Sunday, August 21, 2016

Death

Let's start with something simple.

Death is truly the simplest topic you can write about. And the most difficult.

I cannot presume to make new observations about it. I can only try to articulate some insights.

And I've had an opportunity to think about it quite a lot lately.

My father-in-law passed last week. I didn't know him well, but he, whether he knew it or not, motivated me to change who I am in small ways. I spent time with him. I observed him, learned about him, interacted with him. By knowing him, he affected my view of the world overall. But I cannot say I knew him well. That was partially because of who he was. My wife describes him as a kind of closed book. She's learning a great deal about him now that she never did before, through friends remembrances and sorting his personal effects.

And going through someone's personal effects after they pass is only one avenue into the person that they were. He was a living, breathing, striving, seeking human being, with all the complexity that we experience in our own existences. And now here he is, the sum total of several boxes and the contents of this stuff drawer. Datebooks full of appointments planned, attended, and possibly remembered. Now vapor, after-images of years long past.

At my wife's request I wrote his obituary. A few short paragraphs to sum up a life. Who was he? What made him special? What was his hook? But of course we don't really have a hook. Our lives are not a 3-act movie structure. They are much more raw, open and messy. A series of mis-starts and unfinished plots. Of long-laid plans and random impulsive instincts. And everything in-between. How would you sum up your own life? For myself, it's actively displeasing to even pose that question to myself. I cannot handle the concept of being summed up. I feel so flawed and unfinished. Please give me more time.

That's part of the painful truth. I just don't know how much time I'll have. my Father-in-law had a wonderfully long time. 81 years. That's a good bunch of years, albeit a sad last few. But we just don't know.

And I feel like that's our real lot in life as human beings. As self-aware, self-directing thinking feeling beings. We have to accept that we just won't ever know shit about death until it happens. And it's the great challenge of life to accept that lack of knowledge. That mystery that neither science nor religion can truly explain.

I think about death plenty, even without the passing of a family member to force the issue. I think it's important, frightening as it continues to be, to remind myself it's there. And it will have its turn. And I just won't know a damn thing about it until it points its bony finger at me.

It doesn't help me to better be able to wrap my head around it as a concept, but it does help me face an uncertain future. Whatever little issue I'm dealing with, just be glad it's not THAT issue. I still live and breathe to solve my problems and try to make things better for me, my family and my world. And I better just do it and try to enjoy it, because this is our only time around, as far as we know. Spend the extra hour with the kid. Take the long hike back to the car. Have the dessert. Plan for tomorrow, but live for today.

Because, despite whatever warning signs come along, you just never know. My father in law admittedly seemed to know, a week before he passed. He did say he was going to die. And I don't envy the journey he was on at that time. But he faced the unknown and uncertain. As we all must. May you rest in peace. Thank you for your example of savoring life, and taking your lumps with grit and moxie. A good example for all of us.









Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pivot

I started this blog in 2013 to recount my experiences having a very simple but life changing eye operation that granted me stereoscopic vision for the first time. It was an incredible experience, and the feedback I received was some of the most gratifying and inspirational I've ever gotten. I haven't really kept at it because my experience has very well stabilized and that chapter has come to an end. It has led to many other avenues of thought and experience that I'd like to share, but the ways that my improved vision have ricocheted through my life is hard to isolate from the rest of the experience, which may also need retelling. It's a long winded way of saying while the changes in me continue, they have less to do with my reaction to a new sensory input, but how that experience, and my reactions to it, have informed the rest of my life.

I've also been told throughout the years that I am private and hard to get to know. I know this is true, and that might also be something worth discussing at some point. Suffice it to say, I tend to ask more questions and focus on other people than share that much about myself. Social media has given us a tremendous ability to share our random opinions, but I tend to take a very narrow curated view of my facebook feed, the one and only social media platform I use. There's lots I leave out, and I dont' tend to engage in too many of the heady discussions, such as the election or the latest tragedy. I internalize things, and it's really hard to be articulate in short form about things that matter to me. Plus, for me, facebook is about kid pictures, stupid jokes, random songs from youtube and playing whatever dumb viral games come around. And about catching up on what my friends are up to. Seeing their pictures, reading their thoughts. It makes me feel distant and isolated to not take part in some of the more heady discussions, but I don't want to be misunderstood.

Like anybody I do have lots of opinions, and I'm happy to share them. I think I'd rather do it in a considered piece that articulated a fleshed-out point of view, rather than trying to condense my thoughts into a pithy tweet. Too much can be assumed, or misconstrued. It's just more natural for me this way. Maybe it's because I'm a Cancer by astrological sign, endowing me with the ability to flow like a river and see many sides of an issue. Maybe it is indeed that I am private and I tend to process things internally, on my own. So I could use a forum to share some opinions, and even flesh them out for my own benefit.

So I'm going to change up the nature of this blog a bit. It's name is relatively generic, and we can say that I'm going to dive into depth not only about my eyesight, but about other things on my mind. Or about other experiences. As a writing exercise. As a way to share opinions with others in a forum that I feel works for me, and to otherwise contribute to the great ongoing conversation of the internet. The last thing the world needs in 2016 is another damn blog. So don't read it then. It is in the end just for m,e and for anyone who cares to know more about me. And if that's you, then thank you. Also, I'm trying to write songs and need to keep a good writing practice going. It helps my work. I write a lot all day. Maybe I'll talk about that too.

So we can call this the last of the old-school Diving Into Depth. So let's take a minute to discuss my eyesight 3 years in.

As I said above, the dramatic revelations related to my eyesight are a thing of the past. My eyesight is very stable. My sense of depth and wide periphery are a part of my daily life, and I still savor them. I do many more things that others take for granted that are still new to me. My yoga practice has never been better, and I'm starting to do better at drishti gaze. It's all good. It's brilliant.

And also like I said above, the changes continue. Changes inside. Ways I feel about myself. How I carry myself. My sense of adventure. My sense of what's possible. These are the ripple effects that the vision surgery put into motion over three years ago. And I really do have lots to say about a lot of things. My attitudes have shifted. I'll get to as much of it as I can and as much seems appropriate. My vision blogs will of course still stay where they are. Have a look and let me know what you think.

So please read on. If you want to get to know me and engage in conversation. The world needs another mouthy opinion like it needs another hole in the head, but I have as just as much right to my opinion as anyone, and maybe some connections can come out of this. I won't commit to a regular schedule or predictable pattern. I'm going to just try and keep showing up at the page and see what happens. I'll lay my opinions and observations down to you as eloquently and as entertainingly as I can. Dear Reader, and try to keep you coming back.

Peter