Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Addendum to "A few things I found..."

This morning when I got in to work I told the coworker who had told me about the person who had left things behind yesterday that I had found a lot of that person's stuff in the dumpster and what I had taken home. The coworker assumed that the landowners had taken the vacating renters' stuff and put it in the dumpster, and was understandably upset. But I didn't think that's what happened, that is, I still thought it was the person who left their own stuff in the dumpster, and went on with my day until I overheard a little snippet of conversation that was related to the one I'd had earlier.

The same coworker I talked with at the beginning of the day had just found out the person who left all their stuff behind had committed suicide, last night or very early this morning. A few hours later I found out one of the people who runs a business next to the bakery was a friend of the deceased and that the deceased had killed themselves by drowning in a nearby river, and that the deceased has family in the area. I also found out that the person who drown had been having a hard time for a very long time and had "been more functional in the past eight months" than the friend had ever seen them, partly due to being housemates with a caring mutual friend.

It's a shock, of course. I feel strangely connected to this person I met for maybe five minutes ten days ago, because I've handled and now have some of their stuff. But that was true yesterday. Now it's stranger because that person will never use these items again, not only because they left them behind but because they are no longer a part of the corporeal world.

It never entered my mind that leaving those items behind was one of the last things the person would do before they left this world. I thought it was more on a continuum of bipolar manic behavior that would eventually swing back the other way. I just didn't see it coming. I think it takes experience as well as intuition to see the possibility of suicide in other people, and although I've got gobbs of intuition, I have, mercifully, very little experience with suicides. So I think I need to forgive myself for not being able to anticipate what came after the person left their things behind, what came after they drove off in their car, what came after they went down to the river. 

Once again, as I wrote yesterday, this time to say good bye -

I love you.
I'm sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A few things I found in the garbage at work today.

So today I'm doing the usual end of the day stuff at work- taking the garbage, recycling and compost out to their respective dumpsters. I do the recycling first, then lift the lid of the garbage bin and see a couple of six foot long lengths of magenta colored fiber board just covering a pile (maybe 20) of books, a big area rug, a portable massage table, a couple of sweaters and a pair of muck boots and six more smaller lengths of fiber board, and other misc. items. I start looking at the books and grab Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems and the Dalai Lama's Ethics for the New Millenium and the Anatomy Coloring Book, by Wynn Kapit and Lawrence M. Elson. I also take the fiber boards, which I realize is probably the bookcase that held all these books, the massage table, and the area rug, plus a few other small items. 

Usually I just find garbage (relatively neatly tucked away in clear plastic bags) and maybe the odd piece of styrofoam or something else that isn't recyclable and doesn't belong in the compost either. So this was an unusual situation. When I came into work today I heard a story about someone who had just started renting a room in one of the buildings the bakery shares with other businesses. Apparently something happened to this person very early in the day, something that precipitated them being asked to vacate their rental agreement, and (I don't know if this was before or after they were asked to leave) they left all their stuff in the dumpster. 

All I know is what I heard and then what I found in the dumpster. Something happened to make this person decide to leave all these things behind, and in a big hurry. I am not going to venture a guess...I'm just gonna say I've seen this kind of behavior before, and, in this context, it is not a good sign. I doubt I can do anything to help the person who left their belongings behind. But perhaps I can make a difference WITH what they left behind.

I could see, almost as soon as I hauled it out of the dumpster, taking the massage table to a clinic nearby and the leaving it on their porch with a "free" sign on it. I did this on my way home from work. Tomorrow I'm going to launder the area rug, as it's dusty and kind of moldy smelling, but I think otherwise it's in good shape. I don't know if I'm going to re-assemble the bookcase or not. The color is fabulous, but I may have let that cloud my thinking. It's kind of beat up. I don't know if it's something the ReStore will want or not. I'll ask. I'm going to keep the three books I took.

Not too long after I got home tonight I opened up the Mary Oliver book and found an inscription:

To , For your lyrical and compassionate essay on disabilities. (And for our conversation afterwards, p. 110, line 1).

Page 110 is the poem "Wild Geese", and this is line 1: You do not have to be good.

Sometime in the past year my therapist shared this poem with me. He read it to me during a session and then some weeks later I got a photocopy in the mail. Until recently I had it taped to my computer monitor (I recently got a new LCD monitor and I'm enjoying it's uncluttered vastness too much to tape anything to it, at present). So as soon as I turned to page 110 and saw the title I knew what I'd be reading. Here's the whole poem:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

As it turns out I needed to read this poem today. I needed a bit of divine intervention, and I am lucky to have received it.

To ,

I love you.
I'm sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.