And then it was January. Or actually, February if you’re a (mild) hypochondriac and the imminent end of the first month of the year of PROMISE is slipping away into the ether. It’s been a potent start to my year, how has it been for you?
January is always full of wonder and also longing. The last day at the end of the month is the day my father died, and whether I know it or not, it’s creeping up on me like a cloud of smoke. Historically the mist has particularly choked, but right now, it’s enveloping me like my favourite incense (Nag Champa) from Stick, Stone & Bone on Christopher Street here in New York City. Less than a week away and I feel oddly ambivalent. Ambivalent towards my physicality, and more interested in the invisible threads percolating around me. You know, the ones running out into the world—into and from other humans—but mostly just zigzagging without even so much as a nod from me. Maybe this is what happens one decade on from losing the great love of your life, but I’m mighty interested in these new sensations. They feel affirmative. Different. Smiley. Like honey. Or treacle. Which is always rich and unctuous until you eat too much and feel sick. And it dribbles, which I love.
Talking about love, reclaiming the familiar while discovering new horizons of an intimate relationship is frankly wondrous; my dad lives on in my heart and mind. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of him in some context. Fucked up? Wish I could speak to dad. Done something brilliant? Need to tell dad! Met a man…DAD!!!!!! Need a bear hug and a looooooooooong walk? Where’s dad? Want to cook slow roasted lamb (his speciality)? Hurry dad, I’m hungry! Trying to be bold and jump into something new in my creative life? Well actually, he would just say jump. I ask for help now more than ever. Advice too. In fact, I want to know what people who I know intimately and don’t know from a bar of soap are thinking. Safe to assume they know something epic that I do not. How exciting is that? Dad, well he taught me THAT. My dad’s death has been the ultimate exposer. From facing my mortality to shattering the glass walls of control I thought I had carefully built, when everything crumbled around me with aplomb, it was a disaster. And then one day it wasn’t. And today it isn’t.
In becoming intimate with death and loved ones who have lost, I have seen unbelievable stances of beauty, of bravery, of devotion, of sparkling soul bursts, gosh so much that it makes me giddy thinking about it. Of course, I’ve seen self-destruction and bad behaviour (myself included), but I choose to remember not forget anymore and feel the light and the good. I’ll leave you and me with this passage of sheer candescence that touches me so very deeply:
“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography—to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
source: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient