From Winter to Spring: Death and Rebirth

There is something about Fall – something in that single moment when the wind takes the leaf from its limb and sends it flying across your field of vision.

Firey reds slowly fade into grey as what had been is cast away.

 

There is something about that moment right before Winter hits, as the cold air reveals the warmth of one’s breath and the forest floor becomes covered by the fabric of a passing season of time.

Something in the breaking of yesterday’s expectations under the footfalls of the new paths we walk.

 

I once walked by a tree during late Fall and its leaves, browned and shriveled by time, were still clinging to the branches.

My love for another was lingering in my heart and so the sight stopped me in my tracks.

It was a particularly windy day and one strong gust struck the tree while I was under it.

The air around me became filled with leaves mid-flight in their liberation.

I pulled a few from the top of my red hat and a smile pursed on my lips beneath my eyes.

For a moment I forgot my loneliness. The heart of the forest had shown me the way to live.

 

The heart of every man is like this tree.

We bloom for the love of Spring.

The rain nurtures our depth of character.

Our roots go deeply into a darkness we don’t understand.

We are warmed by the love of the sun.

Into Summer we burst into life.

Our hearts become homes for the birds who pass from season to season.

Of smiles in conversations over coffee.

Of doors held open for strangers.

Of the laughter of our children.

We thirst, we drink, we grow.

Finally, the Fall hits and the labor of our love is pulled from us by time.

What we knew to be true changes.

What we knew of ourselves changes.

And into Winter’s grasp, we go.

Of life without fulfillment.

Of dreams without a clear path.

Of faith without feeling.

Aye, but the Winter is our sweetest friend,

Though in the loneliness of its grasping cold we would not think it to be so.

Winter loves us to the core of our being.

We are held still in the nakedness of our losses.

We bear withness to the transformation of our pain.

As the rain turns into snow.

And Sleep comes.

And finally,

Rest.

Acceptance.

Hope.

And then again –

From Winter into Spring

We find another reason to love.

 

I am grateful for all of the love that rests on the forest floor of my character.

I am grateful for all of the promises that made my heart open and bloom as the seasons came and went.

I am grateful for the Fall, for dissillusionment, for the scattering away of my expectations.

I am grateful for purifying snows and Winter’s sweet embrace – that I am loved even in my nakedness.

 

Some of us never plant ourselves in the earth. We go from place to place, scattering much like our leaves in the winds of change.

One day my roots will cling to something real.

One day I will look to see snow atop the limbs of my love in our field.

I will watch her bloom in joy.

I will endure the heavy rains and thunder of sadness with her.

I will watch her colors burst.

And our seasons will pass until a forest of those who bloom like we bloom surrounds us.

And time will go and I will watch my loved ones grow around me.

And when I am ready – when I have sufficiently grown enough in the eyes of my God, I will be struck down and my heart’s life will be taken from me.

Everything that I know will be stripped from me by death.

And into God’s hands, the carpenter, I will go.

And the labors of my soul will build the holy city’s walls.

And a smile will purse on my lips beneath my eyes as I am made new in unimaginable ways.

 

 

 

The Psychological Function of Emotion

You are permitted to share my thoughts, print them off, and create your own interpretations of them should you find them valuable as I hope you will.

Emotion is the sea of the soul as it stirs and crashes against the expectations of the heart; a kind of tidal lock between perfection and reality.

I dip a quill into ink, pondering what it means to feel.

Are not all men born into a romance with their own sense of perfection? The perfect lover, the perfect goal, the perfect business objective, the perfect nation, the perfect life, the perfect world…
Constantly we fall victims to the doctrines of our minds which yearn to achieve this idealized state of attaining perfection –

If I only had this one more thing in my life, then life would be properly beautiful.
If I only had this one treasure in my possession, then I would be properly rich.
If only I was without sin, then I would be properly saintly.
If only my lover would say they love me correctly, then I would be properly loved…

Yet, even after we attain that which we most desire, we come to recognize that it is not what we had thought it to be.

Our lover, for whom the passion of our hearts burst forth strikes a discordant chord and we are taken aback; we question their ability to love us before we question how we define love.
Our career, in which we actualize a sense of purpose in being productive for some higher reason, reveals its inability to satisfy that inmost validation that we seek and so we question our jobs before we question our purpose or our higher reasons.

And so, we swim from one emotional shore to the next, adrift in the pursuit of attaining the ideal state that our mind promises will satisfy us; like mice running the wheels of the ego’s desires.

Indeed, the degree to which an individual visualizes perfection and strives to attain it corresponds to the violence they are capable of inflicting upon the world or themselves for the sake of its attainment – zealous radicalism born of narrow-mindedness.

However, there is much to learn from the ideas we all carry and call perfect.
Because that perfection, that dream, that idealized goal – that is the canvas on which an individual’s psyche is projected.

That is to say that the way a person thinks, the way a specific individual houses consciousness is unique to only them. Only they think like they.
All of the schematic underpinnings of their personality which have been honed or allowed to run rampant from youth into adulthood constitute the framework through which they see the world.

In this way, the mind of an individual is quite like its own world.
Memories housed deep within the psyche that were sewn in positive emotion sculpt their mental landscape like a sunlit forest, or the warm waters of a gentle shoreline.
Likewise, memories rooted in pains and fears sculpt the landscape into towering mountains, dark dense forests, and jagged rock.

We all walk ‘in’, ‘through’ and ‘as’ the bearers of these inner worlds every day, and all of the information we receive from the real world influences how we feel. The light from the real world shines forth, casting shadows in some regions of our psyche and illuminating other regions.

Typically, the ego operates as such that we shift our eyes from reality, changing how we see truth so that the light strikes regions we are comfortable with, often leaving the looming hills in shadow – validating the biases which slope our perceptions, deepening the oceans, heightening the mountains.

But as these chasms deepen, as the differences in the landscape grow, we are more prone to instability. Victims of our own neuroticism.

How then are we to reconcile the worlds of our minds with the world we live in without amplifying discord?

We must allow every region of our inner being to be struck by the light of reality.
We must not allow ourselves to hide from the dark parts of our inner psyche. For the darkness only grows when it is not acknowledged.

We cannot thrive if we stay the same and never change.
Some individuals are comfortable living in melancholy for in those dark hills they hear music and art. Others find music and art at the shoreline and so, they too stay comfortable.

But no one changed the world by remaining comfortable.

Who we are fundamentally dictates where we reverberate the inspiration we receive from existence.
It is imperative that we take in the information which challenges us to cast light against our own darkness.
It is vital that we investigate the caverns of our thoughts and liberate ourselves from the binds of our lesser selves which demand we remain distracted and adrift.

Truth is the blade that sculpts the minds of men into houses of art.

I breathe to seek it.

Uncle Edward

My uncle Edward was technically my great uncle. He was my grandmother’s brother.

The man was by all accounts an artist. He was a man driven by passion but he also possessed a lethal intellect. He was a man who would tear up in his apartment listening to Beethoven. He was a man who wrote a poem about heaven on earth.

When I was younger, probably nineteen, I sat across from him at a family gathering at my aunt and uncles’ and we conversed about music.

He told me about how he learned Clair de Lune in order to win the attention of someone he loved. We spoke about the depths that music reaches. His words burst with color. I listened with a mind like an open canvas.

Last year he passed away and I was blessed by his immediate family with many of his things. The complete works of Shakespeare. Music. Paintings. Statues of David and a Chimp holding a human skull in the “Thinker’s” pose with “Darwin” written on its side.

He was in a very true sense, a reflection of the man that I know myself to be. And that is why I think I found my learning about his genuine struggles from conversations with my grandma so fruitful.

The downfall of the artist resides in their passions.

Edward loved more deeply than words can convey. His love reached the bottom of the ocean, it broke into the darkest places the mind can touch. He loved like a man who had seen the face of God loves.

But because of this vision, his passions blinded him of the nature of reality. His passions blinded him about how others might feel about certain things. His passions, armed with his intellect, were a battalion of truth seekers ready to slaughter any contradictions regardless of their validity.

That call for perfection, that drive to reach the mountain’s top – the eye seeking beauty and inspiration – it is a burden to a man who has to face disillusionment, isolation, and heartache.

Edward’s funeral cards were dated 2010. He had prepared them years before. His love had died and he had been told by the doctor that his pacemaker battery was going out and that he would die shortly after it did. Instead, he lived for seven more years.

I can imagine the hell of that situation. The hell of losing the one you love, the one who inspires you a sense of divine beauty – the one who reflects love itself to you in their smiling eyes. I can imagine the hell of them going away, and then being promised that you would be soon delivered and the disillusionment of suffering without them every single day for seven years despite what the doctor had promised you.

But without those extra years those behaviors in him, that battalion, it would have gone unchecked; unreconciled.

I think of him every once and awhile. When I’m stuck with a composition, or when I don’t know the right approach to take in a relationship I talk to him. I rest my mugs on his cup holders. I read the lines of the books he purchased and had found beauty in. I drive around listening to Beethoven.

My only regret is that I never had the chance to walk with him as who I am now. That I wasn’t able to convey my respect for his character to him.

I once posted a picture of a tree that I drew onto facebook and he commented, “As an art major this truly is a wonderful tree.”

Uncle Ed, as an artist, a musician, a lover of beauty and a feeler of the deeper things of this life – you really were a wonderful human being.

Here is a recording of my Uncle John reading Edward’s poem about heaven on earth at his funeral: poem.