Killing me Softly
With a nod to Roberta Flack
Something is going on inside of me.
I can’t explain it. I can’t define it. I can barely think about it no less talk it out or try and make it matriculate into something tangible, concrete, or even ephemeral.
I feel like I have a dervish whirling loose at my core that seeks to fill every crevice and crack with energy and action. Opportunities are falling from the skies above me almost daily and there is so much I suddenly want to, need to, must…..do.
I am as one awoken from a deep sleep, the world searingly bright and hyper-attenuated, waiting for my imprint, my input, my extraordinary need to manifest itself.
People are seeking me out; for advice, opinion, action. I am compelled into forums and mediums, and venues, that are new to me yet seem as conquerable and comfortable as to a toddler learning their native tongue. It is all there before me; I simply must pick it up and start running.
And keep running.
And all the while some small insistent and insidious spark of a notion lies, worm-like at my core; wriggling about my psyche; amid quiet or amongst noise. A premonition? A warning? A still small voice urging me to speed yet screaming me to slow.
Time is running out.
That is what, if I am really thoughtfully and truthfully listening, the voice is telling me. Not in so many words but in exactly so many of the feelings and intuits that I have always believed in and learned to rely upon. I have lived my life on this plain with a very certain sense of having lived before; a destiny of place, a spirit of soul, a conviction of core that, if heeded well and relied upon, has been of great value and guidance to me.
Some may call it intuition, some pre-cognition; some might even say that it’s related to the current state of my heart and its palpitating imperfection. It may be.
And so I run.
I swear I’m going to relax, tend my garden, play with the animals, take long walks, see more movies, cook more meals with friends. I swear.
And then I run.
I run to help a friend who is dying try and live well while he’s here. I run to help another tend their home and animals while they recuperate from a surgery. I run to a conference to learn how to help even more of the masses with HIV help themselves along their paths. I run home to family and ailing parents and siblings and friends in untold numbers. And lest it seems I am only running to others……..
I run to me.
I am writing more, taking more photos, staging gallery shows, if something looks attractive, I do it. Someone says “You should make a documentary”; maybe I should! I am curating a life I never thought I would have, given the certain death I was foretold 3 decades ago.
Maybe I am a latter day Rip van Winkle, finally awakening to the life I was supposed to be living all along.
The young me wanted to be an architect. I loved houses, buildings, rooms, and windows. I loved dark cellars and lofty barns. I loved the smell of cut lumber and the swish of fresh paint. I still love the glint of new steel and the sweep of curved glass. But in those prehistoric days you needed to be a draftsman before you were an architect and I hate drafting. Hated it.
Not too little, too late. More like too much, too early.
Now there’s CAD and programs and apps for that. My visions could be realities. My tools could be virtual. My dreams could have been built.
It seems possible, even plausible, that my core is catching up with my convictions. Yet I wonder why now? Why this moment in time? Why, when my body is really beginning to show its age and ague, am I suddenly infused with an effervescence of action that threatens to blow every gasket in the clunker of a carcass I am hauling around? How many planes, trains, and automobiles can I possible commit to before I get committed to whatever grave I will finally fall face-first into?
Along with these sleep disturbing, twitchingly tense, visions of versions of the self I must yet attain, comes an equally needy, must address, now, requirement to communicate this to my less than ethereally tuned-in husband. He operates in the here and now and I have always lived in another place, slightly psychically removed from the “real” world. We have a very workable truce between the two. Like the nearby Columbia River, we have our own Bridge of the Gods.
My heart flutters, literally. I suppose figuratively as well but it’s the visceral not the virtual that is driving me at the moment.
I am navigating the world of aging organs and failing follicles, although my hair does seems like it will be the last thing to go. Small blessing are good. Heart issues in your 60’s are not so very strange. But history, not simply the medical delineation of progression through the years of procedures and ailments, but the history of behavior and disease and consequence now comes into mental and physical clarity. All those drugs and drinks we inhaled as careless and carefree youngsters have a price now. The HIV that has lain, mostly dormant but insidiously insistent, inside my cells is still there, working its voodoo in unknown spells with untold incantations. The drugs that have kept it caged like a coffin for a sleeping vampire have a price that will be due at the end of the dance.
Is this when the piper must be paid?
It is all of these things, messianic and miasmic, swirling around in a corporeal stew that, steaming and almost ready, will be served up soon. How soon? That is where the rubber band that is me, meets the road that has been trod these 6 plus decades.
I am listening to the voices, both inner and outer, more clearly than ever before. Sometimes they ring like a knife on crystal calling for a toast. Sometimes they whisper like the winter wind through the somber cedars. Yet however they speak, they create that flicker, that flutter, that spark that, at once, seeks to ignite and extinguish, all in one massive conflagration.
We all wonder how we will die. Softly in our sleep was the childhood dream-like envisioning. Explosively alive and then gone; poof, we fantasized in our excessive youths. Agonizingly slow and suffering, back then, before the “cure” of the Cocktail. At our own hands then too, to save others and us our fear and our suffering. And now? What do we envision now that we have really lived this much of life?
I think the choices are still exactly the same only we face them with a greater degree of urgent equanimity as the clock ticks inexorably on. I know I, personally, have a peaceful resolve in some sense.
And yet, there is this drive. This urgency. This need to…………do. More. Still. But then end is closer, I feel it, I am listening. I hear it speak my name.
With that in mind, I actually put voice to it recently. I told Dave that should something happen to me suddenly (and I even admitted I was “hearing” signs of this), that I needed him to know that I was forever grateful for the amazing life we have had together, happier than I ever thought I would be and that I needed him to know that, to remember that.
And this reminded him of something he said to me when we first met and I had to have the awkward, relationship-killing conversation about HIV and what that meant in 1993 as we looked ahead into an unknown void of a future together.
“I’d rather have a year with you than a lifetime without you”
Far from Killing Me Softly
Letting me live Out Loud
2 thoughts on “Killing Me Softly”
Lovely true essay. But its last phrase s/b: “… than a lifetime withOUT you”, yes?
Thank you, Dear Reader! My husband (editor, proofer) did not even catch that….and it is HIS phrase!