Monthly Archives: February 2008

Superfluous Existence

My favorite poem of all time is by Francis William Bourdillon. It is called The Night Has A Thousand Eyes. It reads as follows: The night has a thousand eyes, and the day but one; yet the light of a bright world dies when day is done. The mind has a thousand eyes, and the heart but one; yet the light of a whole life dies when love is done.

It really is amazing how matters of the heart can take over your whole existence. For some of us “thinkers” this is especially difficult to understand. But when you look at our constitution as a living bag of bones that runs like a machine, it is easier to grasp. Here you have this hugely elaborate piece of equipment that is little more than walking fertilizer waiting to happen, that is actually useless in the physical aspect. We learn and build and advance and procreate and create and destroy and rebuild. But when you look at us without taking into account our purpose, we are just a waste of skin.

It isn’t until you consider our heart in the equation that we have any purpose. Without our soul we are nothing. We are mere machines performing tasks toward a common nothing. It is the soul behind the actions that makes the actions worthwhile. A man builds a house. Great. Big deal. So he has shelter so that he can preserve himself a little longer with a little less wear and tear. He just ends up perishing at a later date. On the contrary, put the heart in the matter. A man builds a house so that he can have a safe haven for the family that fulfills him. Then and only then is there true purpose in his actions.

Technology advances every day. But what is the point without our heart? We can fly in planes, but why? Certainly it is not to be like the birds. No. We fly so that we can get to our loved ones faster; so we can have more time to be with those who complete us. Medicine advances faster than we can keep up with it. But the miracle of a transplant is nothing compared to the sacrifice that any of us would give if we could donate an organ to save the one we love. The miracle of medicine is that we have more time to hold those who hold our hearts.

I love to sleep in a really, really dark room. It comforts me. However if all of the power sources in the world were extinguished, there would still be the light of the moon. And for me, if it were shining outside of my window, it would be too bright. All of these thoughts that rumble around in our heads: our dreams, our aspirations, our ideas, our creativity and our memories – they number so many, that we can scarcely keep up with them all. But the one thing that stirs our heart, the one thing that inspires our soul; if it is removed we become meaningless. We are reduced to nothing more than containers for guts.

If we thought about this more, perhaps we wouldn’t take as many risks as we do. We are so mindful to safeguard our bodies and our minds, yet we leave our heart and soul to fend for themselves. Sometimes we even think that we can go without the things that fill our hearts. We think that it is superfluous to existence. And there in a nutshell is the truth. Our heart’s desires are superfluous to our existence. For without the desires of our heart we merely exist. The night has a thousand eyes, and the day but one; yet the light of a bright world dies when day is done. The mind has a thousand eyes, and the heart but one; yet the light of a whole life dies when love is done.

Variety

Variety is the spice of life. Or so they say. Yet it seems like people get caught up in their differences and fail to see this “spice.” On the large scale you have everything from racism to sexism to whateverisms, but on a personal level; it still exists. Even if you like somebody! How many times have you heard someone say the reason that they broke up was “We were just two different people.” Well, no shit! Everybody is two different people. Even conjoined twins are two different people. The whole point of finding a soul mate is to be with a different person. If you want to be with someone who isn’t a different person, then go fuck yourself. Because literally and proverbially, that is what you will be doing.

Alexander Hamilton said, “When men exercise their reason coolly and freely on a variety of distinct questions, they inevitably fall into different opinions on some of them. When they are governed by a common passion, their opinions, if they are to be called, will be the same.” This is what makes our nation’s democracy work and the same principle is what makes loving relationships work. It really isn’t rocket science. If you have the common passion, then you work the other crap out. Because at the end of the day, that is exactly what the other stuff is: crap.

Just as beauty fades, so do opinions. As you get older, what was a big deal at twelve is no longer a big deal. I learned from my grandparents that if you continue to mentally grow and don’t close your mind to new things, that you will be a happy old person. Just because they didn’t do it that way back in your day, doesn’t mean that it can’t work that way now. And just because for you, personally, something was right at the time, doesn’t mean it is right for everybody all the time. It is called an open mind. It is called having your own belief system that grounds you as a human being yet still acknowledging that there is a world beyond the tip of your nose and realizing that everyone else is NOT going to think and believe exactly like you and embracing it. Because just because someone isn’t exactly like you doesn’t mean they are wrong.

So get off the soapbox, yank your head out of your ass and shake up your world. It is simple. Anyone can do it. It is called variety. And in case you missed the memo – it is the spice of life.

Gentleman Jack

The anniversary of my grandfather’s death is tomorrow. His name was Jack and he was a pretty cool cat. I miss him desperately. He is the only person who has ever made me feel truly loved. He is the only person that has ever made me feel like I haven’t let them down. He knew what to say and when to say it. He had the perfect mix of honesty and tenderness. He knew when I needed a kick in the pants and needed to get over myself and when I needed someone to catch me and keep me from loosing myself. He thought I was smart and pretty and funny and all things good. He could see straight past my bull shit and into my heart and knew that I just wanted him to love me – and he did. He was my refuge and my sounding board and the one thing that I could count on. A doctor in Birmingham wanted to remove cancer from his nose that had reached the bone. His doctor here and I wanted to leave it alone; we thought that at almost 94 that he would die of natural causes before the cancer would take him. But a brilliant surgeon thought that we should remove the cancer and bone and do massive reconstructive surgery with skin graphs and all the bells and whistles. The local doctor and I got voted down by my mom and grandmother who were convinced that his face was going to “rot off and stink.” After 8 hours under anesthesia, he never regained full functions, and over the next few months I watched him shrivel up into nothing. I changed his diapers and dressed his bed sores and fed him and snuck coca-cola into his room and listened to the Glenn Miller Band and sang Sentimental Journey to him in his morbid, nasty death bed in a room that smelled like day old urine with rotating crazy room mates who cussed at me and exposed themselves to me. I stayed strong for him like he had for me. After removing most of his nose, he was too weak for any reconstructive surgery and looked so bad that I never let the kids see him after that. I looked at him like I always had and kissed his terrible face and lay in the bed with him and prayed that God would make him die. When he could no longer see, he still knew when I walked into the room even before I spoke. Until about two weeks before he died, he was sharp as a tack and never lost any memory at all. And he had some great stories. When he grew so weak and his blood pressure was so low that he wasn’t lucid, he always knew me. He didn’t always recognize everyone else, but he always knew me. He was in the nursing home from September until February and I never missed a single day, two and three times a day, I wanted to be with him in case he needed me or wanted something or in case he died. The last week he wouldn’t eat unless it was me that fed him. He wouldn’t drink unless it was me that held the cup. And in the middle of the night he would call out for me. My husband at the time wasn’t the best about helping with the kids, he had lost his mother the previous year, maybe that had something to do with it, so I would go after I dropped the boys off in the morning, again at least once during the day and then I would go back after the children were bathed and fed and asleep and stay until my dad would call me and tell me that I had to go home and get some sleep. I left his room around one o’clock on the morning of the 7th. At a few minutes after three they called and said he was gone. After I got the boys to school, I went to the nursing home and cleaned out his room. I donated anything that wasn’t personal to the nursing home and took the things that were to my grandmothers. I kept what I had given him for Christmas for myself. I went to the funeral home. I had gone just a few days before and picked out his casket and headstone and had written his obituary. I talked with the mortician about trying to make him presentable because I thought it would be good for the family if we could go by and see him look more like himself. The visitation was the next day at my grandmother’s house. I stood at the door and greeted everyone who came – a constant line of people that went all the way down the sidewalk and never stopped for over two hours. The next morning I went to work to prepare for the board meeting that the jerks at my office were nice enough to postpone for one hour. I went to the funeral, ran by my grandmother’s house where I quickly said hello, left my grieving family and went and conducted the board meeting at the chamber. The moment it was over, I got in my packed car and drove to Gulf Shores for a retirement expo. And when I came home a day later it was business as usual. Every year on the anniversary of his death, I send flowers to my grandmother. She says that she knows they are from me before she opens the card. Then I go sit at his grave and hang out with him before I leave fresh flowers on his headstone. I rarely go any other time. I just can’t really handle it. But on that one day, nothing is better than sitting down and hanging out with my soul mate. I miss him desperately. He is the only person who has ever made me feel truly loved.