The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “actor monologue”

The Lessons in Everything

NEW!

 

Nal

My grandfather’s hand held firm on my rudder throughout my life, even after he was long gone.

My earliest memory of a lesson that stayed with me throughout my life was at age 4 or 5.  We had planned a day at the beach, just the two of us.  I had him all to myself (and he, me.)  Before we got on the train,  he took me into a small shop that sold children’s clothing and toys, and let me pick out something special for the day.  I chose a colorful pail and shovel, imprinted with my favorite cartoon character.  I was as happy as a child could be.

We set out a spot on the sand.  He took me into the water and held me while we dove through the waves, me clinging to him tightly while laughing and giggling in pure joy.

Back on our blanket, he showed me how to make sand castles.

On the next blanket, there was a boy about my age, who did not seem very happy.  His mother was kissing and touching a man who I learned later was not his father, but his mother’s new boyfriend. They were secretly drinking beer even though it was not allowed on the beach.  They were in their own world and mostly ignored him, except to yell at him for some small infraction.  His older brother, maybe about nine or ten, entertained himself by harassing his younger sibling.

The boy seemed lonely so I invited to join me, building castles.  He was a fun and willing playmate, running down to the water’s edge again and again to fill the bucket to wet our pile of sand.  My grandfather had brought some lunch along, and I offered him half of my sandwich, which he ate hungrily. Even in my child’s mind, I had the impression he wasn’t very well-fed.

When it was time for us to go,  my instinct was to let him keep the bucket.  I recognized, in my childlike way, that I had so much more than he did.  I had many toys at home and he probably had none.  I had parents and grandparents who loved me and paid attention to me.  His mother treated him like an annoyance.    But the pail had been a gift from my grandfather.  I wasn’t sure how he would feel if I were to give it away.

I asked him.

“It is yours to do with as you please.  You have to ask yourself if it is better to keep it  or if it’s better to use what you have to make other people happy.  I have found that sharing with others makes me much happier than keeping things all to myself.  I am proud that you feel the same way.”

And so, I gave the boy my special toy.

My grandfather could have replaced it for me but he didn’t.  This was a good thing.  If he’d bought me another, I would not have remembered the lesson.  Missing it reminded me of the pleasure of sharing, the joy of making another happy.

A few years later, I was in the small grocery store my grandfather owned.  A boy, about thirteen or fourteen, came in and took some cans of food and hid them in his clothes.  Grandfather caught him.  I expected him to be outraged; to give him a lecture and call the police.  But instead, he recognized that the boy was poor; that he had stolen only to eat.  So instead, he offered him a job.  It didn’t pay much but it was enough to keep him from stealing.  Grandfather often gave him food to take home to his family.  The boy worked for him for many years, until he left to join the army.  From this, I learned that believing in someone can change their life.

When the school bully started harassing me, Grandfather explained to me that bullies puff themselves up so nobody will see how weak they really are.  They were not to be feared, but rather to be pitied.  And so, I learned to show compassion in the face of fear.

Even after Grandfather died, his lessons remained with me, guiding me in my judgment and   in my relationships with others.  He was then, and remains even here, my spiritual teacher.  We have been together in other lives previous, and will be together in the next life coming.  Not always as grandfather and child, but always as teacher and student.

 

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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.

Ignored Intuition

originally published June 17, 2014

forest floor

Da

He murdered me. Stabbed me to death, alone in some dark place; a basement, I guess. My life was already a mess. I knew at the first hint of danger nobody would come looking for me. He held me there, a prisoner, for three days. That was a terror I hope never to live through again.

I wavered between wanting to die quickly (when it seemed obvious I wasn’t going to be able to escape) and defiance; showing a strong will and determination to get myself out of there. He seemed to enjoy manipulating my emotions like that. He would pretend to relax his vigilance to give me false hope, but in fact, he was in total control the entire time. This was his game. It was no fun for him when I was too passive.

By the end of the second day, I was too weak to fight. I drifted in and out of consciousness. He gave me just enough relief to prevent me from dying too quickly. That’s why he took me in the first place.

When I finally expired, after he’d taken all the pleasure he could from my body and my pain, he just dumped me in a woods, barely bothering to bury me. Nobody would look for me there. Nobody would look for me at all.

He got back into his car and drove towards home, stopping in a small store to buy himself some snacks and beer. He was calm and relaxed. Nothing about his demeanor said “I have just murdered someone, and I enjoyed it.”

I watched him, knowing he would get away with it, willing his car to crash but not having the power to make it happen.

I follow him still. I try to cause him whatever discomfort I can but he seems oblivious. His need to torture and kill is so loud, it drowns out any subtle voice or message.

Instead, I try to warn other women away from him. I have succeeded in a few instances. I gave them a cold sense of  foreboding, enough to feel anxious and uncomfortable around him, enough so they wouldn’t go home with him. But not all of them listened. Some felt the hair on their necks stand on end but ignored the sign because they needed the money too badly. Or, like him, something louder (or whatever drugs or drink they used to quiet it) made them immune to their inner voice. If they had followed their intuition in the first place, their lives probably would be on a different track.

This was not how I’d expected it to end for me. It wasn’t the lesson I’d set out to learn, but I strayed off my path early on, and soon there was no redemption for me. So many missed opportunities; so many lost chances. It might all have turned out differently.

So, I try now to save others from the same fate. Do they hear me? I don’t always know; can’t always tell but I keep at it as a kind of penance.

 

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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 Pleasure in the Pain

first published Nov 30, 2015

 

crying eye

Ri

Life became so much easier once I learned to feel the pleasure in the pain. I do not speak of the passion of physical pain, which is not pain at all; I speak, rather, of emotional pain.

This is not to say I sought it out, but life is full enough of pain that there is no avoiding it. My life became easier when I no longer numbed myself to the inevitable. I stopped running from it wherever it found me. After time, I didn’t even bother to step out of its way.

I stopped fearing it. What a release to enjoy the beauty in sorrow! To savor the taste of my own tears. To climb down deeper into understanding on the rope of my pain.

Great emotion – both joy and pain – is opening. The heart is rent wide, laid bare without defense. No walls. No ego.   Only in this state — without ego — is it possible to connect to the universe.

I learned not to waste that state of grace.

 

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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 Member of the Tribe

NEW!

Ipo  (we haven’t heard from him in a while, have we?  He’s always interesting and insightful.)

When there are not enough resources for all,  human beings become more tribal.   The only way to win a war — over water or land or food or work — is to align with the more powerful side.  An individual alone cannot hope to take what he needs in times of scarcity;  those who are stronger will kill to take it away.  An individual needs the protection of his tribe.   The bonds might be familial, geographic, political.  They may be bonds formed only in times of scarcity and tossed aside as unnecessary when the famine is over.  But they are, out of necessity, strong; sometimes a matter of life and death.

In this way,  scarcity and lack of resources fractures society, causes rifts along formerly peaceful lines,  and becomes an impetus for war.

Humans have abused their planet – their waters, their land, their air —  and they have multiplied their numbers beyond what the earth can sustain.  The cracks are forming.  Social norms are shattering.  Everywhere it is “us” and “them.”  Wars erupt across the planet,  scattered and explosive, like lightening from space.

Sometimes,   humans recognize that the opposing force is stronger  and more likely to win. Allegiances shift.  People claim they have lost faith in their cause,  but at its root, they believe the other side offers a better chance at survival.

Acrimony is inversely proportional to available resources.  The fewer the resources, the angrier the mobs.

In order to have peace, the fewest number of people must be left wanting.

 

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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.

By the Sea

 

Originally published Sept 30, 2014

 

She remains one of my favorite narrators…

http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Indonesia/Sumatra/Bengkulu/Bengkulu_Utara/photo97429.htm

Ja

I grew up in a busy fishing town at the edge of the sea. What I remember most is the smell of the place. I can recall it even now – briny, fishy, sweaty, acrid. The scent of wood fires and charcoal burning; the oil and petrol from the boats; salt water and rotting fish.   Sometimes, after school, I would go to a small cove, away from the boats, just to have the sea to myself. I would dig my little toes into the wet sand, and just breathe it all in.

The smell of the shore is, in fact, that of decay and death. It’s seaweed rotting on the sand; small sea creatures – shellfish and crabs – wounded or dead on or under the rocks. Even the sea birds dined on death, feasting on carrion. But these aromas were familiar to me. It was the smell of my home.

Once, when I was quite young, we traveled to visit some of my mother’s family up in the highlands. Even at that young age, I marveled at how different the air tasted.

Up there, was the sweet smell of life. Of flowers and things green. Of birds and animals living in the forest. It was the organic smell of humus which is technically not alive, but from which life springs so abundantly, it’s hard to think of it as anything other than a living thing. The scent of the flowers — pink and orange and violet — was intoxicating! They grew everywhere, springing up from the ground; hanging from the trees; climbing on vines up the walls of the houses.

It was a magical place, and I could not decide which I preferred more – the shore or the hills. I wondered where I would live when I was grown.

Like many of the other men, my father was a fisherman. One of the aromas I most associated with the shore, and which I loved the most, was his scent when he held me. When the smell of his manly body odor, fish, motor oil, and cigarettes tickled my nostrils, it meant I was safe.

As most young girls, I was in love with my father. He was a handsome man, brown from the sun, with thick, black hair and straight white teeth. His strong arms could lift me up high and carry me all the way home.

He went out to sea almost every day on his small wooden boat, painted white and blue. It had a motor in the back which was often in need of repair. He spent many hours working on it.

Although fishing was the main industry in our area, there were few who had the money for a brand new motor. They all bought the best used equipment they could afford. That meant being a successful fisherman was not just knowing where to find or how to catch fish. It meant one also be good at repair; to have an understanding of how a motor worked, how to fix it with whatever parts were available or that could be cobbled together, with old tools which were always on the verge of giving out. When a motor stopped, there was no time to waste, especially not out at sea.

I knew it was not good when my father couldn’t be out on the water; when he was stuck in port trying to make that old piece of machinery sputter to life. It meant a loss of income. This situation was inevitable for every boat owner. It was time loast which none could afford, yet, it was accepted that this was just how it was.   The men used to say, “Just when you get ahead, you fall ten steps back.” Thinking philosophically instead of feeling sorry for themselves was another necessary requirement for being a fisherman.

Still, as a child, I loved the days my father was stuck in the harbor. I was happy knowing he was safe, close to home where I could keep my eye on him or run to see him. It scare me to imagine him out there, with all the many unknown dangers. It was never far from my mind that the sea might take him and I would never see him again.

My mother was as beautiful as my father was handsome. She had a stall in the market where she sold small sweets and savories, all of which she made herself; some at home and some fresh on the spot. She was famous in town for her cooking.

She’d been in that stall since she was 16. Since before I was born. Since before she met my father. It had belonged to her mother, and when she died, it fell to my mother to cook and sell, to help support her family.

That’s how she met my father. He always joked that he first fell in love with her sweets, and then with her sweetness.

My mother’s sweets were so delicate, they would dissolve on the tongue. Some of her small pastries were so spicy, they could make a grown man cry. Her savories had such complex flavors, you could still taste them, mingling on your tongue even after you’d swallowed.

Most people didn’t take the time to really savor them, which was a pity. To them, they were just a quick bite to eat when they didn’t have time to stop and sit and have a proper meal. The shoppers, the other vendors, the workmen and women passing by, they all had a need of a her snacks, but only a few took the time to fully appreciate what an innovative cook she was. Everything she made — even for strangers, even for those who never gave her refined cooking a second thought — was made with love. But if people’s palates were not sophisticated enough to recognize her culinary genius, they certainly were able to taste the care and joy that went into each piece.

Her stall was in an excellent and much-coveted location, at the outer corner of the market, which gave her maximum exposure to passersby. Her food stall was the most popular and had been so since shortly after she began there.

If the market was open, Mother was there. Usually six days a week, even through her pregnancy with me and with my younger sister.

My father and I both agreed that my mother was the prettiest woman in the town. She had big eyes and long lashes and skin the color of the sweet milk tea I loved to drink. She had long, dark hair which she wore in a single braid down her back. I, myself, wore two braids, which she plaited for me every morning and carefully combed them out every night before I went to bed. Then she would brush my hair, gently, as she sang to me or told me stories, relaxing me for bed.

Some days, after my father came in from the sea and had unloaded his fish and had finished cleaning the boat, and tuning the motor, my mother would take me and my sister to meet him in the harbor. Mother would bring whatever snacks she had left over from the day, and together we would sit on the boat and talk about our day, as we watched the sun set over the ocean. We were happy and we loved each other.

I was lucky. Between my mother and my father, there was enough money to send me to school, and in a new dress every year.

Every year, at the end of December, we celebrated a family tradition, the same as my mother had done as a child. There was an exchange of gifts. The year I turned eight, my special gift was a new pair of “big girl” shoes. They were shiny and black with a pink ribbon. I felt like a real lady in them. I couldn’t wait to show them off to my friends at school! As was always the case with new shoes and new clothes, they were purchased a bit too large to give me time to grow into them. I pushed paper into the toes so they wouldn’t fall off.

The next morning, on my way to school, I scanned the harbor. Most of the boats were already out to sea. Father’s was not there, which meant his motor was working that morning. I would worry about him until I saw him again in the evening.

And then something strange happened.

The sea peeled back from the shore, exposing more beach than I’d ever seen before. It sloped steeply down.

Some people started to panic and run away from the water, but most either weren’t paying attention or, like myself, went closer to see what was going on, not understanding what it meant.

I stood there, fascinated. And then,   suddenly, there was a wall of water so high and frightening it took my breath away even before it crashed over me. Instantly, I and everything else was under it.   My new shoes were sucked off my feet. In those last seconds, before I drowned all I could think about was my lost shoes.

We were all lost except my father, but when he came back to shore and saw the devastation, he no longer had the heart for living. He rejoined us soon.

By human standards, it was a great tragedy. So much loss of life. But it was a necessary correction which the universe must make from time to time. I do not understand the reasons.

So many souls, all leaving the living world at one time, creating so much energy. I was just a small part of it; a tiny speck in a cloud of dust, floating upwards on a ribbon of sunlight.

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image: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Indonesia/Sumatra/Bengkulu/Bengkulu_Utara/photo97429.htm

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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 Collection of Moments

First published November 21, 2015

Dungeness River, Sequim, WA - Magdalena Bassett

Jek

I can remember the screeching of the sea birds as they descended on the harbor to feed on the offal of the fishermen’s catch. At the time, I thought of them as a nuisance. But I remember them now with affection. They were so purely alive, exploding in a storm of biological imperative.

There are a lot of things I remember now that I didn’t take the time to notice then: The way the air on the skin changes from season to season – a floral caress in the spring; in winter. A slap on the cheek from an angry lover. The way a certain scent, not smelled since childhood, catapults you back to the nursery.  The quiet breathing of a lover, in the place beside, and the warmth left behind when they are gone.

Plodding along, one foot in front of the other, I never took my eyes from my path; I never noticed the small miracles lining the way.

Only later, perhaps too late, does it become clear: there is no prize or grand finale. What you have in the end is only the joy you’ve collected along the way.

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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.
 

 

Photo by my pal, the very talented Magdalena Bassett. Image: The Dungeness River on a rainy day in Sequim, WA

Via Dolorosa

NEW!

Faj

I was grateful for every moment,  every hour, without pain.  An accident in my 20’s left me in near constant agony.  My damage was not obvious to the outside world,  so people often thought me weak,  a malingerer,  unmotivated.  None of them could understand how such a condition rules and ruins a life.

I was only able to sleep a few hours at a time, before the throbbing and aching and burning awakened me.  I tried to calm myself as best I could, so I might sleep again.  Sometimes, I was too exhausted even to eat.  I could not work and was forced to depend on others to survive.  Although I did not particularly enjoy alcohol,  I often drank,  simply to calm my jagged nerve endings.  All of this wore on the health of my body and my mind.

My tolerance for physical suffering increased over the years, but the pain always managed to outpace it. Such torment was my constant companion.  I could see no permanent escape from this except death.

Those who lived in physical comfort and ease could not understand.

An old woman lived nearby.  She had suffered with a painful affliction for many years, and then, miraculously,  her pain ceased.  She understood. Often, she would feed me,  care for me out of compassion.  We prayed together that I would someday experience the same kind of miracle.  It never came.

Pain feels different to everyone, but for each, it is real. Pain is there to make us grateful for ease, over an hour or over many lifetimes.

 

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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 Bottle In Front of Me

originally published September 21, 2014

Pel

I had my first drink when I was around ten. My parents were having a party and I sneaked out of my room and watched them through the banister on the upstairs landing. The adults all seemed so much more sophisticated than they did during the day.  The women, in their little black dresses and high-heeled shoes. The bursts of laughter from various corners as people told jokes or funny stories or made a clever remark. I watched a neighbor slip a kiss to a man who wasn’t her husband. There was music playing, and the sound of ice clinking in glasses. People danced and snuggled on the couch. They were happy. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be part of that sophisticated world.

It was late when the last guest left. My parents ignored the mess and went up to bed, leaving the cleanup for morning. Once they were in their room, I tiptoed downstairs. I could still smell the mingle of perfume, cigarette smoke and human pheromones.

I picked up a glass that had an inch or so of some kind of liquor – I’m not sure what it was. I sat on a high stool near the small bar in the corner of the living room and in my pajamas,  imagined having a conversation with several sophisticated people at once. I imagined them all laughing at something witty I’d just said. I picked up the glass and had a sip.

The taste was awful but at the same time, it was as if a key had slipped into a lock and opened something inside my head. A rush of chemistry surged through my blood. I felt complete in a way I’d never felt before. It was as if I’d been missing this but only now just knew it.

This was a secret the adults were trying to keep from us kids! It was a rite of passage, an invitation into adulthood, to finally be legally old enough to drink sometime in my late teens.

I wasn’t going to wait nearly a decade to be able to feel that way again. I didn’t want to live without it.

From that point on, to drink was both an act of pleasure and of defiance. I wanted it and I was not going to let any  rules get in the way of my having it.  I wondered what other secrets the grownups were keeping from me.

It was around then that I stopped trusting what others told me about “good” and “bad.” Who decided which was which? Why did I have to go along with the rest of the world, anyway?

I started the way many alcoholics do:  I raided my parents’ liquor cabinet. I started at the back, with the weirder stuff that they rarely touched. By the time they got around to it,   they would never remember how much had been left in the bottle. So it was crème de menthe, peach schnapps. Pretty awful stuff, especially straight up.

From there, I moved up to the gin and vodka which I replaced by volume with water. If they noticed, I never found out. I was careful not to replace too much.

I did the same with my friends’ parents’ liquor cabinets. Some of them had bottles I’d never seen before in my parents’ bar. Foreign, unpronounceable names. Years and numbers, as if they were something special. They seemed exotic.

I had a French teacher when I was 15.  By the end of the first week, I knew she was an alcoholic.   I recognized the signs.   I’d see her around in the morning and she’d seem normal, but by the time I sat in her class in the afternoon,  she was already a bit drunk.  She’d slur her words;  lose track of her thoughts;  bob and weave a bit when she walked.   This meant she kept a bottle close at hand.

I watched her classroom, and when it was empty, I crept in in and searched her desk.  There it was,  in the lower left hand drawer — a small bottle of vodka.

I took it. I had no fear of being caught.  I knew she would never, could never, report it stolen.  Anyway, she was an adult. At worst, for her a missing bottle was an inconvenience and the loss of a some pocket money.  I told myself I was doing a service to my fellow students — she’d be sober for at least one afternoon class.

I knew she’d replace it; I knew she couldn’t be without.   Several days later, I stole it again.   It took her a week or so to realize someone was taking her desk bottle; that she hadn’t just misplaced it or finished it and forgotten to buy more.  When I went to look for it the next time, it wasn’t there.  I figured she’d hidden it somewhere else.  She needed a few shots to get through the afternoon, and she needed easy access to it.  It took me a couple of days to locate the new hiding place, and that was only because I didn’t have much time to search.

It became a game.  She would find a new spot, and I would look until I found it. (It rarely took me more than a week.)  I drank and entertained myself for the entire school year playing cat and mouse with that one teacher.

As I got older, I  became more creative about finding ways to drink.   I also started to know more people who were above legal drinking age. I was able to exchange favors – sexual and otherwise – for a bottle or two.

Beer would do in a pinch, but I’d developed a preference for vodka which had the benefit of not really smelling on the breath. I realized this was why my French teacher preferred it.

By the time I was of drinking age myself, I’d learned quite a few tricks about how to drink for free. Mainly, it helped to be funny and charming, to know a lot of good stories and jokes. That’s how one got invited to all the parties.  And when you’re the entertaining sort, people always want to ply you with liquor.

I was The Drunk at every party. Sometimes, I was the only drunk guest. But I never got sappy or obnoxious. Even in my alcoholic haze, I never lost control. I was still able to be funny. Sure, I slurred my words and occasionally knocked things over, but I never vomited on anyone’s rug (or in anyone’s bathroom, either, for that matter.) I never said or did anything that was hurtful. I would often get very affectionate. Liquor made me happy; it made me love the world and myself and all of mankind. Sometimes, I’d lose track of others’ conversation and became confused about what they were talking about. I’d make a comment about what I thought they were discussing when in fact I had missed the point entirely.  In turn, they were confused by my remarks because to them they made no sense.  Of course they made sense to me, based on what I believed they were talking about.   I developed a reputation for saying these crazy, off-topic things.   But they made people laugh, so they kept me around.

This was how I lived my life.

I had a decent career which enabled me to support myself.  Ultimately, however,  it was always about the next drink. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved the feeling I got from liquor.

I only dated other alcoholics because the sober ones always pushed me to quit.  Yes, I was an alcoholic, but quite a functional one.  I saw no need to stop something that gave me so much pleasure.

But just because my life was relatively functional, didn’t mean there wasn’t damage – to my body, to my brain to my resistance. I got old, fast.   The best thing that could have happened to me would have been a small car accident or a crazy drunken tirade in the wrong company or an arrest for some inebriated infraction.   Any one of those might have served as a wake-up call.

Instead I managed to live in the no-man’s land of functional alcoholism. I never fully acknowledged to myself how my craving for liquor was stronger than anything else inside me.   My entire life,  I chased chemical spirituality. I was beneath any true understanding or enlightenment.  And that was the tragedy of my life.

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 addendum:  I should add that I, myself, do not drink nor have I ever.  None of the people I knew growing up were like this.  None of my adult friends are like this.   This is definitely not coming from me!!!

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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 Fix-it Man

NEW!

 

“Action Man” by Jeremy Richardson via Flickr

 

Gul

In my life, I had a special talent  – I could fix anything.  Anything except one important thing; and this came to define my existence.

In the crowded city slum in which I lived,  being adept at repair was very useful.  The people – my family, friends, neighbors – were among the poorest on earth.  Buying something new was an unimaginable luxury.  Everything we owned had been either been donated, discarded by others and repaired by us (for example, a broken umbrella, a worn pair of shoes), or it was it was an object of pure invention, cobbled together from other things.

Having nothing, needing everything forces one to be very creative, to find solutions in unexpected places.

I had a rudimentary education.  I was schooled only until age 10.  I did not have very much access to books, but I read everything I could find —  from old newspapers,  discarded magazines, flyers announcing elections or new rules or a statement from the government.  I was curious about everything and reading offered me windows into other worlds.

Even as a very young child, I was fascinated by how things worked. I observed the manifestations of physics in my everyday life – the way the wind blew scraps of paper in a certain way so it always collected in the same places; how the pitch of a roof might affect the average temperature inside the hut.  I was curious why objects or plants or animals behaved the way they did.

While in school, I started turning discards into functional items —  mainly junk into toys. I could often trade them for something I wanted or needed more.  By the time I was twenty, I was already known as the Fix-It Man, the creative problem solver in my section.  I was good with my hands and instinctively understood the alchemy and mechanics of things, the best uses for and the limitations of various materials. I would mull over a challenge, visualize the problem in all dimensions, and eventually the solution would appear in my brain, fully formed.

I was a marvel at repairing broken tools and household items using whatever was at hand. If I saw something in the street or in the garbage which might have some useful function in the future, I picked it up and took it home. A rusted piece of metal junk might still have useable screws or wires.  I let nothing go to waste.

By the time I was in my early twenties,  I made my living  by not only repairing people’s broken things, but by creating useful objects out of waste. Two large cans with a long tube made of smaller cans became a stove that vented outside.   I figured out a way to magnify the light of a candle by placing it inside a clear glass,  then placing that glass inside a larger jug filled with water.  When the only light you have in the evening is a candle, doubling the output means you can use one candle instead of two.   When you’re poor and living in a dark shack, light is a luxury.  It means twice as many hours of light.

Meanwhile, I never stopped reading whatever I could get my hands on – books when I could find them (usually cheap paperbacks, but occasionally a school book).   I particularly liked instructions for devices and appliances that I would never actually own.

I admit I was an odd fellow. I saw the world differently from others.  People appreciated my talents, but they found me strange and off-putting.  I wasn’t one for idle conversation.   I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was far too shy to approach a woman, and in my oddness, they did not approach me.

One afternoon, I was delivering a repaired bedframe to a customer in the next section.  It was large and awkward, and it blocked my view making it hard to see where I was going.  I nearly ran into a young woman, about my age. I avoided catastrophe only as the last moment when I managed to swing the frame out of the way.  I was instantly dumbstruck by her beauty.  She was fancier than any other girl I had seen.  She wore a clean dress and nice shoes that both seemed new.  Her black hair was smooth and shiny, pulled back with a comb that sparkled in the sunlight.   I fell instantly in love.

She found it curious that I was carrying a bed frame. She laughed and she commented on it.  Although my heart was pounding and I was flustered, I managed to tell her that I was the Fix-It Man, and if she ever needed anything repaired, she should seek me out.

Later, I asked others about her.  Her father held a bit of power in very local politics.  While they were hardly wealthy, her family was far higher than mine on the social scale.  I gave up all hope that I would ever see her again.

Then,  one day, she came to me to have her shoe repaired. It was as if heaven had opened its gates right into my shop.

I did my most artful, meticulous work, in the hopes that she would return again some day.

And she did, from time to time.  In addition to bringing me things to repair, she sometimes bought me things she was discarding which she thought I might find useful.  I would sometimes make her small gifts – works of art made from scrap —  which she seemed to appreciate.

I believed she liked me.  I felt that she respected my talent. She found me curious and intriguing.  But there was nothing more. She was willing to be my friend in this very limited way, on her terms.  I don’t know if she knew how much I loved her.  I never dared tell her.  I knew there was no possibility of anything more between us, and I didn’t want to frighten her away with my desire or make her feel uncomfortable.

Eventually she married, to a man with even a bit more status than her father.  She had children.  But still, she brought me her broken items for repair.  When her children were old enough, even they brought me their possessions to be repaired or commissioned new things built especially for their needs.

I watched her life from the sidelines.  It was as if I had just a torn corner of a magazine page and had to imagine the rest.  In my mind, her life was pure happiness and joy.  That is how I preferred to think of her.   I lived in a state of perpetual longing and sadness for what I could never have.

I went on, until I was quite old, repairing lanterns and chairs and cooking pots.  I was, to all who knew me, The Fix It Man.   The irony was lost on them: Inside, my heart was irreparably broken.

 

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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 Rose Blossoms

First published November 12, 2015

child adult holding hands

Kif

I met her when she was very young, a perfect rose among the wilting asters. Even as a child she was poised and full of grace; wise beyond her years. Her natural talent was unmistakable, but it was more than that. She shone, as if a pure light passed through her, magnified.

Children such as this are gifts to the world. It is a rare privilege to teach one.

I did not normally take on students so young, but she needed to be trained properly. To be taught bad habits as a girl might destroy any hope of future perfection. She needed the best. I was the best. It was my duty.

Her parents recognized this. They considered it fortunate that their child had caught the attention of someone such as myself; someone both of deep knowledge and high influence. They believed she never would have been born with such remarkable abilities if they were not meant to be fully developed. And so, because they truly loved her and understood the needs of her soul, they abdicated their obligation and entrusted me to mold and shape her as I felt best.

Our dynamics were complex. One part parent-child, another part ego. Some of it was about legacy. A certain a measure was about need. One share was about wiping clean a tablet full of regrets. We had a mutual fear of abandonment and also shared the fear of being too needy. In this churning stew of high emotion, there was jealousy and suspicion of betrayal; there was anger and frustration; envy and longing. Sometimes, the teacher became the student. We fell in and out of love with each other but never mutually at the same time, and never for the right reasons.

Such a relationship offered many opportunities for furthering my spiritual wisdom and deepening my self-knowledge – if I’d only looked deep enough. But even a dedicated seeker of Truth cannot possibly understand the lessons whilst in the thick of it. The emotions come spilling out in a jumble, too confused and fleeting to analyze.

From here, I am no longer lost in the minutia. From this height, I can see the broad strokes, the course of our individual paths on a map that was drawn before we were born.   They ran parallel, then diverged, crossed and forked, rose and fell, once again ran parallel only to diverge yet again.

It will take me a long time to understand this journey.

 

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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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