Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cold Dark River

Oh, I have been so sad today, grief-struck, dumb. I think the last bits are dissolving and detaching and being washed away: the last bits of feeling I have any power, any influence, any say in how the world goes. People will listen to me, sometimes, and along with the special gift of idiocy that goes with growing up a straight white male, that can support the delusion that I can move them this way or that. But the fact is, people only listen while I'm saying what they want to hear. 

I am so tired, and so frightened. History is snaking up and around me, and around my children. It will eat us all.

And the words, the words that used to be my friends, turn into enemies in my own mouth. I start to speak and my mouth is full of lies. Spit and try again; spit and try again; but it's all lies, all the time.

Or say, sometimes, truths past their sell date. I just want to say something simple and true. I want to say, "oh yes, I see it, the glints and reflections of that plastic shroud of racism that settles over all our shoulders." But even to say it is to make claims and jostle others away from the mike. And I'm just timid and fat and old, and terrified of imprisonment. And I have nothing. No advice, no power, no good ideas.

Two strangers, young black men, embraced me on the street downtown a couple nights ago. "This guy needs a hug, doesn't this guy need a hug?" So we had a group hug there on the sidewalk, and one of them shouted, "I love my city!" I was grateful for the hug, which I did need, but I thought, "Oh, my dear young men, don't trust this city. It has an old and ugly heart"

You know. I love this city. I love coming over the bridge in the morning at sunrise, and all the gold-leaf windows, and the cold dark river scaled by the the wind. But that's different from trusting it.


Lucy said...

I'm glad they hugged you anyway, Dale.

Tom said...

There are times when it all seems to be too much, when the Darkness seems to be closing in. Maybe its the lack of sunlight, the winter solstice, when we seem to be too close to another darker world for comfort. You are not alone! Others of us feel it also. Perhaps in the end all we can do is nod in acknowledgement and simply cling on. I wish I could offer you more. Here's to better times and real renewal.

Sabine said...

Dear Dale, you have expressed in your beautiful words what is spinning around in my head, loud and fast. And on top of that, a person hugging strangers on a city street would most likely be arrested in my country. But this is it, this is all there is, one day it looks terrible, another day it's magical.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Viktor Frankl)

rbarenblat said...

Holding you in my heart, dear Dale, always.

Marly Youmans said...

Simple and sad and an old story it is that evil and wrong exist and the world is fallen... But light and love still burn and call our names in the darkness.


Remembering "The Artist of the Beautiful," and how the dreamer went on making the beautiful without ever finding a single person who rejoiced in what he made... And yet he caught something "far other" in his dreams and creation.


I like Sabine's Frankl quote--it has come to mind before. To choose one's path is a gift that we are never too old to take. And how constrained yet bold he was in his own circumstances, in his own choosings.

Peter said...

"And the words, the words that used to be my friends, turn into enemies in my own mouth. I start to speak and my mouth is full of lies. Spit and try again; spit and try again; but it's all lies, all the time."

Oh, yeah. I'm going through this. At a meeting of old friends, I sometimes want to stop mid-sentence and retract it all. I can sometimes feel the room reducing me to silence.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dale, as Tom said, you are not alone in these feelings. But what a wonderful, unexpected, life-enhancing incident - a hug from strangers on a city street! And especially at this time of acute racial tensions, surely something to be thankful for.
I wish you and yours every blessing you can imagine in the New year.