Sunday, November 8, 2015

George Barris Has Died: I Had Hoped He Would Be Immortal

George Barris, the world renowned custom car designer, best known as the creator of the Batmobile, has died. I read of his passing in the New York Times. As the headline announcing his demise sunk into my mind, a clunk hit my belly, my chest went thud and my heart ached. Next I heard my mind state, emphatically, that an era had ended for me with George’s passing; my childhood was finally over!

Now what could that possibly mean?
The model and color of my first car
George and my Dad customized for me.

Foolishness to the extreme you might think, especially considering I had not seen the man in over fifty years. But there it was anyway, the hit I hadn’t expected, bringing me to realize that I had been holding on to a belief – a wish?? deep down that George Barris would be immortal and live on forever. What an unanticipated surprise!

On the surface, of course, my reaction might seem strange. But no, George Barris had died, leaving me feeling bereft in unimagined ways. Today these unexpected emotions show up again as I set thoughts to paper.  Of course, the deepest part of the meaning is about my father and how George’s relationship to him altered the course of my life. Yet beyond that there is something more. These two men together; my father and George Barris, have shape the woman I have become.  Neither of them alone could have brewed what jointly they created in me.

For many years I have known this to be true. But today I am telling you too.

I realized immediately that my reactions to George’s death warranted some serious contemplation. Mainly, as I touched on in my blog article titled, “Whatever Happened To George Barris,” the greatest significance would seem to be about how George’s relationship to my father as business partners for a time in the 1950s impacted me.  But still there is more.

That clunk in my belly, my chest going thud and my heart aching at his passing show me that the gifts of George’s life, as I briefly shared it and how he thereafter was always in it, near or from afar, warrant a bit more exploration. So I will take time to do this now as my way of honoring a life that was so huge it could not but help impact on others; those around him and those, like myself, beyond any conscious knowing on his part.

Honoring the passing of an individual, no matter who they are or what they done with their lives, is a right and loving thing to do. This steadfast belief of mine, incorporated with my Jewish upbringing tells me to mourn one year for members of our family. And, indeed, George without being present became an important member of my family – for better or for worse.

Thus I am intent on giving myself over, according to custom, to paying tribute to this man, George Barris, who, in effect, changed the course of my life – and – gave great gifts to this world in both his art and his personhood.  

Judaism and psychology, my chosen professional field, aside perhaps pure instinct might alert me to the fact that if I have unfinished business with George Barris it would do me well to clear it. Perhaps this unfinished business; actually a debt I thought he owed me, is reason enough for my conscious reflection at this time of his passing. It’s not “nice” to hold grudges and this I do have for him, along with respect and admiration.

So here I go on another one of my mini-adventures of a lifetime, a next personal transformation escapade of mine. I will share this journey into the hidden recesses of my mind with you and let you know what I find.  

If nothing else, this venture on my part will provide you, my loyal readers, with one more person, me, who might advance your insight on the Dark Side/Survivor/Addict in action of which I am writing on my Exploring Your Dark Side: The Adventure of A Lifetime blog. 

Certainly a grudge, especially one held for so many decades as I have done with George Barris, comes only out of the Dark Side. Not let’s see, you and me, what we shall see. 

Perhaps when my adventure is done the reason I have needed for George Barris to be immortal for me will be revealed. But then is he not to be immortal just naturally through all he has contributed and left behind?

The good that a man, especially an artist of his magnitude, is always immortal somehow.

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