinging to it for a while, until I was washed away by a current, to float on my own,  until once again I caught upon something else.   My job, my marriage, my friends were all found along the path of least resistance.

I never stood up for what I believed because I never believed in anything. I was not a bad person. I did not harm others except by frustrating those who wanted more from me.

I was lucky, I suppose, in that I always managed to attach to the right kind of person – people who were stronger, more determined, more motivated, more passionate than I – and I rode along in their wake. So my life was comfortable enough. A decent existence. Not poor but not rich. Not accomplished, but not a failure. Not particularly happy but not exactly depressed.   Mainly, I existed going from day to day with very little drama. Which is not to say there wasn’t drama around me. I just didn’t get drawn into it. My attitude was “Do whatever you want. Let me know your decision.”

I guess I would say I sleepwalked through my life. My feelings were just a low hum in the background, like the sound made by power lines. I don’t remember ever getting angry. What was there to get angry about when nothing mattered?

From here, I understand that many of the things we find so very important during life turn out to have had no real value. We often chase illusion. Perhaps on some deep, spiritual level I instinctively understood that and so, was never drawn into the chase. But I also know now that if you don’t embrace it, feel it fully, allow yourself to be completely absorbed into it  as if it were the most important thing in the world, no matter how pointless the chase might ultimately be, you don’t get any of the lessons.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

More from Davoo

 

 

First posted 7/3/14broken pencil

 

Davoo (again)

People want to know “Is there life after death” when the real question is “Is there life BEFORE death?”

Earth is school for the soul, and humans are just kids forced to be in the classroom, sometimes with a bad teacher and no pencil.

 

 

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Yes, today’s is a short one but there are some longer and more interesting ones are in the pipeline!  Don’t miss some really poignant, thought-provoking stories… Sign up to receive these stories via email!    And feel free to comment,  ask a question and/or  start a conversation about any of these stories or subjects.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

A Late Lesson

old-woman-with-cane

NEW!

Zor

We were a love match.  School sweethearts. We married young and within a few years, together we opened a men’s haberdashery.  We worked hard and slowly made a success of it.  A few years later, we had a son.  He was a clever boy.  We put him to work in the shop when he was old enough to wait on customers and handle money.   You could say he grew up there.    My husband expected him to take over the business.   Our son had other ideas. The store was stifling for him.  He had no interest.

Eventually, he went off on his own,  pursuing a line of work more suitable to his talents.

We had a falling out.  It was mostly with his father, but since he regarded us as an indivisible unit,  he stopped talking to me, too.  He moved far away.  We never repaired our relationship. We were not close. I barely knew his wife or his children — my own grandchildren.

My husband didn’t seem to mind this loss too much.   If his son had no use for the business, he interpreted it to mean he had no use for him, either.  The business was his baby.  Over the years, he nurtured it, dedicating many hours to making it thrive.  I was always at his side, doing whatever I could do to help.  But the vision was his.  He knew where he wanted the business to go, and he was good at finding ways for it to get there.   I did not resent that my own dreams never had the opportunity to manifest because, to be honest,  I did not have any big dreams.  I was content being a mother (until I wasn’t any longer), and being my husband’s helpmeet.  This provided me all the satisfaction I needed in life. The business grew into a successful enterprise which allowed us to live an agreeable and secure life.

We grew old together,  still working side by side in the shop.  We continued to live, as we always had, in a comfortable apartment above the store.  Over time,  the world changed and it was harder to keep up.

Business had not been good for a few years already when my husband suddenly died.

I was completely lost.   I had little idea how to run the store — what to stock,  how to negotiate with suppliers,  how to balance the books.    We had almost nothing in savings – every last coin had been spent trying to remain afloat.  My husband had been good at treading water.  I began to drown immediately. It did not take long for the store to fail completely.  Without any source of income, I soon lost the apartment, too.

At 83 years old, I was alone,  without a home.  I reached out to my son who was kind enough to send me a pittance, just enough to pay for a roof over my head, but not much more. I was grateful not to have to sleep on the street but in all other things, I was completely at the mercy of strangers. Most were not very merciful.  I was sick and frail.  I was consumed by the pain of loneliness.  I’d worked hard my entire life.  I’d been the good and faithful wife of a good and faithful husband. I’d lived in relative security and comfort.  I did not understand how all this misfortune had befallen me so quickly.  I resented the world for taking everything away from me.   I became increasingly forgetful. Confused.   It was easier to let go of reality which had become simply too painful to bear.

I was dead within two years. Two years which seemed to stretch out to an eternity. Two years which, looking back,  defined my life more than the eighty three years lived before it.

Sometimes,  life lulls you into a stupor and doesn’t give you the lesson until the very end.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

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