Digging Deeper

 Today another funeral. Another day of tears, of mourning, remembrances and that mixed bag of family sludge that seems to rise up from the darkest places. Life and death, living with the deep questions of our existence as each of us mark our time in this world. I’ve been working on my first piece for my creative nonfiction class, trying to write about my experience after my accident last June. I’m finding it hard not to make this just a sort of dry laundry list of what happened and what I went through, in my thinking that’s not being creative. Being creative is digging deeper, peeling away the layers like an archeologist who carefully scrapes away at earth and dust to expose the wonders that lie beneath the ground. However, unlike the archeologist, I’m not dealing with dirt and dust, but with real flesh and blood feelings. Feelings that at once expose the deepest fears and failings that we all at one time or another face. My own inadequacies laid bare as I cut through the messiness of my own feelings. As I write about that day and the aftermath I struggle to recall the details, the small minute moments, as I worked to recover from that day. Not just the struggle of the physical healing, but also the emotional and spiritual healing. In the gray spaces, in those early mornings when dark and light mingle and the bright colors have yet to have been revealed. How to write creatively without sounding self centered or in need of extreme therapy and yet maintaining a sense of the true self. The voices in my head all seek their own say, ghosts of words spoken in a long dead past that continue to haunt. Yet, those ghostly voices are there for a reason as they help me to reflect on what I’m writing, even those darker voices that want to pull down a curtain over the creation.

 As I write this I’m struck by how much writing is like visioning. A vision or dream can be material, something solid and tangible then again it can be quite ethereal, making it hard to grasp. Dreams and visions ignite the imagination as they burst forth from deep within born out of memory and life. My only desire is to have my writing read as good as it sounds in my head. To take what I see so clearly and then put it into words that convey what I’m feeling. Like a great work of art that draws you into another world, or a piece of poetry that enters into the heart and soul where transformation takes place. It’s interesting that the one word focused free write this week is, “naked.” I’m only supposed to take five minutes to write something but thought it was good to use as I gather my thoughts together. Because that is how I feel when I write, naked. My words, my thoughts, my fears and the expectations I have for myself all out there with no barriers to stop anyone from looking. Is it creative? Well that’s for the reader to decide, all I can do is write and continue to write each day, to quote William Faulkner; “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” 

Mystery 

 The actors take their places as the curtain slowly rises, Act 1 Scene1, the sun slowly brightens on the horizon, the mist disperses to reveal the city. An old man walks his dog through the streets, bustling with people, their heads down looking into a world compressed onto a tiny screen. Earbuds isolate them from each other, a cocoon to protect them from the pains and failures that exist. Steam from the train rises as it is fed the hopes and wishes of humanity, filling the seats as they stare out onto the grey, cold cityscape.  I read this sentence, “The relentless literalism and pragmatism of the fundamentalist stem from a fear of mystery, of the ambiguity of Holy Saturday.” The cocoon like state helps to hide us from the mystery, a fundamentalism born out of a technological world, seeing in black and white, while life grasps for answers. Souls tied up, bound with strips of metaphorical bindings unable to see beyond the horizon, lost in a seascape of fear. 

 The human tide is disgorged as they enter the station, the hordes bump and weave their way trying not to make eye contact. The earbuds muffle the brighter sounds of the birds caught up in the rafters as they make homes from the scraps left behind. Somewhere in the midst of this there is one seeking to be heard, a poet scans the scenery and writes what she sees in their faces. The words pour out of her own deep longing for connection to that mystery that lies just beyond her grasp. The scuffling of feet moving towards the escalators as they are taken up and out into the busy streets, there the old man, his vision dimmed by the years, watches. His heart heavy with the burden of loss. To the masses walking through he is a living wraith, a mist they fly by. His face holding their future, too horrible to contend with as they hurry along escaping from the fears the hound their every step. 

 Her poem speaks of loss, of love, of the deep need to enter into the mystery. Her words are not eloquent, but raw, as raw as her own pain she carries each day. She writes and her tears water the gray tiles, the mystery too powerful to be handled by a lonely heart as she reaches out to the world. The old man sits next to her, his face lined with a life lived, and in those lines she sees hope and the words flow as her heart sings, mystery enfleshed in the bustling humanity, in an old mans worn face. 

Thoughts for Today

 I haven’t posted to the blog lately mainly because I’ve been knee deep in my first writing for the creative nonfiction class I’m taking. That piece has consumed most of my creative juices as I work my way through this document. I chose as my first to write about the accident I had last June taking some of it from previous blog posts. There is something cathartic about writing. It enables me to step back and survey the landscape to see the whole forest and not just the one tree. I’m also able to view the events from different angles each giving me a slightly differing picture, like looking at a great work of art and each time seeing something not noticed before.  The creative self is many dimensioned, it’s not just black and white or flat, if that were the case then life would be dull. I am now just beginning to flex my creative muscles, looking at the world around me and discovering the stories that are everywhere. This writing life is not just for the young and creative, it is something that can be entered into even if the ghosts of English class past still haunt our memories. 

 Just now, for whatever reason, I wrote the following piece. I want to say that I’m not a poet but these words just ached to be set down, so I wrote. Guess I should title it, “Writers Lament.” 
I wonder at times why I write,

trying to make sense of the senseless.

I dabble with prose and poetry,

to find the words that lay in the heart.

The landscape of my being,

in a haze of a life lived.

The dark curtains slowly

coming down in the deepening sunset.

Love lies at the very depth,

it seeks to be heard even as it,

is shuttered by the noise.

Words are the medium of

a painting within the memory.

Shadows and shapes that guide,

played out in the fields of the mind.

Brokenness that brings healing,

visions of hope in simple words.

My Words

 I sit here staring at the blinking cursor trying to place the words in my head into some cohesive order. Flashes of memory skirt across and I’m left with traces only as I seek to pick up the disconnected pieces. The words are like tiny anarchists, they seek not to destroy but to disrupt, mayhem is their motto and in my head they move swiftly. Various dreams still haunt me, dreams of disconnection, of being lost in the midst of everything. The words are there but refuse to be tamed instead they mark out their time, laying in wait until their prey is tired, then they pounce.  “Dear God”, at least this is what I hear at this moment, a letter, a chance to write, to seek a way to tame the words. I give thanks for the gift of free will while at the same time I curse its availability. Like Janus, it is a dual face, that looks back into my not so perfect past yet looks forward into an, as yet unknown, future. Stumbling along the path where there are many twists and turns, facing crossroads where life and faith intersect and where the choices are not clear. Grasping for answers, hearing little and yet moving forward in an endless journey where the destination is but a shadow on the horizon. 

 Last night, laying there listening to my heart beating, imagining myself as a blood cell being pushed along the pulsating tide, much like life. The tide is at once strong and at other times tame, I drift along the currents unable to reach the peacefulness of the meadows that lie just beyond the trees. These words come out, I see them forming along on the page like watching a flock of geese fly overhead. Streaming along, seemingly in order but going simply nowhere and yet I write them down. There is an insanity to all of this, a crazed part of the mind that cannot rest as ideas bounce around like ping pong balls let loose on a gym floor. 

 In my deepest self I wonder what all of this means. Is it a faith wavering in the midst of the worlds insanity, or is it a faith so strong that it seeks to find its voice in the maelstrom of the storm. Maybe it’s time for confession, a confession not so much of sin but a confession of my own deepest fears. I sit here on the precipice of transition, my future lies out there, my heart remains here. The words fight for preeminence all seeking to be heard, all seeking their own way, my hope is to tame them, bring order into the chaos and life onto the blank page. 

Day 305

 It has now been 305 days since my accident and today it was a trip for a follow-up with the orthopedic surgeon who put old Humpty back together last June. The hip is doing okay, not spectacular, but okay. I can walk longer without too much discomfort and when the weather is agreeable I’m able to get in some decent cycling. By decent, I mean more than 30 miles distance wise, my ultimate goal is to be back to doing 50 plus but I think that will have to wait. For the time being I’m grateful for what I am able to do but of course there us a slight fly in the ointment. Seems that one of the titanium nails, specifically, the one that goes into the hip is causing some irritation. Apparently, and this is not the scientific explanation, it seems that the end of this nail protrudes just ever so slightly so that it irritates the tendon that goes along the outside of my hip. Sort of like a building that settles over time, as my hip heals there is some shifting that causes the head of this nail to protrude a bit further.  It’s not a cause for concern right now but, and this is a huge but, it might require further surgery to replace said nail with another one that is slightly smaller. Needless to say this was not welcome information. I really don’t want anymore surgery, I really don’t want to see the inside of a hospital for any reason. Even going in today was just too much, staring up at the ceiling while a set of x-rays were being taken brought me back to that day I was rolled into that place. I’m now trying to process this latest information, trying to wrap my head around what another surgery would mean for my overall health.

 Basically, I am a bit bummed out to say the least. All of the old anger and fear has come right back just as I was starting to feel better about myself. I’ve been writing more, played with a bit of poetry and looking forward to starting a new writing class this week. As the weather has warmed I’ve been able to get out cycling on the road, of course yesterday’s snow has put a damper on things but it will soon melt and again I’ll be outside. I’m so looking forward to a summer without having to do any rehab or being stuck in bed, a summer of taking some trips, cycling here and there, basically a worry free time. 

 Now I have this sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Psychologically it is something that puts a dark edge to the once bright horizon and I can see it looming in the distance. “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning”, I’m on the warning side of this little saying, a red sky that I see out there, a vortex that I hope to avoid. 

 My immediate goal is to get my hip stronger. Continue to cycle, continue to walk and do those things that I am able to accomplish. I will spend my summer enjoying life, writing more prose and poetry. If I need to face the beast, then I will do so with a strong heart and a courageous soul, I will not be beaten, I will not cower, that you can bet on. 

April Rains

On this rainy, April day with snow coming in tomorrow, thought I would write a short poem.

April Rains

April rains glisten on the wet streets

early flowers yearning to receive

the life giving stream deep into their roots.

Our deep fears reaching out,

our own roots dry, thirsty for one drop.

Seeking the living water that dampens dry souls

opening our lives like early buds on trees,

the light green of new birth, a tentative love,

expressing trust in unseen hands

working on the soil in which

we live.

Dad

He would come home from work,smelling of machine oil after a long day,

in his clothes were flecks of aluminum.

He hugged mom as he walked through the door,

as I placed myself between their embrace.

Learning love as a child,

knowing that it’s mystery that lay,

out there beyond my understanding.