[I] may be crazy but I'm the closest thing I have to a voice of reason.

07 June 2010

The Shape of My Heart

Dear Sweet Readers,

You have no idea how happy I am to be saying those words again. Well, perhaps you do. I have received tweets and blips and emails saying that you love reading MyZeroBDayBlog, that you miss me, that you wonder what the shaman was thinking when he told me not to blog, that perhaps I’d feel better if I just wrote again. Indeed I will. And I’m pretty sure that the happy dance I did over blogging again could be seen from space. I am THAT happy to be here.

Having said that, I present to you the blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago, a blog I had wished to post for Memorial Day but couldn’t. How did this happen when I was officially not blogging? Well, the shaman decided that writing was good and so I was given the green light to blog, just as long as I emailed them to him instead of posting. As a compromise, it seemed good enough. Better than not writing at all, right?

The Shape of My Heart (lyrics)
Thursday 20 May 2010

Tonight I found myself thinking of #MilitaryMonday, the day when we post onto Twitter our support of those serving in the military. I always celebrate #MilitaryMonday by posting music on BLIP.fm. It goes to my Twitter page where I have many followers who serve or are in support of those who serve our country. Earlier on Blip, I was playing Sting’s “The Shape of My Heart,” sending it out to DJs in thanks for supporting me. My support of those in uniform and the support I have received as a writer not writing, those two conflated. Because the hour grows late, I will skip any attempt at explanation for that. Just let me say that the lyrics of “The Shape of My Heart” say much of what is in my heart tonight about the shape of why I write. I don’t write for money or respect or even readers, though I love knowing that you are out there. No, I write as a meditation. I write “to find the answer, the sacred geometry of chance, the hidden law of a probable outcome... [as] a dance.” That my words bring pleasure to you, that they may also bring you a measure of relief or recognition, this is a privilege I enjoy, but it’s not why I write.

If I said that I write because I love you, dear sweet readers, you might wonder at my sincerity and the shaman might think that something is wrong, imagining that I have lost myself in the need to be validated by others. But that’s not the shape of my heart.

Back to #MilitaryMonday. The reason I post music for our troops isn’t just that I married a Marine; in three tours, he saw no combat, though he had the once-in-lifetime experience of evacuating refuges from VietNam. It isn’t just that my father was in Special Forces for three grueling tours of duty; I didn’t grow up with him, though he later shared with me the details he could share with no one else. And it’s not because I have a friend serving in Afghanistan, though he defuses bombs for a living and has just been deployed to the China sea where North Korea is flexing its muscles. No, I post music for #MilitaryMonday because I know death. I have known, since the age of three, the gut-wrenching loss that comes with the death of a loved one and I know the loss of loved ones who die long before their time. I know the loss of someone who dies in your arms. I know the feeling of loss compounded by loss compounded by loss compounded by loss; AIDS brought that to me. But mostly I post music for our troops because I know the exhaustion of fighting what others consider to be a hopeless, perhaps even useless, cause.

Those of you who are regular readers know my memoir of love and death, The Movie Lovers, which describes my friendship with and eventual care-taking of Jose Sequeira as he died from complications of AIDS. But despite this experience, despite many losses in my life, I do not know the loss that the man I now call my best friend has known. Before the time of AIDS, he and a friend from his hey day in the gay bars started listing their tricks, a game of one-upmanship. For those not in the know, a gay man’s “tricks” aren’t johns but one-night stands, the mecca of gay sex before the blight of HIV. My friend and his friend stopped when they got to a hundred, no point in gilding the lily, right? After my friend lost his partner to AIDS -- which is how we met, in a grief group for survivors -- he and his friend did a reprise list, this time of the men they knew who had died. Again they chose to quit when the number reached one hundred. Through this friend, I now know the experience of death that is of so great a proportion that all sense of perspective is lost.

This is why I play music for our men and women in uniform. This is why I write. The shape of my heart demands it.

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  1. Dina, I am smitten with this piece of work. Your uncanny writing gift is music to my eyes! TSVM! Jeff {renothespinner}

  2. I love the idea of someone being smitten by my work. Thank you, Jeff. ~wanders off... "smitten! he said smitten"...~