I’m not much into holidays, I suppose living in poverty does that to you. But the bitterness and envy of those emotions have given way to simply living in the moment. Still things like birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s don’t hold much importance for me. Considering the time of year, I see a lot of people making resolutions and promises to themselves to do better. For me that never worked, because I lived such a life of self-hatred. That whenever I failed at a promise it would send me into a downward spiral of self-punishment and self-deprecation.
Making vision boards and swearing to do better is all fine and well. But for me it was taking very small steps and a lot of outside encouragement that pushed me forward. My mind is so ingrained with self-hatred that I’m still not good at receiving praise and gratitude. But I’ve learned that planting little seeds of encouragement can often give others that little nudge they need. Those of you that know me or at least have received messages from me, know that I do my best to be sincere and encouraging. Although with a dash of “American Humor”.
I suppose the point I’m making here is, nudge each other with words of encouragement. It’s so easy to be cynical and critical and believe me I know. In the background in which I was raised it was either grow a thick skin or die from self-pity. And unfortunately, I haven’t strayed too far from my raising. But I’m trying to do better and like anything worth doing it’s going to take time. So during this holiday season (which I’m not much about). Be kind to others, especially to yourself. Because seeds of goodness when given freely, are never wasted.
There’s something still a little surprising about being able to sit with my legs crossed. It first happened a few months ago without me realizing I was doing it. You see I haven’t been able to sit crossed legged since I was a kid. Yet here I am at this moment with my legs crossed at 57 years old. Something I couldn’t have done at 50, let alone 40. The other thing that kinda weirds me out is all this daggling skin under my arms, on my thighs, and under my chin. I sometimes play with it to entertain myself, but it is a little creepy to watch it wrinkle up.
Our lives take some funky turns sometimes. While my digestive issues have worried my doctor, the good side effects have been weight loss, improved blood sugar, and an increase in energy. (Of course that might be due to me running to the bathroom. Cardio!) Seriously through, the effects of losing this much weight can be a bit jarring. Especially when looking at old photographs of myself. But despite all the changes you can make physically, nothing really changes till you make the afford to change emotionally.
For a really long time I never made the connection to improve my life both physically and emotionally, it was either one or the other. But slowly over the last few years I finally made the connection, that living in harmony with myself and my surroundings actually creates change. For so long I hated myself so much, that I was allowing myself to die “from a thousand tiny cuts”. It wasn’t until I faced my own demons that I learn to look at myself and love myself as I should. Once I realized I was worth the effort, change began to take place. Now as far as my current health issues, I do the best I can. I live one moment at a time, always grateful for the moments I have. It may not be the perfect plan, but for now it’s the best I got.
Each morning starts out with a bit of promise. But more often or not those promises are chipped away with each passing minute. I am usually wakened in the morning either by my wife getting ready at the crack of dawn or by the alarm to take her medications. More often or not I’ll stay under the covers replying to emails and messages and being licked by the cats. Then I get up, get dressed, make up the bed…, hell you know the rest. Then I begin my workday writing.
My writing I suppose is all over the place, because I hate being tied to just one niche. I know that would make me a more disciplined writer and quite possibly a more successful one. But I enjoy the freedom that my style gives me to cover whatever subject comes to mind. My style may seem counterproductive to the analytical, data driven way we do things today. But even when I was pursuing my “day gig” my unorthodox methods helped made me excel in the project management and systems analyst fields.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is, don’t allow convention or orthodoxy to define who you are. The world loves to “pigeonhole” us, rather by race, gender, or job description. It seems the data collectors just love to categorize and predict each and every move. But life doesn’t really work that way. I just love looking at the ads Amazon, Walmart put out on sites I use, and the suggestions apps like Spotify and Netflix give me. They are often all over the place. The thing is, be who you are. Don’t let what is acceptable define you.
It’s hard to believe that a mire 150 years ago, humans still had the right to own other humans. Our country is covered with the stain that for nearly 250 years we considered other human beings’ property. To be brought, sold, and breed like cattle or other animals. The thought disgusts me that in a society built on individual rights and freedom, that we’d consider anyone… “less than”.
We like to think of ourselves as enlightened, that we have evolved beyond those thoughts. Yet even today I can walk the streets of this or any town and find individuals that consider “others” to be less than. Rather it’s through color, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or wealth status; we all are guilty. My main prejudice is with ignorance and close mindedness. You know it when you see it, the bigotry, the righteous indignation. It makes me sick.
I suppose we should all look at our own hearts and ask, “Do I have the right to feel this way”? The Christian Bible says to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Similarly, in Buddhist teachings it gives the four elements of love as kindness, compassion, joy, and inclusiveness.
For me to lay here and think I am better than anyone else is absurd. To think I hold some moral authority over anyone defeats the purpose of love. As enlightened as our forefathers may have been, they knew in this instance they were wrong. To see all humankind as equal is the first step in creating true “peace on Earth”. Till then we’ll just continue to dance around the edges of what we could be.
After taking a few days to let my expectations rest. Restarting the machine can often be chore. Batteries get cold, fluid settles into the pan, and fuel needs to be primed. So I lay here allowing my mind to like go which in turn allows the emotions to flow free. Dancing between established methods and freeform anarchy, I allow myself to release things I may have never been released. But this act of letting go is the catalyst of my freedom.
I don’t get asking a lot of things, which is okay. I think I was built more for listening and understanding. I’m a firm believer in “he who is without sin…”, so I do my damnedest not to judge. My outward persona is that of a grumpy old man. Which my adult children would more than validate. I think I do it more for the shock value and my own personal entertainment more than anything else.
But my true self is more reflective and open minded, although don’t tolerant ignorance well. So bigots and fear mongers beware. Maybe I’m writing this more as an introduction then as a confessional. Reading my comments on social media, it may appear I’m jaded to most things. But in reality, it’s only my reserve defense mechanism sharpening its blades.
Whatever it maybe, rest assured I am honest with my intentions. So my bullshit is mostly a smokescreen to a greater truth. That the world with all its perceived hatred, is not much of a hindrance to the greater truth. That nature and Mother Earth are the true rulers of this world. That within them lies the keys to achievable peace. That quiet, silence, and patience are the greatest teachers when it comes to achieving true contentment.
What is the price of life? That is a question as old as human thought. Most religions consider life to be the valuable thing, considered a great price if sacrificed. To dictators and psychopath’s life is but an ends to a means. Out of curiosity where do you stand on the subject? Do you see all life as sacred or do you see only certain lives sacred or precious? You have to admit, that’s a tough one. So how about we narrow our focus to human life.
I woke up to a cold house this morning for us Southerners it was a chilly 34°f. Most of the individual rooms in the house have some form of heat, except mine. My heaters disappeared long ago as other room heaters gave out and I replaced them with mine. But this particular room has the luxury of being of the “sunny side” of the house where the sun is angled towards this room. So on most sunny days it can get fairly comfortable.
Now you may ask, “What does any of this have to do with the price of life?” Well let me ask, are you a giver or a taker? That was sort of a trick question because we are actually both. Life is a give and take scenario, because we sometimes give, and sometimes we receive. Sacrifice often comes at a great cost, but so does receiving. You see most of us have a hard time accepting the gifts we are given. I know that is especially true for me. Life is a precious gift but to cheapen another’s gift is to cheapen what they have given. So accept the gifts you are given humbly and with a grateful heart. Because what you gratefully receive is a gift to them.
Nothing in particular going on another than the sun’s finally out. Just sitting here waiting for my stomach to start hurting from the medicine I took this morning. I don’t mean to be such a “Debbie Downer”, but life just makes me this way. You see I don’t believe in hyping myself up, because it never worked. I learned to take life as it is both the good and the bad. Maybe that’s not the optimal way to live, but it works for me.
The world is full of wonder and beauty, but we often let our self-hatred and anger cloud our perception. We listen to our own destructive self-dialog without any self-compassion or empathy, which in turn burns away at any chance of happiness. That’s why I am a realist. I’ve learned to accept the good and the bad within myself, being mindful of the balance, and listening compassionately to my true emotions.
All this may seem a little silly to self-hype gurus, but it’s the one thing that has consistently brought me peace. Looking out my window I see the wind cut across the garden. The is Calico lying next to me keeping warm. I may live without a lot of the “necessities” of life, but I survive. I may not have achieved a lot of the dreams I set for myself, but I am content. Content with the idea that I know who I am and that I am aware of the things I need to improve. But most importantly, I am at peace with myself which is the most important thing of all.
Sitting under another cloudy sky, filling out more government paperwork and doing phone call reviews. Living the life of a “moocher” is hard sometimes. Between the prying questions, the constant suspicion, and the jabs from the right wingers (welfare queen) (eating steak and lobster) (having babies just to make money), it’s a wonder why I even bother. But I do what I must do to keep a roof over the heads of those I love. One’s that can’t do for themselves.
I don’t mean to the such a jerk, but these end of the year reviews bring it out of me. I see a lot of people enjoying the holiday season. Christmas trees, decorations, and the gifts all celebrating the season of love and sacrifice. I guess I’m just jaded or joyless when it comes to holidays. Because all I can see are people that barely speak to each other most of the year, acting as though they were best friends. Lord knows I really don’t want to be this way. But after decades of conditioning, old habits are hard to break.
Then I think about those even worse off than me, those that live in tent cities, if they’re lucky. The immigrants locked up in detention centers waiting to be sent back to hell. Wives and children living under the thumbs of abusive husbands, wearing make-up and covering their scars. The working poor, that don’t eat so their children can. Yeah, it’s just another cloudy day.
If we’d all look at each other with eyes of compassion, we could see. That there is suffering and pain beyond just ourselves. That you never know another’s pain unless you lived it for yourself. But awareness and empathy give you the opportunity to see, to feel another’s pain. In this season of love and sacrifice let us all open our hearts to the intention of the season. To the gift that was given and the lesson we should learn.
Awake again in the middle of the night. The air around me is cold and damp, but underneath the covers I’m burning up. I pull back the blankets to cool off a bit. My mouth is dry as a bone and my belly is “blowed up”. I realize I’m not painting a pretty picture here, but more often than not, either does life. I take in a few cleansing breaths to empty the fog. But instead of dreading the darkness, I turn and embrace it.
To see nothing other than what’s in front of you can often be a blessing. No past to haunt you, no future to fear. Only the light of the screen and the words that appear from my fingers. I often reread what I write and wonder, “where did that come from?” But more times than not I just accept it and go on.
I’m still feeling hot, with no clue where my thoughts are taking me. My gut is rumbling, so I wait patiently for the calm. To experience life in a bubble is often not a bad thing. Especially for us wired so incorrectly (at least that’s what I’m told). The bubble can be our savior. But for now as I drift in and out of this dream-like state, I can’t help but wonder. Now do the normal people sleep?
I start my mornings basically the same every day. I get up, check my messages, read the news, go to the bathroom, make up the bed, get dressed, then take a pile of pills. I know it’s kinda boring, but that’s my routine. Then I clear my thoughts, usually speak to my youngest son before he heads to bed. Then I pull out my laptop and dribble out the nonsense you are reading right now. As you may can tell, I’m in a bit of a mood today. But after looking at out at this wet dreary sky for the last three days and reading the current news, who wouldn’t be?
At the moment I feel sorry for the young people of this world. We feed their minds with idealistic hopes and aspirations, yet we pull the rug out from under them with our own greed and lust for power. We tell them they can do anything then give them a world full of our fuckups and selfishness. I know there is a certain wisdom that comes with age. But the outright selfishness and hypocrisy we display does nothing but feed them the idea that it’s all just bullshit.
Forgive my blatant disregard for decorum, but this subject has weighed heavily on my mind for a while. I am so tired of hearing the moral platitudes spilled by the so-called moral elitist of this world. isn’t it about time we actually “practiced what we preach?” Listen I have made my share of selfish mistakes, but Lord knows I’m trying to own up to them. Why do we so blatantly disregard the truth that stares us right in the face? Morality to a two-way street. To do one thing and say another is “preaching out of both sides of your mouth”. Be mindful of your intentions. Are they for the greater good or are they for your own selfish desires?
Listen, Respect, & Be Aware.
When living a minimalist lifestyle (aka: broke) you do with what you got. My Granddaddy used to say, “saving pennies and wasting dollars”; when he talked about how some people run their businesses. As I got older went to business school and run a few businesses myself, I came to understand that statement quite well. That micro-managing and counting the arbitrary cost of business, is meaningless and burdensome.
Operating a business is a terrible burden that can often cost a person their sanity and their health. But at the same time, it can be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience. I suppose the thing to remember is to go into it with a definitive plan. As for myself, I’m just not that into it anymore. My desire and passion for success has shifted to other places, like being content and having peace of mind.
Besides I never felt quite at home with the trappings of wealth. I remember a few decades back; I would go to the seminars and corporate luncheons our company held. These meetings were held at a private club that was just weird. For one, there was a man who sat in the bathroom that handed out hot towels and aftershave. Then the utensils felt like they weighted 2lbs, and everyone eat using good posture while wiping the corners of their mouth’s real cloth napkins. Hell, my Grandma never used cloth napkins.
I was definitely out of my element, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it even relishing in it. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the South Georgia redneck in me? I guess what I’m saying is, be comfortable with who you are. Don’t look at the trappings of wealth or fame as a goal. Find meaning in your life. If that meaning is running a business, then run a business. If that meaning is speaking your truth, well then speak it. We shouldn’t be judged by what we gather, but instead by what we give.
Well in case you didn’t know, I’m writing to you from the South-Central part of the State of Georgia in the United State of America. Right now it’s the early part of December and I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Mind you, I’m not in Southern Florida but the weather today is supposed to be partly cloudy and 81° f. That’s the way it usually is here in the Southern US, it doesn’t really start getting cold here till mid-January.
The unpredictability of it all means never putting your summer clothes up… ever. Plus it gives us some relief from the mid-50’s we usually suffer through. (I know cry me a river) I suppose what I’m saying is, life doesn’t come with any guarantees. The butterfly effect is a real thing, where one seemingly small action can affect much larger actions. I don’t say this to scar you into some kind of always “play it safe mode”. The point is more about staying aware of the things you say or do.
For me personally I’ve said and done a lot of things that I later on regretted, both professionally and personally. Now being aware doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. Hopefully means you will be quicker to own up to them. Despite our best plans, life is an unpredictable thing. You got to learn to “roll with the punches”. So be mindful of your actions, but don’t let fear dictate your life. Unpredictability can often be a good thing, like giving you a small reprieve from the chills of life.
It’s cloudy, but bright outside. It’s warm, damn near 70° and breezy. I came out to check the clothes on the line. I just got out of the bath and the breeze feels cool on my skin, as the leaves continue to fall from the trees. Could you ask any more from nature on a December day? I don’t really think so.
I’ve been watching a lot of my friends on social media moving on with their lives. Planning trips, making plans, just plain moving forward with the dreams they have. Yet here I sit, living one moment at a time. I stop making plans a long time ago. It’s not that I’m lazy or lethargic. It’s just that I tried that other life. The working and the scheming, laying down 5-year-plans. And all it every got me was a scarred heart, a broken mind, and a lifetime of disappointment.
Now I don’t say this to discourage anyone from dreaming dreams. And it’s definitely not my time to go. I’m just sitting hear listening to the birds sing and the distant groan of a lawnmower mowing grass. Reflecting on nothing, just leaving my mind open to possibilities of this nearly perfect day. All while the leaves tussle and fall.
It’s funny how in my “so-called” enlightened state, petty things like vanity still get in my way. Speaking with an old friend, he spoke of showing up at my front door one door. Outwardly I laughed about having to find me first, but inward I was terrified. Thinking of how the “mighty” have fallen to abject poverty and little means. Especially considering the potential I always shown. Yet here we are barely keeping it together, literally scraping by with pennies picked up off the street.
Oh vanity, that wretched little spark of superiority and complacency, where have you gone. Yet here I lay at 4 in the morning with a roof over my head and a good woman next to me. Still worrying about how I appear to the rest of the world. Not to mention how little I think of my old friend, that he would place vanity over friendship. I mean have I really learned anything?
More than anything we should value connection, we should value faith, we should value love. “What good is it for you gain the whole world, yet lose your own soul?” (Paraphrased: Mark 8:36 KJV). I've listened to the cries of people much better off than I, cry over broken promises and lost affection. I’ve seen what a few misplaced words can do to the wealthiest men.
Yet we hide in shame over vanity? What have we truly learned? Life is but a series of moments, each lived across a circle of time. My job is to offer little sprigs of kindness as I walk my path. Listening to those who’s path I cross, giving without need of reward. Crying with those who are in pain. Life is so much more than silver and gold, it’s the light you leave along the way.
It’s been a few days since I ventured outside. Not that it’s been rainy or cold, it’s mostly due to being inconveniently ill. For the last few days my continuing digestive issues have kept me confined to the house. But today has been a “dry day” so I decided to head outside despite the cloudy weather. I hate having to restrict myself, according to how my mind and body responds. But we do what we have to do.
That’s kind of strange where I am in my life right now. It feels like I’m in some sort of holding pattern, you know, just waiting. In a life that has been consumed with deadlines and crisis after crisis to resolve. It’s a little “weird” to just sit here and be. Maybe I should just consider this my reward for giving so much. But in all honesty, my ego would never let me go that far.
So I sit here in the autumn of life, hoping for at least a few more years. But at the moment, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the scenery. Watching, observing, and listening to what the natural world has to say. Other than that, I’ll try and not allow myself to get too bored with the way things are. For life is a back and forth struggle between ourselves and the world around us. So don’t let it get you down, despite the circumstance. For faith has a way of seeing you through, whatever the restriction.
The wind carries the salty air, past my face and into the marsh grass behind me. The sea oats planted on the dunes wave in time with the wind. I sit on the sand as the tide pulls away. Dreaming in shades of remorse, regret, and pain.
I know better than to feel this way. But my soul still cries for the things it’s lost. The spriteness of youth, the gift of freedom, and the spirit carelessness. All lost to the reminders of responsibility and obligation.
So I sit here my grey hair blowing from my face. With only messages to remind me of who I really am and where I want to be. Embracing the soul of one true love. Changing, yet never changed. Pushed by circumstance into the corners in which we reside. Misunderstood, made to blame, damaged yet glued together by love.
In a dream I was down at the river, spending what I thought would be a quiet weekend with my adopted mom Betty. Instead I discovered that Betty had turned the fish camp into an Airbnb. So on my “relaxing” weekend, I ended up helping Betty tend to the several college kids staying in the cabins that weekend. The kids were nice enough, they were not rowdy or anything, but they did seem to enjoy Betty’s “retro” cooking and the “primitive vibe” of Uncle Shed’s.
Other than their bottomless stomachs they very much enjoyed hiking along the river, swimming at the sandbar, and just sitting around under the live oaks without a smartphone in site. The dream ended with an old friend of Betty and Tony’s buying a large barge Tony had been fixing up before he passed. He invited me and Sandra to go out on the boat for a little spin on the river. We launched from the boat ramp and sped away down the river.
Along the way we came to a dock with a fuel station and a restaurant. The owner looked familiar and was quite the grouch. But as the attendant fueled the boat, the owner came out with sandwiches for the three of us. As we continued on our way towards Kings Ferry, I noticed a metal ashtray nailed next to the throttle. Within it was a single dried out half smoked cigar, I knew it had to be Tony’s and it made me smile.
Dreams often have a funny way of bringing us back to ourselves. Earlier in the night, I was awakened by a bad dream and a mild panic attack. Then just before I awoke up, I had this dream. Be grateful for the gifts your heart gives you. I’m not much of a spiritual person anymore. I often see the world in a very literal sense. So to have my soul give me such a gift, I’d be a fool to turn it away.
Pulling myself out of a dream, I lay on the bed, my throat dry, my heart pounding, and my insides bond. Just another 1:30 wake up call for the panic stricken. It’s like a vicious circle you can’t pull out. For days’ things don’t seem to bother me. Then there are those days like now that more than make up for the absence. These four walls are a prison as well as and a refuge. Building my frustration while keeping the peace. With only the gentle snores of my bribe holding the balance.
I’ve talked about this so much; I’m nearly talked out. But the line bears repeating, that you are worth the fight. I am often weary of quiet moments, for those are the times when my mind wonders into some dark places. But I’ve learned that if I center myself and listen without judging, I can hear the cries. For a soul deserves the forgiveness and love it so desperately craves.
Without eating away at the little time you have, remember. Feelings of fear and worry are just natural. They come from our very core of existence. But to ignore those feelings eventually leads to pain and anxiety. So stop and really listen to what your mind and body are saying. Without balance happiness and fear cannot live together. We need both in order to survive. Mindfulness is the practice I choose to keep fear in check. And while it may seem my balance isn’t there, one-time fixes never work anyway. Balance is maintained through practice.
Not feeling particularly inspired this morning. But I’ve gotten into the habit of typing out whatever pops into my head, just to see if it sticks. And right now it’s just one of those days were only a line or two comes through. But that’s okay, with as much shit as I spit out, maybe a day or two of keeping my mouth shut isn’t a bad thing.
Other than wading through the holidays it’s been pretty quiet around here. The mechanic got the old truck running, my son got the screen door fixed, and we found the hole where the opossum’s been getting into the house. Maybe I said too much there, but that’s life in a rural community where deer show up downtown to eat grain blowing out of the silos.
After 25 years it all seems routine for a boy bought up in the suburbs. Now I’m surrounded by the rural bight of abandoned storefronts, empty warehouses, and closed shirt factories. We watch urban centers grow and grow while the rest of the country fades into obscurity. Yet the “well-off” and the “educated” can’t figure out why we elected a madman to be king.
Too many questions for one man to answer. But when people are hurting, they tend to rally around what they know, like the myths they see I on TV and in the movies. They cling to the things they’ve been taught were right. God, Guns, and the Rights of the Common Man. I don’t want to tell you what to believe. The words of a Reality Show Monarch or the whiny promises of a Socialist Utopia. Either way, you should always look behind the curtain and see who’s really pulling the strings.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.