Days of contemplation

As I begin setting these words down I am listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, music my father would listen too when he wanted to relax and release the tensions and anxieties of the day. I listen to them now, not just for the same reasons he did, but to bring him close to me. The day my father died my ability to feel safe being me in the world died with him. I was 15, he was 55, way too early on both fronts.

I am inflicting no special form on this essay, other than that of staying with my thoughts and setting them down as accurately, openly and honestly as possible. If I am going to set this down for you to read, you deserve all three elements.

Recently I have been contemplating how best to shape what I currently see as the home stretch of my life. There are certain things I know for sure:

  • I want to write. Not just offerings in this blog and for remarkable publications like the newspaper Independence Today, but short stories and novels and, finally, the completion of a memoir.
  • I will stay involved in advocacy, especially now, when the penchant for budget cuts combined with the forces of greed and out-of-control egos have already done damage and threaten to do more damage.
  • I know that while we have been estranged for some time, the door to my life will always be open to my daughter. I will not go into details here, but no matter the past, there is no person on planet earth that I love more than I love my daughter, not a single one. It would be nice to have time for just the two of us.
  • I would like to travel, though God knows how this will come about given the poverty that currently has me by the throat. But there is time, and there is much I’d like to see: the Grand Canyon (wouldn’t mind living in it as matter of fact), Germany, so I could, finally, make a childhood dream come true and stand in a room the Beethoven was in. And then, of course, England to visit the haunts of Charles Dickens and company, Russia to visit Tolstoy’s home, France to visit all kinds of places including those directly linked to a relative: Jean Jacques Rousseau.
  • I would like to read all the classics ever written.
  • I’d like to break the bonds of PTSD and go outside more than I do.

The current challenge is to find a new home, not easy when you have no money and when your pickings are shaped by rents approved by HUD (Section 8), but, thankfully, not impossible. If I could pick a destination it would be Western Massachusetts. We’ll see, I need to stay open to all reasonable possibilities.

Step one is find a home, then, one day at a time, make the things I know for sure, some just dreams at the moment, come true.

Free Spirit Walking

There have been some rather remarkable walkers throughout history. Charles Dickens was known to walk hours at a time, sometimes throughout the night, his dazzling shape-sifting imagination working away. Jean-Jacques Rousseau too, a distant relative of mine, very distant to be sure if you were to look at my current walking regimen, was another, and then, of course, Henry David Thoreau. 

Tonight I was reading an essay on walking written by Thoreau when I happened on the following passage: “When a traveler asked (William) Wordsworth’s servant to show him her master’s study, she answered, “Here is his library, but his study is out of doors.”” There is something familiar and spiritually delicious there. As if we are being allowed a peek into something ineffably special. I am by no means unique when I say that immersing oneself in nature brings you about as close to God, or higher power, or essence of life as you can get. You are dipping into nature’s design, untrammeled by the whims of humankind.

Since I was a boy I’ve had and still have a wonderful relationship with nature. There is a kind of freedom to free spirit walking, the body warming up, settling into its own rhythm, and then the mind opens, ideas move into the open, perhaps carried on the mellifluous song of a bird, or the rhythmic percussion of  tree branches dancing in the breeze, or the joyous beat of the heart you feel when a baby rabbit darts into the open, gives you a quick look, the disappears so quickly you wonder if you even saw it in the first place. Your mind, heart and spirit open, and you are alive, joyously so.

Life is good. Live it. It’s here for you too.

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