The Quiet Peace at Dusk

The guest room is quiet. I barely hear the cars on the street. The sun has moved so that it barely is above the horizon making the room dull and most would turn on a light. Yet, sometimes it is nice to look around and see some of my paintings, including one I have just finished. I am sure I will start another painting in a couple of days but I wonder what will I do with them.

I look at them and remember the time and the thoughts I had to begin painting each of them. So many people paint stilllifes and are happy, but my paintings must have a story, a message to hopefully relay to the viewer. These stories and messages are about life, mine in particular are how I see something affects me. Most carry messages about growing older because I am at that age. I am at a place where the time left is questionable. The length is certainly unknown.

Many years ago, my first worthy blog had the name “Within Crepusculum” .In Medieval use man believed it was a particular period of evening lasting from sunset to vespers, the darker period of twilight when Venus and the stars began to appear. In contemporary usage, the Medieval  has been changed to “crepuscular” an adjective used in thought of the twilight. Now, I feel I have begun the journey into Crepusculum, where you find that you are not as you once were. No one can escape the changes you have as you grow older which then makes you think about your final journey..

Often people do not want to leave this world. It may frighten them. I am not one of them. I have always questioned this thing called “life” and how, we have no choice in getting it or leaving it. I may have been quite testy if I could have been asked  if I would like to be conceived particularly when they explained how the end is also predetermined! I have had an enjoyable life, but if I chose not to have one then nothing more would need to be determined.

It is this darkened room that allows my thoughts to move my fingers across the keyboard to record what is in my mind. Possibly you think I should turn on the light. I know I never will. The room as it is comforts me where the light will not.

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I Wonder: Am I There??

My original blog at WordPress, which I still leave intact, focused on a time in one’s life that is considered the twilight of life and how that period can affect you.  When thinking about a name for my blog I chose “Within Crepusculum” which in meaning comes from the ancient word “Crepusculum” for a place or feeling that is no longer clear in vision or thought.  The contemporary equivalent, crepuscular, used mostly as an adjective, carries almost the same meaning, yet with it you identify a particular thing with a noun of choice.

Crepusculum became an actual place to me, where one day, when I have experiences particular life changes that leaves me bound to being assisted to continue living, or less traumatic, a place just beyond a threshold, where I will only pass through when I know my physical or mental condition has changed enough and that I believe I may never be able to recoup from the change.  After entering, this place, within my own crepusculum, I begin a journey of unknown length, nor do I know what I will meet along the path that will lead to the part of life that I am not capable of caring for myself.

A definite age does not mean you enter.  Circumstance does matter.  Mental worry and concerns are paramount.  They will determine if you will move beyond the threshold.

Up until this last year I never experienced any thing that made me feel I could change and not return to how I felt on any of my days.  This year, from the time I turned 64, I began collecting new experiences that signaled a difference in me.  First, my sinus’ became much more bothersome and during this time I started to have fevers.  Rounds of treatment never stopped the fever.  It came and went as it pleased even though the sinus’ were fine.  No other cause could be found for the fever and slowly I began to identify with FUO, (fever of unknown origin) a condition quite difficult to treat.  When the fever came it was always accompanied by my being lethargic and miserable.  So often I sat staring into space.  When the fever went down I returned to reality.  Then one day I realized it was gone for two months.  Then two months more of freedom passed and now they are back.

Next,   I experienced a terrible hernia and while waiting for its repair, the pain began to intensify.  I spent hours lying on the floor to relieve the pain.  It had always worked.  This time it did nothing and finally I gave up and went to the emergency room.  I was surprised to hear that it wasn’t my hernia, but that I had an appendicitis.

Finally, the hernia surgery was scheduled and afterward I was limited in what I could do for over 6 weeks.  Even after that time I often had bouts in discomfort and was told this would go on for six months.

The fever, two operations and recuperation’s left me feeling that to regain my strength and fortitude  would not be easy or at times I felt I could never return to how I was.

Slowly, I found I could do more each day.  Eventually I could function physically as I wanted.  I could return to my large garden and lawn to work it as I used to and inside the house any new project was possible.  I was thankful that I had uselessly worried.

Then, three and a half weeks ago, following a morning of trimming tree branches, I fell by catching my foot in a large branch and tumbled forward with such surprising force, that when I landed with my chest on a brick I looked up to see the cement walkway just inches before me.  Without thinking I got up, started to move the branches, saw the brick lying there on the dirt and continued to clean up the area.  Within a very, very short time some pain began.  Regardless, I put all the garden equipment away, then took a shower followed by pacing around not wanting to accept the pain was getting worse.  Soon, I gave up and thought I had better call my spouse home to take me to the emergency room.  I had fractured two ribs, twisted my hip and had an abundance of soft tissue, muscle damage.

After returning from the hospital, the pain intensified and my ability to move easily deteriorated.  The next three days the pain was gruesome and I became helpless when I tried to get in or out of the bed.  To be helped out of the bed worked, but the pain stabbed me at such a degree that I actually cried out for mercy and soon became paranoid in selecting a way to sit, rest, how to stand and walk that many times I felt the path now taken was one that would never change its downward direction.

It is still difficult for me to move, to find a way to sleep, to have the stamina to keep going because if I do more the pain returns to haunt me.  I realize I will reach a day it leaves, but I question that in the aftermath, will I once again return to my normal strength and fortitude.

Too much, To much for my sixty-fourth year.  In a couple of months I will be sixty-five.  Let medicare come if it must or let the Scooter Store continue to send me brochures and let my sideburns show my only touch of grey at the very bottom, but PLEASE, PLEASE let the happenings I have experienced this past year not continue with new ones when I turn sixty-five.  If they do,  I will not be able to stop questioning if I have crossed my threshold.

The days pass, one by one, by one by one—

Each day passes more quickly than I would like.  I wish for the passage of night to be short, but by early morning, before dawn is even awakening, I toss and turn and feel that one more moment or hour in bed will be too much for me.  With each day I worry that I may be returning to old habits and old habits brought me into the depths of sleep deprivation.   So far I still am affected by the accumulation of little sleep, particularly when I get up early……..then I am most aware of how tired I can be.

Yesterday at dusk or during the crepuscular day, while working in my garden,  I wished that the dusk could last longer, but once the greyness sets in, the black surrounds us very quickly in Florida.  I also wished that the dawn of morning could also come earlier so the length of that new day light could last longer.  Within a moment I realized, probably because of  the heat of the day, that I wanted to work within the grey parts of  the day when everything begins to calm and feel more comfortable.    Juxtaposed to my life the real twilights and dawns, the times that signal the most significant changes in my day may be a lesson for me in life.

Rather than wondering and worrying about the days of Crepusculum, maybe I need to just start enjoying this time of my life like I enjoy the twilight and the dawn.  Maybe, being within my Crepusculum  can become as calming to me as the real world’s crepuscular times.

So, instead of worrying about my lack of sleep, my aches and pains, or always hoping for those particular times of the day, and stop always wishing the reality of my life to change, maybe I should take my Mother’s advice and stop evaluating today or yesterday and look toward tomorrow and smile as I anticipate just how wonderful it can be.

During each of these days–

Continually I am asked by the ones that are closest to me, “Are you fine?”  “What is the matter?” “No I don’t think that is the reason, so what is it?”  If I try to answer the first two questions, most likely I receive the third question in response to my answer.

This brings me to a point in my life where I ask a question, “Why is it when I say what is the problem, I am told that my reason is justified and that I don’t understand the situation.  The situation is mine I think and after all this time of living I should hope that I know what my situation is.  But, there is a difference.  When I was young I would never think of telling someone what was bothering me.  Now I do and I think that is the basic problem.  I was an expert at covering up what I was feeling.  Well, how could I tell them when my self esteem was even lower than it is now.  Back then I felt I could never be truthful because I felt that the truth would hurt me more than them.

Now, it feels more important to me to tell the truth.  Yes I suppose I could sugar-coat it a little, but then usually these same people don’t sugar coat much for me.  One is M. who is so troubled with the way that I am, particularly in my reaction to acquaintances and friends, as well as himself.  Well, as two examples of his worry,  one friend has used up all the care and help that I have for her.  I have helped and helped and been there, and been there for her and what have I gotten in return is a plea for more help.  I just don’t have more to give since now I feel I must take care of me and so I stay away as quietly and politely as I can.  Another is a new acquaintance, who I thought might become a good friend.  When I realized that the “the sale–the job–the inevitable bit of money made” was more important than understanding what I wanted and dealing with it.  Yes I was the client, but it didn’t seem to matter much.  I was quickly told that I should understand that what I wanted to happen, (I had full rights to ask for what I wanted)  went against the grain of the acquaintance.  I understood in a moment that the commission in the sale was the most important.  Well, as I am known to do, the axe fell on this supposed relationship and now I am questioned why I made the decision I did.

I often think that this is the most appropriate time in my life to say what I am, what I want and how I see it.  If I don’t act now on my beliefs what am I going to do during that long journey with in my Crepusculum.  I can just imagine how my care can take quick turns that I don’t believe in.  That fact is catalyst enough for me to know I must grab a hold of my own life and start letting everyone know my wishes.  I just can’t sit in the quiet “corner” any longer.  This is all different to me as it is to the others who question me, but I believe this current life turmoil and questioning must be during my transition  from quiet toad sitting on the side of life, to a new, determination that makes people say, “Guess I can’t run over him any longer!”  Its not easy to change.  If you are  like me then agree  to  take a chance to stake out your independence.  Grab a hold of your wishes and sell them boldly to all you meet.  That little change will make you begin to see that it is possible to journey through Crepusculum with a modicum of respect and enjoyment.

Finally, I came to a conclusion!!

So many times,  in the past, I have wondered when I will be at the point to enter Within Crepusculum.  I asked myself,  was there a particular age and conjectured that it certainly was no where near the age that I am.  Unfortunately. I kept thinking about it as a year, a birthday, a definite milestone that I could post on the calender and be ready for it when it arrives.

That is very bad logic to conclude that the beginning of one’s twilight can be targeted with an actual date.  When I think about that assumption, its almost as though I believe you should look at a calender and see your prearranged death date!!

Then, just the other day, I stopped what I was doing and realized I may never know beforehand.  Its just going to happen one day.  I think I will be doing something that I have always done so easily (This has to be a significant task, because if it wasn’t I doubt that I would pay much attention to it) and suddenly, I will realize I can’t do it or I can’t do it anywhere near as well as I did the year before.  If this sort of thing happens all too often, maybe three to four times in a row, then I will take it as some kind of a sign.

Regardless, I am very aware that the years that have currently passed are piling up on my age, but I am determined, like my Mother was, not to be effected by their passage and not accept being older when I don’t feel that much older than I did a decade ago.  We have a friend in Toronto who is four or five years older than me, yet he lives his life already within his twilight.  I don’t think he has a spark of youthfulness about him and I realize he has had some health issues, but that certainly is not reason enough to consign yourself to your twilight years.    The other unfortunate thing is that he does not understand what he has done to himself by responding to life negatively, which in turn allowed himself to be completely engulfed.   It is sad to watch and recognize the crepuscular qualities he has.    Lately he calls to tell us his other friends at home have asked to see him less than they used to do.  In comparison to me, his actions significantly show that I haven’t even neared those years.

For a while, during this time of mourning, I found my self even more than just lethargic.  I had days that I couldn’t think straight.  During those days I had attempted to do some work that any other time I could have done quickly and simply.  This time everything fell apart and it took me longer to plan than it has ever taken me.  Immediately, I kept wondering, “Is this it, is this the way one starts to behave before they take that final step into the twilight??  Fortunately, I came to my senses and accepted that my actions were not signs of entering the dusk of life, but rather it was a symptom of grieving.  It was a hard lesson to learn how to evaluate and now I can easily tell one from the other!!

When I finally realized my error, I came to a conclusion.  First I accepted that I will be having many more scattered days, until more time has passed in my mourning.  And that presently, my thoughts and the mourning I am experiencing are an opportunity for me to continue to grow and understand the world around me.  It becomes a very difficult task for me to explore death and mourning and the beliefs that I have.  To be able to accomplish this, I must see myself going though another whole segment of my life, a part that now I feel is integral to prepare me for the entrance into my crepusculum.

What will the 'morrow bring-

morning
If I let go of all the things I know,
if I toss from my heart what tugs at its’ walls,
if I take the chance to step on to the edge of my soul,
then will I be better or worse than I am.

Will the sun shine again as bright as before,
will I never again feel the anxiety within my mind or,
can I take a hold of all the scarred, ragged edges
and bring them back and sew them together again?

If I bend and pick up the pieces of me
If I reach and hold onto the sweetest of the memories,
If I sit and stare at the nothing I see in the vision of my soul,
then will color be able to return to the space I see with my eyes.

Will sorrow that pierces and gouges the heart,
be changed so that the spring returns to the soul
or will tomorrow only bring another spear
laced with grief that only I can feel its’ sting?

As I continue on my journey toward my twilight it is evident that I shall be carrying a few more questions that I can only answer.  Each day I realize that there isn’t any one else in the world that can tell me how I am to do the things I am to do, understand how and when the haze of my world will return to its normal clarity and it is only I who can can know when my tomorrow will feel like it has brought the new spring to my life.

For now I continue to muddle with in the sludge under the white snow that occasionally lets me slip and fall.  It is the grayness of the sky that matches what my eyes see as I sit, sometimes too long, staring off into the corner of my bedroom; or at times I fall asleep on the chaise only to awaken and return to the sight of that same corner of nothing.

I question also, when will the night begin to pass without  numerous times of awakening to see just how much longer I need to stay there.  Eventually I arise before dawn and trip quietly down the stairs so that I don’t awaken M. or the cat, Souse.  It is then, once again in the appalling quietude of our house I sit in that corner of the kitchen that I have always sat in before the bright monitor of the computer to think of what next could lessen the impact of these days on my soul.
And then suddenly,  I realize I have passed from the time of pensive thought into flipping url’s like Blueberry Pancakes on a sizzling hot grill and as the pancakes  are stacked they leave no room between.  As I arise from the computer I know the day lies ahead to be experienced mostly with agitation even more than the Kenmore washer produces to wash my clothes.  And I seem to follow the same cycling.  First there is the agitation, then the rinsing and calming of my mind only to plunge forward into a spinning haze.

I think of all this newness of experiences each day and wonder is it all that bad and  will I be able to make it through it and look backward and know that even in my mature years I can grow and learn all there is that life has to offer.  I know for now I wonder why there needs to be lessons like I am within, but I think  that somewhere in the motion of living there is a plan for me and I must follow this relentless path to find greater peace.

As I turn each new corner I find myself a little closer to my crepuscular years.  With each step I must take now I realize it can only prepare me for the new years ahead of me.  To gain wisdom through thoughts, by the anguish created by death and by recording my  collective new beliefs then it is an acceptable path that I take.

Thoughts That Lead to Thoughts, That Lead to My Twilight

When I was in undergraduate school, I became very interested in Anthropology/Archaeology. That led me to take enough courses to get a BS degree in it without taking many more courses. Before I officially turned in a portfolio for grad school, I toyed with the idea of getting the Bachelor of Science in Archaeology first and then go to grad school! If I had, I am sure that I could have arranged to enter grad school the following year. My concerns in art and the complexities within the studies of Anthropology and Archaeology are interwoven in my mind and because of their simularities many issues in Anthropology helped define my art.

I have always envisioned being a part of a team of Archaeologist excavating a mountain’s surface and exposing layer on layer of rock, sediment, debris and different forms of life that create the intervals of growth and help to supply material to determine the age of the fossils sandwiched between the stratum. As archaeologists uncover the remains of an ancient people’s midden their story unfolds as the site is uncovered tier by dusty tier. Each layer of excavated soil is carefully sifted to find artifacts that will tell a story and give a time line for the living that inhabited that particular spot. In comparison, our thoughts, memories and emotions become multiple tiers in our mind that lead us to self-understanding and expression. Regardless of which idea they both demonstrate a passage of time structured by a complex cycle of growth, life and decay.

Many spiritual dogmas, in the past and in our present day, enlighten the cycle by believing in an afterlife. When I think about the artistic possibilities of life being spiritually continued I imagine a line of hollow, fragile forms. Each represents an empty homogenous soul that waits patiently for a heavenly tomorrow. In reality, I imagine souls serenely floating in azure blue skies accented with billowy, white clouds as they pass through the immense golden gates of heaven. On the other hand, the souls may become a part of an interminable final que and as the line of fragile forms sway, one by one the souls fall and become anonymous hollow pods that are brittle, frail and worn from the passage of time. The fettered, empty shells give little information of who or what they were. Yet they are the remains of countless people who have lived throughout history.

Death Scene         Gothic Illustration          Girl Reading Book

Cave  at Lascaux        Simone Martini         18th Century

At times, it is those people, probably us in another five hundred years, that makes me stop and try to remember them for a moment. Can you possibly guess just how many people have preceded you in death. Can you look at the three images and feel that their lives were equal to our current existence? In the majority of paintings or illustrations held in Museums there is never information about the people that are in the painting, unless they are infamous.  Nonetheless, they need to be acknowledged. Imagine that the death scene, from the Lascaux caves, probably was drawn by someone with blood and urine.  The death scene had to have been important to the artist to have recorded it and is as important as one that is recorded today.

Nevertheless, the relationship between man and time continues within other relationships. In our youth and early mature years our backs are metaphorically, straight and strong, while we collect stacks of memories and information. Rarely, while we are younger, do we consider our ending chapter, although our subconscious tries to signal that we are changing. Where once our memories were occupied with dense information, later in life as we grow older, we find that they may thin and fray at the edge. Where once the back never tired it now asks for a moment of rest and we begin to understand and accept that there may be passages in life that leaves us perilously fragile and degenerately transformed.

I am sure one day, I will pass through an ominous threshold and I may find I cannot live independently because I am not able to control the escalating fragility of my mind and body. If this happens I will begin a transition towards total dependence for life care. This major, unidirectional modification in life care prompts feelings of vulnerability to the world and apprehensive of tomorrow. It is evident how important it is for me to find that certain, younger person that will understand and follow my directives for my life care. The directives have already been listed in my living will and so my only worry is appointing an executor for the more distant future should I be alone to die.

Death, the end to all this thought, comes when it wishes. There is no preset date or hour, nor is there a preset script. You may think death will come and sweep you away at that unknown moment, that it will whisk your spirit instantly up to the heavens, yet sometimes for some people death lounges at the door letting the person’s degeneration become unbearable for the family and their associates. Death, that final hour, will tick in the background of my twilight…………..

2012                  2014 tick

tick tick tick 2018 tick tick tick tick 2029

tick                 2020 tick                                                         tick 2028

2013 tick tick tick 2021                                              tick

2025                                tick tick 2026                                                               tick tick tick

tick tick tick tick tick 2026

tick 2027

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tick tick 2229 tick tick

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2030 tick tick


tick 2031 tick tick 2032


tick tick 2033…………….