Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bittersweet gifts

Some musings.

In the weather, I sense the death of summer. Not the "passing of the seasons," some philosophical musings on how nature changes, we change, everything changes, the usual... no. I perceive it as a death. Not just a change, but a final change. This summer—not all summers, but this summer—is ending. Ending with a capital E. Really ending.

I drove by Caltech today, a place where I used to do a lot of creative work. I wrote a lot of music for their theater department. I even directed a show there. It was a wonderful time. I was truly blest. And now, that place is no longer "for me." There is a theater program still, but there are different people running it. They have their own interests, their own desires, their own needs. They don't include me; they never have. That part of my life is over; over with a capital O. In its own way... another death. It died a few years ago; but driving by there today, I have to admit that I didn't feel the sweetness of "wasn't that fun" nostalgia, I felt... departure; a time that had gone with a capital G; the death of a beautiful adventure.

I sent a composition to a former college professor, thinking he might be interested in performing it with his student groups. He loved it. Oh yeah, he retired last year, I didn't know that, so no, they probably won't be looking at the composition (nothing against the composition, it's just conducting the groups ain't his thing, any more). I went to that college's library a couple of weeks ago, noticed how things had changed when I drove around campus looking for a parking place. As an alumnus, I'm still very welcome to use the library, I can even pay a very reasonable fee and still check out books. But it's not my home any more. My time there is over. Over. To add insult to injury, there's a new organ there, which if I called the right person I'd be more than welcome to play; which I'd do if my legs worked well enough to play the pedals, which they don't, and I don't think I want to take the time and energy to try out an instrument I can't play. At least that's not another "death," it's inconvenient and annoying, but there's no permanent loss involved. Well, there may be, but I don't want to go there right now.

As I look back at all these "death" ramblings... none of them are M.S. related. I'm really quite blessed. I'm getting treated with things that not only don't impact, but improve, my quality of life; I actually enjoy the hand controls I had to have installed in my truck because I can't trust my legs to operate the pedals; my "disabilities" have resulted in changes at work that actually put my skills to better use than schlepping things (and oh, have I ever schlepped in my days there); the only maybe-M.S.-related "handicap" that has really gotten to me has been the fatigue, but according to my acupuncturist—who, by the way, is able to relieve it, sometimes all-too-briefly but at least he can do something about it— there's more to it than neurological "wiring problems."

No. The "death of the summer" is the way of the seasons—all deaths are the way of nature, really, as much as we don't want to deal with them. But all these other "deaths" of "the way it used to be, and isn't any more"... these aren't on the M.S. level, they're on the spiritual level. That was then, this is now, "then" gave birth to "now," but "now" could not have been born without the death of "then," any more than the butterfly can exist until the caterpillar dies.

And clearly... I guess I haven't really dealt with the death of "then," have I?

And... I'm not sure I would have seen so clearly, the need for me to come to terms with the passing of the past ... without the M.S. experience.

A bitter, and sweet, gift of M.S.

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