Friday, 02 January, 2004
Trying to move on - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER - The songs of Stephen Sondheim are particularly moving as they often contain a beginning, middle and end. They are one act plays. Perhaps that is why I often turn to quoting from them. Some choose to summon Shakespeare, I settle for Sondheim.
Sleepless nights thanks to insomnia often leave me alone with my thoughts. This holiday season I've been thinking about a lot of things. That Sondheim refrain, "Stop worrying where you're going - move on," has played in my mind often this past year. I lost my dear friend Haji Gentleman this summer, to cancer. I think of him often, as I think about my Grandmother, whom we lost this spring.
At the time, many, trying to be helpful, said you had to just move on and keep going. I did just that. And to a certain degree I guess I've moved on. But you never get over someone who has played a part in your life, and who invariably is a part of your consciousness. It's called love, I suppose. You never get over anyone you love, especially when that person goes to the great beyond.
I could be alone, in the middle of the night; or even amongst a crowd of people, and that feeling of loss overcomes you for a bit. It fractures you, just enough to remind you that as life goes on, some things don't or can't.
This holiday season has been a tad difficult in that traditions that once were, are no longer. You still think from time to time that certain people are still there. For a brief half a second I think that Haji's still around, or my Grandma's still around; perhaps they'll call or something. Then you realise they're gone, and you sort of weep a little. You grieve. There's no turning from that, you just do. I laugh, I joke, I go about the normalcy and tedium of my life, but thinking about those you've lost weighs on you over time. Time may heal everything, but when you remember you sort of take stock, weigh up and move on a little more delicately. Sometimes it's easier, sometimes it's not.
Perspective is always necessary. Sometimes I look around and wonder, perhaps I'm making too much of something. And maybe I am. Sometimes I think that too, that I'm still fairly young, I've got some years ahead of me, and they'll only get tougher. I suppose the tip of the month is really, take the time to take that breather. Sure there are things to do, people to see, but they won't mean a damned thing, unless you realise the enormity of everything special in your life, whether it's a friendly hello from someone you hardly know, or the memory of someone you do who is far away.
Growing up, having done just that for the past 21 years has been relatively easy. It's tough, no doubt about it, but once it's passed it's a breeze. Doesn't it? Oh, I know there are problems, there always are - peer pressure, substances, family and other exigencies. However, once passed it you can say you're passed it and you do as the good Sondheim suggests, you move on.
Then that exhaustible and harrowing task of growing older appears. Sure, I'm 21. Sure, the world is my oyster and other insane clichés like that. But growing older seems to be the hardest to do; at least trying to grow older with a little dignity, a little class and a little happiness. Gosh, if anyone has been able to do that, drop me a line, I could use the direction.
I think of my Grandmother, who died at 91; and I think of Haji, who was but 20. I think about what they did in their lives and what they did to deserve those glorious tributes had on their passing. They deserved it, no question about it, and you naturally wonder, what they'll say about you when you die. Will you have memorable things said about you, let alone nice things?
Religion, I know, would help me deal with these rather inane, if not insane questions. But I'm hardly religious. When it comes to my religion, you could say I'm bruised. Sceptical, sort of, but really, not interested in investing so much into knowing what life is all about. One barely gets through it standing, that there's hardly the need to understand why we do what we do, and when we do it.
I guess this breaking down of thoughts on my computer screen for your reading, represents that occasional lapse into introspection. We're always searching. We'll search to the last breath we draw. And if you're religious, you'll probably be searching well after you've been committed six feet under. The oddity of it all is I don't know what I'm looking for.
Perhaps there is something far larger than myself and my brooding thoughts that preoccupy me on this late, late night when I compose this missive. Perhaps it is a longing for those I've lost in my less-colourful life. Perhaps it's that mourning, considering everyone and everything around me seems to be celebrating that's getting at me and my consciousness. Whatever it is, I've got to say I'm content. I'm not hungry, I'm not out of love, nor am I angry. Deep and harrowing questions lead us to simple answers; answers that were always there, mind you, but just impossible to get to because of the rancour and vigour of life all around us. That cathartic process of figuring all of it out is necessary, and perhaps sweet. I suppose it means I'm on my way to moving on. Or at least, I'm realising that I'm still thinking; still breathing.
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