Long about the middle of October every year I have to partake of the miracle that is Ginger Ale during pollen season. And believe me, in Texas, pollen season lasts until the parched grass and dry air sets in again during the droughts of middle July through September. Sometimes in a wet year (which used to be rarer than now) the tree pollen, mold spores, mountain cedar, and ragweed fill the air year around. Ginger in any form is a god-sent cure-all for ailments of the lungs, ears, nose, and throat. It reduces inflammation, dilutes mucus, and helps you restore the breath of life. I have developed a real taste for ginger products of all sorts as a result of the medicinal boost it gives me every year. It explains my addiction to gingerbread. Also why I often put ginger root in a pot on the stove filled with boiling water and then inhale the fumes. I love Ginger Ale because it makes me feel good.
Simon’s Cat on YouTube is another kind of Ginger Ale for me. Admittedly it is a mental sort of medicine, not a drink or a cookie or a steam inhaler. But watching those simple black and white cartoon antics that are so realistically catlike makes me laugh and increases serotonin in the brain, and it provides a very real depression medicine.
Now, I know full well that I am connecting two very unlike things and calling them both Ginger Ale on the mere passing similarity of the medicinal benefits. But life is far more metaphorical than it is literal. And that is why I continue to maintain that poets live better lives than the rest of us even if they die young for love of beauty. And it is better to be a cartoon cat than a literal king.
Chances are… I could wear a foolish grin, like a Johnny Mathis Moon in the sky…
I could waltz… all alone in a dark room, never seizing on the chances to fly…
But there’s a time… meant to let the summer in…
And love songs… all make me wonder… Why?
Silly, I know. But silly and surreal is how I go, how I deal with the time. A song in my head leads to rhythm and metaphor and rhyme. And it takes me from old winter and the waning of the moon… to the silly month of June… And my dancing shoes were never quite so spry.
Chances are… if you really read this, you will know I am depressed.
My life is all unfairly messed.
And I barely can get dressed…
To go tripping cross the floor, dancing awkwardly toward the door, ’cause I’m in need of so much more.
But in a poem I find it… the very reason that I rhymed it… like the crooning song that’s stuck in my old head…
I will catch it, and I’ll bind it, like a fool who hopes you’ll find it, and the treasure will be revealed before we’re dead…
Chances are… that you hear that silly tune, as it reels across the page in silent spread. And the song will slowly stop, as I dance a final hop, and the answer is brightly shining in my head.
My flower adventure for this summer was planting Texas wildflowers and zinnias in the space where the swimming pool was last year at this time.
We had to go from a yard full of bare dirt to a better, greener space with colorful things growing in it.
And, of course, the weeds took to filling the space in the yard like maniacs on steroids. For every flower that bloomed, twenty to fifty weeds were thriving. And I, suffering from arthritis have a hard time pulling the weeds out by hand. And I will not use herbicide. We, as a people, have spread enough poison in the world as it is. It has always been my intention to grow things that consume the carbon dioxide and spew out things like oxygen and nitrogen, the things we can actually breath. I mean to help life grow, not prune it or kill it.
Even the weeds like thistles can have beautiful blossoms to share with butterflies and bees.
I have to do a better job of weeding the flower plot. Weeds can take the sunlight and nutrients away from the plants you want to thrive. One of the workers who removed the pool was a sunflower seed chewer. It is not mere coincidence that we have more than twenty sunflower plants growing as weeds in the yard.
But the point of this whole flower-petal essay is that the zinnias are blooming, bright, and loud, and beauteous, at a time when I need the color… need the beauty… to balance against the darkness.
Yesterday we went to see Les Miserables, the Broadway musical. Fantine’s tragedy, Marius’s rescue, and Jean Valjean’s ultimate triumph made me cry again… copious amounts of tears… a waterfall of emotional floodwaters. There is beauty in living through challenges. Especially life-threatening ones.
We went to the musical in Fair Park as a celebration of the fact that a family member is now out of the hospital and on proper medication to be well again. We are liberated from fear again for a time. Of course, I can’t afford to go to a show like that, being newly bankrupted and swamped with medical bills. But a family member provided the funds, victory over severe depression being a thing that needs celebration.
And Eponine’s song “On My Own” is such a powerful statement of the self-sacrificing nature of love that it makes me weep just thinking of it. She loves a man who loves another and yet, loves him so well that she secures his happiness… with that other woman. And she dies in the arms of the man she loves. Valjean’s signature song, “Bring Him Home”, also makes me weep. It is the main theme of the entire show, that the thing to do when life buries you beneath a blizzard of misfortune, cruelty, and unfairness is to turn that into self-sacrificing, generous love for others even if they are not your flesh-and-blood kin. Love gives back more than you have given. It is the notion that makes me cry with the beauty of it.
The point is, I have had a hard week. I had to put a family member in the hospital for severe depression. And other family members couldn’t help me because depression can be as infectious as a cold, taking one person after another through exposure to the harsh realities of the disease. And though it is hard being the only one available to help someone through the dangerous darkness of the soul, I managed not to lose anybody again this time, the fifth time I have fought such a battle in a terrible, long war.
And now I have “One Day More” to enter into the new world I have made through sacrifice and suffering. I am devastated, but still whole. I am exhausted, but still standing. I needed yesterday to happen.
Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Celebration, compassion, healing, humor, medical issues, mental health, music, review of music, strange and wonderful ideas about life
I am desperately trying to recover financially after being sued by Bank of America, forced into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and being hospitalized in November with heart troubles. This Spring has found us repeatedly beset by illness as a family. I mean, I have known for some time that the Grim Reaper has my address penned into his address book. He knows where everybody lives. At least those of us who are alive.
But the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse, the one with the scales, who decides who deserves what and how much we get and how much we forfeit, has also taken notice and recommended that the Fourth Horseman sow a little pestilence in our garden. I am ill again, for three days now, and my daughter is working on day two, the third illness since being diagnosed with the flu in January.
No one here is asking to live forever, but you would think horsemen could be a little more sympathetic and not layer on quite so thick a layer of never-ending disease. And yet, I am reminded that I do plan to look at the benefits of the worst things that happen to me in life, and what good things they lead to. I have been ill enough in my life to become quite good at it. Arthritis has slowed me, but not stopped me. I still get around quite speedily, even though I often require a cane to do it. I am still not on insulin for my diabetes because of my diet and exercise efforts. I have learned how to cope with illness and keep going in spite of it.
Now I hope to transfer some of my illness-battling skills to my daughter so we might have at least some hope of her graduating high school in two more years.