At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Friday, September 29, 2006

An Investor's Thoughts

I feel the need to give back, somehow, to you: The Dear Reader. It’s true. This whole “blogging thing” is an interesting experience. I write my thoughts because I am at a stage in my life when I must. If there was no Internet, if there were no blog sites, I would write just the same, but it would be different. The very notion that someone, somewhere, may somehow stumble across my blog, pause, read, ponder and…perhaps…appreciate or commiserate, adds a sweet spice to the whole operation. It nudges me to try a little bit harder to find the truest words. It forces me to seek clarity. It adds a certain weight to the very words themselves.

I’ve come to appreciate you, the reader. That, too, is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t know most of you. Every now and then, someone offers a comment. The comments come from men and women of varying age and diverse nationalities, words appear from different continents, when it might be dark and wintry outside my window, but sunny and warm outside yours. I don’t know you, but you’ve charmed me. I want to show appreciation, but how? Hugs and kisses are quite impossible. The “Thank You” cards lack addresses. Oh, sure, I can pen my thanks here (I just did), but I’d like to do more. Since I am so limited by time and space and ignorance, I can offer little. In lieu of warm embraces, then…

I’m going to try to make you rich.

* * *

You’ve already read a great deal about my failures. That’s not really surprising, is it? It’s failure that I ponder the most. Success is something to be quietly savored. And I’ve seen my fair share of success. My greatest joys and successes involve people…the relationships that blossomed into something profound. Then there is financial success that, while not something crucial to my well-being, is still rather nice. I am semi-retired because I can afford to be. Let’s just say I’m financially “comfortable.” I will remain so after my divorce, despite giving up considerably more than half the wealth.

I normally don’t consider personal financial success as a matter for conversation. It veritably reeks of braggadocio. But, I want to make a point here. I grew up poor, knowing absolutely nothing about investing, yet managed to invest successfully over the passing years. While money truly does not buy happiness, it buys freedom…and that’s important, too.

The key word here is investing. I want all of you, starting right now, to begin investing. If you already do so, great! Learn more! Do more!

My story will serve to illustrate my point.

* * *

Growing up, my refugee family had nothing. It was a hardscrabble life just to survive. There was no talk of Wall Street, bonds, stocks, commodities, options, derivatives or futures. There was just a beat up passbook with paltry few entries and gut-wrenching withdrawals.

I struck out on my own with nothing, just a work ethic and a vague notion that it was important to save. So I worked and saved. I saved laughably small sums.

If I were to point to a watershed moment in my career as an investor, it would be the night a neighbor of mine knocked on my door. He was struggling to get by as an insurance salesman. He admitted he had a drinking problem and was on the verge of losing his job. Could I, would I, buy a policy, anything, to help him out? Well, sure, if it would help. I signed up for an IRA. Fifty dollars would be automatically deducted from my checking account each month for deposit into a stock mutual fund. I had NO idea what to expect. I was bringing home about $700 per month, then. I’d feel the “loss” of the $50. I didn’t know a single thing about stocks, or mutual funds, or IRA’s. Oh, well. My neighbor needed help. Grin and bear it.

After the initial shock to the wallet, I promptly forgot about the whole enterprise. Money went from one account into another…I had jack to do with any of it.

Funny thing happened. At the end of the year, I found myself with several hundred dollars in an IRA and I discovered I had earned a tax break! Free money! Cool! I had just received money for nothing. In a rare flash of wisdom, I decided to invest that tiny windfall, too. It didn’t affect my lifestyle in any way. It was "free" money.

The years passed. The invested sums grew ever larger. We humans think linearly, not geometrically. Only a rare few grasp the enormous potential of compounded growth. Trust me on this: compounded growth, over time, yields great (if not enormous) bounty.

I started to pay attention. I began to “follow the market.” I read books about investing in stocks and bonds. I began to understand the importance of investing as a means to improve one’s economic status. I began to think it terms of net worth, no longer beguiled by simply having things (on loan or credit), but outright owning things. I basically lived debt free. The operative word here is free.

It all snowballed. I learned more, earned more and saved more with the passing years. As I learned more about investing, I discovered wiser, more lucrative ways to invest. I said good-bye to that first IRA. In truth, despite the revolution it precipitated in me, it was a lousy investment. I began investing in a variety of stock mutual funds. I developed a working knowledge of economics, fiscal policy, stock sectors, bull and bear markets and the fundamentals of investing.

As I earned more, I saved more. It didn’t hurt one damn bit. There came the day, about 15 years ago, when my salary was such that I was living a very comfortable middle-class lifestyle. From that day on, I saved and invested all salary increases. I had no need to live ever more affluently. I enjoyed my life as it was. I figured why not invest the rest? So I did. By then, I had "graduated" to investing in individual companies. The risks increased, to be sure. I certainly made my share of mistakes, but my overall returns increased dramatically. The “free money” began to pour in…first a modest stream and then a torrent. There were dividends, capital gains and simple interest to reinvest. Money piled on top of money. The magic of compounded growth revealed itself.

My point is: It was all so simple, so painless, so effortless (compared to seemingly everything else in life)!

* * *

Think of me as that drunken neighbor knocking on your door. If you haven’t already done so, consider opening your first IRA, or making those first contributions to a 401(k) plan, or joining some share-builder program or a modest dividend reinvestment plan. There are many wonderful options for a beginning investor. Just do it…and keep doing it.

Hey, I really wish I could thank you all in some way better than this…but…who knows? Maybe, someday, you’ll be relaxing comfortably, feeling financially secure, and you’ll thank this faceless miscreant blogger…the way I forever thank my woebegone neighbor from so many years ago.

I'd like that.
* * *

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bittersweet Surrender

Last night, I popped a CD into the player. I had not done that for what seems like an eternity. I wanted to listen to a mix I had compiled about four years ago, entitled Bittersweet Surrender. Here’s the play list:

Barenaked Ladies What A Good Boy
Matchbox Twenty Shame
Matchbox Twenty Hang
Matchbox Twenty Bed of Lies
Bruce Springsteen Human Touch
Big Head Todd and The MonstersBroken Hearted Saviour
Big Head Todd and The MonstersTurn The Light Out
Big Head Todd and The Monsters Bittersweet
R.E.M. – Bang And Blame
R.E.M.I’ve Been High
R.E.M. I’ll Take The Rain
Snow Patrol One Night Is Not Enough
Snow Patrol Make Love To Me Forever
LifehouseTrying
LifehouseEverything
Collective Soul Run

As a whole, it’s a “fairly” quiet, low-key collection of songs (with a good beat). The music speaks to failure, melancholy, confusion, wants and dreams.

“In the end, what you don’t surrender
The world just strips away…”

---Bruce Springsteen---

I put together this mix at a time when I knew my marriage was crumbling and I understood neither how nor why. Funny, years later, I still don’t understand. Years later, my confusion extends past my failed marriage to love relationships in general. Years later, the music speaks to me exactly as it did originally.

I’ve experienced and suffered much in the intervening years, but I’ve learned little. The human heart remains veiled in mystery to me.

* * *
I thought I would be wiser by now.

* * *



* * *

Monday, September 25, 2006

Commitment

Last night, I watched the last hour or so of a pleasant film (starring and directed by Edward Norton, a favorite performer of mine) entitled: Keeping the Faith...

A line from that film, as spoken by a wise, cigar-smoking Catholic priest of 40+ years:

Commitment is not a one-time decision. It’s a choice you make…again and again and again…That’s what makes it difficult.”

The words keep tumbling over and over in my head...

* * *

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Plate Debate

One does not divide a household through mitosis. It just doesn’t work that way. In my case, dividing our “stuff” has not been all that complicated. I’ll keep my music (I might even listen to it someday) and my personal belongings; my ex will keep everything else. That suits me just fine. I want her to be comfortable. I want her life to continue with minimal disruption. There’s been turmoil enough. I simply want to disappear.

The time has come for hearts to heal.


* * *

A digression: The only remotely comic moment in my divorce proceedings came when I told my attorney what I was willing to accept in the property settlement. She blinked in absolute amazement: “You’re entitled to so much more!” she exclaimed. She didn’t/couldn't understand. I don’t want it. I don’t want any of it. I don’t want my former bride to fret about starting anew, her future, or her financial well-being. She was once the world to me.

I wish to leave her in peace. There's nothing else left to be done.

I’ll confess I enjoyed the look of astonishment on my attorney’s face. Too often, lawyers deal in greed. It gave me a small measure of quiet satisfaction to rock her world a bit. (Other than that, the whole process has really sucked so far).


* * *

Well, anyway…back to the matter at hand. I’ve taken to flipping through catalogs to note what I need. I’m particularly fond of the Williams & Sonoma catalogs. It’s a veritable wish book for aspiring Martha Stewarts such as I. I’ve dog-eared a number of pages…cutlery, cookware and kitchen aids, mostly. One simply must have good cutlery and trusted pots and pans, lest cooking devolve to a painful exercise. I’ll spend what I must to buy high quality essentials (not the "best" quality, mind you, but fine quality nonetheless).

I stumbled across dinnerware that caught my fancy. The dishes were meticulously crafted in a Provençale-style. They were exactly what I had envisioned for my table (my yet-to-be-bought table). I blanched when I saw the price: $100 per plate! Oh my!

Granted, it was the cost that made me stop and think, but then it hit me…I don’t want these plates. No doubt they’ve been manufactured using the highest quality materials, relying on fine Asian artisans to paint the intricate patterns and filigrees. No, I’ll pass on all that.

I do want dishes from Provence, and Tuscany and Chile, and Africa and Eastern Europe. I want to seek out each plate and bowl and cup. I want to touch them first, with my fingers, in some open-air Sunday market or dusty “antique shop” in their country of origin. I want the genuine article, even if it’s chipped and scratched; even if it’s a hand-me-down set from some anonymous upwardly mobile family. I want my dishes to come with stories.

I’ll order the cutlery and the cookware. They are, after all, craft tools. The tableware, though, won’t come from a catalog or mall. It’ll come from villages and markets and shops I find along the way as I venture forth into the world again.

The very idea charms me. The exercise will fill a need.

I must go and find my plates, my bowls, my cups and saucers. I wish to set a fanciful table, someday…invite a few friends over for dinner. I want to ply them with fine wine and have them feast on victuals I’ve prepared with my own two hands (minus a fingertip, perhaps), presented on dishes that traveled the world, each unique, each with its own tale. I don’t want to wait too long to have that dinner…(I don't have much time to waste).

I must get going.

* * *

(Which brings me to another matter…)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Janitor and The Child

I was sucked into a political discussion in my beloved runner’s forum. I’d rather avoid political debates because I find them so vexing. I have my strongly held beliefs, as do others. Admittedly, there are times when someone opens my eyes to other possibilities, explanations or solutions. Usually not. Too often, I’m simply bombarded by slogans, partisan rants and the regurgitated pap that's become our daily fare.

I’m irritated by the libertarians /conservatives/Republicans who pound their fists on the table exclaiming it’s all a matter of living virtuously and taking “personal responsibility” for one’s own success or failure. As if that were simple. As if that were all that is needed. I’m always left wondering if my opponent is naively blind. Perhaps the blindness is a convenient excuse; or, worse yet, thinly veiled prejudice. One never knows the truth of another’s heart or soul.

The Janitor

I spent a college summer working as a janitor. I worked 2nd shift, usually, sometimes the graveyard shift. Whenever I worked the graveyard shift, my path would cross that of a fellow janitor who was permanently assigned that shift, despite his seniority. He was a black gentleman.

He was in his late-fifties. A thin, quiet man. He only spoke when spoken to, and when he opened his mouth it was obvious he had let his teeth surrender to rampant decay. I liked him. I would always stop to chat a spell, usually because I would observe him being taunted in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as we cleaned the union workers’ locker room. That locker room scared me. The workers were, without exception, poorly educated white males. Some pretty big and ugly dudes, to boot. I always figured he could use a bit of moral support. Hell, with my long hair, I too, received my fair share of abuse. I felt a certain kinship with my fellow mop-wrangler.

I never really got to know him. What little I learned was this: he was the son of an alcoholic share-cropper who had booted him out of the family shack at age thirteen, asserting that he was a “man” now, and had to make his own way in the world. And so he did. He had no high school diploma, couldn’t even read, but he ventured alone into the world and found himself a woman who blessed him with two children and he, in turn, made a home for them…as a lifelong janitor…mopping up after others…

He wasn’t bitter. He never spoke with resentment or outrage. He simply did what he did, lived the only way he could figure out how, and took it all in with a certain detached bemusement. He was stoic. He was honorable.

The Child

My wife had befriended a family and, through her, I came to befriend them, too. The entire family was blessed with striking good looks…every one. They were good people. They were hard working and spiritual. Their youngest daughter (18 years old) was an absolute knockout. She was tall, lean, shapely and radiantly beautiful. She had the softest, kindest, most innocent brown eyes I had ever seen. The innocence wasn’t feigned, either. She had the mental maturity of a five year old.

Having met her, one couldn’t help but obsess about her fate. Her parents were aging rapidly. Despite a lifetime’s worth of special education and training, she functioned no better than a five year old, and never would progress beyond that stage, although she had blossomed into a ravishing woman with biological needs and wants she could scarcely understand or manage. She exuded the sweetness, charm and innocence of your typical kindergartener as she stood on the threshold of a waiting world.

* * *

Personal responsibility. Yeah…that’s the ticket.

I’m not a big fan of Darwinian societies exulting in the survival of the “fittest.” I’m even more put off by the recent wave of Neo-Calvinism (i.e., personal wealth and success are proof that you’re virtuous and that God loves you). No, I prefer a society filled with helping hands. Hands outstretched to lift up all who need a lift.

Really...what would Jesus do?

* * *

What For
By Garrett Kaoru Hongo

At six I lived for spells:
how a few Hawaiian words could call
up the rain, could hymn like the sea
in the long swirl of chambers
curling in the nautilus of a shell,
How Amida’s ballads of the Buddhaland
in the drone of the priest’s liturgy
could conjure money from the poor
and give them nothing but mantras,
the strange syllables that healed desire.

I lived for stories about the war
my grandfather told over hana cards,
slapping them down on the mats
with a sharp Japanese kiai.

I lived for songs my grandmother sang
stirring curry into a thick stew,
weaving a calligraphy of Kannon’s love
into grass mats and straw sandals.

I lived for the red volcano dirt
staining my toes, the salt residue
of surf and sea wind in my hair,
the arc of a flat stone skipping
in the hollow trough of a wave.

I lived a child’s world, waited
for my father to drag himself home,
dusted with blasts of sand, powdered rock,
and the strange ash of raw cement,
his deafness made worse by the clang
of pneumatic drills, sore in his bones
from the buckings of a jackhammer.

He’d hand me a scarred lunchpail,
let me unlace the hightop G.I. boots,
call him the new name I’d invented
that day in school, write it for him
on his newspaper. He’d rub my face
with hands that felt like gravel roads,
tell me to move, go play, and then he’d
walk to the laundry sink to scrub,
rinse the dirt of his long day
from a face brown and grained as koa wood.

I wanted to take away the pain
in his legs, the swelling in his joints,
give him back his hearing,
clear and rare as crystal chimes,
the fins of glass that wrinkled
and sparked the air with their sound.

I wanted to heal the sores that work
and war had sent to him,
let him play catch in the backyard
with me, tossing a tennis ball
past papaya trees without the shoulders
of pain shrugging back his arms.

I wanted to be a doctor of pure magic,
to string a necklace of sweet words
fragrant as pine needles and plumeria,
fragrant as the bread my mother baked,
place it like a lei of cowrie shells
and pikake flowers around my father’s neck,
and chant him a blessing, a sutra.

* * *

Friday, September 15, 2006

After Midnight

It's almost 2:00 AM. Do you know where your heart is?

(Mine's in Kansas)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm Weary

I stared at myself in the mirror this morning. Such a sorry sight. My torments, of late, have taken their toll. My eyes are blurred and bloodshot. I’ve developed dark, haggard bags beneath those failing orbs (closely akin to Mr. Clinton’s, I’d say). I’m functionally deaf (all I seem to hear is the gnashing of teeth). My complexion is sallow…and
I can’t seem to smile.

I’m weary. I’m exhausted to the bone. I’m tired of fighting, worrying, grieving, repenting, negotiating, planning and, all the while, disintegrating. I’m tired of dreaming the same moribund dreams.
I don’t have the strength to tilt at windmills any longer.

I want all this to end.

I want to sleep. Oh, how I would love to sleep for more than just an hour or two at a time! I want to be Rip Van Winkle for a while, then wake to only myself…with life striking seductive poses just beyond my coffee cup.

I’m so weary. I need a boost. Luckily, crutches come in all manner, shape and form. I reach for poetry. I seek the words of wiser souls for consolation. After all, poets can soothe and heal with perfect words and beguiling imagery. They surely can.

Here is a poem I meditate upon often. It captures the truth and hope of my existence:

Poor Angels
By Edward Hirsch

At this hour the soul floats weightlessly
through the city streets, speechless and invisible,
astonished by the smoky blend of grays and golds
seeping out of the air, the dark half-tones

of dusk, suddenly filling the urban sky
while the body sits listlessly by the window
sullen and heavy, too exhausted to move,
too weary to stand up or to lie down.

At this hour the soul is like a yellow wing
slipping through the treetops, a little ecstatic
cloud hovering over the sidewalks, calling out
to the approaching night, “Amaze me, amaze me,”

while the body sits glumly by the window
listening to the clear summons of the dead
transparent as glass, clairvoyant as crystal…
Some nights it is almost ready to join them.

Oh, this is a strange, unlikely tethering,
a furious grafting of the quick and the slow:
when the soul flies up, the body sinks down
and all night – locked in the same cramped room –

they go on quarrelling, stubbornly threatening
to leave each other, wordlessly filling the air
with the sound of a low internal burning.
How long can this bewildering marriage last?

At midnight the soul dreams of a small fire
of stars flaming on the other side of the sky,
but the body stares into an empty night sheen,
a hollow-eyed darkness. Poor luckless angels,

feverish old loves: don’t separate yet.
Let what rises live with what descends.

* * *

I want to be that ecstatic little cloud again. I yearn to be amazed.
Let what rises live with what descends...please.

* * *

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sociopath?

So…I stumble across a link to a “sociopathy quiz.” Hmmm. Should I take the quiz? Do I really want to know?

OK, I’ll admit I’m curious. I’ve even been known to ponder sociopathy on occasion. Well, let’s put trepidation aside, then, and cut to the chase…shall we?

Choking back my fears, I took the quiz and forthwith discovered I am:(...drum roll, please...) merely 20% sociopath. According to the quizmeisters:

“You're empathetic, loyal, and introspective. In other words, there's no way you're a sociopath... but you can spot one pretty easily!”

So...here I am on a cool, gloomy, rainy Sunday afternoon...rejoicing that I’m not a sociopath.

Well. It's something.

* * *

It gets worse.

This morning, I found myself overcome by feelings of smug satisfaction...having figured out (all by myself!) the answers to the four puzzles offered in the "Fruity Cheerios FUN!" section on the back of my box of cereal.

I really don't think I can sink any lower.

* * *

Hair Update: Past my shoulders (but nicely styled!)
Music Update: Silence

Friday, September 08, 2006

When Dreams Die

Dreams don’t die easily. At least that’s what I’ve come to know. Writers pen their musings about the deaths of dreams in all sorts of ways, from every perspective, using all manner of phrasing. Well, here's my take:

We often say: “I lost my dream…” It sounds almost benign, doesn't it? As if we’ve somehow misplaced it…can’t seem to find it…but figure it may turn up again...someday. That’s not too bad. It happens all the time with keys and address books and sunglasses and buttons. Why not dreams?

I guess it depends on the dream, no? Some dreams are pretty ethereal (or pretty petty) to begin with. Relatively inconsequential dreams can come or go. No harm done. Call it part of life’s mystery and charm.

But what if the dream was everything…the one thingyou truly wanted and needed? Dreams that big die hard…and it isn’t pretty when they go.

Picture an enormous crystal cathedral…spires, apses, altars, vaults and domes galore. It is the profound expression of a human heart. The soul soars exultantly within that shimmering, prismatic space. Now, just imagine when that thing goes! I mean, c’mon, that has to be one gut-wrenching, horrifying, deadly disaster. Shards go flying, tearing through everything, slicing, wounding...as they scream by. The din, the smoke, the quake...the specter, alone, can scar the soul.

When dreams that big die, devastation follows.

I lost my dream,” he says. But he stands on rubble…in Dresden, or Hiroshima, or in the wake of a hurricane named Katrina. “I lost my dream” doesn’t sound quite as benign anymore.

Dreams don’t die easily. They don’t go quietly. There’s only suffering and grief at ground zero.

* * *

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fear and Faith

Fear is a useful thing. An amazing thing. We carry within ourselves an unfathomably complex endocrine system that…when triggered by a threat…floods our tissues and brain with chemicals that cause us to unceremoniously vacate our bowels and sprint like flaming gazelles; or…turn to fight like rabid mastiffs. Pretty nifty if you’re a naked primate in the wild. Claustrophobic man in starched shirt and tie, stuck in a crowded elevator? Not so much.

There are things in life worth fearing. There are things that are not. It’s important to be able to tell the difference. But…that’s when things get really complicated.

We’ve all got our fears. Some are very useful…might even save us from death. But some kill the heart and soul (and happiness) all on their very own. I think it’s all just a big crapshoot. Granted, the gene pool runs from shallow to deep. Some may be born a bit more skittish…others more intrepid; but our worst fears are based on experience, and our experiences are uniquely our own.

We can’t reason away fear. Fears are based on reasons. That first spider found unexpectedly in bed, a dog bite or burnt finger, the slap in the face, the stumble or gaffe that came wrapped in humiliation, the fall from a ladder, the time we found ourselves lost and abandoned…all these serve as foundations for fear. The pain or shock was very real that first time…or hundredth time…or thousandth time. So painful, so shocking, so fearsome, that we darkly come to fear a possible reenactment. We somehow come to fear our fears.

It seems to me, the only antidote for fear is faith. It takes a whole lotta faith to put yourself in harm’s way; to trap that spider, pet a strange dog, strike a match, face the fist, walk with shaking legs through a mine field, climb that rickety ladder, or love a potential vagabond. It takes a whole lotta faith. Unfortunately, faith is even more elusive and mysterious than fear.

Fear and faith, two of life’s essentials. Both beyond my comprehension. But I think I'm right when I say:

The more you have of one, the more you need the other.

* * *

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Can You Spare a Square?

Toilet paper generally doesn’t draw much attention to itself. Oh, sure, we all enjoy high quality, soft and supremely functional toilet tissue. We might even note our pleasure on occasion. But, more often than not, we don’t give toilet paper a second thought. Unless…

There isn’t any.

Now, as far as predicaments go, this isn’t a blockbuster, but it can be most vexatious, or…worse…embarrassing. We tend to remember our unique “toilet paper moments.”

This was something that always puzzled me in my marriage: empty rolls of toilet paper. Not wanting to be considered a petty sort, I never brought this up with my spouse. Still, there was something perplexing about encountering an empty cardboard roll with not a tissue in sight (or within arm's reach, at any rate).

In all our years of living together and marriage, I never once left an empty paper roll in my wake. Never. Well...OK...once...but it was a deliberate, and despicable, act of spite (and I've since repented). If I used the last of the tissue, I would replace the roll. If I discovered the stockpile empty, I would go to the store and replenish the supply. I never left a bathroom devoid of tissue. Simply didn’t.

You may have surmised where this is going. I would often discover (at times, most importunely) an empty roll. I’ve always wondered why that was so? Was my partner absent-minded? Not generally. Certainly far less than I.

Was this some battlefield for sexual or power politics? Or was it the absence of concern...care...or love?

I guess I’ll never know. But, I do know this: love feeds and grows on the tiniest gestures of care, concern and respect. Love slowly disintegrates in the absence of same. While I’ll gladly concede that grandiose expressions of love have their place, it’s the smallest of gestures, multiplied and compounded mightily over time, that mean the most. I mean, really, I could have passed on the custom golf clubs.

I’d rather have had the toilet paper.

* * *

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Funny Thing Is...

I still love her.

* * *

I have no idea how my words are received or perceived. I write the words that come a’ bornin’ in my brain without concern for effect, simply honesty (or is that hubris?). I like to think I’m merely emptying the contents of my skull periodically (keeping all the really good stuff locked inside...sorry). I honestly doubt this blog elevates me (in any way, shape or form) in the estimation of the Dear Reader. I worry, sometimes, that I may inadvertently snub another’s precepts or beliefs. Or give offense, albeit unwittingly.

I sometimes imagine you muttering: “Get a grip, you sniveling, maudlin mope!” I can see that. Even I react that way to myself, sometimes. But, this is, after all, the diary of an optimistic depressive…(granted, the optimism may be hard to discern at times).

I write about pain, confusion, doubt, longing and redemption. I write about love...but mostly the losing, suffering, yearning and deep blue, melancholy aspects of it all.

But...I still love her.

The love I feel is just as strong, today, as ever, because I need to love. I need to love to remind myself how it feels to be, in some small way, sanctified. I need to love because it lights me up inside and drives the darkness into harmless corners. I need to love to maintain balance; after all...there's an awfully frightening abyss below.

So I love...Her.

I guess I shouldn’t say I love her. Truth be told, I’ve come to see that I don’t really know her. Never did. Real life proved that in spades.
I fell in love with her attributes and aspirations. I fell in love with the woman she wanted to be.

Who wouldn’t?

She wanted to live an authentic, integrated life; fully committed in heart, mind and soul. She wanted to love freely, openly, without fear or inhibition. She wanted to save the planet and its people. She was spiritual, thoughtful, empathic, intelligent, funny as all get out, feral, physical, sensible, self-critical, curious, observant, opinionated, erotic, obsessed, fiery and...maternal. Plus, she smelled better than any human being I have ever known. She was fragrantly all that and more (much more). And she hungered to love just as madly as I.

* * * Aspirations...meet...Reality * * *

The raging fire consumes the arsonists. Things too good to be true usually aren’t. At any rate, dreams have always found it tough going in the glare of day.

But, oh, how I love the woman she aspired to be! And she is every bit as real (to me), as the woman she really is. It's just a matter of time until she blossoms. Maybe she already has...

And I continue to love her every hour of every day. I try to think only of her, never us. "Us" is pain. No need to go there. But I'll admit I often revel in thoughts of her. And...I cheer for her, pray for her and hope for her. And I worry, endlessly, about her well-being, her health and happiness. Is she at peace? Has she found her answer(s)? Do angels surround her and protect her? Does she laugh and smile?

Does she love?

I wake to her and fall asleep to her. I really don’t mind. The woman she aspired to be (just trust me on this) deserves to be loved…
truly…madly…deeply.

So I love her. And I always will.

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