Think / Able

Think / Able

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Response to the Flaming Lips' "Do Your Realize" and Ed Sheeran's "Thinking out Loud" and Disney's Up


This essay was originally written as part of the story of my wife Heather's and my marriage (Toledo, Ohio) that I wrote in large quantity in 2012. In that incarnation, each song from our wedding soundtrack was to tell a moment of our life together. This one was from the Flaming Lips' "Do Your Realize."


I have updated the Flaming Lips vision of this with Ed Sheeran's words in "Thinking out Loud" because they combine well with the images of that Carl and Ellie in Disney's Up to mirror the reality our marriage and love, especially the first lines, which I think about her saying to me as my leg shakes with tremors.

When your legs don't work like they used to before
And I can't sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks
And darling I will be loving you 'til we're 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am
So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are...


From the early days of our goals of pursuing waterfalls and vistas, as we did in 2008, to going to musicals at the Fulton Theater like we did last weekend and that we will do this weekend, our marriage has been a lot of good times. Since 2009, there's bound to be other things that weren't always as good, too, but I wouldn't trade our journey for anything. While the future is uncertain for us as it is for all love, with or without Parkinson's involved, I look forward to shaking the winter cold off once and for all and seeing the rebirth of spring to get out and explore places near and far.


From swampy adventures on the Florida / Georgia border to Virginia Beach to New York State to Yellowstone and Canyonlands, there will be a lot more good times and journeys through the world's trails. As long as I'm walking and breathing, we'll keep journeying and pushing on, whether it be in the woods, in a canyon, or on a beach, life is meant to be lived. There's nobody I'd rather live my life with... even if she doesn't want to go see Iron Maiden with me in June.


Fortunately, we've got Disney's Up and its adventures to mirror our journeys past, present, and future.


The morning of August 15, 2009, is a blur. So many things are happening and have happened. There are still more things to do.
With the playing of The Fragile Army CD and the preliminary pictures taken, the countdown to 11 A.M. began, and with that, it was important that at 80 minutes out, the right mix CD was playing. And so it opened up with the ethereal synthesizer sounds of “Do You Realize” by Flaming Lips. In the hauntingly beautiful words, there seemed to be a premonition to every life that would ever be lived or characterized in song, book, poem, or movie that ever categorized the completeness of a relationship with regard to how it began and how it ends and how it represents the course of an entire life as the iceberg that lies beneath the surface, the private moments, the beautiful realizations, the frustrations, the hopes, the dreams, and the enormity of all that it is happens to be more than a series of pictures on a windowsill.
Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips softly harmonizes the words into a beautiful love song, but there’s so much more to it if only someone listens to hear him sing, “Do You Realize that you have the most beautiful face? Do You Realize we're floating in space? Do You Realize that happiness makes you cry? Do You Realize that everyone you know someday will die?”
Here is the world of human relationships. Here is Anakin Skywalker in torment when he should instead listen to Yoda’s words of non-commitment to mortality and move his thoughts into focus on the time that you have and being happy with that. If he did, he might hear the words of the Flaming Lips, and here, he could use these words to capture the montage of scenes from the life of Carl and Ellie in Disney’s Up.
Before I begin with what the music and words have come to mean, I should say it wasn’t intentional in how I sound-tracked Heather’s and my wedding at the time, but it does reflect where the choices of song will someday take us on our journey through life to the point that one person experiences the temporary time apart until the spirits are intertwined at a later time. I have promised that if I could control it, I would be the one to experience the time apart, but as I am not to control things, I should only hope that Heather never feels this pain. I should also state in the very same way, going to see the movie Up was never meant to reflect all of the things in Heather’s and my life, but in the scenes of how Carl and Ellie meet, fall in love, and live life until she gets older and passes away, there is an expression of the journey of loving as a mirror of the life that is and the life that is to come, of marriage as the right place to be with the time that we do have. And for this, we should only focus on the happiness of the time that we have as the rest can take care of itself when the later time comes, for otherwise, it becomes a heartbreaking image of the failure of being human as the earthly punctuation mark that exists until it doesn’t exist in the material now.
In the same way that Flaming Lips sing of this, Neutral Milk Hotel sings of much the same thing when Jeff Mangum expresses that “One day we will die and our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea but for now we are young let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see love to be in the arms of all I'm keeping here with me, me.” And while his love was for Anne Frank, a gal he never would have a chance to meet, the feeling is still the same. If there is a Heaven above, or at the very least a Heavenly type world, then you are there, and I will find you. If there is a place where souls go when it is all over, then you are there, and I will wait for you.
“I hope that someday, I am there with you.”
And just like that, our dusts are surely mingled and intertwined in a heavenly world where they can be like Pound’s kindred spirits holding hands into the eternity of the universe forever and ever.
“I will be your river merchant, if you will be my wife.”


And Carl and Ellie never quite made it to the most beautiful waterfall of all, Paradise Falls, which they always said they would see together, but…
And there always is a but…

In real life, Heather and I have seen many great waterfalls together. We have felt the mists of Sullivan and Pike County whip at our faces. We have traversed the paths that cross above great gorges as the sides fall off into the infinite chasm that lies below. We have held onto roots as we crawled up and down steep cliffs to see if we could rediscover the mythical green spot that I once saw glowing through the trees and onto the pitch pool that lies below the cliff as it thrusts its water down on us as I saw it on that 37th birthday I first found it. And we have felt water on our feet and experienced the scratch of branches and sticker bushes as we cut across shortcuts in search of what may or may not be on the other side.


This is a path right?
And we have done this in order to get to the uppermost falls on the trail. Heather looked at the books, the pages that showed the next adventure, and from memory, I told her what was to come. It was all part of the grand plan, the experience, the togetherness, and the memories. And every one of these times has been beautiful. Even when the waters trickled down, we watched the skeletal waters drip drop at their simplest and most aesthetically mechanical moments. It was never meant to be everything. It just sort of became a symbol of what everything would become.

And for that reason, I look forward to the next adventures this spring, whether my tremors shake or my eyes don't blink or if my smile isn't as big because of the bradykinesia. Inside, I will be completely and totally happy.

And Carl and Ellie did have a great life together. It was clear that they would have an even greater forever together. They did form a “duprass” in spite of Carl’s plight of being left in the world long after his significant other shuffled off this mortal coil. They may never have combined to form children, but that didn’t matter since they made each other whole, and this was love.
Nevertheless, instead of feeling all of the good things that they had, Carl instead felt consumed by the loss of the earthly presence of his lover… his appendage… his companion for life… and he is led to get old and lost and lonely until he reluctantly, but necessarily, starts the new adventure that she always wanted for him to have.

And how did we cast off the monkeys on our backs, discard our stale appendages, and throw away our things that no longer mattered to come to the point where we could just easily and openly fall in love forever and ever and ever? Isn’t that the greatest, but most wonderful mystery of all?!

For this, there is a power in how Carl and Ellie and all perfect couples grow old and intertwined in all that each other was, is, and will be. This, we see in the journey through all of the ties that she knots up for him in order to fulfill his working man’s destiny that will provide lift off for others who can be made happy by his very presence and purpose, which is to support and take care of her forever and ever.

And there are ties that hang around my neck, ties that are hanging in my closet, ties that are matched to a variety of colored shirts, and ties that are worn to impress those who sit before me as I enter the room. There are power ties for interviews, and there are ties that just coordinate to the colors of Heather’s dresses and other outfits that she will wear to weddings or special occasions. There are even bow ties for Christmas and wedding rehearsals, bow ties that are worn to resemble the great academic adventurer Indiana Jones, a bow tie that I can wear to be a part of a simpler, nostalgic time from a history that did and didn’t exist.
Billy Joel would understand. Perhaps, I too am an innocent man.
“I’m so inspired by you. This hasn’t happened for the longest time.”

Was I this kind of a man to you? Were you impressed when you saw me wear my ties when I came to be with you? Did I look handsome and worldly, filled with intelligence and charismatic leadership that would make you listen to my words and follow my actions into forever when I dressed up to go to the King of Prussia Mall and came to your apartment after work? Did you see the things in me that nobody else saw, the things that led you to love me forever and forever?
Or was it something else?

But Carl doesn’t see that. We are aware of what he is missing and must gain because the good folks at PIXAR have provided us the perfect sequence of falling in love. As for Carl, he sees only the empty future that goes on without Ellie.
And with that, now that the original adventure has ended, he thinks that there is only loss, and he forgets the good times other than that they were there and that they were callously and maliciously robbed from him and he decorates the world with his anger and sadness, rather than paying tribute to the beauty that was shared with him.
Even in motion, he sees only the past. Even when he eventually makes it to South America, and he finally gazes across the canyon to the waterfall, he can only comprehend that he isn’t at Paradise Falls yet. It’s still so far away. Even with Russell helping him to get there as the boy youthfully and playfully runs off to be where he himself needed to be in order to see the beauty of the world in much the same way that Carl felt as a child, Carl can no longer relate to what Paradise Falls was to two kids playing in an abandoned and decrepit building.

Every day that we spend together, every sight that we see, every dream that we dream, every time that we go out to dinner and talk about our lives, every walk that we take down the side-walked paths, every picture that helps us remember some inconsequential event, every change that is made to this home that we live in, every ornament that adorns a Christmas or a Halloween tree, every obstacle that we overcome, it is just a part of the Paradise Falls experience, and for this, I will never regret one single day of the journey that we have entered onto together.

Here, Carl is the curmudgeon instead of the brave and noble man. For all Ellie has taught him, it seems that she hasn’t taught him enough. The anger and resentment is so palpable that it is easy to send him off to the retirement home.
But before that can happen, there must be another teacher, and this learned colleague will be the boy who is now teaching the man to step up to the plate and be who he needs to be. For this, Disney has taken Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and played it out with balloons and giant birds and talking dogs. While the family nature of PIXAR removes the potential for vicious attacks that existed for the boy and his father, there is still a fear of the bad things that Charles Muntz, the former hero, is capable of committing in order to regain his good name. There is something about the all or nothing questing nature of man to find his white whale that will lead him to disregard all things for the completion of what needs to be done. The permanent questing nature makes people forget that there was ever anything else that was important out there, and for the consequences that it offers, the rewards offer very little other than to say, “I was there” or “this is who I was” – even if the formerly great “I” is now someone entirely different. And while Muntz is a real life Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges, a shameless promoter of himself and liar to the world, Carl is in an all or nothing quest of his own to get to the waterfall, where he forgets the lessons that he has learned regarding honor and meaning, and this is where Russell steps in to keep the man from ending up just like the fallen hero who now stands before them.

But our lives are different. There are no growling dogs here. We aren’t going to battle for survival in a giant dirigible that floats through the air with its cargo being transported back to civilization. Instead, our battle will be with the 21st century work and play world that we have come to live in. We will battle for purpose with the world around us in a way that sees us look to find meaning in spite of our obstacles and those the world puts in front of us, but nevertheless, we will battle, and there will be tough days, but we will prevail and we will be better for the experience so that we can travel to the California Redwoods and the Caribbean and Tahitian beaches. Someday, we will walk along the raised pathways of the Italian coastline. We are assured that good things come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work to deserve them, and we are working to overcome our failures in order to deserve them. We are working hand in hand with a God that will show us what really matters and who will inspire us to be the kind of people that He wants us to be. In the meantime, we will be patient, introspective, and dedicated to the future that we want to have together. These are the things that really matter.

Like most stories that are written for young children, we learn from Up that a promise is a promise. We learn that we must be on the side of what is right. We must not be afraid as we go off to defend what is good from what is evil. Whether we are Wilderness Scouts, old men, aging women, or soldiers entering into battle, we must be brave. As human resources workers or teachers, we are still entering into a battle for our futures and those destinies of the people around us. Equally, even if Carl doesn’t seem to want to lock and load for war, Russell will be there for Kevin no matter what. Here, we must realize that we don’t always look eye to eye to find a hero, but we will never look down to find the greatness that is all around us.

I will always be there for you. I have my arms to put around your beautiful body. I can hold you through the roughest of tides. I can forget my own selfish pains, and I can make it all right. I can give you enough love to make you feel that a forever with me is the best place to be, and that here, you will always be safe and warm and snug and protected and loved and adored.
You are the bestest bestest, and I need you and love you more than you can possibly imagine.

But then Carl is jolted back to life by the sense of honor and paternal instinct that he possesses, that he was filled with while trying unsuccessfully to have a child with Ellie. He is led to do what is right, and he just does it and all is good with the universe again as he comes to Russell, Kevin, and Dug’s aid.
And in there, Carl realizes something more; he is not who he was when he fought the construction man to keep his house. He has literally flown off to something newer and more powerful, something that is and always will be intertwined with Ellie. That said, it doesn’t need to be bound to reality with earthly items in the way that it once was. The line of demarcation goes on throughout the story until Carl realizes that Ellie loved the trip through the adventures that they did have together in the way that life took them. The house was all just a place that they came back to and share their lives together. Their far-fetched dreams were just that – hopeful ideas and distracting thoughts that kept them from focusing on things that wouldn’t matter past the hiccup that they caused. Flat tires are like that. All of the things that go wrong in the course of a day, be they the kind of things that take money to fix or just time and effort, they are just hiccups that need to be water off of a duck’s bad. Even a disability is just that. All of us need to learn that in the same way that Carl learned his lesson. And in the end, Carl and Ellie’s real life was the thing that made perfect sense. For that… how good their lives together were BECAUSE OF the changes that happened to all of their dreams, which forced them to live life as it happened instead of by the easy plan. They didn’t buy the travel plan. They went on the adventure.

And someday, years and years and years from now, our ending will be the same. We will be the Robert Frost character who has become who he was meant to be by the path that was chosen, by the obstacles that were faced, the antagonists from all sides that were endured, the sacrifices made, the pleasures never experienced, and the weather that has carved lines in his face. We will be so many things, but we will be a fully-realized existence, and it will be a story of significance and purpose and love, no matter what becomes of our earthly bodies.
It will be our story, and it will be perfect to us, which is all that really matters. In the end of all of that, our story will be perfect, and this will be the first volume of it.

Carl and Ellie had each other, and she was beautiful to him, and he was beautiful to her. In the end, does anything other than enjoying the living time together really matter?
But to realize this, his stubborn ways that try to force him to resist the “Call to Adventure” must be abolished. He must move beyond his threats to throw in the towel on life and living and pathetic attempts that saw him want to just give up on Kevin, Russell, and Dug. He must move beyond only understanding the sadness of his own loss. He must live in the world that is going on around him. Nothing good can ever happen to him until he gets to the land of the living – no matter what he believes. He must come face to face with the permanence of now and still be able to make sense of the importance of the reality of his mental memories as opposed to burdening himself with the cumbersome physical things that we carry with us.
The right things will always be there in the way that they need to be.
For Carl, he will always have Ellie – even if he no longer has their time together.
However, he is carrying around her heavy objects and a ghost-like a monkey on his back, which is stopping him from remembering all of the right things that she taught him and that he should be carrying with him. If he knew that and threw off the burdens of the final physical act of her passing, he would still have the lessons that she taught him from the first day when he entered the abandoned house. He would always have her beautiful red hair and her smile. He would be abandoning earthly attachments and preparing to meet her as she is and not as she was.

As I said before, for Heather, there was the fear of commitment to contracts when we decided to enter into marriage. Sure, she wouldn’t sign a long-term phone contract, but she never hesitated to stick with me through the tough times and the troubles and the uncertainties that I offered throughout the toughest times of 2011, and she isn't budging now in Parkinson's days. Instead, we are strong for one another. She has continued to do whatever it takes – even when she thought that she couldn’t give more – through all of the sweat and tears, she was always the strongest that she could be. I could never understand how anyone would be that for me, but she was. For her, I was everything, and I will never allow that thought to become a commonplace thought. I will work to deserve it every day.
It’s amazing how we learn what we’re capable of doing when our attitude is that we must do it because the other options such, and for that, we spend our whole life wanting to do it. I wonder if I have enough of that attitude. For the fact that I’m still here when so many things came into my path along the way that would have made it easier to be somewhere else, somewhere not on this Earth, there must be something.
I look to Heather and remember a conversation that she had with her father about how tough it must have been for him to feed and clothe and house 12 different people other than himself for the years he raised his family. I remember thinking of how much she came to appreciate him for that, even if things were difficult growing up. There is a certain sense of pride that we have for ourselves and others when they do what’s right. I know that I have that pride and respect for Heather for all that she has done for the last year of our lives.

Before Heather, for me, it was so easy to be alone. It was so easy to be inside of my head and never open up to another person. There was the ideal of love being magical and easy, a romantic vision that bursts like an exploding balloon as two people come together and meet and it just doesn’t work, so it must not be true. Nevertheless, the romantic in me still believes that there is a place where 2 bodies and souls intertwine with one another and every minute is more magical than the next. Sadly, I never realized how lost inside myself that I was. I had to be found before I could prove that those visions are true, but the catch is that it takes two shy and protective people a little bit longer to open up to one another. However, when people stop that negative and lonely routine, all things are possible. I am glad that Heather and I kept coming together, that we kept growing to know one another, and I’m glad that I was able to open my mouth to say all of those words to her. She is the most beautiful woman in the world, and for as wonderful as those words are, I look to give her more and more and more of those and more beautiful and wonderful words to keep her close to me and filled with the knowledge that she is truly the most deserving and special woman alive.
She is my wife, and she is my everything. I wouldn’t have it any other way than the way that I share with her now. Forever is just that. This is why the gold rings are circular and never-ending. Is there any other way for it to be?

On the first day he encountered her, Carl was scared of Ellie, too, as he was a shy person compared to her loud and boisterous nature. She looked like a feral child in her braces and tomboy persona, but looks can be deceiving. What was important was her insistence that he brave danger in the attic of the abandoned house to get to his balloon, an act that would lead him away from that small chubby and shy presence that he exhibited in the great big world that towered over him. However, somewhere in that journey across the top floor of the abandoned house, he fell through the wooden plank and hurt himself as he crashed back down to Earth. But he got fixed and kept going. This kept being as it was in the beginning. Prior to going forward into this new life of death defying adventure, she was there for him with the bottle cap that made him her kind of person. After the fall, she was there for him in his room on that night when he lay in bed wondering what had happened to him that broke his bone and left him shattered.
He saw her there at the window, and she shattered his pain and alone with her friendship, and then he really fell for her.

Before I saw you there on the sofa, I saw you at the door, smiling with beautiful eyes and a body that wanted to see my arms around it. When the moment came that I saw you as someone I loved, everything just was. In that moment, I understood what love and beauty and the right place to be all were. I had fallen in love with you, and so I had to tell you this on that February 9, 2008 evening.
All things so big and important all come out so soft and timid.
“I think that I’m falling in love with you.”
There was no think. I was. I didn’t want to say it for the first time on Valentine’s Day. That was so cliché. I wanted to say it at the point that I felt it, which was right then as I lay in bed next to you. The streetlights reached into the apartment and illuminated our world together. What a big step it was. Not the “I love you” part. Anyone can say that. It’s only three words, and we all love lots of things. We love movies, places, music, and food. We love our parents and blue sunny days, but how often do we find the people who come in from the outside to change our lives with their simple presence in a way that can light up the darkness and give new meaning to life? How often do we take the big step to risk it all to make ourselves vulnerable when we say “I love you” for the first time and really and truly mean it in a way that still gives us butterflies and makes us feel so childlike and small and whole in the arms of the person who gives us the “I love you” return? So many times, we say it in our lives because there is a person on the other end who performs the immediate acts of love that go with adult relationships, and we feel obligated or moved through to the place where saying those words just happens. Other times, we say it to the good people who deserve it, but life takes it away for other reasons. Then, there's the other times, the times when there’s no worry about the return of “I love you” because what’s happening is not love and whether it is said with full intent or knowledge of the meaning of what it should convey, it will come, and it will be OK, and mechanical love will continue to exist, but when it’s real... Yes, in those empty times, the return of words will happen, and things will go on as such for a while, but it’s not this perfect and true as what I felt at that moment when I looked into your eyes, afraid for some reason to look into your eyes, and just opened up and said the words:
I love you.

Bob Dylan once sang about love that was “easy” and “slow” when he reflected over what had happened throughout his life and the things that led him to write the CD Blood on the Tracks. Could Carl have sung that about what had happened when he realized that Ellie was this someone special for him? What made love go wrong and right for Bob Dylan and Sara Lownds? What made Bob Dylan write songs about the hope of reconciliation after they both had said and done all of the things that disintegrated their love? Did Dylan remember it all too late and too far into life after he had learned that he shouldn’t have strayed from the beaten path of what he had with a woman who completed him to the point where it was just a beautiful family scene?
And Carl had never wanted to be away from Ellie, but now he was.
And I never want to be away from my Heather, and I definitely never want her to know what it’s like to be away from me. So I have learned from Bob Dylan and all of the other lost men who think that they can find something that they had with the love of their life that is better with another person that they can’t. I have learned that despite the greatness of an album for showing its emotional frailty over personal failure and heartbreak, it’s better to live on by doing the right things and never having to say I’m sorry. And it’s about learning from having messed up before. Billy Joel knew that when he got cheesy and wrote a really bad album that still expressed all of his personal triumph and hope and love.

She's a trusting soul She's put her trust in you But a girl like that won't tell you 
What you should do Tell her about it Tell her everything you feel Give her every reason To accept that you're for real Tell her about it Tell her all your crazy dreams Let her know you need her Let her know how much she means Tell her about it Tell her how you feel right now Tell her about it The girl don't want to wait too long You got to tell her about it Tell her now and you won't go wrong You got to tell her about it Before it gets too late You got to tell her about it You know the girl don't want To wait--you got to Tell her about it 

And whether his words can be listened to or not is totally irrelevant. The fact is he learned from all of those love affairs that didn’t work. He learned from the marriage that didn’t work. Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks is more listenable, and songs like “Idiot Wind” play far better than anything Joel did at that time, but given the choice of having all of the betrayals that Bob and Sara felt were done to each other and the anger and regret that these bad times caused, isn’t it better to live out the word of “Uptown Girl” (even if the song is unlistenable pop nonsense)?

Uptown girl You know I can't afford to buy her pearls But maybe someday when my ship comes in She'll understand what kind of guy I've been And then I'll win
And when she's walking She's looking so fine And when she's talking She'll say that she's mine She'll say I'm not so tough Just because I'm in love With and uptown girl She's been living in her white bread world As long as anyone with hot blood can And now she's looking for a downtown man That's what I am

And I think of that, and I wonder what your facial expression was when you saw the strawberry bead waiting there for you. I wonder if it was like the face you made when you were given the daisies at Christmas. I wish I could have been there to give it to you, but I hope the surprise of its presence was enough for you.

I’ve learned from Carl that I do appreciate the small things and that I will never lose sight of the great things that I can give and that I do get. I’ve learned from life to never say things that I can’t take back. I wish that I had more time to just be with Heather apart from the work and the writing, and all of the other things that life has to offer and demand from me. I’ve learned that I wish I had more money to make it all happen, but even if I don’t, the things that we can have when the opportunities are there are worth as much as trips to Paradise Falls.
In reality, these Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland hiking trails are Paradise Falls.
And if this book says all that it’s supposed to, then perhaps I have crafted a lasting monument to the love and sense of purpose that I have found in the former Heather Jones who now is known to the world as Heather Glass.
I still can’t believe that my name is worn like jewelry.
It’s just unbelievably special.

And just as I had met a wonderful woman in the late days of 2007 and early days of 2008, Carl had met the love of his life while stumbling into the unknown nearly 70 years ago. He thought that he was climbing mountains and crossing canyons, but instead, he had been introduced to someone special. And one day, he would be smacked upside the face by love! He may not have known it at the time. We rarely know people who will change our lives that much when we meet them. Carl certainly didn’t.
Who was this crazy-haired young girl and her family of rambunctious hicks?
She was the bestest bestest.

And who was this wide-eyed and hopeful woman behind the apartment door in Ephrata on December 1st, 2007?
She is the bestest bestest.

But to find this out, we both needed to grasp the balloon and go up with our lives, just as Carl and Ellie had grasped their own balloons. Coincidentally, for Carl, even with not getting to the balloon on that walk across the plank, he still grasped at the feeling of adventure that makes life special. This gave him 70 odd years of happiness and meaning that would eventually lead him back to a time of alone. In that time, he thought that he lost everything he had with her, and so he moved into emptiness without her as he became sadder and more dismal and unrecognizable as the man he was as fate forced him into life and out of the house that had become his coffin. Still, he clung onto the negativity because the material nature of the house that they lived in together was all that he chose to have left of her. Instead of seeing that she was still with him in everything, he hung on to a world that didn’t exist anymore until one day tragedy struck and he was forced to act, taking the house with him to new and more exotic places in the jungles of South America that he had always dreamed of going to, but now, here those cliffs, trees, vistas, waterfalls, and animals were, more different and scary than they were when they dreamed of them from the sofa in their living room.
And on that journey, he went up with the balloon again. Where he once had made a living selling balloons and happiness to youngsters, he was now using the balloon to go back to happiness and to be alive again – re-imagining himself as the child who was guiding him to knowledge. Now, he was filling himself full of lightness and lifting himself toward the future. It was a rough journey, but it was a symbolic journey to go ahead in life to go back in life.

All those things that we once were and we lost, we gained so much more by taking hold of the balloons and going up together instead of drifting through life in the way that was given to us. You found meaning in why you came to Pennsylvania in the first place by finding me. I found purpose in the Pennsylvania world that I came back to by finding you.

But change doesn’t happen all at once. As the storm clouds raged, Carl fought to protect images of Ellie even then, keeping her picture from falling, and at the same time, he kept himself from losing her visage forever by holding onto that picture. And just as he took himself to the future, he took Russell there, too.
And that’s the catch in life. We can be our own units, but we can also make a big difference in the life of someone else with the things that we do and that we offer other people. Most of those things that we give to others were given to us. This is the eternal sharing that made Carl realize that Ellie was always with him. And in that way, she would be a surrogate grandmother for Russell, as well.

In a way, we learned how to love from all of those people that came before us. Some of these people are the wrong people. We say that we will never go back to the ones who never loved us, that loved us incorrectly, or the ones that never loved us at all, and yet we find their twins, their brothers, their sisters, and their darker selves in other places that seem to be identical to the places that we found them in the first place.
We do this when we should remember the times that we were held in all of the right ways, and we should want to preserve that feeling or relocate a newer and better version of it with the right person. We should want to expand and amplify it in the way it does when the words “I love you” are stated and they’re just so easily stated. We should want to live out the images that we saw with other people in our lives, in our worlds, and those that inhabited the silver screen. We should want to learn by heroic and leadership example, even if we’ve never had a good example in our own lives.
In some way shape or form, Heather learned from the men who came to her door and took her out for the evening, the relationships that never connected, and the relationship that was lost to infidelity. All of the hope and loss, happiness and sadness, lost time and desire. These are the faces that surrounded her as we went forward on that first date.
For me, I learned from the visions of women who never wanted to take the time to get to know me, the relationships that were plagued by the deep down troubles that can’t be solved with words or with time, and the experiences of being with the wrong women at the wrong times. I learned from the fact that I wasn’t the outward image of the kind of person that someone that I wanted to have a relationship would want to have a relationship with in return.

And as I drove across Route 222, I listened to the hopeful songs of a future together, and I wondered which face would you be when I knocked on your door? Would you be the face that joins the crowd and comes to the next door that I knock on or the face that I say goodnight to ever night of my life for the rest of forever? Would you be another image of failure or a successful night together?
We spin around from the wrong ones that never added up to anything and just hurt us at worst or left us wondering why we ever went on the date in the first place, and we curse our pasts. Sometimes, these people call back and want to know what we’re up to. Sometimes, we come back to them. Fortunately, you’re in a committed relationship and the prospect of a night on the town is no longer appealing, and I don’t have to fear that there’s something better on the other side of that street. So I don’t.
And in my own education, I have learned about the ocean and the time and the differences between worlds enough to know why my future was always here, even if I needed to be other places first. This was the other grand realization in the Toiyabe Mountains. There was something special that my America would bring to me. In this, you never have to worry that there will ever be a better version. You were always the one.
Don’t you remember that there was a vision that the fortune teller spoke of when she looked into the future for you? There was a reward for you and for all that you did for your mother and your family. Some people might think it was vague generalizations and pocketing your cash, but there was something in the transcendent mists of time that she saw, which was real. I still wonder how she saw what I could offer you when I couldn’t see myself in those days. What would she have said to me if I would have come in when I was so lost and consumed in my mind? Nevertheless, somehow, I made it out of the murk to find you in the fogs of where you had come to. And in that, I still find it hard to believe that I became that person, but in this house that I sit in, two blocks from where we began our life together, the place that we have made our own, this is the life that we wanted to live. And while times may get tough in this 21st century world, the best is yet to come and I am glad that we are together. And while some people might find going to psychics frivolous, if it kept you going through the dark times and led you to here, then it was the best money that you ever spent since I’d like to say that this adventure is working out quite well and I look forward to seeing where the next years will take us!


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PS - I saw this yesterday and loved it... thought I'd share. I'm still 30 years away from being in this place, but in the journey that I'm on, I'm sure someday, Heather and I will still be holding hands, loving one another.


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