Note to Government: Make Love, not war.
Note to Teenagers: Make Music, not love.
Note to Musicians: Music is not war.
Note to Self: There would be no music if lovers never went to war.
I don't want to be a writer anymore.
I'm tired of the self-destruction.
Is it all to justify the pain,
Or to cause it?
Once I asked my dad if he thought there was an end to it.
He was younger than I am now when I did,
And I remember that he said to me,
"No. It never does,"
That back then it brought me such hope.
My TiVO captures a show called "Ghost Hunters."
I like this show.
People go into dark houses and try to capture shadows and mists with digital equipment, all to prove in playback such things occur.
Inevitably, something happens. Most of the time the results are inconclusive. Once in a while the things are so clear we suspect trickery.
A few episodes ago they captured the voice of Princess Caroline saying, "Yes, I hear you. Who's there?" across the decades, the seemingly impenetrable boundary of life and time.
Then they cut to commercial.
We turned off the TV. We went to Costco. We needed to restock our supplies of dried nuts and unsalted butter.
I remember watching the lights in the sky, standing in the airport parking lot under an afternoon rain in Juneau. A brilliant blue white star pierced the cloud deck. After a few moments, I could see the black shadows behind the glare. The red and green wing tip lights. Then the fuselage as the nose tipped slightly upward and the landing gear extended to grab the asphalt.
The rumbling came as the pilot reversed the engines and the plane rolled past and slowed, reached the taxiway, and pivoted toward the terminal.
I remember I waved, not knowing if they were sitting on the left or the right, or if they were even peering out the windows at Alaska.
What were they thinking, then, my three? My children coming to visit after the divorce. Could they see me? I waved harder. I shouted. The plane docked at the gate.
Both hands above my head.
Everything I still loved in the world sitting in row fourteen. My precious cargo.
Could they still see me?
I remember my friend Bill, standing with me in the cold rain outside a restaurant in Los Gatos, right after I told him my wife of 23 years and I were breaking up.
The accomplished author, university fellow, award winner: he asked me, "Do you think it will make you a better writer?"
It seemed insulting - but Bill didn't have a mean streak. So it had to be something else.
"I'm not getting divorced to have more time to write."
"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
"Because, right now I don't care if I write another word in my life," I said.
"Of course you don't." He laid a hand on my shoulder. "Let's go inside. I'm getting cold."
When I get to the top of the mountain on my bicycle I make a point to talk to the dead people. I thank them for having been in my life when they were. I do not try to capture their responses digitally. It doesn't matter I bring back "proof", and it doesn't matter that I speak to them on a hilltop or in the restroom at my office.
Because time doesn't matter for them, they may already be captured and speaking through some advanced time/space warping device developed in the year 2221. Maybe then people know life and death are as interchangeable as matter and energy.
Or it's all illusion.
If the dead do speak they tell us that in the afterlife they yearn for the one real thing. It's what they say to the ghost hunters, to the mediums, to the priests and witch doctors.
How ironic. It seems it's what I want most to avoid, but spend the most time trying to produce.
Mornings can be the worst. Waking up requires we reset ourselves. We have to bring back the diurnal cycle after we've been floating in timelessness.
I expect to see my bedroom shadows resolve to timeful reality.
I expect to hear my children arguing about the television channel, or who got the last of the sugary cereal.
Once in a while I accidentally say my wife's name.
That's when the ghosts surround me reminding me matter and energy are interchangeable.
And I never want to write again.
"What's wrong?" asks the blond haired girl.
I say, "Nothing," as I have since I could speak. I say, "Nothing," as a six-year old stealing his father's tools. I say, "Nothing," as a four year old drilling holes in the living room floor. I say, "Nothing," as a teenager dropping Molotov cocktails down a storm drain to create admirable fireballs.
I say, "Nothing," because she is not part of that madness and it is cruel to drag her into it.
I say, "Nothing," because it is my past, not hers. "Nothing," is my decision, from the start. "Nothing," is what I do to my seconds, minutes, and earthy years.
Ask the psychics what they get from the other side.
"Nothing," is sitting at the lawyer, agreeing on everything and him saying he has never seen this before and asking if we are sure.
"Nothing," is the end to that life and the beginning to this.
"Nothing," is how effective some of us are at creating the hurt.
"Nothing," is what the Ghost Hunters record on their memory sticks and infrared video.
Because I am the envy of all the disembodied spirits.
"We have proof," says the lead Ghost Hunter. "Listen. It was dark and nobody was around."
From the ether, clear as a bell.