Just now I had a feeling that I remember very well from years ago. Ii's the feeling of staying behind, of being left, a vivid memory of what it was like to cheerfully stay behind with my book or a pen and notebook in the parking lot while other people went hiking along a mountainy trail. There was an element of sincerity possible in the cheerfulness, but also being wistful, resentful. Mostly, acceptance. And developing some measure of grace about it so as not to spoil anyone else's good time (after many times, I know, of being the downer and the spoiler and the awkward burden.) I've written before about how I learned a little patience, something I unlearned as fast as possible once I didn't need it anymore, but that I'm certainly requiring again in order to get along well in life.
In those redwood forest and beachside parking lots, observing birds with binoculars and making little sketches of my own feet, I recognized then, this will happen again and if this is the worst of it, I'll be very lucky.
Or things go a little wrong, and I realize that I don't have any control. I read a good, funny email recently from one of my mailing lists about the feeling people have when they fall. A woman who has fairly advanced upper motor neuron disease was describing how her leg was sliding slowly off the bed, and she couldn't control it, and she knew it would pull her off completely, and she'd fall and be stuck. She had plenty of time to contemplate the fall as it happened, so she pictured how she'd be stuck in the little alley between the wall and the bed, and she laughed pretty hard about that. Then she laughed some more as she laid there luckily with a phone reachable, as she has a backchannel line to her local EMTs, who are used to coming and rescuing her in those situations and who tease her about her strategy to meet hot firemen and paramedics. I haven't been there in the alley of floor behind the bed, quite, but I've been close to that, and know what it's like to wait. You just wait. You think. You pass the time, and watch the light on things, and your mind can go just anywhere. It's not so bad. I have fairly boundless trust that someone is coming, or coming back.
The luckiest you can get is to have people who don't mind, with that same level of sincerity, being left behind with you, people who have experienced enough so that they don't mind letting go of a possible glorious moment and instead having just an okay moment. Making do, enjoying what's possible, with a sense of humor and of artistry. Not in an "oh-well" way, but more like an artist. You look at the materials you've got, and you create the most fantastic thing possible with them. I've had some transcendent experiences in parking lots looking at rocks and weeds. Maybe this is more possible if you're a poet. Poetry in fact is traditionally well suited to the extraction of goodness from any situation, to be written in blood in prisons on scraps of toilet paper, or composed and memorized when nothing else is possible.
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