It's time for a more serious post. Or as serious I can get while I'm still deeply entrenched in my Phish marathon.
My day started this morning with me walking to my car, and my neighbor was outside smoking a cigarette. As a friendly American, I asked her the most famous question we Americans ask each other as a way of saying hello which is, "How's it going?" Normally, the response is something like, "it's going" or "good" maybe even "great" and sure enough every now and then it could be "not to good" but by saying that, one American is signifying to another, "I got some shit I need to say!"
This morning I got the worst answer to that question ever. The answer involved phrases such as ... and let me bullet point this because nothing drains emotion out of writing like bullet points, and in this case it's absolutely necessary. The phrases in what turned out to be a 15 minute conversation were:
- Murdered friend, mother of 4
- Personal 3 way custody battle
- Foster care
- "I'm on my meds now, so it's cool" (foolishly followed by me asking why)
- Abortion post stress syndrome
- Stolen Car
- DMV today (gosh, this could be the worst of them all)
So I got all these in this little conversation that ended up making me a little later for work than I should've been. The only things missing were AIDS, 9/11 and Cancer. If anyone has a worse story of asking the "How are you?" question, I'm dying to know.
That got me thinking about the existence of ghosts. We all have them, and ultimately, there's nothing we can do about them, that's why they are what they are. Some people don't believe in ghosts, and maybe seeing a floating sheet in your haunted bedroom can be a stretch, but having continuous nightmares about your past and waking up feeling relieved is quite the haunting experience, no?
Now, I know I haven't had them my whole life. I'd say my first ones started striking when I lost my pops to cancer many years ago. Obviously, that's a tough ordeal and when you're 23, and nothing bad has happened to you your entire life, naturally, that's going to haunt you. That one "loss of innocence" moment is the seal breaker though, and from then on, littler things creep into your life that may not destroy your psyche, but definitely add more weight to it. It could be something as serious as a divorce, or maybe drunken foolishness and trying to sing back up at an Open Mic to someone who's already singing a beautiful song. I'm haunted by every bad word I've said, and every now and then that memory creeps in there and I shiver. The ghost is haunting you. Maybe the ghost is a chemical dependency, or maybe its this dependency that's opening doors for more ghosts to come in. Whatever it is, it seems the older you get, the more you have, in all sorts of varieties.
The good news is that I've found there are actions man can make to not necessarily kill these ghosts, but make them less powerful. Having nightmares about a cancer ridden father was once quite a frequent occurrence, but over time, they became less frequent. Unfortunately by then, the dream of being back together with an ex-girlfriend became heavy in the haunting rotation. Sure enough, over time that one became a 90s song on a new millenium station as well. Now that I think about it, my subconscious ghosts haven't been haunting me in my sleep as much that is, except for one of the most vile ghosts of them all and that's, "I got too much shit to do at work tomorrow" ghost. He's terrible. He'll come at you in the middle of the night making you think you have to correct things that don't even exist. He'll add wrinkles to your face.
Some people exercise to kill them, and it does a great job. Life is beautiful after a work out. Sure whatever problems you have are still there, but the adrenaline rush leads to a confidence that can only be obtained by physical exertion. I didn't know what to think of that conversation I was roped into this morning all day. I felt fortunate for my own life yes, but I didn't know what to make of it. I've honestly never had a conversation with so much turmoil in it that was directly affecting person I was speaking with. What that girl has going for her now though, is the chance to rebuild. The castle has been destroyed sure, but as bad as they are, it's these experiences that make life, life. The low points make the high points that much higher. It can't all be smiles and sunshine, otherwise, we wouldn't know what sunshine is.
I hope she turns everything around. Despite all the madness, she really seemed like she was keeping it all together. Sure, as she herself stated, "it's because of the meds," but the great thing about bottoming out is that the only way is up. Unless of course, things get worse, which naturally they always can if you succumb to the ghost, rather than trying to fight it.
Things fall apart
The center will not hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
Peace to my neighbor and I really hope everything gets better for her.