Monday, May 29, 2006

5.28.06, [Guest Blog, by Deeker] How to Act Normal

[My two bits b/f the guest: We have a good line up over the next few days: guest blog today (couple days late, my fault), musings on the weight of the human soul tomorrow, chemo Tuesday all the drinks are half off ;-), another poem or two, and depending on my energy level mid-week we might even see some extra-jesus.

Franky Scale: for Sunday = 6, not great; for Monday/today, so far a 7--I might sneak back later and add on a bit. Don't forget to hydrate. xox -Mr. J]

This is Deeker, I’m doing the guest blog because I’m visiting my buddy Mr. Jones for a few days. I consider him one of my closest friends, and yet the last time I’d seen him before this was literally two years ago, when he came to visit me out east. We’d kept saying we’d get together and hang out, but always were too busy…it’s one of those things you think about at a time like this: “Were the day to day details really so important that I couldn’t find time to visit my friend even ONCE in 25 months?” But I’m here now, and hope to visit him more often in the future.

So what do I write, without seeming too ponderous, and also not too flippant? Well, a few things come to mind. First, Mr. Jones is an awesome, awesome, friend. He’s always been that way. He listens, talks, is sincere, friendly, and yet totally able to be as adventurous and wild as anybody I’ve ever known. It’s just great to spend time with him. We only met later in life, while doing research overseas, past the point you tend to make genuine, close friends. But Mr. Jones is the type of person who is so genuine that we became very close. It doesn’t tend to happen at my advanced age, but in this case it did, and I’m profoundly grateful to have met him and known him.

Also, I’ve been prodding him about some stuff. I think he should lease a Benz and live a little – he still lives like a graduate student! Empty the 403b and use it now, worry about dealing with retirement when he gets there. Consider a viatical, too…

When I got off the plane, I told Mr. Jones that I wasn’t quite sure how to interact with him. That is, do I tiptoe around “the issue”? Do I treat him with more sensitivity than normal? Or do I just act as normal as possible even if that can seem somehow a little callous, but at least it’s normal? I told him I'd follow his lead but the default was just acting normal. As a result, I've been pestering him to get the Benz.

But it also brings out that question – how do you live your life concentrating on what’s important, and not getting sidetracked by mundane details that seem important but in retrospect aren’t? How could I let two years go by? What other aspects of life are passing by without being fully experienced – wallowed in – while my thoughts and emotions are focused on something far less important? What makes the situation with Mr. Jones so sad is that in the back of my mind I just assumed we’d be having adventures and sharing stories for another five decades. I just took for granted that life would flow along, and we’d have all the time in the world to hang out…and yet, of course, it has not simply flowed along…yet one also cannot live life as if the end is imminent – careers take place, one may live for five decades and thus need steady employment and retirement funds and to plan for that. So one tries to live in the present and appreciate it and yet also plan for the possibility of a long future – in practice, a balancing act that is fairly difficult to maintain.

So where am I now, as I sit here with Mr. Jones drinking coffee and chatting and looking forward to watching the US soccer game with him this afternoon. Trying to wallow in this time, right now, and experience my time with him and enjoy it and focus on it…

Not such profound insights, I know. But this isn’t a competition among posts, but rather it’s a chance to express how I feel about Mr. Jones, “the Experience,” and himself. Most significantly, my respect for Mr. Jones is increased beyond its normal high level – the grace and dignity with which he has dealt with this entire situation is inspiring, and I’m truly, deeply, grateful for every minute I have with him.


david said...

Thanks mr j for the encouragement, but i think it's just me forgetting to enter the verification word. which is something i was thinking about for my own email, a way to say ba-bye! to those plaintive calls for help transfering vast piles of loot from an island off the coast of somewhere to a bank account near me...

C U soon!!

tossing salads said...

ahh - thank you deeker. i know that when he comes home to visit, i try to just treat him as mr. j. my little bro. im sitting here at my computer drinking a very lovely pina colada. waiting for the kids to come and invade our house. wish mr. j could be here. he would, b/f enjoy the food. he loved the food of life. thanks for being there with him. its so awesome to know that those who do know him know him as i have known him. the dignity, grace, thoughtfulness, kindness, wildness, brilliance (sp). miss you brother. cant wait for anothor visit. still on a high from "the phone call" of friday. have fun. hope the usa wins or at least its a good game.

love and kisses