Requiem for a Deity

It’s funny how getting into enough emotional discomfort can create willingness in anyone. Apply enough pressure and even the laziest among us is apt to get off the couch and take a step or two in any direction. So it is with me, perhaps the world’s most undisciplined writer (and I use the word “writer” loosely). A writer writes, and yet it seems like I’ve been doing everything except writing during my absence. Don’t ask where I’ve been, I wouldn’t even know what to tell you. I barely know where to start this, so I’ll just begin with the line that popped into my head when I sat down and logged in to this old WordPress account: Grief blows the dust off a dormant blog, and fills the page with its lament. 

And I am, indeed, grieving today, as I have suffered a loss. Now before you get all worried or feeling sorry, allow me to stipulate upfront that I grieve not for a lost person or animal or ideal that would be worthy of sympathy. Instead, I grieve for a vessel of memory; an inanimate object, but a loved object nonetheless.

Anyone who read this blog before my five-year descent into sloth and distraction knows the unique true crime/adventure tale/romcom story of the Bourka Bee Goddess. There were three prior blog posts dedicated to her:

  • The first, Death of a Deity, described how she came into my life and how I eventually killed her.

 

 

 

  • And the third, Goddess 2.0, documented her transcendence into what can only be described as “fabulosity”. Clearly, this statuary was dear to me to inspire so many words.

     

 

I have returned to this blog to report that she has suffered a catastrophic event, and is no more. I am writing after all these years to acknowledge and mourn her passing. I come to you today to admit to my own flawed and complacent stewardship of her being. I plead guilty of deicide.

The sound was the deep, ominous crack of thick ice breaking over a frozen lake – a sound that would bring dread to anyone standing near. I did indeed feel dread when I heard it. My back was turned – I didn’t see her fall. I had just opened the back of my car to unpack my gear from that thing in the desert, and the ensuing cloud of dust caused me to turn away just briefly — so briefly! — but that was all it took. I heard the crack, felt the vibration of her stone body hitting the floor of my carport, and felt my heart sink. Before I even turned around, I knew what had happened. Slowly, I turned, not wanting to look, and yet unable to look away.

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The sorrow was overwhelming and absolute. I felt like crying but shed no tears – the sadness was soon crowded out by the shame and guilt in knowing it was my fault. I had hastily packed my Honda when I left Black Rock City, and the Bourka Bee Goddess was one of the last things to get loaded. I put her in the last available space in my way-too-over-packed Element, unsecured and freestanding. When I got home and lifted the rear window to unload my gear… the consequences of my haste were immediate.

I know what you’re probably thinking:  “You mended her before, you can do it again.” I thought that at first as well. Alas, the damage suffered this time was far greater than last time, and although I’m no expert, I’m nearly positive there is no coming back from this. Too many breaks, too many pieces.

You might also be thinking, “It’s just a thing, dude – it’s not important – get over yourself.” While you are justified in thinking so, and you are technically correct, there’s something deeper at hand here. Of course it’s just a “thing”, and of course it’s not “important”. And I am eager to “get over myself” in this case, I assure you. But it’s lingering with me; my mind keeps returning to it and poking the memory like a tongue probing the empty socket where a tooth used to be.

***Note:  If you’re new to this blog, I should point out that the main reason for its existence was to create a vehicle for me to exercise my writing muscle while sharing amusing-to-me observations about parenthood, family, spiritual growth, and life in general. On occasion, it has afforded me the opportunity to share some deeper insights and less-than-flattering truths about myself. For me, it’s been helpful in cultivating humility, and has allowed me to focus some attention on an area in my life that needs work:  letting myself be vulnerable with others. Some of the writing is tongue-in-cheek, but most of it is honest. I’ll trust your powers of discernment.***

There’s something about this that is genuinely troubling to me. Not troubling as in “Woe is me, whatever shall I do?” but rather “You know this is more than just breaking a piece of art, right?” I know that I won’t get complete with something (or “get over it”) until I’m finished admitting the truth about it to myself. And I’m recognizing there are some truths here that are a little hard to admit.

Like the fact that the BBG had once again become a thing that I took for granted. As I shared when I introduced her on this blog, she’d spent a number of years as yard art, nearly lost amid tangling vines and flowers. Then I retrieved her, had all the ensuing drama with her, and made her into something new. And yet after all that, she was again relegated to the flower bed on my patio, and though she did get her annual field trips to the playa to be my camp totem, she would spend the rest of the year ignored and neglected, accumulating a coat of dust and dryer lint during the other 50 weeks of the year.

AND, if I ask myself that tough question, “How is this like my life?“, I’m forced to admit that I take my relationships for granted. I have people in my life that I don’t call, don’t visit, don’t write to or connect with — each of them is vastly more precious to me than this stolen objet d’art that is currently resting in pieces on an old bathmat. I think of these people often and say to myself “I’ll call them one of these days.”  “I’ll go visit them one of these days.” “I’ll reach out to them one of these days.”

Yet “one of these days” never seems to come. I procrastinate, I put off, I go unconscious and slip into the void of self-distraction: TV, Facebook, Spotify, Netflix… I wish to be worthy of the gifts I receive, and yet the evidence shows that I can –and I do– neglect them. I take them for granted.

[Ugh – that’s unpleasant to admit. Maybe there’s a reason I haven’t written in this thing for years….]

The sad, ironic twist in the story is this: on the long drive home from the playa last week, in the middle of nowhere, I was struck with inspiration for the BBG’s next metamorphosis. This thought came from out of the blue – I have no idea what made me think of it, but somewhere near the Nevada / California border, I had in my mind a clear vision of how I would transform the BBG for next year’s burn. I saw LED lights and el-wire adding color and dimension to her, making her larger than life and twice as beautiful. She would once again take a place of honor at my camp and be celebrated by all. I was excited and delighted at the possibilities. I smiled at the thought.

About 7 hours later, she fell to her death.

And I felt sadness.

I often tell my teenage kids (when they’re sharing about some setback or airing some grievance) that every person and every situation we encounter in life has something to teach us, and it’s up to us if we’re going to be open to receiving the wisdom or not. When their issue is particularly difficult or involves a loss of some kind, I’ll gently remind them that these things are a part of life, and though it may be sad, the bigger tragedy would be to not learn something from the experience. Sometimes (more often than not) they brush me off – but sometimes they listen, and then together we look for the wisdom to be found in life’s sorrow.

So I guess I’m being gifted the opportunity to take my own advice, and find the nugget of gold to be mined from the death of the Bourka Bee Goddess. If the lesson here is the reminder that life is fleeting (and the deeper awareness of my own tendency to think that I am guaranteed all the time in the world to do the thing I’m putting off) then I’m grateful to be shown that, even though it’s unflattering to admit that I’m having to be reminded of this again at this stage of my development. {sigh} Some of us learn slower than others.

So I share this sad news here, with the handful of people who knew her story and what she meant to me, or who just read about her with curiosity. At the end of her life, the Bourka Bee Goddess became more than just a weird-looking home accessory whose identity was stolen from a Stephen King story during a night of drug-and-alcohol-fueled mayhem. She became a symbol of rebirth and renewal, of creative expression, of transformation and beauty. And ultimately, a messenger and a teacher. A reminder that today is actually “one of these days” – and the only day guaranteed to me.

Today I’m having lunch with a friend I have not seen in over 20 years.

Message received, Goddess. Thank you.

 

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6 thoughts on “Requiem for a Deity

  1. Accidents happen. Be gentle with my friend Terry. She may be past being rebuilt but she may yet be transformed. Either way… Happy memories for sure, & her passing marking a re-connection is beautiful.

  2. She’s not Humpty Dumpty Terry. Put her back together!!! I’m thinking Gorilla Glue.
    SO GLAD you’re back. Your writing is a joy to read.

  3. How wonderful to see you writing again, Terry, in spite of the tough subject. My first thought was for you to thoroughly crush BBG remains to powder and spread her remains in your garden, or incorporate her into a new symbol that has meaning for you at this point in your life. 🙂

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