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Tuesday, January 19, 2010



I got a glimpse of a major theme that has been flowing through my mind, through the subconscious, what runs through my mind when I'm out taking a walk, or any time, a good bit of the time when I take note of it. Dwelling on the seemingly arbitrary anti-act of spirit leaving the body, not wondering when and how it will be, because that would be absurd, looking at how it's possible at any moment in the ongoing now for spirit to change perspective. It doesn't necessarily arrive with a warning and when it's there, that's it, cat shit.

What will whatever it is I'm thinking about this side of the moment have to do with anything the other side? That, I cannot answer. I can't even conceive of transition except for what I've read of people who have gone over and come back. I'm not afraid of what I'll find, like I'm not afraid of the next minute of my life. It is what it is. So far, it's writing to you, watching the time in lower right screen to see when the minute changes. That's when I'll know if I made it through that minute. It's still up for grabs. There. It happened. I survived that minute.

This is the sort of thinking that plays around in my subconscious. This is what's behind my actions and everything. I've always been aware that any second might be the last from an abundance of fundamentalist church where everything is impermanent. Any way you look at it, it is. I've found I have become devoid of ambition. Never had it anyway, but don't feel guilty about having so little get up and go. Friend Jim Winfield and I are both looking at approximately the same amount of future time: uncertain. Not much. His take is to get as much done as he can get done toward all he wanted to do in this lifetime. My take is, if it aint done by now, it aint gettin done.

In the wake of Jr, I think of the junk I'll leave behind. A real ambition would be to get all that thinned out, organized so whoall has to go through it is faced with something they can handle. I can't even handle it. I continue to be able to sit and look out the window thinking there's nothing better I could be doing. Watch a movie, read a book, feed cats, make a trip to town for catfood, stop and talk with everyone I run into that I know. I'm reading this as a natural response to watching a noble man fade away and expire, feeling it all along the way, knowing his life and the rarity of his character, valuing him for that as others might a vault of gold.

It's important to me as myself to see I have that. My friend Pat, who lives in upstate NY close to the Massachusetts line, inspired it years ago. When her girls were in their early teens she went to NYC to take care of a friend of hers who was dying of AIDS. She kept him in his own apartment to the last moment. She was puked on, and everything else on, and mothered her baby until he was out. I was especially struck by what a statement that was to her daughters of their mother's character. The girls were not the kind to be jealous of her attention. They understood what she was doing. She did it for her dad some years later.

When I started seeing the lay of the situation with helping Jr out, she was with me in spirit. He had no one to take care of him. The lumberyard would take whatever he had left of his life to pay his bill there as long as they could keep his heart pumping. My credo throughout was Jr Maxwell does not deserve to die of despair. Without Pat's example, I don't know what decision I'd have made at that crossroad where if I'm going to be with him, it's going to be all the way, and I will do all that's in whatever power I have to make his passing as comfortable as possible in his own home. In my way of seeing, Jr Maxwell deserved that. In years past he told me a few times when they come to take him to the nursing home he's going to pop one in his head. I said it won't be like that. It will be when you're unable to do anything about it. You won't get a phone call telling you they're on the way.

I believed I knew that was not an option for him. I was free with him having his pistol close at hand where he always kept it. Only when he was unable to handle it did I keep it empty. I knew Jr well enough to know he definitely did not intend to, but allowing for the unknown, neither he nor I was ever certain. I saw no need to protect Jr from himself. He didn't dislike himself. He thought himself a fool who botched up his entire life, but he didn't dislike himself. He was fine in himself.

I go through a day with that kind of impermanence in the front of my mind. What do I want to do most? Watch Yoji Yamada's Twilight Samurai, today's netflix movie. When that's done, read some more in Ralph Stanley's memoir. Carter's funeral, the casket in the center of the floor in a high school gym, 3,000 people there. Bill Monroe stood beside the casket and sang a capella Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Ralph's story is too good not to be told. One thing I see the book doing is funneling attention to how good the Stanley Brothers were when Carter was singing and they were riding the mountain roads, 5 in the car, the bass strapped to the top.

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