We hadn’t spoken much since college. Close friends in those days when carefree mixed with the looming reality of a world waiting for citizens who thought beyond guitars and beach bars and life’s cadence being a force of the gulf tides.
We found each other through the web waves. There was the thrill of connection followed by the soundbites of a history twenty-five years in the making. He spoke of the “missing years,” sometime between our undergrad days and about a decade ago. My friend struggled to describe how his mind kind of left him. While those around us had experienced bodily demons of their own, his attacked his mind. Left him “different.” It cost him a job or two; it carried with it an addiction or two; it stole much of his normal existence.
Meantime, he found the only thing that added clarity to an otherwise obscure and chaotic world. His art. Its form in painting and song and lyric. He shared a bit with me. I listened and wept. I viewed in awe.
I didn’t see a man who had lost a thing. I saw a man who might have just found what few of us do in this marching ant existence. While we try so hard to define reality through science or religion or laws and codes…this man just allowed his reality to define itself. Honestly. He had no choice but to surrender. It found him. The drugs were a chemical warfare on something so natural. No more.
Today my friend is a tradesman instead of an architect. His days require his hands and tools more than math and angles and physics. His nights and weekends open to his mind and his craft. He tells stories of his kind–those misunderstood tribes of beautiful people who might be a little different from the rest of us. These people who are stereotyped as “ill” instead of “blessed” with a different point of view. Our messages were anchored with a phone call. In his voice I heard peace. I sensed a depth of understanding of life and his unique place in it. I found myself a bit envious that through his battles he might have just discovered a better place without having to leave this one. Your mind, my friend, is art itself. Your place here has made me a better person.
Thank you for allowing me in your “stained glass rooms.”
On the road to safe
I kinda tripped along the way
It just seemed like a nasty hassle
The path was greener on the one less traveled
That’s where I remained
People so high they think
I can’t hear the whispers
I can see it falling off their face
Their trying to shoot down my plane of grace
It seems like it’s already hard enough
So tell me what it is about me
Where did everybody go without me
So, I like to fantasize
And watch the sunrise like it’s a big surprise
Life moves and I stopped to taste it
I drank it up till it left me wasted
But my rains have bled
A softer red
Oh you should see the world inside my head
I feel better when I paint my days
With purple seas
And left out grays
Strange is just a different point of view
— Sister Hazel