It’s been three years since my father died and I seem to have lost all empathy for the human race any peak experience tossed off to some form of temporal aberration. The ability to feel seems divided in an escape from the responsibility of having emotions to the sneak attack of physically moving situations that pop out of packages like Jack in the box. The Jack in the box, in my case, being the empty symbolism of a small composite wood veneer container resting within a faux granite façade located in a bone yard one hour south of where I currently live. I have to ask myself, “What is the importance behind all of this?” It is hard to think of my father in life before his final bout of suffering. That entity seems reserved for occasional nocturnal séances unexpectedly posed in those inexplicable scenarios of dreamland.
What good times can I recall about a ‘good at heart’ but troubled licentious man? Could it be said that those periods when he sought the company of strangers and their trivial signs of approval before his own family who were expected to sit there at the table of the restaurant hungry while he was going through his usual flirtatious routines? This was considered his bounty to his family. The ceremonial meal at some stand-in for high class eatery where we could gorge ourselves with everything that ‘we/he’ wanted to politically reassure the lot of us that we had membership to the good life.
Now I eat stale chips and go through rituals myself of daily existence renewed for the present in tiresome cooking that fills but does not nourish. This contrast merely a concession to a promise made at the imminence of death to, “Take care of your mother!” Yet equally, an ongoing a death wish of my own to go down with the sinking ship of my terribly inconsequential family unit as it fades into insignificance and I watch as my own craft sails off into the horizon of unrealized hopes and dreams. Am I but a clown?
If I made the feeble attempt to remember the past at any given point. Would I not recall how small I was and how tall and far above he was? There was never anything that mitigated an in-between twixt us. I was his monkey and he kept my cage. Oh, I know, too harsh to put things in these terms. But, how true if felt. So many times of how I came back to his shadow to view myself before those imperfect parts of a mirror that I reflected forth into its flickering brilliance. This golem called forth from dust and sand and transformed into awkward useless stuff that always eventually failed.
Perhaps a shadow sums it up best? Whoever it was casting that blockage to an otherwise evenly lit landscape remains, I have to say three years past, a total mystery. Someone whose antics I became amazingly familiar with over decades but with reasonable certainty can now say I can recall so little about. It is a heartless thing to give life to something and withhold the plans that explains the dynamics by which it conducts its daily existence. What were those rules that I was so quick to reject in a lifelong battle for my own sense of self?
But wait, in hindsight, you are mistaken if you think that this engenders hate and disregard for the man that we posthumously speak of today. In a present tense world where anger righteous or not is controlled by the prevailing whim of the nanny state, I claim the dubious right to its employ. It is for me, not you to judge him though my words may not suggest otherwise. For in fact, I still harbor a deep sense of loss at his total absence in my vicinity. How tired this weary sagging flesh of mine own now gone slack and sallow in the blind follow of his footsteps to trace his path into the lurking prison of endless eternal night? For this is not my proscribed path that I am bound to follow but a diversion from that which I have ever felt I belong. Perhaps this recognition is but a concocted fantasy world like the identity that I cobbled in youth to alleviate the fear and insecurity of others? Yet, I feel its call as if posed in the simultaneous recollection of the last instant.
An errant king, in my wildest dreams of course. A philosopher, to be certain, given my less than careless use of words. A savant, not on your life for anyone other than myself. Someone who can open worlds by posing an untoward thought. Merciless in my quick to judge way of candid observation. Ready, but not willing to make the ultimate leap of faith. A rebel and fighter of any lost cause that presents itself. Champion of the underdog no matter how vile. This is the enigma that I face. However in fairness could I be this man’s child?
He was someone that thought he could ride two horses without the saddles. He was a man that could summon the words that others so desperately wanted to hear and thus convince their appreciation with a check made out to his name. He was a man who thought that the modern innovation of right thinking could cheat the laws of chaos and come out on top.
I sit here, a tired old sot bent upon my own destruction to prove him right. For I witnessed the reality of this modern Prometheus of a man who sought to cheat the temporal gods at their own games but got taken instead. For the slow painful grasp of death shaped and molded him into a hollow mass of unanswered questions posed so tremulously in the end. Nothing resolved and everything else left to supposition. This was my father’s existence. How pathetic and sad for the great to fall down to such an insubstantial but lingering shadow.
I am now the engine of my own destruction by virtue of neglect. The phantom of the deserted wheelhouse of a vast and unknowable craft wrestling through uncharted waters. The GPS unable to note the true nature of turbulence as it is experienced by hands worn by foreboding to the weather beaten ivory of simply fractured bone. Perhaps, the extent of life is but a small boat upon an unforgiving ocean to be ruthlessly tossed and turned and buffeted about? Then unexpectedly lured into complacence by summer weather. If any word describes my present existence then it is exhaustion.
If there is anything that I could say that I had great attachment that is now lacking from my present tense, then I would have to say it is that cloying feeling of imminent romance. The play of light, the shadows, the quality of reflection upon things otherwise ordinary but for the time of transition from light to dark at day’s surrender. I feel as if sometimes that I am a sponge, unable to create water but fully capable of absorbing it. So it is with the creation of something inherently beautiful. So hard to exert upon canvas unless simply accidental.
I scratch with pen and murder the page with pencil. I wreak havoc with the written road attempting to capture inspiration while too short of breath. “Look upon the fragments of the ages and despair.”