Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On death. From a barely cognizant ape

I've been in a melancholy stupor lately. A family friend died. Harsh, yet needed, those rush of memories that follow such an event as one's mind tries to relive moments with that person. That reliving is done through experiencing some of the emotions, re-acting the moments together. This was a fine human being, with a heart of gold, that much was beyond doubt.

The memories soon were replaced by not only the aforementioned melancholy, but also the judgement of self, of society. And that judgement led to something like an accusation of self, then an evaluation of self. I'm speaking strictly in terms of how well one has done by society's standards. For this person, in the autumn of their life had felt a harsh cold wind of bad luck. Qualified, intelligent, a bad boss left her without a job. I'm not sure why. But what a place to be. At that age, no matter your luck, the level of discrimination is high. And there was a sense that she felt that breath from society and that she internalized that.

In the end, facing death, she chose not to reach out to those who knew her [1]. Perhaps that doesn't mean anything, but I sense that she felt herself a burden. Society had made her feel this way, had pushed her out [2]. So it goes. But damn, why? Why include even friends in that group who would wish to help? Did we not help enough? Not reach out enough? Is that part of society's pushing out of a person? [3] I don't know what exactly to make of it nor the heavy weight on my heart. So it goes, dear reader, so it goes.


So rest in peace, dear friend. I wish it were different.


[1] Not outside of immediate family and a couple of best friends.

[2] I'm not blaming anyone. As James Baldwin says, for those who act even slightly differently, society will treat them as nothing (and this isn't even a conscious process), and sooner or later that will eat away at the individual (it's worse on the more empathetic ones, and the sociopaths... well they rise, don't they?). In the end, the person thought enough about her cancer to not even tell us about that. A wedding that occurred at the time might have been the reason (did she not want to ruin the moment with her news? If so, what kind of thinking is that? What is life but the mixture of the bitter and the sweet?). Still, that's no reason. Why would that news ruin anything?

[3] So one, I, can't help but feel a little guilty. Was I too, in not reaching out often enough, guilty of being part of that societal movement to make her feel that way? I sense that sometimes. And I try, try my damnedest to leave good in my wake. But I am no saint. Of that I'm sure, this far in my life. And of course, there's a level of selfishness in this thought as I think of my place in society, my writing and the reactions they get from the mainstream, to say nothing of those I know. A burden I would never want to be. And yet if this episode is anything to go by, others (like me) would not care, would hate it, and still there's that harsh wind of what is the writing doing? (those questions: how many did you sell?) {1}So it goes, but now that I see the other side, there is no such thing as a burden to a human. But it matters, dear reader, it matters what mask you're wearing {2}.

 {1} Again, there's a dichotomy: society saying one thing, not wanting that weak link, and there's the love of those around you. Life is one way, but you must create that shelter.

{2} For if I truly felt this way, I would hand, to every beggar and homeless person or charity all I own, outside of that which would keep me with food and shelter. And yet I don't. Why? Society has some ready made answers for that: that you must care for self first; that you don't know these poor people, that charities can be scams, that beggars too can be rich people who have found a way to get money off suckers (how many times have I heard that! Read some Orwell on the matter. Back then too were the same stories: rich beggars, beware! And yet he found it to be anything but the case when he was down and out). I'll say less of those who think that anyone poor or who has hit a streak of bad luck deserves it in some way or another, but I will say that it's only borderline fascism creeping up. No, it doesn't mean that such people or societies are ready to erect work camps, death camps, with some variation of the "freedom in work" as the slogan, but that fascism and other methods of cruelty are ingrained in aspects of humanity and should thus leave us ever vigilant.



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