Things are not nearly so comprehensible and sayable as we are generally made to believe. Most experiences are unsayable; they come to fullness in a realm that words do not inhabit. And most unsayable of all are works of art, which —alongside our transient lives—mysteriously endure.Rainer Maria Rilke
As I write today, I share a sacred part of my life no longer found in any accessible geography, and while not easily found on a map owing to its subtlety, is absent now from all future cartography. This writing commemorates the last known position of my father on my mental GPS. The location service halted on the evening of 1 January, 2023. I wonder which breath of mine was synchronized with his last. Did I notice it falter in the vacuum of his?
My father’s impermanence was hidden from me. He had the qualities of an immortal: meaningful thought, quick wit, energy in physicality and in love. The many episodes with him in his wood shop were visceral experiences of resurrected nature; the working of a piece of dying wood into some form of permanence; creating art from the raw refuse of nature.
Parceled wood and bark covered pieces of tree lived in his wood shop, all pregnant with a creation yet to be imagined. He had a boyhood wonder about such things. We played in the wood shop like two giddy boys. No wonder I could not see his impermanence, we existed in a timeless place of co-creation.
Perhaps it was his skill in bringing life to a piece of wood sentenced to decay that I marveled at; his craft of resurrecting its disconnected and abandoned state into an immortal work of art.
This impermanence I felt of him likely grew in my mind from his ability to redeem what others might have missed. He did this with wood and men; he did this with me as an abandoned adolescent boy. I wonder what he saw in the abandoned and decaying material of my soul that gave him a hint of its potential? I wonder what he found in others that was always redeemable?
My father’s life was so self-evident, that words fail to capture it… and yet I try.
His presence was far too deep for the definition of language. You would have had to know him to know his presence. I found it unfailing.
He seemed always to live in a baseline of joy and I was sure at times that there was a song in him. I could almost hear it play when I was with him, sometimes I think I still can. Perhaps his song now plays in me as a familiar presence, maybe it always did. Perhaps this is what I carry to the next generation. To those who accept me, a gift freely offered.
My father was masterful as an artisan of wood and men, but he was the work of art. He had the gift to see in the raw unshaped material the potential that most could not see.
His fascination with farm machinery, trains, tools, wood, and people were all seemingly numinous experiences for him.
He held his own awe of life.
Now… only awe and silence can hold him in return.
I miss you daddy.
The passionate Phoenix of Firefly Horizons and conceptual prognosticator of Mutatis Mutandis reborn through the scorching forge of his annihilation into creative sanctuary. Steve translates the fury of his Phoenix experience into experiential exegesis in search of perspectives not yet in view. Read more about Steve • Articles by Steve