Those of you who know me or have followed me on Jayspeak know that I have lived a life of relative abundance. And “things” mattered, and I had a lot of “stuff”. I had saved everything in case I MIGHT NEED IT OR WANT IT SOMEDAY. I made sure that I provided for my children through thick or through thin as marriages would come and go. So, you can imagine my shock and surprise to discover that they did not want any of my stuff / things. In fact, they did not want me. So I sit on the sidelines and watch as they accumulate their own stuff / things that they want and think they need to be discarded later in life…or not, That is a long story that I don’t want to reveal in this blog, but I decided to change my ways.
I moved with my favorite husband – the love of my life – to Nice, France, on October 1, 2015. And, together, we got rid of stuff when we moved. Piece by piece.
The anniversary of his untimely death is on August 31, 2016. Almost five years ago. I began writing this blog shortly thereafter. And, I have been getting rid of “stuff” ever since. And trying to keep it together. Whatever “it” is. I now live in Paris. I don’t have much ‘stuff’. I am just happy to still be alive. A lot of my friends are gone. One friend wrote:
“Last night, my theatre family and I lost one of those people. Ray Cavaleri, thank you for being the embodiment of what a mentor is and for inspiring me to understand that there is more to an artist than striving to be in the spotlight, but to prepare the soil to be engaged in the fruitful display of the shared stories of the human experience. Thank you, Ray, for being Steve’s good friend.
“O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning…”
I am 84. And a post on Facebook puts into words what I want to say. I am struggling with brain strokes. Shock and strokes have caused physical damage to me. And, in my study of my brain, I keep getting knocked on my ass with the stark reminder that adventure, love, prosperity, prestige…anything I have aspired to at all…is just the currency I have used to buy the four things that really matter: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
Yes. Realizing that even that kiss that melted my heart… only melted it because those four fairy godmothers waved their magic wands and turned my brain into a princess. But if my brain hits me with a really shitty exchange rate, if suddenly winning that Academy Award doesn’t matter, or belonging to the Television Academy doesn’t matter, or getting a part on a television show doesn’t matter and it only buys me a day’s ration of serotonin, then how the hell am I supposed to stock up for anything to look forward to?
That I can stand on the highest mountain and feel nothing but a desire to walk without a cane, is all I need to kick me in the ass and ask the most important question, how’s my exchange rate? What can I do to get more joy out of everything I’m presented with, big or small? How does anyone do that? I guess there begins one’s lifelong quest for whatever the hell I need to do to bring true value to the external pleasures of the world in the time I have left on this earth. Anything that promises – not pleasure – but perspective. There’s a good case to be made that those are the things that flood my brain with happiness because I opened a door by myself or stepped on a stair without holding on is all the evidence I need that “how I experience” is so much more important than “what I experience.” Goodbye, Steve and Ray. This post is for the two of you. I will always miss you. I will live life with you in my heart as best I can. After all, I now live where I always dreamed of living! Paris!
I don’t know who Sean Carter is on Facebook, but I thank him for getting this brain to think. It needs all the help it can get. Just some fillers that make me feel good.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
― Louise Erdrich (recipient of 2021 Pulitzer Prize).