Sunday, December 23, 2007

NPR - And now they're gone

I was reflecting this holiday, as we all do when either surrounded by family and friends at someone's house or reminising about them when you can't be there. Or, as in my case, they're now gone. Except for a sister and brother-in-law who live in Montana. I have extended family but we weren't a close family and many of my generation drifted away from the network into their own lives and families.

And I have to say over the decades since being asked to leave home by my Dad when I was 19, I haven't done much to communicate with the nieces and nephews. Most of this is that I'm an individual person who likes and is comfortable living alone. It's in my being since I was a child as I played by myself for hours and really hated the team sports and activities teachers always made you do. It doesn't mean I wasn't competitive, as I play tennis, golf and basketball in high school despite almost failing gym class.

It's just my temperment is being alone. I do all my photography alone, whether it's street photography walking around towns and cities, nature and landscape driving around or solo hiking, or my small in-home studio. I like the pace and work of photography being alone, it's just you, the camera and the scene. The rest of the world disappears from the mental viewfinder, and I move at the pace I want while the world races by.

But now and then I look back. And I realize all the problems our family had, all the interpersonal issues we played out with each other and within ourselves is history, and isn't worth much now. They're all gone. Those I hated, loved, and all the diversity of emotions and feelings are now just memories against people in graves or ashes spread to the wind. And one day I too will be gone, and all I have said and done will be markers on papers or photos I've taken.

And all the rest will be the possessions left behind for someone else to sort through or really wholesale out. Just remanents of a life once here on this planet, like billions of people before me and in my life. Gone as we all will as history moves forward a moment behind the future. The present is just a breath ahead of the past, and a thought behind the future.

None of this really bothers me anymore, it's simply the reality of our existence and the randomness of our birth, life and death. But it does bother me we make so much about the anger. We make it real and carry it with us as baggage we felt thrust upon us when we piled it on and in ourselves. We carry it forward, when we should have left it at the station before it even happened.

Why didn't we learn? And why haven't we learned. Anger doesn't help anyone or anything, it simply degrades our spirit and soul, and robs us the things that really matter, what we should be living for and doing to help others, the world and the planet. All those words we spoke and heard in anger aren't important anymore, they're the dirt we walk on everyday, and where it belongs in our life, something we left behind a step ago.

I'm thinking of my Dad and the words he spoke before and after asking me to leave, and who died after losing his elder son three years earlier and accomplished the three goals he set for himself late in life. He died two days after making them. I'm thinking of my Mom who loved a man who rarely shared his feelings and withheld so much of himself that she discovered a whole different side of him after he left. And the life she had in her latter years geting by on memories.

I'm thinking of my brother who lived the proverbial life of quiet desparation and died an early death not having chosen the life he really wanted but lived the life Dad wanted him to have. He had chances. He was angry with himself and the world he was in where the choices were few, and none without losses. He was born without the chance of winning. And he never learned to just let go.

And I'm thinking of my own life, all the anger I've carried about something or toward someone, and mostly against myself. It's said and done and all the "what if's" won't change the reality I see in the darkness at 4:00 am on a Sunday morning in December. It was and that's all there is to it anymore.

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