Posts Tagged ‘Reflections’

“A Writer Revisits High School: Part Two.” A writer learns that the leap of faith he took in attending his high-school reunion resulted in healing something from the growing-up years.

Published in Life As A Human.

Photo Credits:

Dan Hays

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“Ghosts Of The Wheat Harvest.” A man decides to explore his dead father’s pain, in order to resolve a relationship which still bothers him. He decides to work the wheat harvest to walk in his father’s shoes.

Published in Life As A Human.

Photo credit:

“The Wheat Harvest” the slowlane @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.

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What To Put On Paper? After many years of not writing, a man feels compelled to sit down with paper and pad. He reflects on the curious hesitation he feels, is puzzled by the resistance he senses within himself. Is he doubting his talent, or is there something more?

Published in Life As A Human.

Photo credit:

“The Writing Concentration” Ppedrosimonoes7. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.

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Written April 12, 1990

How do you know when it’s time to say goodbye?  To move on?  To go separate ways?  There comes a point for many people, whether it’s with the true love of your life, the gang at church, your oldest friend, or a group you used to hang with, when something is just not the way it was.  So what to do?  And when to do it?

Some times people leave early on.  When it looks like it’s going to be some trouble, some work, to continue.  When the honeymoon phase is over, and you begin to see all the warts and wrinkles, and they become irritating.  There’s a problem with this method, though.  It can end up in an unending cycle of hello-goodbye, because everyone, every group, has its imperfections.  So the early leaver can end up playing the opening bars of the dance with a different set of partners every night, unable to make the connection of cause and effect.  Yet they usually don’t really say goodbye, because they pick up the next dancer too quickly as a way to avoid dealing with the pain of the last.  It is an attractive trap in some ways, because it leaves the dancer free to roam, free not to commit, free to be alone at the end of the evening.

So what’s the answer?  Step out later in the dance – somewhere closer to the middle, leave when the passion fires are at a peak?  When the action has hit the trumpet blast of creative intimacy, closeness, congruence, or however it may be defined?  The last memory will be of a dynamo experience, certainly.  But when are you sure that it was absolutely the top?  What if this really wasn’t the peak of it, if there was just beyond view one even more substantial interaction which could have led to an even higher plateau?  My God, what regrets that could bring.  No, there’s real resistance to leaving when things are in full bloom.

So what if we can feel definitely that things have hit the pinnacle because events are certainly on the downside, the slide has begun toward the end of the dance?  Isn’t there something in us that beckons “we can get it back, it can be that way again, like it once was?”  Maybe it can, and the temptation is strong – it must be, for many try.  But if we play the percentages, how realistic is it to expect successful rekindling?  How many times has anyone seen it, or experienced it?  Does it really work that often?

After all, what would cause it to wane?  Something went wrong somewhere.  It would be very unusual if whatever went wrong didn’t leave hurts, scars, wounds – to one side or the other – usually to both.  So at least one side is going to be leery of moving close again.  They might want to, even be compelled to, yet sometimes the hurts are so deep that you can’t forget, can’t go back, can’t recapture the spark as much as you might want to because you keep looking over your shoulder for the boom to lower, and you have to finally admit, when all attempts have failed, that there is nothing for it but to let go and cut the cord.

Yet sometimes we wait and resist even then – we continue to dance after the partner has left and the lights are out.  Then when we happen to meet them, the other party has the slight cloud over their eyes – the distant look as if they are emotionally standing far across the room – when they give us the “Oh, hello,” that sounds like what you would say to a Sunday School teacher you had just met.  The time when head, heart and gut begin to correlate that it is really, truly and definitely over – the energy that once passed between the two of you has closed off, shut down, and is gone.

At that point, hanging on is holding fantasies.  If you are still in that relationship, you are the only one who is.  The other has moved on, no forwarding address.  The conclusive evidence comes if you tell them the most all consuming, deeply significant item of your life today, and they act politely but mildly interested, say “Oh, how nice,” and turn to other matters.  Then it sinks in you really have hung on too long.

So we try different styles, methods, patterns of leaving – or not leaving – experimenting with different times of quitting the dance.  We begin to learn that love hurts less the one who cares less.  We grow cautious and learn – or we repeat patterns.  We hold on or we let go.  Yet if we grow there still comes that inevitable moment – it might happen – when we know, we just know, it’s over.  And then we look once more at them, with that quiet calm of acceptance, mentally wish them well, and say –



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Note: This topic is particularly on my mind right now – I have just had a friend of 20 years drift away.  I held on to the illusion that we were still on the same wavelength for about a year. Then I finally had to admit – we just weren’t going down the same road any more.  Eventually, I let it go and began to move on, but it has been troubling nonetheless!  Oddly, I had just met the friend around the same time this piece was written.

(Written July 25, 1990)

At times on life’s journey, our path may converge with that of another traveler, so that, for a time, we walk side by side.  We can communicate.  We talk about the rocks along the way, share the smooth sections, and because we are so close, we seem to share the same experience, to walk the same path.

We may have similar feelings about a particular part of the journey.  Sorrow at seeing a third party depart for another path.  Fear about a steep climb over a rocky segment.  Joy at the accomplishment of a climb.  We build trust in one another as we help each other over the rocky spots.  Occasionally we may stop, look into each others eyes, and say nothing – yet feel the affection of being at this place and in this space – together.  Sometimes words spoil the moment, so we may silently shake hands or hold hands, as seems appropriate, then turn and walk on.

Yet there is a limitation to the sharing of a path.  We each see from our own eyes, translating signals to our own brains, having our own sensations of the gravel of the path under our own feet.  And so, the sum of the mental and emotional recordings of the journey will be unique for each traveler, even though they be walking closely together.

After a time, the accumulation of these unique experiences may lead one to yearn to explore a path leading South.  The other may be content to move along the same path as before.  Or both may feel a yen at the same time, one path ten degrees to the East, one ten degrees to the West.  Whatever – the paths begin to diverge.  Many times each path is valid, each has merit.  Or possibly one traveler senses intuitively the present path is uncomfortable, becoming too regular, or even bending back the way it came, and wishes to go another way.  The reasons vary.

At first, the two travelers can still see each other on their separate paths, and are reassured.  They once again make eye contact, and everything seems almost as close as before.  Yet they can no longer lend physical support to avoid obstacles which may arise.

The new path leads to new acquaintances.  Quite naturally those new fellow travelers come to be relied upon for support.  There are new shared experiences.  As the traveler moves further along, the new input, new triumphs and challenges have their way, gradually changing the path walker.

Then one day, at an intersection of two paths, the traveler joyfully spots his old companion of before approaching along the other path.  They draw near, and stand looking at each other.  The traveler longs to share his new triumphs with the other.  Yet something has changed.  Something indefinable.  What is it?  The eyes.  They’re not accessible, laughing and sparkling over shared joy.  They appear cool, closed off, guarded.  The eyes of a stranger.

The traveler senses the other does not wish to share in his joy.  The different paths have changed them both – some intangible differences wall them off from each other.  The traveler quickly closes off into a self protective pose.

The other walks off down his own path, not looking back, not bidding farewell.  The traveler knows he must stay on his own path, does not wish to follow the other, but is saddened by the departure.  Far off, the other glances briefly back, puts a hand up to wipe an eye, then disappears over the knoll.

The traveler does not try to follow the other, to recapture the former time.  He has seen through the illusion of the shared path – his journey has taught him that, and he knows he must go his own way.

He feels the loss.  Not regret; not bitterness.  A sadness – an aware sadness, of things he cannot change.  Yet mingled with that, if he has traveled far and wisely, is an appreciation – of  the richness of the time they spent together – the ability to see that time as a gift, and to hold it as valuable.  So, he takes his gift with him, lets the other person go, and, looking back to his own path, travels on.


Goodbye, old friend!


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