Last week, in Kisses and Trust, Dave responded to a question from Breen concerning why he stopped working part-time at, and frequenting, a bar where, to steal a line from the 1980s TV show Cheers, “everybody knows your name.” Here is something that Dave wrote before Breen reentered his life anew (and, forever).
Life Is a Series of Journeys
The journey to my last evening at the bar was not a short one, and it was a journey that did not start with a proverbial first step; but with a cataclysmic, paradigm shift in my life. Her story is for her to tell. Mine, I was standing on a corner and saw the most desirable woman in the world. It was a most beautiful day of early spring, one bringing hope of a new beginning, of returning to college and putting the darkness of military service behind me. Then, as the Italians say, I was moon-struck. I felt her presence long before I saw her. It was as if the world stopped turning, people and cars stopped moving past; even the birds were enveloped in silence.
‘All’ was defined as this beautiful girl walking on the far sidewalk, moving within a sea of out of focus objects. At the corner she turns to cross to where I am standing. I am captivated and my heart spoke the words that lifted from my lips “I know I’m in love.” Before I could say something to the vision of my dreams, the world came back into focus and I could once more hear the noise of the traffic, I felt a chill from the rush of air. As fate would have it, someone else called her name. I remained silent.
I would carry my soul’s secret around with me. My secret was baggage that would become so heavy to carry, my heart burst. Then one day, years later I held her in my arms. The very thought of that first moment still today inflames my heart. Then it was over. The hard part was not my acceptance that she had made the smartest decision in her life, turning me away. The hard part was accepting the slow setting in of the reality that I was so selfish when I had my chance to kiss an angel. I turned to my writing. At first the words poured out on paper. Prose so deep and haunting, that I finally became too scared to write. I stopped photography because I saw only darkness in the images.
that two words
can end a conversation
that had never really started
Life went on, nevertheless. I just had no idea where I was going. I knew I had to change. I worked at it, but just could not believe change was taking place. Then one day as I was riding to work I realized I had changed as a person and it was only me, myself, and I that was keeping me from believing in that new person. That baggage of love lost was still sitting in some corner of my mind, reminding me of what I should have been…keeping me from believing I had truly become a man who could not just say he loved, but could show it, live it. I realized I was on a new journey.
Not everyone is given a second chance, so you must watch for it. That’s why it is so important to recognize life is a series of journeys, not one long continuous, unbroken birth-to-death trip. Maybe it’s the cause and effect factor, chaos principle, three (five?) links to everyone else on earth, the butterfly in Brazil flapping its wings, that all inconclusive predestination, freewill, predetermination, philosophical rhetoric that education empowers us with that puts blinders on our eyes.
I once bet on a horse that died on the back stretch, at a point where the infield tote- board is right in your line of sight. The horses zip out of the second turn then disappear behind the tote-board. They zipped in, the gaggle zipped out less the one I bet on. You wait…your mind does not accept the reality…your brain does not process the fact eight horses went in and only seven came out. The horses cross the finish line and still you look for your horse. You move further over to the left and can now see the horse lying on the ground. You see the meat wagon roll onto the track. They cart the horse away. I turned to my cousin, “obviously the blinders worked, he was too distracted looking straight ahead at death to finish the race.” Life is a race. One day life will be over. I don’t want blinders on my eyes…there are too many wonderful things to be missed if I only looked straight ahead.
It’s not that I have a disdain for conservative people, I just feel sorry they never take the time to look right and left. Blinders on their eyes keep their memories so blasé. You meet someone who at sixty suddenly professes, reminisces about the good old days. You know full well the guy would not have been caught dead riding in a muscle car, listening to an acid rock band, or taking part in a student demonstration. Conservative lives become rewritten history once the commercial symbols of the society “rebels” they disdained in their youth become K-Mart retro purchases. Poor Jimmy H., if he only knew how his detractors now wear tee-shirts emblazoned with his picture.
True happiness does not require danger or rebellion. True happiness only requires taking the time to see the beauty of a flower, to savor the smell of fresh-baked bread, to really feel a women’s touch. Life is a series of journeys and it’s never too late to start enjoying yours.
my one wish
is to hold you once more
in my dreams
in my dreams
(On the day I woke up and started to live once again.)
(Life Is a Series of Journeys, is adapted from Through A Strangers’ Eyes (2005) a work of fiction, and the two untitled poems (1977) are copyrighted as indicated by Steven S. Walsky, all rights reserved.)