It is one of those quiet, rainy mornings. I do not know why but I have been thinking about my brother a good deal recently. We were never close during our childhoods. We were separated in age by only three years but it often seemed a much wider period of time. We had not spoken in the seven years following our mother’s death, and then one day I received the message that he had died. Life, death and time all converge at this point during each of our existence.
Our mother was the connecting point between us so when she left whatever connection was there, was broken. I do not know what made him so angry with me all the time but that was his nature, especially after Viet Nam. He sign up for repeat tours. Three in all. I missed it by the draw of the lottery system. We only knew our experiences with each other and never really knew the other person. He never wanted to discuss any issues between us. I believe he was afraid to open up.
“You are always trying to psychoanalyze me.” He would say. “I am beyond your analysis.”
And he was. Now, when I look back, I know there was nothing more I could have done. He has come into my dreams recently. He was not a part of my life after I left for college and he to Viet Nam. I lived briefly with he and Lillian, his third wife, when I moved to Los Angeles hoping to bridge the gap between us. That experience proved to be a disaster. So now he enters my dream world, uninvited. My dreams are my own. So what is it I need to learn?
I know time does not exist in this realm at the Inn Of Inspiration where I invite those who inspired my life to aid and inspire others but it has truly slipped away from me this morning. I see Fyodor Dostoyevsky coming up the path. We agreed to meet for some tea and a hot bath at my cave and he is right on time.
“Dobroye utro, moy dorogoy drug. Dobro pozhalovat’ v moy dom.” (Good morning my dear friend. Welcome to my home.) I say.
“Socrates. You are always a source of wonder to me. I did not know you spoke Russian.”
“Well, I do not. I practiced those two lines for a few days now so that I might greet you in you native tongue.”
“I am honored by your gesture Socrates. Dobroye utro, moy dorogoy drug.”
After a brief exchange of our recent activities and our first pot of tea, I suggest we move to the hot stream running at the edge of my cave for a soak. I always do my best thinking here and today there are many thoughts filling my brain.
“The first book I read of yours was Notes from Underground. It was also the first book of existentialist literature I read and influenced my journey through philosophy during my college years. I identified with Underground Man then and in many ways still do. When you look back at your early days as an existentialist philosopher do you still despair?”
“When I look back at the past and think how much time was spent in vain, how much of it was lost in delusions, in errors, in idleness, in the inability to live; how I failed to value it, how many times I sinned against my heart and spirit — then my heart contracts in pain. Life is a gift, life is happiness, each moment could have been an eternity of happiness. Si jeunesse savait! (If youth knew!)”
“I see in you Fyodor myself reflected in so many shared experiences. We have both lived various phases of our life high on the hog, in the depths of despair, and in material plentitude and scarcity of those necessities of life. An yet here we are. Still here, sharing this hot stream and tea together. Do you carry any bitterness within?”
“I’m not despondent and I haven’t lost heart. Life is everywhere, life is in us ourselves, not outside. There will be people by my side, and to be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart — that’s what life is all about, that’s its task. I have come to recognize that. The idea has entered my flesh and blood. The head that created, lived the higher life of art, that recognized and grew accustomed to the higher demands of the spirit, that head has already been cut from my shoulders. But there remains in me a heart and the same flesh and blood that can also love, and suffer, and pity, and remember, and that’s life, too!”
“I am asking these questions of you today Fyodor because just prior to your coming I was thinking about my brother. Following our mother’s death my brother pointed a gun to my head and threatened to ‘blow my fucking head off.’ I have never before in my life felt such fear and hatred for another human being as I did in that moment. I felt abandoned by all I believed in.”
“I understand Socrates. I haven’t lost heart, remembering that hope has not abandoned me. After all I was at death’s door also, I lived with that thought for three-quarters of an hour, I faced the last moment, and now I’m alive again!”
“So, are you saying because I still have life that I should forgive him?”
“A true friend of mankind, who you are Socrates, whose heart has but once quivered in compassion over the sufferings of the people, will understand and forgive all the impassable alluvial filth in which they are submerged, and will be able to discover the diamonds in the filth.”
“I am not there yet my friend. My brother appears in my dreams naked before me seeking my forgiveness and I am unable to have the thought, let alone say the words. How were you able to forgive the tsar who stole ten years of your life in prison camps and forced military service?”
“We must love all that has been created by God, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf and every ray of light. Love the beasts and the birds, love the plants, love every separate fragment. If you love each separate fragment, you will understand the mystery of the whole resting in God. You must see the good in your brother.”
“I take your words to heart Fyodor because we are each mirrors for the other but I do not have the capacity within my own heart right now to forgive him. Our relationship was much different than that of you and your brother.”
“And it is so simple Socrates. The one thing is — love thy neighbor as thyself — that is the one thing. That is all, nothing else is needed. You will instantly find how to live.”
“I know you speak the truth Fyodor. I thank you for that and for your listening and understanding, moy dorogoy drug.”
“It is my pleasure Socrates.”
The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Book II Chapter Fourteen — Olga Jacoby will be published on Sunday, April 06, 2020.