I did not know Chester Bennington. His music was not listened to. My children would have been warned about the neighbourhood he comes from, yet I am truly sorry for the loss of him and feel deeply for what he went through. This write up is the best I can do. I wish I had answers and the right solace but I do not.
Chester describes a line. We all know this line. Two things become known when we cross this line. We know we are in a bad neighbourhood AND we become acutely aware that the neighbourhood we have just left is a bad one too. A sad place either way.
Now I love my bible and the good neighbourhood it prescribes but I know it is on the other side of the tracks from where I am and that most people living in its guarded enclave have no idea of what’s going on.
There are so many stories in the bible that scare me but I will touch on only one. I would like to say it does not touch me but it does. It is a story that points out to me that I am incapable and warns me about what I am really like. Frankly I have gone to counselling to help deal with it.
(Mark 5: 1-20, Luke 8: 26-39)
The story of Legion. Never mind the details and quibbling. More important is the society around him and the reaction. Legion lived on his own and had issues. People allowed him his cave and coped as long as they could walk around and throw him tidbits. When he got better….they cast him out.
I pretend sometimes and put myself in the situation. Unfortunately I am at best the silent one allowing the town to do their thing. At my worst? I do not want to go there. Don’t you know there is a “don’t talk rule” about the mental health of this sick village and me.
I pretend sometimes, not being there, but being where he moved to; he had to move somewhere. This is a bit easier but I laugh at the possible issues that would arise. He would still have his sleeve of tattoos and likely he will paint his garage door pink or paint a mural of the three crosses. He would name his children odd names like “Legion Heirs” and would have all kinds of strange guests around. There would be the door knocking and him asking for donations to help those with mental illness.
I fair better on this test and become fond of my new next door neighbour.
I include a slam poem I wrote a long time ago about the relationship with my youngest daughter’s adolescent years. Her and I talk about this quite a lot and she knows and approves of this poem. She is working now in a camp for special needs kids and I know of no one better for this job. Her garage door is a garish pink though…
Riding a Meteor
I did not spit in the dust and mix up the elements to form this meteor. There is no credit taken for its formation or trajectory, but I have ridden it; standing up, shod only in steel toe boots, hanging on to reins of attachment strong but thin. Hands shredded raw, knees tired and rickety and the slag of the broken bits of burning shards searing naked flesh.
The parenting reins are attached to but a bit of the meteor. Yanking left or pulling back on them has little or no effect. I ride only to be there when it crashes and burns, I ride to be there when it plunges into a lake and sizzles out. I ride to be at the scene to keep its head above the waters as those waters rush back in.
I am father. It is I who pulls her out and draws her up from the wreckage. It is I on my knees assessing her different fires, my hand brushing close to the sparkling magnesium hope marvelling how it does not burn but sputters and glitters with dreams. It is my lips that blow a soft breath on the deep embers and encourage them to crackle and pop again. To revive till my eyes see the glow of renewed energy in her eyes. I wait with her as the heat build up from the friction subsides and then I check her reins and send her back to orbit again; into the atmosphere of community.
The meteor tentative and determined dips tiny toes in among you and I. It slowly picks up inertia and sets its path. It smiles. It is proud, made up as it is of metals and nettles that are foreign, a strength and elasticity that cannot be fathomed. It picks up speed in the atmosphere of you and I and… the friction builds.
Friction we feel as we pass through communities with enclaves of fear and gated suburbs. Friction as we squeeze through webs of fibre optics tightly packed with “should a”, “could of’s” and “would of’s”. Pressed by unforgiving plastic on every side we fly naked and burning.
I send her into the flight path of you because meteors were made to soar. I teach her to watch Playmobile people melt. How to recognize plastic, how it is so very afraid of the black hole of a busker’s guitar case or tracks around the constellation of Turrets Syndrome. How that plastic pools and puddles in basements and hides lumped behind a blue screen. How it gives off a stench of gossip and bullying.
I teach her of the aerodynamics of grace and peace. Wisdom. A meteor with a pointed and graceful prow that pushes you and I gentler and that can fly faster and truer through the unseen. A hull that deflects pride and draws energy from other carbon based life forms that do not melt. A soul that consumes less, that sheds and shares the heat of life. I am father, clothed in fine linens, smelling of cigarettes and sweat as I tuck her in.