I cycled over to the other side of the city today, choosing longer, greener and secluded paths to avoid the city center and the heaving Edinburgh Festival crowds. I cycled to a section I hadn't visited for a number of years, triggering memories of when, almost exactly five years ago, I used to wander these parts on my break from work, sunk in states of mind I couldn't, and wouldn't, share with anyone. I was going through massive internal changes at the time, without an overview on what was happening. There was acute awareness of numerous strands of discordance in my life, each of which seemed overwhelming, growing ever larger and more out of control.
These triggered memories and feelings associated with them set the tone, for I was on my way to a funeral - a colleague of mine at the time of which I speak. A fellow cyclist, ironically killed in a head-on collision when driving a car! 'Nobody else hurt', although at least three universes were simultaneously smashed!
I arrived bang on time, just as the coffin was being taken inside. I stood under the archway with some other bang-on-time-arrival-overspillers until the intro music died and we were ushered into the crowded church, where the only vacant seat for Barge was located in the third row from the front. Short, powerful service punctuated with music from SC's life, his 47 years. One song in particular, and the context in which it was introduced, brought a rush of SC's energy into my awareness, streaming tears, and a sense of SC's own shock at suddenly finding himself out of body. A kind and unassuming man, I liked him very much. Yet I had never got in touch to meet up, even though he had urged me to on the couple of times I had met him over the past few years.
The service ends. I, as one of the early ones to file out (being at the front), catch the eye of some other ex-colleagues from The Organisation I had had a protracted tussle with. Friendly mutual acknowledgement, none of them protagonists or players in the battle of Barge vs THE SYSTEM - silent bystanders perhaps, afraid of contamination by proxy or other forms of corporate death being unleashed upon their heads. Three others, who had defied authority and stood by me and provided crucial bits of support, were also in the crowd. But that was then, and this 'tussle' was a year annabit of an Employment Tribunal, invoked by me leveling the charge of unfair dismissal against The Organisation. Ultimately, The Tribunal took place with me kinda left to gofuckmyself, and faced - on the night before the first day of hearing, with the difficult choice of capitulation or else going it solo without my lawyer - ie. representing myself. I chose the latter! It's a long story, personally a very powerful one, as it represents the first time that I had ever really, truly, deeply stood up for myself. Please don't misunderstand, I am extremely grateful for this particular run of seeming adversity and the discoveries about myself that I made as a result of being pushed beyond what I had formerly thought of as my limits, but weren't. I am proud of what I did and the integrity with which it was conducted.
Nonetheless, being back in the vicinity again, along with the occasion of commemorating the violent death of a friend that I had not 'bothered' to get in touch with (I do not punish myself with 'if only' thoughts, but still.......), had me in a rather floating and vulnerable state of mind, so it felt. I would've liked to say hello to some of the ex-colleagues, especially blind ol' Porty and the three Supporters, but my being had no desire for pleasantries and social interaction and my legs would not be commanded. I sat on a bench in the sun by a tree in two minds, away from the action taking place around the church entrance - crowds, groups, catchups, cars, departures. I was visible however, and stayed long enough to smoke two rollies before unlocking my legs and bike, and cycling off.
As I pedaled away, one half of my mind was saying "Cop-out Barge!". No matter, I was cool with the decision and knew that the Supporters would understand. A subsequent text exchange confirmed this.
Instead, I found myself back again with the dead, in the cemetery I used to visit during those final heavy months of my 7-year employment at The Organisation, shortly before it all kicked off. You have to climb over a stone wall to get inside and once on the other side, there is a magical sense of deep-green leafy seclusion which I now found mixed with past impressions. I sat by the banks of the Water of Leith, where, through the overhanging branches, I could see the building which still houses The Organisation. I smoked a joint, drank my thermosed coffee, lit an incense stick to SC and set my intention to let whatever it was still hanging around go, drop, merge with the ever-flowing waters.
I cycled back, barely registering the details of the generally traffic-free route home. Shanti must've picked up on something needy(?) in the air and brought a raw chicken leg into my room as a present, which she put on my bed and then walked away from. I was touched by her kindness but naturally declined, being veggie/vegan and all. She understands, clever wolf that she is!