Why is it that when the great ones are gone, only then can we see their greatness in its entirety? After they have left this physical plane we acknowledge their greatness. Not all of them, but so many masters, teachers, musicians, poets, storytellers, activists, etc. do their work by following their passions and when they are gone, for some reason we look at their work through a different lens. We may acknowledge their work while they are living, but what they leave behind sometimes becomes more powerful after their passing. Maybe the saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”, applies here as well. I just find it fascinating that from one day to the next our perception of the same thing can change when really the only thing that has changed, in this case, is that someone is gone. One would think that when a person moves on, the affect they have on humanity follows closely behind.
I noticed a similar situation with my dad and so yes, I am biased. I knew him as my dad, but now, through his writing, I know him as someone else. I was always amazed by his poetry, but to be honest, much of it did not make sense. Was I not paying attention or does it now carry a new form of energy? His writing sometimes felt ‘out there’ but only because of the topics he wrote about, which have to do with death. When someone is alive, writing about death seems odd to the reader, especially when that person is family. While he was alive, I saw his words in a different light and I really did not know where they were coming from. In other words, I did not know my dad completely and that brings up so much sadness in me. I would tell him I was proud of him for overcoming such incredible hurdles in his life. He did most of them alone, fueled by the passion he had for his family. He did all of it for us. He lived for us, yet so far away from us. There was a wall, an ocean of sadness in his soul, yet he somehow connected in certain moments with the universal life force and his words now are more prophetic than ever. He was able to see, feel, and connect with the truths of life and death in a way that had not spoken to me before in his writing. Possibly, the distance I felt between us was in fact the space in which he spent time. It was a space that he would sometimes visit; it was a space of life and death and while there, he was able to make sense of the world and get it down on paper or in his keyboard compositions. There is sadness to his words and music but now his words can make me cry; I cry knowing I did not appreciate him completely. If the words came from another author, they would not move me in such a way, but this was my father, one of the seeds from which I sprouted. His life force moves through mine and I am humbled by his ability to see what I think only those could see after passing to the other side. Yet, he was able to talk about death somehow while he was alive, on this side, in this physical plane. How is that possible? This is just one example of his prophetic poems.
Today I Joined The Landscape
Today I joined the landscape. I was no longer the center.
More like a mineral deposit than a magnet.
Sunbeams came and went and the roots were all in place.
I knew I belonged within this space.
At last I was free to study the rustling of leaves.
Aided by the buried roots and the sunstruck breeze,
I can finally verify that this rustling of leaves
Occurs without our permission.
Just for a moment, surrounded within and without,
All motion came to a halt that continued.
A chipmunk scurried among dry fallen leaves and green clover.
The wrens darted within the hedges.
Ants roamed freely through the bark shingles of the maple tree
And the tall, lanky sunflower in the corner politely acknowledged
My presence with a sweeping bow from the waist, a gesture made
Possible with a warm, gentle gust of wind from the southwest.
At last for a moment, the scale was in balance.
But then again, the scale has always been in balance.
And the scale will always be in balance. I alone can leave this
Landscape and lose my balance in the process.
Far too often I choose rusted metal rather than stone.
At times I prefer the scum to the essence. I’ll serve us better
If I spend the autumn season playing the sage
With my pen transplanting visions to a page.
May the sun speckled paths left by dizzy butterflies
Prepare me for the long winter which before me lies.