Meliorism

Happy very late Sunday night Travellers,

Let’s start with something I said last time I was here about great words and how we tend to neglect a flourishing vocabulary in favor of what is comfortable…this evening I have a good one, meliorism which is the belief that the world can be made better by human effort. Obviously better is subjective, but what a great word…what a great thing to try and do despite everything…

In case you are just stumbling into this space, I’m going to do my formerly regularly scheduled Sunday night dish of goodness that I haven’t done in a long time…

I should warn you that some of the things I’m going put on the table may not in fact seem like goodness. I’ve become very aware of in the past few years that great pain leads us to places we may never have ventured on our own. And I think it’s a gift to arrive in the space that despite it all, you would never undo the choices that led you there. Because it makes you into you.

And maybe the best wisdom or goodness is gleamed in the darkness. I think this is where courage grows for us all. It’s like the night shade of virtues.

I was driving to Lawrence Saturday night, and I took this shot of the sunset from a rather unusual perspective for me. Later I realized I liked it so much because it reminded me of the last moments of the “Six Feet Under” finale. Something about catching the sunset behind me instead of in front of me. I’m not sure how to describe it, so give it some thought…

I know we’re not suppose to look back too much in life because we can’t drive or move forward very well, but a glance can’t be helped now and again, can it?

And this was a doozy of a sunset. The way it unfolded itself was exquisite. I’ve seen a few this year that left a lurking afterglow on the horizon. Almost like the sun wasn’t ready to go to bed…

It’s Fall right now. I realize that many of you don’t have Fall where you are reading this from, I can’t imagine that kind of absence. My dear friend who moved to Texas always says she misses the seasons.

Fall in Kansas is like fireworks done in the medium of vibrant leaves. Minus the exploding noises, but you get the idea. All the colors of red, orange and yellow in all pigmentations and combinations. I find myself often lingering and staring as I drive down the streets in wonder…

I could shoot hundreds of photos of said leaves on trees, but here are my two favorites.

The first is a tree in a neighborhood that I pass through each day on my drive into work. It’s the color of sunshine and I kid you not, it glows when the sunlight hits it. It’s ethereal and unreal. AND I desperately want to go lay under it and take a photo like I’m looking up it’s skirt, but I’m not sure how the homeowner would respond to a random girl laying in their yard taking photos so this is what I have…maybe close your eyes and imagine what it would look like laying under it’s boughs…the staggering grandeur.

One more thing, the day I took this photo, the sky was the most beautiful shade of blue. Actually, azure. And the combination of the colors was just the kind of thing that makes you want to memorize the details and pack it away in your suitcase of memories on Earth.

This one is my blueberry bush. Not sure if it’s Larry or Curly at this point, but the two new ones went fiery red while my original one is experiencing his first outdoor Fall. This will be the first year his leaves will change colors outdoors. You can see he is currently resisting as his foliage is mostly green, BUT I am seeing colors. I’m oddly happy for him getting to experience this with fellow blueberry bushes.

One final note on the Fall leaf situation, I’ve found myself drawn this year to the leaves lying about the ground or when I happen to pass by and catch them floating mid-air on their descent to their earthly graves. It’s beautiful in a way I have failed to notice until now. It’s like a slow strip tease for trees and life. Just strewn about, all around us. They have become the teenagers whose clothes are ALL OVER THEIR ROOM and not getting picked up anytime soon.

I bought a new cactus. Shocking I know…the guy who grows these is the most inspired gardener I’ve ever met… I will bet he names all of them and talks to them. He can grow varieties I’ve never seen in my entire life… some I keep alive, some not so much…SHHHHH!! Don’t tell him…I loved this one because of the pink blushed edges on it’s leaves and these little guys growing on it…again, wonder is alive and well in this world AND you can care for it…GROW WONDER. How about that???

Okay, so here’s the serious plot twist..one week ago, Dave’s dad passed away from Covid. Mike was a good man and a parent to me in my life when I needed one. He was honest and hard working and had the best genuine positive attitude. I can still here him saying my name in my head as I type these words.

The last time I saw Dave, Mike was with him. Dave once told me that I reminded him of his Dad and Mike told me that’s probably not a good thing Amy. I never talked to him after Dave committed suicide, but I always remembered when he once said to me that Dave had never been happy in his whole life in the middle of an odd conversation about plates. And I felt for him in that moment. My whole heart hurt for him. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a child struggling with an illness that is foreign to you. Mental health is so hard to understand because we cannot feel each other’s insides and it’s the hardest bridge of understanding to cross, isn’t it?

I genuinely consider it my privilege to have known him. And again, I don’t know where we go next or how long we linger or what part of us remains here with those we love, but I hope we meet again somehow.

On the one year anniversary of Dave’s suicide last month, I had reached out to his mom and I realized in that moment, she and I were always still traveling together through this life. Silently for most of this past year, but together.

When she called me about Mike, I thought of the gift she gave me when Dave left as we were divorcing. She sent it back with Mike for me. It says “Be Brave”. I know she will find this post and I don’t know what the words are right now to help you know that you’ll make it through this, so I wanna tell you about something that happened tonight instead…

Years ago there was a place in Lawrence called Ingredient. Over the course of a decade or so, we frequented it in varying combinations of myself and Dave, Martha and me, I think all four of us, and Martha and Mike. It closed a few years ago, but there was this soup. The greatest tomato bisque in the history of humanity. Yes, the greatest, nope, not gonna back down from that claim…

Tonight I believe I experienced what can only be described as a celestial culinary event.

A supernatural alignment of soup.

That bowl above is from the local Co-op in that same city, but tonight it was EXACTLY like the soup from Ingredient. Taste, texture, viscosity and this very specific thing that I’ve never had anywhere else. It’s a little tiny crunch.. Until tonight…tonight there was magic here in my house.

I actually giggled when I took the third or fourth bite…because I recognized it, because I have missed it, because it’s not from this place, because flavor is as unrepeatable as moments.

BUT for just that moment, I felt very connected to all of us. Martha, Mike, Dave and me and the life that we all shared. Those memories before the world broke open. The life that remains here for her and I without them. This month is Dave’s birthday and I have to say Mike’s death knocked something loose in me and reignited my feelings about Dave in a way that I can’t explain. The human nervous system is a mystery, but we’ll talk about that another time…

ALSO worth noting, mac and cheese from said Co-op is AH-MAZING dipped in this soup. Always always try new things. Especially food, what do you have to lose anyways?? That’s actually one of the best things I learned from Dave, taste new things.

Now I’d like to leave with a song that I don’t want to explain right now, but I wanna leave it here anyways…and something the weirdly wise Keanu Reeves said when asked what happens to us when we die. He replied, “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.” I like to believe they miss us too, don’t you?

See you soon.

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