Category Archives: contemplative essays

various themes

There You Are.

 

Once you enter into the life of an addict, you are there. Not only are you there, but you might often find that you are no longer here.

Here is where only you are. But, you are no longer. A barnacle, superglued to the other, not sucking life but giving, your purpose becomes it.

Every time you try to extract, the primordial ooze of regret suffocates you like a stagnant oil spill. You are sure that, without your presence, the addict’s return to dissolution will be far worse than the time before, perhaps tragically. So, you return, just to make the sludge drop off before you shower.

And, then you go to Al Anon. Al Anon is where everybody goes who can’t leave. And, they sit around, and follow all the rules of the meeting, and bite their lips during the droners and chew their tongues when somebody cries out for an answer. And, when it is finally your turn, you know full well that everybody else is either biting it or chewing it but you adopt the mantle of denial just long enough to say your piece so that your face doesn’t come off your head and melt under the lights.

Being at Al Anon serves one purpose. It helps you accept that, from within your particular demographic, there are between nine and twenty two other hapless partners and spouses whose lives are as inextricably caught as yours is.

There are two ways people exit these meetings. They either bolt out as quickly as they arrived, or linger interminably, usually gathered around the latest newcomer. When you are the newcomer, you experience a few minutes of comfort realizing that the rules of the meeting can be bent just long enough for some actual human contact.

Thirty eight minutes later, legs crossed in a standing position, you still haven’t shaken off the last, most desperate proselytizer, the one whose week was by far the most traumatic. That one really needs you. Without you, at least in symbol, the meeting will have been meaningless.

When you finally get into your car, momentary relief that you can finally go floods your being. And, this going is of the highest value. By leaving the meeting, you have performed the only true act of departure you’ve made all week.

And, you drive away.

At this point, you have two choices.

You can keep driving. Or, you can return to the arms of the addict, who waits anxiously for you.

And, everybody knows where you will go.

You go back. You go there, because that is where you are. Even when you leave, you are still there.

There you are.

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© 4/4/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo     All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

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Philip Tryon.

 

We may never know, Jim said.

I’m sure Philip wouldn’t have known, either, when he was four. Back then, in 1981, he was busy at the computer writing a story and, since the machine had managed to erase the whole thing, he had to stay right there until he could rewrite every word.

Then again, when he was six, at the piano, picking out every song he’d heard, so many tunes, the ones that seemed simple and the ones that sounded complicated, all of them.  Hunched intently over the piano keys, he’d not have had even a moment to know anything else, for sure.

Nor would any other considerations have crossed his mind as he stood in the middle of the bass section, on the Warner stage, sending forth with his choirmates the Brahms Requiem accompanied by the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. In the midst of singing a mass for the dead, Philip was way too alive to know anything at all about what could never be known by anybody else.

In fact, Philip was extremely alive. Word was he had been born with a raw intelligence far superior to any other in his realm. His mind being his most interesting companion, he was easily engrossed for hours, days, weeks, and months, never once being distracted by any notion of time passing. By the time he was seven, he likely knew that time did not pass, that both space and time were on a continuum and that light was both a particle and a wave.

In truth, that which could never be known had long escaped his concern. All Philip knew was that whatever could be known reached his understanding with effortless ease, only to be quickly sorted, catalogued, and compartmentalized ad infinitum, all to be cross referenced later when integrated thought was required to feed theoretical proposition.

It was in just such pursuit that Philip apprehended the Bible. Having read every other book in his household, likely twice within any twenty four hour period, this one kept him fascinated longer than the entire Baroque and Classical repertoire combined. Having been taught to take this holy book with very great and sober respect, his allegiance to its prophets, psalms, proverbs and letters of admonishment was total; he’d memorized essentially the entire King James canon before even the most earnest had finished the study of one gospel.

Most could hardly grasp what Philip could know, about anything. One thing is certain: nobody knew Philip. Not like Philip did.

All anybody did know was that the man called by his name showed up for family get togethers, eager and smiling, bringing homemade cookies and board games, and then to work the next day, still smiling, ready to greet his loyal customers at the grocery check out with pointed acknowledgement of their families by each of their names and often in the language of their birth, regardless from which remote country they had come. Those who might have been inclined to observe would have seen a tall, slender, fair skinned gentleman, applying to tasks at hand his devoted energy until the last chicken had been bleached and packaged and the store had closed for the day. Still others might have seen him enter his solitary room at home, perhaps with more than one book under his arm, only to disappear into the vast depths of the comprehensive universe of his own company for the remainder of the evening.

Philosophers have been known to declare that one can never truly know anything but oneself, to which one should then be true.

Jim was likely right about one thing. We would never know what Philip finally knew.

Never know why. Why Philip jumped. Why he jumped to his death, from the bridge at Wintergreen Gorge, sometime between Saturday night and Sunday when they found him.

But, Philip did.

 

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” Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.”  — I Cor. 13:12

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/Philip-Tryon-obituary?pid=188012902

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© 1/30/18     Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Respect the living, and the dead.  Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Iceberg Age.

 

The Museum of Natural History in Cleveland was the first.

A wooly mammoth, life sized, in a room trimmed by taxidermy. Murals, glass encased, tracing the alleged history of its life on this planet. Something about a monster ice floe and fossilized bones of sufficiency to reconstruct the entire elephant. On a trip with the eighth grade science classes, I was disinterested. The Age of Aquarius was all the rage that year.

A month or two ago, I and my equally old boyfriend took a day trip back to Cleveland. Yep; right alongside the whole Paleolithic Age, that wooly mammoth was still there.

The pre-historic had a new meaning to us, now, as we mutely viewed primate skulls and their gradual similarity to our own. Two elderly lesbians, aged a good decade beyond us, eagerly soaked up the narratives in each chapter of the timeline, reading aloud to one another as if no one else were in either the room or the world, for that matter.

A few hundred miles south of the museum, President Trump was meeting with his military advisors. The Senate and Congress were addressing the trespasses of members of his campaign committee and cabinet. Televised pundits worked overtime to cover everything in a single news cycle. The stock market was ballooning.

Biblical prophets had foretold the Last Days. Gog and MaGog would be lining up, all the power centering in Israel, then Jesus would come in the clouds and all the born-again Christians would disappear into the air with Him along with the dead in Christ, which would have been summoned first from the grave. Somewhere in Africa, in the midst of all this, a family of chimpanzees was screaming in the trees.

Today, it was Christmas. A snow squall the size of the North Pole swirled around outside our window, holding all of us living hostage until at least 2:45 pm while the prime rib seasoned in the new, French doored fridge. Having a “White Christmas” around this Great Lake used to be typical, so being enveloped in drifting and blowing snow felt oddly comforting, as if we weren’t really living in the Tip of the IceBerg Age. Maybe, for just one more night, the whole world would hold off melting with fervent heat before that great and terrible day of the Lord.

Twenty four hours hence, and a record breaking sixty three inches of pure as the driven. God only knows what our wooly mammoth would say about the whole thing.

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© 12/25/17  Ruth Ann Scanzillo         All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Be a civilized person; there’s still time. Thanks.

littlebarefeetblog.com