Joe Simpson of sound mind and body, has left these messages to be read in the wake of his passing
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“…it’s the end” – 'The End' by The Doors
For those who can hear this, please listen. God did grant me the ultimate understanding, the ultimate wisdom, the ultimate IS. I cannot share that with you now, even if I were speaking instead of writing from the past. I know where I’m going, and I have felt it already. I cannot show you how to follow me, as death is the wrong direction. What I can tell you is that heaven is not a place, it is not a destination, and it is not a goal. Heaven is, however, a feeling, an emotion, a final understanding of one individual word. If you strive to understand this word, if you work to catch it and learn what it means, you will find heaven long before you pass to a new existence.
Greets and Salutations
“Asking ‘what is the key to happiness,’ is perhaps the wrong question. It would be better phrased ‘what is happiness the key to?’” – Gespatcho Joe
Hello, my name is Joe Simpson. I’ve been blind since birth so I’ve only been able to use my ears to identify with things that most people enjoy seeing. For example; birds, I only know what they sound like; brooks babbling aimlessly down their paths, I can only feel the cool liquid flow through my fingers; the sexual learning curve…well I’m sure you get the idea.
Today is May 16, 2515. Not too long ago one of my friends told me that someone had found a cure for blindness. So I asked my doctor about it. He said that a process had been developed to stimulate the optic nerve via impulses to the genetic sequencing. This causes the nerve cells to re-enter a state of growth. Thus over a very short time the nerve itself is regenerated without any of the previous defects that may cause blindness. It would require surgery, and a few days rest to have total sight restored. I laughed and asked where the “X” on the insurance waiver was located so I could get it all going. I’m keeping this journal for the next few days, as I won’t be able to talk to my family until the risk of infection has passed. I’m now in pre-op, and the nurses are waiting patiently for me to put my pen down. Good night, see you (I hope) on the other side.
“…y’all can see me now ‘cause you don’t see with yo’ eye, you perceive with your mind.” – 'Clint Eastwood' by Gorillaz
It’s the middle of the night right now. Well, more to the point I assume that the phrase “See you in my morning” from the nursing staff would indicate a late night shift change. The sedatives must’ve worn off, but wow they sure left quite a headache. Haven’t had a pounding like this since I was a kid first learning to walk with my cane, and tripped over it on a nearly constant basis.
At that age I needed to toughen up a bit anyway, else the ‘rents weren’t going to let me out of the house. They had this notion that I wouldn’t be able to tell where the sidewalk started and the yard ended, only because I couldn’t see the difference. They would lament to no end “We don’t want you doing that until you can describe it to us. Otherwise you’ll hurt yourself.” So, when they were at work I’d move as much of the stuff in the house around as I could before making my way to the door for school. When I got home (before they did, else they’d move it all back) I’d walk around the house until I was good enough to navigate my way to the tree in the backyard, without tripping over the marbles and dice I’d throw on the porch first. They gave up on being quite so overprotective when they came home one day to find me sitting on a branch, in that very tree, just an arms length above where I could touch while standing on the ground. The giving up part came when I climbed down amidst their collective panic attack. I’m blind and maybe egregiously dumb, but I’m not inept. I miss that tree, the sounds it made in a breeze, the paradoxical irony of having a really rough and unforgiving trunk while the roots were smooth and gave me a sense of tranquility. My Dad told me before he died that he left something there for me to read when I was ready. I knew he had carved something, but it wasn’t until I was much older and had left before I finally got around to learning how to read by tracing the shape of a printed letter. To this day I still have no memory of what it may have said from how it felt. Heh, “The Writer’s Conundrum.”
I do remember, having a nightmare just before I woke up tonight. I’m not entirely sure what all was happening or why I’m dripping in sweat, but I can assure you it wasn’t good. Nightmares are different for those of us who have never had the opportunity to visualize what we fear most. It has been explained to me, by those with sight, that when sighted people dream of terror they are sometimes met with the visual representation of their fear embodied. Some have only the notion that an unseen fear is closely nipping at their naked soul as they run down darkened halls of the mind, twisting through the maze of unnamed horror. When the sighted shockingly jerk from slumber, even within the silence, they have but to open their eyes to find the safety of familiarity before them. I wish it were as easy to give some frame of reference for those of us who have never been able to wake up to quickly identifiable and familiar surroundings, midst the cacophony of silence that only night can bring.
When I sleep and dream of fear, it is not always the silence of oblivion stirred with pitch. On occasion I hear the sounds of pleasantries distorted to maligned ends. Sometimes a lovers voice is barely audible over the sound of unrelenting hatred. Is it aimed at me? Am I the object of such raw and direct negativity? My subconscious ears cannot distinguish between the declarations of love and hate. I cannot scream loud enough to drown the anguished cries of my mind. Nor can I find the loved ones I seek so desperately, needing so badly to ease their howls of pain. In the depth of darkness, I find myself hoping that I have not died; that the utterance of pain I hear is not the knock of death upon the door to Hell. When I do rise from my sleep, even the sound of one’s own breath cannot be fully trusted. For what would Hell be if it weren’t able to fill you with false hope?
Of course, there are those who would rather push the weight of their hopes and aspirations upon the shoulders of others, than step up to embrace the encumbrance of what they believe to be an Atlas like task of living life. It is life though those eyes that I fear awakening to. What must they see to allow them a belief, that they cannot or should not accept the responsibility of their own hope and vision, their actions and consequences, their sight? That the world is such that it visually fosters such ideas worries me, that my first visual images in life will be those of Hell on Earth.
The medical staff has just now finished midnight rounds. They were a little concerned that I was awake, as they had already administered my sedatives. I think they crossed something out and re-wrote it on my chart, probably upping my dosage to help me sleep. All this writing has indeed wore me out. I think I can fall back asleep until morning, not that it is that far away. I won’t notice dawn breaking, but sleep will be good.
I awoke to my first day of actual recovery just as breakfast was being served. I suppose one of the altruistic absolutes of the universe has to do with the consistent quality of what a hospital considers “food.” Apparently I’m in a ward with a few other patients as I can hear half vocalized responses to medical questions. I can hear the shuffle of people from one part of the ward to the other. I’m told how they separate those who are at a higher risk of infection from the rest of the patients. Until we are released to the general ward we aren’t allowed visitors except medical staff overseeing the recovery. What a lively bunch they are too. I can hear what must be a deadpan expression, in their voice. Just drones in the hive, another day of work, another patient number. I just don’t get it. I have read and have listened to every explanation of what it is like to have sight. Yet I have not heard once how it is that a person with sight can become bored. At least you can watch, the paint dry.
Make no mistake, I understand monotony and droll repetition. But what I cannot understand is how that what a person sees cannot inspire them newly each and every time they see it. Sounds are never exactly the same, their frequency can vary, their echo can change, their depth can move your soul and their intensity can move you physically. How can something so relied upon by so much of the world’s population not vary as much, as that which they take so much for granted? Of course there are ideas, concepts, beliefs and philosophies that I cannot understand, simply because I cannot see. Boredom is only scratching the surface. For example, what precisely is the difference between an “ugly” person and a “beautiful” one? Sure, one is more “aesthetically pleasing” than the other, but what does “aesthetic” mean to one who has no frame of reference for it?
A friend of mine and I were having a discussion on sound, along these similar lines. She insisted that the sound of a train screeching to a halt, heavy weighted steel and iron grinding upon each other nearly to the point of binding, but just breaking loose enough to utter the highest squealing pitch my ears can stand without bleeding. She’s deaf of course, and thus to her the vibration emitted by the friction of deteriorating steel is quite pleasant. She’s blind too, else I’d have questioned her on what frame of reference I could use to better understand the sighted. She’s published a bit on the subject already, being both deaf and blind, but I believe Helen trusts her sources far too much. Too ready to accept an experience through the filters someone else’s life has already built.
When someone tells me there isn’t anything to see, I ask if they are blind. When they respond with “no” then I quickly point out that there is plenty to see, they just don’t open their eyes enough. It’s a shame that the majority of people I say that to are left with confusion so apparent I can feel it in their voice. I honestly hope that when I view the world with new perception, I never find myself telling anyone that there is nothing to see or do.
For me, I think the initial and simplest things will be the hardest to overcome. What is blue, or what is red, and how do two colors make a third entirely different color? What is a rainbow beyond the scientific explanation of refracted light? What is light? I have a pretty good idea of what “dark” is, but how does one fathom the opposite of their entire life experience? That’s just for starters. What sorts of things will I have to learn, and will all of it be worth learning? Is color co-ordination really that necessary for me to comprehend, or that deemed as “fashion?” Is it possible however, that those things will give me as an exhilarating a feeling as seeing the skyline of a large city, or the view of the Earth from space?
Will I even know what I’m looking at without being told first? I have many questions about the rationale that I will know what I’m looking at when I look at it. I have listened many times to descriptions of things like trees, cities, lakes, vehicles, or women. However I still don’t know what they look like. Feeling something in order to identify it only goes so far for understanding another’s frame of reference. After all, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini may not look anything alike, but they sure feel alike. They sound different, but in a mix of other cars, how does one distinguish? The simple truth is that I cannot, which also causes me to wonder if I even should. As it stands someone could describe what a tree visually looks like until they have exhausted Webster’s vocabulary, but when I see one will I be able to know what it is, or what type it is, if no one told me when I saw it?
What of my family too? I know if I feel my wife’s skin, smell her scent, hear her voice, or am touched by her I’ll know her. Will I know her when I see her? We talk little about what she looks like, what color her hair is or how she wears her makeup. None of those things matter to me. How should I react to seeing her for the first time, and will my perception of her change by how she looks?
I asked the nurse to see if she can bring in a picture of my family so they can be the first image burned into my eagerly awaiting memory. She said she’d see what she can do, but made no guarantees. Even though it would be passed any “critical” stages in my recovery, they don’t want me to get over stimulated. I pointed out that I’ll be over stimulated with a glow stick and a dead pinecone from the parking lot, but that I’d rather it be from looking at that which I hold dearest. If visual memories dissipate slower than non-visual ones (as many with sight have attempted to lead me to believe), I’ll have the memory of seeing them for the first time for as long as I live.
I am only able to write in moments of awakening, it exhausts me to do much else. I’m continually surprised with the amount of effort the body must go through to heal itself. One final thought before I put down my digi-pad… if the body heals so slow with such effort, what does it take to heal an entire populace? Providing they want to heal in the first place.
Conscription of Consciousness
“What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time, were nothing but to waste night, day, and time. Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief.”- 'Hamlet, Act II Scene II' – by Shakespeare
I slept well last night. If that is indeed the timeframe when I slept the longest. I asked the nurse what time it was when she woke me to eat. “About 10 or so,” was all I could get before she shuffled off to handle some one else’s meal. Makes for an interesting concept, day and night. I could be completely nocturnal and not know it unless someone was polite enough to point it out. I can get food delivered at home at any hour, I can speak to anyone I choose via my computer any time I choose to turn it on. I have my family to keep me on some sort of schedule, but as often as they are in and out of the house it is difficult to tell. I remember not long ago crossing paths with my wife and saying “Good morning dear!” I was bright and felt like I had just woken up to a new day, and I could hear the stress of a long day at work when she replied that it was not any time close to morning. Indeed it had been much closer to early evening.
It’s amazing to me how one can become so socially dependant. Or more to the point, how one must rely so much on the views, operations, functions, and rules of society in order to function in what they believe is some preconceived notion of “normalcy.” People question what I do to contrast day and night, and I’m usually quick to say “my watch.” However with a deeper thought out response, perhaps I should say “is there a difference?” In my world as it stands, there is none. I have neither night nor day, dawn nor dusk, daybreak nor sunset. In fact when I wake up before anyone else, or after all have departed to their destinations, I feel the most fear. Unless I can make out some audible sound, it would be not a difficult argument for me to say I may not be alive. Then a quick whistle departs my lips, and I know I am here to enjoy yet another day with my family.
One of the other wards asked a nurse about the source of whistling every day. Since then I was asked by the staff not to do it, but I do anyway. After setting the expectation for it to occur, why would I change that which I enjoy?
Now there’s a thought. I enjoy being who I am, with my wife, my family, my life. Why do I want to change that which I have grown accustom to? Why all the fuss just for some extraneous (according to some) data that I don’t have access to as it stands? Well because I feel, no I fear, I may be missing something important. The more I miss it, the more anxious I get about missing it.
I can sit in the stands at my son’s baseball game, my wife beside me, friends all around. When he is at bat they tell me, and I know it to be true. I know my son, so I know the effort he puts into all he does, but I cannot see the look of determination. I can only guess at it. I can hear the first pitch, I can hear the bat move and the ball hit the catcher’s mitt with enough force that there is a barely audible “oof” from the Catcher. I can hear the Ump shout “Steeerike!” The pitcher gets the ball, and my wife stands and shouts “Hit it so Dad can HEAR it Johnny!” I can feel the instant tension as the ball travels from the Pitcher to its destination. I hear the sound that only wood against leather, or lightning in a storm can make as the “Crraaack” of the bat hitting the ball echoes in the park. But I must wait an extra long moment to find out if it is in the air to be caught, fouled, or out of the park. That is what I am missing, that is why I must change.
However, I am no naïve child either. I am all too aware that everything must come at a price. What else is out there in a world of those who’re nearly all dependent upon sight? I’m sure there are other things I will love to see. I am also sure there are things I will wish I had not, but I do not know yet what those might be; and that is one of my fears. A rose smells sweet and sensual, though if you grip the rose by the stalk to get an even deeper waft of scent, you will contend with many pointed and hardened barbs, itching to tear your skin from your hand. Will it be as sweet to my eyes as it is to my nose, or will the sight of it cause me pain and discomfort as the thorns do when they dig upon my flesh? I hear that roses tend to be quite beautiful, but I hear many things that I have difficulty believing.
What is beautiful to a sighted person anyway? Beautiful to me is something that when heard, sends a chill of inspiration down my spine, or something that when felt sends a stirring to my heart or loins. Though I am sure the reaction can be the same, is the depth its equal as well? What is it like to be so full of the sight of something that a person can be almost addicted to the pleasure that it sends to the mind?
Standing in a park with friends, one leans down to his son and says “Joseph, look at that Eagle. How majestic, how beautiful, don’t you agree?” Whereas I lean down to my boy and say, “Son, do you see the Eagle I hear? Close your eyes… now listen to it. Feel the sound of the Eagle’s song, listen to the beating of the wings. So much effort can be heard in each beat of the wings, and yet so seamless in rhythmic motion to produce flight. Can you hear the talons click as it bides time to hunt its prey? Smell the air and imagine what it must be like from up there, looking down here. How different it must be, not better, not worse, but vastly different.” As with most children the response I get is usually “uhh… sure Dad, whatever you say.” But, a quick light brush of my fingertips down his cheeks and corners of his eye tells me he really did listen. What a change in perspective that would be. If you had the chance to fly, would you? Even if the price was that of the Eagle, where a poor attempt at mating meant instant death instead of the human “maybe I’ll call later?”
We as a species tend to view life as what it is for other beings around us, instead of what we view in our own perspective, or how other beings view us. This is true even within the boundaries of human existence. If this weren’t the case, how could we then account for war after war after war. None of them resolved anything but the exploitation of resources previously thought to be “owned” by the humans residing in that local. The worst part of all is not all these resources are tangible. How will sight affect; which resources I value at an internal level? Will I value beauty over logic, or tangible science over intangible faith? Or will I attempt to value all things equally, in order to find balance internally. Somehow I don’t expect that the addition of sight will be so significant so as to cause these sorts of drastic changes to my core being. On the other hand, I’ve never been sighted either.
A Zen parable says that change can only start from within, soon it spreads to one person, then four, then an entire village has changed to this new idea or philosophy. However, this will never happen until the person who values the ideals in question changes him/her self in the beginning. I like to consider this “leading by example.” Although, there is something to be said for the blind leading the blind; at least in this case it is the physically blind leading those blind to compassion and equality.
I believe we define our existence via comparison with our surroundings. What we perceive is compared with what we believe to be true, be it actually true or not. Our understanding of life is done by contrast with the absence of life, understanding happiness by contrasting with the absence of happiness, love by its absence as well. How will this new contrast affect how I perceive the world around me, by going in reverse? The absence of these ideas and human constructs such as beauty, and aesthetics I believe will only lend itself to distraction rather than peaceful progression of a species. It’s a big world out there, or so I understand anyway. Although what I find most interesting is that it doesn’t matter to me if I am in Bangkok, New York, London, Johannesburg, or Los Angeles; it all looks the same to me. Sure I get treated differently depending on where I am. To expect anything else would not only be naïve, but offensive and absurd. Each culture has it’s own rules, guidelines etc. Why would one expect to be treated as if they were in their own country, when they are most decidedly not?
As an ancient piece of advice used to say, “when in Rome, act as a Roman.” At the time, it had more to do with survival or preventing the soldiers from identifying you as a foreigner. However there is significant good advice here. In a Muslim home during the proper time, observe Ramadan; in a Jewish house observe Passover; in a Christian home celebrate Easter; in an Indonesian home observe the festival of Shiva; and even a Pagan home when the time is appropriate to celebrate Harvest or Spring do so with vigor! I was invited, I accepted knowing the differences, so why should I impose my perspective or contrasts upon those who do not see the world through my ears? If I was there without invitation and of my own accord, why would I assume anything outside my “comfort rut” to be malign in nature? Because I disagree or feel “I’m right, therefore if it is “different” it must be wrong and/or evil?”
This is a poor excuse for tyranny of the worst sort. Especially given that the tenants of nearly every religion on the planet, even the extremists of those religions, have rules stating that another human should be treated with respect until given reason not to do so. Where we came up with “right vs. wrong” or, “this sect of that religion will be in damnation according to some other religion.” Is there such a difference between being sighted and blind so as to allow me the cognitive logic that prevents such prejudice? It is in my heart of hearts that I hope this is not the case. For if it is, regardless of what steps are taken now, or ever, our species is doomed in the most final sense of the word.
Of course, thus speaks the hypocrite. For as often as I condemn Humankind to failure though the perception of my ears, touch and smell, there’s no telling how that will change when I have that which I do not have. Am I wrong for living upon the soapbox of cultural equality, or just equality in general? “Possibly” is the answer, and “quite likely” is the fact. Will I continue to live here, on my only slightly less than high horse, denouncing the masses as sheep in a herd who are either unwilling or unable to view the world around them with any other viewpoint than the butt of the sheep in front of them? Undoubtedly, as I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else; and without at least attempting to be an independent thinker I don’t know that my wife would let me sleep at home.
My wife, the scent and touch of what I believe beauty must embody. She is a creature of the simplest and straightforward variety and still has time to be complex and logically puzzling. I believe she was born of God’s own inspiration, as without her being sent to me I would surely be lost.
Well, the nurses have told me to go to sleep and get some rest before tomorrow’s events. My favorite nurse assured me that the picture of my wife and our son is sitting right next to me on a table; so that way when I finally wake up with vision they will indeed be the first thing I see, as opposed to the glow stick and dead pinecone idea. I’m so anxious for tomorrow to be over so I can live in a new world. My wife has already returned to the giddy excitement of an inexperienced schoolgirl; and my son, my boy, my source of heroic inspiration and pride… what wonders we will share in this new and inexplicable world.
Flying, Without a World to Land On
“Why start to worry about the hands of fate, when right before your eyes it becomes too late? I’ve learned to ignore them when they bring me down; I won’t let vicious people fool around. It’s my turn… I’ve had time to learn… It’s my turn.” – DJ Judge Jules – Ministry of Sound, Clubber’s Guide to Ibiza, Summer 2000
Today’s the day; there is no turning back. Not that there was a point of no return after the papers were signed to begin with, but the finality of it all is really starting to sink into my chest and shoulders. I’m frightened. No that’s not quite the right word; I’d say terrified would be more accurate. What awaits me? What is the unknown, and why should I fear it? Ok, I just need to relax, take a deep breath and relax. It’s comically ironic to some degree. While being scared out of my wits, I feel like a child on Christmas morning. So very eager and impatient that I need to feel out each present first to see how many there are, and then how big they are. It goes without explanation that I never had the opportunity to do any sneak peeking on what Mom and Dad got me.
Well, it figures. The doctors just let me know that while they’ll be removing the bandages today or tonight, I won’t have full sight until the morning. Apparently this is due to the sedative they’ll give me, so as to prevent damage to my eyes from the light. At this point, I’d settle for any light considering I’ve never known what that is like to begin with. However, if it means seeing my family against the colors cast into my room by the rising sun… all the better.
I overheard some bickering between the docs and my favorite nurse about somebody’s chart while they were leaving my little area. Some poor bastard had his insurance coverage revoked on the medications he needed because his plan had changed without him being informed. I guess the nurse wanted to give him the meds anyway, but the doctor was pretty insistent that he only get what the insurance covered. Something about being “blacklisted” by the insurance company and the medical group they are both employed by. I hope the patient at least gets his life’s questions answered before they do anything to him. God, please, let that man find total peace, solace and tranquility when he is through whatever he’s going through. May You let his family find strength and love to carry them now, and if it is his time, when he joins You.
It is only the occasional doctor that actually is in the profession because he or she cares and has a drive to help people; while the rest are just in it for the money and have a nice malpractice insurance plan, complete with those federally enforced caps on malpractice suits that leave just enough for a cremation, and nowhere near enough for a burial. I was pretty lucky in that I have known my doctor for years and have complete faith in him. It’s the on-call doctors that seem to always see dollar signs with tubes and beeps instead of people, lives and families. I know my doc will be there when I wake up, but it’s one of these jerks that’s taking off the bandages.
Soon I will get something I’ve wished for all my life. In a way it is like that ancient Greek parable about a man who was chained to a floor, just out of reach from some of the most elegant and wonderfully odiferous foods and wines while he died of starvation. His only goal, his only dream was to get that which was just beyond his grasp. This has yet an even greater sense of magnitude, given I’ve grappled with it my entire life and not just the end of it.
Even if he knew the food was poisoned, I bet he’d gorge into excess if he could’ve broken free. Not caring if he died, as he finally attained his ultimate goal. I’d be right there too if I didn’t have my family to think about.
Well the doc is here now, he is having the nurse dim the lights so they don’t glare on my eyelids and damage my new eyeballs. With each strand of each bandage pulling away from my head I can feel my heart picking up pace. Every turn of the flaxen roll increases my muted tension. If an infant has conscious thought upon birth, it must be similar to this. Going from familiar dark and sightless comfort, into a new and potentially horrific world millimeter-by-millimeter, heartbeat by heartbeat. Though I suppose the infant wouldn’t be sweating like a timid child actor the first time on stage, in front of an immense crowd.
Down to just the thick gauze pads on my eyes, and my heart feels as if it has already left my chest in a brave attempt to burst upon us all. My chest strains to contain the life beating muscle in its place, if only to succeed for just one second longer, and then one more, and another. I try to control my anxiety, but it is of little use and both I and the medical staff know it. I can hear the doctor mumble, “…so go get what I told you, I don’t care, just do it and give it to him so he’ll go to sleep…” I can feel the IV wiggle a bit as a soft feeling of warmth slows down my breathing and allows me to relax. “I’m turning off all the lights, but the window shade above your head is open.” I suppose he meant, in his stoic definition of bedside manner, that the only light I’m going to get right now is from the stars shining in behind my head. I heard the door shut abruptly, and I waited, and waited and waited. Sighties have an expression “caught like a deer in the headlights.” I’m not entirely sure what that must be like, but I can tell you I’m a deer caught like a blind guy in the eyesight.” So, time to overcome this fear before I pass out from the sedative… and before I start to get irritated by the itching I’m starting to get all over.
Slowly I raise my eyelids, just a squinch at a time. Well, shit. I don’t see anything but what I have already seen. Oh well, at least I really did give the best try at this that… wait, something’s getting very different. I can feel the chills down my spine, and rubbing my arms aren’t making the goose bumps go away. All I know is that I don’t see anything, but I don’t… what, what is happening? This itching on my back and neck is really starting to bug me and the weight of my eyelids is multiplying, so I hope my eyes hurry up and do the whole sightie thing!!
The nothing, the nothing isn’t nothing any longer, I blink and it gets less nothing. It’s like what Helen was talking about, except different entirely. When the train is beyond the range of ears, only the faintest vibration in the train track can be felt. Then as it gets closer the vibration doesn’t just get stronger or louder, it changes in the way you feel it in your heart. Helen can’t exactly hear it, nor can she see it, but by God she knows about how far away it is by the way it… moves her (she says). It’s all a mater of perception, and my perception is going through about as big a paradigm shift as it gets.
The bigger the change I feel, the larger the terror of the unknown. God, I really wish my family could be here. I’m so incredibly scared and unable to hide from my chosen consequences. Oh God! What was that?! A twist of something beyond my reach! AM I CHAINED?! Is this MY floor of personal torture?! Dear God, please help me… what… what is that? Ok, Joe… cool it down. You are in a hospital, you are safe, you will see your family soon in more ways than you have ever dreamed or imagined. A sharp “tap tap” from the window behind and above my head about scares the shit out of me… no, wait, it did. Good thing I’m in a hospital. Sounds like a bird though, probably was. If I could actually see something more than…err I can see what my hand feels like on my face. I can see the lines I feel when I touch my cheeks or nose. I’m getting a bit sick to my stomach and woozy, probably from the sedative. Damn this itch. Ok, lets get these peepers pointed where they need to be. The nurse said the frame would be on the table next to me on the right. She had conveyed a message from my wife, that the frame was the “Hawaiian” frame they had won at a Bingo parlor once. I knew this frame by the feel, so had an idea what the shape might be like. Straight and textured side edges, the top was shaped and textured to imitate what my wife called “a smooth pineapple.” Not sure how she can make that comparison, considering I know how smooth the frame is and how decidedly not smooth a pineapple is. She had said it was the color brown, and had black stripes to give definition in some places. Ok, at least I know what to look for. Heh, that’s a lark, me thinking about what to “look” for. I’m almost a sightie already.
I can see a shape in my non-nothing-ness. I can almost grasp that frame… if I stretch just a little… a little more… errrg almost there, I know it. I can just touch something with a corner on the table next to me, but the rails and IV are holding me back from it. Ok, deep breath and on 3… one… two… YEEaaaaaahoowwww!!! Shit, Shit, Shit! My IV popped off my arm, but I do indeed now have my family where I can and will see them shortly. I think I can twist this back onto the stint in my arm. After all, I do everything else blind, why not? Good enough, and I’m really fighting ropes and anchors of unconsciousness pulling me away from now, later than here.
I can see the edges… I CAN SEE THE EDGES!! I can see the sheets… the sheets… they, they… hospitals have white sheets, I SEE WHITE SHEETS!!! Oh God, the more I see the happier and more frightened I become! I must see my family, I must. If I have to give it all up, I have to just see … I … sleep… wait, must… see… I can… my family… she’s so… the sight of her, and Johnny. That must be Johnny, my boy is even more inspiring than I had ever imagined. I now know, I know why sight can make you cry. One of my questions answered. I can’t breath from this overwhelming feeling of all that is, all the everything! Oh God, how do I explain this, this amazing, thrilling yet fulfilling image before me. The more I memorize this moment, this time, this place in eternity the more full of serenity I become. With even this paper family looking at me is enough to take all my fear as if I’ve never feared anything, ever. I love them as I always have, but now I feel that the sight of them has shown and taught me more about understanding, more about beauty, more about tranquility, more about love than I had ever dreamed or imagined possible in life; even if it’s only ever this picture for all eternity that I get to taste, as sometimes just a little taste is all a person needs to feel, to fully understand what beauty, love, tranquility, serenity and total enlightenment exists as.
Buddha’s Got Company
“Now renegades are the people with their own philosophy. They change the course of history; everyday people like you and me. We’re the renegades; we’re the people, with our own philosophy. We change the course of history, everyday people like you and me… We’re the Renegades of Funk.” – 'Renegades of Funk' by Rage Against the Machine
Now I am content, I am tired, I can still see their faces when I close my eyes, and I can dream of them while I sleep, calmly hugging my son around the shoulders on one side and kissing my wife’s gentle lips on the other. If heaven exists, God, you could not make it any more complete or glorious than this, right now, right here, with my family and their truest, purist love.
Joe was quite right, you know.
Joe Simpson died that night, having only seen the picture of his family next to his bed before the sedatives stopped his heart from contracting and pumping blood. He found and understood the true meaning of beauty and love; and his heart never stopped beating.
That which is something most of us search all our life trying to find, and never quite seem to catch up with. Heaven wasn’t any more complete than that very moment when he fully understood what love and all those other fancy words really mean. We as humans, must think of the things that cause our hearts to leap and skip when we see them; an intimate partner or spouse, a child running free with only the innocence they were born with and only the joy that innocence can give, looking into the eyes of a dear friend and telling them how much they really do mean to you. After all is said and done, this is a once in a lifetime event, something that should not be passed up for material greed, or pride, or politics, or any other excuse that humanity invents to distract us from the core of who we are. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, who are we to compare and contrast?
To my Family:
Johnny, son, you have made me proud in all that you do, all that you are, and all that you will ever become. I will always be the rhythm in the sound of the eagles’ wings that lift you in times of need, and will always tug your heart in the direction you already know to trek toward. There is nothing you could’ve done to prevent this; there is nothing you should ever feel guilty for when you think of me. We argued when we were frustrated, we played when we were able, we worked together when we had work to do and we loved no matter what we did. All the memories I have of you will always be complete whether or not this eye thing worked out. I’ve known no greater or satisfying love than all I’m given from you and your mother. I know if I ever get the call to leave these mortal coils, you and your mother will always give me the love I need to live. Even if I can only live in your heart, I’m even closer to you than I have ever been before and that much happier because of it.
Honey, you are the angel that pulled me from the depths below into the shining light of your love. I would willingly give all my dreams away in payment for the love you give me. If anything happens, please understand that this was not only my decision, but that I had already decided before you gave me your approval to go ahead with the surgery. This event, this point in our lives, this of the infinite possibilities in life or death was not even remotely controlled or affected by any decision you could’ve made or changed. Please do not bury guilt or feelings of “if I only…” in your heart. Instead bury them with me, and I will take them away to be replaced only by love, faith, and the knowledge that I will always be standing just over your shoulder to help you when you ask. Even if you don’t speak, I will hear you and from where I am, I can see your soul. What I see is so bright, so loving, so strong. You are indeed an angel, Angela. You have always been the blessing, while those of us who know you are the blessed. Johnny will need you more than ever. Greave, by all means cry loud and long in any way you need to express your pain. Just remember, that the pain will lessen and one day, end; and I’ll actually see you, then. Be sure to remember, you were the one who gave me strength in life; if you look for it, I’ll give you the strength now… all you will ever need, and even more than you will ever want. I love you both.
Fare thee well, God speed, God bless, put your hands in your armpits and squeeze my hug goodbye.
"Why imagine that to look is to see?" - Pablo Picasso
"All computers are garbage. They only contain answers." ~ Pablo Picasso