Another letter to myself

Dear Jester,

Is it okay that I keep writing letters to you, to myself, like this?  Yes.  I’m sure you’ll agree it is fine.  I should know.  I’m you and you’re me.

Anyway…

I’m not sure how to go about this, so we might as well dive into the crux of the matter: It is seeming harder and harder to keep up with the speed of life right now.  And that was really brought into focus by the death of a friend last week. 

You had seen them struggling and you had mentioned to yourself that you should reach out and then you didn’t and now they are gone.

And why didn’t you reach out?  Because you hadn’t seen him in 22 years?  Because you were busy with chores and school and toddler tantrums and infant sleep and birthdays and the day to day grind of life in the kingdom?  Because you didn’t know how much he was struggling?  Because you didn’t know…

You didn’t know.  You didn’t know you wouldn’t have another chance. 

If you had known, you would have sacrificed something else to make the time.  One less thing would have gotten clean.  Or a little bit less sleep would have been had.  You would have made a different choice.  But you didn’t know.  And, there is no way to know that reaching out would have helped.  Would have been worth doing anyway.

So, dear Jester, I’m not sure what the point of this letter is.  I was grasping for some sort of philosophical piece on the speed of life but the words on the page keep failing that, in my opinion.  Very unlike me, I have started, stopped, deleted, and started over this letter four times now.  And this will have to be good enough.  I don’t have the mental energy to attempt it again.

I guess, I just hope you can set aside any guilt you are feeling, we are feeling.  Be kind to yourself.  Grieve. 

And maybe next time reach out…  Because that pile of dishes can wait.  Sometimes, reaching out can’t wait.  And you don’t know what you don’t know.

Sincerely,

Matticus

lines from a song writing prompt 3

Below I’m posting a bit from a song I love and then I’ll write something around it (not necessarily in the context from the original source but maybe).  If the line grabs you, please steal it and play along too.  Post a link in the comments so I can check out what you did with it as well.

……….

“And the three men I admire most, the father, son and the holy ghost, they caught the last train for the coast.”

……….

The station was a mess.  People running every which way trying to catch their connections.  Late.  Everyone was always late.  Coming or going.  North or south.  It didn’t matter.  Trains always ran late and that meant everyone was always in a hurry when they finally made it to the station.

That was only part of the mess, though.  Others sat around, blocking the hallways and generally bottling up the whole works.  Tears in their eyes.  Down trodden and depressed, the moved slowly with lowered heads and slumped shoulders.  Sometimes they congregated together but most of the time they stayed as far apart as their was room for.

Those were the two general reactions people had when they’d heard the news.  They either raced about frantic or they stopped altogether and did nothing.  They couldn’t be blamed, of course.  Nothing like this had ever happened before.  Nothing like this would ever happen again.

I’m not sure why they chose me but when they called I answered  because I admired them so greatly and then dropped them off at the station.  I even walked them to their platform to make sure they got off okay.  I didn’t ask why they were going and they didn’t offer an explanation but off they went all the same, to the coast of all places.  Why not, I guess.  Perhaps things would be different there.

Here the music had died and life would never be beautiful again.

Safe, The End

I passed the alcove the other day, the one I had seen her resting in from time to time, and was surprised to see a single candle burning there.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Life on the streets is not easy and life, regardless of where it is lived, only ever ends one way.  We will all have a candle lit in our memory at some point.  Still, I was surprised.

She was the inspiration for this series, these “Safe” posts.  I had seen her sitting in the alcove, smiling out at the warming day, as the princes and I passed along on our way to the park.  She wasn’t always there but she was there enough that it made me start to think about why she would be there and where she would go when she wasn’t there.  Each of these posts has been about my thoughts working through the life she had.  And now that life has come to an end so these posts will as well.

I will never know why she was on the streets in the first place and what caused her death.  I could speculate based on appearance, based on the observations I made on her behavior, but what purpose would that serve.  If I truly cared, I could have done more.  I could have done more than say “Hello” and offer the occasional donut or bottle of water or spare dollar from my pocket.  I could have asked her name.  I could have asked what she really needed rather than falling on what was easy for me to offer at the time.  My opportunities to do so, with her, have been missed.

If someone else claims the alcove once her candle has burned out and been swept away, will I do more?

Only time will tell.

Thank you for going on this journey with me.  When I wrote the first post I had no idea what it would become.  Without some encouragement from my readers it likely would have ended there.  I’m glad it didn’t.  I’m glad I forced my eyes to open a little more and to see the parts of my community that I most often ignored.  I wish it could have had a happier ending.  Though, in truth, I’m not sure what that would have looked like…  speculative fiction at best…  The real world rarely provides happy endings.  Death is inevitable.  And a candle will be lit if we are lucky enough to have people who care to light them.

That is something we should hope for.  That is something we should more than hope for.  We should work for it.  We should care about others and prove that we care through words and actions and thoughts and prayers and whatever it takes.  If we care, they will.  Then when it is our turn, the candles will be lit and those who strike the match and touch it to the wick will have happy memories to hold onto.  And there is the best happy ending any of us could hope for.

stand

The world is on fire…

It isn’t the kind of fire you can grab a bucket and lend a hand.  It can’t be fought with traditional measures.  It isn’t the kind of fire that will burn itself out.  Its fuel is endless.

So what are we to do?

The world is on fire…

Who is to blame?  Who can we point the finger at?  Who is at fault for this madness, this tragedy, this unending pain and grief and blood, this shit storm?

It doesn’t matter.

The world is on fire…

I get it.  I’m angry too.  It’s a helpless rage and without a solution to pour my emotion into, casting blame becomes an easy fallback. It’s better than doing nothing.

And yet it amounts to the same thing.

The world is on fire…

We need to stop these worthless games, the name calling, the political jockeying, the finger pointing, the bickering and blithering rhetoric that gets us nowhere, that gets the people consumed in this fire nowhere but six feet under.  We need to form a line, hand in hand, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, and stand together before the flames.  Buckets won’t work.  Shovels won’t work.  Water won’t work.  It has to be us.  We have to risk it all together.

Will that stop its advance?

The world is on fire…

Yesterday it claimed some lives.  It does so most days.  Today my helpless rage has turned to sadness.  The streets lined with warriors, people who maybe don’t even realize that just showing up made them so, and tempered my angst with hope.  Some people get it, whether they realize it or not.  They are already out there, standing shoulder to shoulder.

We should join them on the streets, on the sidewalks, on the overpasses.  We should be out there every day, not just days where a hero is lost.  We should do more even if we think our actions won’t amount to change, even if they won’t.  We should be out there because it is our solidarity, our decision to raise our voices as one, to shout and sing and cry louder than the roar of the flames, that stands the best chance of winning not just this day but all the days of our future, all the days of children’s’ future.

I’m not preaching at you.  I’m yelling at myself.  I need to do more than sit behind this keyboard and type away my emotions.  I need to get up and walk out there and be part of the line I think we need to form.  How can I ask you do something I am not doing myself?

The world is on fire…

The world is on fire…

The world is on fire.

phoenix

She stood in the rain and let the water wash the dirt from her hands.  It was a warm storm.  The shower was refreshing despite the lateness of the day.

She reached skyward, tilting her head back, eyes closed.  The dirt turned to mud and sloughed off in heavy chunks.  It felt like the water was cleansing her soul as well but she knew she would wear the stain of her sins for the rest of her life.  She didn’t expect that to be very long.

Her sins would catch up to her, no matter how clean she got at the end of the day.  She had no doubt about that.  And then she would find the peace that had so long eluded her.

On that night, though, as the full moon stay hidden behind the formidable clouds unleashing their torrent upon the earth, she let the rain wash away all thoughts of what had come before and what she still had to face.  For those minutes in the gentle wrath of the storm she focused solely on the feel of the water splashing against her, the feel of the grit being pulled free from her skin, the feel of her soul rising from its hidden depths to exalt in the joy of the experience.

She opened her eyes and gazed into the swirling darkness above.  It looked like familiar, like how she imagined the place within her where her soul went to hide as she worked.  A smile crossed her lips as she dreamed of slipping free of gravity and climbing into the darkness to hide away forever.  She would enjoy being there, folded in the clouds, surrounded by the thrum of natural energy, traveling the world until spent only to be reborn again and again, like a phoenix of water rather than fire.

She laughed into the storm.  Her voice boomed in her ears but was quickly muffled by the wind and rain.

In many ways, she was a phoenix.  Each new hunt was a cycle.  She was born when she located a target.  She grew, aged, and lived on the hunt.  Then she died with each kill only to be reborn again.

She was dead beneath this storm.  Soon she would pull herself free of the flood and flourish in her way.  One day the cycle would end.  Until then, she would fulfill her fated role.