A man that I visited in a nursing home had incurred two broken hips since I had last seen him. He is in his late eighties and apparently facing his remaining life in a room.
There is little about him that is downbeat. He is engaged. Not showing any sign of depression. His demeanor provoked me to look for weakness. Is he crazy, narcissistic, or just a good guy?
I find it easier to find fault than I do in praising him. He has undergone a rite of passage that I don’t think I ever will. I have come and gone into puberty, adulthood, middle age and now early old without any signs of evidence that I ever experience a passage of any sorts. Other than time passing. I feel the same as yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
What I see in him as some kind of psychotic disturbance might be me looking dimly in a mirror. How have I jumped from sixteen to sixty-six without recognition? This man has been in the military and worn several other uniforms, many with badges. Occupations I would have spurned in my younger hours. I wanted recognition but never thought of it doing it the way he did.
Life for me has been more a passing than an entry. Until New Hampshire, moving from one town to another. It is what I see as intriguing about Lee Child’s fictional character Reacher.
Rather than hold to his military exploits, Reacher seems to wander into new realms. Where others might be insecure, he lives one day at a time and becomes prominent as a go to guy, a guy we might ask about life’s meaning. He is a wandering monk. A monastery is his likely next stop, not a nursing home.
One man real, and the other imagination, which one would I rather be?
Writing a memoir, especially one that includes exploration of the dark side of everything, including God, is hard work. It makes me want to go to analysis because I have begun to see much I haven’t see before. Stuff I didn’t even know existed. Amina is one.
Loren Pedersen writes, “the more in touch with the inner feminine a man is, the more comfortable he is likely to be with inner self-exploration. The anima, as a potential connection to his unconscious, may appear personified in his dreams and fantasies.”
When I picked up his book Dark Hearts, one that was leant to me, I had little interest. That was at the beginning of August. I am now the proud owner of the book and reading it at the fast clip of about two pages a day. No meat here. Hah!
“All wrong.” Biff then added in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. “The man didn’t know who he was.”
I can identity. Can you?
My quest is to unearth my dark side and my angst is serving me.
Some mornings I feel like my walk is over and other mornings I am just beginning.
I need to be Harry and to have Hermine, characters in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf.
Oh wait, I think my life’s partner was Hermine in an earlier life. Was I Harry?
Spiritual joys come only from solitude / So the wise choose the bottom of the well / For the darkness down there beats / The darkness up here. / He who follows at the heels of the world / Never saves his head.
Do you want to be at the bottom or the top of the well? I must not be wise because I would have chosen the top for reasons of sanity. I know it up here, I am trapped down there.
But the point is well taken, up here I am either tempted or coerced to follow the world. So I choose to be in the well of my head and never leave home without it. This way I can be me, but not too much.
Robinson Jeffers built a stone tower as part of his home in Carmel, California. Dr. Peter Quigley quotes scholar Theodore Ziolkowski as having said, “the tower was not the realization of an image long present in Jeffers’s poetry, just the opposite.”
The tower worked to produce the poetry.
Whatever our means of making poetry, how great it would be if all our homes “worked to produce” it. The home we have lived in for twenty years has done that for me. Most of that work was in my unconscious and is only now commuting to my conscious being. All of it has been a joy.
Peter Quigley is his book Housing the Environmental Imagination doesn’t use the word crafting, but rather “fashioning.” Such a familiar word, but one I may have never used.
In The Oxford English Dictionary it offers, “Fashioning is to give shape to, to mold.”
Sounds like crafting to me, but that is not the point. The point is to consider how many of us get there? How many of us fashion a life that matter? Do even we even know when we have?
Quigley writes, “There is so much than conspires against getting it right. Like the crafting of a poem, one crafts a life alone.”
I guess Quigley got to that word crafting too.
He writes on, ” We do it against all odds, and we do it with the crushing likelihood that the project will evaporate, the profile will be blotted out, the language will blur, and all will be subsumed by some governing paradigm; we will fall in line.”
It has happened more than once to me. How about you? How do we craft a life that matters?
From the anthology Biopoetics it reads, “The eye of the octopus is amazingly similar to the eye of a human yet rose independently in evolution.”
Richard Dawkins invented the word “meme” and in his book The Selfish Gene he offers examples; tunes, catch-phrases, ways of making pots or of building arches, but not octopuses. Something of comfort about that natural exclusion.