11 July

Leave It There: Paul’s Goodbye

by Jon Katz
Paul's Goodbye
Paul’s Goodbye

Suicide is, in so many ways, a great excavator of the soul. If leaves so many dark and open holes. All day at the remembrance ceremony for Paul,  I heard good and loving people try to figure out things that I tried to figure out, but were not explicable, that could never be known. Why did he kill himself? Why there? Did anyone know? Did he offer any reasons?  Did he plan it? Was is a surprise? Wasn’t he happy and love, not only with his wife, but with life itself, with so many people, his friends who loved him, with the horses, with justice and the mind?

The wise men said Paul was still there, still around this beautiful tree where he took his own life, in sight of the farm and the farmhouse. The wise men and women said he needed to go, that the ceremony would release him, release his spirit from the life of the farm. Leaving the ceremony, I stopped with Maria and we turned to look at the tree, to say our final goodbye to Paul.

Knowing little of these things myself, I accept the words of the wise men, I opened my heart and mind, both seemed so meager and small against these big questions. Could I find my friend Paul in all of this? Could we ever say goodbye, really? How best to do the work of the day: to let go.

As I looked, I was rewarded for my patience. I saw  all kinds of light streaming across the field where Paul died. I picked up the camera, it was dark. In my darkened study, tired from the sun and the drive, I turned out the lights and turned on the photo enhancement program I used once in awhile – it is called a detail extractor – and it finds and recovers the original image of the photograph as captured on my Lexar Professional 1066x 32 Gigabyte flash card.

My detail extractor does not lie, it gets to the truth of the photo, what the camera captured, the light and detail that was on the disc, then softened by digital software. In a way, the truth of the photo. Here, maybe was Paul moving on, telling all of us to let go. Sometimes there is truth in accepting what we can’t know, can’t see, can’t really understand. Sometimes true genius comes from understanding just how much we do not know and will never know.

Leave it there, I said a hundred times today. Leave it there. This is the best we can do, and sometimes that is very good.

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