I found the older man sitting at his usual spot at the end of the long, long pier.
“Gramma says dinner will be ready at 7 … and could you bring home some milk?”
He slowly shifted his pipe in his mouth. “Hello, Buzzard. I love you. Wait for a minute and walk with me.” He began to reel in his line from the sea. Slowly, without concern. The sea shone diamonds and rolled thickly.
“Did you catch anything?”
“No … not today.” As these words were spoken, the line cleared the water and … I saw that there was no hook. Just the tackle. He turned a bemused face to me.
“Grandpa … where’s the hook?”
“See … here’s the thing: I’m fishing. Not trying to catch fish, just fishing. Being very still and quiet and looking at the ocean. Letting my mind be patient with doing nothing. The pole gives me an excuse. As long as i’m holding it, people leave me alone. If i just sat here staring, they want to talk. Ask what i’m up to, am I okay?
People don’t like to see you just sitting still and letting your thoughts travel. It makes them uncomfortable. But we need it, sometimes. We need to get still and listen … to the sea, to our thoughts, to our hearts … to each other, even.
It’s holy and healthy to sometimes just … be.
A little art I created. Open to your own interpretation.
The Magic Castle, Hollywood, CA
I looked all over for some small sign of my friend. He was nowhere to be found. The places were still there, but there was no trace of him. Not his laughter. Not his spirit. Not his magic.
I sat on the bench where we talked about performance and art. I spent time at the table where we shared favorite books.
He’s just gone. I, selfishly, would have liked more time with him.
I visited Irma to get some perspective: maybe add some music to lift my heart. At the request of another guest, she played “Suicide is Painless”.
Later a stranger, who earlier in the evening had watched my show, gave me food. “I ordered this to go on impulse. I think I’m supposed to give it to you.” Chicken and veggies, quite delightful.
As I went to pay my parking, I was called back inside. A friend requested that I do a small show for his sister, who was celebrating her birthday. We found a private table and … it was good. I told my stories and did my magic for the two of them. I made a boot for her … and she cried, just a little.
It took everything I had. It was worth it. I gave them a bit of me. That’s art, right?
For you, Leeman. For your smile. For your spirit. I found a bit of it, and I gave it to someone. As it should be.
Fell asleep on the couch, not quite on purpose. Hazy sunbeam woke me up, bouncing off of the ring. The ring that doesn’t fit anymore. Doesn’t fit in any sense.
Hazy sunbeams in an airless room on a July afternoon. Friends and family and way too crowded. The bride is beautiful, glowing and ripe.
The ring dangles from a black ribbon. Tiny diamond heirloom from another failed endeavor.
I do and I do and I will and I promise. Nerves and heat. Eyes everywhere, expectant.
The sun warms the color, making it appear deep and meaningful, but the meaning has changed. Matrimony to melancholy. Once she was my song, now she is my versus.
We cry joy and there’s cake served with chaos. Later there’s mountains and sunset.
Mesmerized for a moment. When did it stop fitting? When did it stop meaning? When did joy turn bitter? When did I?
We tumbled through years, decades. Danced and hurt, healed and danced again. Then the song was over.
This memory on a ribbon.
My mother’s favorite movie was “Doctor Zhivago”; it came out the same year I was born. We watched it four times together. She told me in confidence that she didn’t believe a grand romance like that could really happen.
The second to last time we watched it, I took her to a movie theater that was having a classic movie revival week. The grandeur and the power of the cinematography, along with the incredible story made us gasp and weep openly. It’s rare to have that strong of a reaction to a movie … but this was brilliant.
The last time we viewed it, about four months before she was killed, I gave her a deluxe VHS set for her birthday. At the end of a box of tissues she told me that I had the capacity to love like that, if I’d let myself.
The love he displays is of high caliber. Not just of Lara, though that’s important, but his love of humanity, life and love itself.
Could I possibly? This is a goal worth reaching for.
May 17, 2018
Last set of the night at the W.C. Fields bar. I intended to close with the Elf boot story. There was a woman celebrating her birthday, seated in the perfect position on one side … and what all my training told me was the wrong person on the other. This one was brassy and brash, drunkish and slightly confrontational. Not the sort for a more intimate piece like this. But … she was in the perfect spot, and while I might have chosen someone else, my instinct popped up and told me to trust in my ability to control the moment, and in her as an audience member. I’ve learned to let it flow when that instinct nudges me. So i went for it.
When the routine was over, the ‘problem’ spectator was in happy tears. Hugging me and thanking me for making her evening special. “We got a babysitter for our babies and took a night for ourselves. I’ve had a great time, even though I miss them. You just made everything perfect. i’m going to put this boot on a shelf and tell that story over and over …”
Art from the heart. Believe in the power of the love in your gift. Give the best of yourself, even if you doubt the receiver worthy. Give for the sake of giving. Make art for the sake of making it.
Art and love have the power to enrich and change lives.