Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Big Weep

Sometime around the time that I became an Elderly, I shut down the conduits of emotional weeps. I decided it was all for aught. And granted, although I still might get watering eyes when in severe physical pain, through some process outside of my control, I decided that emotional weeps help nothing, cure nothing, do nothing, so why bother. So I’ll not do that anymore.

And, surprisingly, with that avowal, I’m managed to keep my emotional weeps in check. When I have lost dear ones, I have simply stated, within my mind, ‘This is the way of life. This is it’s cycle and this is what is to be expected.’

Now prior to this time, I used to go out on my deck in the cool of the eve and contemplate constellations, wondering how amongst a limited number of misaligned stars in the heavens, I was supposed to see a helmeted warrior with a novelty belt and sword strapped thereto, and a bear, and God knows what else. I am imaginative. I have always been imaginative, but really. How could anyone see these exotic impressions in a very few star-to-star dotted designs?

But I digress. What I wanted to tell you is that of late, I have lost many dear friends and many dear neighbours. It’s what happens when you live in a small community. I somehow think there wouldn’t be so many if I lived in a large metropolis. I would only be aware of so few. But here, even those I don’t know intimately, or even conversationally, I still know. People say to me, “Did you hear so and so passed away?”

I say, “I don’t think I know that person.”

And they say, “Of course you do. She is the red-haired lady that always grocery shops late on Friday nights, and is in the beauty salon every Wednesday.”

And then of course, I realize that I do know her, have occasionally spoke with her, and she is like so many others, except the odd newcomers, that are an integral part of the familiar landscape in a small town. In a small town there are few that one doesn’t know, albeit in a casual way, enough to feel a vacancy when they are gone. And lately there are many. So very many.

Anyway, this among other emotional traumas, are things I no longer weep about having matured enough to fully understand we all come the same way and leave the same way.

But out on my deck in the cool of the evening, something is happening that I really don’t like one little bit. I don’t like crowds but when I sit on the deck after nightfall it seems so crowded. With a silent crowd. Yet a crowd that is wanting something from me in a restless kind of anxious way.

And though I vow not to feel bad enough to weep, I sit out on my deck in the evening and find myself thinking, with much loneliness, of the many I once knew that were such brave souls, such fine people, such lovers of life, so sturdy and brave and kind; but now they are gone. Yet I feel their presence out on the deck.

A restless kind of presence. They touch me not, but they harass my mind and they are as clearly present as the pictures the constellations hold in such an oblique way.

And finally, finally, I realize I cannot deal with their ghosts any longer although I am glad they are there, but at the same time would rather just sit there mindlessly on my deck for an hour or so before turning in for the night. Does it make sense? Me wanting them there, but yet wanting them to be calmer, quieter, more transparent, more settled.

And finally, I give up. I open up the conduits of salt and water mix and let it flow. I think it is such a stupid exercise. It changes nothing. It alters none of the hard cold and grey facts of what life and death is about. But yet, amazingly, the crowd on my deck slips into a happier venue and they do become warm and transparent and okay as if bathed by my emotions.

Why, or how, I have no idea. Cause despite what I have done, that great big weep didn’t change anything in a concrete way, but in the world of abstraction, it did a beautiful, healing thing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just Get Me A Chair

I have always hated it. Those social gatherings, with all chairs removed, wine and grapes and cheese laid out on long tables, for an afternoon or evening fete.

The notion in standing, strutting, plying, one’s way about the room was that people would mix. But they didn’t. We came from a variance of social strata that cringe from each other and would not even mix if thrown into a high-speed blender. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Now I’m not much good in social situations at the best of times. Especially if most of the people in the room are strangers to me. And furthermore I cannot think on my feet. I have a process. A convoluted internal process that in conversation, takes a relaxed chair-position to execute.

I must, with much diligence, take what is said to me, turn it over, contemplate how meaning and source is to be interpreted and examine a collection of possible comebacks in a search for something light, graceful, humorous, or witty, that won’t sound utterly stupid. I’m slow that way. Very slow.

And further to that, I have not the physical grace to carry a glass of wine, a napkin, a small plate with four grapes, and three cheese chunks around and at the same time think about what to say or do next.

But for some stupid reason, when sitting (with a ledge for my stuff), I manage rather well. Speech comes easier. In a more fluid, self-assured way.

Maybe in my soul there is too much intuition. In the same way that I can walk into the dwelling of two people and know without any external sign that a grand altercation is going on, I can feel the cringe of the social stratification barriers. And so at wine and cheeses, I have more difficulty, than most seeking out conversation with others.

I want the comfort of a chair. Even if I have to hold my stuff on my lap, I am good with a chair. A chair can hide a wrinkled skirt, a run in one’s stocking, a wet coffee stain, one’s insecurity, stupidity, over-thinness, over-thickness, even one’s social stratification. A chair by day is as good as a blanket by night.

But having said that, I am reminded of the silly notion I heard year’s ago about elementary classrooms no longer engaging in playing Musical Chairs. Apparently the lonely soul left at the end of the game without a chair could suffer life-long trauma over the rejection they could feel because of ending up odd-man-out. As comforting as a chair is to me, that is utter silliness.

It is not as bad as the teacher, and for some reason, these teachers are usually men, that stand at the front of the class and say things like “and the earth is _____ miles from the sun“, while pointing at some unfortunate soul who doesn’t know or even have a clue. That kind of crap is what causes lifelong trauma.

Women teachers on the other hand are more likely to say, “Can someone tell me how far the earth is from the sun, if so, please raise your hand.” Good, that is good.

And so I say to Hub, “How did you feel in school when the teacher stuck his finger in your face and said, “the sun is ____ miles from the earth”. Did you not feel too obvious, insecure, shamefaced and so stupid if you did not know the answer.”

“Of course not,” says Hub. “I always knew the answer”

“You did?“ I say, in utter disbelief. “What is the answer?“

Without hesitation, Hub replies, with a sneering snort.

“A great distance, a very great distance.”

That’s one for Hub, but he can think on his feet. I can’t.