Practice Resurrection, Not Religion…

Hey Friends. I wrote this as an intro to the weekly round-up on my beta email magazine (ask me and I’ll add you to the test list). I haven’t spent much time on this blog lately — been too busy living life (an even better tribute if you ask me), but I thought it was worth placing into this context as well as the one in my email. Happy Easter, Passover, Spring:

This morning I am not concerned if you believe in the resurrection. But I challenge you to practice resurrection. What within you aches to be reborn?

Despite my verisimilitude on musical matters, a minor deity’s worth of man-mane does not a guru make. Still, those who know my true story will have to admit that I am, myself, a living resurrection of an entirely un-celestial order.

And so, while I’m not really religious, I was moved deeply a year ago when challenged with the entreaty above (reprinted here, in full and also available as a really quite amazing mp3). I’m not particularly interested in debating dogma or religious reverence. Instead, I believe we can all agree that each individual is in a process of ongoing self-actualization.

And it is as a part of this process that I place an infinite value on music and art. These tunes aren’t just entertainment: they are a means with which we communicate across the ages, keys to the intangibles that inform us.

And, so, outside of any interest in observance — be it Passover, Easter or simply the advance of spring itself — I’d urge you to listen this week, but also to act. We don’t need religion to be reborn: it is in action that we become what we could be. It is in action that we become what we actually are. XOXO - The Beard

The Big Boy’s Game is Officially Afoot…



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My wheelchair and cane have been undeniably important in getting me going again. 5 stories is quite a tumble and with everything from shattered heels to a cracked spine, recovery has been undeniably intense. Those two pieces of quiet relief have walked for me mile after mile. BUT I’M TIRED OF LETTING MACHINES HAVE MY FUN FOR ME.

I’ve purchased a Rollator as intermediary and put it to work immediately. I haven’t used a wheelchair at all n the past 4 days. Today I stepped out of the automobile industry and put my body to work. This is the conservative estimate: 

.10 - Home -> Door

.20 - 3501 St Paul -> St. Paul and E. 32nd

.31 - Physical Therapy Treadmill

.20 - Car -> Eddie’s Market -> Chipotle -> Potbellys -> Sandella’s -> University Market -> Car 

.10 - Car -> Home

.70 - 3501 St. Paul -> 605 E 34th St.

70 - 605 E 34th St -> 3501 St. Paul 

.10 - Home -> Door

2.41 Miles

+

2.4 Miles on the Physicaal therapy bike

=

4.81 miles of physically induced motion without a wheelchair

That, my friends, is a living miracle in motion. What say let’s push it to the limit and see which breaks first, my body or the resolve that is driving it.

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Currently taking suggestions….

Currently taking suggestions….

Conquering Lonliness in the Jewel Bright Hardness of Andy: A Tribute to the TSN

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The night is long, and you are all alone.

Even snuggled in the softest cotton, a darkness consumes the stream of hospital lights peaking under the door, shadows snickering into the spiked malaise of the sick body below. Drug addicts call the moment of dispossessed terror a “K-Hole,” but I prefer the image of a person, fully formed, echoing his voice from the inner bowels of a deep, hollow well, the ring of light above, a muted brilliance too far away to touch.

No matter how much love gathers by your bed, the husks of medication, of pain, of fear, aren’t something anyone else can see or understand. You are the only person in the universe, a lone body trying to keep afloat amidst the drowning splashes of a slowly waking intellect.

This is the moment the Trauma Survivor’s Network enters. In sighs, the warmth of experience echoes through your ear:

The fear you feel will pass.

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The slow crawl back into existence after an accident is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t held desperately to its gnarled, forbidding fingers. First there is confusion, a dotted terror split by the claw of lucid nightmares. Then dullness, then fear. There are times when the pain is so great that you seek comfort in the white light at the back of unopened eyelids. At other times, resignation overwhelms and you simply sit, staring at the ceiling for hours and hours on end.

The fear you feel will pass.

There are so many humiliations that go unrecorded, one wonders in retrospect if they ever happened at all. The tears that well when you find yourself soaked in a flood of urine for the second time in under an hour. The screeching resignation of that last moment before they put you under in the OR. The slick relief of a morphine pump as your body feels the flat, welcoming lips of a future drug dependency. Withdrawals and constipations so terrible that they defy polite description.

The fear you feel will pass.

People want to help, but Doctor’s ultimately give you couched, inscrutable answers and your family is unaware, unprepared for the long haul ahead. Your need for a voice of pure, genuine understanding is stronger than the cry of any wounded animal.

This is the profound, pained call that the TSN exists to answer. With unparalleled compassion, peer visitors impart hope, wisdom, and, sometimes, the hard truths that no one else will offer.

Writer David Rakoff once described the inner mind in times of treatment:

They say that times of crisis are the true test of one’s character. I wouldn’t know because my character took a powder that year, leaving in its stead a jewel-bright hardness… It’s as if a neutron bomb went off and all you’re left with are hospital corridors.

My neutron bomb bled into a full nine months of medical incarceration. And the fall-out reaches like a spindly arm across everything after. But they were right, the fear passes and it does get easier, as time, commiseration, and honest advice give way to realization:

You are not alone.

(I wrote this piece in response to a request from the Trauma Survivor’s Network to pen an endorsement of its peer visitation program. When I was in the hospital they sent patients who were further along in their recovery to answer questions, crack jokes, and sometimes just sit. As I rather pompously describe above, it was an experience of indisputable, incalculable importance).

This is, the Age of Adz, Eternal Living…

My mind is speaking in epic platitudes this afternoon. There is profundity in it, but, if I’m being honest, some of the words are stolen from Sufjan Stevens… image

Future Islands - “The Heart Grows Old”

Looking for something the lord would make,
Meters of sleep—buried under the neck
Bereave animal dreams, instinct to keep you
Instance to bleed you
Instinct
Saturday folds, by the time I put my wishing words away
The sound of an old door laughing
Creaks to signal
Your wishing words were saved

The heart grows old
The heart grows old with you
No one in this world could hope to take your place
The heart grows old
The heart grows old and rues
The end of our days
The heart grows old with you

And it breaks my mind in two
Because I know—and you know
That it was never meant to be
Baby I was just too young
To appreciate all of your seams
Now I’m cutting myself
Watching you cutting yourself
Bleeding myself

The heart grows old
The heard grows old and rues
The end of our days, the heart grows old with you
The heart grows old
The heart grows old and croons
Into the blue—the heart grows old with you

Save me, save me from loving you always
Save me, save me from loving you always
Save me, save me from loving you always
Save me, save me from loving you always

It can rain and it can blow — these are not the things that count…

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Often on a rainy day a small joy possesses one so that one retires into a private happiness. One stands straight ahead laughing softly now and then and glancing around. What is one thinking of? A clear pane in a window, a ray of sunlight on the pane, a view across to a little stream and perhaps to a break of blue in the sky. It need not be more.

At other times even unusual events cannot jolt a man out of a dreary and cheerless mood; in the middle of a ballroom, he can sit unmoved, indifferent, impassive.

For it is within ourselves that the power of joy and sorrow lie.

- KNUT HAMSUN 

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The Hard Sex: An Exploration In Chemically Induced Isolation

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I’ve been in Baltimore for two months and things are actually amazing. New friends, fun times, and most of all freedom. This week, my autonomy led me to the decision that I want to get off painkillers, a process that requires one to experience a fair bit of drug withdrawal.

So, take the bitter musings below as fiction and with a grain of salt and remember that the melodrama is induced by chemicals (or, in this case, a lack of what the body wants). This is just rather poor, adolescent poetry based on junkie beats and others of ill repute. Just like my last detox entry - A (Sort of) Drug Story - it’s a bit obscene and a bit indulgent. That’s my way of labeling this NOT FOR MOMS and especially NOT FOR EXES. It’s like a child’s journal entry, one devastating if discovered, because it really doesn’t mean itself. 

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We Made it Together, Baby. WE Made It!!!

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After 9 months in the hospital and 9 months at home with my mom, I am finally on my own again. Here’s to everyone that sent love, prayers and affection, everyone who lassoed, harangued, and cried, and to everyone else that leant an ear. WE did  this. YOU are the ones who brought me back. I love you and I’m excited to see what’s in store. More chronicles of adventure to come as adventure arrives. Brooklyn in time, but for now the Beard’s name is Baltimore!image 

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when i was young man i was a great artist in my own mind and assumed i would die young, as true artists tend to do, or go mad, and thereby become immortal like Buddy or James Dean or Janis, but somehow I kept on living due to the fact that I was too poor to afford herion or a fast sports car or a chartered airplane, and so I got too old to die young and eventually I turned 70, and here I am. No longer the artist I thought I was, but if you ask me immortality is not all it’s cracked up to be. I prefer life itself… That is how a writer is born. You go, you see, and then you tell the others.
Garrison Keillor

This video is like the minimalist techno of rehabilitation and achievement or what microbiotic cells are in science, complex beyond understanding yet so small one could pretty easily miss a million.

You see the trick is, my dead ankle just moved a millimeter. Maybe two? 18 months ago today I sat in a hospital bed in an induced coma, pre-scheduled for months of surgeries I couldn’t immediately complete because I was still in the process of being saved. So, it’s a big deal that I have been walking a lot more and further on my own.

But the biggest deal of the day is that little twitch in my ankle. You see,  for 18 months nerve damage has ensured that the only feeling I have in my right foot is electric chaos. I’ve been told that my ankle may never move again.

So, yeah, maybe these just look like sweaty socks, but I’d argue they are the beginning of a miracle in motion.

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A (Sort of) Drug Story: My Living (and Barely Breathing) Burroughsian Adventures in Externally Induced Addictions

A bad case of math. A failure to adequately read instructions.

5 pills x 30 days = 150 pills

4 pills x 30 days = 120 pills

120 pills / 5 per day = 24 days of pain relief.

The government and pharmaceutical industry regulate controlled substances, limiting their disbursement to 30 day intervals. Thus if a completely legal prescription was to be wrongly consumed at the rate I have outlined, a well-meaning person in pain would find himself sweating out a completely secret, yet absolutely ingrained opiate addiction.image

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The Difference a Year Makes…

I spent the majority of my 30th Birthday in bed. I was by no means alone (the smiling, balloon-carting crowd around me was working lovingly, even against my objections). But there was a peeking darkness, a shade uncovered. I wasn’t just turning thirty (OLD, OLD, OLD!), I was doing it on my back in a nursing home. The big win of the day wasn’t my birthday at all, but instead the 40 minutes I spent up IN A REAL WHEELCHAIR.

A year later, I spent my birthday weekend  in Washington DC, carousing museums and cowering side stage beneath the fury of the PA in my favorite concert hall of all time. And today, my actual day of birth, I made a point of going into physical therapy early, before further festivitives, so I couldshow all of you the greatest gift I’ve been given. Endurance needs work and the right leg and arm could use improvement, but here it is: I CAN ACTUALLY WALK AGAIN!

Love, always, friends, and to those that pushed me kicking and screaming (often literally) to stand on my own again. Here’s to a year that brings even greater joy to all of us. 

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Do not allow yourself to be mastered by irony, especially in uncreative moments. In creative moments try to make use of it, but only as one more means to grasp hold of life. If its use is pure, it is itself pure also, and one must not be ashamed of it. If you feel that you are too familiar with it, if you are afraid of your growing familiarity with it, then turn to great and solemn objects, before which it becomes small and helpless. Seek the depth of things, for irony never penetrates there—and when you go thus to the edge of what is great, find out at the same time whether this form of comprehension arises from a necessity of your being. Under the influence of solemn events, it will either fall away from you, if it is a thing of chance, or, if it really belongs to you and is innate in you, it will grow stronger and become a serious tool and take its place among the means by which you will have to build up your art.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Tough Love: The Story Where Our Hero Gets His Ass Schooled By An Ex

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I’ve been graced by moments of love both severe and delcate, epic and serene. I’ve known passions so pure and unadulterated, felt hands so small and soft, that even the heart’s most extreme hyporbele offers only injustice. In theory, returning undying adoration has been the most steadfast flag of my existence, but, when you think about it, isn’t every Romeo, by definition, a little self-obsessed?

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to reflect again on the idea of “love at another level” as learned from those who stood with me after the accident. I’ve found that the mark of true companions isn’t infailability, but an ability and willingness to rebuild in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It may not be infinite or unquestioning, but it is steadfast and secure.

And so, I bring you, not a love letter, but instead a rather stern admonishment from a friend. You see, even at our best, as we strive to love with an adult’s intensity, we are completely capable of being an asshole (or at least completely forgetting what we should actually be after). As those who love me will tell you, I am no exception:

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