Monday, December 31, 2012


As if my incredible good fortune is solely the result of my own hard work and smart choices.   As if luck had nothing to do with any of it. 

I have as many sins on my head as Bryan did, I made as many stupid choices.  When I think of the chances I took, the dubious substances I ingested, the strangers I woke up with, the cars I climbed into, it's a miracle I got out of the 80's alive.

I'm not sure when or how it happened, but I know Bryan was deeply damaged, that much is clear.  I'm damaged too, I just hide it better.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Human Agency

The word according to Wikipedia:

"Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make choices. It is normally contrasted to natural forces which are causes involving only unthinking, deterministic processes. In this respect, agency is subtly distinct from the concept of free will, the doctrine that our choices are not the product of causal chains, but are significantly free or undetermined. Human agency entails the claim that humans do, in fact, make decisions and enact them on the world. How humans come to make decisions, by free choice or other processes, is another issue...If a situation is a consequence of human decision making, persons may be under a duty to apply value judgments to the consequences of their decisions, and held to be responsible for those decisions. Human agency entitles the observer to ask, should this have occurred? in a way that would be nonsensical in circumstances lacking human decision-makers such as the impact of a comet on Jupiter."

Upon reflection, I realize that my last post about Bryan's inability to drift with fate was completely wrong. Bryan drifted for much of his life; that was one of his problems. He never accepted the responsibilities and rewards of his own human agency. 

We are put here to make choices, make mistakes and learn from them. That's how we evolve, and the process never ends. Bryan would never accept responsibility for his mistakes, so he couldn't learn from them and move on. Instead, he constructed a world view in which he was always a victim and his mistakes were always someone else's fault. 

I realize now that perpetual victimhood is an extreme form of egoism. We are all victims at one point or another; shit happens that is beyond our control. But, most of the time, we make our own mistakes. In accepting responsibility for those mistakes, we acknowledge and accept our fallibility and imperfection. In the darkness of his heart, Bryan believed himself infallible, incapable of making a mistake. Thus, he believed that his problems were never of his own making; how could they be, if he was infallible? His problems were always caused by an outside source beyond his control.  That way, he could still be right when he was wrong.

He had locked himself so tightly into a tiny closet of ego that he could only conceive of one way out. What a waste. 

The man had a master's degree, parents who loved and supported him, friends. He got bailed out of trouble more times than I can count. He had a career that, with a little effort, could have easily made him a decent living.  He had optionsright up until the day he died, yet he chose to live in squalor and despair with drug addicts and criminals. If he was here right now he would still insist that his wasted opportunities were someone else's fault. The truth is, he was never a victim of anything other than his own ego.

He leaves nothing for his family but chaos and unimaginable psychic damage.  There was no insurance, no money in the bank. Greg and I had to bail him out one last time and pay for his goddamned funeral. 

I don't begrudge the money. I do begrudge the useless, senseless waste. 

I mourn the funny, nervy, smart-mouthed, talented, opinionated kid he once was. I'm having a harder time mourning for the man he became, the man he chose to become.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Sisters of Mercy

Up, up from the ground - oh weary head, oh breaking neck
This is no longer Troy. We are not the lords of Troy.
Endure. The ways of fate are the ways of the wind.
Drift with the stream - drift with fate.
    Euripides, The Trojan Woman

Before severing contact with him six years ago, the last words I wrote to my youngest brother were, "Please seek professional help."  

My plea went unheeded: He committed suicide two days before Christmas. He could not lift his head from the ground. He could not drift with fate.

I pray that our mother was waiting on the banks to help him across. I pray for his daughter, who will bear his scars. I pray that he is finally at peace.

Oh the sisters of mercy they are not departed or gone
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me their song
Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been traveling so long.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Way the World Ends

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
     T.S. Eliot

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
     Matthew 10:32-34

Woman was welcome in the garden as long as she held her tongue. The moment she spoke her truth, she was banished.  

I poured out my heart like water onto barren rock and watched it evaporate. I spoke the truth and, for better or worse, it set me free.  Up, up from the ground. Go forth and begin again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

As You Like It

We have long known that "all the world's a stage" in the meadow. Now we have a platform salvaged from a production of As You Like It on which to strut and fret our hour on stage (and yes drama geeks, I'm mixing my Shakespearean metaphors.) Saturday was a work day in the meadow and we got much, much more accomplished than I could have ever imagined. By nightfall, the old platform was demolished, a log foundation was built, the new platform was installed and the debris was burned.  Damned impressive if you ask me.

I'm forever grateful to Lowell, Peter, Ezra, Jesse, Joe, Jimmy and Rachel for their efforts. And, of course, Scoutmaster Sequoia, our fearless leader; nothing happens without the big man.