- composer of music has inspiration, writes their feelings, every emotion translated by invisible sound waves.
- sculptor has inspiration, shapes what they see or sketch, with passion for their subject coursing through their own arms, fingers and feelings.
- painter sees reality – like a photograph – chooses to portray it, distort it, or improve upon it, puts it to their brush strokes to media not as they saw it, but as they felt it.
- writer paints word pictures, feels without pigment, their emotions show depth of field – drawn from his/her perspective. Writer sees reality, hears sound, finds inspiration, carves up this page, stirs in his/her belly then delivers those puked-up feelings, punctuates, lets it dry, lets it harden.
For all artists, joy floats on air while pain falls to the pit of our belly, then onto floor like paint on a drop sheet. Life doesn’t imitate art, nor is it the other way ’round. Life is art, art is life – and some people live it so beautifully in the face of gravest circumstances.
People we are really close to – family, spouse, partner, our daily colleagues – show us their brilliance every day. We notice when their brass isn’t shiny, if they are down a quart today or out of sorts.
I’m used to people who are sick saying “I’m feeling better today”. Or, on recovering from flu or a bad cold, “I feel great”.
I’m unused to it going the other way.
I’ve been absorbed lately in more thinking than I might have ever expected – concerning the demise of my friend’s health. Not because it might just as easily be me who is dying, but because this really could be any one of us. Inevitably it will be every one of us.
Unaccustomed to every conversation being of bravely yet understated truths like “not feeling as good as last time”. And knowing I’ll never hear “I’m feeling better”.
I’m not lamenting my discomfort – or his.
I recognize I face – perhaps for the first time – reality of, and pace of, this decline.
My only personal experience with decline is creaky joints, buying larger belts, ears and eyes not as sharp as they used to be, and hair that mostly left me before it could turn grey.
Sure, I’ve seen my dad’s decline, loss of function and growing needs – but that has been subtle, slow and expected based on his advancing years . . .
This is new.
Not new really, but really new for me to see.
Appreciating what is going on – is painfully instructive – or so it seems until I remind myself that I’m in no pain at all. He is the one facing all the pain, and the decline – not as observer, but as the observed.
I spoke with Gary yesterday.
Painfully – for both of us.
Some days are just one day.
Some for moving forward or back, some for moving on . . .
We have no way to know which day will be our last. That’s not really a change. We never have known. We assume, each night when we go to bed – each time we dream of strange things – that we’ll wake up in the morning.
Each of us, one by one will experience what he is going through in one form or another. For some, luckily swift. For some, excruciating and long.
Gravely ill is a perverse term – probably invented by somebody writing advertising copy for an undertaker wanting something softer than death, dead or done.
Gary has no idea when he will breathe his last.
Neither do I.
Neither do you.
If that day was today, or tomorrow – I believe he is ready.
Not sure I am.
What about you?
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: -10C / 15F, overcast, calm – very pleasant walk up the long cemetery hill, landscape like rolling prairie, snow disguising the lives buried beneath it as if they no longer existed
enjoy your column - Hello Mark, I stumbled upon your column in a round about manner - friend of mine persuaded me to sign up on Match.com today, and your profile came up on daily match! In your profile you mentioned to check mark musings so I did google, and found your writings. I must say I was quite immersed for some time reading - managed to check daily writing on my birthday last year - I liked it! I will enjoy your site and your thoughts which you generously share and others including myself, appreciate and enjoy. Thanks! and all the best to you in 2014, moving ahead, DL, Calgary, AB
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