Thursday, July 31, 2008

taxi confessions

I had to laugh at myself in the back seat of a short cab ride home, not enough leg power at the moment to ride the bus and walk the short ways, so payin' the big taxi bucks.  The curious driver wants to know about the crutches and me and my work, and when I say I've had to retire and he asks why, I tell him I got sick a little while back.  Enough, right?  No.  "What did you have?"  "Cancer."  He then proceeds to tell me if it were him how he wouldn't pursue treatment.  I caution him saying, "never say never...  I used to feel that way.  I always told my poor wife if I were ever terminal, just set me up a nice bed on the porch - weather permitting, let me hang out, listen to the birds and watch the light change throughout the day...."  He agrees.  My home is only a few blocks away and I'm feeling like the "mystery rider of the day" - you know, the one with "a message" in the movie  and I need to give it to him fast.

Yep, somehow in the back of someone's taxi that I've not been in for 3 minutes I'm going to become a cliché and I'm going to share with him my own very personal why of "never say never."

It was the middle of the night, I was in severe pain.  I didn't need an expert to tell me that without help I would die soon.  4 am, trying to leave for the emergency room, but I can't get to the car. I lie down on the earth because that's all I can do.  The earth absorbs my pain, makes it a little more tolerable, tolerable enough that I'm comfortable dying here.  I could just lie here, let the earth take me.  After all it's going to happen to all of us some day, right?  Tonight's my night.  I'll curl up into the earth's arms and wait....  I'm looking up at a clear starry sky on the first night of autumn.  It's cosmic and so am I. After all I want to die "in a good way."  I lay there looking up at the stars when suddenly I see clearly a vision of my wife's face - not her actual face that was busy pacing the yard trying to figure out once again what to do with this man she's chosen to share a life with.  Her face hovers inches above mine, lingers a few seconds, vanishes and is replaced by my son's face.  His face recedes to the background and my other son's face appears.... then it all dissolves into starry sky.  I know what I am supposed to do.  I know it in my bones.  I have to face my fear.  Not of dying, but of going through the hospital doors and not coming out anytime soon.

I tell the cab driver, "For me the scary thing wasn't dying," this had his attention now,"It was going through those hospital doors and surrendering, but I knew I had to.  I knew it was about a lot more than just me.  I couldn't just go off and die and leave them just yet.  I was still needed.  So for me the brave thing was to haul my ass up off the ground and go to the hospital and surrender.

Sometimes surrender is the only way through....

As he dropped me off he told me that he himself had 13 kids!  
I gave him a really good tip, which surprised him.   "With 13 kids, you need it buddy!"  I closed the car door thinking to myself, never say never...

Drop the old tired dogma.  Be open to surprises (some of them are good surprises) - like highly toxic medications that may help one survive to have a little more time to love, to be loved and to be the mystery man in the movie with the message....


Flor y Canto - a sestina by el poquito

What I leave you is a flower
and a well-loved song.
This will be your inheritance
to pass on to the next generation
of vital, young ones that have
patiently waited to receive. 

In all that I receive, 
it is the aroma of the flower
in the dream that I have, 
in the birth of the song, 
being sung to the next generation
of all that is rich and worthy of inheritance.

All the riches of inheritance, 
all the gifts you receive, 
are the music - the generation
of poetry in flower, 
of love into song
and all that I have

because all that I have
to give you for inheritance
is the poetry of a song
that was given to me to receive -
the blossom of a flower
from an ancient generation.

And to your generation...
all the dreams that I have, 
all the colors that flower, 
all the beauty of inheritance
and wealth to receive
I give you as a song

to be heard in your heart, a song
to be passed to the next generation
awaiting to receive
all that we have
to give as inheritance:
the song and the flower.

Rising up in song, I give you all that I have:
the melody, the generation of loving inheritance...
the light we receive like a garden in flower...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

your one wild and precious life

The Summer Day - Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean - 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass, 
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, 
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down - 
who is gazing around with her enormous eyes. 
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. 
I don't know exactly what a prayer is. 
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, 
how to kneel down in the grass, 
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, 
which is what I have been doing all day. 
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? 
Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life?