That Revelations Feeling

“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” ~T.S. Eliot

I used to believe in the Apocalypse.

I thought it was some fantasmic, spectacularly obscene alternate reality that would somehow intersperse with our own sometime in the distant future, in some Buck Rogers timeline that wouldn’t see me in it at all. So I wasn’t worried. This was back before I had kids, so I wasn’t concerned about them either.

It was a far off dream, not favorable, but so far-fetched it couldn’t happen until there was a world gone awry, until perfect circumstances set it up for success. Not unlike most dreams, it had a basis, a grounding in reality, but it would always go off the rails at some point, and I would wake up drenched in sweat. It would take me a while to recover, but when I looked outside I knew I was safe.

I don’t feel so safe anymore. And the Apocalypse doesn’t feel so far fetched anymore either. It’s not something that might happen to others somewhere down the line. I’m still here. I’m still vibrant. I’m still human enough to recognize my fragility in the face of this novel event, in the cresting, crashing, then cresting again wave that is this virus. And I think to myself, will life ever be the same again?

Will I go out again in public sometime and not be worried that it might get me. Will I be in large groups again and not cringe away from others because of this social distancing? Will this be the “new normal,” where I’m wary all the time because no one will be able to tell me I’m okay?

I just don’t know. Which is the scariest part of all. People are saying, “When this thing is over…” but I’m worried it won’t be, not really, that this is just the first of many that will come, that will pillage humanity, that will take its pound of flesh before moving on. I’m worried that I will become such a recluse that I won’t want to open up again, that my wings will be permanently sewn to my back.

I don’t want that. But I’m afraid. That’s it, after all. I’m afraid that once this moves on it won’t have moved on at all, at least not in my soul, not to my fragile self. Maybe that’s the real Apocalypse anyway, the enduring fear of what may come, because of what has been, and what might be again.

I used to believe in the Apocalypse, but now I know that the fear of real life might just be worse.

All the World’s a Stage

I like stages. I always have, though I never wanted to be in a theater production, though I never wanted to be some other character waxing eloquently with another’s words venturing forth from my mouth. But I like stages. The lights, the spotlight particularly, being in front of several hundred people all looking at me, nodding along with me, smiling along with me, like I’m some puppeteer and they’re the marionettes. Just without the strings.

Today I was on a stage. The lights were a little too bright, so I couldn’t see the faces of those out in the audience. I had to guess instead if they were with me, if they were following along or merely looked to be that way. Sometimes I wonder if I look that way to others who are also under the bright lights, squinting out at me through a haze, hoping I’m with them.

I guess in a way I’m on some kind of stage every day. In fact, today I guess I could say I was on five stages — four of the classroom variety, and one that was an actual stage. Of course my teaching style means I’m more of a “guide on the side” than a “sage on the stage,” but I do hold court on occasion. I like initiating the contact, and they give me something back in return. It’s a wonderfully blissful experience, most of the time, when they care to participate, when it’s not 8 AM, when they have their coffee IV’s firmly affixed.

But being on the actual stage reminded me how much I love it. I used to be in those stage productions, by the way, back in elementary school. I used to be the main character, or the town villager, or tree #3, whatever let me see the stage from my favorite side. It didn’t really matter how I got to see it. Somehow, though, as I got older, either my passion died out, or I forgot how much it made me tingle being up there, on display, for everyone to see, and judge, and see again the next time I was up there. I got caught up in life, in doing for others, in achieving a different sort of dream, and I forgot what it was like.

To breathe.

To inhale and let it rush all over me, cleansing me from the outside in, giving me a new lease on life. Maybe I need to spend more time on a stage, to give in to those long ignored feelings, because on some level I feel like I need it. I’m no longer that rangy twelve-year old, no longer the kid with an entire future left to be written. I have only so many more Sundays, and I want to spend them where I’m feeling alive.

And I haven’t done much lately that feeds my soul, outside of my chosen occupation, that is, but it’s different to do what you love and get paid for it. Quite another to have that spare time and do it simply because I love it, getting nothing in return but the satisfaction of having done it, of being absolutely in love with it. The stage calls.

I wonder if I’ll answer.

43.

Year 1 must have been fun. I was the center of attention, the new “bundle of joy” that burped, burbled, smiled, laughed, and occasionally cried. But there was nothing else that could compete with these dimples. Of course I don’t remember any of it. My mom says I was a little nightmare, but I’m going to go ahead and assume she meant perhaps toddler stage. At 1, I was a treasure.

I do remember year 6, and kindergarten, and making new friends. Okay, so there were really only 2 friends, but that’s 2 more friends than many others can lay claim to even now. Hmmm. Do I have 2 solid friends right now? But yes, in year 6 I learned how to tie my shoes, to count numbers, and of course the art of manipulation. I know I was fascinated with the shadows and light on the television screen back then. Maybe I still am.

Then there was year 22, which started off with a bang, even though year 21 ended so poorly. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I didn’t go through the rites of passage in quite the order they were supposed to be experienced. It was the first time I realized how stupid I was, how complex the world was, and how far I was away from the person I hoped I was going to end up being.

It was also the first time I realized time is finite, that I wasn’t going to live forever. Funny how much that realization changes everything.

Year 32 was full of so many new experiences too. I was a family man, and the family was finally complete, though at the time I thought there might still be a new addition or two forthcoming. On some level I’m glad that didn’t happen, because from this side of the glass everything is perfect how it is, but on another level I still held out hope for another seismic shift to the dynamic.

And now I am reminiscing on year 43, which was full of tradition, a lot of firsts, and just a warm and fuzzy feeling I haven’t had for a very long time. Continue reading “43.”

The Ineffable Quality of Love

ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. 

The other day I ran into someone who uses the L word a lot. In the course of regular conversation, she expressed it no fewer than 10 times, to encompass everything, from the latte she was drinking, to her new bag, to the latest episode of some vapid TV show she watches but I’m glad to say I’ve never seen.

I nodded along, but inside I was counting, and thinking to myself, “You can’t possibly love all of these things.” I realized one of two things in that moment. Either she honestly believes she loves all of these things, or she hasn’t really taken the time to analyze her feelings for each one, and love is simply a placeholder until she decides she wants to dig a little deeper. If she ever decides she wants to dig a little deeper.

Too often people don’t. Too often they grab a word, put it in their pocket, and pull it out whenever the mood strikes, whenever they can’t think of anything that fits the situation they’re in. That’s why we often say we love others too soon, when all we can possibly feel is attraction, or companionship, or relief, or any number of a million other feelings that often masquerade as love.

We see others living the lives we want, having the love we wish we had…

Continue reading “The Ineffable Quality of Love”

Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles

My mom never took pictures of me on the first day of school. I think it’s because she realized I looked no different then than any other time in my life. Okay, maybe I had a cleaner, ironed shirt on, but we all knew it would be rumpled fifteen minutes into the school year. So, why front?

It’s like when we had school picture day. Sure, I wore a tie most of the time, and a sweater to cover up the fact of no tie at other times, but generally I had on a collared shirt. That was fancy back then (at least when I wasn’t in church). I only knew it was school picture day because the clip-on would be lying on my bed when I got out of the shower.

It was like Santa had placed it there.

Sometimes I wish they had clip-on ties for adults. Don’t tell me they have them. You will ruin my dream. It’s the dream that sustains me, after all, the illusion that they don’t exist. If you tell me they do, then I’ll have to subscribe to a new illusion. Like when I found out about the Tooth Fairy.

So, I would clip on that tie, adjust it to hide the fact it was a clip-on, and I’d smile for the man, or the woman, who stood behind the camera with a chipmunk grin. Continue reading “Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles”

Bridge Diving

Sometimes, when I pass a bridge, I slow down. I ease back on the throttle. I turn down the music, straining to hear the haunting melody of the river below, as it lulls me into both a complacency and an urgency in the same moment. I imagine what it would be like if I jumped, if I tumbled head over feet into the abyss, if I would survive. If I would even want to, at least in that moment anyway.

Then the moment passes.

But I’m somehow changed by it, transformed in that instant when anything was possible, when I was capable of doing that thing. I tell myself it was never real, though, that I never slowed down, that I never imagined myself, arms raised out wide, staring off into the never ending blue, or brown, or gray water below before letting go. It’s so real, though, this feeling when it comes, so overwhelming at times that I have to remember to breathe, to drag one breath at a time through my lungs.

Sometimes, it scares me.

Who am I kidding? It always scares me, when it happens, when I think for a second that I could be able to do something so drastic, so permanent, so astoundingly perfect in that instant. I always snap out of it, though, the road dragging me back, the gas pedal calling me back home, or to work, or to get pizza on a Thursday night. There are too many bridges around here. I’ve never really consciously noticed before, but they’re everywhere.

Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like if I could find a path where there are no bridges, where life doesn’t hang by a thread, even if it’s just in my momentary daydreams. Continue reading “Bridge Diving”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: