Put up your tree and look to the future

Put up your tree and look to the future November 23, 2016


I rolled out of bed this morning (but not before checking Facebook on my phone with one eye open to make sure no one was being stupid) and I made myself a hot cup of caffeine-free honeybush pumpkin tea of the loose leaf variety. I sat myself down in my papasan chair and opened my black Tolkien-inspired Moleskin. There’s a quote from Henry Miller in the Nov, 8th entry, “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

Last Friday, as we were finishing up work in the office, I asked my mother how she’d been feeling (she suffers from anorexia, among other things) and she answered that she’s doing okay, but she said “okay” with that sort of desperate intonation which means not anything close to okay. She asked me to pray for her, but that didn’t sit right with me. And that’s when I paused and started thinking about bullshit.

Bullshit is different from small talk or polite conversation. Bullshit is what we use when we don’t want to feel the pain that comes with hard times, or when it’s all just too much and we don’t have the energy or the will to grab life by the throat and drive it into a corner. I’m good at spotting my family’s bullshit (though I’m not always good at spotting my own). “Pray for me,” that’s what she said. I’m usually strict about keeping up steady boundaries with her, but I love my mama and I wasn’t going to let this one slide. I figured that if she’s going to ask me to pray for her, I have the right to ask why.

“What do you want me to pray for, exactly?”

She wasn’t sure how to answer that. But after a tiny bit of prying, I discovered that she misses horseback riding and going Christmas shopping with friends. Her legs hurt and putting on weight is difficult. It might not seem like much, but that’s a whole hell of a lot more life than what I got from “pray for me.” Awareness  – joyous and drunken awareness – is a superpower, and it cuts through the bullshit and gets you into the heart where blood pumps to the brain and the fingers and the legs which, if I had my way, wouldn’t hurt so bad.

I wish our prayers came in boxes wrapped with string under the Christmas tree (yes, I prayed for her). I wish they came with the Christmas morning dependability I grew up with. You gave mom the list and you got the N64 and the remote control car and the wrestling mask. I can confirm that she does indeed love Christmas shopping.

Sitting in my papasan chair this morning, journal in hand, I got to thinking about how hard it’s going to be putting up my Christmas tree this year, and I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t just leave it boxed up since it might be painful and all. And then I got my wits about me, and like a drunkenly aware brawler, it hit me, “Ha! Fuck that! You will put up this tree and you will push through the pain. Happy Holidays to you, Brandon. Put up your tree and look to the future.”

I should write more often.

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