Saturday, May 31, 2008
Leif - The Purple Suit & The Sculptor - 1992
In high school, Leif became a snappy dresser with his own sense of distinctive style. When he wasn't wearing the the in-style ragged jeans and combat boots, he liked unusual styles, particularly two suites, one a sort of silver/gray the other purple, and he looked terrific in them.
This photo was taken in our back yard in Puerto Rico. Note the Oakley sunglasses, one of several pairs he owned over the years. I found one in his belongings after he died.
That yard was surrounded by a ring of 29 coconut palms and was very hard to mow. Leif got that job, and he didn't like it. However, I wish I had a photo of him out there, bare to the waist, long hair streaming, with his machete stuck into a coconut he had just lopped the end off of, holding it in the air with the machete and drinking the juice by pouring it down his throat. He looked like a very well-built Tarzan.
I chose this photo because of an analogy Peter made today. He said it's as though we had what we thought was a perfect piece of marble and spent 33 years sculpting it, and then found it had a fatal flaw that would cause it to disintegrate.
I thought a lot about that today, but the analogy isn't quite right. It's more as though we had about 20 years to sculpt the beautiful statue, and then had to put it out into the public garden, where vandals worked for years to destroy it and finally managed to do so.
I say that because Leif suffered greatly. He was betrayed by people he loved. He was treated with terrible unfairness and cruelty in the army because of his asthma. He suffered heartbreaking loneliness and depression.
Although the rest of Shakepeare's speech doesn't fit, the line "he loved not wisely but too well" certainly fits Leif. He had great love to give, but he chose unwisely and those he loved broke his heart.
Leif had flaws. They contributed to his loneliness and depression, but as I learn about depression, I see that many of those flaws were symptoms of it.
Yet in so many ways, he WAS the beautiful statue, the beautiful mind. He was brilliant, though he never found a focus and sense of purpose for that mind. He was handsome. He was kind. He was funny. He had a social conscience. He cared deeply about his country.
When this photo was taken, he could have been a model, posed for the cover of romance novels, but although he dressed the part, he never had the artifice to be the ladies' man . . . and indeed, what he really wanted most of all in life was a loyal, loving soulmate, the protector of his heart.
How I wish he had found her!