Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Smiling at Spirits, Dancing with Ghosts

Everybody knows a dead person. That is, I mean to say, I'm certain everyone must know someone who has "passed on." I always find it odd, when I add up my collection of ghosts, few of whom I was ever very close to. Maybe that's what provides me such a curious, objective point of view on these phantoms that once were. Memories of people I sort of knew, or maybe should have known, scattered about my mind like a dusty box of fading photographs in the attic.

It just hit me today, that a young man who went missing earlier this year and whose body was found under mysterious circumstances was one of those people I sort of knew. I apparently hung out/went out a couple times with a good friend of his a few years back. I remember reading his name on a missing persons bulletin, and thinking, "Sounds familiar." But somehow it just hit me. You meet people, and time goes on. Sometimes you think about the people you've met casually and briefly, and maybe you wonder what's become of them, maybe you don't.

It seems like the only time I ever hear follow up on these random aquaintances, is when they've become deceased. But maybe that's not correct. Maybe death is the only thing jarring enough to burn these chance meetings into my memory for life. This wasn't the first time.

I'll always remember the smile of the janitor who worked at my elementary school, and the photo in the book I was reading when I heard that he'd killed himself will always appear in my head when I hear his name. And I remember a shy, cheerful man I met only once at a coffee shop in long beach, whose beautiful light was extinguished by a hit and run driver in Vegas. But I'm a "what if" person, so I often think on those that I should have known or barely knew, who I will now never know. The point of these memories is not to kick one's self, but be thankful they once touched your soul- if only for an instant- and to appreciate other such people. Life is a delicate mix of wonderful, not so wonderful and interesting characters who weave themselves in and out of the plot of your life. You in turn weave yourself in and out of others' stories. What sort of character will you be? What sort of image will you leave behind when it's your time to be a ghost?

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