Saturday, November 30, 2013

...But Tell Me How You Feel

Surrounded by faces and voices, I listen and watch

The sky is different, but constellations the same

Shared pasts and disjointed presents fall upon my eyes and my ears

I see familiarity and distance, I see knowing smiles and leers alike

I feel as I have always, as I do so often even now

I am alone in a crowded room

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks, 2013

Another Thanksgiving is upon us, and the skies are clear and beautiful. There is a nip in the air and the Winter is most certainly coming, as is Christmas. But those things are not here yet, are they? No matter how rushed along the Holiday Shopping Craze is, today is a day that means the gathering of family (no matter the makeup) and the reflection on our many gifts. 

I was going to once again don my grumpy old man hat and tear into those upping the ante in the retail arms race, but instead I will leave that to the many others who surely will. Instead I will choose not to partake in the madness, and instead spend a few moments being thankful. 

This year, more than any other, I am thankful for being the man I am. I am far from perfect, but I am thankful for my positive aspects, as well as my many flaws. I am, as Popeye so boldly states, who I am. And that's all. I am Martin Thomas LaBelle, son of Robert and Marie, brother of Tonette. I am father of Weyland and Morgan, and devoted partner to Jennifer and Gina. I am artist, warrior, "Mr.Fix It" (sometimes "Mr.Broke It"), confidant, village elder, student, minstrel, and jester. I am the raven, seeing the world we live in from far away, and from close up. I am the darkness and the light that drives sadness and joy equally. I am singular, and I am leigon.  If you know me, you know these things to be true, regardless of the dichotomy.

I am thankful for the family that I have left, and for the ones I am lucky enough to be included in. Family is a funny thing, as there are so many different concepts. I am grateful for any family I am included in, even the ones I might no longer be an active part of. If my presence is still there, thank you. 

I could go on, thanking the Academy and my peers (neither of which would be really true, but still fun to say), but I'll stop there. I have many things to be thankful for. as so many of you do, but take my hand for just a minute and let's be quiet for just a moment, shall we?

In that small gesture, I hope you have been thankful for the things we don't always mention. Let us remember those who serve in the United States military (any branch), to the public servants who are there to protect the peace, or keep our homes standing in the face of fire, or flood, or other natural disaster. Let us bow our heads to those who are not with their families on this particular day, and raise a glass to their sacrifice of service. Let us be kind and tender to those who need it this holiday season, the members of our society who remain in the cold whilst we complain about the government from the comfort of our warm homes. Let us also take just a flash of an instant to look into the face of those we consider our enemy and try to see the world through their eyes, without the shroud of judgement upon their choices we might not agree with. Offer a hand in peace and acknowledgment that we will not always agree, but can disagree with compassion and mutual respect.

Today, gather with whatever passes as family (or be alone with a glad heart), and accept that we can not ever hope to control the entirety of the world we live in. For just this one day, be thankful for what you have, even if it doesn't seem like all that much, because to someone who has far less, you are living a dream they might never hope to attain: The hungry, the homeless, the uncared for; Those who are troubled, or weary, or empty; Those who are shunned, or wanting acceptance for whatever situation places them on the fringes of their own place in life. Take these people into your heart and wish for them a world without fear or hatred or violence. Wish for them a world that will help feed or clothe them when in need, wish for a world that doesn't frown upon a family that doesn't fit the Rockwellian image. (For that matter, imagine a different world where Rockwell painted pictures of a family with two moms, two dads, several loving members, or some other dynamic that might not fit your traditional image).  

But please, be thankful today for anything you might have, As world events continue to prove - life is short. Love freely, let go of hate and judgement, and let's all be good to each other. 

Even if it is just for one day. 

From the diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes 2nd Rhode Island, November 28, 1863:
"Our mess servant found a house, and what was better, a turkey. This they roasted, and with sweet potatoes and new bread and butter they appeared to us about 2 P.M…. The good things were spread upon a rubber blanket and we gathered around. The Chaplain began to say grace when bang went a gun, and a shell from the enemy howled over our heads. The Chaplain did not falter but went on with his prayer…."

When more artillery began to fall, “we took the rubber blanket by its corners and moved under a knoll where we enjoyed our feast,” Rhodes wrote. “Our Batteries soon got to work and our dinner was eaten while the Artillery duel went on.”  


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Her Cold Lips

It lays heavy upon my heart to feel this darkness again, my once and eternal friend. The clawed, ravenous thing that kept me so connected to my words. I am disconnected from them now, distanced and wandering. My muse lies cold in the ground, under the browned leaves. Her lips do not touch my own, but I can feel the ache from where they once lay, and I wonder if she will ever rise again to bestow upon me the grand gifts she once did.

The slick, greasy black that rises to greet me is familiar, yet unwelcomed in my current life. I remember it, even wanted it to return for a spell, but I am ill prepared to deal with the weight of it all, dragging me ever downward into the abyss of the coming months.

How will I survive? Will I emerge from the Winter whole and intact, or will I once again chip away at myself in order to maintain some semblance of who I am, or was? In the end, will the darkness carry off what is left of my tissue-paper thin soul? What happens if I simply close my eyes and allow it?

Go Easy

We have spent the last 45 miles together in close proximity to one another, but as you round the bend and begin to bask in His glory, the blinding Sun somehow makes me untrustworthy. Your right foot slides off the accelerator, where it was comfortable, and slips over to the brakes. You look nervously in your mirrors, and farther down the lane. The trust we shared now broken, this act is repeated over and over again until the long line slows to a near halt then resumes. Others, more trusting than you, are taken by surprise and have to slow far more quickly than is appropriate.  The wink of chaos appears in the confusion.  As we become accustomed to the dazzling light, we being again to trust, speeding together as brothers and sisters in arms.

You know, I seriously do not understand the concept of “Hey, we’re going 85 mph! We've been less than three feet apart for miles, but when I get a little sun in my eyes, I’ll have to slam on the brakes and slow to 50 just so I can be sure that there isn't a pile-up just ahead.” If we all stay in position, and don’t do anything stupid, there is no need to slow. Keep doing what you are doing and we’ll all be fine. We’ll all be fine TOGETHER.

Here I go again, the grumpy old man rises up in me and I am forever baffled by the inability of people to trust what they know to be trustworthy. We might not be neighbors, or lifelong friends, but we've shared far less space than several tons of steel should be comfortable sharing for quite some time. In traffic, we've forgotten that our bumpers have been close enough to nearly touch so many times that we no longer feel threatened by the possibility. But factor in less than 3 seconds of dazzle, and suddenly you have forgotten how to drive steadily (as you have done for miles and miles already this morning or evening).

Let’s stay in our lanes and keep it steady, Freddie. Whattya say? Can you dig it?

I could write for hours about my travels, and the wonders that seem to never cease while in traffic. Maybe I should. Maybe it would be good therapy.

Until then, Drive on my good man (and woman). Drive on.