07/30/09 10:40 - ID#49413
The End is the Beginning is the End
Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
-- excerpt from the Diamond Sutra
This fleeting world is mine, or feels close enough most days. A sudden absence, death, denial, changes that world and then I stumble. There's that bloody gap again amongst white teeth that tongue can't help but probe. It's too hard to hold on to, and to painful to let go. I find myself living a life that's suddenly unfamiliar, dangerous, alien.
The Buddhist retort to pain and loss is, "what now is lacking?", meant to drive your awareness to the present, to the moment, to your being here and now.
Loss is singular because it comes to all, eventually. It's the invariant mate of existence in this universe. So, I am not gone or destroyed by loss -- not yet. Loss is the relief that shows where presence still is. I live, though feel a stranger to my life today. I can keep moving until the moment that even breath is lacking. Things will be all right, even then; my flickering lamp continues, until then.
06/05/09 02:26 - ID#48845
Has anyone here lived in Boston? Should we stay or should we go? I know it's a very expensive city. Presuming I got a cost-of-living adjustment to Boston wages, is it a fun/cool city to actually live in?
Plus, (e:james) and I could get married there :)
04/08/09 08:59 - ID#48322
04/07/09 11:05 - ID#48318
This is my last quitting smoking post.
To throw my hat over the wall, I'm going to vow on the memory of my mother that I'm done. Mom, I promise that I am done smoking. This is it for me.
Hopefully I don't fuck it up, I'll feel super guilty after failing since I'm promising it this way.
01/05/09 03:13 - ID#47288
December was 2 weeks of being mostly sick and semi-functional, a week of vacation, and a few days of holidays. Plus quitting smoking this week. No wonder one of my project's schedule has slipped a month, but still it's freaking me out. At least the big project is still on track.
Oh well, at least I have a nice co-worker who is covering my communication duties today.
Sorry, world, for spilling my crazy all over you today.
11/26/08 01:26 - ID#46851
09/17/08 12:07 - ID#45706
Of Past and Present
Let me respectfully remind you:
Life and Death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken, take heed, do not squander your life.
-- Buddhist Evening Gatha
My favorite author died this week, my boss died a few weeks ago, and today is the anniversary of my Mother's death. The thread of these three deaths has been at the forefront of my mind, no surprise. They are all tied together, in their base and inescapable human ways, but marked by such deep contrasts that it's impossible not to sift through and try to find meaning, to learn something of the nature of being in this time and place. To reflect on my own existence.
Every year on the day of my Mother's death, I write about her loss. On her birthday I try to make a post about her life. It's been three years since she died, and this time I'll depart from the usual pattern and talk of myself, and of others who have died recently.
David Foster Wallace was the pre-eminent postmodern author of the last 15 years. He was the person to best employ the English language since Shakespeare walked the Earth. He died this week, a suicide. He was 46. His work was intellectual and all-encompassing. He would write about subjects and consider all angles, paint them vividly, but always carried a specific intention of meaning and attitude towards what he was writing that shone through. His writing spared not a single ounce of truth, missed no branched paths to travel along, and appealed to the reader in only the most direct expressions he could muster. He towered in my mind as an example of giving only your best, unfailingly. Of juggling insight and madness and confusion and constructing glorious insight from within. To have him give up, decide not to try anymore, cuts me to the core. I had not realized he was my hero until he died, as I generally avoid having heroes.
I am flawed through and through. I try every day to be a better person, and fail. That is merely human, but maximally humiliating in practice. I don't know how to do it any differently. I just need to keep trying, harder and better. My Mom used to say, "such is life", and I've resorted to using that as my shield for pain and distress I encounter. Yet, particular circumstances of life are painful and beautiful in ways that shouldn't be reduced to aphorisms. You can't live without choosing meaning and vision broader then what you've been handed down by those who precede you. So, such is life, to question deeper then you're capable of understanding. The journey is the destination, goes another famous saying, but that's not always enough, as David Foster Wallace apparently decided.
My boss and friend Luke, who also committed suicide, died three weeks ago. Killed himself, yes, but in this case it's easier to understand why. He was diagnosed with cancer, and had a serious chance of not making it through treatment. The manner of his death was carefully planned. All his affairs were put in order, and he let no sign of his decision slip to those around him. A deliberate and personal choice of how to end his death. I don't harbor any ill-will to his decision. What I do think of, is his life - painted starkly sad in his death. He died here, a stranger to this city, with no close family and few friends. Only a co-worker to find him, in bed, naked and bruised and lifeless, and no way to express his pain without feeling guilt burdening those to whom he had few ties.
I have learned over time how to exist in a relationship, and share my life with another person. That is the truly rewarding accomplishment that I'll count on until the day I die. I have to work every day to not be selfish and to not close myself off. It's a constant struggle but one I feel I'm winning. James, I am sorry for my failings and glad for my successes, and I am so thankful for your presence that it hurts. There is nothing that could change my life more, or better, than my relationship with you.
Rosanne, my Mother, has been gone for years now. Not to suicide, but sudden - very sudden, at the age of 54. I no longer pick up the phone absent-mindedly, thinking to call her for advice or to chat. Often the saddest part of thinking of her is that it doesn't happen every day any longer. There is much I could now say about her, but I'll restrict myself this year to once again thanking her for never sparing an ounce in giving me whatever she could. For sending me into this world as a human being, capable of compassion and forgiveness.
What comes before and what comes after is mere shadow next to this moment. I tell of these people to shine up the past, make a flicker of connection, and to feel less alone. Picking and choosing certain words to make years of random meaningful moments align. Right now I'm still breathing, and in agony over these losses, each in different ways. I wonder what story might be told of me, my life and death. I wonder how I can change that story in the time I have left.
08/24/08 04:15 - ID#45439
I volunteered to go to his house to check on him, but there was no answer and he is not well enough to drive so eventually I broke in through the window. He'd committed suicide last night and I found him on the floor.
I guess it was better that I found him instead of a family member, but still... not the way you want to last see someone. Too late for me to do anything about, I wish there was more I could do.
He was the best boss I've ever had, and a friend.
08/07/08 11:17 - ID#45263
As incentive to quit, I bought myself a ridiculously nice, but used so not too expensive, chair. Definitely worth the money considering I sit in it for like 2100 hours a year. The one I had before was so crappy and badly fitting I was starting to get pains and aches by the end of the work day. Yuck, not worth it. My body didn't come with a warranty.
I think without James' encouragement and my self-bribery I wouldn't have been able to quit. Feels pretty good!
02/26/08 03:15 - ID#43470
Salt Lake City
I wish I could go to the Rails Conference in May in Portland Oregon, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. And by the cards, I mean my credit card is already creaking from the weight of other stuff.