There are a lot of kids out there in the world who are gifted with musical talent. I find that searching them out and listening to them on YouTube is a valid way to cure… or at least curtail depression.
Wow. Energy, creativity, charm… cuteness! Kids possess a magic power to never understand when something is impossible. Harnessing that power can take you all the way to the moon and back.
If you think I turned to this subject because I was feeling down and depressed this morning, well, you’d be right. But am I still depressed after filling up on this sort of kid music?
Not a chance. The world is a better place now because of their sweet music.
I recently got word that my octogenarian father is in the hospital again for the third time in the last three months. I am fairly sure the end of my father’s long and epic life is near. And though I have basically come to terms with not only the coming end of his life but my own life as well, human beings, real ones, were never meant to live forever.
But I do not welcome the coming sadness, never-the-less. There will always be something in the mysteries of death and darkness that is to be feared… and avoided for as long as possible.
One of the most important avoidance measures is to light a few candles. A candle holds back the darkness for a while. And of course, I mean that in only the most metaphorical of multiple senses.
There are many ways to light a candle. I have lit three in this essay. I lit them with my ink pen and my drawing skill (modest though it may be). And drawing alone is not the sum total of the ways a candle may be lit.
Each of the novels I have written is also a candle. They may be useless piles of pages that nobody ever reads, but they are the summation of my already long life and work as a writer. I may not be well known, and probably am not as talented as the better-known writers, but I really do have something to tell. And being published where someone may eventually… even accidentally read some of it, there is no telling exactly how far into the darkness my light will reach.
And the even-more-amazing fact about the reach my candlelight into the darkness has is this, my candles were only lit because my father first lit the candle that is me. As I have passed the candle-lighting responsibility on to those who read my writing, and to my children who have many more candles of their own to light.
I love you, Dad. Raymond L. Beyer. My next novel is dedicated to you. Let’s continue to hold off the darkness for as long as we can… together.
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.
To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of a single recommended use for a virus, either the computer kind or the kind I have right now that floored me for the past five days. The computer kind damages expensive hardware and ruins expensive software, and serves no purpose I can fathom beyond usefulness in acts of evil. And I do not recommend getting sick with a virus. Every viral illness I have gotten over the past two decades has been, for me being a diabetic, potentially fatal.
But the book that Raggedy Clown and Baby Clown are displaying here in a vain attempt at marketing was written during a continuing siege of virally-induced bronchitis… Six times in four years. Writing benefitted from lost work time and extended usage of sick days from my teaching job. Some of my most creative work has happened because of bizarre dreams dreamed while having a fever.
Idiotically I leaped out of bed with a feverish inspiration in the middle of a mostly sleepless night to write down a song, as if I had any business trying to be a songwriter. I had listened earlier in the evening to a compilation of sad songs on YouTube obtained by typing the words “sad songs of the 80’s” into the search box. I listened to a totally gawd-awful mess of weepers because in the book I am now writing, Sing Sad Songs, the main character Francois sings almost exclusively only sad songs. That listening session must have caused just enough brain damage to make me think I could somehow compose a worthy sad song of my own to horrify readers with as an original song written by the character in the book. Clever idea. Impossible to carry out with my croaking toad-like musical abilities. I can probably polish up the poetry to an acceptably awful level, but the tune half-heard in my dream is now completely lost and inapplicable.
So, on the whole, I would have to say I have been decidedly unwell. But, overall, it has not proved to be a barrier to my creative work. It has really only served to make the strange little imaginary realm I live in a little bit stranger.
This is, of course, not a medical dissertation, or any sort of health and wellness advice that I am not qualified to give. But it would be ironic if lots of people suddenly re-posted this essay and it ended up going viral like my post on visiting a nudist park did.
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.