If I had a deficit in my bank account of $500.00 on the first of the month, and my rent and bills came due totaling $2,000 with no other current options for income, and this is the way it was every month, wouldn’t I be poor? Of course I would be. If I kept borrowing money from family member after family member and never paid them back, what would you say about me then? I think we all know. If I kept telling everyone, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back when everything gets better,” but things never got better, people simply wouldn’t believe me any more. Let’s add to this the fact that I have a spouse and small children. They have little food, no phone, no health insurance, no car, let alone car insurance, but I continue to pay $800 every month for an alarm system to protect the little we have left. What would you say about my priorities? I’m sure I would appear to be living in a dream world of idealism and hope with few options for reasonable resolutions to my issues. The only problem is that I don’t see it that way. What can I do then?
Tell the truth. That’s the only option for improvement. I have to sit down with those I love and tell them the truth of the situation. I have to say, “I am in poverty right now and I don’t know what to do. I can’t take care of my family. I think I am completely out of options.” Only then can I figure out what to do. There are always other possibilities for resolution, but they will never appear until we tell the truth.
This is what is happening in America today. We have a deficit that is inordinately larger than our income can handle. Our citizens are in pain and dying because of our inability to care for them. Our country is printing empty money to offset out debts. Legislators are using our national poverty as a hostage to satisfy their personal agendas. The worst part is every single one of them is pointing at someone else as a cause for the problem instead of asking him- or herself, “What can I constructively do to fix this, and with whom?”
Have you ever seen ferral dogs fighting over a small morsel of food? That’s what I see when I watch the legislature act these days. It’s embarrassing to me as a voting American citizen to watch a gaggle of ineffective people strut and caw like a bunch of vultures making tens of thousands of dollars a year talk about what we, without food, electricity, and health care, need. I write to my congresspeople. I write to the president. I write my blogs. It just gets worse. Instead, they hold poor and middle class people hostage for the benefit of the wealthy, claiming income and estate taxes should be handled equitably? Really, ladies and gentlemen? Since when did equity have anything to do with our governmental process or life in the United States of America? We have never seen one day in the over two centuries of our history in which either full equality or equity existed in our history.
So, what’s next? Our president, with ranking members of both parties in both houses of Congress, senior cabinet members, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court must stand before our country and say the following in one voice:
“My fellow citizens of the United States, this message comes too late and after too much damage has been done to our once great country. We have finally recognized that our greed and selfish choices have injured our citizens. We have spent so much time focusing on our personal needs and desires in government that we have forgotten our primary focus and ultimately, our employers – you. Americans on Main Street are the most important considerations we must have. As with the microcosm of our families, if we take care of those we love with responsibility and accountability, act as good neighbors with those around us, and speak directly to any injustice with one voice, we will find our way out of any challenge. If we move with transparency and wise authority, we as a national community will find our way through the muck and mire that has slogged us down in our path toward greatness.
“Today, the bald eagle has feathers missing. Today, Lady Liberty is slouching in shame. Today, we are not great. The one strength we have as a nation is that we understand what hard work means. We understand that we can make a delicious soup out of potatoes. We are not afraid to face our demons. Beginning today, that’s what we have done. We, the leaders of these United States of America have signed a binding, bipartisan pact together to move toward the national ideal of trust, communication, ethics, integrity, and strength. We can only do this with your help…”
From there, the new process begins. From there, the dialogue will include everyone who needs to participate. From there, true hope begins. From there, we rebuild our country. From there, our great eagle soars once again.
There are few things in this world that touch me more personally than hearing about the possibility of a library closing, especially in a town that I love so much as Woodland. The shock I felt at hearing the Woodland Public Library might die was devastating.
My mother was a librarian, not only by vocation but by avocation. Books, to her, were a refuge. When she would read, it was nearly impossible to talk with her because she would be so lost in her story. She taught me to love books as well, as is in evidence on the shelves that line my office.
When she died, I cried the day a plaque in her honor went up on the Dunsmuir Library wall. It was beautiful, not only because my mother was recognized for her years of service, but because it was in her library where she loved going.
Woodland, California, is a wonderful town in which I spend a great deal of time. As the consulting music director for the Woodland Opera House, steps away from the Woodland Public Library, I understand the value of history, both my own and of incredible places like the Opera House and the public library.
Since the threat to this amazing source of education, literature, and enlightenment has burgeoned, everyone has learned that this facility has operated without exception since 1891 with a minimum of 40 1/2 hours per week of service, even through the Great Depression. This remarkable truth is significant because no other library in California can claim that tenacity. It was the citizens of Woodland who made that happen for these nearly 120 years.
We know, too, that it is the oldest Carnegie Library in California continuously operated as a public library. What does that mean?
A library was granted money by Scottish-American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, of Carnegie Hall and Carnegie Steel (U.S. Steel) fame, if the library adhered to the Carnegie formula. This formula included very specific criteria, including that the city must:
- demonstrate a need for a public library;
- provide the building site;
- annually provide ten percent of the library’s construction to support its operation; and
- provide free service to all.
Woodland has been accomplishing this feat since Carnegie’s first grant was given to Woodland in 1903. Now, however, the collection of more than 100,000 books and other materials, valued at $5 million is at risk of going the way of the dinosaurs.
This is my greatest fear. With the advent of mass media, including television, movies, and the internet, we are seeing the relinquishment of our reading skills, and more importantly our love of reading, through neglect. Sadly, the closure of Woodland Public Library may be a reflection of our developing patterns of literary neglect in the United States.
Citizens of Woodland have an option, though. This coming Tuesday, June 8, 2010, residents will be able to vote on two measure to keep the library open. A Yes on S vote in tandem with a Yes on V vote will provide the action necessary to save our beloved library.
Yes, it’s a sales tax, but it’s a mere quarter per one hundred dollars. A quarter. 25¢. In this age of financial woes, it’s understandable that some may have their questions whether there should be another tax.
The real question is, to save those 25 cents, are the wonderful people of Woodland unable to help the library avoid:
- cutting the adult literacy program by 42 percent, displacing it from its current location?
- allowing their children to have their 7,200 homework assistance requests unanswered?
- shutting the door on the 800-1,000 daily visitors?
- discontinuing the 31,000 opportunities the community is provided to use the library computers?
- turning away from the library doors over half the population of Woodland who hold the 29,240 library cards ?
- not being available to serve the 5,000 attendees at 175 different library programs?
My brother was born in Woodland. I have felt like an honored guest here for over 12 years. This is my second home. I feel an obligation to speak up about this possibly sad end to a dynamic and honored institution.
On election day, please Vote Yes on S and Vote Yes on V to save the Woodland Public Library.
Honestly, it’s a quarter. Our community’s education is worth so much more than that.
Thank you for sharing your voice on June 8 in support of the Woodland Public Library.
Author’s Note: Since the first posting of this blog, I have been notified that another Carnegie Library in Port Angeles, Washington, as well as my mother’s library in Dunsmuir, California, are also facing the same threat as the Woodland Public Library. It’s not a good day.
(2010) Friends to Friends, Woodland Public Library.
(2010) Retrieved from http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/
(2010) Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_library
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Whenever we see a sporting event or theatrical production, the last few minutes of the experience are so powerful. The teams are battling for supremecy, the last push is thrashed for the big win, or the 11:oo o’clock song is sung. It’s the finale, so everyone expects things to be big, dramatic, and utterly memorable.
Life is like that, too. When we are closing in on the final days or minutes of our lives, our life experiences become phenomenally intense.
In the month preceeding my father’s suicide, he began scurrying all over California, trying to find a place to call home where he felt safe. His mental illness and paranoia was taking over and we, as his family, had to make decisions that would protect him and those around him, including my mother. There were battles and accusations, pleas and vitriol spewed everywhere as we tried to resolve these issues.
Ultimately, Dad decided how things were going to go and killed himself in the back of his truck using carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipe.
When Mama was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years later, she seemed fairly resigned to her fate. She was, after all, 83 years old and ready to be with my father.
The strange thing is that the night before she died, she grew very impatient and angry. She wasn’t able to communicate because her lungs had filled up with fluid from the cancer and she was incredibly weak because she hadn’t be able to eat for four weeks. I gave her some medication to calm her down and she went to sleep. I will never know what it was she was trying to communicate because she died during the night.
When my son and grandbaby were lost to miscarriages, the intensity was overwhelming for everyone. With my son, my then-girlfriend and I were 15 years old, far too young to be parents. With my grandchild, my daughter’s grandmother had died only days before. In both instances, the turmoil surrounding the pregnancies carried dynamics that these precious children couldn’t bear.
Even my former mother-in-law asked a fascinating question as she lie dying in her hospital bed. She and I were unusually close, considering that my ex-wife and I had been divorced for 22 years. She asked, “Jim, what do you think it’s like after we die?”
This amazingly strong woman was 71 years old and was asking me this question. It was a profoundly powerful moment of intimacy between us.
“I think that there is an afterlife and it is whatever we believe it will be. I believe it will be loving and joyful if that’s where our hearts are. It will be cold and lonely if that’s how we view our lives.”
“How do we know when we’re going to die?” she queried.
“When we are free from fear and ready.” I responded.
As she pondered what I had said, I saw her looking around her hospital room into the faces of her loving daughters and granddaughters.
“I’m ready. Let’s pray.” she said. So, we all joined hands and began praying out loud. Then, the room grew silent. After nearly ten minutes, Mother-in-law-dearest, which is what I always called her, opened her eyes.
“I’m still here?” We all broke out into ribald laughter.
The next morning, quietly and peacefully, she joined those who had gone before her.
One of my former students, who lost her life at 21 years old in an automobile accident, knew at her inner most level, if not consciously, that she was not long for this lifestream. Her poetry, music, and prayers all were clear pictures of that truth. We all missed the messages because we either weren’t ready to hear them or we weren’t supposed to hear them. The preparation experience apparently was for her alone.
There are times when we do see it coming.
When my brother, my family, and I were sitting around the table eating the day my mother died, after a discussion about his alcoholism and desire to be alone, my family and I knew that David would be gone within the year. Sadly, it only took him four months to transition into his new existence. The signs were there. His awareness was there. He was clearly ready. We were simply able to see it. Even with that clarity, there was nothing we could do to prevent him dying from his alcoholism.
Life is intense and full of meaning. Death is no different.
Our fears and our joys are amplified as we approach our final time. It’s remarkable how many times one has heard, “He said he loved me in a way that was so much more intimate the night before he died.” There had been no warning or omen. There had been no disease or chronic illness. He was just aware at his spiritual core that he had to say good-bye and mean it.
As I watched my cousin deal with his own demise this week, I realized that his battle has only begun, although it is likely to last only a few more weeks. Like my mother, his aunt, he is dying of pancreatic cancer. He is only 50 years old.
His children and girlfriend are also trying to make sense of what makes no sense at all.
I hope they all find peace in this process and can say good-bye in a loving, healthy way, as a unified family. It will make a difference to all of them, my cousin included.
I’ve experienced 46 deaths of people close to me in my lifetime. Each of their lives have changed who I am. They have made a difference. My cousin has made a difference in my life. The weight of their absence is great. The silence of their voices nearly painful. Yet, the love they’ve given and the love they’ve let me share is what I hold onto now. It’s all I have left.
Now, as your shot clock winds down, as the last few pages of your score are sung, I wish you “Good journey!” Joe. Bravo, Cousin, for a life fully lived. I love you. I will miss you. Thank you for changing my life with your love.
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There are times in one’s life when the calender pages seem to change every 20 minutes and one’s watch hands swirl so fast, they are not even visible. It can feel pretty overwhelming.
The balancing part of that feeling comes when one can look around and see that the productivity that is growing is substantial. In its own way, that can be overwhelming, as well.
Often, we ask ourselves what our mission in life is. We ruminate about our relationships and their value, the work we’ve chosen to do or having not been able to yet choose, or where we want to go next on our journey through life. Then, we get busy.
It is then that we realize that if we just do what we feel compelled to do, we will find our purpose by trusting our intuition and training, using our experience and passion, and fulfilling a need that becomes apparent.
It can be as complex as deciding on getting a degree and following a particular career path to simply taking a moment to assist someone else with their project. It is all purposeful and should not be dismissed.
A spinning watch hand or a pile of calendar pages is nothing to lament. It is something to celebrate because it means we are busy working. We are busy making a difference. We are busy.
Stagnancy is the primary ingredient to the soup of dissatisfaction. Idleness is the core to the ball of insecurities and needlessness we can feel inside ourselves.
There is so much on our planet to do that there is not one reason to sit and wait for death to find us.
Teach a child to read.
Clean a park.
Volunteer to sit with sick children in a hospital.
Volunteer for a political action group.
Be a campus monitor at your child’s school.
Coach little league.
It simply doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we are busy doing it.
When we get tired, we just have to sit down and rest. We’ve earned it. Others benefit from your loving action, as does the the community-at-large. Certainly you are a beneficiary of your labors, as well. There is nothing wrong with resting after one has put in a full days work, especially when what you’ve done has helped someone else.
My father’s favorite flowers were tulips. Every year he would dig up the three tiers of soil in our hillside front yard and plants hundreds of bulbs. His heart would never seem quite so full than when he was working toward that day when his tulip garden was resplendent in yellow and orange and red and white.
He did this into his sixties. He said he loved the colors and that each one reminded him of the warming season. I loved to see my father amonst his tulips. One of the hardest parts of his death was the untended yard the Spring after he was gone, overflowing with ivy and inattention.
I heard from a friend of my late brother’s recently. David and his friend, Zack, were really close growing up. Along with Brian and Nicky, and several others, David had a cadre of buddies with whom he hung out, got into trouble, and, I know, laughed constantly.
These young fellows would find their way around our mountain village in far-northern California on dirt bikes, skis, on foot, and by car, leaving their mark on every corner of this town of 2,400 people.
When David died in 2006, I thought these young people would be lost forever to me. I was saddened by that because it felt as though David’s memory would be diminished by the scattering to the wind of his friends.
Within the last year, I’ve heard from Brian, Nicky, and now Zack. They have sent photos and memories via electronic mail of their time together. They have each expressed a loving memory of my brother that has brought comfort and a sense of envelopment to me as the last remaining member of our four-person core family.
Today, I got a message from Zack informing me that he has a newborn baby. In the same way I felt upon the birth of my first grandchild in 1993, I felt a newness wash over me. It was intimate and poignant. With all the loss I’ve experienced in the last ten years, this moment brought me a sense of joyful future.
I sent my warmest wishes to Zack on his growing family. Part of those wishes, I think, were because he brought me some emotional tulips, like the ones my father grew. He showed me, once again, that Spring was here and new life was repeating its pattern.
It also reminded me of my recent visit to see my cousin, Joe, who was in the hospital with cancer. I had this amazing sense of healing and until today, I wasn’t sure why that was. Above his bed, on the top of his cabinet, was a vase full of white tulips… and hope.
Spring is all around me right now and I am, for the first time in many years, fully aware of its beauty and power. This has to be a good sign; a sign not unlike the first hint of excited green stalk poking through the recently cold soil over a tulip bulb.
The first time I remember realizing a new year was coming was in 1965. I was standing in the playground at McCloud Elementary School, the old one, with Johnny Peracchino near the backstop just before school let out for the Christmas vacation. I said, “I can’t believe it’s going to be 1966!”
1966. It was forty-four years ago we had that conversation. We were six years old, Lyndon Johnson was president, and we hadn’t yet landed on the moon. Now, I am fifty years old, an African-American man, Barack Obama is president, and we are very near to a time when tourists will be going into space for a ride.
Tonight, New Year’s Eve 2009, is a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. The next time we will have a blue moon on December 31 will be in 2028. I will then be sixty-nine years old, if I’m here at all. Considering my birth mother died at 50 and my birth father hasn’t even reached the age of sixty-nine years old yet, who knows where I’ll be in 2028.
All I do know is that I’m looking forward to the coming year because it isn’t this year. It’s been a rough one, at best.
The rarity of the day has not eluded me. Some say it’s just another day. When we miss landmarks, we have stopped reflecting on our lives.
We possibly have 365 more days to make our lives as close to our ideal as possible, if all goes well. We will see births and deaths, achievements and failures, and hope and disappointments. We will see life. If we’re wise, we’ll be sure to live life and not let life just happen around us. We have the special opportunity to love in brand new ways. We can be more open and welcoming. We can invite new people into our circle of friends. We can renew old friendships that have been long lost.
If we are people of faith, any faith whatsoever, we have the opportunity to give thanks to God for our gifts. If we are not people of faith, we can still give thanks to those around us for the gifts they offer us.
So, happy new year, my friends. Let us be healthy, active, prosperous, and joyful as often as we can. Let us surround ourselves with people we love and who love us. Let us not waste our time being angry or bitter about past pain. Let us release it to make more room for love. Let us create the lives we want and life it to the fullest. Most importantly, let us live in complete gratitude for simply everything.
That’s my plan, anyway.
Many have described universal unity as recognizing that there is no space between one individual and another. The air is comprised of atoms, as we are. Space is comprised of atoms, as we are. Our sameness, our connection, our unity is that clear, if invisible to the human eye, interconnectedness.
Why must we forget this simple concept? Why must we see our brothers and sisters as colors and sizes and cultures and differences? We do so because we choose to do so. When we choose otherwise, then we will see beyond the differences and recognize the oneness we all share.
In many traditions around the world, we are told that we were created in the image of the Creator. I doubt any universal entity of that magnitude is a short, fat multicultural fellow (see the photo of the author above). If he is, then the rest of you are not in his image, so necessarily, that concept would be wrong. It is in our spirit, our energy, our chi, our souls that we are the same as everything else around us.
We are making an important shift. We are beginning to get a true glimpse at a global level of our sameness. We are beginning the fight to win our unity, instead of our sovereignty.
I love you. It doesn’t really matter who is reading this. I love you nonetheless. Wherever you are. Whatever your belief system. Even if you hate me, I love you nonetheless. I see you, if not in body, but in spirit. I recognize your universal perfection, even through your human frailties. I hope you offer me the same gift; however, even if you don’t, I value you in your completeness because you and I are expressions of universal unity.
What happens to you when you read my words that I mean so purely? Are you changed? Is there a flicker of new awareness? Do you recognize the truth in these words? I suspect you do and you understand them. I’m glad. I’m glad because you see yourself in a new way today and you know that at an elevated level you are perceived as the spirit you truly are.
Welcome, brothers and sisters, into the new awareness. Sit with me a moment and enjoy the unity. I know I will.
I asked this question and these are some of the generous and thoughtful answers I received:
“I’ve been thinking about unity and what it means. I’d love to hear your thoughts, my friends.” – James
“It means being able to count on someone, and knowing that always, that connection will not change.” – Roxanne
“Unity is something this world needs more of. The world needs to stop being greedy and selfish and become more unified because with unity we are stronger.” – Jewel
“I always think of it as a harmony. Each part could stand alone, but when they comes together all at one time and for one purpose, a beautiful unified sound is created. There is a common goal of creating the beautiful sound, but each individual is assigned a different part in the process. One part is not more important than the other, and all are always working together.” – Mary Jo
“The collection of two to an unlimited amount of minds in the persuit of a common goal, thought or belief. To amplify the impact of the goal, thought or belief by showing a common likeness amongst indiffrent people.” – Robert
Thank you for sharing this moment of unity with me.
Namasté, shalom, ειρήνη, peace, amani, pace, salam, ειρήνη, sulh, мир, Frieden, 佚, paz to you my brothers and sisters.
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What if on June 9, 2010, (6/9 for those who enjoy a naughty giggle), the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stopped buying anything across the country? What would happen to the American economy?
In very loose numbers, it is estimated that in 2006, $660 billion were spent by the LGBT community in 2006. That number is expected to rise to $835 billion in 2011. I’ve seen numbers that indicate as much as over two trillion dollars will be spent by the LGBT community in 2012. Even if any of these numbers are off by a few billion, the numbers are truly staggering.
The LGBT community has the power to put a dent in our economy, and yet, we don’t know our own strength. If we don’t know it, how can anyone else feel that power?
It makes sense to validate that most efficient force by damming up the economic river for just a moment in time.
Here is the plan for June 9, 2010:
Every member of the LGBT and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) communities will commit to:
2. not buy or trade one stock or bond in any stock market in the world;
3. withdraw 0.1% of your money from every account you own (e.g. If you have $1,000.00, you would withdraw $1.00 and if you have $100, you would withdraw $0.10);
4. not donate one item to charity;
5. not go to work or school for at least half a day;
6. not use a computer or cell phone for one day;
7. not use any electricity or gas that is not life-preserving;
8. not drive anywhere in your automobile;
9. do whatever else you feel is appropriate, healthy, and safe to make an economic statement about the strength of the LGBT community;
10. Finally, to make June 9 a day of silence to reflect the silence our country is asking us to provide regarding our needs, including equal access to marriage, health care, law, education, and employment.
Be sure to contact your legislator by June 8 to advise them of your intentions.
We have seven-and-a-half months to prepare. In that time, we can clearly create the environment that well over half of our country wishes from us. This will certainly let them know, “Watch what you wish for!”
What happens if the LGBT and PFLAG community disappeared and we took our money and expertise with us? We’d have a pretty good idea about the impact of that situation, wouldn’t we?
If you’re interested in participating, please contact me on my Facebook page, June 9, 2010 – Invisible Gay Day.
Today, I was diagnosed with an early cataract in my left eye. A cataract, according to the WebMD Cataract Health Center, is a, “painless, cloudy area in the lens of the eye that blocks the passage of light to the retina. The retina is the nerve layer at the back of the eye. The nerve cells in the retina detect light entering the eye and send nerve signals to the brain about what the eye sees. Because cataracts block this light, they can cause vision problems.”
Apparently, they afflict mainly older people, those with sun damage or an eye injury. I’ve had neither sun damage nor eye injury. I refuse to believe that I’m one of the “older people,” at fifty-years-old. My mother, at 75-years-old, had cataract surgery.
Louise L. Hay, in her book, You Can Heal Your Life, writes that cataracts are a physical expression of one’s “inability to see ahead with joy. Dark future.”
Can you imagine? Me not being able to see ahead with joy? Anyone who knows me would laugh out loud at this thought.
What if it’s true, though? Has my outlook changed so dramatically over the years that all I can see ahead is dread and sadness? It is possible that I’m afraid there is no light ahead for me?
My hope is that, according to Ms. Hay, cataracts can be alleviated by developing a new thought pattern, utilizing the phrase, “Life is eternal and filled with joy. I look forward to every moment.”
And, there it is. There may be some truth to what she wrote, because after I wrote that phrase, my first thought was, “How?”
There is a part of me that frets about the future and what it will bring. Both at home and with my work, these phrases evoke images of struggle, drudgery, and dissatisfaction. What I don’t understand is why that is?
I love my husband, even though marriage can sometimes ask more of me than I think I can give. I am thrilled to be doing the work I am, even though the financial situation it creates is challenging, at best.
I suppose, somehow, I’m going to have to change my perception. It will be interesting to see how I eventually do that.
Wish me luck!
Hay, Louise L., You Can Heal Yourself, Carlsbad, CA., Hay House, Inc., 1999
Photo of cataract: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/cataracts/cataracts-topic-overview
A man, standing at his mirror, visits his past and looks toward his future as 2010 approaches. His laundry list of landmarks include so many more entries than he could have ever imagined in his youth.
He has seen success as a singer, music director, stage director, and administrator. He has written volumes of poems, short stories, and other works. He has composed music that has been performed by seventy people at a time, to several hundred people in the audience. This man has danced. He has helped care for people in public health, assist in others’ healing through his spiritual work, and guided his beloved mother as she passed from this life. He’s helped people plan trips around the world, select the colors for their quilts, and learn how to breastfeed their babies, as well as eat well themselves. He has assisted both his father in the family pharmacy, as well as the Director of Public Health in the seventh largerst economy in the world.
He has been honored to teach hundreds of children and adults how to sing. He’s been on film, television, radio, and stage.
He has reared five children in the best way he could.
He has recognized that there is a God and that his faith in our Creator is justified.
As he looks into his mirror, he sees a man who, in his lifetime, has lost one great-great grandparent, one great-grandparent, six grandparents, three parents, one step-parent and three parents-in-law, a brother, a son, a grandson, several students, and his first true love. This reflected man has been married twice, once to a woman and once to a man. He’s only been divorced once and that was from his ex-wife.
He has seen all five of his living children taken to jail for various lengths of time, including thirty-two years to life.
Next year, he will have nearly doubled his weight from 128 pounds to 240 pound in the last twenty years. His hair will have gone from an elegant blue-black to a thinner dark brown with many grey strands dancing through his mane. The black rings under his eyes share the arc of the jowels under his jaw line. Stretch marks, varicose veins, and surgical scars all mark his body’s travel through time.
His list of medical challenges rival the list of major accomplishments in his life. He spends much of his time chatting with friends about the “good ol’ days.” His husband and he don’t say much to one another now, since they’ve spent about a quarter of their lives together.
Many of his favorite old time movie stars and singers are dead. Some of his family photographs are now over one hundred-years old.
This man, whose truth is shining in the glass on the wall, is now the eldest in his direct lineage. Patriarchy has overtaken his life.
Next year, the nintieth anniversary of his father’s birth will transpire. Next year, his youngest child will be thirty-years-old. Next year, his eldest grandchild will be eighteen-years-old. Next year, he will be fifty-one-years-old.
This scene would be fairly poignant if it weren’t about me.
The surprising part is that even with the abundance that I’ve seen in my life, I know I still have work to do. Even more shocking is that I still have energy to do it. I suppose I’m no different than anyone else on the planet, but the depth of life never ceases to amaze and sometimes confound me. Life’s intimacy envelopes me some days in a way that makes me feel profoundly cradled.
The little mirror into which I peer holds my entire countenance, but the breadth of my experience and hope for my future spills onto the walls, ceiling and floor, out the windows and doors, and into every corner in which I dwell. It is also reflected in the many mirrors I see in my family and friends.
And, thank God for that.