Every so often I give in to the ghost which burrows in my shadow, and which generally rests while I play music or dreams while I sleep. But I am feeling this enormous cry coming up from him… like ominous regurgitation of some past sorrow I have managed to partition off from my current read-only-memory. I awoke this morning with it perched on my chest so I could scarcely breathe or open my eyes to face it. So I listened...and found I could no longer distinguish the compulsive annoying cooing of the pigeons on the ledge from the creaking pipes and the motors idling outside. And these muffled sobs somewhere… (could I be imagining this?) and workmen cursing and scraping metal and pounding… then further away I could swear I could hear each block's soundscape piling on the next until everything finally became a whirring blur…like all the ingredients of a life are somehow getting ground and whipped into this fog-colored mush. And suddenly I don’t know who or where I am because all the elements— air, light, walls--- have been the same, since the room into which we were born… and will be, up to the room from which we will die.
I now wonder if my Mom is faking her dementia because it’s all so much easier when nothing is expected of one—when you just let go and take the slide, even if you look ridiculous and your old petticoats are flying up around you. Because who actually cares… and who will remember?
All of us, still texting our pathetic donations, holding our rosaries, glued to the television in horror at the Haitian nightmare… do we need to compare our miserable lives to true suffering so we will feel better? Or do we actually envy, in some perverse way, these people who have lost everything… who have bottomed and embraced the terrible excruciation of severed limbs and bone-crushing agony? Those who have met our fears, who have had their hell on earth, and can let go in some way of the terror of losing that we New Yorkers seem to be afflicted with. After all, is this not why we invest our money, made superstars of AIG, assess and insure our homes…to hedge against loss?
A man who is a lifelong Gamblers Anonymous member confided to me the other day that it is not the win that jags the true gambler – it is losing. Because one can’t have or win everything— there is always more. Yet one can lose everything. And therein lies the thrill of the bet. So what does this mean to those of us who are not gamblers but addicted to horror, to tragedy, to sympathy, to loss? We are a race of losers. The House always wins, does it not? And for those of us who are ready to lose everything… are these the real heroes? Is letting go equal to losing everything? Is it not more like giving out, losing one’s grasp, as opposed to leaping into the abyss?
No matter how the media spins things, the abyss seems to have fallen onto the Haitians. So who has lost more… they who have lost everything or we who are addicted to fear? Thinking philosophically doesn’t help this aching I have to just let go and weep… in front of my children, in front of an audience, on the subway… and not one person I know has any sense of it… obviously my failure…my loss, their loss, my pitiful non-Haitian heart, my unburied rosary, the fog, the receding tide of what I have not won.