"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Brushed Lightly By Might Have Beens
quick-en Function: verb
Date: 14th century
1 a : to make alive : REVIVE b : to cause to be enlivened : STIMULATE
2 archaic a : KINDLE b : to cause to burn more intensely
3 What memories and imagination can do to our thoughts and desires
I think my friend K missed her brother more than usual yesterday.
It would have been a year almost to the day I think. He stared into that dark room that so many of us never get out of, and he never left. He ended his life in a sad and hopeless moment, leaving desparate heartbreak in his wake and so much undone. All that was left for him was misery, and that was the only way he saw to escape what for him seemed a black and empty void of a life.
From my new eyes, I suspect that he was a lot like me.
All the hallmarks were there. Trouble with interpersonal relationships, extended periods of depression, and apparently some up times as well. I never met him, but have more in common with him than with most people I know.
Once we know who we are, people like me, we can spot ourselves in others that are like us. In their faces and the depths of their eyes we see our own reflections. In their tears we feel our own heartaches. And when one of us does not make it through, the pain is all that much worse for the ones like us that remain, because we know that we fight those same demons ourselves.
One of my best friends in High School was named Bobby. Bobby was an incredible guy. He was bend over backwards nice, a Christian, a musician, always had a smile. We liked a lot of the same stuff and used to even entertain together on occasion. At one time we even did the music for prayer breakfasts for over a year.
When I got what I suspected was a dear John letter from a girl that I really was deeply in love with, it was Bobby I got to look at it and read it when I was too afraid to open it. And it was Bobby who gave me words of compassion and wisdom when it turned out that I had been right after all.
But then we went off to different colleges. A couple of months later, I had an urge to call him, but didn't.
I didn't know it, but Bobby had plunged into a very dark room indeed. His girlfriend had left him, he had totalled his motorcycle, he had I believe lost his job. And maybe his grades were suffering too, I don't know. All I know is that in Bobby's mind, he was trapped in the steel claws of that dark empty room and saw no escape at all.
Bobby lived not far from a cemetary. That night he took a bottle of sleeping pills and walked into the back of the cemetary. In the darkness, he took a lethal dose and dreamt himself to death.
They discovered him the next morning. At the funeral, his dad, a self proclaimed preacher, said that it was a "victory for the Lord."
Yeah, right. Some victory.
Bobby left a huge Bobby shaped hole in the world when he left us. We are all lessened by his absence. I will always wish I had called him when I had that urge to.
Six years ago, I had a friend/co-worker named Flip. Flip was a neat guy, always ready with a joke (although they were usually crass) and always the center of attention. Flip knew EVERYBODY. He was on first name basis with governors and senators. He was a mover and a shaker.
We hit it off because Flip loved sailing. His family had a home on the Chesapeake bay and they had nice sailboats. Flip was the epitome of the laid back lifestyle, I can picture him now in his shorts and docksiders with a beer in his hand.
Some of the girls at the office didn't like Flip, I guess he sort of scared them. At a Christmas party, one of them presented him with a "Flip the Brown Nosed Reindeer" shirt, saying that he always brown nosed the boss. This was, of course, in front of the boss and all of his co-workers. Flip looked mortified, and I was very embarrassed for him. I still think that was a cruel thing to do.
A few months later, Flip took an afternoon off of work to watch a basketball tournement. He apparently had an argument with his wife, who left the house to go on an errand or something. Flip had been drinking, and he drank more.
When she returned home, he was sitting upstairs in his study with a gun barrel in his mouth.
He heard the door open.
He pulled the trigger.
He had gone into the dark room and never got out.
I still miss Flip. I know his widow and the child that he never saw grow up miss him too.
Sometimes just a little thing will bring memories of Bobby and Flip and others who have shared their road to my mind. But its not the last dark hours that I remember, oh no. That would be such an injustice. No, I remember Bobby and I in simpler days playing guitar together like we were a single instrument, lifting our voices and songs in deep worship to our creator. I remember Flip and I standing on his dock on a Saturday in the cool breeze blowing in off the water, and him telling me about riding out a hurricane in that little sailboat right there.
I used to think that I did not want anyone upset at my funeral, whenever it happens. I wanted them to be glad that I had passed to a better place. But not anymore. I want the people to be upset, to weep at the Cliff shaped hole I have left behind in the world.
Because if you don't miss me when I'm gone, why was I here in the first place?
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
William James (1842 - 1910)