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  • I often had a sense, when I was growing up, that there was so much about the world, and about life, that I simply did not understand. Part of it, I’m sure, was the fact that I had all these older siblings who were into more complex things in life than I, and they either assumed I understood, or assumed I was too young to understand, what was going on. I always felt like there was some secret that I was not in on. A part of me was glad I wasn’t in on it, because it didn’t seem to necessarily make people happy.

    The only thing is, I never grew out of that feeling. I still feel like there is so much about life, and the world, that I simply do not understand. Maybe this is part of what drives me, trying to understand it. Then again, I wonder if there is that other part of me that really doesn’t want to understand – that just wants to live simply, and be happy in my ignorance of whatever this “secret” is. I wonder, sometimes…

    Dad, the insurance adjuster, who would go out and interview people for insurance claims, and discover many of people’s secrets through his investigations, was fond of saying, “You never know the whole story about someone until the final chapter is written. So many people have secrets, things that no one knows about them – these things eventually have a way of rising to the surface.”

    “Likewise”, he’d say, “People who have been driven by some dark demons for most of their lives can change, at any given moment, and give up the ghost – let it go on without them. Stop running from the demon, turn around and face it, call it on its bluff, bring it out into the light, and let the world see it for what it is – just a crazy demon, not really real, just something that was there to drive them crazy. And they can change – just like that”. Dad was full of nuggets like these.

    I can’t believe I once thought he was full of shit. Well, sometimes he was. But, I did come to love how he would ramble on about people, and how their lives were like a book, and you didn’t really know the whole person until you’d read the final chapter, and sometimes, the epilogue – it eventually all came out. You just never knew.
  • This helped me a little bit with that sense of not understanding life and the world. It was okay to not fully understand it all. Maybe one of the reasons I didn’t understand was, I often took people at face value. I believed whatever they were dishing out. I took people at their word. I didn’t see all the complexities below the surface, the things that drove them, the act they might be putting on to hide who they really were. I bought it.

    I guess, in a way, I still do that. There’s so much I must miss. Somehow, I manage to get along, despite this. I want to understand, but only to an extent. I want to believe who you say you are.

    What has me on this little ramble this morning is learning about John. I’m struggling to understand. Wondering if there was something I missed. I didn’t know him well. I spent nearly every Monday in June beside him for 3 hours, singing barbershop harmony songs, learning a rousing version of the National Anthem. He was a fellow Bass singer. He had a very cool British accent. He was an affable fellow. Seemed to have a good sense of humor. We attended two events at Nationals Park together, both games that we were supposed to sing the National Anthem at – the one that got rained out, and the one that we wound up actually singing it at.

    I was drawn to him. He was bright, had a quick wit, and was a good singer. He was a scientist at the National Institutes for Health, studying rare parisidic diseases. I’ve always enjoyed talking to scientists – they fascinate me. They have a way of looking at the world, and expressing themselves, that I really love. Maybe that part of me that doesn’t understand, likes to be around someone who seems to understand, the world around me, like I always thinks scientists do.

    A few weeks ago, we learned that John went missing one day. Left for work in the morning, like he normally does, didn’t show up for a meeting, didn’t come home that night, and was never heard from again. This morning I learned that he was discovered, near his car, way out in Allegheny County, Maryland, somewhere way out in the boonies, dead. There were no signs of foul play. He had previously been seen on a surveillance camera checking into a motel, later on the day he went missing, appearing to be distressed. He was also spotted along the C & O Canal in Cumberland County by several people, also appearing distressed. His wife said that he was the least likely person she knew who would just go missing one day like that.

    There’s so many things I simply don’t understand. But, I do understand this – life is pretty damn good. Mysterious as all hell – but good. I’m glad to be alive, today.
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