I’m very often inclined toward sharing only select bits of me through this blog and only rarely share some of my most inner feelings. This is a post I’ve been thinking of for a week or more now, primarily as I’m struck by a loss that continues to ripple through out my life even two years after it occurred. I do not know how to best characterize this in the sense of this blog, it certainly isn’t applicable for writing technique, nor would I want to do such. It’s just a post in reverence of this person. A person who was a friend to me as no other ever had been, as well as since, who passed away suddenly almost two years ago from a massive heart attack.
He had just celebrated his 70th birthday six months prior to his demise and it was truly a celebration. Remarkable people were in attendance at the small gathering, song and laughter prevailed while bits of intellectual banter wound its way through everything. How could it not when it was the celebration of a psychotherapist, PhD no less, and two of his colleagues? It was one of the most beautiful parties I’d ever attended and something I knew I’d treasure even as I tried not to waddle about in my very pregnant state.
I don’t mean to make him out to be a paragon of perfection, he wasn’t. Flaws were a part of him and they were readily acknowledged by him, I think, most of all. I daresay ofttimes they were parts which he absolutely adored about himself if for no other reason because he would utilize them to shock people. Sometimes this was galling, other times it was pleasurable to behold.
But, above all else, I remember meeting him at a coffee place for conversation one Saturday morning. We spoke of ideas, world history and, of course, people. He spoke with great sadness that more people did not go to such places as some of the well known men from philosophy used to: Nietzsche and the like. The supposition was made there would be far fewer ills in society if more such things occurred – a question and answer that always required attention and thought. It’s something I agree with whole heartedly to this day. But it’s a place that is difficult for many, or so we surmised, due to the very pervasive insecurity seemingly running rampant in our culture. How could one take part in conversation, be questioned and pushed to answer, without having a reaction to the utter fear of being wrong? I, too, grew up with such an issue and, in the interest of being honest with you, still do battle with it. Our thoughts seemed to run on concurrent paths, although we both had different opinions as to the solutions in such matters: he wished to take care of such people, I would only do so if an acknowledgment could be made that those others needed/wanted help. Ultimately, our thoughts and conversation continued in the realm of what has happened throughout history when such a flaw in ego was exposed and exploited.
George wanted to heal this in people, I wanted this as well. But what we seldom discussed was the backlash of righteousness that would occur and the very flawed premise and supposition of that mindset. I suppose it was kind of encapsulated in our conversations of history, something he was far more educated in than I was at the time, but ultimately George was a humanitarian. There was an innate optimism in him that came from someplace which I never understood and, when I was around him, I could sometimes feel as well. In the deepest space within me I still have an optimism in humanity that still manages to fight for its existence against the intense odds in favor of my pessimism. It is that space that still talks and breaths in want of people living freely – a security unto themselves.
But even though our conversations were often deep and involved levels of critical thought that seemed to give each other pause; a brief halting of minds used to working very quickly, and a bit of silence for contemplation; there was no push or drive to move or speak quickly, unless the idea came and that’s what occurred. It was more important that thinking occurred at all. It was an event unto itself and something held with great importance and value.
I can not emphasize his need for thought and, subsequently, thoughtful conversation enough but that was only one aspect of who he was. Although, in these times of wanting to discuss politics and the philosophy around it, I crave that more than I can possibly convey right now, but I most miss how much his heart was in everything. His conversation tactics, no matter how heated they were, his heart never left the chair in which he was sitting. Cruelty, when expressed from him, was intentional and something he never seemed to feel I warranted (thank goodness! I still feel bad for that telemarketer…). He was that friend you hope you have one of in your lifetime and hope like hell you have a good long time with them. I had two years.
Even though he had been my therapist for several years prior, ended by me to begin a friendship, it was his friendship, and the counsel he offered me as such, that I have the most memories of. He valued thought, differences, shunned belief as it applied to limitations in thought, and was uncompromising in how he existed as a person. A person who would call when it’s been a few days to a week without contact, one who would email back just about every day, and someone who didn’t shy away from closeness. There was no awkward two step between our forty year age difference, nor a need for arms’ length due to my gender and the needs of his wife – he picked a mate who supported his friendships and one who has also grown to be a tremendous friend to me in the years since her husband passed.
Lately, I have felt a horrible void all but cracking wider, a yawning of a wound, and I realized it is because of the superlative rarity of such a friendship. If I were to characterize my loss I would say this: if there were such a thing as kindred spirits, he was mine. And though I still grieve, I can say I was a good friend to him and that to me the world was better with him in it and that the loss still pales next to the knowledge he existed.
Muppet Monday will return on Monday, April 12th. Please stop back on Wednesday for a post about the books that have most influenced me. I hope you’ll share your own list then as well! Have a great Monday!