June 23, 2013
The beauty of growing older is that there are more memories to share. But what is a memory? Can we "trust" our memories? Can you trust any history to be told without omissions, additions, substitutions, or even outright lies?
I had a social studies teacher in grade 10 who we called Bonehead. Bonehead said that to understand the true meaning of history, to know what really happened, we must follow the money.
Certainly that is good advice in any discussions of politics, religion or sex.
But what about the personal? Haven't we been told that the personal is political? Does it mean that to understand our own personal histories, we also need to 'follow the money'?
What is there was no money to follow? What other currency can we trust, like In God We Trust?
To reanimate our life and memories, we must find perspective. What did we see then, and how do we see that view now. Don't forget to mind the gap. The gap between the past and present, how reliable is our memory, just how do we choose to fill the gap.
But is any memory reliable? Even one that just happened, we colour with our perspective of the present, which is now past. Would an impartial observer have the same impression?
I have gone through a particularly dark few weeks, where I have been sifting through past memories, trying to gain a perspective, so that I may "file away these memories", to create a new understanding of what they mean to me now, and what I thought they meant then.
About half of you who are still reading this post, may have left me by now, while the other half acutely knows from which I speak.
"Someone left a cake out in the rain, and I don't think that I can take, because it took so long to bake it, and I may never have that recipe again."
As I look at the picture above, which was taken more than 30 years ago by Hans John Schneider, I see a dark beauty to his perspective that captures an image of me that I still find to be powerful, crippled and obsessive. The eyes draw you in, but I particularly love the twisting of my hands and the legs.
It is the same look that informs the drawing to the left that my wife did about 34 years ago.
I am reminded of the song FEAR by AKA:
"I feel I fear I feel I fear.
Fingers stroke against my neck.
Gotta get real.
I'm racked I'm wrecked.
I feel I fear I feel I fear....
Cut off my reality. Cut off by reality. Chop Chop Chop Chop."
What is the thread that ties my life together?
From the young man with the burning glare to the present version?
What is aging but the effects of oxidation, gravity, and the lovely thing they always use as an excuse for not paying someone- experience. Don't complain about the money, you are gaining so much experience. So if we follow the money, and there isn't any, do we follow the experience?
We can't go back. We must go on.
As fragile as we may feel in the present, we have no way other way forward except the slow march to Neverland. Except in the real Neverland, we can't remain children forever.
What is so good about being a child, anyway? I never felt free or relaxed as a child. I had the same dense intensity then as I feel today. I remember sitting in my bedroom. I was around 8 years old.
I was angry, I was depressed and I didn't "fit" in. I knew instinctively that I was different.
At least, that was my perspective then.
Today here I am. It is 48 years later, and I am still depressed angry and not fitting in.
But the experiences....
Let me tell you what happened:
June 16, 2013
I was speaking with a friend who told me one night that the best birthday gift he had received this year was the following words from his daughter
"Dad. I need you."
She has a generous spirit, and strength of character and she is beauty inside and out. I could say that she is perfect, but it comforts me in some way to note that her bedroom is a perfect mess. Always has been. Her mother once did an art piece showcasing the array of pink plastic that embodied the pre-teen years.
I have been in love with her since long before her birth. She is my love child, born of a desire to create an expression of love. She is my reason for believing in a future.
When she was small, she would say to me, Dad, I demand a hug! Those are the kind of demands that are acceptable to this management.
Mothers have a bond with their child that a father has to earn. This creature did not come from inside my body. So fathers have to earn that closeness.
I had to take her to the emergency room at Children's Hospital when she was very young. She was in pain, and I couldn't make it go away. She needed me. And so a bond was forged; she looked into my eyes, trusting me. She held on to me a little harder. This was a feeling that I had never felt before in my life. She was someone who needed me. Someone who was placing their faith in me to be there for them.
I still feel horrible about one time when I wasn't there. I remember taking her to the dentist, and telling her everything was going to be fine. She was fearful of the dentist that day. He told me he would have to pull a tooth. I wanted to tell her first, but he thought it was better if he pretended to take a look in, then pull without warning. She screamed like I had not heard before. I'm sure it was the shock of the extraction, but I felt it as the pain of having been told by her father that there was nothing to fear, and then being betrayed.I felt horrible. I would not lie to her again.
One day we were on our way to school. I was running late, but I told her I would get her there on time.
She made a sarcastic comment about being in a family of liars. Ouch! We were always late. Then I made her get herself to school. Funny thing, she wasn't late. We joke about it now.
I have no idea where I am going with this post.
I just wanted to say to my daughter that I love you more than life itself. You make me proud to be your Dad.