January 2009

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The concept of a family is nowhere as obvious as it once seemed. Simple:  parents, siblings, a place to live, where we used to live; where those who still live, live still.

New families, next times, the simplicities gone into sickness and pain and death, and the history of what was once the present, is now simply history, memory. The sisters and brothers and you and me, we all have memories: same, different, passing by each other; reconnect sometimes, mysteriously, into friendships surpassing relationships.  Sometimes these disintegrate into the renewal of the pain of the memories which could not be borne, cannot be borne: talk to my lawyer! Others, siblings, new families, new places which have, by now, grown their own memories, renew often, often enough, who we are that we once were family.  “Let me in!” -  we implore.

And they do, with arms open, and hearts which are pledged to remain open. And we do, trying to make sense, trying to understand, to renew the meaning of meaning, the meaning of being, of a family.

“Like the possibility of knowing, now, the entire earth reduced to jet planes’ speeds and missiles’ trajectories, the sense of what we are became all-too-knowable and ultimately explicable, and the mysteries of the metaphysics which whispered, hushed, in our innards, began to speak a little more hurriedly with an excitation like storm clouds’ beginning gatherings.

Be in process, exist, experience, love life, transcend your history, be moral from strength and self-possession, not from a weakness which is battered, not from a music which escalates but does not elevate. To deserve a deity, is to be a person of character, to be for, to be against, to be what can be…a person is a will, a willing to, and one who can talk to the inner dialogue.”

It began, I guess, several centuries ago, the proclamation of the end of the era of metaphysics.

For a while it was banned: that is, talk about metaphysics, as if banning talk would remove the ideas and thoughts. Metaphysics as talk and term, became a way of spurning the obscure, when all that was needed (they said) was care in observation and in experimentation. In the name of objectivity and rationality, and perhaps of progress, metaphysics was banned and bannered and kept in a closely lidded casket as if it were some hornet’s nest.

Except…except that somewhere in our lives, some of the visions of our own being, lurked a metaphysician telling us what was a question, what was an answer, what we are and sometimes, why.

The lurking thinker carried within a big bag of inner dialogues, a mix of wonderments which were kept mostly quiet. How? By naming the stuff which came up, came out, rose to the surface…

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Today, close to tears, I mourn my self that life is not the panacea I seem to have had in mind…for today. Little space in which to ply hard-won skills, I am forced to ask for favors, instead of getting fair-market value in a market for which there is no obvious demand.

Favors: bribes upon my character; psychic debt; stinging loss of integrity’s feathers and petals. My man-child’s leg crumpled beneath him: knee bent out of dimension, requiring repair. ‘They know what they’re doing,’ we’re told. ‘Do they know what they’re doing?’ – we ask.

Time will tell. Youth’s aches, temporary, remarkably self-healing, can be rubbed away with an ease that surprises.

Do they know what they’re doing?

We repress the question, but it asks itself in the midst of night’s dreams and wakefulness.

Today, close to tears, sitting here, waiting for…tomorrow?

A couple of years ago, while driving to my place of work with my just grown-up daughter, we were hit from the side and behind by a large truck. Carried along for an interminable hundred feet or yards, she gained control of the small auto and we came to rest beside the freeway, plowing down a road sign upon the way. I found my self, that day and for several days afterward, wanting…needing to confess my surprise and positive pleasure at being there, wherever, and with whomever. Life’s angers, wishes, all seemed vain and very small compared with the fact of our remaining presence.

Strangely, then, the experience of a close-call became cleansing; a moment in time became all of our time. Actual, we felt actual in a way of great completeness. And, in a certain way, life was renewed, a gift to have a future; what, now, to do with it? No longer in debt to my own history, but indebted to futurity. I wonder: must it require that level of experience?