Friday, November 25, 2011

Gray Friday

It probably says something that yesterday I posted nothing about my family and friends on the day when we in the United States are supposed to be all thankful for our family and friends and, instead, posted a grim little tale of death and disaster in the northwest woodland 220 years ago.
"My days among the Dead are passed;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old:
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day."
And, indeed, there are times when I feel closer to times and people long passed-away than my own time.

Not that I want to try and make some sort of geezer-wheeze about how Wonderful the Good Old Days were. One thing about knowing something about history is knowing that for most of history for most human beings life sucked immense pipe.Most people lived lives of unrelenting hardship, poverty, and struggle that were merciful only in their brevity. Parents routinely buried their children. Children regularly experienced the bright, brief agony of murder, rape, savage brutality, and horror when not simply chained to the grinding wheel of slavery and misery for as long as their bodies refused to grant them quietus.
"With them I take delight in weal,
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedewed
With tears of thoughtful gratitude."
No. Me, I like indoor plumbing and central heating. I am thankful for things like the germ theory of disease, the study of anatomy, physiology, and scientific medicine, internal combustion, industrial clothing and foodstuff production. I like knowing that my children have a very good chance of seeing me take my dirt nap rather than the other way around, and that my chances of dying of typhus, appendicitis, in a Mongol invasion or during a pogrom, or for that matter in a nuclear war range somewhere from very unlikely to nearly impossible.I am thankful that I can rest for four days this weekend, than I am well-paid for the long hours I work when I do work. That I can work without a constant fear of injury or death, and know that the tools I use are well crafted and will not fail suddenly, maim, or kill me. That I can drive on safe streets, in a safe vehicle, in a safe city and not fear that the policeman I pass will pull me over either to shake me down or arrest me without cause.And I am thankful for the generations of human beings who fought ignorance and indolence, theocracy, plutocracy and oligarchy, and all the other 'ocracies that humans greedy, censorious, or brutal had - and in many parts of the world have - crafted for the misery of the common sod.
"My thoughts are with the Dead; with them
I live in long-past years,
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
Partake their hopes and fears;
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind."
But life is not all doings of the Great and the Mighty. I am thankful for my own, small bit of life as well.I am thankful for the irked look on my bride's face when she recognizes that I am willfully ignoring her rather than refuse her bidding outright. For the soft place at the juncture of her thigh and belly that is as warm and smooth as minky cloth next to a fire. For the way she sighs and the fine muscles in her shoulders soften when she slips into the darkness of true sleep beside me.For her wit, and fierce intelligence, and her loving heart. For the way she never loses hope that someday I will laugh at her dry wit.

I am thankful for the bright confidence of my children. For their easy kindness and their sulks, their happy gift for curiosity, their maddening questions on every subject I know absolutely nothing about. I am thankful for their strong young bodies that outrun my arthritic hips like the wind past a stone.I am thankful for my daughter's self-satisfied little smirk when she gets something right, and my son's shouting eagerness to tell me what I don't frigging know.I am thankful that I live among good people, warm, vibrant, engaged, energetic people. For my friends that exult with me in the tumult of the crowd and grieve with me when my thoughts turn to the little daughter I will never hold again.Who hammer nails with me, who call me on my bullshit, who may be close enough to embrace or who may be no more than a whisper of pixels on a screen. Truly, my never-failing friends are they.I am thankful that I have work that fills my hands and my mind and my heart with the knowledge of good service well performed.I am thankful that I live in the hope that I will not pass into the darkness without legacy; that my life and work will be remembered by those whose lives I touched, and that there wil be indeed no death where my spirit lives in those hearts and minds.
"My hopes are with the Dead; anon
My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on
Through all Futurity;
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust."
~ Robert Southey
So to you and yours, my friends - for those of you who come by this way ARE my friends - I will be thankful if your own day this day was full to overflowing with goodness and peace, with the love of those whom you love and the care of those you care for. That you will lay your head without fear and arise with hope and the fullness of a day of good work and hard play and those you love ahead of you.And with that I say: goodnight.


Lisa said...

Ah, an absolutely beautiful homage to life.

" ... no death where my spirit lives in those hearts and minds. --

that is our only true immortality, IMHO, and in that way, you shall live on and on. Thank you for the lovely closing benediction, one I shall happily carry into sleep tonight.

FDChief said...

Then I am well content.

And you know that I am very thankful for you, anamchara. You are the Dark Lady of my sonnets; the living soul of intelligence and grace and the dearer forwith.

Lisa said...


Your gallantry has carried me many a day, and for that sensitivity I am deeply indebted. We often do not know the good we do, but I wish to recognize it and thank you for it, dear friend.