Sitting on the hard Christian pew in the front row of Saint Joseph’s Church, I idly listen as the pipe organ fills the stained glass chamber with the sound of Ave Maria. The beauty of the melody is occasionally punctuated by the echoes of a cough or a child’s desperate whine. The organ stops and the room is consumed by a ponderous silence; the silence of a funeral is louder than that of any other decibel—it is the deafening sound of stillness.
It’s hard to say how many times any of us may have lived or died, but today, eternity surges through this space like static electricity during a thunderstorm, death teaches us about the impermanence of all things—-a million days or a million years, mortality will never empty my pocketful of soul.
The priest droned on in a thick accent, perhaps Indian or some foreign place from the far east—-his fouled up mispronunciations make the ancient stories from the bible even more esoteric. The messages within these texts I’ve heard hundreds of times. At different stages of my life I’ve interpreted them differently, isn’t that the way of any true art. For me, faith is an art, something that grows and changes as it finds new ways to connect with me in a place beyond my limited five senses. I‘m not a biblical purest or fundamentalist, I am a spiritual personalist—I believe God speaks to us all in his own personal language of love. I hear him in the wilderness, others may feel his presence on a commuter bus, God finds a way to adapt to our idiosyncrasies.
Ironically, things become so twisted when we force God to conform to our personal needs and demands—-oh the horrors perpetrated in his many names. I prefer the belief that we are created in the image of God, rather than God created in our self serving image. Such a subtle yet profound change of outcomes when choosing between these two conflicting points of view. My puny prayers are composed out of a humble desire for there to be less of me and more of God in this broken world.
I’ve never had much of a grasp on God, religion or spirituality, but in the peacefulness of this moment I’m absorbed by a sweet serenity. In the presence of the sacred statues, symbols and the mumblings of holy prayers I’m filled with a sense of communion to all things. I suppose this sublime feeling may also be evoked from Gregorian Chants, Hindu Mantras or Zen Koans, we are all reduced to the simplicity of oneness in the presence of God.
“If Jesus were alive today, the last thing he’d be is a Christian.”
The sentiment communicated in the above quote may be applied to all prophets and spiritual leaders who have been merchandized, propaganda-sized, materialized, cauterized, convicted and tried, dehumanized, demoralized, rectified, deep-fried, electrified, televised, commercialized and apostatized—–
Wanted—A buddy/pal/partner—or a BFFN (best friend for now)
I don’t care about your political views, religious beliefs, tax bracket, sexual orientation, profession, race, gender, visual appearance (picture not required) physical condition (disabilities are a plus) IQ, marital status, your merits or accomplishments, educational background, your favorite sports, interests or nationality——
ONE STRICT REQUIREMENT:YOU MUST BE OLD, VERY OLD, IN-FACT—–THE OLDER THE BETTER!
The following traits, suggestions and activities are not mandatory, but preferred:
You must not be computer, iPad or smart phone savvy. Preferably, modern technology leaves you hankering back to the good ole days when shaking hands, looking someone in the eye and sharing time and thoughts were a valued pastime (prior to the advent of multitasking and trying to do a bunch of meaningless bullshit at once). Please do not confuse emailing, Facebook postings, texting and voice mailing with the art of communication. Yes, it’s an art, not an exercise in technical maneuvering. Communication requires a commitment of time, patience and compassion—-as does companionship.
I don’t want to have sex with you. At this stage of the game I don’t even like looking at my own naked body in the mirror. I don’t mind hugs or holding hands regardless of your gender–tenderness is good.
I am attracted to anarchist, recluses, eccentric’s and those possessing a sense of rugged individualism—-in other words, I prefer those who are off the social grid e.g. “I wouldn’t belong to a club that would have me as a member” Will Rodgers.
If you express your political and spiritual beliefs by displaying them on bumper-stickers, please do not apply. If you believe the world is flat and that global warming is a farce, you need not apply (I will not suffer a fool).
I don’t care if you are vegan or prefer a super-sized McDonald’s meal, but—being a fan of ice cream and all things sweet is a huge plus.
Must enjoy taking slow inconsequential walks while idly commenting about the weather and other such insignificant topics. After all these years, watching the seasons change is still a divine experience worth observing and discussing.
Must possess a silly, ridiculous and absurd sense of humor. This includes busting out in spontaneous giggles (best reserved for solemn occasions such as funerals, medical waiting rooms and fine dinning venues). Immaturity, lack of social etiquette and refusing to act age appropriate is a total bonus—-at this stage of the game, who gives a rats ass what anyone else might think of you. Must possess the capacity to laugh at oneself and be comfortable in your own wrinkled, saggy, age spotted skin.
Must not be afraid of silence. Especially while watching children play or when enjoying a sunrise or sunset.
Preferably you enjoy petting cats, dogs or any other animal that understands unconditional love—-oh yeah, this may include feeding birds.
Wearing clothing that is colorful, out of style and mismatched is much approved and appreciated. This includes, wild hats, large print moo moo’s, suspenders, onesie’s, bow-ties, snuggies, overalls, fancy shaw’s, jumpsuits, afghans, scarfs, sequins, cat-eye glasses, squealing hearing aids and all things comfortable, expressive and fun.
Music, music and more music. Turn off the depressing 24 hr news and all the crap that passes for entertainment on the TV. Shut out all the clutter and noise that fills this manic modern world. There is nothing better than spinning an old vinyl record from back in the day. Better yet, breakout the piano and the tambourine and start singing and dancing your ass off. It’s great exercise and nourishes one’s soul.
After a long walk a group nap is always an enjoyable activity of choice—BYOB—Bring your own blanket.
Feel the sun on your face, walk in the rain, catch a snowflake on your tongue. No matter the season, there are always new and interesting things to do. Life is never boring, there are only boring people.
Aging requires that we all become more Zen like. God has a funny way of teaching us these simple lessons. The key tenet of Buddha’s teachings is this “Attachment leads to suffering”. Aging demands that we let go of everything——when you get old, you need less and less material crap. A game of dominos with a friend or a Sunday drive to visit family is more treasured than winning the lottery.
No need for fancy cars, boats or planes (can’t operate them anymore and there is no place you really need to go) no reason to own a big house (to much to keep up and no one to share it with) no storage sheds, garages or spare bedrooms full of possessions (just a bunch of crap to dust and worry about losing) no job title or profession (don’t have that to hang your identify on now (it’s just you hiding beneath wrinkled skin and brittle bones) no more vanity (can’t make it on outward appearance, fashion or putting on airs, its all about letting that little inward light shine) no need for pridefulness (age will humble your ass, and force you to realize that you were never as important, smart or pretty as you once thought you were).
You no longer have anything to win or lose, nothing to conceal, to protect, to defend, to covet, to prove, to own, to desire, to lust after, to judge or hate, to atone for, to forgive, to worship, or to define————– and in this state of mind you will discover an all-consuming peace.
You will learn to accept and enjoy living in the present moment. This is mainly due to the fact that your long term and short-term memory is shot to hell—-your entire past is a blank slate. The future is at best tenuous, you’re surprised and pleased to have woken up this morning to find yourself currently alive and still breathing—your future is a mirage. All you have is this precious fleeting moment.
Companionship is based on how you are being treated—right now. You have no grudges, no obligations or biases; in fact, you have no memory of the faces and names of past friends and lovers. Every one you meet, even old friends, once again become new friends. If someone is being kind to you, then you will respond with kindness or visa versa. And, at some point you won’t even remember your own name, or your own face in mirror. Finally, with no motives, hidden agendas or selfish intentions, you are now free to love yourself and all others unconditionally.
If this request for friendship connects with you, I would love the opportunity to make your acquaintance. I can be found most afternoons sitting on a bench at Kiva Beach. I’ll be the guy wearing plaid shorts, stripe shirt, a white bucket hat (Gilligan style) with black socks and brown sandals—-
I can often be heard whistling a little tune that goes like this——
“Row, row, row your boat—Gently down the stream—Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily—–Life is but a dream”. Ain’t that the truth.
Sometimes being alive is good enough. Breathing, walking, thinking, feeling—–waking to color, to sound, an awareness that I’m unexplainably here, a pulse circulating blood, air filling these lungs—-one more glorious morning—-(I mumble to myself) “how accommodating—-another day tailored to fit”—–I know such a statement must sound arrogant and self centered, but I take this life very personally. Maybe that’s being a success, just knowing that out of thin air we all walk this earth. This thing called gravity stubbornly holding all this shit together, only God could think up something so unimaginable as this. Gravity—like the grace of God holding us together. Planets circling suns, a black-hole in the center of our Milky Way Galaxy swallowing entire solar-systems whole, in one bite—– and then they too, are once again gone, into thin air—-hurled beyond this limited version of time and space—-everything spinning, tumbling, upside-down and caterwauling into eternity—-I feel your smile, and for that moment we’re eternal, twin evanescent souls dipped in heavens ebony well.
Come with me down to that old cemetery where on September nights we use to walk your dog, as this was the closest thing we had to a park beneath those tired Denver skies. After all, cemeteries are nothing more than parks for the un-living being re-remembered—no street lamps burning here, just the spine of the Milky Way bending over us. I’d watch your dog as he stared intensely into the blackness. I swear that he could see them frolicking and dancing about—free from the gravity of these earthly woes. The neighborhood is windy and dark—-the tree limbs moan and creek—- a damp fog crawls its way across the pointlessness of this American suburb—- there must be a God, cause even the stanchest atheist needs something to fill this landscape of loneliness. The bland rows of stucco track homes suck the life out of everyone and everything. There is no staving off Autumn now, even the hell-hounds in the distance howl in defiance of September’s grievous demands. The moon tags along, watching over my shoulder, reminding me that he too is a child of gravity.
I wish I were back home in California where the sound of waves pounding against the rocky Pacific coastline would put my jangly nerves at ease.
Life is a living thing that moves through us, from us and back into us, it’s everywhere yet inappreciable—-imperceptible. Hold on to it with all your might as it will roll over you, past you—– and then leave you in the park with the rest of the un-living, dancing to a choir whose voices only they can hear. No drug or drink can compare to being awake and walking out into the thin air. It is sustained by wonder, blind-faith and the gravity of grace. Everything collapses and then folds in on itself, where it leads from here, no-one knows for sure. So for now, we’re supposed to grow old.
One last time let’s hold hands and walk together under those big ole cemetery tress. We’ll kick a path through the dead dry leaves as the branches maliciously sway against the change of seasons.