Our youngest brother, Paul, died on November 8, 2014 from the effects of excessive consumption of wine. There is so much more to his story than we will ever know. I keep trying to fill in the blanks, but all I can find are my own projections and the limitations I place on love.
I sense that Paul died of a broken heart and a broken spirit. He was a kind man who could not seem to deal with conflict. He had many skills as a teacher, artist, friend and lover of life, but could not manifest his skills in the world. He seemed to need the approval of others to a debilitating degree. When we give our power and sense of worth to other people, we wither away – and he did just that.
Our parents raised us to be kind and gentle, and not to make too much of ourselves. It was very important that we get along with others at all cost…at all cost! While these guidelines are admirable, one must always be discerning whether a guideline is serving you in particular situations. In this world where “success” often relies on a certain amount of bullying behavior (especially for men), sticking to these guidelines can be our downfall rather than our salvation.
In the end, Paul may have been killed by his own defensiveness. Every “tough love” moment from his wife, brother, and friend was met with “Don’t tell me what to do! You are not my Dad! You are crazy! I am out of here!” He determinedly walked his path carried by the anger and pain that he could not abide and did not know how to heal. I want to honor the path he chose, but I am not quite there yet.
While I use many tools to work through and release my emotions, a primary one is creating sound paintings. I spent many hours in my studio with Paul’s ashes at my feet working out the sadness that was in my heart. This short piece was the result. I appreciate that I had the opportunity to share this with my family at Paul’s remembering last Sunday. Special thanks to Luke Christie for hooking me up with the amplification necessary to share this painting. And thanks to all who honor me and Paul by listening.