“Why,” Aaron, my analyst, asked, “are you going to read it?”
At that moment I realized it was really difficult to let loose with a good belly laugh when lying flat on my back. It took a little longer for the more important point to seep in: in the long run I’ll be dead and none of “it” will matter.
Over the years I’ve run into a lot of people for whom everything seems to matter. Some of them are people who think that conversation is a competitive sport; they go at you and at you until you back away and then they think they’ve made a point. There are “problem solvers,” people who are ready to rush in to every situation; after all aren’t they supermen (women)? Then we have the empaths, those loving people who can barely wait for you to finish saying something so they can wail, “I know just what you feel (mean).” Goodness, I didn’t know that getting birdshit on my recently washed car was that tragic.
I’m sure you’ve met some of these people, and I’m sure you can add a few to my list.
Anyway, what does matter? When you remember that your life will end, what is important? Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating life as a beach bum; nor am I suggesting that alcoholism or drug addiction are okay. Yes, your kids matter, and you should raise them as well as you can. And that person you love deserves your efforts. Sure your work is worth doing right, and your other passions are worthy as well. But in the end, when you are facing death, what will matter then?
I’ve wrestled with that question for years. I think I have two answers:
The first has to do with my writing. I like stories that are organic, that come together to form a believable world. I want the story I write by living to make that same aesthetic sense.
The second has to do with a notion of going home, of having a sense that the journey is over.
This is not about Heaven, or according to some of my detractors my ending up in Hell. I have no thoughts about or desire for an afterlife. It’s been hard enough living this life; I don’t want another. But if there is reincarnation, I have my request in to come back as a giant anteater. (Don’t ask. It makes as much sense as having been a Native American or a lion, or a member of royalty in a previous existence—that is to say no sense at all.)
No, the peace of going home is for me being able to return to a state that I have never actually known.
Growing up in Maine I loved the pine groves with their soft duff underfoot and unique smell—part sweet, part earth, and part freshness. I wanted so to stretch out and stare up at the partially obscured sky with its soft clouds, to experience that vegetation-filtered light, the light the Japanese call komorebi. That was what I wanted, but I never achieved it. I was too driven; too sure that what I was “supposed to do” was crucial. As soon as I’d lie down, I’d feel responsibility itching at me. “Get up! Get back to work!”
Yes, that is important, knowing that I have achieved that going home, that ability to lie down on a summer’s day in Maine, to lie down, watch the drifting clouds, smell the joy of nature, and just be at peace; to know that I have journeyed to the home that never was, the home that was always at the center of my soul.
Ken’s short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Sol, Spirits, Palo Verde Pages, Vox Poetica, Clutching at Straws, The Word Place, Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, The New Flesh Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Daily Flashes of Erotica Quarterly, Bewildering Stories, A Word With You Press, Mirror Dance, The Aurorean, Stymie, Empirical and ConNotations.
Three of Ken’s novels, Widow’s Walk, Memoirs From the Asylum, and Tales From the Dew Drop Inne, are published by All Things That Matter Press.
In addition to writing, Ken co-hosts It Matters Radio, Thursday evenings on BlogTalkRadio.
To learn more about Ken visit him at http://www.kennethweene.com