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Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Anchors aweigh...

Didn't know it was spelled "aweigh," perhaps? Lifting ship's anchor is called "weighing" it, for the obvious reason. Anyway, I expect I'll get to witness this (now complicated) process again soon, as I'll be teaching aboard the cruiser USS Cole for September and October. I'll be posting my impressions and photos and stuff here, so drop in daily or whenever you feel like catching up...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

End of life....

Last week a friend committed suicide. We--Jane and I--were in Oregon when we got the news. His wife said he had been missing since the night before, so we flew to California to be with her. We found the note the next morning. Later that day, search dogs tracked his scent to the river's edge. His body has still not been found. So I've been reflecting on death, emotion, and identity. We each create a self--by which I mean the complex we refer to when we say "I"--from a varied set of details and images and descriptions. This creation takes twenty years or so, which is why the period from our late `teens to early 20's tends to remain the most vivid of our lives. It's in these years we feel we've come into our own. I've finished the story of my self. But since this story is compounded from so many occasions and over so many years, it's filled with inconsistencies. Even contradictions. Nevertheless, it's my story, and I cling to it. But eventually a crisis threatens my story. In my case, it was the end of my twenty-five year marriage, now over twenty-five years ago. That's when I felt suicidal. To go on, I would have to give up central parts of my story, of my self. I was forced to choose between my familiar story and a new one that had yet to be written, and I was afraid. In my case, affection and love convinced me I could construct a new story. But that didn't erase the pain of having to give up my original self. It's terrifying to face a future without a familiar structure. Terrifying enough to choose death instead. I'm glad that love saved me. I'm sorry that it couldn't save my friend...