here’s to life

This is a post from my "after the pop" blog and was originally published in 2011. I'm glad I still have access to these memories as I almost forget the stories of working with people.

In the year 2000, I found myself lollygagging through the Castro in SF and I hear this amazing voice filtering out into the street from this tiny CD boutique. I naturally went in and asked what was playing- it was Shirley Horn performing "Here's to Life" It remains a standard for me to self-soothe. Thanks for humoring me.

No complaints and no regrets.

I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.

But i have learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got.

I had my share, i drank my fill, and even though i’m satisfied i’m hungry still

To see what’s down another road, beyond a hill and do it all again.

So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.

Here’s to life the dreamers and their dreams.

Funny how the time just flies.

How love can turn from warm hellos to sad goodbyes

And leave you with the memories you’ve memorized

To keep your winters warm.

There’s no yes in yesterday.

And who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away.

As long as i’m still in the game i want to play

For laughs, for life, for love.

So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.

Here’s to life, the dreamers and their dreams.

May all your storms be weathered,

And all that’s good get better.

Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.

May all your storms be weathered,

And all that’s good get better.

Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.. Shirley Horn

i wrote about an encounter with someone who was deeply lost in his drinking last week. 4 days later he had died. i was very saddened by it all. feeling quite helpless and ineffective is just a fraction of the things that i have tried on. it’s better today. i am accepting and letting go. it is a process though.

the flip side of course, is that the struggling soul- my friend- is struggling no more. he doesn’t have to hate his hiv and his hep-c any longer. he doesn’t have to deny that he doesn’t feel his best any more. he doesn’t need to imbibe till the blackness rolls in any longer. and he doesn’t have to hide who he is and how he is. he is free.

this space i now find myself in is part of my reality. strangely, it has been for half my life-in one way or another. in the 80’s and 90’s it was the virus that was taking out many of my contemporaries. drugs and alcohol took out a few too, but it was mostly aids. now i find the opposite to be true. working within the hiv field, the virus takes out a few, but more than anything else, i see multiple earth departures fueled by substances.

i am practicing staying grounded as i continue to remember that people die. this death is not an isolated incident. thankfully, it is not a daily one, but it happens more than i would like. i am thankful i am able to available for others. the 80’s found me numbing out myself. today i am listening.  i honestly am changing. one day at a time.

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” 

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to love yourself and your world

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