Darkening Hues

It had been no ordinary storm. The sea far beneath is no longer an ordinary sea. No longer familiar. And feathers are gone or frayed. Each stroke is laborious.

But the sky is a new apologetic hue. And the low sun still extends warmth. The line between sky and sea curves slightly. The thinner air hisses slightly across torn tail feathers.

Even at this height, the island is nowhere to be seen. There are only simple features of sea, sky and sun. And there are memories. Very recent yet oddly anachronistic memories of ordinary days of foraging, of defending territory, and of grooming family. Memories that encourage fatiguing wings.

The busy life of yesterday, as salient as it is, seems an unnatural and distant fabrication, an imposition on the simplicity and immediacy of the minimal blues and golds and oranges as the sun prepares to descend into the sea. Yet these images of yesterday counter the cooling air as hopeful embers warming weakened wings.

But fatigue ultimately wipes the mind of yesterday. Yesterday is gently yet firmly replaced by immediate sensations, sensations that will become yesterday when…if tomorrow comes. Sensations that remind one of who they are. Even with tired wings, each downstroke is a declaration of an essence. Was it not an essence worth living?

Could there have been another essence lived? Could you not abandon…betray your essence? Could you not simply dive into an aquatic essence? Is the medium of air of truly higher value than the alluring blue of a dense ocean? Are its perceived dangers merely perceived? Do sky and sea not eventually blend into some pleasant new existence? Are those last rays of the sun a doorway into something vaguely immortal?

Unique and unsettling questions inhabit the dusk. But as long as there are questions there is existence, the existence of an essence to be pounded out by wings, if one has wings, against the air.

But as the blues of sky and sea and hope darken, so also do questions. Sky and sea become one. And what matters simplifies. The hiss of air through weathered tail feathers used to matter. Now it is only a vague sensation.

On Suicide

The thing about saying anything less than negative about suicide is that your audience will try to blame the position on the fact you’re feeling suicidal, a position they are certain you would not hold if things were going well.

So the best time for me to write on this topic is now, at a time that I’m feeling quite positive.

Suicide. I tend to believe that a good number of suicides, perhaps a majority, were attempted while the individual was short-sighted. Life most certainly has a way of evolving out of a bad spot into something quite amazing.

I was suicidal after my divorce 2 decades ago. A depression held me in its grip for more than 2 years. The pain of the divorce kept me in a dark, but very introspective4 and creative mode. As I slowly emerged from the darkness and looked around me, I realized that life can morph into hundreds of different and brighter forms. I’m so very glad I did not end my life at that time.

However, this is not always possible for everyone at every time. There are situations that allow little hope for future happiness. This is seldom the end of a relationship. It more often occurs when a sickness or disease makes life unbearable due to the physical or emotional pain.

Age is also a factor. Each year I feel more and more satisfied I’ve lived life. There are still many things I intend to do, but I don’t think anyone can say Phil did not live a very full life. So, if I found myself experiencing excruciating pain with no hope of relief, I’d have no problem considering suicide as an option.

While acute and relentless physical pain may be a common legitimate reason to contemplate suicide, I think there are very few cases in which emotional pain would warrant suicide. Admittedly I base this on the fact that I came out of, what I considered to be, an extremely painful depression after my divorce. There may be degrees of depression I have not experienced, or situations in which the emotional pain does not subside. But I tend to doubt it. I don’t think I’ll ever again think about suicide simply due to emotional pain.

The following are the factors I think everyone suffering physical pain should carefully weigh before considering suicide.

The severity of your pain.
The hope of recovery.
Your potential productivity in spite of the pain, giving special consideration to the degree that you can help others.
The degree to which you have already had a great life.
Those negatively affected by your death.

The factors you should not consider include the following.

What others think is the “moral” decision for you to make.
The way your death will be a way to “get back at” or “take revenge on” anyone.

I would suggest that, in most cases, consulting those you love is a good idea. And you definitely do not want to leave anyone you love uninformed about your reasons, leading to them blaming themselves in some way. But ultimately, it is your life to end. If you have family members who would rather see you in immense pain than to have you missing from their overly-dependent lives, don’t feel guilty about deciding what is right for you…and probably also best for them.

Well, that was a bit too somber. Time to get back to living!

Good News for Apologists

Breaking News

In what Biblical scholars are calling the greatest doctrinal breakthrough in over three millennium, close associates of Jehovah have revealed that, what started as a simple prank, led to theologians writing hundreds of millions of pages of unnecessary convoluted arguments. It was Thor who, in an exclusive interview with Larry King, revealed that he, along with Aphrodite, managed to gain access to Jehovah’s iPhone while the Almighty was expressing to William Lane Craig the immense anguish braved by the Israelite soldiers whom He commanded to slaughter infants.

The divine pranksters altered the auto-correct feature on Jehovah’s iPhone to have some words automatically replaced with their opposites at the dawn of creation, leading to a hilarious three millennia of awkward apologetics. The inverted terms included the following.

“Hate” was changed to “Love”.
“Unjust” was changed to “Just”.
“Impatient” was changed to “Patient”.

The revelation of these changes definitively resolves the bewilderment theologians perennially experienced while attempting to reconcile the behavior of Jehovah with claims about his character. Thor and Aphrodite giggled for ages while apologists anguished over the notion of a god who becomes so wrathful over a single offense that he can think of nothing better to do than to damn to Hell the offender, and yet who is called “loving”, “just” and “patient”. The red-faced theologians now admit the revelation makes obvious sense, and have admonished the faithful to accept this far more sensible description of Jehovah’s character that is indisputably reflected in His 1) commandment to slaughter infants, 2) refusal to condemn slavery, 3) requirement for rape victims to marry their rapists, and, of course, 4) damnation to Hell of any sinner who follows a sin nature they neither requested nor can avoid.

Snorting his bemusement, Thor revealed to Larry King other, perhaps less disruptive, inverted terms.

“Speak to the finger” was changed to “Pray”.
“Screw Africa” was changed to “Amen”.
“Marvin” was changed to “Lucifer”.

When asked why they would do such a thing, Aphrodite invoked the long history of Jehovah co-opting pagan holidays for His own worship. Other deities are reported to have found the prank over-the-top as it has led to a prolific volume of painfully perverse YouTube videos defending this impossible description of a loving, just and patient Jehovah acting hateful, unjust, and not just a little impatient.

Jehovah refused calls on the incident, but it is rumored that Thor’s hammer was spotted hanging high on a high-school flagpole along with Aphrodite’s most recent Victoria’s Secret purchase.

A Window

A Window

Clinging to the intense heat of her whispers, her breasts to my chest in a familiar nest where waft the colored vapors of subjectivity.
I pity the lonely dark shadow moving past my frosted window.

Cycling through the intense cold of drizzle in a night long dark and road unknown, birthing puzzles of rigor for gray games of objectivity.
I pity the figures lying still inside yet another passing window.

King in the Woods

The rumor spread quickly. There was a king in the woods. Some young lad had returned to the village the night before, and had said he had chatted with a king somewhere in the small woods next to the village. A king! The villagers had never seen a king, and they were excited by the prospect of having their own king living in their very woods!

In fact, the next day 131 of the villagers, nearly half of the village, equipped themselves with cameras and flashlights and king-detectors of all sorts and rushed off to the woods, Continue reading

Unlucky November

Most of 2010 was exceptionally fun and productive. Then came November.The trauma began but a few minutes into the month and didn’t let up until the last few minutes of the 30th. Allow me to wallow in self-pity and enumerate.

  • At a Halloween party at 12:30am November 1st, I noticed that my wallet containing a significant amount of cash was missing from my bag. It has not yet returned.
  • I had 2 fillings fall out of my teeth.
  • I suffered a knee injury while cycling that bothered me all month.
  • A younger friend died of a brain aneurysm while playing tennis. He was a great guy, lived life very vigorously, and died the way that he probably would have wanted.
  • I had to replace my iPod which died suddenly.
  • My computer started to refuse to connect to monitors, significantly affecting my work.
  • My bicycle’s rear wheel broke 4 spokes within 2 weeks. I finally purchased a new wheel. The next week I had a puncture. The following week my rack snapped in two. The last day of November, my chain caught and snapped my shifter in two. While pushing my bicycle the nearly 4 kilometers home, I had several people staring and smirking at me. I reached home about an hour before the end of November, looked in a mirror, and realized that all the smirks were due to a large streak of bicycle grease across my face.

If I believed in Santa, and months were exams, I’d ask him for a retake of November…or at least a phenomenal December.