Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Other Side

Taken this morning - the steps leading to my bonus room upstairs at my house

Last night I visited 'The Other Side' again.  You say "what is The Other Side?"  Oh, you know what it is.  Yes, THAT 'Other Side'.

When I went to bed last night a storm was passing through this area of the southern Delaware coast.  Here on the coast we usually are spared the brunt of such storms.  Through the noise of the howling winds and rain beating against my windows last night, I easily drifted off to sleep after watching episodes 3, 4 and 5 of 'Downton Abbey' on my DVR.  

Downton Abbey dinner with the Dowager Countess

Sometime last night during the night, while I was in my sleep induced coma  I visited to The Other Side again.  Lately I've been making a lot of visits to The Other Side.  Last night's visit was a pleasant one.  I awoke this morning feeling refreshed and full of anticipation that when My Time comes, a better place awaits my soul when I depart from this earthly body:

Clouds over Route 1 Southern Delaware

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace, Where never the lark, nor even eagle flew - And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high, untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God."

The face of God?
I am not a religious person.  I do not believe in 'man made religion.'  However I do believe that we have a spirit or a soul that goes somewhere when we die.  I know this belief discomfort of varying degrees to those of my fellow human beings who find comfort and security in following their rituals and rules of their man made religion for which strict obedience is demanded by the threat of eternal damnation in the 'fires of hell' if you don't follow their man made rules.  

Hellfire and brimestone preacher

These are the religions who have tortured, maimed and killed countless millions over the centuries (and continue to do so to this day) if you fail to follow their interpretation of religion.  Organized religion has zero creditability with me.  Ever since I was condemned to hell when I was ten years old by a Pentecostal preacher because I was born gay, I knew then that organized religion or 'man made religion' as I call it, was a fraud whose only purpose was to control people.  

Accusing preacher - where is the love?

Organized or man made religion has no meaning for me.  However, unlike many of those who subscribe to organized religion, I do not condemn those who practice their version of organized religion.  They condemn me but I do not condemn them.  They express their sorrow of the 'loss of my soul'  but I am happy that they have found their Way.  I am very sincere when I say when I say that some of them are truly concerned about me and my soul.  However, what I say to them is "Do not worry about me, worry about your own soul."  For you see, I am the master of my own soul  which is what drives those who control organized religion to consternation, frustration and distraction.  But I'm getting off on another whole tangent here which I could write volumes on.  Besides, this argument has been made many, many times and I will never convince the True Believers so what is the use?  It's like pissing in the wind.  You feel good because you're relieving yourself but your piss gets all over you.

Structures for the Canal Front Park in Lewes at sunset

This is what I know.  Last night again I visited The Other Side.  Most dreams I don't remember the details but I remember the details of this dream.  I dreamed I was back at Girard Bank in Philadelphia in the 1960's.  I began working at Girard Bank in March of 1965 in the Trust Department.  All my life I wanted to work in a big bank in a big city and that day my dream was realized.  I was in heaven when I began working there because all of my dreams had been realized. 

A real luncheon that was held in my honor at the Bellevue Strafford Hotel 1986

In last night's dream I dreamed that a luncheon was being held in someone honor (I don't know who) and I was invited to come along.  I left the operations department and went downstairs to the Trust Administration Department with all the pooh bah's of the Trust Department.  As the head Mucky Muck was leading us to the dining room under glistening, crystal chandeliers and red velvet flocked wallpaper; I was having trouble keeping up.  I don't know what was delaying me but I couldn't keep up.  They eventually went on without me and I had to go back to the lunchroom that we in the operations department ate which wasn't near as glamorous as the Trust Administration lunchroom (which I never ate at in real life by the way).

Girard Bank - banking floor

Girard Bank Operations Department
Thinking about it now I think I know where the basis of this dream came from.  I watched three episodes of "Downton Abbey' last night which is another 'Upstairs, Downstairs' English series.  Some of the scenes in that movie took place in the ornate dining room under sparkling crystal chandeliers with bejeweled women and white starched collar men.  Then there were the servants who ate downstairs in basement at a plain table under harsh overhead lightbulbs.  Yes, I think this is what influenced my dream last night.  But even though I wasn't able to keep up with my 'betters' I do remember the feeling of exhilaration that I had when I woke up that I had experienced something good.  

Girard Bank - Philadelphia, PA
My Mother, who died September 16th of this past year, grew up without a mother.  She had a very hard life and when she died she was very paranoid about 'those' out to 'get her.'  She worked and sacrificed her whole life for her family and when she died she left us well cared for.  She also left my brothers and I the best parts of her character.  

Mom, my dog (and best pal) Horace and me - I will see them again some day
For the last couple of years before she died, she slept a lot.  She never told me what she dreamed but I'm sure she dreamed and visited 'The Other Place' too.  Now she is there.  And one day I too will be there.  

When Bill goes to sleep at night he often says "I'm going to sleep and get out of this world."  I often tease him by saying "You don't like me anymore?  You want to get away from me?"  He says "No.  It's not that.  You'll understand someday."  I think I do understand.  

All of the people on my blog roll are younger than me.  Some of them are gay men who have come out late in their life and are now writing about their regrets over what they have missed by not coming our earlier.  Some write about their day to day lives.  They write about their families; wives and former wives, kids, snow, trips, weight loss, jobs, political agenda, religion, et al.  While I find most of their blogs interesting, I haven't found a blog writer yet like me who is nearing the end of his time and is writing about his (or her)  impending departure.  I am curious to know if I'm the only 69 year old gay man who thinks this way or if there are others out there in the great blogosphere like me who wonder what's going to happen to them after they breath their last breath and go to the Great Beyond.

Me on a mountain top in Tennessee - close to "God"
Now I think I'll vacuum my house and plant those fertilizer spikes at the base of my holly trees that I've been putting off too long.  I'm not gone yet.

"Going Home"


Tiger Chanter said...

If there is a "Heaven", I believe it is just a rest stop. I believe in reincarnation and that we come back again and again and again in order to learn lessons to advance spiritually. I'm not afraid of death, but, I am afraid of a slow, lingering death. ((HUGS))

D said...

Don't get me started on religion... I have problems with two of it's principles... no logic contained within... and the hypocrisy. I don't condemn those who believe... in fact I admire those most 'devout' because at least they follow it to the letter instead of the ala carte religious.. picking and choosing what works for them.

nitewrit said...


Uh, not everyone on your Blog List is younger than you.

Very interesting post, by the way.


Ron said...


I believe exactly as you do. If there is a 'heaven', it is only a way station until we are reincarnated. Did you see the Robin Williams movie "What Dreams May Come?" The premise of that movie make the most sense to me. Like you,I do not fear death. What I do fear is a slow, lingering, undignified death much like my poor Mother suffered before she passed away this past September 16th. She did not want to die that way but it happened. At least we provided her with dignity and didn't put her in a nursing home.

Hugs to you too tigerchanter.

Ron said...

Good point Lar! You're not THAT much older than me but you are. At least I'm not the oldest dude in the room. Thanks for the 'interesting' comment by the way. I appreciate that coming from you because I know you give a lot of though to the afterlife.

Ron said...

I didn't even get started on how I feel about organized religion. As I was writing that post I felt myself 'going down THAT road' again and I had to stop myself. You are right on the mark about some religious people practicing 'a la carte' religion. Those type of people...if they are in heaven then I KNOW there is no heaven. Those are the truly evil people. They have no soul. They are ignorant and hateful. They are hypocrites. But I also don't condemn those who long as they leave me alone and don't condemn or try to change me to their way of belief. If their brand of religion is what makes them happy, wonderful! But don't get all pious and condemn me because I don't believe their brand of religion. If you check, that kind of thinking is at the core of all the problems of the world today. Some folk don't believe in the adage 'live and let live.'

Vương Tử Trực said...

Death is to live another life, I think.
BTW, I'm not on your blogroll. LOL

Raybeard said...

Ron, in your penultimate paragraph above you say that all your blog-pals are younger than you. Oddly enough only yesterday I was thinking that you must be the blogger whom I now know who is the closest to my own age - and it may be that I am the closest from your point of view.
Like yourself, I am increasingly pre-occupied with the time when I 'bow out', though not (yet) obsessively so. In that respect at least, you may have a kindred spirit here. Perhaps more on that subject later. Meantime, yes, I can to quite a large extent identify with the way that you feel.

Ron said...

I agree with you, I too think death is another life. I think he go into a holding pattern then were are returned to an earthly existence, perhaps in a different form. I just hope I'm not returned in a woman's body. I like being a man.
Thanks for pointing out that your blog isn't on my blog roll. I thought it was. I will take immediate steps to correct that oversight!

Vương Tử Trực said...

I wish mine will be a tree or a flower :)

Ron said...

Other than my longtime friend Lar (from childhood - 8 years old) who is five months older than me, I think you are the one blogger who is closest to my age. While I'm not obsessed with my ultimate exit, I do think about the details of how I'm going to handle my day to day living as my body (and brain) start giving in to the impeding vicissitudes of my old age. All my life I have planned ahead, the only difference this time it is for my Final Plan. As I said before, I do not fear death but I am concerned with several scenarios leading up to my death. I don't want to be bedridden, with a vacuum for a brain (like one of my friends is now), dependent on someone to change my diaper. I'm making plans, that's all I can say. Everything is up for discussion in my blog because my blog is my therapy plus I'm always open for suggestions. I am no long of the age where I think I will live forever. I know now that the end is near. No sadness or regrets here, just facing reality and how to deal with it and still maintain some comfort and dignity when my flame goes out.

Raybeard said...

That's quite a courageous comment, Ron. I look forward to further exchanges with you on this topic. We could well have mutually-helpful suggestions.

Tony said...

ron, i like that your blog has a unique point of view, rather than just being another "here is what i did today" blog. too many of those! i am twenty years younger than you, but don't have any "family" to write about, per say, so i think i write a lot about being alone, and being alone as i get older. a solitary person, i think about death--but it doesn't frighten me, i just don't want to die soon, because, as an atheist, i don't want it to be OVER. you may have many more years, or only a few, but the same is true for me and everyone. why don't more people think about death? hell, most people don't think about life! anyway, i loved this post--very moving and thought provoking. i very much appreciate your sharing of your thoughts, and that you are like no other blogger. -tony

Ron said...

Tony (caliman),
I think we have a lot in common in our views of life (and death). I too am more fearful of being alone in my old age than I am of death, although I prefer not to do anytime soon. I still have a lot to do, especially at this time of my life which I consider the best. I would like to meet someone like you. Maybe that is one of the reasons I have a blog, to expand my possibilities of meeting likeminded guys like myself. I know quite a few other gay men here in "Gayberry' but most of them are partnered up or guys that I don't have a lot in common with. I do appreciate your positive comments on my style of blogging. I try to be as open as possible without offending my friends. There is a lot that I can't post because they do read my blogs. I try to be respectful while at the same time to have (what I consider) a 'real' blog. Thank you for recognizing that.