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.

Amalgam

Good evening Travellers,

I thought I’d do something different on this Sunday eve. Not so much with all the splendid little things of my past week, but more a curious train of thoughts that has been running through my head over the past ten days that I just want to leave in this space for your contemplation…

I love the word amalgam. Don’t you? Have you ever considered how many amazing fantastic words are largely ignored in everyday conversation? Truly, most of us pick our words like that favorite pair of jeans you wear at least 5 times before you launder them while ignoring all of you other jeans. Know what I mean? I think we should all endeavor to learn a new word every day. I believe there might be more enchanting words than there are days in a human life, don’t you?

This morning I taught my outdoor yoga class in 42 degrees. IT WAS EXHILARATING!! And the sky was so clear, so blue. The air was crisp and unmoving. So still. The summer cicada choir has been silenced. I often feel cold weather has a greater sense of peace. It’s like the world is finding clarity, while Spring and Summer feel like a riot. Everything flourishing at once in everyway: weather, sounds, floral and animal. Spring is the explosion, summer it’s full revelation, Fall is the slow dance into slumber and winter is the quietude that brings us back. I use to imagine winter was death, but I believe it’s something entirely different now.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The secret to working out/yoga in the cold is a hoodie. You need a good hoodie, hood up, tie it up and you are good to go. Most of your body heat escapes through the crown of your head, so get a hoodie. Also, hoodies are happy clothes. Hoodies feel like warm hugs. I could live in hoodies. Just my opinion.

Also, remember to wiggle your fingers AND toes continually. Just good life advice there. A good toe wiggle helps your remember where you are at all times.

Last week on the 12th, it was the one year mark from Dave’s suicide. Somewhere in the past two months, something finally shifted in me and I have found a sense of something inside that I don’t have name for yet. Maybe it’s acceptance. I have fully come to understand that I couldn’t have saved him. We are not here to save each other, Read that again, because it’s true. In fact, in life guarding they will warn you that a drowning person can you take you down with them. And I think that’s true of life as well. You have to put on your oxygen mask first as the plane is going down in order to help anyone else.

I took vacation time. If you knew me in the real world, you could fully grasp the magnitude of what that means. (I’m laughing as I type that…) I’m not good at breaking away from my regularly scheduled life. I blame my childhood. Those of us who were raised in chaos tend to create something in our adulthood that resembles a schedule, but can easily double duty as a cage. So I broke out for 6 days. 6 glorious days where I stopped making my bed, stopped cleaning up every single animal hair every morning, stayed up late, went out late, went on 4 dates with 4 different guys, went out of town, had a few drinks, ate new foods. It was bliss. Uncontrolled bliss. (And I smile as I type that..) So if you are reading this in your comfort cage, do let yourself out some time, won’t you?

That got me thinking about life. I think life is really about a series of experiences versus destinations. I think collecting great moments in tastes, sounds, sights, deeply inhaling all the outdoor air, kissing boys, dancing in parking lots, having virtual sexual encounters, talking till 4am with a good friend, buying new hoodies. Meeting new people, you should always meet new people. In the real world. Talking while looking into someone else’s eyes is everything. It’s a sort of ordinary euphoria. Right there, ORDINARY EUPHORIA. Seek that…

We learn who we are in relationships with others. We find ourselves in how we relate to others. I think when we leave this world, what we will all miss the most are the ones we loved.

So in my week of abandon, I met a guy. I really like this one, but there seems to be a hiccup or a speed bump or a sudden off ramp. I’m not sure which yet, but here is what I know. We had the best first date of my life. Like I walked right into it and it was easy. So genuinely easy. Zero hesitation. Do you know how hard it is to find someone you genuinely like in the single world? WORST ODDS EVER. And he kissed me on that date, like I’ve been waiting to be kissed in forever. BUT and I won’t delve into details, just it’s this: He said he was broken. And I don’t know what to do with that, here’s why…

This morning I was making the bed and I started crying. Dave and I met around this time of year, many years ago. I just felt sad. Momentarily. I’ve learned if you just cry when you feel like crying, it goes so much easier. Emotions only take us hostage when we are unwilling to listen to them. I will miss him forever. I will love him forever. He will forever have committed suicide. And I will forever not know why or if there was anything that would have changed that horrible event. Forever. This is what my life looks like in it’s acceptance. I hadn’t cried in two months and it left as easy as it slid in.

And when I meet someone who has anxiety or depression, there is this little fear in me. And it says in a tiny whisper, will they do that too? Because almost every guy I’ve met has anxiety or depression. The real pandemic of our world is mental health issues. And the other pandemic is making THAT pandemic even worse. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we need to figure something out people. There are too many good men, I can count five off the top of my head, who I know are under the weight of something. And I don’t know what to do. Because again, we can’t save each other.

What I also know is that most people can’t be bothered lately. Have you noticed how many people seem to no longer care about life? Our current global circumstances feel heavier to some of us than others. And here is where it gets sticky for me, I feel buoyant still. I’m not crazy about the pandemic, but it will pass. Everything that has a beginning has an end, and all of our lives are still raging on. I can tell you to make it matter still, make your life count, even in the little ways, but instead lemme just show you. I’m working on how to do that, because there is sweetness here still. I can’t save anyone, but damn, if I could somehow just lift your eyes up that would be worth it. In case no one has told you lately, THIS LIFE IS STILL WORTH IT. No matter how it looks. You gotta make this life worth the dying for it someday.

I’ve come to believe our lives and more than that, our hearts are like puzzles. A puzzle of unlimited pieces with an ever changing image. Because we are always changing whether by our own design or just idling along. Every person we care for be it friend, family, or lover, we give them a piece of ourselves and they give us one in return and voila, we subtly shift. When we lose someone, maybe it’s never that something is getting left behind or lost, it’s just change. The truth is we will say goodbye one way or another to every person we say hello to. There will be no exceptions, but I do believe that we somehow stay with each other. Through break ups, divorce, death, those pieces are an energy we share. I don’t think anyone gets their piece back. Being able to reconcile that is huge.

Lastly, I wish someone told me as a child how hard this life would be, don’t you? In truth, there is no way for us to explain to another human how pain feels, or when it will leave or when happiness will arrive again. But my Grandma Max always said it will work out in the end. She also said to always make things right. She’s never been wrong yet.

One last pineapple before we go…

Buenos Noches Travellers,

I would offer an apology for my extended absence, but it would be more of an apology to myself than to you.

I say instead, let’s call it research, otherwise known as living a human life.

I had been doing this little thing here on Sundays in attempt to illustrate that despite all of our worst efforts, little splendid moments are still budding in our lives…

Did you read those?

Here’s the first one, give it a read, so we can all be on the same page…

But instead of one week, this one is a summer’s worth of good small things…

Tonight I will give you the words and tomorrow night will be the images.

It’s like I’m going to first present you with the tell and tomorrow night give you the show…get it? Tell show, show and tell…

What did you think I would be less clever when I returned?

Come now, I would never disappoint you like that…

In no particular order of importance or any sense of chronology, here we go…

Strawberries. Strawberries. Strawberries…they are my favorite thing to grow. And photograph. And just marvel at…Hands down. The way their viney little selves twist and sprout and re-root. Their lovely little pink and white flowered faces peering up through their giant green leaves towards the sun.

And I’ve fallen in love with the life cycle of the berries themselves as well. I love to watch as they turn from a sort of albino white, to a barely blushed flesh to full luscious red. Their red is one of the lovliest shades. It’s so alive.

There should be a crayon called “Strawberry Red”. Someone call the Crayola committee.

I remembered the garden we had when I was a kid in New Mexico. My parents were still married and the ground was mostly cracked and dried, but there was a smallish garden patch situation. And there were strawberries I’d eat straight off the vine with my tiny fingers. One summer or fall, I remember that whole area of the yard was covered in Monarch butterflies and I wondered if they came for the berries. Because we think that stuff when we are young…

Side note, I have savored very few of my strawberries due to the squirrel. Don’t even ask me about that mother-effing squirrel…There will be a reckoning next Spring I assure you all.

Morning walks continue in all their glory. Mo is 13 now and I can see the age in her hips. We walk all the walks because I want to squeeze as much joy out of this life for her to take with her wherever she goes next. I want her to know how it has been my privilege to know her and call her mine.

I’ve seen cat tails for the first time this year, and these two little paths that call to us in an adjacent wooded area. I’ve also become very aware of these strange drifty swaths of cool air in the morning. The way it feels on my skin. I wonder if the ladies can feel it under their fur coats. It’s a distinct and unusual sensation.

My favorite thing about our walks this year has not been the sunrises, but the shadow of the three of us walking together around this one particular corner of our neighborhood. I feel like I’m going to remember that turn and our shadows together when I’m old and gray.

The sunflowers are out hitchhiking on the sides of the highway again. Every Fall they show up in droves and I just love seeing them. It’s very Kansas.

AND there is this field, half on a hill, half in a valley kind of arrangement…right now there are hay bails spaced out across the plowed landscape and I can’t explain what it is, but I look for this area each time I take the drive. I find it comforting and reassuring in the weirdest good way. And I don’t have a photo of it, because I just like to see it. I like to know it’s there still.

I’ve eaten TOO MANY good fresh cantaloupes, pineapples, peaches and mangoes to count. Best combo ever goes to Bing cherries, champagne mangoes, and pink lady apples all diced up together in a bowl that I stirred with my hand.

I love to eat with my fingers instead of forks, don’t you? Food tastes better when you use your hands. Touch your food people. Obviously, wash your hands first, but touch that food. Especially the ones that can stain your skin. There’s something really marvelous about that…it’s sexy.

I saw a hummingbird in my own garden. First time ever. It was rather serendipitous. I had just taught my yoga class and we were discussing how I had never had one in my yard. Never. EVER. Within an hour later, I was on the phone and glanced out my kitchen window and there he/she was. Just like that suckling the flowers on my cactus. Just suddenly there. It makes me smile still… it’s so good just remembering.

One of my clients had this fantastic t-shirt on one day at work. It was a play on the old Jaws poster, but with Cookie Monster. It’s 100% fabulous. A week or so later, he knocked on my office door and presented the shirt to me in a bag. He had bought it at a Thirft Store and he said it was meant to be mine, he had just gotten it into my hands.

See that, Kindness is still here with us.

AND he’s a tall guy, so this is a t-shirt that could be a dress on me. Or a night shirt. And THAT jarred loose a memory that had been long lost about how as a kid I liked to wear my uncle Mike’s t-shirts to sleep in. Proportionally speaking, this shirt fits me about the same. And when I put it on, it made me feel something like however we feel when we are kids, and don’t know what the world really is. Like a kind of safety. A kind of safety I hope children can still find in this world. Even now.

I have been to two concerts this summer…the Foo Fighters, with 18,000 people. YES, 18,000. Accompanied by a guy who does not know how good of a guy he is…like when you know someone and wished that they could see themselves. He’s one of those and he’s hot. He doesn’t see that either, which is part of his charm. We are seeing his favorite band in October the day after the one year anniversary of Dave’s suicide, so kind of a big deal.

The best past was not just the show, the Foos are worth at least twice the price of admission. It was just being there, outdoors, with all the people…it was the closest to 2019 that I have been…it was like visiting the memory of our shared humanity. Where there were no variants of any kind, human or virus.

It was SO good. And SO bittersweet. Like we had taken a ride in that infamous DeLorean.

Concert #2 was Dermot Kennedy. I bought the ticket the morning of the show and I went on my own. First concert by myself. Hold your applause. Here’s the thing that makes this extraordinary, this day was the last time I felt Dave’s presence and something changed after this day.

I had this feeling that day, like the most reassuring feeling deep down inside myself, that I will be okay if I have to go it alone for the rest of my life. I have been loved, had all the sex, in all the places (Sorry Dad) and I have loved more than one boy. And it’s been more than most get.

When I went to the show, the opening was Bishop Briggs, whom is the last person Dave and I saw together in concert. I didn’t know she was the opening act AND she changed her emblem to an angel. And when Dermot Kennedy sang this song completely accapella, I could feel Dave. Just there next to me.

I know how this sounds, like someone call a doctor, she’s obviously misplaced her senses, but truly, I had the strangest car ride home. I encountered a shooting, a car accident, an accident involving a flipped semi and then a downpour of a storm with a sky full of lightening.

And when I woke up, I felt different and I’ve felt different ever since in a way I can’t explain. I’ve almost made an entire trip around the sun without him. Whatever is left of my life, it will be without him. And I will miss him, as I have missed him. And when I think of him, my eyes well up and I cry, as I am now. He’s on my short list of the souls I hope to meet again someday. Here on Earth or somewhere else.

My dear friend celebrated his 86th birthday for which I made another Hummingbird Cake. Rest assured no actual hummingbirds were harmed in the making of said cake…no idea why it’s called that…if you figure it out let me know. The real point is that friendships taste particularly sweet in this world, don’t they? They have become a fortune even greater than they were in the prior incarnation of human life on Earth, AKA pre-Covid.

I tried out dating apps…I know, Boo, Hiss, Gasp…I did a week-ish on Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder each. Safe to say, it’s not for me. Let’s just call it a smattering of boys or men…dates, conversations, had some drinks, some kissing, hugged a couple, one put his hands on my legs while we talked at a bar and on my low back as we wandered downtown Lawrence in such a way that made me feel like life was reminding me of what it’s like to be with someone. In the best way.

When I was in the process of getting divorced, I heard this song and I felt so very strongly inside that there was someone out in this world for me. There was a happier ending for me, another chance for me, another soul I hadn’t crossed yet and just something good was going to happen. I had a dream not long ago that I was getting married in Centennial Park and while I didn’t see the guy, my brother was walking me down the aisle and my friends were waiting for me and I was so happy. Everyone was so happy. And it didn’t feel too far away, somewhere in the nearby few years, so who knows…

That’s really what I want to drive home to everyone here. The world appears to be an enormous dumpster fire of legendary proportions, but I still believe we can make something good happen. In our own lives, in the lives of the people we care for, in the lives of people we don’t know…but it starts inside us.

Look for the goodness. The remnants of our human-ness. Kindness. Delish-ness. Softness. Ember in the darkness. A kiss on the nape of your neck sexiness. The stains on your fingers from fresh cherries beautifulness.

You have my word, it can still be found.

An evening with Herbert

Buenas Noches Travellers,

This is a very late edition coming to you from the rain drenched plains of Kansas. It’s been raining here everyday for at least five days with no end in sight. By no end, I do mean the forecast for the next two weeks includes rain almost every damn day.

And truly I’m not living on the plains, but rather in the center of a city, which makes what about to say all the more wonderous.

Tonight I arrived home from work to find a most unusual guest on my back terrace.

One little lone duckling waddling along.

As I approached he began feverishly running around. Trying to climb the back step which was twice his height, then trying to run up the siding on the house, then falling down. Then getting up and doing it all over again.

A duckling alone in the city.

Looking like so…

I named him Herbert. Because when I looked at that little face, that’s the name that came to mind.

And obviously I had to catch him because HELLO, dog and cats everywhere here!

I have NO IDEA how he came to be in my backyard as it gated and fenced all around. Did his mother bring him here with his siblings? Had he gotten separated somehow on his own?

We searched the yard, no other ducks in sight. There have never been any ducks in my sight in this neighborhood. Until now.

I’m not gonna lie, part of me gave serious thought to the idea of keeping him. I mean here he was plucked down in my yard in between cloud bursts, don’t we call that fate?

Do I know how to take care of a duck? No, no I do not…

So we called the Wildlife rescue hotline instead and left a message instead. I didn’t expect to receive a call back tonight, so I moved him into the bathtub and set up some kind of livable space for his evening…

He actually seemed to be alright all things considered. Doesn’t he look alright?

I always imagine what life looks like from a smaller animal’s perspective. I must have seemed like a giant that scooped him up into a box with some strange fuzzy thing. And this tub would seem a vast basin of white slickness like he’d never seen before.

I noticed he was shaking, I’m certain he was scared.

I would be scared too, wouldn’t you?

I sat and talked to him and ever so gently touched his back to attempt some kind of reassurance that he was alright.

I’m not sure there is a fear greater for any of us than being completely lost and separated from what you knew to be truly yours.

And since I live almost 14 city blocks away from the nearest body of water or about 7 blocks from the nearby creek, he was far from home, wherever that home may have been.

A nice lady called within an hour of my message asking about him and said she would consult the other lady who worked with her that did more bird rescues and get back to me shortly with instructions to keep him for the night. While I waited I did some online searching and discovered that ducks are not solitary creatures and can easily become depressed or lonely which can make it difficult for them to thrive or survive as ducklings.

It said that they feel loneliness, isolation and grief much like humans do.

The other interesting thing I learned this evening is that ducks, like most other animals, will gladly take in offspring that is not theirs at birth. The nice lady called me back and said she needed to come get him tonight to get him rehomed because he would have a better chance at survival. She planned to take him to that pond I mentioned earlier because other ducks would be there, hopefully a female with ducklings and she would leave him with them.

I have to admit, I’m the skeptic here. Trusting strangers with a super cute duckling that the universe brought to my door isn’t my strong suit, but sometimes you have to do what’s right because it’s right. No guaranteed outcome.

Not a single life here has any guaranteed outcome, does it?

So I packed up my very temporary little duck and said good bye and sent him off into the rainy night with that friendly lady who promised she would find him a new home.

Now let me tell you the weird thing.

This whole event made me think of Dave…There’s a store here called Orscheln Farm & Home that sells farming supplies and each Spring they have Chick & Duck Days. We went several times during our relationship because I loved seeing the chicks and ducklings and holding them. We hadn’t done that in years, but in March he sent me a text with a photo of me holding one of those chicks and asked if I remembered that day. To be honest, he did that half a dozen times before I ever talked to him which angered me and also made me wonder if his life wasn’t as amazing as he thought it was going to be. Otherwise why would you be reminiscing about the woman who you said would be replaced by a better one? I’m going to always wonder if I had said something different, would he be alive still? Was that him reaching out and I failed to see that?

But when I saw this duckling, I realized that strange random wonderous things are still gonna happen in my life.

Because I wasn’t left behind to die, I was left behind to live.

Now if you would all do me this kindness: Pray for Herbert’s safety and long life. Ducks can live up to 20 years and perhaps he and I will meet again someday.

Or send positive energy or whatever you do, just do that…

They say

Good morning Travellers,

It’s a rainy one here. In fact, all week is clouds and rain.

I’m going a little free form today on a rather difficult topic. I’ve been struggling to go through this door, so we’ll see how this goes…

They say, “Time heals all wounds” I’m pretty sure they were just talking about the ones of flesh, blood, and bone. Those things will scab and scar, while our souls do not have the capacity to coagulate. When our deeper selves are wounded, we seem to bleed in such a way sometimes that all the gauze on Earth won’t make it stop.

We apply pressure. We force ourselves forward, we smile when inside we are dying. We deny.

Friends have said to me on more than one occasion during the past seven months since Dave’s suicide that “You are handling this so well.” I don’t know if I am or not. I don’t think humans are equipped to handle this sort of thing. We are not meant to handle this sort of thing.

I still have occasional uncontrollable spells of sobbing at the most inopportune moments. Like walking into a seamstress yesterday, or sitting at my desk at work. Or after watching Toy Story 4. Or standing at my kitchen sink. Or looking into Ramona’s aging eyes and realizing she will never see him again.

My former mom-in-law said she “Imagined my grieving process is complex because we shared good times and bad times together and time apart.” I have to say it’s so much more than that. It’s so much worse. I have the horrendous thought that lurks still inside that if I had been a better wife, he would still be alive. That I am being blamed somewhere. But then I remember he wasn’t a great husband always either. If I had tried harder to make him stay and go to therapy, he would still be here. But he adamantly refused.

Mostly I wish I hadn’t lied for him because I felt like I had to.

Dave was taking a job to be a guard in a jail. And despite our separation, his commanding officer still wanted to talk to me which was beyond uncomfortable. One of the questions he asked was, “Does Dave have any mental proclivities that might affect his ability to do this job?” And I lied, because I said “NO”.

Because I thought he and his family would feel like I was throwing interference. I abandoned myself in that moment. And I also abandoned him in truth. His depression, anxiety and drinking were out of control and he wasn’t going to survive that job, I knew. I knew who he was inside. And I wasn’t alone in that thought.

Dave had said that “God was making this path for him to leave and go to Colorado.” I think back on him saying that the day he left and wonder what the fuck, are you for real? And in my anger, because let’s be honest if someone you love kills themselves, you are going to find anger riding shotgun inside your mind. I wondered in his last moments, did he think that his suicide was part of God’s plan?

A friend of mine has always said that “Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do.” That’s one that really requires some finesse, doesn’t it? I know he had suffered his whole life with persistent severe depression. And for those of us who do not suffer under such things, there is no amount of empathy in the world that really gives true understanding, is there?

Before I met him he had already attempted to take his life. There’s a weird phrase “Taking your life”. I can’t help but think, take it where? Like you folded up your soul like a fine pair of trousers and gentle placed it into a little suitcase and traveled elsewhere?

To be clear, in my opinion, suicide is murder. You are murdering yourself. It is too violent to be described with kinder words. I can’t count the number of thoughts I’ve had about what it means for him to have put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Imagine how the bullet blew out the back of his head. A head that I had touched so many times in gentleness. Shattered is the word. His head and my heart.

Were tears streaming down his face or was he relieved? Did he think we would be relieved? Didn’t he know that this match he was striking was gonna burn down my forest and his parents and his sister and his friends?

How much pain is required to do such a horrible thing when we all loved you so?

I’ve come to believe that suicide a sort of transmogrification. I think the person who ends their life changes those lives around theirs by essentially passing their pain into the people who cared about them.

And I think it’s giving up. He gave up. When he gave up on himself, he gave up on all of us.

Humans aren’t suppose to give up, it’s our fucking super power, don’t you all know that?

Obviously, again, I’m still working on that anger in between my life and random spells of sobbing.

They say “Just be happy.” Dave said his dad would comment to that effect quite often throughout his youth. Leave it to humans to take positivity and make it toxic. Our bodies are not lamps to be rubbed to summon an emotion like a genie. A human life encompasses all the emotions, but we do have to let them go. Emotions and thoughts are not our identity, yet so many of us are raised to believe that is so. Read that again. And unfortunately there are so many of us who live with mental health issues that are overwhelming and make it virtually impossible to arrive at that understanding.

They say, “One find one’s destiny on the path one takes to avoid it.” I will wonder my whole life why he did this, could it have been avoided or was this the way the story was always going to end. On a selfish note, I wonder, was I meant to love him and lose him? Was this my person and now I’m left to wander alone? Or was I meant to care for him, and I failed? Was he entrusted to me and I failed? Was he meant to care for me and he failed?

Are there those amongst us who will never have reprieve from their mental suffering?

I would do anything to prevent someone else from choosing this, if you are thinking of choosing this, please seek help. Please tell someone. Tell them now.

Because if no one has ever told you that your life is worth it, then let say it, “Your life is worth living, no matter how hard it may seem. You belong here with us. You matter. Your life has a reason. You are an “on purpose.” .On my word. I don’t believe life is ever wasted, maybe you are just lost, but what’s lost can always be found. Tell someone.

The last time I spoke to Dave was a few weeks prior to this event, and he told he had sat with a gun three times. I asked if he was taking his meds and he said yes, I asked if he was in therapy, of course he said no, but he did talk to the jail’s therapist from time to time.

It had been over a year since we talked, I had believed he was happy in Colorado and had found his better job, better house, better life and I assumed the girl he was convinced would be there. He told me that was what would happen. I told myself that’s what would happen.

But it didn’t. He didn’t find any of that from what I can tell…because they say, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” Which is completely true. You are either your greatest ally in this life or your worst enemy. It is you that will pick yourself up off the mat in the prize fight. It is you that will hold yourself in the shower crying. It is you that you need most of all in this life. Without you, you are lost.

I have no idea what went wrong because I had said he wasn’t to contact me after our divorce. So this call was the first. He told me twice on that call that he had always loved me and I told him that he had been an asshole, but I had forgiven him. And I apologized for my part in what had gone wrong. I apologized for any pain I had caused and he just said he had always loved me. We didn’t get divorced because we didn’t love each other, we failed because we didn’t know how to.

They say “This is mental health awareness month.” I say, well, we could call that a good start. I believe that mental health is the egg before the chicken. I believe until we drag our fears out into the light too many souls will die in the dark. And for some it will be a slow death of many days versus a gun in a living room. There is no shame in struggling.

Lemme say that again, there is no shame.

And I’m going to use this space time and time again to show you that’s true.

OLD

Ciao Travellers,

We have finally arrived at the weekend.

Personally, I feel like I have conquered a serious week of too much. Too much at work and too much to take care of in my personal space. Too much for my body. I don’t feel that very often.

But what’s most important is that I have arrived here.

One week older…YOU are in fact one week older now.

Do you ever think about it? Getting older that is?

How do you feel about it? And where did you learn how to feel about it?

Are you allowing others to determine how you fell about that?

When I was teaching hot power yoga, I had a couple of women in class tell me that when I reached my 40s I was going to spontaneously begin to love wine AND gain weight. I was in my mid-30s at the time and I thought what a horrible thing to say to a younger woman. What kind of sisterhood is this? And maybe their experience wasn’t going to be mine, so WTF??

Safe to say, 40 came and went and yea, not only did I never acquire a taste for wildly consuming wine, I have not had any change in body composition. In fact, I’m on the flip side of my mid-40s, and yea, still going strong. I actually got fitter last year, because I started doing more weight training.

And that’s not meant as a brag, but rather a message to all the women out there who are younger than me, age isn’t something to give up to, but rather a realization that it’s same same. We all have been aging since our first breath in this world. It’s just that we have all these mile markers in youth that make it a celebration of accomplishments and then in your late 20s, that tends to die down.

The question is WHY?

Why do we want to spend the rest of our lives, which by the way is equal at least to the length of time that you have already been here, being miserable about something we cannot control?

Since I have been in my current professional occupation, I have had the privilege of learning where the boundary of “OLD” really lies and let me tell you, it’s a helluva long ways a way from 30, 40, 50, 60, 70s even.

There is something that happens to us around 85 where it appears our bodies make some kind of invisible choice to either continue to thrive or start shutting it down. I could speculate as to why, but there appear to be way too many variables to point the finger at a particular guilty party. I feel 85 is a good age where you may refer to yourself as old. If you feel the need…

What I can say with some certainty is this: AGE IS THE ACCUMAULTION OF YOUR LIFE CHOICES. NOT A NUMBER.

Read that 5 times.

The choices you make have repercussions both positive and negative.

Aging is essentially the product of your math.

Yea, it’s a theory. Yes, another one. They’re just gonna keep coming, so you should get used to it….

Life is really all about bad or good math. Choices we make involving bad bets on the percentages, not adding up things correctly or forgetting to subtract debts in all the aspects of our life. And we will all do a lot of bad math before we die.

Fun example: Squirrels, not dumb animals, but seriously the ones hit by cars, that’s bad math. They didn’t do the proper calculations on the speed of the vehicle, the distance they had to cross on that particular road and how fast they could run. Bad math.

Humans, SO MANY EXAMPLES of bad math. Just think about it.

The quality of your age has everything to do with your math skills.

Excessive drinking, social drug use, smoking, eating a lot of sugar, not moving, not sleeping well, not getting serious about your mental health, how you handle stress, your illnesses, overutilizing pharmaceuticals versus learning to be an advocate for yourself, not drinking enough water, all big subtraction. A deficit that you create in your body.

The reverse or opposite of ALL THOSE THINGS, are positives in your body.

Aging is your equation of those things and your ability to navigate them. Seek answers, be curious and learn about your body/your vehicle, be honest with yourself, and remember nothing is set in stone or predestined, you have the power to ALWAYS change course. You are in fact Dorothy who was always wearing those ridiculous shoes.

Aging is no more of an issue than you make it. I’m completely serious…

I have to also add a few words here that the reason I thought about this topic this morning was because I found myself tearing up at the kitchen sink thinking about Dave. I find that randomly happens…

THIS SONG came up on my Bose. (Yes, go listen to it. I’ll wait. It’s very important to hear this one.) A few days before his suicide, I had heard it again and found myself drawn to it. I kept listening to it and wondering if he had ever heard it. I thought about the fact that is seemed we were becoming friends finally after the divorce. After everything. I thought how grateful I was that I wouldn’t be in my singledom alone. I thought I should tell him both these things. I didn’t. And then he was gone.

Dave’s suicide made me feel old for the first time in my entire life. I think because I realized that for the rest of my life he wouldn’t be simultaneously alive with me on this Earth. And I realized how long I may have left here to live without him. He would never become an old man. He wouldn’t see how his story really ended. Or the ending I hoped he would have.

And for me this is a part of my equation now. I have to figure out how I can add enough positive into my life to take on that kind of subtraction. Because these emotions have a seriously huge number, but I’ve determined I can find an offset in the years to come. I believe he would want me to.

A Sunday rambling

Buenas Dias Travellers,

And HAPPY SUNDAY, or my day as I call it…WELCOME TO MY DAY!!

I mean technically, yes this is pretty much the day we have established as God’s day, but for me, it’s the day of the week that is always mine. Meaning I don’t share it with others very often. Because I think it’s important that we each have a day that is ours during the week whether it be to take some spontaneous adventure or bask in the silence or take a long walk or tend to something that requires your attention or just sit for awhile on your own. Let yourself unfurl. Even inside of chores on this day, there is something really good still.

Now to all the naysayers, yes, it’s easier to accomplish this if you are single and live on your own. Allow me to acknowledge my privilege here. If you have a partner or children, perhaps you could negotiate how this works. For each other. Because the longer I’m alive, the more I have realized that if we cannot function wholly on our own, we cannot be truly good for each other.

We extend whatever energy is inside us to everyone around us.

So, BEING ALONE, ON YOUR OWN, have you done that lately?

And I mean by choice, not this weird domestic house arrest that COVID has placed all of us under for crimes we have not bothered to understand.

I mean CHOOSE for YOU…try it…where there is a will, there is a way.

I think this day, Sunday, has a sort of cadence unlike other days in terms of time. Maybe that’s why God gets this day, because a God would certainly not obey something like time, would they? Why is there time anyways, have you ever thought about that? Humans created a way to measure it, but where did it come from…

I’ve experienced more Sundays than I can count where minutes and hours seems to lie down and release their grip on my life. I also stay away from clocks on Sunday and just move. But I tell you, time does not work the same on Sunday…

In fact, if you choose another day to make yours, lemme know if that still applies…the cat napping time that is.

As far as GOD, I’m not quite sure if that’s what I would call what I believe in at this point in my life…I’m not sure where Dave went, or any of the other people I’ve lost. I don’t think it’s as simple as most religion has us believe, I think it’s way more nuanced.

Since Dave died, I have had three specific instances where I know he was here, in this house. With me. The first was on the night I found out he was gone. I came home and his TV was on. I had not been in the room in days. And I could feel him.

The next time occurred shortly a few days later, I was listening to THIS SONG for the first time on that same television (go listen to it) or THIS VERSION, and there is a line that says, “I’ll take all the love and all the pain” and just all of the words. Every word felt like an ushering forward, like a message, because I found the song just then. Like he wanted me to keep moving on. And I just sat there, music pouring out of the sound system, balling my eyes out, but I know he was there. Sitting next to me.

And lastly, I had a dream unlike any dream I’ve ever had…he was leaving and we were in the house he always wanted to build. I was offering to pack up his stuff and he said where he was going he didn’t need any of it. And we were kissing and then he vanished. And it was gone, but the weirdest feeling of my whole life. Like my mind had been violated.

Some part of me felt though in those moments like maybe he didn’t fully realize what he had done. How could he…

I can’t help but feel that there is no way for anyone in that situation, choosing suicide that is, to realize the true gravity of what they are deciding, If that makes sense…we cannot know what our death is until we cross that line.

I believe there is something happening here in this life, there is an unseen connection between all living souls and all the souls who have been here before. Something that makes each one of us necessary. Something greater than us. Maybe a God, but something we can feel when we are alone with ourselves.

It is a quiet hum. Almost. And if you sit still, it’s almost a whisper. It is the thing that I was referring to in my last post about magic. It is the way we meet and the way we choose inside ourselves. It is the thing that propels most of us forward. It’s found in the moment a child is born and in the moment we each leave. It is outside in nature and in the eyes of my dogs, my cats and each other. It is something beyond our control that we will fail to notice when we are so busy.

It’s the thing about taking a day of your own, there are moments.

AND whatever comes next after we die and whatever came before we were born that something connects us all together in a way that our human minds can not yet comprehend. I’m not sure we even have the vocabulary. I think it applies to everything that is living here with us. In a way it is unseen but waiting for us to notice if but for just a day. Or a moment.

And I don’t think it’s mine alone, or even meant just for me. I think it is inside of all of us. But I wanted to tell you about it, in case you’re missing it. Maybe you’ve been seeking it without even knowing. I think it wants you to you give yourself space and time to breathe, just so you know it’s there…

The High Dive

Hello Travellers,

It’s been awhile. Like a long while.

I’ve been trying to find my way back to this place. Obviously with no great success. So much has changed and yet so much remains the same, right? The world has been transformed in a way that I’m fairly certain, it will never go back to as it once was. What has been seen, cannot be unseen and I’ve reached a point where I don’t think we should. We should never waste our energy wishing for what can never be, should we?

I’ve been looking for a way back into this place. It’s felt like I’ve been looking for the right key to open the door. Hell, many days I’ve been uncertain that I even still owned the keys. Or maybe the right words would be like a combination on a lock. If I could just fumble through the pockets of my mind long enough and find the words. Because there has been some serious change in my life and I’m no longer the person who wrote the last post.

I left here with adventures on the horizon and all the optimism in the world despite COVID. In fact, as shit got real, I learned that there is one thing we all forget about our phones and their photographic technology, they hold evidence of our happiness. You can freeze a frame of happiness in a lens. IF you should choose to see it that way…but I’ll talk about that another time.

What I’d like to discuss today is something I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to lately, perception. How we choose to or fail to see people for who they are. Including ourselves. For me, it’s related to how I have withheld myself from being seen by others as well. And I’m pretty sure for me there is a direct correlation between those two things. Like so many things, it’s the inside job that is affecting the outside.

At my last therapy session, we were talking about how I’m afraid to let people to see things about myself. That I will be judged and come up short. Things like the fact that I played piano for a quarter of my life, yet no one who knows me as an adult has ever seen me play. Or that I can sing, pretty well, yet I sing for no one. Or any of my mistakes I’ve made. I’ve always been an at arms length kind of person. And it’s been keeping me from fully trying to do what I want to do. It’s keeping me from everyone.

On Christmas day, I had some friends over and drank more wine that I can ever remember drinking. Not out of sadness or anything like that, just sometimes wine gets away from you. Do you know what I mean? Anyhow, in my intoxicated stupor I had this fantastic conversation with someone whom I did not know well at the time. There was this moment where was explaining to me why he doesn’t sleep well as an adult. It was tied back to childhood trauma and yet I could see in his face, he was still quite clearly haunted by it. Here’s a fully grown man who isn’t sleeping because of memories formed over an almost life time ago. And I don’t know if it was the vino or what, but in that moment, I could see him. Like really see this person in front of me as a witness without any illusions. It was the most sobering inebriation I’ve ever experienced. And to be clear, I only drank three times in 2020.

A few days later, I began to piece together that moment and my dialogue with my therapist and realized, this is my key. This is how I find my way back here to this place that I created. Along with one other detail…

Five days after my birthday in October, the man that I have written here about, my ex husband, took his life. He was dog-sitting for a friend and killed himself in their house with a gun. And it has changed everything in me. Forever. I’ll talk about this again and again and in more depth because I believe it’s worth talking about. It needs to be talked about. I want his death to mean something because he meant alot, whether we were together or not and this moment is entirely germaine to what I’m writing about right now.

When I met Dave, and we are going to use him name now because I want him to be known, not long after we met, he told me about his previous failed suicide attempt. He told me about his life long battle with depression that he was on medication for. He told me about his beliefs and his family and at the time we met, he had a sort of girlfriend. I was drawn to him like a magnet. He had a kind of gravity I had never encountered before.

And yet, I didn’t fully see him. I saw what I wanted to see, an intelligent funny guy who gave the best hugs I’ve ever known in my entire human life. He hugged people with his whole soul, as we should all hug. I didn’t understand the depths of his illness or the shadow that it would cast over him and us. I didn’t see him. I saw what I wanted to see.

And I didn’t see myself either. I couldn’t see through the haze of my own trauma. I wasn’t acknowledging what had happened to me or it’s ramifications on my life. I wasn’t addressing my own behavior. I was choosing to see as a means of survival. And while I think that this kind of vision can be necessary for our ability to endure at times, ultimately that kind of short sightedness robs us and others of the thing that we all so desperately need, to be fully witnessed and accepted by the humans in our life.

We want to be understood when we are completely indecipherable. We want to be heard even through the barriers of our differences. We want to feel safe enough to show our gifts and not be ridiculed or judged. We want to be able to be different and accepted for that, to understand our viewpoint is not the same and not be attacked. We want to meander deeply into our own souls and dive in to find who we are and when we resurface holding what may appear a be a common rock to others, understand it’s a pearl to us.

This lack of vision also causes us to harm others and ourselves. We choose from a place of fear or insecurity or pain. We deprive ourselves of realness and closeness which is also scary. Vulnerability people, it’s the only key. And Dave’s suicide has only served to drive this realization so far home it’s like a permanent mile marker on my soul.

Look around your life, do you really know the people in your life? I’m not talking about knowing every detail in their story, I mean their essence. Do you know yourself through your blood, bones and back again?

I can’t help but to think about this country, America, and the events that have unfolded in this past year. I feel like we no longer choose to see those whom we disagree with, do we? Do we even understand our own motivation in the COVID world? This is the moment to dig, into ourselves so we can see again. Because I still believe in hope and all the possibilities that lie beyond the horizon, but we cannot get there in blindness.

Lastly, let me leave you with a quick story from my childhood. One summer, I went to a swimming pool with my brother from another mother, his brother, his mother and my mother. There was a high dive and I’d never been on one before. I can’t recall how old I was, but I know I was a child. Because the memory has an immense height attached to that board. Both of my cousins climbed the ladder and jumped with the greatest of ease and I was encouraged to do the same. I’ve always been an avid swimmer, so why not, right? I remember scaling that ladder and when I arrived at the top, it was a helluva drop. But there I was and just when I was about to go back down. Crawl back down actually, there was a bee. And I jumped. I told my therapist that I feel like I’m on that board right now and Dave is the bee. And so despite all my fear, I’m gonna jump.

What’s the harm in believing?

 

Happy Friday Travellers,

I am so happy to say that the sunrise returned this morning in all it’s glory. Around 6am, I looked out the front door to see the sky ablaze with an ultraviolety pink hue. And of course we had to venture out on a walk under that sky, which slowly faded into all the colors of cotton candy before becoming clouded over. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a sense of simultaneous joy and relief just seeing the sun come up.

Oddly, I remembered as I walking and looking up what it was like making cotton candy at the movie theatre I worked at in high school. It really is a marvel how you can pour solid sugar granules in and on the other side, you get the floofy fluff of candy dreams. And making the perfect cloud on a stick is no easy task let me tell you.

I completely forgot about that experience until this morning…

Continue reading “What’s the harm in believing?”

An addendum: Spelunking your soul

Travellers-

I had a thought last night after I closed my post and I think it bears worth saying, so here we go: We need to be able to listen to people speak their darkest pain in without freaking the f*ck out. You don’t have to be mentally ill or depresssed or have anxiety or ANYTHING mentally wrong to think about ending your life. Maybe read that again. Period.

Continue reading “An addendum: Spelunking your soul”