August 2008

Oh this is hard… Oliver and Nicholas and I went to the Wilson County Fair tonight as I had promised them I would take them. I was tired and cranky and not looking forward to it… 4 hours sleep the night before and not enough to eat. But I wouldn’t dare want to disapoint them. Ela stayed home and took a break.
Nicholas’s bad attitude turned to glee as we actually approached all the lights and sounds and food smells of the fair. I did not anticipate that both he and Oliver would be just so enthralled with it all… I guess we adults take it for granted. The first ride they chose was a spinning revolving swing of a marry-go-round… but the little kid version of the bigger one they also eventually rode. And then they found the miniature roller-coaster, and man that was a hit. And next the Pirate Ship… that simply rocked up and down as if on waves. And that’s when it hit me. I’m not sure if I’ll post this… but I can’t not write about it. They won’t be my little boys much longer. And I could have so easily missed this moment… so easily given in to some sense of obligation to be somewhere else. Their faces as they were in total enjoyment of this moment… a moment in a child’s life that they need not just for the moment, but for their future, so that they know what feelings to aim for in their adult lives. Watching them was a feeling that trumps all others I could ever hope to have. Their joy was so pure… they were totally unaware of the adult world that is so quickly descending upon them. They were not aware of the little girls sitting next to them experimenting already with makeup; they were not aware of the pock-marked and hagard, tired face of the ride operator and his probably hard life; nor the cost of the whole outing which is so beyond the means of so many, nor my own weariness as I try to give them this seed of an experience that can only come now. I tried not to cry, I tried not to stuff it either. And I glanced around to see if any of the other watching parents were experiencing the same thing too, but I couldn’t tell. I really don’t know who needs who more – me or them. I can imagine a World where every day could hold such a moment with them. In some tribal places, it probably exists as a given. I feel so lucky.

I often tell them, “Thank you Oliver/Nicholas for being my son. You could have been born to someone else, but I’m so glad you chose me to be your father.” I relate this in the event someone can apply this to their own life.

The core of a man…
Can be likened to a column of wax:
It is only as strong as it is unflexible,
Thump it with your finger and it feels so solid and heavy,
It is cool to the touch and readily absorbs heat,
If you try to move the column it sticks to the floor and won’t easily budge,
Never transparent, somtimes murky and translucent,
You can easily scratch its surface, but digging deeper takes great effort.
It’s energy is trapped and useless without a wick.
And as Shakti dances around the fire,
she draws her Beloved ever closer to her light and play,
and then it happens,
The column melts, and collapses.

I have been meaning for a long time to write a tribute to Darlene Badal. I hope her friends, remaining family, and her boyfriend of so many years will find this and add to it. I don’t remember his name, but we spoke by phone when I uncannily called on the one year anniversary of her death, after not having known that she was ill or having spoken with her since 1994. Darlene.

I met Darlene at the United States Psychotronics Association Annual Convention in 1990 (I think). I always remember her graceful way of moving, and the orange blouse she wore which went so well with her skin tone. Her chestnut brown hair waved side to side when she walked and she had a way of turning her head sharply, as though not to miss something. And Darlene had these very large deep brown dreamy eyes and long, dark eyelashes. She is easily one of the oldest souls I’ve ever met. I really wondered why she was here still? I have been told that her spirit amongst her friends was wise and giving and many people who would only casually meet her would be struck as I was.

And it is for a very selfish reason, really, that I can never forget Darlene. You see, I have a way of understanding people that I come about naturally, and it takes me comparatively little time to develop a metaphor for a person as they experience themselves. Perhaps Darlene was the same. We were in a group at the USPA after lectures were concluded and the conversation was charged and flowing like high rapids on a river. I found myself speaking to the group… relating a story I think. Darlene blurted something out to me, that I’ll never forget. It was validating something I knew of myself but had never had anyone perceive of me, and yet it would be something I could perceive of someone else. I won’t repeat it here; it isn’t really important now. But, I wondered why was she both able and so quick to perceive this? I can say that Darlene is the only person to have ever understand me, the way I understand other people. She made me a birthday card later that year; she colored it with pastels and it was obvious she was deliberate in its creation. I always looked forward to seeing her at the conference. We tried to get her to go dancing with a group of us a couple of times, both in Milwaukee and in Dayton. I remember her being shy and saying something about being “too old” to go dancing. I thought that odd; she wasn’t too old.

So the Internet hit in 1994, and that was the last year I saw her before going off to Germany. And in 1995, while in Germany, I found her email address at the University. She had no idea her email address was searchable on the ‘net, and she seemed bothered that just anyone could find it. Nevertheless, it was good to “talk” to her when I was so very far away from home.

I became so busy after that year, with 2 babies soon to be born to myself and Ela, that I kept putting-off calling her when I returned from Germany. And I did not go to any more conferences. And then I finally did call… and now I have experienced why it is so important to treat every encounter with someone special as though it could be the last chance you get to create a memory with them. Thank you Darlene, and I hope that the Universe is so constructed that the memories I have of you are not the only ones I will ever have of you.

– Chad

Finally, after 30 years of excuses, I did it:
A special thanks to Jeff and Georgia (in alphabetical order) for the pictures and more importantly for their spiritual presence. 🙂