Thursday, November 13, 2008


What's left to say. What words will do? I put my arm around his shoulders, my step father, in an awkward attempt to comfort him. As he sat slumped on a couch, trembling with Parkinson's, a tear feathered across his cheek. What? It will be alright? Don't feel that way? He feels what he feels, and I don't know the future, to say it will be alright. No, I do know the future. It won't be alright. He'll deteriorate until the end of his life. There is no hope, in false hope.

He clings to his life, he waits to die, he sits all day waiting to eat. Life is terrible? Yes. Life is beautiful, but full of pain? Yes. It is full of the sound of an aluminum walker clumping slowly from room to room. It is full of angry and uncomprehending tears, and regret, and sodomized horses and the accompanying laughter, and the tears again that turn into rage and muted madness. If my compassion were useful, I'd think it had value. As it is, it's just more cause for grief. And melancholy rolls down my back like slow sap.

Fear God. Yes. Do. He gives, he takes, he expects, he forgives -- I don't suppose I know if he remembers. I know he doesn't forget. He forgives us our sins, not our character. His compassion is filled with a sense of futility. What more can he do, than he's done? -- and it wasn't enough, for so many. He puts his arm around my shoulders, if he does, awkwardly. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I used to think that I changed my personality every seven years. That idea slipped away for a time, but I just thought to revisit it, and note that I'm 49. Time for a change.

So I do a pretty good workout about four times a week. Making progress. Improving times and effort and power and that sort of thing. It's all about mitochondria, and that takes time. But I've been at it consistently for three months now, and it's coming along. I don't have a lot of expectations, but I was thinking about becoming discouraged. I've learned though to look to the long term. These things take time. Impossible things that happen all at once, we call miracles. Impossible things that happen over a long time we call Evolution. But possible things just take effort.

So some months ago I got an email, out of the blue, from someone I used occasionally to roll with. He'd heard about the odd circumstances of my departure from that place, and for reasons of his own, invited me to train with him. Long story short, I drive out to his place several times a week and we do a workout. You know what that is called? It's called grace. Out of nowhere, seemingly, a friend appears, and a gradual human bond is formed that becomes meaningful, and dear.

How odd it all is. Like celebrating because your team won. Hurrah, hallelujah. We won. What is it again that we won? Anyway, it must really matter. Oh yeah. A game. Yes, there's that. Caring about things that don't matter. Or music -- emptying the mind and filling it with sound and its feeling, Or just letting it soak up the otherwise silence, because something is better than nothing. Or an arm around a shoulder. Like trying to break through the barrier of flesh that defines us and limits us and confines and constrains and makes us possible.

My brother was complaining about our father and his madness. I told him about how children learn to speak. If a small child doesn't hear human speech before the age of two, he never learns to speak a grammatical language. Something in the brain needs what it needs within a set timeframe. That's how it is, I said, with emotion and normality and humanity. If a child doesn't get love and acceptance and approval and all these intangible necessities, he'll never speak a grammatical emotional language.

Ah well. We've wandered down the winding shore in hopes of spying mermaids and catching strains of sirens' song. I do not think that they would sing for me. But they sing. Should this be cause for disappointment?


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