michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 22)
after only getting a half hour's sleep yesterday, i think you understand why our regular conversation didn't happen as scheduled, teacher... i know you've spent many a night getting that much sleep, then having to perform with the same amount of energy as someone who's gotten adequate amounts... people always tell me, 'i don't know how you do it with that little sleep...' i don't know either. but i know i'm not up there performing intricate and sometimes complicated dance moves every night for two hours.
just because we didn't have our regular chat obviously doesn't mean i wasn't speaking with you... life certainly has an interesting way of presenting situations to you in order for you to learn from. i'm sure you know this... i'm sure you also know that in order to get a sense of what you are presented with you need to know you have options. and you also need a sense of humor to go along with it. i think this was one of the many messages you have conveyed to us down here. people point to your rendition of chaplin's 'smile' (which is one of the most beautiful songs in the history of music); but i also point to your sense of wonderment and willingness to learn as being part of your survival technique. people did not understand you when you were here; but how many of us truly understand OURSELVES?
the older i get (and especially now since you have been my teacher) i acknowledge that in life, you take the good and the bad, but you don't attach yourself to either one. if you have a so-called debilitating illness, you don't become trapped in that (i think your mother learned this at a young age; as well as STEVIE WONDER). you move into the world and demand respect. and if you present yourself as a force of positivity people respond in kind.
some people view age and growing older as a debilitating condition... me, i always couldn't wait to get older. i couln't wait to get a grayfull of hair, living with a houseful of cats. and i would adopt several children and they would so happily come over my and the cats' house, and they would bring their grandchildren... i know you thought of yourself as being like a child in many ways (this was your way of dealing with what you felt to be a cold world); but i am not so sure if you were afraid of getting older. i could be wrong, but i didn't sense this.
let me explain, teacher... part of adulthood is perceived autonomy. if you were still, literally, a child, you would not have been able to create history in the way you did. you would not have been able to create your idea of childhood in neverland. you'd still be at the whim of another adult. i think a large part of adulthood is that notion of freedom that we could create our own destinies. but! even with this, in adulthood you have to have that sense of wonderment. so i think you were more balanced than even you thought. i think you were certainly trapped by your childhood experiences- the abuse, the constant work... but all those things did create you into the (adult) person you became- the good and the bad.
i think you taught us far more than just how to have the drive to be successful, and to be a 'first' in something: you taught us to NEVER CEASE THE WILLINGNESS TO LEARN. i think we feel as adults, our 'schooling' is over; we've exited the traditions of educational institutions, and we bombard the world with everything we 'know'. how often do we learn from each other in our mistakes (or 'happy accidents' as bob ross called it) or just remaining quiet?
paula and i met this woman yeseterday (also named paula), who was 66 years old... and she did not look a day over 45!!! she had her heels on, her jeans and sweater and she she spoke about how people were jealous of her... how people don't speak to her. i kept thinking, why should ANYONE be jealous of this woman!!!? she was so welcoming; so warm-hearted. it wasn't even her looks which made her as beautiful as she was. she had a sure sense of herself, definitely founded by years of travelling and self-discovery. you KNOW this woman made self-healing a goal in her life, and she was more than willing to spread that philosophy to others who were opened to hearing her.
i saw no need to be jealous of paula; i felt so proud of her. and inevitably the question remains: are we so full of loathing and self-hatred in this society, that anyone who lifts their head up high is targeted as conceited? or someone who does anything outside of whatever our respective societies deem as 'not stirring the pot too much' is labelled 'weird'. with all our options in this world (and i'm not even speaking materially) people are still called 'weird' or 'different'. you've heard it all, haven't you, teacher?
even people we consider to be of the 'third world' (which makes me laugh, especially after the reaction of this so-called 'first world' country called the u.s. in relation to hurricane katrina) take the resources they have and create things. they survive. and when possible, they laugh. when we project ideas of ourselves onto other people, we begin pathologizing. but when we actually sit and learn and state facts, this is where we can do great things.
everything i am saying all amounts to one thing: never stop learning. find the inspiration in elders, children, plants, cats and spirits- and more!
i spoke with someone yesterday who just kept looking into my eyes as he was speaking to me and offering condolences (still, people have been offering condolences to me. people see how important you are to me). he consistently made attempts to counter my frustration in people labelling and not humanizing you- he wasn't arguing really, i felt he was just telling me these things are going to happen. with this, he gave me a long embrace and thanked me for being a positive light in the world, to bring people together, and ultimately finding the human qualities in you. to myself, i was like, i did all THAT? i still, to this day do not realize i've made an impact in peoples' lives in terms of my feelings about you. if anything i did gave someone one notion of looking at you as a full-dimentional being then i am very glad for that.
i want to do more of this, teacher. i want people to see the gifts you have given us, and me. you know what? there is going to be a whole day planned for you soon- ON THE DAY YOU WERE BROUGHT TO US ON THIS PLANET- 29 august. i just got a permit for this, and it will be in the park. i want to it be a day of positivity, and reflection. and community! i know you're gonna be all over the world on that day (you're gonna be a busy man) but come say hi to us here in portland when you get a chance...