Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Brain - All Things Must Pass

So all of this thinking made me realize that I really needed to have access to health equipment so I could exercise and maybe live a few more years. Which I would enjoy. I have an art book I'd like to finish and I'd like to be able to put my writings into a collection piece of poetry, prose and essays, already written.

And if I never write another thing or paint another painting then I still feel like I have done every thing I knew how to live a purposeful life. To live a life worth living, that I was totally engaged in doing. Usually, I'm upbeat and doing pretty good.

But the thought hit me, maybe these numbers and my heart, maybe this is an indication that all of my best efforts in the past have been fruitless because what I am saying is true for me and what is true generally speaking are yes, the same but the lens, the perception of these things isn't consistent with the way my brain works since the accident. And that is also the truth.

The kicker is that, "Down the Road," is available through Amazon and we have a modest beginning ahead of us. Coco, my service dog and I will be doing speaking engagements and book signings and so maybe I will be able to afford to go to the gym. And maybe I'll make it that long and maybe I won't.

So now I'm starting to get depressed and self-pity begins to flood my thoughts. All my life the best that I could do was never good enough. And as little bits of memory or sense of what I experienced in life surfaced, I began to make an account of all of the times life itself seemed to be going against me.

We moved from the south and even though I had been a good student and my IQ tested out pretty good, I was still about two years academically behind my new peers. I felt stupid and preferred to keep my mouth shut. I wanted to disappear and hoped against all hope that the teacher would forget about me and not call on me, because I was totally lost.

The kids were working on multiplying and dividing fractions this year and I didn't even know what a fraction was. And at the same time I started studying the Teachings of Confucious, thank you Grandma. The Shakespere and poetry Grandma read to me gave me a sense of ease when it came to the written word. And I saw it as something beautiful. It wasn't a surprise to anyone that what my earliest beginnings were, painting a mural on my childhood freshly painted pink wall. Or whether it was writing my first poem in symbols that vaguely looked like letters on a page in my favorite Robert Frost book. I just got the book out and flipped through the pages to find out which poem I felt compelled to write on, would it be significant or random? The poem it called, "Departmental". And I thought, how ironic.

In my early tweens and teens I started learning latin from Grandma. And we leraned how to do chores and help out around the house. Structure and home cooked food country style with great smelling stews and soups and farm fresh vegetables was what we ate every summer. We spent summers with our grandparents out in the country in Michigan. Which is why I have always loved Michigan so much. I miss it now.

Anyway, the summers became quiet times of walks and visiting neighbors and fishing and being home for meals and learning all about life from Grandma, who never held back what she was thinking. Which drove a few people crazy but I admired her for it. As the summers passed we studied Emerson and Einstein and great poets like Walt Whitman and Robert Frost and Edgar Alan Poe and Sandburg. And we also read books that all kinds of philosophers like Buddha and Ghandi and Fromm Sandburg had written. And these things to think about came into my awareness. And they gave me peace of mind. It was a turbulent time back in the sixties. And a lot of it wasn't pretty. There was a lot of hatred and ignorance we were facing, in all kinds of ways.

So no matter how lost I felt in life; some how it was comforting to know that I wasn't alone in this experience. This was very much a part of the human experience in general. Regardless, of income status, achievements, intelligence, beauty or fitness everyone at some time feels alone in a crowd and lost though they know exactly where they are going. So feeling lost was something I had been familiar with in many different ways, throughout my life.

My interests were typically assigned to men. I loved writing poetry and stories and drawing and singing and playing the piano. But in museums I had seen there weren't many women included in their exhibits. I could rattle off Picaso and Renoir and Monet and DaVinci and countless others but at that time I did not know of any females who were artists or sculptors. So early on I assumed that I would never be a great artist. My work would never be in a gallery or in a museum some where. I never identified the possibility that I could devote my life to this passion and have something come out of it at that time. And in fact, that is mostly what I've experienced up till now.

And I accepted that the only famous, talented, amazing writers were all men. I had read everything these authors had written(more than once): Shakespere, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and Tennessee Williams. All of the great writers were clearly men. Even the writers who were a little older than me but my contemporaries were all men. I wasn't aware of one female who had been a writer - not then anyway.

There were a few females who were singer-song writers that had inspired me early on but serious composers? They were all men.

And cabinet makers and wood workers and sculptors or rabbi's and tibetan monks, they were all men too.

Everything that I enjoyed about life, was good at and was interested in was all well and good for men but not for women. That was a long time ago. And it turned out there were a few females who were remarkable writers like Dickinson and Woolf and there was a great female artist, Marie Cassatt who had beautiful paintings in the Art Institute. But I hadn't discovered her yet. All that being said, it was a man's world back then. And judging by the ratio of men to women that win awards and grants, it's still pretty much the same way.

The cool thing that came out of all of this was that though I felt at a loss in many ways, I also gained a sense of determination and elation everytime I wrote something or painted something I knew, was good because I knew it was all mine. Even if I was a woman. My work, whether it was writing or painting, was random and expressed something that was perplexing me about life. My work was like my happy place when the world got to be too much. Or when the world was just fine and it was the "me" focus that had gotten to be too much. Either way, my refuge and love throughout all of my life has been and continues to be found in the written word and on a sheet of paper or a canvas.

Okay, so now this whole body mind and weight thing that is starting to weigh on me. What would happen if I died? Would I lay on the floor for a couple of days before anyone would call? Would it be longer? What would my Akita do? Would she hurt her feet trying to dig through a door to get out and get some help? And this whole thought process was like digging in for the big one. A sadness took hold of me and filled every pore of my being. It felt like even the room grew dimmer.

I got my paints out and looked through my albums and thought, I am going to play some George Harrison, yes, "All Things Must Pass". And I turned it on. It was too dark for me to see what the title or side of the ablum set I had taken out of its sleve. Every side of the three album series was excellent. The music was so amazingly in tune with my exact frame of mind. And George's words washed over me and I began to remember that life is to be appreciated. Every minute. No matter what you are facing. And that whether you are taking a look at your own mortality or purpose, remember, to appreciate this rare moment. Because we can't hold onto it forever.

The first song on side 3 is "Beware of Darkness".
Excerpt of lyrics... Here is the video of George Harrison and Leon Russell performing Beware of Darkness...

"Watch out now, take care beware
the thoughts that linger
winding up inside your head--
The hopelessness around you
in the dead of night
Beware of sadness

It can hit you; it can hurt you --
Make you sore and what is more, that is
not what you are here for..."

And peace washed over me with this summer thunder storm.
And the refreshing rains of knowing
that "All things must pass, all things must pass away..."
is a challenging lens to see life through sometimes
but this is also so true.

Here is a video of the tribute to George Harrison. His son is playing guitar with Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton and Ringo is at the drums. There are lots of wonderful musicians playing.

I guess dreams will come and they will go. Life can be damn rough and disappointing. And it can be surprising and wonderful and fill you with a sense of awe that can make you grateful for all of it. And all of it is temporary. We can't make it last any longer than our bodies will allow. But to love and to be loved, that's what has made it all worth it.

I remember when my second akita Bear died. I grieved so. Just like I grieved over Angel, my first akita. And I thought, this is so silly. You know energy, life, it is connected and always moving. There is no beginning and there is no end. So why are you suffering so? I'd wake up out of a sound sleep and just want him there. And sob and like a little baby just wanting him back. And in time I realized that it didn't matter if he was here to love. Because I would always love him.

Through the years I had grown to understand that love is an amazing continuum all its own. Whether I was loved in return or understood or was far away, or someone dear to me had died; love was the thread that had woven every meaningful moment together. Every experience was the touchstone that made my heart want to go on beating. So instead of missing those who had passed or suffering loss I just loved them still. The only thing I miss is the physical part, like being able to hear someone's voice on the phone. But love transcends all pain and loss into something profoundly beautiful.

I'm glad for every new day to experience it. And when I am no longer, it won't matter. Because I lived and loved to my fullest and that has made all of the difference.

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