The loop messages have been playing at high quality, as though a layer has been sloughed off, leaving programming clearly exposed. This time, it isn’t a critical voice, but an even more constant beat, surely affecting the rhythm patterns of movements and breath overall. I hadn’t realized this further layer before, perhaps because when I compare what it was like “before”, mind is deeply open and quiet much of the time. Sill, it feels great to notice the minuscule skips. When the loop is exposed so well I can, as though undoing a mistake in a knitting pattern, easily reach my needle in to release it.
The most common loop I’m picking up on? “I’m tired.” I’m not even tired half the time I notice this! And there’s the feel of a shield of some sort, likely deflecting the previously-expected critical voice that dropped away. So far, I’m able to stop to ask “Am I, actually, tired?” Or sometimes, more accurately, “Are you?” “Who are you, saying you are tired all the time, anyway?” “Let’s teach you some new tricks. What’s more fun to say?” More fun than “I’m tired” is “I’m happy”, for instance.
If I am tired, I might still ask “Who are you talking to?” Is there someone (in memories) I’m trying to get not to exhaust me further, someone I wish would allow more space, rest? What if I offer that? Even just being willing to let go is relief.
Speaking of new tricks and phrases, I had a few ‘proud of myself’ Spanish moments in the store today. An older couple beamed at my attempts to help in their more comfortable language. My heart was so moved by their appreciation. Overhearing the exchange, a co-worker praised our attempts to understand each other as well, adding that she likes to hear the way I use English… “so many different words.” When this coworker was growing up in Nicaragua, no one took much time to help her along, so she too feels limited and is learning from our diverse Miami community, where so many Spanishes are spoken.
Her compliments, and the story behind them, sparked a pause as I reflected on neglectful periods of my own upbringing. There’s certainly a case to be made for my being left to my devices too much as a child, while at the same time, I managed to enjoy many enriched experiences and friendships along the way. I’m so thankful for an attentive early education, for instance. It wasn’t either/or.
A common thread through my journals is the difficulty of weaving contrasting narratives when one cares about being and becoming genuine. There aren’t many heroes or villains in my stories, but there are a few, and I’ve become capable of honest apology alongside becoming capable of giving difficult feedback when needed. Like learning knitting and Spanish and qigong all at once, capacities grow together.
The dramas evoke emotion and meaning, so I haven’t been able to convince myself they lack value to my life and mind. Many are romantic, but not just; dominant themes are ethical quandaries and chosen family, amidst backstories that span multiple lifetimes. Distinct cultural paradigms. I love especially, exploring different ways of thinking about time, seeing how calculations play out iwhen characters buy into various conceptual measurements of what constitutes virtue and goodness.
It isn’t that there isn’t anything comparable, but very little in Western television resonates with me beyond ‘entertainment value’, whatever that is. When I talk to my therapist about the shows, as part of a ‘bundle of behaviors’ I get lodged into from time to time, she asks “What is it that you are getting from them, that you are not finding elsewhere?”
I reply with the answers I just gave, but there’s something else. She knows this and is waiting for my real answer. Me too.
My strongest childhood memories of television find me sitting on the floor of the great room of my elementary school, the space filling and emptying around me. Captain Kangaroo. Feelings around being the first one dropped off to school or the last one picked up, watching the teachers watching the door. The impressions are strong, even though this might not have happened often.
During weekends at home, Shirley Temple was often on TV, Tarzan, sometimes Fred Astaire at night. Astaire in fact, became my first crush, so much so that I teased my ex-husband about choosing him for the Fred shape of his head. I still love songs from those musicals, still feel happiest wearing long flowing dresses that swish and move in time, while as an adult, viewing the productions through a more critical eye. A child doesn’t ask themself what or who is missing from a story, or why.
Shall we dance Or keep on moping? Shall we dance Or walk on air? Shall we give in To despair Or shall we dance with never a care…
Later, my mother would have me videotape soap operas when I got home from school, so she could watch them after work in the evenings. Neither of us could program the VCR program to record correctly, and if I watched, I could edit commercials. I’m not sure if she asked me to do that, or if I liked them; it was more like second-hand smoke.
Saturday morning cartoons were a big thing, for other kids. While staying with a friend I paced restlessly as she watched her favorite show, tortured because she lived in an apartment building with a big pool I’d woken excited to get into right away. Speed Racer broke through the cartoon barrier eventually, though I can’t place what it was that caught my interest enough to wake a full hour early to watch the show before Jr High. The Japanese creator of the manga Mach GoGoGo, self-taught artist Tatsuo Yoshida, was inspired by Elvis and James Bond movies, which makes perfect sense. It was definitely a vibe. I wouldn’t want to watch it now, nor tamper with the early memories.
As soon as I moved out on my own (for certain values of my own), I traded soap operas for CSpan and BookTV, making efficient use of time. There was such an urgency I felt, to become someone of substance! And for the most part, I kept to that going forward, gravitating toward what I could justify as enrichment, with the kids once they arrived, as well. We watched animal and science shows, and there were long periods in which we didn’t have a TV at all, or where I closed it behind cabinet doors, restricting hours it could be on.
As I write this, I realize I may have strongly factored the influence of TV when sleuthing out reasons my mother was depressed, and later, suicidal. Alongside soap operas came Phil Donahue then Oprah, and she, like many mothers then, began to talk about childhood wounds and injustices more, and more dramatically. There was more crying, more shopping and debt. Arguments with my step-father intensified. My sister was born.
Always interested in biographies of suffering, I believe my mother couldn’t always tell the difference between her own stories and the stories she read, then the interviews she watched on TV. She began to re-frame her own narratives with those others in mind; I was captive audience for tales I couldn’t process. Terrible decisions to come would be justified by past-life regressions she learned about through Shirley McClain. Thanks, Oprah. Then, pendulum swinging the other direction, televangelists entered the scene.
No wonder my relationship with TV is so charged! These days my mother watches Fox News for hours, and ways in which I think and live differently are taken as attacks. There’s nothing we can say to one another, although with distance, compassion for her overall suffering is more present. The sleuthing energy is not needed to protect myself anymore, but for inquiry and exploration. Hopefully that exploration becomes increasingly generous, ever more transformative.
Hm. I’ve unexpectedly written into another layer of answer to my therapist’s question “What is it that you are getting from them, that you are not finding elsewhere?”
There is integration and healing going on.
I mean, take the show I watched a few episodes of last night, Our Blues. It’s melancholy, and I’m affected by how direct-facing and sad, yet beautifully too, the relationships are portrayed. Older actors express the disillusionment of aging… accepting one is not getting back some things they’ve lost, not going to become most things they dreamed of becoming. This, alongside of bright youthful memories.
There’s a phrase a wise friend introduced me to: nostalgia for the present. Even our brightest memories are not complete; if they were, they wouldn’t be quite so bright. There are angles we edit to isolate the strongest dose of what’s desired in any given moment as we flip through the channels, remixing impressions. Nostalgia for the presentsees that it isn’t really the past, or redoing of the past one is craving. It’s always about genuine peace with the present, ‘the (current) whole catastrophe’. It’s okay to feel more than one thing at once. In fact we must.
There’s a story to continue to tell here, about the other side of the coin re permeable boundaries, mandalas of connection, and how to love, even so.
For the first time in several years, I am reading many books at once. Or at least, I’m dabbling in many while deeply reading few. Most are fiction, a few are activism-based, and then there is TSK.
Some days I read furiously, as much as possible, as though digging tunnels to make an escape. Others, I delicately sift and brush single sentences at a time, taking care not to lose hints of meaning, content to stay where I am.
Either way, I find that I’m longing for solitude and quiet arts, thus the knitting and memoir writing as well. One book I just re-read was Circe, a superb re-imagining of a nymph out of Greek mythology, recast as a witch drawn to humans, banished to an island as punishment. She finds banishment suits her far more than acceptance in the palaces ever could.
I guess I keep bringing this up, but the more I write about ‘my life’, the more simultaneously confusing and beautiful it seems. The consistent practice of questioning assumptions about the way things are, can make everything I write seem like a lie, every story I pin down, some genre of fiction–which is frightening, quaking, exposing of groundlessness indicative of reality. I’m not uncomfortable in this ghostiness, except when I feel trapped outside looking in.
“Don’t worry, there is nothing real about your confusion.” -Lojong
“You take nothing for granted.” – Something I once heard in meditation
Negative capability is a phrase first used by Romantic poet John Keats in 1817 to explain the capacity of the greatest writers to pursue a vision of artistic beauty even when it leads them into intellectual confusion and uncertainty, as opposed to a preference for philosophical certainty over artistic beauty. The term has been used by poets and philosophers to describe the ability to perceive and recognize truths beyond the reach of consecutive reasoning. [Wikipedia] (came across as a note-to-self recently)
I am walking from ‘the house’ toward the front gate on familiar chipped square tiles. I encounter three ferociously barking rottweilers. They are to the right of the path, in the part of the yard where one of the avocado trees rains down the largest leaves. I feel afraid. I wake. —–
I am walking from the house toward the front gate. The light feels different, brighter. I look to the right, and the dogs aren’t there. Maybe they are somewhere else. I’m surprised. I wake. —–
I am walking toward the gate, and the dogs aren’t there. I keep walking. I am noticing more details, more color as I reach the gate. It is not right on its hinges so I lift up the gate itself as I open and lift the handle, and walk through.So tangible.I keep going, out into the street, surprised not to be stopped, where there are three huskies laying around in the road. I look at each of them and see that two are sleeping, but one is wide awake. I look into his eyes – startling blue; they are my son’s. —–
The first part of the dream above stagnantly recurred for years before I sought out therapy. And then during that process, began moving into its other progressions.
It stopped when I knew what it was saying… what was trying to make its way through to my psyche: the three huskies were my children, my life now. The hell-hounds were behind me.
I was free to go, but didn’t know.
I experienced a lot of peace after that, and a level of stability that supported a great deal of forgiveness, as though a huge deposit had been made into my emotional account. I’d honored my own story and voice, therefore didn’t need to be understood as much. By making place for it somewhere it wouldn’t hurt anyone else, exposing it to the light, the fear had found correct proportion.
I’m not sure people can forgive by acts of will, but forgiveness is definitely possible.
I’ve been sharing some ways I productively deal with restless feelings lately. It has been amazing how much energy there seems to channel! What I haven’t talked about directly though, is the relentless nighttime anxiety I’ve been experiencing since early last year. I wasn’t sure how to grip the subject, mainly because I hadn’t thought of it like a recurring dream, nor compared it to the example above–until this week.
I also remembered sleep paralysis as a teen. Any kind of dream would lead to being/feeling choked while trying to scream… not able to use my voice. Or, I would half-wake feeling as though I were outside my body and couldn’t get back in. Others who have had these experiences describe hallucinations, actual figures that seem to be in the room on that sleep/wake boundary.
There wasn’t too much information then (there is A LOT now, and a researcher friend helped to fill fascinating gaps in my knowledge), but while feverishly reading self-help books in the library, trying to get a hold on what was happening, I did become enamored with Carl Jung, relating to the hidden layers of meaning and symbology he described.
SO, what is happening now is similar to sleep paralysis: I wake at some point almost every night, in tears or argument. First thing in the morning this greets me too, until I shake off things, memories mostly, that I thought I came to terms with before.
A lot of it is physical. The science-y part of me breaks it down this way:
There is a history of panic attacks in my family.
There is a history of barely traceable hypoglycemia as well, which leads to drops in blood sugar during the night, affecting sleep and dreams.
I am in a key age range for hormonal changes, similar to puberty.
Even before some recently upsetting events, I was having work anxiety I couldn’t shake, catastrophizing and exaggerating faults; the anxiety has just switched what it is clinging to.
* Therefore, one part of my hypothesis is that I need to have some blood work done, see what is off kilter, and fix it.
But as anyone who has experienced these things knows, what the nightmarish phenomenon roots into can also reveal a lot about what one is not facing. Not continuing to ignore … taking the content coming to the surface as a sign it is ready to work with, may yield rewards.
I’ve reached out and have made an appointment with a therapist.
Good for me.
And good for you, doing so too, if you recognize yourself in anything I’ve written here, which may spark deeper inquiry.
As you see, bolder formatting is temporarily gone from this site. I’ve stripped it down while making changes, but also to symbolize my current state.
In meditation this morning, the theme of faith arose. Unkind thoughts were present – an argument I’ve been having with someone for as long as I can remember… feelings of injustice, betrayal, silencing. But, rather than get deeper into the argument, I could see how it had affected my trust levels in relationships, and how much of ‘me’ it had defined.
I would say, “I’d let it define”, but that wouldn’t be accurate. It is more like, my quest to resolve or escape it has, both knowingly and unknowingly, defined key interpretations.
As can happen in meditation, I could experience the argument as an object of attention, one of various, a wheel spinning off in the corner somewhere, bigger or smaller, taking up more or less space. And I could ask, “Help me let this go.”
Who was I asking? Who was the I, asking? Worthwhile questions, but distractions in this context, because more important is the asking itself and the imagining… the feeling of the possibility of that wheel no longer spinning so fast, defining so much.
I think this imagining, at the point at which ‘I’ runs out, or intersects, is faith, and where across religious/spiritual disciplines and schools of thought, there may mustard seed sized agreement. It is a bit like a blank slate itself.
I’ve been rather (overly?) ‘thought’ful in my writing here of late. So much has been on my mind that I’m not sure whether or how to talk about, and until I am sure, I’ve decided to try to work it out in other ways.
Retail work has been the most surprising of those ways… getting on a train I don’t step off of for hours, setting aside worries and all other options/choices. Goodbye, scrolling Twitter until I think, “What time is it?”, Goodbye, “looking for something to watch on TV.” After having a flexible schedule for many years, this structure feels incredibly freeing to me, comforting in the way I imagine weighted blankets are comforting to people who liked to be tucked in at night as children (not me – I always needed a leg or at least foot outside of my blanket).
Choiceless, in a good way.
I’m fairly suited to the kind of work I’m doing, thankfully, at least in most ways, on most days. I can get the sort of ‘hit’ of feelings of youth that I imagine some people get from watching a sport they played in high school.
With this one decision (and the company’s decision to hire me), I solved at least three big puzzles that were fast becoming problems prior: weight gain (I’ve lost 8 lbs. so far and hit my 10,000 steps mark almost every day); eye-to-eye starvation (Most of my daily conversations had become typed or mitigated by social media, which is way too comfortable a zone for me, not being especially verbal); and, putting my ethics into practice.
That last one is hugely important, so let me elaborate…
In the Taoist ox-herding tale, there is seeking and striving up the mountain, and a time of retreat that can look like one has finally arrived. My spiritual life–alongside, but sometimes consuming, the rest–has been a mix of those modes: lots of (almost constant) study, retreat, giving up whatever seemed in the way of devotion–‘working’ to trust the flow and truth of insight and intuition. To that end, unimaginally wonderful friends and teachers have appeared all over the mountain as I’ve wandered … people deeper and happier than any I’d before encountered, sharing similar longings and a language of play-beyond-words… celebrating the enoughness of ‘what is’.
Finding these places, these people, has often felt like validation of my deepest needs and calling, and of course, one would want to stay… would want to do whatever it took to stay, including bring others along. On the mountain I learned of a million bright and open eyes, countless ways of seeing and being seen, and how to find thin places where distance, manipulations and lies, have no meaning at all, present no barrier (“How can a mantis block the road?”).
Yes, like visiting Heaven, or, more comfortable imagery for me: a land of Buddha fields.
As I traveled though, I always suspected there might come a time when my go-to’s would no longer work… when I wouldn’t be able to retreat and study myself into a blissful mind palace state of grace over and over again. Truth be told, as much as I have loved and desired that, I have also wanted to be drawn from… to serve… to pour myself out completely so that I could really rest, “one day.”
And lately, I simply show up to meet the moment. I don’t control where I am or who I encounter, for hours of most days, and often can’t fully classify a good day from a bad. I am ‘snapped out’ of my story-telling and ruminating, over and over again until that movement works its way into my body, giving my mind to whatever the apparent situation may draw out. It isn’t exactly that I’ve come down from the mountain nor left the quest behind, but that all those books and sutras and sessions and endless audios have become a kind of inward architecture… more perhaps, Rumi’s Guest House.
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
(Coleman Barks translation)
There may be a shift here, from reading to being read, which I like to think may be a true culmination of practice, moving into living lucidly, spontaneously as true default… inhabiting a certain quality of mind. I’m still a little concerned I’ve managed to find just a new way of avoidance, but it seems to be where/how the aliveness has moved, sweeping me into a new phase of exploration.
I even feel some of that here, coming back to my fingers. Dare I hope?
And dare I hope that just situating myself where Life seems to want me, might also matter to ‘the world’ – a ‘coming back’ gesture of belief in Basic Goodness… a better collaboration?
I’ve been working a lot since my grandfather died, keeping occupied, a la “Don’t look down.”
It isn’t exactly his death which has been scary to me at some deep level, but what his stepping out of the way reveals about what remains… what a life might amount to and mean to others. Or not. His absence is limitation in my life–so many things that now go away. But it is also permission–to stop hiding the wine and buddhas in the apartment, to ask myself what should be written, now that it won’t hurt him to do so.
Walking a tightrope is hard without fanfare. “Keeping busy” means answering “Just fine” a lot, because who has time to hear the whole of it anyway…
Yet, it must matter in the Big Scheme of Things, especially when what seems my very personal, almost entirely unexpressed, pain, comes back, reflected through the lives of those whose stories did eventually find expression, those who were eventually seen. My incredibly edited life bursts the bounds of its interiority this way, becoming 99% subtext, and Art not my own.
To lesser or greater degrees, this is true for all of us, as it was for Judy Garland, the newish film about whom I watched today, weirdly, just after I’d come across a clip of Elizabeth Taylor during an interview. In the interview, Elizabeth said people loved her because the highs and lows of her life, the near deaths and public sorrows, deemed her a survivor. Was Judy a survivor? I’m not sure.
Still, I need to reduce that subtext proportion. Maybe that’s why I keep trying to write about him, but not exactly him. I keep searching within the details of moments, for where to dwell, what to deem the truth of things–looking for the beauty I know is there, without applying unneeded gloss nor extra scuffing.
What I’ve found so far, is that his life is not just his life; his story is not just his story, but also mine, just as much.
The 16 year old car I’ve been sharing with my son has had it… its very latest expression of resistance being the driver’s side door, which only closes after a 5-part dance of pray, jiggle, shake, pull, and slam. This, on top of the finicky gas reader, the loud whistle just slightly different from the one we’re used to, and the crackled melting seats. The time to let go is now–yesterday actually–but I’ve been hesitating.
For most of my childhood, my grandfather owned an auto body shop. Occasionally, we’d drive up to see him work and help clean up… a frustrating visit for a child outside of going to a restaurant at some point because there weren’t many safe places to play.
There were, however, interesting things about: typewriters, rolling stools, and calculators which made receipts. In later years he lived right there behind his shop in the air-stream trailer he and I traveled in to see my Great-grandfather for what would be the last time. That trailer was in much better condition than most of the the cars and boats he endlessly traded and tinkered with.
Once, he tried to talk me into turning an air boat–the kind that glide through the Everglades–into a houseboat!
It was just the sort of project to lodge in his mind as a next big thing, alongside hydroponics gardening and online stock trading– things which for months or years he would beat the drum about, hoping someone in the family would seize and run with the idea.
He was right about computers though, encouraging what he saw me go toward naturally when given one, although he could be impatient about my bearing (real) fruit (money) in some way.
He always thought I should start a blog, but not like this one. See the fruit factor, above. 😉
He liked to work as though getting away with something. Whether intricate work like watchmaking and sewing, or larger-scale mechanics and real estate, very little seemed all the way right. Yet, in that not-quite-right-ness was a choice he was consciously making … a rebellious streak.
I‘m a little like that too. 🙂
Unlike me however, my grandfather believed in formulas, and in sayings, such as “There are only two reasons people do things: fear of loss, or expectancy of gain.” I couldn’t glom on to this, nor most of his formulas actually, no matter how oft repeated. I would think, “That’s a problem, if true.” After he’d driven away though, I would ask myself whether some of his formulas, especially about motivations, were true of me, and determine that they not be. In an upside-down sort of way, they often became great advice
We worried about him a lot in the last years. We worried when he insisted on driving the bartered cars up and down the coast, often breaking down at least once between one point and the next. We worried that he thought rest stops were good places for naps; he felt that by looking as though he had nothing, he was safe. It was because of his own serious need of towing service that he always kept an AAA membership, adding my name to make sure I would never be stranded.
I feel a little stranded, now.
Which is what tipped the scales today… got me thinking too deeply. Because of the state my car is in, I signed myself up for AAA this morning, then spent the rest of the day trying to shake deep and unreasonable anger… some at him, for worrying us with his maddening ways of thinking and infuriating priorities. And then, for going on before everything could make sense for the family, so that we might mourn his passing together without the second-arrow-suffering so common as to be cliche’.
Suffice it to say we haven’t escaped that.
The membership was a little thing, but represented so much. When I received email confirmation for the account, my first thought, bizarrely, was, “His mercy endures forever.” I’d renewed this for myself, but in his name, in a way…
After all, it was my grandfather who taught me to drive, in a tiny Chevrolet he stored for a man who lived in another state. I practiced for hours, circling cones he picked up somewhere and placed around the bowling alley parking lot across from the shop. He also taught me to play tennis, to fish, to drive a boat. The very first time I saw a cruise ship was from his boat… one which seemed so large to me just a moment before.
I’m thankful I got the chance to express my appreciation to him directly many times, but I’m thankful for other, difficult things, too. He could mostly handle having honest conversations about things we clashed about, because if a discussion became too heated, we’d both stop rather than risk deeply hurting (or god-forbid losing) the other.
Not everyone can do that. My mother and I could not.
As to why I have avoided changing cars like the plague, aside from it being better for the environment not to constantly upgrade…It is a feeling that just has so much baggage for me: fear of being fed bad advice, vulnerability at the mercy of others to follow through at their end in a trustworthy way.
Although through meditation practices and commitment to examined living/examined mind, it is possible to live with a great degree of open-awareness, nothing quite shows up ‘who you are’ like loss does. Thus I’ve found losing my grandfather to be a place of deep vulnerability, more like an inverted mountaintop than one offering some great perspective – a stripping away rather than any gaining of insight.
Even having ample time for preparation and reflection, I was just so unprepared for how alone I would feel each time I remember he’s gone.
Some heartbreak is due to the way my small family has handled things, in essence closing me (and my children) out of the process, not necessarily out of maliciousness, but their own pain and exhaustion. Most of it is simply the childish wish that things (“everything from all time”) could have gone differently had I just been more this that or the other. There was so much he wouldn’t let anyone do for him, so many ways in which his independence and stubbornness set the stage for confused reading of intentions, for fragmentation.
Yet I always knew that he loved me, and that he would be there for me if I were really in need. I suppose growing up often means losing ‘that person’. So many great books have this theme of transformation post hollowing out.
But may I say, I’m tired of transforming…
And when I look around, I don’t see others called upon to ‘transform’ quite so much…
So what can I do. I’ll turn my heart toward conscious appreciation… for the way I got to witness and be part of his having a kind of second wind at the end, going out with and leaning on friends, smiling more than I’d seem him do in a very long time. He learned to easily say “I love you” after withholding that phrase for most of his life, and to listen to the whole sentence when someone said “I love you”, to him.
I think that he was able to survey the whole of his journey at some point too, that the end result was a life in which he had provided foundation and rescue for 3 generations of our too often struggling family… a life where he had, however unsteadily at times, ‘been there’ in ways only he could have been.
I keep waiting for him to show that he’s still there in some way. The day of his passing I felt the strange ‘off page’ sensation of a conversation, of permission asked, of the need to say a blessing. I wrote what amounted to a prayer, that he would experience forever the freedom and joy of knowing… complete ease. Other things. It was less than an hour between my pouring my heart out, of gesturing that I could let him go, and the text my mother sent of his passing. (Yes: text.)
Since then I’ve kept myself so busy, and my body so full, that I’ve been able to mostly squash down the sadness, except on those nights when I wake up with tears streaming down my face… except when I encounter someone else who has just experienced a loss and our losses bump into one another… except when, like today, I determine to let the feelings flow wherever they will.
Actually, I’m able to write a little today thanks to a quiet moment I found while scrolling Instagram and sipping coffee during a beautiful sunrise. George the dachshund settled in on my legs and fell asleep so heavily that I couldn’t bring myself to shove him off, so I scrolled, and mused, sometimes gazing at the white gauzy curtains that resemble those from my childhood.
I remembered vividly, once as a teen, having a hard time trying to change myself/my life. My grandfather pointed to the oak tree outside the living room window of our house in South Miami and told me how he’d seen it grow from a small shallowly-rooted tree that could hardly withstand a summer storm, into a deeply rooted tree that withstood strong hurricanes.
My mother ridiculed me for telling the story that way, tried to tell a different story about the tree to supplant what he’d said. Until he died I never knew how much she resented his care of me, though I realized she didn’t share that. Back in that moment, his story gave me comfort beyond anything else he might have said, because the example was so tangible. So it didn’t really matter to me whether it was true or not.
It still doesn’t.
Sometimes, lately, I feel like I’m back there again. The tree isn’t in quite the shape he promised it would be… needs some tending to become a better shelter.