selflessness, not self-expression

I have had a tough week. And Fridays (and Mondays) are usually hard days for me because they follow times when I am repressing my introvert tendencies and working with people (a recent quote from a book my boss had our church read: “The public is a motherfucker.” Take this bread by Sara Miles)

I sat in my boss’s office yesterday and talked with her about my obsessing as evidence of my burn out and lack of balance.


Believe it or not, this helped a bit and I was less weird after that talk. Then later I was waiting for my Mom who was in Walgreens. The car windows were down. I was listening to the CD my daughter Sarah made for my Dad’s funeral buffet. I could feel the tension easing as the breeze blew through the car. 

A lot of this went away during choir rehearsal and the subsequent drinks afterwards last night.  My boss and I were in accord that now was not a time to work on the problems presented by my church’s music program (poor attendance at rehearsals, lack of new blood, ect.) I encouraged my wife to take a “mental health” absence from rehearsal.

My choir like so many choirs seems to be sort of “Dream Team” Exercise in dysfunction and it can be telling on people trying to act like grown-ups (that would be my lovely wife). 

I won’t go into details because it’s probably not appropriate in this venue, but suffice it to say that what is most depressing is how people treat each other. 

Anyway, I came home and did not obsess to lovely wife. I have found that sometimes venting is rehearsing frustration and doesn’t really help anything. I know it doesn’t help my wife the good listener. 

This morning the weight of my own mental shit is still there but is abating somewhat.

I am meeting the piano guy at Boersma in less than an hour to deliver the piano I and other fam and friends are donating. This will be fun.

Later Eileen and I meet with the Hospice Bereavement counselor. I am extremly curious to see how adept she will be with  us. My Mom hasn’t heard from these people yet so I will avail myself of this meeting to ask whether they are attempting to contact her or not…. see if I can move that along.

Mom is dealing pretty well with Dad’s death. “Surreal” was the word she used yesterday. But she does a lot of reminiscing out loud which is good I think. She also is getting her religion back which is good for her. I stay silent as she preaches to me about God’s providence (I have difficulty with God and providence but am glad that it is helping her a bit). 

My own stuff with Dad is pretty complex. I have more anger at him for how he didn’t really manage the last phase of his life than how he was a Dad to me. I find myself thinking of his personality over the years. This contains fond reminiscences as well as many times when it seems like he was misbehaving. Probably about usual for most people. I loved my Dad. I watched his personality ebb and tried to give aid and comfort to his physical presence as his mental stuff drained away. But I am aware of the distance he kept between himself and his life. In many ways, as his mental attributes went away what was left moved me much more to compassin. He became more vulnerable, of course, but also more comfortable with the physical. As his son I mourned his death and wept easily at the funeral. But I see myself as an adult child of my parents acting on my principles (duty to family, doing the right thing if I can figure out what it is) in how I relate to them more than simple love and emotion. I feel like I own my life and try not to play the blame game with anyone, especially the people who made me.  Anyway. Like I said complex.

Okay I know you’re dieing for today’s quote, so here it is: 

“The gift is property that perishes.”

This is from Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.” Hyde says this after he retells the Scottish folk tale, “The Girl and the Dead Man.” In this tale, three sisters separately set out to seek their fortune after their mother says they can have a large loaf of bread and her curse or a small one and her blessing. The first two sisters take the large loaf and end up being killed by the sister of a bewitched dead man. The last sister takes the small loaf, shares it and escapes their fate. 

Hyde is thinking about how gifts work (giving freely, passing gifts along) and then how that relates to the consumer society we live in . Very cool. Oh by the way, Bill Viola wrote one of the blurbs in the front section of the book:

He blurbs: This book “…. has shown me why we still use the word  gift to describe artistic talent, and that selflessness, not self-expression lies at the root of all creative acts.”

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