In the Middle of the Night

In the Middle of the Night
Why the River is Better then Potters Field

 I woke up crying in the night and had to wonder why. I can hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean breaking on Olas Altas beach outside, shifting the sand with the change of season. Nothing to cry over. Yet listen—there is someone deep deep inside, grieving. All I can do is get up and write. Maybe the words will roll out like 30 pieces of silver, the price paid to someone “selling out” and I can use the blood money to buy a Potters Field-and bury my dead.
Did you ever have such a dark thought? It is 2:00 in the morning for god’s sake and all I can think of is how I sold my horses before I left Wisconsin all of 25 years ago. Oh, I still see them running through my dreams—racing the moon. And it wasn’t just horses that I let go of, pushed the door shut and let drive away. It smacks of betrayal to leave family, friends, and even myself behind. Some call it mid-life crisis, and tonight it is guilt for the road forsaken. And hear the ocean breaking over the new shores! Sometimes it gets very crowded here in Potter’s Field with so many ghosts rising up. Damn, why wont they stay buried? Well, we may as well dance.
Is that a crazy idea? What should I do-hang myself with a halter like Judas did? And then what? I doubt that would be the end—maybe just the way to cop out, get stuck in the quagmire of remorse, and not pay the price of change with the seasons, shed the tears of grief for the old shore even as the new one is formed up. Yes, I might as well dance. Dance. Whirl with the memories of the devoted creatures that have loved me and I let slip away; the free spirit that I am and those I set free. Sing. Like Janis Joplin singing of “Me and Bobbie McGee.”
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Damn— these songs take wings and fly right down inside-maybe all the way to that inner-child grieving in the night, and the soul is enfolded in wings feathered with forgiveness, and the dance begins, bittersweet and haunting, like a Fiddler on the Roof is playing to the melody of life the way it is-mysterious, free and ever evolving like a river. Haven’t I always loved the rivers best, because they move on? Yes-dance to Proud Mary-“Rolling—Rolling—Rolling on the river.” And then I remember Billy Joel singing on the album I played over and over to survive the leaving.
“In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep.
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep.
We all end in the ocean.
We all start in the streams.
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night.”
This is the link to the album cover (Featured Image on this page) and the song by Billy Joel that so inspired me:

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back

Just arrived!
My new novel on the shelves at You can down load it from the Kindle Store.  Here is the information: The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey. If you like it, please write a review for me on that site. Thank you.
eBook: ISBN: 9781483520735  S.K.Carnes     Editorial Review by Readers Favorite
Soon to be available from all e-book stores.



Once upon a time, I accompanied my sons to a community dance. There was a young man taking tickets; I gave him mine, smiled and sat down.  No one asked me to dance of course, but I danced with each of my boys—embarrassing them. He walked over. He stopped alongside, met my eyes-green to blue, leaned close, and said three words, “you are lonely.” I was stunned. It was 37 years ago, so out of place in those days, and so out of character for him; why he was shy and younger then me by 14 years. I said nothing, but his empathy changed my life.
Empathy opens up the door
To “not alone” any more.
What bliss, what joy, and what a ride
When feelings become verified
I saw it happen sometimes in treatment for alcoholism. Using an “old style” the counselor, with the tenacity of a bulldog, shakes the man by the throat with harsh truth, shattering his wall of pretenses, leaving him lying broken, weeping and defenseless. This particular time, when he was satisfied that his client’s facade of denial was broken, the counselor nodded at me and left the room. When I spoke, it was not me speaking but something through me; using words I didn’t think of, I whispered to the man what he needed to hear.  He cried in my arms, begging me to “say it again,…tell me again.” It was the beginning of his recovery.
Empathy sets feelings free
When someone cares enough to see
The shameful thing you’ve tried to hide
Takes your hand, stands by your side
The doctor in charge of the Chronic Pain Center asked each of his therapists to assist him in his “special procedure,” choosing between us as he saw fit. When he asked me for the first time and I agreed, it was a trip to another dimension. The patient was lying on a table; Dr. Neil began with therapeutic touch as if it was to be a massage. But Neil was practiced in knowing, and when he reached a place—different for each patient—a place where some memory lay sleeping, he woke it with sensitive fingers and words that called it by name. How did he know? Neil could not have explained that. But with the touch and empathy, feelings, long locked away, burst forth in shouts and screams that terrified me, and then came sobs of shame and grief. Captivated, I helped by speaking what needed to be said, although I didn’t know any such words. When it was over, the patient left much relieved. I was trembling and white. Neil said, “shake the energy off-it does not belong to you,” and he showed me how to do just that—for my sake, and so that he could get back to being himself.
Overcome by senseless pain
Despairing to be well again
Who would think that he could be
Healed with words of empathy