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meaning

Guest Posts, love

Reading “Justine” in Milan

April 14, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Louise Fabiani

The sea is high again today, with a thrilling rush of wind. In the midst of winter you can feel the invention of spring. A sky of hot nude pearl until midday, crickets in sheltered places, and now the wind unpacking the great planes, ransacking the great planes…. –Lawrence Durrell, Justine

 

I am forty-four, married a decade, and in love with another man, a man I haven’t seen since we traveled together in Italy 17 years ago.

The matchmaking skills of a search engine brought us together last year. In a flash we re-established whatever had sizzled between us for four days in our late twenties. In my e-mails, I found myself echoing the quirky grammar and imaginative allusions of his Danish English, as if they were creative prompts. Those exchanges proved that we spoke the same language. A kind of intimacy, distance be damned.

Back and forth went the e-mails. Forth went a few of my letters and packages; nothing back from him. We conversed by phone a few times. We discussed meeting up in a few months.

It was all very cyber-Romantic.

Before long, a pattern began to emerge. He would let more and more time elapse between replies, and those messages appeared less intense, more perfunctory. He gave me the impression that he was overwhelmed by everything between us, maybe—as a therapist theorized—even scared. Of his own feelings or of mine? The most likely scenario: I no longer amused him. The responsibility of soothing and placating a clearly love-sick former travel mate outweighed any semi-illicit excitement she provided. We still spoke of meeting, in his Sweden or my Montreal, or somewhere neutral, but we both knew it was always too much to ask of the stars to grant us time and courage. They have more deserving people to line up for.

He vanished. I languished. For months. Not even a Christmas greeting from him.

So that is why I am here, six months later. I’ve taken a two-month trip back to Italy. Not to retrace our youthful steps (too painful). Not to forget about his most recent incarnation (impossible). Just to be in Italy. Isn’t that enough? Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

Death & Meaning by Brendan Bonner.

April 11, 2013

Death and Meaning

by Brendan Bonner

Flying back to New York, 37,000 ft. over some state between here and there, I thought that no matter what I was going to experience back at my parents house, I would remain present for it. I would be responsible for my being there. I wanted my physical presence to make a difference. I knew that it would probably not be pretty, to witness what my father was going through, that it would be something I had never seen before, the death of my father, but I knew that to look away would not be living well, it would not be the courageous thing to do. I wanted to keep my eyes open as the lion charged. I wanted to experience all of it.

My father had been diagnosed a few years earlier with Parkinson’s disease and four months prior to this plane ride, he’d had his second and third strokes. For the last week he was incapacitated and when awake, in full dementia. I landed, got to my parents house, put my bag down and rolled up my sleeves. The next seven days I bathed him, changed his diaper, put cream on his bed sore and read him poetry with the whole time remaining as present as I could to his decline, which was quick and accelerating each day. I said that I wanted to remain present; I wanted to experience everything. He spoke nonsense up until Wednesday and for two and a half days he was silent. With this I was familiar. He was not much of a presence in life, the sort that would be in the corner reading at any family gathering. He assumed no role of sail or rudder in my life and any fatherly advice he may have given was now locked up away in that failing brain of his.

He died with only me in the room, holding his hand. He stopped breathing for, I don’t know how long, then inhaled deeply and let the final breath out. I said that I wanted to remain present; I wanted to experience everything. I kept watching to see what happens; what happens when your father dies in front of you, the father that wasn’t much of an influence, the father that I desperately wanted a connection with, the one man I thought could help me find meaning in life. But….nothing. He died. That is it. No openings in the sky, no lights shining down upon his face, no bells ringing. What happened was that his body could no longer support the energy that animated it for seventy-five years, and with one last exhale, he was no more.

My father did not survive his physical death. The “perfect storm” of biology, energy and consciousness that was my father will never be on this planet again and that is what is so difficult to be with, to be present to and experience. This world is inherently meaningless and it doesn’t mean anything that it doesn’t mean anything. Most would find comfort in this, yet it has been like a bucket of cold water being dumped on a blissfully sleeping child.

Of course, I could be wrong about what happens after death. We could be transported to some other reality, our consciousness in tact, to live out a better existence than this one, playing harps and an eternity of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey at our disposal but I don’t think so. When we die, we die. Period. When death comes, there is no negotiating, no bartering for time. Death comes for everyone, no matter if you were a saint or an S.O.B. What we do in this life, inherently, has no meaning.

I have struggled to find purpose throughout my life, strained to live my life well, as a “nice guy,” saying “bless you” post sneeze, holding doors open for those lagging behind, thinking that it would, at some moment, mean something. I have seen what the end looks like and it is not pretty. I said that I wanted to remain present; I wanted to experience everything but to what end? For what purpose? All inquiries and questions and subsequent answers are cathartic, at best. They only lead me back to “what’s the point?”, a very unforgiving abyss to stare into. And yet, most times, I come back to that I am here, now. We are here, now. I am, we are in this moment, right now. How this moment and subsequent ones play out is entirely up to me. And there is another human being sitting next to me who is not that different and is probably struggling with the same things, right now, in this moment. All that I can promise myself is the validity of this moment, because right now, I exist. I am responsible for that and that alone.

But, I struggle.

~~~

Brendan and his dad.

Brendan and his dad.

Brendan. Click photo to connect with him.

Brendan. Click photo to connect with him.

 

Brendan is a dear dear friend of mine an I encourage you to connect with him here. Please leave comments to this beautiful essay below so he can see them and respond accordingly. Thanks, tribe, xo jen

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