Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thoughts From An Unknown Place

(4 AM, Iowa City, Iowa – 2012, May 5)

Periodically, late at night, like now, I awaken and feel as if I have done something horrible to the entire world. Some might say that I have. It is impossible for me to know if this is true or not, and it really is not important. If I have done something horrible, then I have done something horrible. I do not know what it is.
Some would say these thoughts come from the stars, the devil, mental illness, or some such. That is not important to me. It is important that I recognize them, accept them, and do what I can to move past them. I do not want to pass on the feeling of having done something horrible. I do not want to feel horrible myself.
I have tried many practices and, to the best of my ability; I have prayed, I have meditated, I have followed directions, and taken many treatments. These have not eliminated the thoughts. Apparently, they are what they are – thoughts that come to my mind unbidden, from an unknown place.
What now?
I write. Later, I will walk. These thoughts are necessary. Just as the steps on my walk are necessary. Just as death is a necessary part of life. Some thoughts are pleasant. Some steps are very difficult. As for death, I have experienced cases where it was not unpleasant, and as easy as ceasing to breathe.
Of course, if you are ridiculously fat and have sleep apnea (like I probably do), you can improve your breathing either by getting oxygen via a tube or get up and walk. I prefer walking. You can never tell what you are going to see, or whom you may meet.
You may even find a pack of hot dog buns that costs $1.18 rather than $1.99. (Two other people on the planet will get that joke. The rest of you will have to buy the damned book.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Forever Young

My walk for today is complete. The tiredness of six miles of steps feels like virtue. I listen to Forever Young, “May you stay forever young...” I think of my brothers. The tears come. It's a good thing. Tears wash my heart.
Bob pleads for me to stay forever young, and I will. I will be young forever, as I remember my brothers and the times we had. I will build a ladder to the stars in the place where my brothers once lived. I will climb it and visit their memories whenever I can.
Tears make it difficult to see the photographs I took on my “Liver Walk”, something I am doing to move past the pain and raise a few bucks for liver research. Keith would laugh at the name. Mike would want to laugh, but wouldn't.
As I listen to Dylan, I can see Mike's sea-green eyes, heavy brow and the smile he shared with everyone. He never saw a stranger, only friends he had not met. Keith is looking at me too; hazel-eyed, with the movie star profile he would be sure to tell you about, before he burst out laughing at how silly he was being. I can write about them forever and never capture the depth of sadness I feel. Thank you Bob, for giving voice to my wishes for them. Maybe sometime I can return the favor.
I started today's walk by picking up a hitchhiker at the corner of Hwy 1 and 218. At first, I was afraid to pick him up. But then I thought, Mike would have stopped, Keith too.
The hitchhiker said his name was Rob, and he carried what looked might have been his entire life in a Hefty trash bag. He looked like somebody I should know, but I've learned that kind of thinking can land me back in the hospital.
He told me about his struggle to get a job driving a truck.
It's a hard life.” He shifted in his seat as if he was uncomfortable admitting that fact.
I worked for one company, and they only gave you 36-48 hours at home between trips, even if you'd been away for a month.”
I gripped the steering wheel a bit harder. “Yeah, sometimes it seems like people just don't give a shit.”
His sigh clouded the window. “At least they pay real good.”
We both laughed.
The sun was turning clouds purple and gray. I decided that I could afford to start my walk a little bit later. I offered to drive him all the way to Independence.
He shook his head. “No. I wouldn't feel right about that. You got things to do.”
I looked him in the eye. “Really, it's not a problem. I've got the time and a full tank of gas.”
His mouth formed a thin line. “No. It wouldn't be right.”
It sounded like something my Dad taught us boys. All three of us lived colorful lives but Dad gave us some good direction. We always ended up back at simple rules like it says in the song, “May you always be courageous; stand upright and be strong.” Always is a tall order but we did our best.
Mike and Keith are gone, and Mom passed years ago. Now, it's just me and Dad. We are closer now than we have been in many years. Funny, death makes me appreciate life more and more.
But enough of this daydreaming. Time to turn off the music and get back to editing those photos. I'm three days behind, and this weeping is getting old. I'll look at pictures of Iowa sky and flowers along the road. I'll do what I need to do. Mike and Keith would want it that way.