Happy Birthday, Henry. If he was turning fifty-one, that means this was written on or about Oct. 25, 1965. He didn’t make it through the next decade, unfortunately. I believe he was done. We can buck up to abuse in our youths, but the body and its dependent spirit wear out earlier than planned if they’re not cared for. For example, the hearing in my left ear is starting to fade, and I suspect it’s due to a couple long-ago rock concerts and a couple projects involving power tools. To be more specific: Rick Derringer, at Riverfront Coliseum about ‘77 or ‘78 or so, who was opening for a headliner my friends dragged me to, maybe Rush or Peter Frampton. He turned the volume up way past the threshold of pain—not music, an aural frontal assault, sinuous noise-power. Unbelievable. Villainous. I was furious, livid, and if I ever hear “Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo” or even “Hang on Sloopy” to this day, the radio switches right off. No thanks. Then there was the canoe I built in grad school, the gunnels of which were fashioned with a belt sander. Did I use earplugs? Um, no. (I do now when I use power tools.) While my hearing has been hurt, I do hope my spirit is still fairly strong, despite the spiritual assault I put it to by just showing up to a Rick Derringer concert. Ugh. The point is, the body will eventually succumb to the degrading assaults we subject it to, alcohol abuse being an excellent case in point.
This is ground B. has been over lots of times. Hammered from above, hammered from below. Body and spirit. I’m done blaming him for his own hammering, but the consequences of his extended behaviors did lead to lots of time drying out in the hospital. It’s still tempting to imagine the relationship between body and spirit as the body functioning as foundation for the brain/mind, from which in turn emerges the spirit. This is probably a conceptual relic of the Great Chain of Being—God the Father over it all, the angels beneath him, the sainted elect, then us: sinners, then the innocent animals, mindless plants, the lifeless rocks. If there’s really any cause to separate these frames of reference in our state of being, our ontological make-up, then I would rather think of them as intermingled, non-hierarchical. We are holistically what we are, all together, folded up at once. Deliberately cut yourself, you’ve cut your spirit. Live a life full of lousy choices, lies, self-abuse and skullduggery, and your face reflects that. You’re responsible for your own face. Keep that in mind when you look in the mirror on your next birthday! Then you can set about younging yourself through wellness and righteousness.