Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future Revisited

Why this titled post at this time? I do not know. Is it because of Christmas Past, Present, and Future? Is it because holidays make me think more about Gregory and how much I miss his daily physical presence? Is it because of thinking of all those who have "gone before?" Why am I thinking of and processing the ghosts and silence that death brings?

I am energetic, so I am told. My energy flows freely from me and out towards others, people I know and those I just pass on the street. I smile and nod at the beggar on the corner as he asks for spare change to buy some dinner. I guess I smile a lot, for strangers often smile back as we walk past each other. I always have something I can say to fellow acquaintances in my condo building as we get on and off the elevator. I easily engage with strangers when sitting at a table of ten at some function or another, even if I do not know the other nine.

My energy also flows into the keypad of my computer as these posts seem just to flow out of me. Editing always later but the ideas and organization usually are in place from the beginning!

There is energy in abundance as I arrange and rearrange my collections, which can be found all over the condo. I am told that even though there is a lot to look at, my home seems peaceful and organized. When asked, I usually have a story or two to tell about each item: its significance, where it came from, did I buy it or did someone give it to me, how long I have had it, why do I like it?

Each room, in many ways, is a wonderland and a museum, much like Michael's Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures which has been a permanent exhibit at Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier since 2011.

My desk in the living room has a collection which lives in front of the computer and which grows until the space is completely filled, gets emptied into a plastic shoe box, only to grow again and again. Kiddingly I attribute this to the Collection Elves working secretly at night.

On the left side of my desk, various collections come and go. Currently, there are some miniature Christmas Trees approximately 12" tall with antique German glass ornaments. There is a 1940's black ROYAL typewriter with a letter to Santa inserted in the roller.

In the living room plants adorn the desk, the kitchen island, and the intersection of the front hall and living room.

Paintings by Aydin, friend and owner of Prarie Joe's Diner in Evanston; and photographs (some antique and some by other friends) are hung on the living room walls and above the desk. A collection of fake grass fills the window over the desk.

In the living room, two leaning ladder shelves made of recycled wood hold more books.

The kitchen features a backsplash running the width of the room, made of alternating 8"x 10" and 8½" x 10" glass front picture frames with enlarged photographs I have taken of "kitchen things," like appliances, the stove, a pie, and a cup filled with coffee. The top of the cabinets is filled with vintage 30's and 40's greenware pottery. There are approximately 150 pieces!

My master bathroom has an immense collection of little things from China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, etc. All things Asian.

The guest bathroom features my Gnome collection: all sizes, colors, shapes, and engaged in all types of activities. My favorite "shoots you the moon" as you wash your hands. Here you can also find several art pieces by my friend Jake; beautiful oil paintings mounted on miniature canvases of interesting rocks and stones with the stone "model" glued to the back of the piece.

The guest room is lined with paintings, mostly of people, by Gregory and friends. Many of my souvenirs from Mexico are also in the guest room.

The entry hall has my "Leaving Shrine" with sounding bowls, Buddhas, prayer wheels, items representing the four elements (fire, earth, wind, water.) On the bottom shelf of the shrine is my bowl collection including bowls of ceramic, wood, rock, aluminum, pewter, silver, clay, basket, and one made of stitched together buttons.

Also down the length of the front hall are black and white photographs, all in matching black frames of the same size. Lined up on top of each frame are four smaller frames, in matching black frames, of miniature paintings we have purchased on our travels over the years. There are a few larger framed photography by friends.

Two shelves of miniature Buddhas, 25+, finish out the entry hall.

My bedroom includes most of my library including a full wall of books and a recently added reading nook.

Most recently, across the top of the bookcases, the width of the room you will see some 30+ "hands." They consist of glove molds, display fixtures, palm reading hand maps, and ones of metal, plastic, ceramic, and wood. They come in all sizes and colors as they reach towards the heavens.

Gregory's shrine lives in the bedroom also on a bookcase shelf on the side of the room that used to be his. Each night, his cat Gigi visits the shrine before she settles in for the night. There is an 8 x 10 photograph of him in a black frame. Grandma Carrie's, Gregory's much-loved Grandmother, sewing box contains his remains and some momentoes and photographs of his life. There is a sounding bowl all his own which I ring when I sit down to have a chat with him.

There is a collection of 25+ hearts of all sizes and types. There are a few bars of dark chocolate, which are his favorite. A Taiwanese wooden temple is on the self with a dozen miniature Buddhas surrounding the temple's porch. I have had a terrible time remembering to keep up with fresh flowers or miniature plants, so I have resorted to using some very tasteful artificial flowers in a beautiful vase. I say very tastefull because Gregory really hated fake :-)

• • •

So all of this brings me to the point of this post. Lately, I have been experiencing what it will be like when I am no longer here, alive, to put energy into those things I love, those things around me, those things I seem continuously to create. It is as if I am walking into the condo experiencing what it will be like for others when I am no longer on this physical plane and feel the silence, the stillness, the missing parts.

These feelings are not a foreboding or premonition of imminent death but rather, I believe, an overview look at my present place in life; past, present, and future; and my current state of being. It looks at the many "shrines" I create to life and to myself.

For the most part, my thoughts center around the fact that the story will be gone. For most people except those closest to me, the stories will be finished. There will be no more new collections, the existing ones will be dismantled, the coffee pot will no longer share the smell of freshly ground beans and the refrigerator will no longer keep the milk fresh.

The rooms will no longer entertain guests and will no longer cycle between clean and dirty, organized and disorganized, bright by day and lamped by night, nor reflect the seasons or holidays.

It is not that I am afraid of dying, it is not that I am so attached to the THINGS that I am sad or upset that I will no longer be able to PLAY with them. It is just that their essence, their souls, their energy will dissipate and eventually disappear, as I dissipate and disappear as well. 

Then my proverbial question of “What makes a Life?” will come into play. I will be remembered, I know. My name will be spoken, I know. Some of my stories will continue. Some of my things will sit on family and friend’s tables and shelves.

Most of the things will be enjoyed one way or another, whether by family or by strangers who purchased them in an antique shop, but they will no longer be alive or energetic as they are now and more sadly, for the most part, the STORIES will be gone. Except maybe this one and a few like it.

So what difference does a life make and the events and things which make up that life? Perhaps the memories left behind are what matter as well as being in the moment to enjoy the here and now which so fleetingly passes. When a waiter at a restaurant or a clerk at a shop asks me, "Do you have any questions?" I usually kiddingly reply, "What is the meaning of life?" 

For me, it is to LOVE and TO BE LOVED. That is enough. Let the things and the stories scatter, it was and is the LOVE that matters!

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