Shoulder punchers: an interview with Smerkle Grumpy

 

  • Mr. Grumpy, it’s a pleasure to sit down with –
  • Smerkle.
  • Pardon?
  • Smerkle, call me Smerkle.
  • Well then, it’s a pleasure sit down with you.
  • Thank you. You as well.
  • It’s been awhile.
  • Been watching my man, Peter, from afar, as the saying goes. Watching him trying to get himself moved. Proud of him. Still patient with people, more than most, more than me. Known him since he was a boy – he’s got a real kind streak.
  • You think he is too kind?
  • Oh no, don’t misunderstand me. Not too kind at all. Glad he’s in a world that’s been short on kindness for a long time. So no, not too kind.
  • Too patient?
  • He’s more patient than I’d be, but no, not too patient. People deserve patience, some need and deserve a lot of it. Some deeply wounded folk in the world.
  • Can he run out of patience?
  • We all can. I remember a time my boy did when he was in reform school back when.
  • Can you tell us about it? Would he mind?
  • He might mind, but I’ll tell you. There was this kid, same age as Peter, in the same hall, the wards where the boys lived. Anyway, this kid, will call him Johnny, liked to punch Peter in the shoulder, doing it light at first, then a little harder, saying sorry later, then punching Pete’s shoulder next time Peter’d walk by. After a while, Peter called him out.
  • Called him out?
  • In this reform school if two of the boys were getting close to a fight, they’d let the boys fight, surrounded by their mates, the male staff watching to make sure no one really got badly hurt, and usually the two combatants became friendly after the fight. Some kind of release I suppose. Calling out was when one kid challenged another, quietly or openly.
  • How’d Peter do it?
  • Wide open. They were in the gym sitting on bleachers, about 30 boys, half a dozen staff or so, taking a break. Peter walks by, Johnny punches him in the shoulder and that was it.
  • What was it?
  • Peter ripped into him. You really want to fight with me that badly? Seriously? Just can’t help yourself, wish it that bad do you? If you’re feeling froggish, then leap, cause your wish has come true.
  • What happened?
  • One smack upside Johnny’s head and down he went. Then Peter did his thing, helped Johnny up, telling him all the time being friends was a lot easier on the both of’m than fighting. Even when he knew he had no choice and had to act, like with Johnny, or protecting someone, he always felt badly about hurting someone.
  • He felt guilty.
  • No-no, not guilty. Badly. Sad. Definitely not guilty.
  • It’s good to be talking with you again, Smerkle.
  • Good to be talking with you too.

 

Trapped in the marble of your history

I would like to write words that lift a reader’s day, perhaps help a heart heal, a body heal, the soul too. Let’s not leave the soul out. Absent that and you’ve removed oxygen from the air.

If you’ve lost sight of, or never knew, the extraordinary value of the life that is you, I can promise you, it’s there.  Michelangelo (1474-1564), the Italian sculptor, painter and architect,  believed the masterpiece was already in the block of marble. His task was to keep carving so we could see it.  He once said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

I believe each life is a masterpiece in its own right, right from the beginning. The thing is, life can be brutal and many of us have received some cruel and untrue! messages about who we are. Start the wounding early enough and the child has no reason to disbelieve what they are all too often told, they are the problem, and if only…. then they wouldn’t be. Rubbish. It’s not true.

The masterpiece that is you may be trapped in the marble of your history, but its there. Because you are not in touch with it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Promise.

The challenge is not one of becoming a valuable human being; it’s discovering you always have been a valuable human being.

 

The Possibility of Sunlight

Of another relationship I say, maybe, just maybe. But not necessary. It is the page that draws me stronger now. On relationships I stay open, never pull the blinds to the possibility of sunlight. And while there are many whose hearts are steadfast in their desire for intimacy, few can actually live it. And that is the only landscape for my stride.

There are the array of partial intimacies, connections between two people, where, like two not quite fitted puzzle pieces, some of the edges align, and for that, anyone would be wise to be grateful.

In the meantime, I am drawn to the page, to the book, and, again, finally, to the physical. The long walks, the trails, the summiting moments, to climb back on the bike and break the hills that are like weeds in their prevalence here. And again to the gym, solitary in my task, regaining the vessel’s tone.

Then to the page, the garden, the sweet air, and always with the blinds open to the possibility of sunlight.
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