Meant to Sleep
For the better part of three hours I have tried to go back to sleep. I’ve listened to podcasts and even an audiobook only to lay here totally uncomfortable and wide awake. My body uses all kinds of excuses for this, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that sometimes I just wasn’t meant to sleep. Today was a trying day, for one thing our internet and phone service went out for several hours, with my cellphone service still out. Needless to say since my cellphone carrier was bought out by a larger corporation the customer service has been lagging at best. But at the moment I don’t have the funds to switch carriers till the first of the month.
It's not that I won’t survive without cell service, but I do like having the convenience of a phone in the car. So probably more than anything that’s the reason I’m wide awake right now. Inconvenience and fear can be major distractions to our peace of mind. I’ve sat up a many a night worrying about how I was going to keep the lights on or feed my family through the years. My Mom used to tell me how she earned every grey hair in her head while raising me. That took me a while to grasp that, but boy do I understand now.
I suppose I’m typing these words for no other reason than to honor her sleepless nights. For the prayers and the letters burned on the gas stove. When I was younger I had a hard time understanding the logic of the old. For a really long time I never thought of myself as getting older. But with the turning of the page and watching my own babies raising babies. I sorta get to sit back and take a breath. But there are still days when doubt and fear crawl back across my spine. Reminding me not so gently, that I am not immune from trouble. That the very things that kept my parents up at night keep me awake and restless as well.
Among one of the earliest mental health conditions I was diagnosed with was OCD. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is basically the mental condition where you obsess about a single task. And while those repetitive thoughts can be debilitating, they can be good, because my OCD has gotten me through a lot of difficult assignments at school and at work. But the downside of it has also led me to have added depression, anxiety, and even caused a heart attack or three.
Waking up from a my afternoon nap our calico cat immediately come over from her perch to lay on top of my stomach. This is her not so subtle way of saying I want a little bit of attention. While I find this a little act quite aggravating, I’ve come to realize that her attention seeking often stops me from obsessing about some thought I may have in mind. It’s as though the good Lord above sent me this aggravating fur ball to remind me, that just being in the moment is more important than scurrying about in fear.
Obsessing about the past and future is my kryptonite. I’ve failed at a many a life’s goal because of it. It has taken debilitating mental health issues and now a physical health breakdown to show me life’s more then a series of tasks. Being forced to slowdown and dive deeply into my own pain with love and compassion, has opened my understanding of the greater good. That planting good seed and listening intently is the greatest gift one can give. We hurry and hurry to achieve goals and often to just survive. Forcing us to forget that the journey itself is often the goal. Don’t wait for illness to force you to slowdown. Read the signs before having to slam on the brakes. Life is far too short.
Take You Away
As usual on any given night, Lisa usually turns in somewhere between 9 and 10 o’clock. And last night wasn’t any different, when Lisa turns onto her side, the TV goes off, and the lights go out. Meaning rather I like it or not, my day is through. So usually about an hour before she hits the bed, I get my earbuds out and switch my phone over to a music app. And while she quickly drifts off to sleep, I turn off the outside noise and let the music take me away.
For over 20 years I was a practicing musician. But about the time of my initial mental breakdown I stopped playing music. Then and for a good ten year stretch afterwards I quit listening to music all together. It wasn’t until a major shift in my mental health treatment and medication did I ever regained my appreciation for music, let alone being able to deal with own emotions. But that’s a story for another day. So while my physical ability to play music is all but gone, there’s nothing more that makes my heart soar then listening to music.
Tonight’s music centers around the pianists Hiromi Uehara and a number of other famed musicians with whom she has worked. I definitely recommend checking her out. But my point here to the love I had for music and art that I nearly lost. The gift of creativity has always been a saving grace for my soul. Especially in the early years of my life, when I didn’t understand the inner turmoil that was building. I’m sure some of you won’t understand what it is I’m talking about, but most of you will. That in life we all need that way of escape. Rather it’s through a form of art, or ministry, or the tilling of the soil; we need a place of creative focus. Cognitive thinking demands creative thought. So don’t let your creative passions wither away like so many faded dreams. Embrace your creativity and let it take you away.
So Good At It
I’m not going to fight it, I’m wide awake again in the middle of the night. And while my words sound discouraging at least they’re honest. So if for nothing else, I must be true to myself. It’s nearly 60°f tonight and there’s not much more I can pull off to keep cool. Tomorrow evening a cold front will plow through from the West. So at least I got that to look forward to on my mission to get back to sleep. But it isn’t just the weather that’s keeping me awake. Currently my urinary tract are keeping me up with the dull reminder I still have stones.
But I’m not going to make this a “woe is me” kind of lesson. Instead I’m keeping an open dialogue with myself to reapply the glue that keeps my brain together. Agree or disagree, I am not a glass is half full kinda person. I see myself as a realist. One that looks objectively at myself and try’s my best to do better. For way, way too long I saw myself as a loser. I verbally abuse myself way more than anyone else does. Growing up bullied left a few deep impressions on your brain. Impressions so well indented, I hardly need anyone else to be critical of me, because I’ve become so good at it myself.
I could go on and on about this, but you know the story. It takes a lot of time and a lot of internal repair just to get yourself to some degree of “normalcy”. Hey, I’ve been doing this since 1999 and I’m still struggling. I guess more than anything I wanted to say, placards of affirmation and well-wishes never worked for me. But hearing other’s stories of struggle and pain did. I’d much rather hear the tales of an honest loser than any “life coach” with a paper certificate and an air-brushed smile. I’m a firm believer in “misery loves company “. Struggles are real, bruises are real, and scars are how we heal. I’m a work in progress, so don’t expect any more. We are frail finite creatures, and shouting bullshit at the wind convinces no one. Especially yourself.
Sights & Smells
I just got back from delivering laundry to my daughter’s. I can see my neighbors are conjugated next door dancing in the aisles at church. (But who am I fooling, they’re Baptist.) It’s not too cool so I decided to sit outside for a few minutes while my Sunday load of clothes is washing. In the distance I can hear some birds chirping away, while a few dogs across the road are apparently gossiping about some cats or squirrels they saw.
I for one, am just sitting here absorbing the sights and smells of the day. Far too often it’s hard for us to just be quiet. For many we are not allowed to be quiet. Especially with the racket and noise thrown at us by those that don’t know how to be quiet. Right Beck? So we stress and we stress till the release valve just explodes, causing all kinds of destruction in it’s wake. If the last several years have taught me anything it’s that moments of clarity are required to lead a fruitful and productive life.
So often we spin around and around accomplishing nothing. Listening to the noise that surrounds us, absorbing the agenda of pain others inflect. Believe me, by turning off the channel you aren’t missing a damn thing. The 24-hour recycled news will make sure of that. So be kind to your heart and take a moment to just be. You’re not going to miss anything and nobody in general is really going to miss you.
Not a Cloud in the Sky
It’s early in the afternoon I just got back from running errands and checking on George. I’m outside for the first time in two weeks and even though there’s a little chill in the air, the sun is bright and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Across the street I can hear that old woodpecker still working on his nest for the spring. Chipping away at the top of that white oak, knowing that a good house will attract a strong mate. I got the last of our daughter’s laundry drying on the line, while the cats are out chasing leaves like a couple of kittens.
As for me, I’m listening to damn near nothing. Throughout the morning I’ve seen as few a cars as I have this whole holiday season. Barely a truck or car has drove by, I haven’t heard any log trucks echoing in the distance or even seen a customer parked at the Dollar Store. The birds are few and far between, except for my buddy. It’s almost as if Mother Nature is giving me the afternoon off from the stress I’ve been feeling lately.
A friend of mine on Instagram spoke of giving yourself freedom this morning and in a way, I’m beginning to understand what she’s saying. We give up so much of ourselves for the greater good. But in doing so we neglect and abuse ourselves. A lot of us were programmed from an early age that pleasing others was the only way to please ourselves. So like a trained animal, we dance and we dance for a moments worth of attention. Only to be put back into our cage until we’re needed to perform again.
But my body’s breaking down and it’s telling me I can’t dance like I used too, and for a while that’s what I’ve been doing. But this last year has really pulled all the energy out of me it can. So I’m breaking down even more, with new ailments seemingly flaring up every day. So while the last of the clothes are drying, I’m left here quietly feeling the pain. Knowing good and damn well I need to slowdown and stop all this running around and listen to myself once again.
Need & Want
I would love to say my creative juices are flowing again after having the last few days off. But that my friend would be a lie. I finally got to come back home after spending the holidays house-sitting for my daughter. I don’t mind the house-sitting so much as the having to push through the pain of passing kidney stones at the same time. With nothing more than a bottle of Tylenol and a Chocolate Labrador for company, my weeklong stay over there wasn’t what I would call a vacation.
Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety, but I’m set in my ways and hate having to change things up. But as with most things in life, you do what you gotta do for family. I mean it’s not like there isn’t a little give and take going on here. I mean I do drive her SUV for free and get unlimited access to hot showers. In a way I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s not like I’m visiting my kids in rehab or worst yet prison every week. I mean my daughter’s are perfectly capable of taking care of their own families, without having me to step in.
I suppose it all comes back to getting back what you give. And while there are parents and grandparents out there that have no choice but to step in and take over. I’m one of the fortunate ones that has kids that understand that there needs to be a balance between need and want in this relationship. But don’t worry there’s still plenty of fussing and fighting going on between us. I mean, we are only family. I suppose when your kids get to grow up and see your limits and your faults. It eliminates the specter of any unreal expectations we may place on things. Lord knows, I wasn’t the best parent by a long shot. But God knows I did try to be honest and helpful.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.