Having children, having angst

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Tao Te Ching

We see him sitting on the back stairs or hanging over the railing with either a cigarette or a "forty" in his hand. His body emancipated, eyes protruding and his sockets are sunken into his skull like craters on the moon. The large house in which he now resides hosts twenty single rooms, a shared kitchen and a few shared privies. It lies at the edge of a small shopping center looming large as a Steamboat lodged on a sandbar just twenty paces from the alcohol store operated by a jovial man from India. It all seems surreal. This house was the place that I warned him about when he was a boy. Jokingly I would tell him and his younger brother that we should go uptown and trace out a spot so that they would know where to stand when they behaved errant. I would point to the wretched refuse as a deterrent. This is not, I told them, where you want to be.

He lives there now. 

Heroin was the train, pleasure the conductor. I never believed that he would have his ticket punched. There was enough evidence that the train was one way and that the road back was longer than most could endure. I believed that if the time ever arose he would up and walk away.

He did not.

His mother was recently hospitalized for the umpteenth time for cutting herself, carving deep wounds under each breast. And now his brother, younger by two years lost his job after a depressive breakdown. He spent time in the same hospital where his mother was two weeks earlier and spoke with many of the same people that she did during her stay.


Like most fathers I want my children to do better than I did. More happiness, security. Asking myself, "but what does that mean?" I arrive at no conclusion. I've heard it said that chemical imbalances are fictional. But family trees are not. This family tree, my family tree, has produced the fruits of depression and all the associated tag lines. Alcoholism, hospitalization, addiction, in all it's myriad forms.

It creates in me an itch of angst that is hard to locate and tough to scratch. I seek ways to escape it and I seek ways to let it be. The feelings that this produces weighs down the smile, the bounce in the step and it drags me away from the now;

Past/future - future/past. It offers nothing, it takes everything. I look about for easy sailing. Respite. A blessing. Instead I hear the hermit calling.  And retreat is at times the proper course. It is not to be confused with flight. Know when to hold, know when to fold them. Press forward, pull back, Wu Wei.

A friend with her two small children came by today. While I played with the little girls she said, "You want them?" I told her, "No way! Have you seen my brood." With a laugh she said, "Hey. They're all alive and kicking. Like mine. If they're breathing then I've done alright."



Quinn said…