30 December 2012

All That Matters

After seven days in the midwest, I regrettably but nevertheless definitively concluded that my mother is dead.

Having visited Chicago and then Milwaukee for a week; having taken long runs along my spiritual anchor, Lake Michigan; having sucked through my nose and into my lungs the chill, razor-thin air of the Midwestern Plain, death's definitiveness was abundantly clear.  Alas.

This raised the "bullshit meter" to a whole new level of measurable discernment, which led to a few noteworthy conclusions, herewith delineated for your readerly edification.

1.  Places where you once lived with someone but where that someone no longer trods one's foot are "empty" in a whole new way.  Lake Michigan, its rusty stones, its murky and earthy tones, its well-earned reputation for rooting 19th century commerce for Middle America, was diminished.  The Grand Dame of Large Shouldered Industry was in mourning for one of her humble servants.  The gulls lacked spunk; footprints fast faded; winds pierced aimlessly those who faced their random judgements.  Though housing and business continues to take root along the Milwaukee River--a great sign of hope and rejuvenation for Mom--encountering its contours was like looking at a mutant gene under a microscope:  a sequence was missing.  Sequence of anticipation and greeting; of embrace and planning; of execution and nostalgia; of parting, missing, and longing for another visit.  What does one do when those links in the genome are no longer present?

I have considered taking piano lessons, to make a random suggestion.

2.  Facebook is, for me, corporate horseshit.  I don't know that took me so long to realize it but it's true. All week long I couldn't wait to disengage, disconnect, or, as they insidiously suggest, "de-activate."  Eww.

I found myself overwhelmed with disgust at the narcissism--obviously my own.  Ashamed at the short leash of anticipation for "friends" reactions to my self-indulgent proclamations; embarrassed by the absurdly bloated importance of my personal pronouncements; and frankly, enraged at my stupidity for allowing a schmendrik like Mark Zuckerberg to make easy dough off of me and my 3000 "friends."  Dad, also dead (since '83) was a Mad Man.  I know the advertising mentality.  They making money off of human impulse; the gaming of desire.  How could I be so stupid all these years?  I'll shamefully admit that I even thought:  "Gee, one day, maybe Mark Zuckerberg will see what important work I'm doing for the Jewish people and give my synagogue money."  Facebook as Philanthropic Cultivation Downpayment.


3.  All that matters is what you do.  Eat.  Sleep.  Run.  Love.  Live {work & play}.  Give.  Die.

Preferably, dying comes last.


I'm back in Brooklyn.  There are two thousand additional miles on my car.  I read Tom Segev's 1949:  The First Israelis; and Abba Kovner's Sloan-Kettering.  I'm moderately smarter and a wee-bit deeper for having done so.  For instance, the generation that founded Israel is a generation like no other.  I really admire them.  And (one must include Abba Kovner among those founders) dying of cancer is a horrible thing.  But if you're a brilliant poet and incomparable hero of the greatest tragedy to ever afflict the Jewish people--cancer is a text against which one paints incomparable wisdom.  I hope to apply the lessons from such explorations to my work and play.

Meanwhile, here's what I advise:  Eat.  Sleep.  Run.  Love.  Live.  And Give.  See you around.

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