And Then I Am Gone: Mathias Freese
What if everyone lived within the inside of a box so thick that they could not see what was behind the corners or upper lid and never realizing what lies behind the confines of this box? What if you world was so fragile and breakable that all you see is what is right in front of you and not what is around you? What if you lived inside the shell an uncooked egg and each time you moved around just a little bit of the shell came apart and what you begin to see is not what others want you to see but what is really there? For the first time you view the world, slowly at first and then when the entire shell cracks and is no longer protecting you within its shell you begin to see, question, listen and explore the amazing world that has been hidden from you for so long? What if students were encouraged to asked questions and received more than just the expected or canned answers written in the teacher’s edition of a textbook? What if students were actually taught not spoon-fed and required to seek what is deeper than what appears on the printed page of a textbook that is outdated as soon as it is printed. New information is recorded daily on the net, new research is done everyday and textbooks are only current until a new one is written and more information added which outdates the first but soon that one too. ( Fran Lewis: MJ Magazine).
What if you could replay your life and rewind it or even fast- forward it to the end to see what your final days would be? How do you want to leave this world and what kind of legacy will help others remember you? Mathias Freese takes readers on a walk through his life as Thoreau walked through Walden Pond he takes us to Harvest, Alabama where he restarts his journey until he finds his path and where he will ultimately wind up. Questions there are so many and the author shares his open thoughts and his regrets, recriminations and his successes as we begin our walk with him and Thoreau.
As Walden shares his thoughts and reflections about living in a natural setting or surroundings, a simple life so does our author declare his personal declaration of independence in a raw, honest and bold manner of writing allowing readers to take the journey of discovery along with him. Walden went into the woods because he wanted to live deliberately, to “front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. The author relates that he went into the woods, as he states not out of ignorance, not as a seeker or from personal confusion. Thoreau knew the woods had no answers, maybe only better questions to ask. The woods were a testing of his self-awareness and states that he was not a blind man in search of a false cure.
Freese states that there was an extended time in his life that he did not register others and yet Thoreau did give readers his registered self. As he reflects upon his life he is still concerned with meaning. Thoreau he states did not want to live what was not life. He did not want to practice resignation. His book has three themes that come to light even in this one: Economy where he outlines a two-year, two-month stay at a cozy cottage in the woods near Walden Pond. Freese moves into this isolated area where there are few amenities available but like Thoreau all he needs was food, shelter, clothing and fuel. Simplified lifestyle for both men. Reading is the second theme that runs through Thoreau’s work and Freese’s too. They both talk the rewards of reading classical literature and yet he quotes other authors too. In the chapter titled Control we get a clearer perspective of this author as he explains while scribbling down his thoughts in an attempt to write a new book. He relates his fear of getting a stroke and the stress of the impending sale of his home in Nevada. At times he seems to stress out about things that he can actually do something about and stop worrying about it. He created list and hopes before he is gone to complete it. Like Thoreau he contemplates his existence and the sole consolation is an old as mankind itself: to find solace in a loved on which he finally does in his soon to be wife. Control is what keeps him centered and under control you might say. He relates why he needs control and explains: Control is a significant part of his character. Control: The need has been with him since he was placed, in a bassinet. When he leaves this world and gives up control will probably be as painful as the dying process itself. Sounds are the final theme in Thoreau’s work and sounds come to light within this one too. Both were always on the alert and looking always at what is to be seen. Using literature as their guide and as he relates the beauty of Harvest and the truth that can be found in nature. The rippling of water, the birds that find themselves outside his yard or in the woods, the music of nature is breathtaking and a comfort to his mind and soul. Solitude is another theme that both reflects and how at times they both feel and explain how it is to be alone, feel loneliness even when someone is there yet Freese relates his sadness at being estranged from his daughter and wanting to be closer to his son, Jordan. Family ties mean a lot but over the years they have been broken and he has tried to retie them but has failed when it comes to his daughter. Both authors relate the importance of solitude, contemplation and closeness to nature and each one seeking to meaning of existence. The theme of solitude comes through on page 27 when the states that is hard to go on, for writing is a lonely effort, perhaps as lonely as living in solitude in the woods. Thoreau he states had guts during the nightfall when he was twice alone in the darkness of his own self as in the outer darkness. Freese feels the unsaid, the feeling beneath the surface feeling. On page 31 he relates that he believes the artist is in a state of external giving to the world and when examining his motives or reasons as a teacher, psychotherapist, and writer, it all comes down to the massive lifetime donation. Self-reliance, Simplicity and Progress are brought out in both works as Thoreau refuses to need the companionship of others and Freese other than his wife and a few neighbors is isolated from human interaction too. Both note that it is important but neither search for it. Both want to simplicity of life and technology does not interest Freese nor does he own a Smart Phone or any other modern convenience except a computer to write and the Internet to do research and stay somewhat in touch with the world. Living in an area where the connections are not great at times he is totally isolated.
Writing I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust was because of the many who resisted or denied that it happened. Writers create little worlds he states that we are the gods of these worlds. Writing has meaning and you have something to say but readers see things or see something else. Every reviewer sees the words and thoughts of an author in their own way and some relate the right meanings and dig down deep to understand the message being related while others stick to the surface structure and get the bare facts. He writes to express his passionate feeling about many things.
Both authors deal with debts in their own way as he states as in the Thoreauvian fashion should he detail the costs of moving into his hut but he itemizes it for the reader in detail in the chapter titled Inventory. He hopes to reconcile with his daughter as he relates his feelings for being estranged from her on page 79.
The chapter about Jordan was compelling as he finally introduces him to his wife and their relationship might not be on a smooth surface but at least he came for a while. I really loved the chapter Dive and Delve and his references to Darwin, Rosebud and Freud. Charles Foster Kane whispers Rosebud in the movie Citizen Kane a classic on his deathbed and the author states that he grasps its gravitas better now at 76. The sled had so much meaning for him, condensed meaning, the condensation symbols were experience in many dreams he says like archaeological layers. He expands on this reflection in the remainder of the chapter. The Three Touchstones really sums it up as the first he states involves a mentor of his whom he holds in high esteem and considers the most intelligent or smartest man he ever met. He explains it on page 99 the final paragraph. The second touchtone was a comment his mentor made to someone who asked how she could access me, as she found it difficult. The response was quite interesting as he said: Matt needs to be felt. Matt never made his own acquaintance and seems as the memoir comes to a close that without his wife, Nina, he might not have anyone around to give him a huge hug.
The final touchtone happened in 1970 when he was dating Rochelle and a tie. I’ll leave that to you the reader to learn why she said that the tie was beautiful and how he dealt with it. The ending of this chapter focuses on Mr. O. his therapist who seemed disjointed, unfeeling, disinterested and did not conduct a client-centered session. A real walk focuses on more references to Thoreau, others who have read him and their impressions. But, someone invented a game to coincide with Thoreau’s 200 birthday so maybe more teens and adults would be inspired to learn more about him and see how high up in the levels they would go. Part II focuses on his feelings about his new home and he describes it so vividly you would think he and Henry were there walking together. Anxiety, dread, fear, angst, denial of death on vividly on his mind all the time and concludes by telling Henry that when reading Walden he sees signposts that he built or erected for the astray and lost. At times Mathias still seems to be trying to find himself, where he wants to go and what he wants to do before he leaves this world. Mathias you cannot as you state on the last page do anything about your mortality but you can live each moment, enjoy your precious Nina, writing your outstanding books, keep readers challenged and definitely keep talking, keep walking and do not worry about thinking or feeling not yet since you have to write and share with the world way before you finally say: AND THEN I AM GONE.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine