Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I guess maybe there comes a point in time where one has to acknowledge that he is fucked up in a general, irredeemable, intractable sort of way and just leave it at that.

In astronomical terms we may compare this particular sort of event horizon in life to that point at which matter--the earth, for instance--falls into a black hole, from whence nothing, not even light can escape. It makes no difference what effort is expended, no difference what means are used, nor by what thrust or twist escape is attempted, there is simply no way out, for the sheer gravity of the hole is nonnegotiable, supreme above all.

Most of us as we grow older yet persist in the strange notion that everything still is just as it has always been. I am still myself, for instance, just as I am and have always been, despite what the latest photograph depicts. How curious that I should appear otherwise. Perhaps the next picture will better capture the true essence. More probably, we simply pose for photos less often, knowing that the resultant image will be yet another unsettling lie, an unkind warping of light and feature. Obviously your camera lens needs to be cleaned, because that, my friend, is not me.

We are used to the idea that maladies are merely temporary things, exacting a period of discomfort, but then passing on their way. We recuperate, maybe go to the doctor, get this or that fixed, take this or that pill, and then live again, like a boxer down for three or four counts, then on his feet again.

But what I'm talking about now is the pain that comes and stays, the broken thing that stays that way, This is the black hole that swallows light, the prognosis in place of the cure.

I remember when my father was suffering with cancer. It was a cancer that started in the gallbladder and spread out from there, like spilled ink, oozing and saturating all, to bladder, to stomach, to intestine. He had in his lifetime suffered as many troubles as most--nor more or less afflicted than the next guy--the flu, a bout of pneumonia, a problem with his spine, a stomach ulcer, a fall from a ladder. I believe that he thought this was no different. One must simply take the necessary steps toward cure and recovery. He would see the doctor, he would undergo a surgery--and if that didn't work, he would see another. And all the while--and a short while it was--we observed the obvious process of death, parading through his body, his face, his eyes, with all of its black flags flying.

How could he not know, I wondered? How could he possibly imagine that one more visit to the clinic would turn the tide?

This is the terrible gravity of finality that beckons from the maw of the black hole in time. This it it, the last word, the last dot. This is the sentence that has come to its end.

And we cannot bear to look.

I am no different than my father, and we are no different than any other man, old or young. The time is never now, and the cause is never lost. We go on. There may come a day, but the day is not now. It will never at the present moment be now, but will ever remain beyond the border of the lens, outside the edge of the print, not yet part of the picture.

1 comment:

Kath said...

delete this comment if yoiu already have it but wasn't sure is posted.

Hi Richard
I came to your blog for the first time today and I have to say I love your writing. The rhythmic prose draws you in then leaves you exhausted at the end. Wiser but sadly older. I am only a few years away from 50 now but I still think I’m 24. The MS diagnosis arrived when I was 26 but I have fortunately suffered a lot less than many others although the pace of life has too change.
I saw my own father die of Motor Neurone Disease and he kept saying “I’m fighting it“ but we all knew he couldn’t he just had to look like a fighter. The hardest thing for him was to accept help from others when he had always been the provider, the carer. I think we all have to accept the inevitable but while we still have life we can still make a difference.
Keep giving us your writing it is a precious gift.