3 October 2017

Homeward Bound, The Last Leg. To Not Look Back

The Homeward Journey

Hell is life drying up, said Joseph Campbell, and he didn't mean the body, he meant the mind.

Maria and Red and I walked up this beautiful hill not too far from our home the other day. She and Red walked up over the horizon while I wandered the other way taking pictures. Maria and Red were right against the light, they seemed a vision to me.

I am so lucky to have both of them in my life.

I walked up the hill in search of them, and after a while they came over the top of the hill and down towards me, and we met in the middle.

Red saw me and was eager to get down to me and Maria followed, silhouetted against the lush green meadow and the beautiful blue and open sky.

I felt for a moment as if I were in a movie, and I had some time to think before they got to me. My legs were hurting from the climb up and I stood still. I thought that one day my most important task would be saying goodbye, and I wondered how I might do that when the time came.

It was not a morbid thought at all, it was quite liberating and peaceful. I understand that I am in my homeward journey, the last leg. It could be a few years or 20 years, but it is still the final leg, every day brings me closer to the end of it. Someone asked me what I would say to the people who might  look back on my life and judge it  harshly, and I said I have no answer for them.

There is no way to publicly defend a private life, and no reason to do it.

I have fought my wars, made my mistakes, had my triumphs, learned my lessons, and am learning them still. Anyone who says a man or woman can't change at 70 is either very young or very foolish.

I have changed more in the past few years than in the whole of my life, and I look forward to changing still. I do not need to cling to dogma, or to the putrified left or the right. When I stop growing and changing my mind,  and thinking for myself, I will be gone.

Consistency, is, in fact, the hobgoblin of small minds, and I pity anyone who clings to the dogma of others rather than thinks for themselves.

I am not resting on any laurels, or closing in on my passage out of the world. I have lots yet to do, and many ambitions. But they are of a different kind. I'm not seeking money or glory or any kind of power. I am free at least of those bad genes, I have this theory that the bad genes die off when one gets older, I am not seeking any kind of conquest.

Campbell also wrote that we must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.

In a sense, my journey through life is coming to its end, its final chapter. In another, it is just beginning. Searching the past for regrets and disappointments and failures is a poison. I live in the now, not the past. I have a future. I am not hanging onto anything but love.

For many, aging is a time for  regrets, looking back, taking stock, aching for might have been, for what it lost. For me, it is bittersweet, a time of release and the shedding of human fears and regrets. Sometimes, I think of childhood hero Clarence Darrow who disdained the idea of an afterlife. Life is hard enough, he wrote, I don't wish to do it again.

That choice – a beginning or an end,  the past or the future –  is up to me, my mission on the homeward journey. It is a time of wisdom and perspective and humor. Finally, I know enough things to pass along. It was just a matter of time, after all.

One day in the not awfully distant future, I will be saying goodbye.

Today,  it is to live the life that awaits me, and not look back.

Posted in General

Come Heal With Us. Red At The Mansion. This Week, They Took Care Of Me.

Red At The Mansion

Every time we meet, Joan asks me if Red is my dog, and what his name is, and what my name is, she says he is one of the most beautiful and kind dogs, she has ever met. Although she cannot remember my name, she always gives me a big and soft hug, and she loves to sit and pat Red and he loves to stare back at her.

Healing time, at the Mansion today, I loved sitting and watch them make leaves for the Harvest Festival. I love working at the Mansion, this week they took care of me.

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Come And Heal With Us At The Mansion

Healing Time, Come And Heal With Us

Come and heal with us at the Mansion. The residents live in their own world, if you know them, you can come and share it with them, they are open and generous for the most part. They know the meaning of connection. It is not an easy world, but it is a safe world, shielded from the outside world, good, and this week, bad.

They live amidst the small pleasures and gestures of the world, today, a beautiful Fall day, four or five of them were sitting out on the porch, cutting out sticker leaves and wearing them in celebration of the season. I laughed with them and joked with them, we traded stories from our lives, I asked them about their lives, and they asked me about mine.

It was easy sitting with them, and i felt safe also, and I felt myself healing from the awful beginning of the week. Life does go on, especially at the Mansion, where life is never taken for granted. They are so quick to smile there, they love being photographed, as it turns out. They love that someone cares about them and pays attention.

They seem more like a family to me, a family I did not ever have and did not ever know, a family I imagined I could sit with safely and laugh, but never could.

You can write Peggie and the other residents of the Mansion at 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

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Healing Time: Logan, Who Found Summer At The Mansion

Healing Time: Logan And Summer

A few months ago, Logan was making the night rounds at the Mansion,  where he is an aide, when he thought he heard something meow. He searched but found nothing, and assumed it was something from a TV that was on. The next morning, a resident came down to the office and said there was cat. But no one could find her.

Logan came in the next night, and the cat, a stray, showed herself to him. She was scrawny and hungry, he fed her. Peggie, a resident, named her Summer. The Army of Good paid for her to be spayed and medicated and healed. She has a wonderful life for a cat, in the morning, she goes outside to prowl the seven beautiful acres behind the Mansion.

Around dusk, Logan comes out onto the porch and calls her, and she comes in to be bed. She has befriended Red, and sits  safely near him. Logan feeds here. She finds a different bed to sleep in almost every night in the Mansion, sometimes no one can find where she is sleeping.

She seems to know Logan saved her, she is drawn to him. She is a loving cat, but not especially needy. She comes and goes as she pleases, sometimes by magic.

She is much loved there, and well cared for. She found the Mansion, like the other residents in need. They took her in and loved her. Logan has a good heart.

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Healing Time: Small Acts Of Love And Kindness At The Mansion

At Healing Time

My heart was broken after the news from Las Vegas, I can't describe it any other way, and so this afternoon, I followed my heart and went to the Mansion, I needed some healing myselt, I needed the small acts of love and kindness that I see there every time I go, away from the news and the politicians and the boiling waters of the outside world.

I found what I was looking for, Gail Bearup, one of the activity directors and one of the most loving people I have met, was on the porch making decorations for a Fall Harvest Festival there, and I asked if I could join them, and they said sure. Usually, Red and I are moving from one place to another, one room to another.

They were making paper leaves and cleaning the tomatoes from the garden, Gail and Joan were hugging one another and laughing, in their own way, their own language. I love photographing Joan, there is something spiritual and deep about her, I know her daughter was murdered by a boyfriend many years ago, she is full of sweetness and acceptance and confusion.

I took a few photos, they were healing for me, perhaps for you. I will post them here. I'll put up a Healing TIme: Small Acts Of Kindness album on Facebook, but the same photos will be here.

I see that this is how I come back, how I heal.

Posted in General