I Used to Write Things like this

Looking for an account of a long unhappy friendship I’d written at some point, germane at the moment due to the passing of that former good friend’s mother, I’ve been picking through the haystack of unsorted needles with little hope of finding that story.  Going through the files for the now extinct blahg I once maintained, I stumbled on this one, poetic in its way, written four years ago when I was in the first stage of optimism about this new plan I had for my life.

Lost Souls

Sunday, September 19, 2010, 12:30:58 AM

Sat around a long table last night eating delicious food with a dozen people I love, each one full of great qualities, each one, in some part of themselves, a lost soul.   We bang around in this world lost a good deal of the time and there is no shame in it.  I am just thinking about it now, the dark night before Ralph’s unveiling, in the aftermath of the Days of Awe.

My sister took my mother to see “Up in the Air” a black comedy that touched a raw a nerve in this downed economy.  My mother, even though a George Clooney fan, didn’t enjoy it very much.  “Everybody in that movie was so damaged,” my mother told my sister as they left the cinema.  Abby was impressed by the insightful comment; indeed, every character in that movie is damaged in their hearts, in their minds, in their souls.  They dream the dreams of damaged people.

It was my mother’s follow-up comments that rendered my sister speechless on the drive home.  

“Do you think the filmmaker was trying to say that everyone is damaged?”  my mother asked.  Abby wondered if this was an ah-ha moment, the possible opening of an important discussion.  She ventured the opinion that everyone probably is damaged to some extent.

“I’m not damaged,” my mother said forcefully, a few months before cancer took her ravaged body and struggling soul from this life, and my sister was at a loss for anything to say to that.

Ralph’s tombstone will have a cheesecloth gauze removed from it tomorrow, after some prayers are chanted and a few words said about him.  Ralph was the father of my good friend Rob, who was my best friend in the world, and we spent many an evening over at his house, my family and I.  Ralph was quick with a droll remark, glass of booze in his hand, suave as Dean Martin but at the same time as downtrodden and dominated as the Jewish husband in any Jewish husband joke.  

The last time I saw him he looked wonderful, he was pushing 90 and could have passed for 75, dapper as always, smiling, his thick hair brushed back and shining.  He had no idea who I was, but could see by his wife’s friendliness toward me that I must be an old friend.  We went into a quiet room and sat and talked, his wife and I, then he turned to me with that old Ralph mischief in his eyes, and melancholy too, and crooned “the party’s over, it’s time to call it a day.”  A year or so later he was being eulogized, another mystery who had walked among us.

As all the ones we walk among must of necessity be.  There are reasons for every action, ridiculous as it may seem, given so many of the actions reasoned to.  If too unreasonable to be called reasons, there are at least rationales for every belief, behavior, hope and grudge.  We don’t act without them and we can’t do anything incredibly cruel or stupid without believing we have good reasons, or at least strong rationales, for doing what we do.  Sometimes we feel lost, wondering who is actually pulling these strings, this spider web I am hanging in life by, like a dangling participle?

Music that could and should be made, but silence.  Love that should be expressed freely, and shared, and used to give strength, used in a hundred bizarre undermining ways that advance nothing but puzzlement and hurt.  Beauty, sorrow, beautiful sorrow, sorrowful beauty, permutations of every moving thing often moving off in directions that sustain nobody.

It is no wonder that so many souls are lost, lost on the way to Death we do our best not to think of as coming for us, though it most certainly is.  We are a busy society, a competitive, commercial one, time is money and money runs faster than time, so we must be faster still.  And this chasing is hard work, leaving us tired, distracted, it is not always easy to concentrate.  

The research says we can only really focus on one thing at a time.  We generally have several things clamoring for our attention and feel obliged to multitask, which makes us less attentive to the things we attend to.  We have to take risks to advance, they are scary and so we are often tense when we jump.  A tense jump means trouble.

No connections, you want connections?  I could give you connections, but it would cost you.  I would require something of you to make these connections for you.  I am weary, and will be sleeping presently, to be up in seven hours to stand with Ralph’s widow, and his children, and a few friends still alive.  I will now be taking off my slippers, putting up my pipe, neatly hanging my velvety robe, laying myself between thick, creamy covers.  I’ll be snoring.  

I am tired, my dear, of speaking to the black, purring night.  The night is many things I love, but it is not big on conversation, which I do also love. And lost souls or no, I see the light of engagement on everyone’s face when they are correctly asked an intelligent question, or given feedback that leads them toward the light, or laughter, or a good, long cry.  I wonder about the short-circuit, why most people are too lost in worse things to be present more than momentarily when the moon is blue and a certain music reminds them– damn, I used to love music.

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