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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


composition in gray #7

My mind stays in the halls of gratitude. Through the course of a day, I remember what I saw, the intensity of it. It never was a feeling of loss, strangely. I still don't understand that. Even when I didn't know I had fire insurance. It seemed like part of the flow, like this is what's happening now. The gratitude continues and it grows. Can't be any gratitude for saving the truck, because it was gone the moment the first little flame started. Gratitude collectively for these guys who go into overdrive when they get the call. They're not doing it for themselves. They're doing it for us, the rest of us who never think about them, but live with the satisfaction that they're ready. These are individuals doing their part in their own way to make the world they live in a little bit safer for all.

They're not held up high as important people, which they are, and it's a good thing they're not. Like among musicians when the fun goes out of it, the music goes with it. They're just people like the rest of us, people who are doing their part. They ask for no attention or to be thought well of. They like to fight fires, it's what they do. Of course, a thank you doesn't hurt anything, and a donation keeps them going. They'd fund it themselves if they could.

Since this fecal occurrence of truck going up in flames, my mind has been seeing quite a lot going on there. First, the indifference to loss of the truck, something that comes under quantity, stuff. It's necessary, but it is still stuff, an object. Second, the awe over other people I largely don't even know dashing to my rescue. This is quality. The quality of life. People taking care of people in a difficult time. No questions, no blame, no threats. When it comes right down to it, what we do to benefit others is where the real quality of life is found. Like those firemen carry in their hearts the satisfaction that they're doing something that is worthwhile. They don't need praise or honors or awards. They are in there because they want to help out others in rough times.

It's the same satisfaction I feel from looking after Jr. I don't feel any need for praise or attention for it. It's got nothing to do with me. It's all about Jr. I feel satisfaction that I am able to make his present state of helplessness not totally disabling. He can stay at home and doesn't have to take care of any of the domestic demands. He can lie in the bed and not have to worry about everything around him falling apart. He can be comfortable as can be in his own bed, not some institutional contraption that puts you into all kinds of uncomfortable positions. That inner satisfaction comes not from the place of pride, but recognition that I've done something that's actually important in my lifetime, something that benefited someone in need.

It cracked me up the day of the fire Dean Richardson said again something about getting blessed for what I'm doing, which has nothing to do with my motivation and thus makes me a bit uncomfortable when somebody mentions that, though I know at the same time it is coming from their heart and they're telling me I'm appreciated. Who can turn that down? It means a great deal. I tend to see it that the inner satisfaction of doing something worthwhile is the blessing for me, because it's a peaceful inner feeling. I don't mean to sound like the Eagles, but it is a peaceful and a loving feeling within.

I believe this is where the upwellings of gratitude come from that have been with me day and night. There is great gratitude within for the Hospice people. When one of their cars comes up the driveway, it's the same as seeing angels flapping their wings headed our way. It seems like lately I've been surrounded by and rescued by people who are living as Jesus said. It's the quality of life Jesus was talking about. And that quality is in treating the people around us right, helping ones in need. That's about all Jesus really asked us to do is help each other out. And he wasn't speaking idly. He knew the full import of what he was saying. I can't see it as a commandment, like you-better-or-else. I'm inclined to see it more like if you want a good life, here's how you do it, treat other people right and love God. But we have to wrap it all up in finery and ornaments and make a mummy of a living truth in how to have a good life on earth, look after each other. I'm not saying a lot of people don't. I'm saying a lot of people do.

Since I've been with Jr, I've talked with quite a lot of people doing the same thing at home with a husband or wife or mother or father or child. When we talk I find they know what I'm going through and I now have insight into what they're going through, on the outside, the cleaning up, the struggles, as well as the inner light that comes with it. I see in the people I know keeping a disabled mate, relative or friend, a certain light. I see an inner stillness. I feel an inner stillness. Earlier today I was sitting in the wheelchair beside the bed while Jr was sitting up drinking an ensure from his red plastic cup he likes. He said something to me about not talking. I reminded him I just don't talk much. I don't see a whole lot to talk about any more.

On the tune I use for the theme song on the radio show, Jr picking at Billy in the Lowground, making up as he went along, bluegrass banjo with fiddle playing tenor, it starts with Jr laughing. The song was recorded on a cassette tape one night when the Green Mountain Boys were practicing. It's just a second of Jr's laugh then the banjo starts rolling. That laugh is so characteristic of Jr, everyone who knows him would recognize him. That laugh is no longer in him, and it was with him all his life. He doesn't have the energy any more. On Saturday mornings when I play that, I'm grateful that second of Jr's laugh begins the song. For me, that moment of a laugh has Jr's integrity in it, just like his banjo picking, and Jr Maxwell's integrity is considerable. When I play it each week, I hear it in awe that this is in Jr. He says he's not a banjo picker any more. I say he is still a banjo picker, it's just that his fingers can't do it any more.

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