Monday, December 26, 2016

real work

it may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey

~ wendell berry
darryl is still there.

still living under the bridge a hundred steps from our house, still sleeping on the ground next to the stairs.

this time of year, whenever i step out the door and think, "damn, it's freezing out here," the thought is invariably followed by another: "i hope darryl is warm enough."

we do what we can. over the last three years we've given him sleeping bags, coats, shoes, gloves, hats, and lots of food. we visit regularly to ask him what he needs, and bring back whatever it might be.

what he doesn't ask for, and what we can't bring, is care for what ails his mind. in the time we've known him, he's demonstrated that sometimes he's just...not all there.

he speaks lucidly about his world 90% of the time; the other 10% it seems like he's experiencing a confusing waking dream. it's those times i fear for his safety. for his life.

and i don't know what to do about it.
we live in a country soon to be led by a president who mocks the disabled. a government that as a matter of policy demonstrates contempt for the least among us. 

the majority of us didn't choose this...but the vagaries of self-governing being what they are, this is what we got.

and it really doesn't matter. what does matter is doing the right thing, regardless. helping those who need it, and hoping we remain in a position to do so. because as noted many times before, anything can happen to anyone at any time.
"the clock of life is wound but once
and no man has the power to tell
just when the hands will stop
on what day ~ or what hour.
now is the only time you have,
so live it with a will
don't wait until tomorrow
the hands may then be still."
in the category, "you read about things like this, but..." we spent much of christmas 2016 in the emergency department with my father. what began as an innocuous inability to swallow a bite of turkey ended many hours later with a 2 a.m. visit by a gastroenterologist and an endoscope.

in between were an array of tests, scans, images, intravenous administrations, and other uncomfortable indignities.

the esophageal spasm was resolved, finally; blood work ruled out suspicions of an MI; ultrasound and CAT scan ruled out blood clots.

by happenstance, though, the CAT scan revealed a spot on one of his vertebrae. not ruled out: cancer.

since all of us were visiting arizona from someplace else this year, conclusive tests will have to be done when my parents return to colorado. the wait between now and then will be uneasy. when we know more, the real journey will begin.
by near-unanimous proclamation, 2016 has been a particularly unkind year. interrupted by moments of joy, certainly, occasionally interspersed with hilarity, too often darkened by outrage.

(let's list mass slaughter in syria, the disintegration of polar ice caps, a terrorist attack in paris, and the failure of american self-government as a placeholder for the "many bad things" that transpired. your list may vary.)

it's worth noting that countless fellow humans around the globe are too occupied with staying alive to weigh in on such subjects. we americans look on from a position of relative ease and observe the chaos; but really, we remain insulated and isolated from the worst of it.

however bad it's been, "2016" was just an arbitrary set of days filled with things that happened. people made choices ~ they acted, failed to act, watched a lot of tv. ripples emanated, dominoes fell, gravitational waves distorted everything, ever so slightly.

our job, as demanded by our privilege, is to help ensure "2017" doesn't make "2016" look like the good old days.

to that end, "now" is always a good time for the real work to begin.
whenever we bring him something, darryl says "thank you," and shakes my hand. i tell him, "you would do the same for me if the situation were reversed," and i believe he would.

eventually our conversation ends and i walk the hundred or so steps back to our front door. 

the distance may as well be a thousand miles.

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