Friday, August 12, 2011

The Cycle ...

I haven't written poetry in a very long time.  Last night, I couldn't get to sleep because an image kept flitting through my mind, so I decided to write it down, and see where it took me.

The cycle of the day pauses sometimes.
A moment holding back eternity.
Bravely a sliver of sunlight teases.

The dancing Wind laughs at a cosmic joke.
For skipped heartbeats, I never understand.
The next beat?  A glimmer.  My dance begins.

I wonder if Night minds a late entrance.
Perhaps not.  After all, She's never gone.
A pause.  A pounding.  I feel the stars dance.

I giggle at a soul's perfect vision.
My eyes can't see stars.  A dancing heart can.
There is a simple rhythm in my life.

In the briefest serenity, I hope.
I pray those who care will walk next to me.
I hope their memories are that I lived.

I lived when life was full, and joy was all.
When laughter was innocent and carefree.
When we danced on the wings of evening Winds.

I hope they remember that I was whole.
I was free for the briefest of seconds.
When the Wind would dance and the Sun would laugh.

If they do, they'll know I'm dancing on Wind.
Laughing with the Stars; joking with Sunlight.
Knowing that the Cycle begins again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Epiphany ...

I had an epiphany some years ago when I was young and trying to figure out what my place in the world was.

At some point, I realized that the only thing that was truly being asked of me on a soul level during this life time was to learn how to love.  It was a HUGE earth-shaking revelation to me, which was followed by the realization that I didn't really know how to love, and that I'd have to learn.  Oh, I was certainly capable of love.  I think that all beings are capable.  It's the gift of the divinity that surrounds us and permeates us, or perhaps it's just the gift with purchase of our humanity.

But to really love?  I didn't know if I had it in me.  I was selfish and self-protective and my armor was 10 feet thick because I didn't think I deserved to have anybody love me, so why should I love them?  They'd just ricidule me and then leave  I sometimes still don't think I deserve it, but I've gotten much better.  It's especially difficult when one is being bombarded by hateful messages from politicians, church-leaders, neighbors and media outlets.

To really be able to love doesn't just mean to feel wonderful in the presence of family or friends or lovers.  The character of Lao Ma on the television series, Xena, says to Xena that it's easy to love somebody who loves you back, it's kind of a good business arrangement, it's more difficult to love somebody who doesn't love you.  (Forgive me, Xena fans, I know I'm paraphrasing.)

I'm learning, very slowly at times, what it means to be able to extend that benevolence, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness against those people who hate you, who actively preach against you and demonstrate and call you horrible, horrible names and accuse you of unspeakable acts, and what it means to get past one's own fears about rejected and loneliness and just love without expecting anything in return.

I must admit that it's difficult for me.  I sometimes feel like I'm seen as the enemy by a great deal of society, feel rejected, less than, hopeless and scared.  When somebody like Fred Phelps, Ruben Diaz in the New York state senate, Michelle Bachman, and the Pope spout off their anti-gay rhetoric or somebody calls me a "faggot," I get angry.  Worse, I get scared.  Anger and fear will get in the way of love, and it takes an extraordinary act of calmness, trust and forgiveness for me to get past it and get to love.

Some years ago, there was a television show called Touched by an Angel.  Many of you will remember it, as it was very popular.

There was one episode with Wynona Judd that touched me deeply, and she peformed a song in the climactic scene that speaks of how I feel about love.  In a world where hatred and fear is spoken of constantly, and talks about love and compassion are few and far between, it behooves me to Testify to Love.  This song reminds me that I am not alone in this journey to learn how to love.

Here is the clip from the show, and the lyrics follow:

All the colors of the rainbow.
All the voices of the wind.
Every dream that reaches out.
That reaches out to find where love begins.
Every word of every story.
Every star and every sky.
Every corner of creation.
Lives to testify.

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.
I’ll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough.
With every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above.
For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.

From the mountains to the valley.
From the rivers to the sea.
Every hand that reaches out.
Every hand that reaches out to offer peace.
Every simple act of mercy.
Every step to Kingdom Come.
All the hope in every heart will speak what love has done.

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.
I’ll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough.
With every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above.
For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.

That clip still makes me cry.

So, do me a favor today, take the time to hold the hand of your closest friend, your lover, your wife, your husband, your son, your daughter, your pet, your neighbor, tell them that you love them, and then both of you together turn to love somebody else.

I'm pretty sure that the world will be a better place for it, and even if it isn't, you'll feel better.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The little, miraculous things ...

I really can't call myself a gardener.

After all, I only have about a dozen potted plants on my patios.  Four of them are rose bushes, one is a fern, one is a succulent that hangs down from my balcony, one is a ficus tree, one is a peach tree that doesn't produce fruit, some impatiens, and a couple of miniature palm-like thingys that my neighbor gave me.  Not quite enough street cred to embrace the title of "gardener." I water and feed the plants with Miracle Grow every once in a while, and hope I have the right plants for the amount of sunlight I get.  I know very little about it all.

Miraculously, my plants grow and flowers bloom 85% of the time.

Everytime I see a new shoot, or a new flower, I am moved.  Seriously moved on a cosmic, metaphysical and emotional level.  There is something so miraculous and hopeful about new growth on a lovely plant.  It gives me a sense of hope, a sense of continuity of time, and a peace in my soul that is difficult to explain.

Lately, I've noticed that I spontaneously talk to and encourage my plants when I see them.  "You're doing great!  Look at that.  How pretty you are!  Wow!"

Yes, I'm that guy.  I've learned to just deal with it.

Of course, I'm also the guy that sometimes hangs stockings for my animals during the holiday season, and when my brother heard about it, he loudly rolled his eyes.  Really.  I could hear it over the telephone.

This is what I do know.  Sometimes during that beginning or end of the day when I'm encouraging the plants or talking to my cats or giving them an old fashioned cuddle, my world is at peace and the crap is put where it belongs, in a box to deal with the next day, and I'm okay for a while.

I'm happy to be that guy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Complete honesty is not always the best policy ...

I’ve had a hard couple of days.

I’m constantly battling exhaustion and trying to lead a productive life during this treatment. The battle tends to lend itself to irrational bouts of depression. The medication contributes to depression, which is why I’m on a fairly low dosage of anti-depressants, which have kept me out of the deepest pits of blackness during the past four months, but daily situational stuff also contributes.

This weekend my new roommate moved in. She and her mother drove out from Alabama to get her settled. I imagine her mother also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t an axe murderer, which I totally don’t blame her for.

In the three weeks prior to their arrival, I got all of my stuff out of what used to be my office, but which became her room, and painted it. Then I cleaned like a madman for three days because in the manual it says that when somebody’s mother is visiting, you clean. All in all, this took me about 3 weeks. I would work a bit, rest, work, rest, work, rest, ad nauseum, which strikes me as both necessary and pathetic.

Don't get me wrong, I’m very happy that she is moved in. She’s a wonderful lady, a talented artist and a good friend. She and her mother did an amazing job of decorating her room. Hell, it’s the nicest room in the house now. It’s so nice, I feel like I wanna throw rocks at the rest of my house. I guess I just gotta get off my ass, and get the rest of it painted. More work, rest, work, rest, work, rest, ad nauseum.

Back to the point. Lots of anticipation and changes (never mind that they are positive) and spotty sleep cycles have put me into a bit of a downward funk, and I am again faced with how much to share with other people about my general well-being.

I always think that the standard is my step-mother. She has literally walked around with a broken arm, taken a couple of Advil, and not said a word about how much it hurts. She finally went to the ER when I ordered her to get her ass into the truck and have my dad take her for an x-ray. She is and always has been strong and stoic, and the very definition of stiff upper lip, except when she’s really pissed off.

So, on one hand I think I should just get through all of this, don’t mention anything about it to anybody, and just say, "Everything is great!" Strong and stoic wins the day.

On the other hand, there are people that care, and honestly, I’m not doing many of the things that I normally do, and explanations need to be made to some people.

Unfortunately, there is also this pressure inside of me that builds and builds when I get really tired and emotional, and I find myself unable to hold it in anymore, and somebody will either see me crying at my desk, or some offhand joke that I make to cover all the inner turmoil will be seen by an observant friend as a cover, and bring it to my attention, and I feel embarrassed, weak and like a failure.

This is going to sound crazy, but I feel like I’m not a particularly capable or strong man. This issue is compounded now because four days out of five, I’ve had to go home and collapse onto the couch from exhaustion.

My father asks me all the time how I’m doing, and I always tell him I’m doing fine, just a bit tired. He’s got enough going on in his life and with his own health that he doesn’t need to deal with my daily ups and downs, plus he gets frightened that he’s going to lose me, and I have enough trouble dealing with my own fear at the moment.

Several friends have told me that I can reach out to them if I need somebody to talk to or commiserate with, and they are absolutely sincere and I very much appreciate the offer. However, with the exception of a couple of people, I’ve never felt comfortable calling up somebody and telling them that I feel bad. I guess it is because I’m fearful of being judged, thought of as being weak or a drama queen. Plus, there’s that whole "man" thing. Men don’t express their feelings, they shuffle along, do their job, and let the rest of it go undealt with.  Right?

The crazy thing is that in my head, I’ve got all this crap going on, and the part of me that doesn’t like the other part of me, judges the crap constantly. Let me tell you, it can really wear one down.

I must say that I find it interesting that many of those people who say to call them if I need something, haven’t called or e-mailed to check on me even once since this whole thing began. I guess this is when one learns who really is a friend, or merely an acquaintance.

As I’m looking at all this, I guess the "answer" if there is one, is that I need to understand who is in the trenches with me, judiciously pick when to share the deep crap so that nobody becomes burdened by it, and to everybody else, just say, "I’m doing great, thank you for asking."

The truth is, the only person who is really in my head and sees the totality of my daily mishegoss is myself. Everybody else just gets the edited version, and that’s just the way life and the world are.

Maybe that's the way it should be, too.