Monday, June 28, 2010

Spring in my step

The untimely loss of a friend can elicit many emotions, anger, hurt, sorrow, melancholy. All those things left unsaid and undone, the things you wish you could take back or celebrating the time you did have. People come and go in your life, some remain "lifers" those friends that stay with you for the duration and then there's the set that come in, serve their purpose and move on. When public figures die, even though they are not our close associations, we feel a sense of loss to the talent gone or whatever. It's been a year since Michael Jackson died, his presence was so iconic that his death became one of those "where were you when you heard" moments.

I was driving home, alone in the car with the radio, the news came on at the same time that a friend called. Due to hands-free communication and the news reader, there was a simultaneous announcement that the King of Pop was no more. Michael Jackson was like an old friend, he'd featured in many happy and not so rosy periods in my life. Off the Wall and Thriller the soundtrack of much of my early high school years. Before heavy metal and then the new romantics, before a foray into punk. And though he'd been out of the spotlight for a long time, his music was always there in the background. Ironically, that particular friend is also no longer a part of my life. A loss more to do with differences of opinion, values and even bloody mindedness. It was a friendship that while it lasted, meant a great deal and though there are no regrets that we were friends, it perhaps is a relationship that could not survive. My friend and I have drifted far, perhaps some other time.

Lately my muse has also wandered far, the urge to write is always tempered by the thought that if the floodgates opened I would be like the little Dutch boy, trying to hold back the endless tides. More sobering, the loss of desire to comment but to just watch it all unfold while hoping for the best. It feels almost like looking through old pictures of yourself, seeing the progression of years, acknowledging fondly the person you were but knowing that the time is past, looking forward to what's next.

It's like doing home renovations, you ever notice that when you re-do one area everywhere that you've left alone looks tired, dated, grungy or just doesn't fit? You go through room by room to find that ideal mix of old and new, paint and accessories or more sweeping changes of broken walls and ceilings, lighting fixtures and furniture. That's like your own life, the things that don't work show up more sharply against the newly reformed areas! If you are never open to change, then you can never experience anything new, if you don't take out the things that are old, tired and non working, if you your hands are full, you cannot pick up anything else. This weekend I decided to re-paint the corridor and area outside the bathroom. The colour is unlike the rest of the house, a neutral, Sand Dollar it is called. My house is filled with blues, greens and yellows so this is really outside the box. The newness of fresh paint made me look again, more so than late last year when I re-did the living room(which I still like!). Now the bathroom needs doing, the kitchen cupboards, they all look tired and grotty in comparison. Ironically though, instead of the solid black or grey that has made up the bulk of my wardrobe for the last four or five years, bright colours have made a re-appearance. And though not as ebullient as Maradona kissing all his players during this World Cup, I'm smiling more.

So like a plant that has had some pruning, new leaves are forming and branches taking shape. The structure remains, tested by fire, love, joy and adversity, new things opening up. Perhaps even a bloom or two.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What means goodbye

For those who knew and loved him, the Bookman was one of those characters, you overlooked the strange bits and understood what what was really important. The Bookman was part of a lime that encompassed a bunch of, dare I say it, misfits, people who really didn't quite fit in anywhere else. So much that we formed our own little group and then to our collective surprise, found that other people wanted in. We know who we are, Richard, despite our differences, your friends still love you and wish you Godspeed.

Seems that in the last ten years, but perhaps it's been longer, the funerals of my contemporaries have outweighed what could be considered the normal course of things. Weddings, christenings, anniversaries have come in far behind hospital visits and the Grim Reaper. I wonder what it is about my generation; though we have better access to information, medical treatment and our work consists more of keyboards than rakes and hoes; that our longevity is far eclipsed by our great grandparents and grand parents. And realised, it has come down to HOW we live.

This morning brought a touch of melancholy.....but why? Death is inevitable for all of us. Preferable to suffering to be sure. We can question why, but really, does it change anything? The secret is to live, to live your life with quality. To know what are the things you can put up with, the things you can do without, the people you love and who love you. It is about pleasure, even pain, balance, not living with regret but with appreciation.

So to my friend the Bookman, thank you for the spirited conversations, the weird little asides, the books you made, the art you shared, thank you for you. Thank you for appreciating me just for me. For making me smile, driving me nuts on occasion. For always believing that I had talent, pushing me to write, without you and Adele, there would be no Reflections.

Richard Bolai 1962-2010