“Sometimes on the autumn blows, when it comes through like this, when the evening air has just a faint idea of chill about it and the first musty tangs whip up in the first of the fallen leaves, I remember a life entire and it makes me sad and ecstatic in turns…”
So writes Shane who is from London, but lives in Paris and can’t go home.
Shane was born in 1975 with heroin in his veins. In 1982, his father, a junkie, was murdered by an infamous serial killer. A Brit named Dennis Nilsen.
Shane’s mother fell apart, turned to alcohol, turned to Shane. There was incest. Shane turned to vandalism and drugs. Now 38, he is dying from years of addiction. His lungs rale and wheeze. He is out of breath the moment he wakes up. His feet have turned brown from 10,000 injections.
“…And on the autumn blows, when the colour of your greatest bruises are back in season, when the scars from old love re-open and weep, when childish…happiness rings through from the lost of time, I am compelled to write because this is the parallel universe of which I inhabit and in which I see the flawed and tragic beauty of this world…I cry for life and all the pleasures and pain therein, thereof and there-gone. It is on the autumn blows that death terrifies and offends me and remains something to avoid at all costs…”
Shane never wanted to die or hurt himself. He only wanted to tame the pain and be happy.
Before you judge Shane, remember this. There are two kinds of people. Those who show mercy and those who make sacrifices. One is more educated than the other.
The 19th writer Anton Chekov, wrote a letter to his brother outlining the conditions one must satisfy to be truly educated. First, they must respect a man’s personality and always be tolerant, gentle and yielding. These are the folks who excuse noise, cold and over-roasted meet. Definitely something for us to keep in mind this Thanksgiving as family comes rejoicing bringing in the watery mashed potatoes and fruitcakes filled with rubbery, jewel-colored candies.
Be kind. If no one stabs a fork into your casserole you are clearly at the wrong table, as was I for so many years.
Chekov said educated people were compassionate and not just with beggars and cats. They grieve for what the naked eye does not see. They are pure in heart and fear lies. They are quiet. They don’t belittle themselves to arouse compassion or exclaim, “People don’t understand me!” That’s “vulgar, musty and false.” The educated help buy clothes for their mother. They don’t care about acquaintanceship with celebrities or the well-to-do.
And, now what for the Shanes of the world?
They go out weeping. Their words are seeds. I want to pick up the sheaves they are too weak to carry.
Winter will be here soon. May our mercy match our sacrifice as we gather to give thanks for the “ghastly world that still charms us all.”
Photos of the Oklahoma autumn sunrise were taken on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Location: East of Broadway Avenue at the railroad crossing between NW 23rd and NW 13th. All Rights Reserved