The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the month “July, 2020”

Way to Go

first published Nov 12, 2016

 

Az

Sometimes, when you are hurting, you just want to be with someone who loves you. You don’t necessarily have to say or hear those words, because even unspoken they are understood. Sometimes, when you are sad and confused, flailing, near drowning, in a stormy ocean, you need an anchor, someone to keep you from drifting out to sea. You can put on a brave face to the world, but there are times when you just want someone to hold you when you are falling apart, away from judgment.

I had a lot of close acquaintances in my life — people I laughed with when times were good — but there were not too many who took my confession. I protected my fragility well.  I did not let many breach my walls.

As I grew older, one by one, they began to die off, leaving a landscape pocked with gaping chasms of loneliness. Gone were those precious few humans whose souls resonated with mine; who knew where the shattered pieces fit.

Soon, there was nobody left who knew me; nobody left who could look me in the eye and see clear down to my soul. I was old and alone. I wasn’t sick, but at such an age, infirmity can overtake you in the blink of an eye – a bad fall; a cold that becomes pneumonia; a stroke; the wear and tear of time on the body and then the final straw that snaps the back. I lived in dread of that day coming upon me. I would end up alone in some awful place where they put old people to die, surrounded by strangers who would take care of my body while ignoring my heart.

I couldn’t let that happen to myself.

There was nobody left who cared enough to warrant a note or a goodbye. Most would just see a sad end to an old person who had nothing left to live for.

But that’s not really how it was. Not exactly.

I didn’t kill myself because I had nothing to live for. I killed myself because I wanted to leave before I lost control of my own story. I didn’t want to lose my autonomy. That would have been worse than death.

Once the death spiral began, there would be no pulling out. Worse, there would be nobody who would save me from the horrible end. There was nobody left who loved me enough to pull the plug, disconnect the tubes; nobody to slip me too much morphine so I could go in peace.   No, I’d have to ride it out, counting the minutes until it would all be over.

That is not a way to die. This is one of the greatest tragedies of modern man, but if you took a survey among the living, it wouldn’t even make the list.

Only a handful of people were at the funeral. Some relatives were there out of respect (respect for what, I have no idea). A couple of good-time pals from the old days (who weren’t looking too great, themselves) Someone hired religious figure, who’d never met me, to say a few blessings.

If I’d had pills, I would have used them, but in the end, I did it with gas. I wasn’t brave enough for violence. I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. I was serene and sure. In those last hours, and just until I lost consciousness, I really missed my dearest friends. But this time, it was tempered with the joy of knowing I would soon be with them all again.

 


Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne22

The Engine of Progress

First published 11/9/16

hill-steam-engine-patent-drawing-from-1883-vintage-aged-pixel

Ipo

We want in every moment that which we do not have… a thing, an experience, a feeling. This need propels our lives forward. It is the engine of growth and progress. Yet it prevents us from the peace of being content in the present.

____

—-

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne22

Mountain Mom

Originally published June 3, 2014

mountains - Carpathians

 

Fi

I lived in the mountains all my life.  It was a  cold place. The only time I remember being warm was in the afternoons of summer. Lying on the grass, basking in the sun for an hour or so,   feeling the warmth of its rays bake into the bones, was a pleasure I can barely express. The nights were always chilly enough to make me shiver to the bone.

Life was hard.  We gathered wood for fires and hauled water from the well. We had only what we could grow or find ourselves, or trade, or, on rare occasion, buy.

But I was always happy. I loved being among my family, who told stories and sang songs. We laughed together, teased each other, told jokes. Even when I got married, and had to move from that house, I was happy. My husband was my friend and he always did small things to please me, as I did for him. So although conditions were difficult,  we were good to each other, and that made all the difference.

We had five children. From the time my middle boy was a was a child, we could already see that the village was too small for him. When he was older, he wanted to get an education more than the our small village could provide. That meant moving alone to the city, several hours away. We knew we would miss him but we all encouraged him. He was smart and resourceful.  He got his education and found good job and sent money home so the rest of us could have the basic necessities and even treat ourselves to a small luxury now and then.

My boy eventually married a girl from the city. They had children and lived in a nice place with all the things he didn’t have growing up in the mountains. We went to visit a few times, and to be honest, as much as I was impressed with all the modern conveniences, the whole place scared me. I much preferred the tempo and familiarity of our small, familiar community.

After about a dozen years, my son and his wife became unhappy. She took their children and moved far away.  He was sad and lonely, alone in the big city. He was far too used to city ways  by then to come home, and besides, what kind of job could he do? He had no country skills.

My heart ached for him, because he had become a man without a home; living between here and there, in the place where there is nothing in between.

But it made me realize that happiness comes not from what you have or where you are, but who you are with. And on all those cold nights, having fallen bone tired into bed, wrapped up safe in my husband’s arms, I counted my blessings.

____

—-

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne22

The Philanderer

originally published May 31, 2014

The Philanderer - GB Shaw

Abe (I think this was his actual name)

I was always a sexual person. I lost my virginity when I was 13 to an older girl who lived on my street. From that point on, I never stopped trying to get more. I certainly played the field, even after I married. My wife looked the other way. She understood that sex was sex, and love was love. And I did love her, she knew that. So she let me have my fun. She knew it made me feel confident, young, virile and that’s how she wanted me. She wasn’t jealous. She understood that to fill this particular need, quantity trumped quality.

Years after the fact, I learned that many of her friends had informed her of my affairs. They were shocked and offended by my behavior. A philandering man in their camp was too much of a threat to their own marriages. If an upstanding family man and loving husband such as myself could cheat, how could they possibly trust their own husbands? They reassured themselves that they would never be as naive as she was. They would raise a fuss! She should raise a fuss, they insisted (just to teach their husbands a lesson!)

She brushed off every accusation until finally, when they got no rise of indignation out of her, they stopped telling her. They just pitied her behind her back. She never confronted me about any of my affairs, despite some of her friends’ insistence, because that would have forced us to discuss things neither of wanted to discuss. So, she looked the other way. Again and again and again.

Make no mistake – she did that out of the deepest love for me; and I knew it.   She understood what I got from my dalliances. I suspected she was envious of them because I’m sure she would have liked some of that feeling for herself once in a while.

Each new affair filled me with passion and lust and the sense of being a kid again. But eventually – in a few months or perhaps as long as a year – they would burn themselves out. These women entered into relationships with me because they all assumed they could lure me away from my wife. They always ended when it became apparent to them that this was never going to happen.   (I never lied to any of them,   but I admit to letting them believe whatever they wanted. Their fantasies of our future were useful to me.)

There was inevitably a lot of drama, which was stressful, and which I just wanted to leave behind as quickly as possible. This was not always possible as some of these women did not want to let go without a fight. It was sometimes a challenge to keep this drama from spilling into my home.

These were the times I devoted myself to being the best husband ever. And when we reconnected during these periods, we felt each other as if we were new. You might say we rediscovered each other and fell in love again. And in this way, she did have some of what I was getting out there.

We both understood that this embrace-and-release was our special rhythm. We had grown comfortable in it.

She always could sense where I was in my cycles:   New suit, new haircut, watching my weight. This was the courting stage.  When I developed a glow; when I reached for her at night, when I started to exercise – this indicated the affair had begun. The excuses for disappearing for hours in the evenings? That was when the feelings were in full blossom (and when I ignored her most). When I inevitably figured out a way to take a weekend with my new paramour, oh, that meant the girl was getting serious and I was allowing myself to be carried along in her fantasy. From this point, it wouldn’t be long before the ultimatums started. She would then realize the truth and it would be over. A lot of whispered phone calls and guilty, sleepless nights: this was the end. I would be both relieved and disappointed, even though I always knew, going in, that it would eventually come to this.

When each one ended, she was especially kind to me. She held me and petted me and told me I was still her handsome boy. She knew, but she never said a word. She just stepped in to fill the void as best she could.

I knew that she knew and she knew that I knew but neither wanted to know. Neither of us expressed our needs to each other, either because we didn’t have the words or because we were afraid, I really couldn’t say. Maybe love is just paying close enough attention to someone so you understand them without words, and give them what they need without them having to ask.

Eventually, even though I chased the ladies like an old dog, I was too old to catch anything. During these years, she was most loving and supportive of all, and I came to realize how lucky I’d been. When she became sick, I told her all these things — what I’d learned about me, about her, about us. I told her how much I appreciated her, even though I didn’t always show it. I was happy that I finally had the chance to express my love to her. I wanted to be sure she knew there was nobody else who ever came close to her.

When she died, I lost interest in women altogether. No amount of quantity could ever make up for such a loss in quality.

—-

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

Wild Child

NEW!

https://www.vangoghmuseumshop.com/l/en/library/download/urn:uuid:9dbfd058-7626-4105-95f1-9e6b8a856521/p2627s2011.jpg?color=ffffff&scaleType=2&width=485&height=485&ext=.jpg

Artist: Albert Besnard   Credit line:Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

 

I was fourteen years old when I was caught by the police getting into some boyhood mischief. My mother was summoned down to the station to deal with the problem. (My father had already abandoned us almost a decade before and so the full responsibility of raising a “wild child” fell to my mother.)

In this time and place, there was no real system of justice. If you could pay off the police, they would let you go. If not, you might remain in jail for years over a minor infraction, or even what the police only claimed was an infraction because it always came down to their word against ours.  If a constable didn’t like you or your kind, he might nick you over nothing, and if you couldn’t pay, well, your life was already ruined.  The prisons were filled with my kind.

We had very little money.  My mother worked whatever jobs she could find — low-wage women’s work such as cleaning, washing, preparing food. She could hardly afford what the policeman was asking to overlook my “crime.” Instead, she made a deal with him: she would bring him meals and wash his clothes for a year if he let me go.  He agreed.

He let me out of the cell and reunited me with my mum, then escorted us out of the station. And in a dark corner of the alley beside the building, he raped my mother while I watched just to be sure we both knew who held the power.

This singular act forever altered our lives and our relationship.  I could never get the image of him pushing his way into her out of my mind.  Nor her tears through her pain.  Nor her humiliation. I could do nothing to stop it.   The guilt gnawed away at me.  If I’d just behaved myself, as my mother had raised me to, she would not have had to endure such shame. When I wasn’t feeling guilty, I was angry – at myself, at the police,  at the way things were for poor people,  and irrationally at my mother for letting him get away with it; for not fighting back.

I left home at 16.  She didn’t try to stop me.  It was better for both of us that we did not have to see each other every day – a relentless reminder for both of us of  that which could never be undone. Only when I was older, could  I imagine what she had been feeling – about herself, about me, about the police.  I’m sure her anger, shame, and guilt were as great as mine.

I moved far away and did not see her very much over the years. For the rest of my life, I managed, for the most part, to stay out of the eyes of the authorities. I had no choice.  I knew if I’d had an encounter with an officer of the law,  I likely would not have been able to contain my emotions. I would have suffered greatly for whatever actions I took in that condition.

When I was 47,  I got word that she was dying.  I traveled back to sit by her side during her final days.  I needed her forgiveness before she passed.   But before I could beg for absolution, she used the little precious energy she had left to beg for mine.

I was confused.  Clearly, I was the guilty one — the one who bore all responsibility for both the original incident and the subsequent dissolution of our relationship.  But she didn’t see it that way.  She felt she’d failed me as a mother.  She was ashamed that because of her failure as a wife and parent, I had to witness her humiliation. And so, in those last hours of her life,  we reconciled and forgave each other and ourselves.

—–

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne22

Each Grain of the Sand

First published Oct 31, 2016

 

 

praying-in-desert

 

Kem

My existence was not an easy one.  I, with my people,  lived in some of the harshest conditions on Earth,  with extremes of temperature and few natural resources. We were raised to battle others over what little there was. We fought fiercely out of necessity. We roamed the desert, living a way of life that our people had done for millennia,  herding,  trading,  traveling.

But despite the difficulties and uncertainty of such a life,  I remained  happy and peaceful.  My family thought I was simple in the head, and I suppose I was, but simple is not stupid.  Without bothering to contradict them,  I simply considered it a more intelligent way to live.

I reveled in every moment, every sensation. At prayer time,  I rolled out my rug to the east like the others, but unlike them, I did not say my prayers,  not aloud and not silently to myself. I did not occupy my mind with God, but rather cleared it of everything, making myself an empty vessel, allowing myself to be filled.

I smelled the air, infused with the scent of cooking fires and of the animals and of the other men,  sometimes of date palms and fresh water.  I felt the warmth of the rising sun or the heat of noon or chill of the wind after the dusk.  I noticed the shadows as they changed throughout the day and the colors of our shelters against the orange sand. I did not worry that God would punish me because I did not say the proscribed prayers.  I felt my own method was worship enough.

I loved the low humming of the sand when the wind passed over the dunes.  I was comforted by the familiar bellowing of the camels.  I listened for the skittering, hissing noise of the beetles in the quiet of the night.  I felt safe hearing the muffled conversations of women inside their tents.

Not every sensation was pleasant.  There was heat and thirst,  naturally,  but there was pain of an injury or insect bite.  There was illness and eventually the infirmities of age.  There was the terrifying, swirling, howling blackness of the sand storm.

There were many occasions to be afraid — of nature and of men — but I rarely felt fear.  I was prepared to accept whatever might be.  If it was my time to die, I was prepared for that as well.  I was at peace with myself and my maker.

 

___

—-

Buy the book!

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 just 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!
-Adrienne

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