Thursday, October 29, 2009

Broken Armor

This accident was no accident.

The morning began with the composition of an essay about my father, the first written step towards admitting all was not as safe and secure in my childhood as the legend describes. When the writing reached a culmination of intensity, I stepped to the piano and caressed the form of a song out of my head, a shimmer of joy grown a little more solid.

All morning the need to go to work plagued my creative energy. I have struggled recently to regain the self-discipline needed to strap on the nailbelt to pay the bills. This burst of creativity threatened to keep me off the roof and away from the money I needed on Monday.

Finishing the high places, I wore an OSHA approved safety harness, but after a pleasant lunch on a stack of shingles under the crisp fall sunshine, thinking about my new song, I set up a low scaffold like so many times in thirty years. Now just 10 feet off the driveway, comfortable on my plank supported by jacks at the two ladders, I began to dismantle the higher scaffold.

As I pushed on a doubled 2x6, the ladder leg slipped out, the world went dizzy and for the first time in all these years, I came crashing down. I hit hard, I have no idea how, rolled and came to a stop facing the heavenly sky which was soon filled with the anxious faces of the neighbors I had greeted only a few minutes earlier.

Setting aside all the drama, I had surgery to repair my ruptured urethra, a chipped bone in my wrist and a puncture in my thigh that looked like a bullet hole. For the first time in my life, I have out done my father with not just one, but two catheters draining out of my body. After nearly two weeks, just walking across the room a few times is an effort that exhausts me.

Fortunately, I am in little pain. There has been a delirious giving over to helplessness and some great friends have rallied with physical and emotional support. Where I have insisted on self-reliance, I have to ask someone to wash my hair and take out the garbage. Where I have looked to others for love and approval, in the long, long hours I am alone on my couch, day and night, despite phone and facebook, I have only myself.

Not wanting to be on that roof, is it any surprise I would fall off? So caught between this urge to be creative and the need to make a constructive income, the accident deprives me of both for a long enough time to contemplate and evaluate. Just as I discovered taboos in my upbringing may have impaired my sexuality and I gain interest to explore a new way of being, my groin is injured so severely even the doctors grimaced with pain, and now I have tubes to remind me that this is a very utilitarian organ.

At the deepest level, in my men’s group we have been looking at the man, the “Kool Kat”, who faces with a stoic smile bankruptcy, divorce, IRS debt and a sub-prime mortgage forcing the sale of his home. This man grew out of the little boy who came from such rich, legendary blood and was expected to do so much. Determined to rise up to those expectations, I have spent my life taking on unrealistic challenges and continually falling short, rising again and creating a certain emotional numbness in the face of so much misfortune.

It must take something huge, we decided in group, to break through my cloak of indomitable optimism, tear open my kool kat armor. This accident broke more barriers than bones and organs. I am lucky to be alive, with so much time and nowhere to go but deep inside.

Please share with your friends

Monday, October 12, 2009


Despite the brilliance of leaves turning and dropping, this time in Vermont can be very gloomy, thick with clouds, heavy with rain, dreary with the thundering silent approach of winter. At least this year, rather than dreading the struggles of cold and snow, I anticipate the pleasure of skiing with my Skatter Monkies.

Like a squirrel counting his nuts, this seems a time of taking stock, measuring the size and quantity of my supply before hunkering down. Compared to the panic of last year—when the economy threatened to exterminate our way of life—some have learned to moderate their consumption and others are back to the race, sobered, but thirsty. I have learned to live with much less and stay close to home, but I am earning what I keep, and by staying within my means, living with so much less stress, I am able to feel joy.

This past year, for me, has been a revelation of creativity, an indulgence of musical blossoms that has brought fantasies into sharper focus, actually close to reality. Watching a video recently of John Oates and other notables on the Bitter End stage, I was awed to consider that I had played that very same piano just a few weeks after him and possibly sang into that very same microphone. I finally got to see my idol Jackson Browne again, then within a month played my own music in that same meadow.

This precious time with my son has finally created some of the bonding experiences he should have been receiving throughout these many years. So open and honest with each other, we have had the conversation that in many ways he has had to be the parent in his childhood, tending to his mother and father as they battled to keep a marriage together. Now he enjoys each as they recover into whole beings with the energy and time to spend supporting his growth and discovery.

We finally travelled to Oregon to link a large piece of my own past, and more importantly, to connect with his sister on her turf. The emotional neglect she suffered from me in these twenty years is shameful, but her heart, so huge, welcomes me back, the father she once knew now growing into a better man.

I am learning that love does not have to hurt, is not about sacrifice or measuring up. One does not have to prove oneself to be loved, strive to be more, or settle for less. Although I have been loved for who I am in my lifetime, it has taken a really special person and circumstance for me to actually feel it.

The inspiration for my writing has lately been very subdued to the point I thought perhaps my crisis had passed and I have settled into a sort of routine that no longer demands expression. To pay bills, I have put the nail belt back on and am currently on top of a roof with plenty of thoughts, but too exhausted by evening to set a word to paper. Somehow, in the weariness of that self-satisfied rest, those words of passion seem less important.

The wages of a carpenter—without the business of employees—can be a respectable living in a humble home. I am loved. I give back with music. I could easily slip into a quiet obscurity, a blessed anonymity.

Still, the de Moll “Legend”, as I call it, runs so very deep, I awake at night, bones rattling to the beat of my mother’s stories of this relative and that, generations of accomplishments that branded my soul with the belief that I too would amount to something more than this. Peeling away the skins of my marriages and addictions, flaps of other layers loosen and my thoughts—like passing a bloody accident—are unable to turn away.

Much I have learned in this cave of a home, but the space is dark, unfinished and crowded with too much. The furniture is ragged (the rejects from our home or garage sales), the dust swirls, mice find access through many holes. In the day it is dark, at night it is drafty. To work, or on errands, I rumble along in my rattling Redster, racing stripes, luminescent stick shift and lighted mirrors features that do not resonate with me.

My self-worth is not reflected in these myriad things, but has certainly been floundering these many years. Taking charge of my life, I begin by sweeping the floor, measuring the cabinets I will finally build, and envisioning the car or truck that better suits me.

The full moon of this October howls that there is plenty more mystery and beauty to discover, uncover.

Please share with your friends