I ain’t Socrates…
Gallant . That is the exact word that decribes our friend Thomas, Indira. And so much more.
Now, I am worried I came down too strong, sounded too harsh. Zev told me exactly the same thing too. What was I thinking… Well, I know very well what, it just all seems to have taken a life of its own and my intention and a message got quite lost somewhere in the cyberspace between Amsterdam , Springfield and Bihar. Or so it appears.
First of all, I did not want Thomas to slip away and cut this one single thread that connects him to this “family” that is Medium. What my reasons were will become clear further in this text.
The “soul family”, that would include Zev, Thomes and me, was totally in reference to the most recent thread of poetry, jokes and conversation between the three of us. Thomas was the one who invented the name Zev for my close Medium friend Shahzeb Akhter and was himself involved in conjuring this “family” every step of the way. In his last post addressed to me he seems to have somehow forgotten all this and acts surprised as if all this was a figment of my imagination and he “had no idea” “ he had such an effect on me”- almost as if I have developed some unnatural attachment to him, fell victim to his charms. Made me feel a bit awkward.
All this interesting and somewhat unusual dynamics started out with Thomas R. Barton announcing to Shahzeb Akhter his imminent departure from Medium due to acute ill health . He had asked Shahzeb to convey his goodbyes to me. That day I was not active on Medium. When I got the message from Shahzeb , It all did sound serious , even if a bit dramatic.
I had to react fast , no time to think it through, develop the best strategy and so on . He had disappeared once before , but you know all about it.
Let me try to explain myself a bit — you are not going anywhere , right? No stomach flu, or any other reason to rush this conversation I hope ?☺
I have just read what Thomas wrote to me and I do feel as I have been put on the spot now… but here is what I started writing in response to you, before I saw his somewhat fickle reaction . I suppose he felt as awkward reading my appeal to him to “man up” and stay . Was I out of line?
I came to understand that this site , Medium, is not just a place we drop our “produce” , collect the “results” and move on. Behind every word , every line, every story I read there are live human beings . Individuals who think, feel, hurt , struggle. Persons with passions, obsessions, dreams, memories, regrets , desires, anger, sadness , health issues… mental or physical… All of the raw, unprocessed (or processed) human substance. There are war veterans; war refugees ; victims of abuse , of rape, of discrimination; Refugees from the places where children still die of hunger today, in the 21st century; some others who are highly talented and literate but can not afford to pay the 5 dollar membership for this site ; single fathers. The list is long.
I am mentioning all these just as an example of what I am talking about. Every one of us comes with some baggage of his/her own.
There are different levels on which the communication takes place on Medium.
Some people resonate with me so intensely, I feel that raw substance down to my bone marrow.
At some point a certain shift in the communication happens and it ceases to be just about the art and the craft of the verbal expression, about the “poetry and/in the form”. All of us just exercising our “writing muscles” like when we get formal literary prompts for a short story or a poem and such. In some cases the substance of humanity just happens to prevail and to weigh even more than the pure, dry , impersonal and indifferent literary form. It is also an undeniable fact that some people on Medium immediately stand out on my, your or anyone’s horizon . Something we recognize is said or implied , something that immediately connects us , that involves us personally and triggers certain processes of communication on another level. It is usually mutual and it is usually exactly that thing which has little to do with the literary form , but has everything to do with the raw human condition that exists prior to the literary form.
Try to picture a wave . A wave of words that rushes to the shore . As it withdraws it shifts the sand and the pebbles that are the very material the lanscapes of our minds and the labyrinths of our fates are made of. Every time the wave surges and withraws, it reveals different figures and shapes as if washed out on sea shore. Sometimes they look human , so real and unique. Sometimes we see the familiar contours, even of ourselves in there. With each new wave the patterns change . The images transform , shimmer, shift, merge and shift again…in the ways we never thought possible. That is the magic of exchanging and sharing the gifts made of words. But I am digressing …
Back to the subject:
Secondly, I tend to believe in the power of mind over matter. I believe that the state of our minds has a direct influence on the physical aspect of our existence and specifically on the state of our health.
I know Thomas has a history of delicate health with some critical moments and narrow escapes in the past. I believe being present and active on Medium keeps him stimulated inspired and generally in good spirits. In my opinion this is vital for his physical health. I know how vivacious and humorous he can be , a pure delight to chat and joke with . And there is aways that undercurrent too . It is to be read in his pieces of poetry — sometimes almost explicit but mostly berween the lines … the glimpses of that raw human substance.
Now I am running out of time here, this post was kind of unplanned, but I felt, quite urgent — as a response to you and to Thomas R. Burton too.
I will have to rush it a bit.
Finally, I believe it is not only okay , but important to embrace the whole of this Medium experience as I have described it above. The dichotomy of the purely literary on one hand and the personal on the other — the human element we are simultaneously exposed to.
I came to love and to truly care for some people here — too many to name them all — some names I do not even know as they only give a pseudonym. Here are a few: Sherry Caris, Auta Wilming, Tre Loadholt Susan Christiana, Fauzia Farrah , Normal Earthling, Tasneem Kagalwalla, Randomly, Meg, Michael Ramsburg , Alto, Shahzeb Akhter, Mike Essig, Thomas R. Burton and more. Now, in a hurry, I can not remember the names of all whose words have affected me, who have left their footprints on my soul and carved mementos on my heart. The people I have never met, but who nonetheless influence and affect me in many ways. I like to believe that I too have affected some of them , hopefully in a good way.
That is the true power of the Written Word. When it comes alive and changes our reality.
All this is the reason why I thought it important to put a bit of pressure on Thomas R. Barton to remain present on Medium . I believe it will make and keep him healthier.
I can imagine when he is sick alone in his room, all that humor, chatm and gallantry are in hybernation somewhere. Switched off. And they are his very life force.
If he disappears again and who lnows — maybe forever , wouldn’t I feel a bit responsible if I had not made an attempt to make him stay ? For all I know he may be suffering from bouts of serious deptession when he vanishes from the air and sits alone and in pain somewhere in Springfield , U.S.A.
This is all I had the time for. Indira , thank you so much for getting involved and for “listening”.
Oh Hronos , and you too Hypnos, why don’t you show me some mercy? All you give me is ball and chain!