Monday, December 23, 2013
I'm going to let you take a glimpse of the inner workings of my very heart...
Christmas 2001, I am 14 years old and money is tight this year. I open a package eagerly, having just escaped the kiddie crazy house (ok, I was discharged, but I digress...) and look upon something that to the eye of many could be dull, but it contained some of the best of the solo violin works of Johann Sebastian Bach (not to be confused with PDQ Bach, which if you are an enthusiast of classical music you will understand the humor).
I think I received a few other items as well, but none such as to the magnitude of this CD, containing one track from a Partita in the revered Bach "Unaccompanied" as we all called in the circles of violins and cellos alike, one in the key of D: chaconne ...
An enthralling ten minutes had me in tears, overwhelmed that one violin alone could make up such complexities and melodic swells and falls of harmony in tandem with one another...
Upon return to school in that second semester of eighth grade, all "normal" classes were dropped in favor for all our core studies be replaced with studying the depth of the Holocaust of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany. I am uncertain if such studies are still condoned or not, especially after not what happened to me upon the return to a school I'd been absent from for three months.
In class we learned about numbers, we learned about statistics, but then we were invited to study independently a subject of our choice. Even at the age of 14, I gravitated toward to something I have not a clue as to why it so beckoned forth: the eugenics studies conducted at the slave labor camps of Auschwitz II.
At first I was blinded by the dancing numbers before my eyes, the statistics with no names attached (the ones who were subjected to these odd and horrible "tests" nor the twisted man behind all of this in the name of the betterment of humanity and to project the superiority of the Aryan race).
No mothers, or children.
Or their stories.
After a presentation that spring that made my teacher cry and another student vomit (black and white printers, names, faces, scattering the numbers about as only to show that these were people who did and did not survive what horrors the sheer ignorance and a back turned can result in), I think the project worked its way from the curriculum after I kept the study into the summer, then into all of my high school years...
...to work their way into what should have been my collage years...
(a call was made to the superintendent in the 10th grade as only my independent study of the Holocaust turned into sheer trauma after not sharing my secret quest into trying understand why...)
...and into the now.
My heart broke that school year for the better. The agony it brought forth was all for my own enlightenment.
It presented to a young teen the difference between what it means to be in horrid pain and the dangers of slipping into the realm of the term "suffer"
What I learned may make you angry, or even cause yourself to be ill as the ones in my class those years ago. If you cannot make it further past this text, I invite you to watch this YouTube clip (contains only that violin piece I shared being played in the halls of the now polished museum that Auschwitz now stands) in hopes that it may show you in the ruddy eyes of a survivor that to suffer...
...is to ultimately die.
is a choice.
I'm typing this from the hospital.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I am anxious to be released. If I am made to stay the duration of this week as well, it will make Christmas number five inpatient and I'm not trying to give more tallies to that record.
This stay gave light to what is to come after a particularly bad bout of pseudo obstruction, painting ugly possibilities in front of me in the future, so much that it gravitated me away from this moment right now.
This went on all weekend, pain building along with tears mingled in, the "what ifs" building that fateful tower that can and does spill a person over the threshold between struggling and suffering.
In a struggle, the pain is brutal. The days push forth relentlessly and yet you still make the choice to move along with it. You do not halt in that one moment in the future or back twenty years ago. You plod along, prayerfully or scornfully if you wish, but still sally forth, still standing up each time Circumstance chooses to shove you back into the ground.
(Fall down seven times...)
But to suffer? The moment you slip into that realm of the meaning to suffer you have hung up your armor. You have grabbed a shovel from the trough. You have joined alongside the many digging their own graves, knowing not that is the ultimate intention. It should seem to them that they, also, are going along with each day...except they have been walled off from the Outside and instead have been locked away from the rays of the sun, knowing not of Light, of Day, Night, nor the witching hour if one were so inclined to believe in its existence. Then one day they simply lay down. They are lost, confused, and bloody tired. They run up against walls and SCREAM in frightened exhaustion over, and over, and over...
They close their eyes...
...and never again do their bodies rouse.
This is only to entertain those who ask me this question: "how do you do it?"
How do I bob up and down, all around, being bed bound, then yearning in the hope, the promise, of being Well again only to topple over sloppily back into the same position...
...because I don't suffer.
I can suffer. I have suffered. I learned what it meant a long time ago amongst photos no child should have ever seen. I learned how to distinguish the difference in over a decade of the survivors who endured things I shall not utter on this blog.
And by comparison, I should say I have it pretty damn good.
Because I am typing this from a mattress sensitive to my movement, by attentive people under the care of others who do care very much. Do I miss the forest for the trees? YES. ALL THE FREAKING TIME! And then, however long down the road, I learn to laugh at myself for worrying over things that in the end are pointless to worry over.
One day, we all will die. We can speculate as to how. We can worry about the ones we love, be convinced they will forget us forever (when nothing could be further from the truth), we can all -- illness or no -- agonize over the blunders and stupid crap we may suddenly remember whilst wallowing int the pain and shame of the past...
...but my friend...
...did you remember, while chasing your tail over your own demise...remember to live?
I don't yearn for death. I don't yearn for better times. I miss the like of sonofabitch, but oh my land...even in times such as this...there is so very much to be had.
And I don't want to miss it.
I'm gazing left...by the window. Again. Hopefully not in St. Louis, though it i eerily close to last year in the same state of question and anxiety...
There is a house lit for Santa Clause to come jump down the chimney.
And I look forward, with unsolved mysteries yet, to spending Christmas this year, prayerfully, at home.
And in the face of it all to
...stand up eight)
Or eighty eight. Or so many eights to cover the globe.
Or forget the numbers in favor of Thriving Anyway.
Happy Holidays to all of you who I share this walk with
To me all of you mean the world and more.