Outside the smell of fresh cut grass fills my senses, while the wind blows just enough to keep the sand gnats away. Sitting here beneath a canopy of green, I clear out my inbox and “cut the fool” with some friends online. My truck is still in the shop having some more repairs done. Which means I got nothing better to do then to sit here and let go of some of my frustrations.
The world is feeling such fatigue with all this virus and quarantine. People are itching to just get back to their normal lives. Lord knows, I am. This sitting and sitting, not going out, or seeing my grandbabies is driving me nuts. It’s not hard to understand, even in a world that’s so removed from ours, that we all feel like prisoners in our own homes. Where money is tight and there seems to be no end is in sight.
Still we shelter in place like caged animals yearning to be free. I for one am very lucky that I can go outside. If I had to stay cooped up in the house, I would have gone insane long ago. While I’m still nursing a tension headache, my truck can’t get back here fast enough. So I’m trying to tell myself to be a little more patient. But in a world of isolation patience is something I don’t have in abundance.
But much like the military, I “hurry up and wait”. The media keeps telling us this is the new normal with a twinkle in their eye. Well I don’t know all about that, but I still miss eating out, talking to people not behind Plexiglas, and of course toilet paper. But like Gunny Highway once said, “adapt and overcome”, and that’s just what I’m doing. So be mindful of the little things. Be appreciative of what you do have. Keep your mind open and don’t give in to your fears.
So far today, I’ve used up two ice packs and enough mantras to last me a week. First my sinuses were on overdrive, and then I was having anxiety issues worrying about my truck repair. Well I did pick up the truck around noon. Drove it to town (20 miles), then stopped back by the mechanic to pay him, but then the truck won’t restart. I’ve heard of driving off the car lot and having the car fall apart, but this was a little ridiculous. Anyway, I’m laying here in my bed nursing yet another stressful headache with yet another ice pack.
You hear people all the time telling you how you can overcome everything in your life, like they have some magic formula. That if you put out enough positive energy or faith in some all-powerful deity or charm, then you’d be alright. I don’t know about you, but the only charm I have is a vanilla scented candle, I light and say, “Hail Satan” to every morning. Now maybe that’s tempting fate, but you can never be too careful.
In my 57 years, I been through a lot of shit. I’ve prayed, mediated, and went through a lot of therapy to get through all of it. It would be easy for me to say, my life’s been so unfair. But for the most part shit happens and you just have to grin and bear it. I allow my negative side to mourn, and to get pissed; but afterwards I pick myself up and continue to do the best I can. Maybe my plan isn’t full proof, but it works for me. That’s because balance is the key, not that you’ll always be successful. But at least it’s more realist then trying to wish shit away. The thing is, once you surrender completely to the defeat and self-hatred, then my friend you have already lost.
I remember hot summer days, especially on a Saturday afternoon. The old Black and White TrueTone playing some old western. Shot somewhere in a desert all hot and dry. Me sitting there bored, too hot to go outside. Nothing but a box fan turning hot air to keep me cool. My mouth as dry as those desert sands, wishing for cooler days. That’s about how I feel waking up this morning, my mouth parched and my throat dry.
Funny how memories play with your head. How old songs trigger a certain memory or how a certain scent reminds you of someone. Of lazy summer days, bare feet in the sand, fighting off sand gnats, under the shade of a moss covered oak. Is that living in the past? Or is that a just a safe space we retreat back into? Coming to grips with my age is a funny thing. Time seemed so infinite at one point. Now I watch it pass by like a speeding train.
I hope you don’t expect this story to make much sense. It’s more of an exercise in boredom, when your mouth is dry and you’ve spent too much time in the sun. But we muddle through searching for meaning, while the world stopped, forcing us to look at ourselves. Funny isn’t it, how the distraction we longed for, turns into the moment we dread. So here’s to a long hot summers, to sand gnats, and drinking from hot garden hoses. To the memories and the moments, we have left.
I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by people that were anything but. So for the last several years, I have decided to change that. Through school and social media, I’ve made a conscious effort to surround myself with people, that are not so much like minded, but who are creative and appreciative of dreams. Because even for individuals that are more business centric, they too carry an air of creativity and drive.
To be surrounded by individuals that look to the negative side of everything is truly a drag on the soul. For a good chunk of my life the status queue was all I ever had. I went to school, I graduated, then looked for work in the factories like my Dad. Sadly, for most of us does dreams never came true. So me and my peers scrambled from job to job, settling for just a piece of the American Dream.
As for myself, I knew the potential was there. It’s just that for so long I danced around the rim of the glass never having the courage to dive in. I suppose it took going back to school to build my confidence. Then of course it took damn near dying to get me to quit giving a shit about what others thought. Dreams aren’t just for the young, the rich, or even the brave, they are for everyone. So be practical, make a plan, don’t fear making changes. Negative energy attracts negative energy and the same goes the other way. So live your life in balance and awareness. But most importantly, live your life creating happiness for yourself.
Thinking back a little over five years ago, I was pushing 360 lbs. I had high blood pressure, was diabetic, had high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and I smoked. I was definitely pushing Kim Jong Um proportions, although I’m a few inches taller. Everything seemed fine I had my first heart attack. But you know the rest of the story, the surgery, having to wear a portable defibrillator, the stress testing, the hospital stays, and most unfortunately the damage that had been done.
Well now I’m cautiously optimistic when I say, my blood pressure is 102/68. My cholesterol is normal. My irregular heartbeat is manageable, and my A1C is between 5 and 6, and oh yeah, my current weight is now 230 lbs. God knows I would love to tell you I have come up with the ultimate diet plan. But sadly, I’d only be blowing more smoke up your ass like all the other quick fix gurus. The best thing I can tell you as a total non-professional, is to listen to your doctor. Feel the tears of your family and quit being so god-damned stubborn.
Life is a precious gift, no matter how mundane. There are many reasons why we become obese. Many of which I still have. Just know weight loss is a mental game more than a physical one. Listen I have spent five years getting where I am. I can’t do any weight training or running or any physically strenuous exercise; I have a note from my doctor. What I am is aware. Aware of my body’s limitations, aware of what I eat, and aware I should mediate regularly by practicing mindfulness. I walk when I can and do my best to avoid caffeine.
Yes, I’ve lost weight and that’s to be celebrated, but I remain cautious. That is due to some other underlying issues that are causing my excessive fatigue and some of my weight loss. But I remain aware. Taking on each challenge as it comes, for life is a gift to be appreciated, not squandered.
This is my fourth night of erratic sleep, going to bed normally and waking up way too early. But for you that have read my stories before that’s nothing new. The thing is I usually take a nap to compensate for my lack of sleep. But not for the last four days. And tonight, shouldn’t be any different, if the thunderstorms keep up, I’ll be up with our special need’s son calming him down.
But such as it is in the real world where vacations are taken years apart. And living the “American Dream” is just one long bad joke. I don’t mean to sound so jaded, but these have been some trying days in these trying weeks. Ever have a time when you fight so hard to achieve a goal. Only to find you’re still not winning because of something else? Without giving serious confirmation, that’s kinda where my life is at.
But we do our best to stay positive and wear a brave face. But honestly given my history, I’m frankly just waiting “for the other shoe to drop”. But here I lay, my patience wearing thin, waiting and waiting for some answers. But I got a little jazz piano playing over my earbuds. Waiting patiently for our little vacation to the coast to get here. Not so much to carry me from my troubles. But to least settle my mind into this apparent new normal. Where madness rules in these already troubled times.
Well let’s see, we got the laundry hung, the bed made, worked on the website “fdthornton.com”, and picking up fallen limbs. And all this before 10:30am. God I’m turning into my old man. But I suppose that’s what happens with maturity, you end up getting shit done. Last week my oldest got approved for a home loan, so that makes her the second child of mine to buy a house. I am very proud of them and would love to say I led them by example. But in reality, I’m more of a cautionary tale.
Listen life hands you what it hands you. Now that doesn’t mean you should give up and not approve your situation. You see, my wife is disabled, not by any fault of her own. But every day she sits down and work on the things her brain has trouble doing anymore. For over 30 years I’ve watched her try over and over again to improve her situation. So for any of us to just give up, I frankly find that an insult to human will.
Our children are supposed to grow beyond us, and while they still need a little seasoning and maturity. That will eventually come with age. So while I may never own another thing in my life. At this point, I’m fine with that. My journey has led me to a place where possessions and accumulation are meaningless. I walk a path of creativity and peace. All I ever got from having money was more stress and more trouble than it was worth. So all I will say is, do what you have to do to follow your dreams. Live a life of peaceful existence, and never stop allowing yourself to grow.
Should we get mad at ourselves, when our thoughts go racing from one place to the next? Lately I’ve been having difficulty focusing. Unable to calm my mind enough to stay on task. Rather its worry or just plain boredom, I find myself sinking into a rut. Forgetting how to slow myself down and be patient. It’s this restlessness that has clouded my thinking. Causing me to doubt my own judgement and reasoning.
So the question remains, should I be mad at myself. Years ago, I would have said yes. Blaming myself for any and anything going wrong in my life. And while accountability for your actions is important, so too is forgiveness and restitution. To do nothing but blame yourself is do nothing but hate yourself. But to recognize poor behavior and then correct it. That breaks the cycle of self-hatred and leads to healing.
My point is, do what you can to live your best life. Don’t let your current circumstance dictate your outcome. At the moment I’m fighting with restlessness. But it doesn’t mean I resign myself to the fact that it will always be this way. So I went back outside, and after feeling the breeze upon my cheek the sounds of this busy day to fade. Joy is not a permanent state of mind. Neither is pain nor suffering. Work towards balance. Listen to your soul. Listen to the world around you. Become aware of what surrounds you, then take action, and eventually the balance you seek will come.
On this cool crisp morning, I’m catching the scent of petunias and fresh cut grass. I rained pretty hard last night, but you wouldn’t know it except for the damp ground. Spent most of the morning on the phone with the “powers to be”, putting out one fire or another. The Calico’s asleep on my lap as a breeze steady blows by the smells on the day. My oldest son come out to check on me. To tell me who won what on “The Price is Right”.
A good man spends his years taking care of his family. But at a certain point the job ends. But for some of us that are caregivers, the job only continues on. An old golfing buddy of mine had one child, she was my age. He and his wife protected and cared for her till they eventually died. I drive by his brick home on the hill every so often, weeds grown over on his a once pristine lawn. And I can’t help but wonder, whatever happened to that special child.
In these troubled times we are so inconvenienced by being shelter in place and shortages of toilet paper. But do we consider how lucky we are? Because eventually your children will grow beyond you and live their lives on their own. But for those that need help, who can you trust to take care of them when you’re gone. So while sit in the soft breeze, it’s never far from my mind. What if? Hold on to truth, hold on to faith, that you taught your children well.
I’m just going to say it, it’s an absolute bitch to be a prisoner of your own body. After a pretty good morning of running errands and doing a few chores. I made myself a sandwich for lunch. Nothing out of the ordinary a little honey ham on wheat with some fresh spinach. I wasn’t even through with half my sandwich, when the “call of God hit with a vengeance”. So basically, for the next four hours I was either lying in bed with a heating pad or running a marathon to the great porcelain throne.
I just got out of the shower, feeling a little skittish, but otherwise fine. So I decided to go outside where I had planned on being anyway. A good cold shower always seems to bring me back to my senses. I use a scented soap with shea and coco butter, which always reminds me of the coast. Reminds me of being home. I realize there many out there that have it worse. And I’m grateful that at least this doesn’t happen all the time.
Still this and many other failures of my body that keeps me prisoner, in a prison I’d just assume live without. I used to think the things in life taught us lessons. But now I wonder about the randomness of it all. The failures you must ordeal, the limits you learn to accept, and the otter unfairness of it all. I suppose I should pump you up with words of encouragement. But what good are words if things still fail? All we can do is the best we can. Be as human as possible and give words of comfort when needed.
The storms have ended, and now we have nothing but beautiful blue skies. While a steady breeze blows, I’m being hit by the little droplets of rain that remain on the leaves. A perfume of clean air and petunias fills my senses, while the neighbors scurry about starting their busy days. Well as for me, I’m just pausing reflecting; my chores are done, I cleaned the litter box, made up the bed, and hang out laundry. So now all I have to do is wait for lunch.
Feeling the wind, I hear the two-way radios from the Electric Co-op maintenance trucks next door. Watching the clothes dance on the line, my life’s a bit slower than it used to be. Far removed from running a business and creating order from chaos. But don’t worry I’m still that man. Much to my wife’s eye rolling, I still like to organize and plan. Only now I’m a lot less bothered when plans don’t work out.
I often come outside to find sanctuary. But much like everyone else, paradise often gets lost. Don’t let time take away from what’s most important. Like the relationships that make-up your family or the love you carry for someone special. Seek contentment where you can. So often our plans go awry. So much so, that we end up just sitting around waiting for “the other shoe to drop”. So in your quiet moments, breathe deeply. Focus on what you see, hear, and smell. Allow your mind to let go of the chains and create your own peace out of chaos.
I’ve been sitting outside for over an hour talking to my kids. Listening to their problems and kinda laughing to myself. Thinking back to when had to do those same things. But today it’s a lot tougher, with the world going insane with all these problems. Who would have thought that with all this instead access, we’d be scrounging around for toilet paper? But yet here we are in this information age, panicking about everything we hear.
I don’t know, maybe our mushy little organic brains aren’t developed enough to keep up with technology? Or maybe they’re just too clogged up with emotion to live on constant facts. But that’s a story for another day. Right now, I’m just focused on just being. While I am very much aware of our shared situation, at the moment I’m focused on what’s around me. Like the garden that needs hoeing, the flower seeds that need planting in the flower boxes, and of course what I’m going to have for lunch.
I’m blessed that I don’t have to sit in my house all the time. That I at least live where I can go outside and listen to the children playing down the street. Maybe that’s the most important thing I should be focused on. The ability to breathe and look at life with clarity and balance. That despite what logic and data dictates, I can still dream. That I have enough of my mushy brain left to see beyond just numbers and have hope.
I ain’t gonna lie to you, today was rough. This is the first time all day I’ve put my finger to this keyboard for any length of time. For the last few days, I’ve been having IBS issues. But they usually clear up after a while. Today started with a bang, with my stomach and digestive tract waging war against each other all day. So I’ve been moving the heating pad between my stomach and my lower gut looking for relief. I hope that doesn’t paint too a pretty a picture for ya.
Anyway, none of this surprises me. I mean this happens enough times to where it’s old hat. I’m smart enough to know that most of this is stress related. Although my PA is always throwing some new medical theory at me. It’s not that I disrespect her opinion, but I’ve throwed enough spaghetti against the wall to know. Right now, I’m feeling a little like my old Granny Geiger. Looking at a crappy situation and putting a healthy spin to it. Like she would say, it’s either laugh or cry about it. And right now, I’d just rather laugh.
I mask a lot of hidden tension, it’s the way I was programmed. “Suck it up buttercup”. “Wipe does tears”. “Quit acting like a sissy”! If you’re of a certain generation you know what I mean. “But it is what it is”, that’s something else Granny would say. So does that mean I’m just going to lay here and give up? Shit no! It simple means I’m aware of what’s going on within myself. That I’ll be proactive and correct problems where I can. And remain positive, yet realistic about what I can do. Because no life is beyond saving, and no situation is beyond surviving.
Today I put my beach clothes on. Not that I’m going to the beach or anything, it’s just that I need a little beach attitude. This sheltered in place is a bitch, but I don’t think I need to tell any of you that. But at least I live somewhere where social distancing is the norm. My wife was complaining this morning about it being too quiet. The EMC next door is closed for the weekend and our Governor put in a stay in place order yesterday. So other the birds and the occasional passing car, not much else is going on.
Anyway, back to the beachwear. I got on my faded old beach bum t-shirt, a sting-tied pair of shorts, a bleached-out hoodie, slippers, and a ratty old ball cap. I look like I belong at a Jimmy Buffet concert. When me and Lisa go down to Jekyll Island, we sorta stand out. Mostly because we don’t look like your average tourist. Most are richer, paler, and Canadian. But we all get along because we are all there for one thing, the smells, the sounds, and the feel of the ocean. Jekyll's special for its narrow undeveloped beaches, its wind-swept trees, and overall obscurity.
We hardly ever go there in the summer, because me and Lisa prefer the winter months. That way we and the Canadians pretty much have the place to ourselves. That way Lisa can go seashelling and I can take pics without interruption. Anyway, sitting here in the backyard, feeling the cool morning breeze; I’m reminded there will be better days coming. But at the moment I can at least be grateful for the memories, and for the moments I have to share with you.
The school bus is scurrying about town dropping off meals to the new “latch key kids” of today. Our state hasn’t issued a mandatory quarantine. Still the schools are closed and the parents unable to stay at home are making due as best they can. The abrupt change in all our lives is a bit crazy. But looking down the street it doesn’t look any different than any other day.
I had to run errands today, paying bills, picking up prescriptions, and doing a little shopping. The stores were full of “high risk” individuals, such as myself. Cleaning out store shelves and buying cases of toilet paper. I went to stock up on items for my carnivore’s meat, meat, and more meat. It’s funny to find myself so anxious while going through the store. It reminds me of when I was first diagnosed with panic disorder. During the first few years after my initial diagnosis, I developed severe agoraphobia. So it was interesting to once again have those particular feelings of anxiety again.
But it is what it is, so as I sit outside in the cool air, I’m reminded of how the human mind works. When some days simply run into others and where our focus is on working and tending to our own business. Thereby never giving a second thought that our actions have consequences. Then there are those of us that have our eyes so focused on the negative that we even fear our own shadows. But either way these two extremes are unhealthy and can lead to unbalance. Be mindful of the world around you. Be compassionate to the suffering of others and realize fear is a powerful tool that often leads to hate.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.