I guess, after a week, this is what’s known as “moving on”: putting up a few posts, no longer feeling the sudden rising of tears, returning to “normal” (the “new normal” without the one I lost)—except for this flu I picked up when my resistance was low after a week of too little sleep and too much sadness. Actually, the flu helpfully forced me to do what I wouldn’t have otherwise—to cancel my classes for a few days without giving even a thought to the looming rent bill. These past couple of days: No energy for the blog, spending whole afternoons draped across my chair, sleeping sporadically, and letting the antibiotics get on with their mysterious magic. I used to live in a mostly Jewish community and they had a grieving custom which, as I recall, involved just taking seven days off for nothing but remembering, crying, and maybe recovering some as a simple process of time. A week seems to have some power, that small distance before getting back to all that other stuff we call “normal life.” In Japan, the first ceremonial marking of death comes a week later and people gather, still a bit pale and somber after the loss, but obviously getting on with things, going through the motions, observing traditional duties. Moving on.
I’ve always hated that expression, “moving on.” And “letting go.” But it doesn’t mean forgetting and it doesn’t even mean returning to exactly the level of happiness enjoyed “before,” the loss neatly tucked away in a drawer, tied up with fading ribbons and forgotten. It’s just about living. I think the dead, of they could be polled, would admit to being gratified by the tears shed over their passing, but they would also be glad to see us living. If there’s one message the dead have for us, it’s “live your life to the fullest while you can.” On behalf of, and better somehow because of, those who no longer can.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy. I kept it pretty low-key on this blog so as not to trouble those who come to it to escape sadness of their own, or to find inspiration in ideas and art. I posted a tribute to her, a couple of quotes, and some messages to followers and friends saying I’d be back pretty soon and to thank them for their messages. But here, in my off-line life, it was much more intense.
I should have taken a week off but, due to my circumstances, could not. And there I was, weeping into my hands on a bench outside the place where I work. The locals probably assumed I’d been jilted by a bar girl girlfriend. Of course—I am a foreign male of a certain age and it is Thailand after all.
Sometimes it was a bit comical, really. Coming home after work, passing my row of smiling Buddha statues, tossing my bag on the table, I cried out, “Non-attachment?! It that all you’ve got?! Non-attachment?! I’m human! I am attached. I want to be attached!” By the time I’d made it to the bedroom, I was smiling a bit over my own foolishness.
Well. Enough of that process. Here I am, a week later, distracted from the loss of my friend by the flu and that, too, will be a thing of the past in a day or two, I expect. And what awaits? My students. Some friends. A future that my friend will not be sharing with me. And the drudgery of bare survival in this place on a month to month basis. And, of course, this blog.
When I wrote the little tribute to my love and friend, I wondered what the purpose would be of continuing this exercise. I came here originally, after a huge change in my circumstances, to write a farewell message to the world, compiling all the things I had loved in my life. Then it functioned as an escape, a refuge—kept me alive, really, all that art I encountered everyday. When my old friend reappeared and told me that the blog got her through her days of illness, I made it my center and rushed home every evening to post more.
But I find I’ve also made some real friends here. Actual friends. I grouse sometimes over how I never hear from 99% of my many followers, but that’s missing the point of the other 1% which, really, is some kind of miracle. I will continue this blog for them and for anyone else who finds something good in the odds and ends of art and poetry I post. As I did for my old love and friend, Sue, and will continue to do in her honor.
I won’t become tedious with further references to her but, occasionally, at the end of the day’s posts, I may indulge myself in a few reminiscences. I want her to continue to be a part of this place which is a big part of my life. Until today I’d hesitated posting much for another reason that is nearly as funny as my complaining to my Buddhas. When looking at the Archive, the post I did about her on April 22 was still visible without scrolling down much. Still present. Still accessible. More posts and hers would inch down bit by bit until it was history, just one of the nearly 80,000 posts I’ve put up these two years. Not posting kept her up near the top—easy to find. Absurd, I know, but I’ve never claimed to be a wise man.
Why did I write all of this? Why did I share this loss here, so publicly, in full view of friends and trollish enemies alike? (one friend here wrote, “Thank you for writing about it here, a huge risk after all those attacks on you.”). They might accuse me of exhibitionism. They might, as one did when I wrote last year about the circumstances that brought me to this life of a “Nobody,” sneer at me for my “mewling neediness.” Yes, quite a risk being real and putting oneself “out there” on this site but it wasn’t about exhibitionism but self-disclosure, nor was it about neediness, mewling or otherwise—I’ve been picking myself up pretty much on my own since what happened to me, a situation that most of my trolls would not have survived. This blog has never been simply an ‘art blog,” or a diary, or anything else that can be easily pigeonholed. It is just my place, with things I like, with some inspiring (for others and for myself as well) quotes, and with some experiences that others might identify with and find some strength in. Being real, sharing who I am, every single post having something to do with my taste, or history, or inspiration, or reflecting of my feelings at the time of posting—this is what the blog is about. I figure that some will recognize in these things their own hearts and needs and may find some encouragement, a sign, an awareness of someone who just might understand.
And so these personal posts. I’ve not done many of these since that last particularly vicious, rather heartbreaking troll attack last autumn but, judging from the comments I’ve received this past week, and the messages (which I will spare everyone and not post), I may take a chance and do a few more such posts in the future.
I posted more today—around 50 images and quotes I like. Moving on. For those who may suffer a loss similar to mine, be patient and remember what a week can do for you. One week then becomes two. I won’t fool you, the pain will still be there—as it will be whenever you think of the one you lost—but it will be tempered, balanced by fond memories and you’ll find yourself feeling, not wounded by the loss, but blessed for having had someone so special in your life—someone who will forever be a part of you, part of who and what you are.
Moving on is part of being human. It’s what we do. Moving on and never forgetting the ones we have loved and who are now gone, and never forgetting the ones who are still here and need us.