15 November 2014

Its Not the End of the World or the Beginning, It's Likely Somewhere In Between and I've Written in Several Parts About Sanity, My Father, and Youth

Some have it nice
Fat and round, flash, paradise
They're very wise to their disguise
Trying to revolutionize tomorrow
- From "She Has Funny Cars" by Jefferson Airplane

Is sanity really something one tries to hold on to? As in “I’m losing my tenuous grip on reality?” I certainly feel that way at times, like I’m just holding on to something for dear life lest I fall into the abyss of madness. I cannot relax my grip, or else. When I have waves of anxiety — the super strength variety that feel more like abject terror than mere nervousness — I often remind myself not to let go, not to succumb, not to believe the voices in my head that say, “this is it, the jig is up, you had a nice run but it’s over.”

Actually far worse is the notion of living in that kind of pain for more than a few seconds or minutes or hours. Hours is brutal. Days would be unimaginable. Moment after moment that feel like  the apocalypse. More than a few minutes is very bad. Despair uranium enriched.

But I’ve gotten to the next day and all is well. That first bit was written yesterday and it helped to put it on paper — so to speak. Always helps to write. To articulate thoughts and feelings is cathartic. Some form of expression is essential.

Recently I was remembering an occasion when I was a teenager strolling down the street with a friend. He nudged me and indicated a woman on the other side of the street walking in the opposite direction. “Isn’t that your mom?” he asked. The woman was having an animated conversation with herself. The woman was indeed my mother. The friend at once realized that my mother most be bonkers but had the discretion not to pursue the subject any further. I was mortified enough as it was.

Far worse was  when I was about nine and a school chum had been over to the house and seen my mother in what can best be called rare form. The next day on the playground during recess he gleefully shared my mother’s bizarre behavior with the whole gang who laughed and wondered at someone having a mother who acted weird. Kids can be so cruel.

We weather a lot of storms in this world. We’ve little choice. Oh there may be some years of drug and alcohol addiction and countless hours with a string of psychiatrist and there may well be depression and anxiety and medications but we can still come out ahead. I was about to type: if we’re lucky. And I suppose that’s true to an extent. Luck plays a big factor in any success we enjoy in life. But sometimes it takes something special to get through the worst of it. And I suppose I was endowed by a certain spirit. Principally by my father.

Dad was a carpenter. He got up everyday and went to work. Through the worst of it with my mom he didn’t stop. And he took care of me. Always. Oh sure he was a raging co-dependent who married an awful alcoholic woman after shedding himself of my mom, but he was one tough sonuvabitch.  The man did not complain, least of all about anything that was happening to him. And my god but he was cheerful about 90% of the time. I honestly don't know how he did it. Maybe fighting in wars and being on ships that were strafed by enemy planes and torpedoed after growing up in freezing cold northern Finland and working almost from the time he could walk did it. I remember his imperfections quite clearly too. He said some things I wish I'd never heard and his attitudes and opinions sometimes betrayed his lack of education but all that was more than offset by his basic decency, honesty and kindness.

So Tonight Gotta Leave That Nine To Five Upon The Shelf
And Just Enjoy Yourself
Groove, Let The Madness In The Music Get To You
Life Ain't So Bad At All
If You Live It Off The Wall
From Off the Wall by Michael Jackson

Yesterday coming home on BART I saw four people -- two men and two women -- in their late teens or early twenties off on some adventure. They were happy chatty and laughing and it was Friday early evening and they were heading off to do something or everything or nothing. I was envious. I wanted that sense of possibility. The feeling of wonder about the world and the optimistic sense that it was knowable. That sense young people have that amidst any schooling or work or chores that must be tended to there is one big worldwide party going on that they are part of. There are young people everywhere with whom they can connect and share the mad whirl that is life. And the anticipation that early evening salivation over the cornucopia. That's the thing.

One time when I was about 25  and still single and carefree I was visiting my dad and most hated step mom. My late great big brother lived nearby with his wife and their first daughter who was at the time just a few months old. It was a Saturday and brother, sister-in-law and baby came to dad's house in the early evening. It was an opportunity to get better acquainted with my niece (who today has young 'uns of her own). I spent some time holding her and cooing and gushing and chatting with the family. But then a friend from college came by with a his then girlfriend and the girlfriend's sister. It was early evening on a Saturday and I was 25 and there was a friend and two women. Without hesitation I said my goodbyes before heading out for an evening of reverie. I still remember that my brother frowned. I understood the frown. I had cut short a rare visit. But seriously, the girl was beautiful the night was young and the world was my oyster.

It's taken until Saturday night to finish this what with interruptions for work, sleep, the gym, films and meals. It is early evening. I have no plans. Both daughters are here. I think I'll probably relax.

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