Friday, November 07, 2008

"Hi girls".

My 30 year high school reunion photo taken directly from the website (note the "proof only" tag at the bottom). I decided to go with the Serpico look minus the Al Pacino. Hey, who put that stuffing inside my coat. Mama Mia! That's a spicy meatball (or two).


Blogger Jeff said...

I went to my thirtieth high school reunion last week, and learned that Darryl Pearce had died on February 19th, 2008. He was 48. Darryl and I were best friends in junior high and high school. We were pretty much inseparable. Darryl was a talented illustrator, and he and I would write and draw comic books, to the frustration of our parents and the detriment of our grades. The comic books were satires of movies and television shows popular at the time. MAD magazine on three-ring binder paper, if you will. Darryl was far better than I was. He had an eye for detail that was amazing for someone his age, and an understanding of anatomy and perspective that far surpassed mine. I stole a lot of his drawing technique. He made me a better artist, and he knew it, though I would never admit it. I was an adolescent male, after all, and arrogant and prideful to boot.

We had a falling out toward the end of high school. I took umbrage to something he did, and we ceased to be friends. I think our friendship would have survived this if it had occured at some other time, but it happened when we were graduating and moving on with our lives, so we never really mended things. I saw him only twice over the last thirty years. There are some things that do not fade, though. That age, that transition from childhood to adulthood has a hold upon the memory that the other little epochs of life do not. Consider your first kiss, or your first major humiliation, and you will know what I mean. Darryl Pearce and I had at one time been great friends, and that still held sway, even decades later. Three years ago, I decided to try to contact him. I tracked him down and sent him an e-mail. He responded right away, but, here's the thing... I never wrote back. I was in the midst of a horrible divorce, and was too distracted with the possibility of losing my children and home. I should have written. Hell, I opened the lines of communication. I just let that opportunity I had created go on by. You know what I was thinking? That I had plenty of time to reconnect with Darryl later.

Darryl's father died when we were in high school. One evening he bade his family good-bye, said he was going bowling, and never came back. Somewhere along the way between the alley and his home, he pulled off to the side of the road and died of a heart attack. He was about Darryl's age. It is ironic that the circumstances surrounding Darryl's death are so similar. Darryl went for a short run at lunch to get in shape for a corporate games running event, and never came back. Heart attack. It seems like some cruel cosmic joke perpetrated upon the Pearce's.

I feel grief, of course. I also feel regret. And anger. I feel anger at the seeming capriciousness with which Darryl was dispatched by God or Nature or Loki or Whatever. Darryl was far too young, and had too much yet to give. I am reminded that The Universe is truly a harsh place, and the life to which I cling and the loved ones who give me purpose are always precariously positioned above some abyss from which they can never be reclaimed should they be toppled. In addition to grief and regret and anger, I feel fear. Nothing has changed as a result of Darryl's death, of course. It has always been like this. Still, there was some peace in operating under the delusion that it is otherwise, and that we are all going to live long and happy lives.

One must make some good of tragedy, I suppose, though in this case it is hard to find anything at all positive. Perhaps I should embrace the lesson: that all I know and love, my very existence, can be snatched away in an ugly second. I know I am not as good as I should be. I do not love as much or as well as I ought. I am not living to the fullest, not by a long shot. I harbor hatred when I should cast it out. I put off what is really important. I lie awake and worry about things that really do not matter. I give in to the baser stuff when I ought to be channeling the Higher Power. I watch too much TV and eat too many Doritos.

Maybe Darryl can help me remember to do better. Less grief, less regret, less anger, less fear. That is the only good I can find here. Really, I should do better.

Still, I wish I had written him back.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

Jeff I am touched by what you wrote. I remember twenty years ago when you, Patty Sylvester, and I talked at all hours of the night. One of the things we discussed was your pain over your friendship with Darryl.

Darryl lives inside of all of us. I am going back to what I do best and that is art. Maybe this is a sign for all of us to discover who we are. We must never let the memory of such a person pass on.

You will always carry a little bit of him with you. Maybe you can find peace inside of yourself that you most richly deserve. I always think about that night and wonder how you are doing. I tried to talk to you last week, but there were so many people and too much happening at the time.

The memories of our times at Hillside library making those stupid childish drawings are precious. It was releasing our inner self and made us who we are. How can we best use it? That's for you to discover Jeff. It's important to not let that memory die off.

Keep Darryl inside and use him to the best of your talents. I know I am.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I guess I am in some way grappling with my own mortality in the face of what happened to Darryl. And the recriminations of woulda-shoulda-coulda. Strange that a man I haven't seen but twice in thirty years should have such an effect.

I need to wrap my head around this. Got to head on down to the cerebral woodshed and do some choppin'. Likely end up with nothing but sawdust.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Tony Forkush said...

As I am at work and am being constantly monitored in that old fashioned Soviet style, I will chime in briefly then more at home where the only monitor is my mind.

I really really hear you Jeff. And thank you Michael for your supportive comments. I was stunned and shocked to see Darryl's name on the deceased list. I thought that it was a mistake. Alas, it was all to real.

My fear based paradigm espouses an existential dread ("poor Yorik, I knew him well"). But something far more true releases my own terror of dying (Ernest Becker's "Denial of Death" be damned!)and is shone up to the light. It becomes numinous as everything brought up to the light becomes light. Darryl cannot die, as he was never born.

When I saw the photo of him, he was almost shouting these indelible truths through the computer screen. (And thank you so much Jeff for forwarding it to me.)

The soul takes flight and all our fears and terror is our own egos desperation to make sense of movement that is infinite and unrestrained by the tiny smallness of human thought.

The experience of last week in Simi, the photograph, your words, reassure me of the reality in faith. Such a simple word, yet in it is carried the possibility of true happiness right here and right now. We need only to make that decision each day in honor of those who have come before and wait to see us again some day.

May he rest in peace.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now…” Just like Hamlet who is troubled by death, we all wonder what our fate will be. But I don’t want to look at poor Yorik and wonder what my fate is. I rather look at Yorik and say, I remember. I remember his spirit. I remember what he gave to me. What I shall give to someone else, so when they look upon my skull, they may utter the same words for me.

No, we shall not look at Darryl deaths as a reminder of our own fate, but look upon him as he lived. Yes, most of us have not seen him much in thirty years. It’s the memory of friendship during those times when were all young and enjoyed each other’s company I shall cherish.

Let’s carry on Darryl’s spirit and revel each day upon the lives of the three of us. Let’s always post here so we can have constant contact, if only through the ethers of this bloody machine. At least when I read your words Jeff and your thoughts Tony, I can also hear your voices.

Let’s not wait until the fortieth reunion to share our friendship with each other.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Tony Forkush said...

Here here Michael(applause, applause)

"What is this crazy world we're living in...? Applause. Applause".

2:24 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Darryl cannot die, as he was never born."

As a dyed-in-the-wool Cartesian, I find it difficult to subscribe to the idea that the Self is illusory. I am not sure what has given rise to this idea. Perhaps it is the mistaken notion that when we contemplate the Self, we are contemplating a singular Self, that is, the Self in the moment. I for one do not believe this is possible. Consider this: In the moment the Self contemplates itself, the moment has passed, and a new Self has arisen to take its place. The Self is fluid because it proceeds through time. How can the Self stop time in order to view itself? It cannot. It's a little like trying to see your own eye without the benefit of a looking glass. However, we perceive ourselves as self-aware. How can this be so? Because when we are self-aware, we do not contemplate the Self in the moment, but the Self in the moment past. The Self in the moment views the remembered Self in the mirror of memory. It is memory that makes self-awareness possible, and gives rise to that thing we call consciousness. But consciousness is not a thing; it is a pattern, the product of a process, a cognitive process, cogito ergo sum, baby, a sum greater than its parts, as two mirrors facing each other expose infinity, and though it is a process rather than a thing, it is no more illusory.

I will grant that there is, in fact, a "hall of mirrors" quality to this way of thinking about Self-awareness and consciousness, and one could argue that such a cerebral funhouse breeds trickery, and creates the illusion of the Self. But here is something interesting: The brain is an electrochemical device, and if you generate a magnetic field, and focus it on the temporal lobes, where memories are formed and stored, you will disrupt temporal lobe function, and self-awareness will completely vanish. People who have undergone this selective brain scramble describe a total dissolution of the self, and a oneness with the Universe. The Self in the moment can no longer see itself when the temporal lobes are fried. In other words, short out the memory circuits, and you become timeless, unaware of yourself, and, as an added bonus, in union with God. People who suffer from temporal lobe seizures have similar religious experiences. In fact, there are many who believe that Paul née Saul of Tarsus suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy.

A damaged or magnetically sabotaged brain can be made to be no longer self-aware, and will become one with the angels. Is it a brain malfunction that unravels the Self and causes this hallucination of God? Or are memory and its offspring, self-awareness, the walls around Eden? Regardless, whether it can be ablated or hurdled, the Self remains something quite real.

So why all this prattling on about consciousness and self-awareness and such? Because I have been thinking about death a lot lately. Darryl Pearce died, I have lots of gray in my hair, I can't see or hear good, and there are more years behind me than ahead. The idea that I might simply be undone, and that there is a little bit of hard science to back this up, brings me peace. Really, my fear of death stems not from my own demise, but from my fear of separation. I know that when I die, I will be utterly and completely gone; there will be no Me to contemplate Me in the vast emptiness or the Ocean of Creation or the Arms of God. For those I leave behind, though, well... Thankfully, I am loved by some, and it will cause them pain to never see me again. I hate that. But if I lose someone I love... oh, my, that will be so rolling-on-the-floor, tearing-out-my-hair, heart-achingly awful. Better that it should be me to go first.

Very Selfish, indeed.

Sorry I went down that path, Mike. Your call to remember Darryl and his life rather than contemplate my own end did not fall on deaf ears. I was already too far along not to walk to the end, though. I will certainly try to keep up with the both of you via this blog, though I may fall out of view on occasion. And I'll try not to be insulting or obnoxious.

So, how 'bout them Dodgers? Wait. I don't give a rat's ass about the Dodgers.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

Jeff thanks for writing back. What an amazing post. Where do I begin? If you ask the scientist, when we die, we just die. This makes sense. Our body ceased to exist. However, if you look at people, there is a spirit. . . a soul if you will, I can see it. It’s what makes us unique. Where does that go when we die?

I don’t believe it no longer ceases to exist. It just doesn’t make sense. How can this vibrant soul just fade away? The heart quits working, the body decays, but the soul is not a substance. How can it die if it was never born?

I believe we go into a higher form of consciousness. The life we go to is much better than the life we leave behind. I don’t believe in contact with the soul. Since it’s invisible anyway, it needs a body to communicate. And don’t believe that body is a Medium.

But, the soul cannot just go to this higher form of consciousness. That’s what I believe the real reason was for Christ to come to Earth. To save us. I mean. . . to really save us. We humans like to make rules as a dogmatic set of principles that we must follow. We did not seem to realize that God told us that the pathway to this consciousness is just to believe in his Son. If we have this in our conscious when we die, we will cross over.

No, “You can’t go over because you are not a Christian” and all of that bullcrap. It’s just plain semantics . Believing is a map for your soul. The language got twisted by the Churches.

That’s why I feel Darryl is in a better place. That’s why I feel when you, Tony, and I shuffle off this mortal coil, we will go this higher form of consciousness or what we call heaven.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"A human being is part of the whole called by us universe ... We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive." -Albert Einstein

Einstein was wrong, of course.

What a fine trio we are! We have Tony, who, as best as I am able to discern, believes the self to be an illusion, and me, who believes it is very real, but finite, and you, who believes it is real but goes on and on after the neurochemistry that brought it into this peculiar plane of existence has ceased its fancy dancing. What fun!

I am not sure about the "better place" concept. I have a hard time imagining a better place than my couch in my living room where my son and I play guitars or watch some oddball movie, or my second floor where I sing lullabies to my daughters, or my kitchen where I make dinner for friends and family, or my bedroom where I talk to my girlfriend on the phone until 3:00 in the morning. Perhaps it is my lack of imagination, but I find this a pretty damn good place. I am willing to bet Darryl did too.

I have had moments when I have believed I perceived the presence of a Higher Power. I didn't really trust that perception, but I certainly cannot discount it. There is nothing in my experience to inform me that, even if there is a Higher Power, that It wants me to go on forever, though. Truth be told, I'm cool with that.

Still, if the Old One has something in mind for me after I croak, I'm game. I hope it's fun.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

In the Garden, God wanted us to eat from the Tree of Life. It was not a real tree, but a metaphoric one that actually gave us eternal life. The problem was we wanted more. We wanted to see what God saw. Then we gave up life to view the world from God's eyes.

We, of course could not deal with what we saw. Death, evil, ugliness. Once we ate from this metiphorical Tree of Knowledge, it was like Pandora's box. We could not go back.

I think Christ came down here to bring us back to the Garden so we can once again eat from that Tree of Life.

What we do once we are there, God only knows. I'm sure it's better than watching other live your dreams while you are eating Doritos on a Saturday night watching Bill Maher.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I happen to like Doritos. Yum. And Bill Maher. Yum, yum. Ahem. Anyway...

My life is not too bad, actually. Not quite in synch with my dreams, but if it were, I'd be killing Klingons and boinking green Orion slave women. I know I could do better, though. I'm working on it. Definitely more travel and adventure on the horizon. And I've talked my girlfriend into taking a dip in the quarts of green make-up I got for next to nothing at an after-Halloween sale last week.

Ah, Genesis 3. Big topic, man. And dicey. That particular chapter had more to do with me leaving the Christian faith than just about anything. Anyway, too much for tonight. Getting ready to watch a movie with the monkeys. By the way, if you get a chance to see "CJ7," do it. Mandarin, subtitled, but hilarious. We were all laughing our arses off.

And where the hell is Tony?

Peace, Love and Bobby Sherman, Michael.


3:57 PM  
Blogger Tony Forkush said...


How did you two get this number?

12:48 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...


I just made up a joke.

Was Marat stabbed in a bath tub?

No, he died in a J'accuse... zee.

Ah, the joys of Jacobin humor and ADHD. Still it had something to do with death...

1:16 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Darryl was a Civil War re-enactor. How come there are no French Revolution re-enactors? I could totally get into that. More chicks.

Tony's right, though, in his oblique suggestion that we have co-opted his blog and turned it into some Kubler-Ross / borderline theodicean discourse. Better to stick to the topics the host suggests.

By the way, either of you are free to visit me at

2:16 PM  
Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

As Bill Shakespeare once said, "I count myself in nothing else so happy As in a soul remembering my good friends." So true.

8:09 AM  

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