Thursday, February 11, 2010

au revoir memoir-writing

Today, the memoir-writing class at the senior center petered out. Too many of the former six or eight participants had either fled to warmer climes or found other commitments. Today it was just Grumpy and me talking about this and that -- writing, his wife's death, his kids ... and his sleep patterns.

Since there were only two of us, we pretty much agreed that writing without as much feedback as possible was a losing operation. So we, together with Ashleigh, the senior center coordinator, agreed to wrap what was left of the memoir-writing class into a regular writing class and, if people in future expressed an interest in a more focused class (memoir writing is harder in some respects than other writing), then we would reconvene.

Grumpy and I chatted. And finally got around to the fact that, at I believe it is 87, he hardly sleeps at night. The thoughts just whiz, one after the other after the other after the other. Not sad thoughts -- Grumpy claims to be the "happiest man on earth" -- just one thought after another, pell-mell, like some rushing brook downstream of the snow melt.

And so I suggested the Zen practice of counting the breaths, from one to ten and begin again ... not as a means of zoning out or going to sleep, but rather as a means of seeing those thoughts for what they are ... possibilities, not necessities. I didn't lean on something called "Zen," just made the breath-counting suggestion, the sit-upright suggestion, the use-an-egg-timer to mark the sitting period suggestion. And he was surprisingly open to it ... was planning to try it "tonight."

And I believe he will.

Funny, one thing ends and another begins (and I just noticed that the word "being" is a rearrangement of the letters for "begin" ... not a bad definition, as far as definitions go) ... the memoir-writing class peters out and Grumpy begins counting his breaths.

How in the wide world of sports anyone might think they could draw a line between birth and death beats the socks off me. And if no line can actually be found, how could death be other than birth or birth other than death?

Just like breathing.

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