Got the first load of clothes washed and hung out. Checked on the garden, there ain’t much I got to do out there but wait. The blooms on the squash are coming out nicely and the bees are pollinating away. The petunias are giving off a sweet morning smell and I saw my first sunflower bloom this morning. It’s funny how drastic my life has changed over the last several years. Going from working full time and doing my graduate studies. To everything stopping dead in it’s tracks, with me basically facing the end of my existence.
As nonchalant as I make it sound, I don’t take anything for granted. I was forced to slow my pace and appreciate the simpler things of life. Like leaves dancing in the sunlight and the scent of petunias on the vine. Some consider me lucky to have been blessed with this gift. But believe me when I say, these were hard taught lessons this old dumbass had to learn the hard way. So I watch the clothes dance on a gentle breeze, while my mind goes back to more stressful times. But living on the seeds of awareness brings one to a certain place of contentment and calm.
I wish more of my friends and acquaintances could understand what I’m saying. That love, life, and bounty are all within reach; if one looks deeply into one’s self and forgives. For so long I measured contentment and success by what I saw others achieve. What I finally realized was that I could only achieve satisfaction through making peace with myself. Envy, jealousy, self-pity did nothing but tear at my soul. Creating bitterness, fear, and self-worthlessness within me. Do I still find myself battling the forces that work against me? Yes. Do I still have days where I just don’t know what to do? Duh. Life is a course we chart. Good or bad it all depends on how we use the resources we are given.
You ever wondered if your life isn’t worth anything unless you’re living it for someone else? I mean, I think about caregivers like myself. That seem to be on call 24/7 for the needs of others? I’m sure some of you out there might be thinking, “That’s a pretty selfish way to think about the one’s you love”. But here again, we go on putting the needs for others above our own. My upbringing was based on servitude and giving unto others. It’s a practice that was well preached, but seldom observed.
To ask me why I touch this subject is to touch my very soul. My entire self-worth is based on what I could do for others. This in turn has caused me so much self-damage. You should see my medical records. It has damaged me mentally, physically, financially, and caused me to abandon dreams and wishes for myself. Again, this may sound like a pile of selfish horseshit, and maybe it is. But wouldn’t that mean that giving of myself would count as a true blessing or some semblance of satisfaction?
I sit here while across the way children carelessly play in their front yard. I smell the evening scent of the daisies in the garden. Yet I sit here alone. Desiring but one silly wish I can never have. Is it fair or unfair, that’s certainly not for you to decide. Yet I sit here shackled to the obligations of this life. You may cynically say, “Well then leave, if you’re so miserable “. Huh, if life were only that simple. Questions that cannot be answered and desires that you can’t fulfilled, are what create us. They make us stronger and more determined to be what we seldom observe. Happy.
Well it’s getting that time of the year to start taking “ice box” showers. As you may or may not know, we don’t have running hot water. So we boil it on the stove what we need to wash dishes and such. But around the end of May it usually warms up enough to handle a cold shower, hence the name. Growing up rather your want to or not you start to pick up on habits from the adults around you. One of habits I picked up was using Argo Cornstarch to powder myself down. Every morning my old man would shave after his bath and powder up his nether regions with cornstarch.
I’ll tell you this much this much about cornstarch, he never chafed and seldom did I no matter how fat I got. You know some habits are a good thing, while some habits are not so much. Abuse both physical and mental can come from things you experienced as a child. My Dad while a great provider had his faults and bye golly, I’ve witnessed myself doing the same as well. I even picked up a few from my mom’s habits that can cut as deep as a razor. It’s a traditional kinda thing passed from one generation to the next. Rather you want to sit around and blame your parents for everything, that’s up to you. But through my mindfulness discipline, I’ve learned to listen to that broken child. And begin to heal the ruptures that have haunted me.
Lord knows, I’m not perfect. Just ask Lisa or any of my kids, hell while you’re at ask it anyone that vaguely knows me. I can be a genuine asshole. But the apple doesn’t fall far from tree and either did that box of cornstarch. If you think your life is damn near perfect as it is. Then maybe it’s time you find yourself a Shrink, because you’re crazy. But seriously, change only comes when we want it bad enough. An addict can’t change till he or she knows they can’t control it. I try my best to control my worse impulses, but often my best ain’t good enough. So…
“God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s nearly 9 o’clock in the morning. I just got through making the bed, getting dressed (if that’s what you call putting on shorts and a t-shirt), took my meds, and had a popsicle for breakfast. Right now it’s cloudy and humid outside so I’m just laying here on the bed; telling you this stupid-ass story. I ain’t been thinking much the last few days. I fact I’ve been doing most of the household chores and cooking the meals. I figured since Lisa’s was going to be knee-deep into the PGA Championship this past weekend, I’d be the domestic god I used to be.
Early on when we first moved up here in '94, Lisa went back to work at a local training center. So I took over the domestic chores full-time. Our two boys weren’t in school yet so it made sense. And besides I got pretty damn good at it. Over time I took jobs working at night. That way I could be home with the boys. When Lisa got home from work, the girls would be back from school, the chores would be done, and supper would be waiting. That’s when I’d go to bed. Again, I ain’t saying any of this to toot my own horn. But when there are no other options you do what you have to do.
People all over this world are just surviving. Most don’t know any other way of life. Yet we sit here worrying and complaining. I have to laugh at myself when I feel hungry and I want to stop by a Burger King. Knowing good and damn well I got bologna, bread, and hot sauce at the house. A lot of the time choices are made for us. But then there are those times when we are making the bad choices all by ourselves. Seek peace and less complication. Seek wisdom and not momentary pleasure. Sometimes a popsicle for breakfast sounds yummy. But balance that with an humble spirit and a sense of gratitude.
Me and Lisa hadn’t long got back from our daughter’s. Just checking on the grandkids and to provide our daughter and our son-in-law with a little adult conversation. But like most kids of their generation the phone seems to bring them the most comfort. But I can’t point any fingers of condemnation, because I do the same thing for hours and hours. Right now as I contemplate these words, I drink in the warmth of a southeastern breeze. I notice more and more clouds gathering for a rain expected to come.
Yet as I find myself becoming more open to the things that surround me. I also find myself drafting into emotions I only dream of experiencing. But I carry no guilt for those thoughts. For no secret has been kept, no unfaithful discretion. For these simply are the truths known by a few that may or may not understand. For what feeds a soul but what it wants? What kills the taste of desire but satisfaction itself? I can’t live a life in denial. Only one of acceptance to my change.
So don’t cry for me or waste my time with blasphemous condemnations. For life is what it is. I am not perfect. I feel the shame for unkind words I’ve spoken. I try to correct myself, but often my attempts simply fail. Still as I feel those first anticipated drops of rain, I know nothing. Nothing but the mistaken rants of juvenile fear. That changed the course of history nearly losing me forever.
It doesn’t matter what time of the day you come out into the yard, the gnats will eventually find you. These troublesome little things probably have a purpose in God’s Plan. But I’d be damned if I’ve figured out what it is. I’ve taken the last day or so to absorb the information I got from the cardiac specialist in Savannah. There’s no point in relying that information verbally to my primary care physician or my regular cardiologist. They want nothing but facts they can read on paper from whomever the particular doctor was I seen.
My greatest struggle seems to be getting these educated minds to coordinate and exchange information. I guess I could blame it on poor office file management for the slow information exchange. I mean they are only human. But when you see Doctor’s offices still relying on fax machines, hand written notes, and computer programs that can’t speak to each other. As a one time Business Systems Analyst you can see my frustration with their “just getting by”. Right now I’m in a holding pattern with no landing field in sight. Simply in waiting on the air traffic controllers (doctor’s, hospitals, and staff) to get their shit together.
One of my favorite Army commands has always been, “Hurry up and wait”. So like a good little soldier that’s just what I’m doing. The specialist did say I shouldn’t be in any immediate danger according to my tests. He prescribed a medicine for me to take, but my insurance won’t approve. At least not until he signs some special paperwork. I’m sure you can imagine how hard I’m holding my breath for that. But if life has taught me anything it’s to never look at the world through “rose colored glasses”. Does special lenses are only prescribed to a select few that provide an Oasis for us troubled ones. Because they can see balance and in the good and the bad we all have to experience.
The sun’s getting a little intense around here, it not even noon time and it’s already 80°f. Lisa graciously brought me out some lemoned iced tea to keep me hydrated. We got what few dirty clothes washed this morning and they’re hanging out to dry. We just left our daughter’s house she told us she was having a video call with her mother-in-law about some family business. Interestingly in the three or four years we’ve gotten to know our now son-in-law, I’ve never spoken to his parents.
If I bring up the subject with our daughter I’m usually met with some resistance. Oh I’ve heard all the excuses. Still in all my years of dealing with people, there were very few I genuinely didn’t get along with. But I’m saving this fight for another day. As long as our son-in-law is good to our daughter, I’m fine. Each of us has to grow in our own time and pace. To understand another person takes time and nonjudgmental listening. I’m sure a few people think I’m a bit “nosey” or at the very least a bit too candid. But that is okay, I figure this is my forum so I can do pretty much as I please. But don’t worry, when conversating with someone I’m a good listener and a great secret keeper.
I guess the thing is we all need an ear to lean on sometimes. Unfortunately in these hurried times there’s not much time for intimate chatter. Besides social media has setup this false narrative that we all must be at our best. I suppose that’s okay for a nice picture showing you having fun. But most of the time we are wrapped up in the mundane doings of life. So maybe my candor hasn’t won me a 7,000 followers let alone 700. But that’s none my concern. Instead I find myself driven by a need to connect. That with each person I’m given the opportunity to know. I try and be as present as I can.
Finally got a few minutes to sit outside in the shade. We went over to our daughter’s to check on George, while we were there Lisa decided to wash the dishes in the sink. Never figured out why parents do that, I guess it’s just a nurturing thing. Because we’ve already spent some 20 years of our lives looking after them and oftentimes habits are just hard to break. So for now, I sit here listening to the wind and chasing shade.
It’s funny how the leaves twinkle while they dance in the wind. All fresh and green chained to their branches keeping them alive. But after a season of nourishing that old tree, they fall away. Not completely discarded, for eventually they decay and feed another generation. I suppose we’re kinda like that, holding on to the leaves knowing not to let go. Till the time is right and they eventually nourish others.
Lisa hangs the first of our daughter’s clothes out to dry. Some may say we soil her, but there are trade-offs like using her shower or her taking me to the hospital. But sitting here in the backyard I see the fig leaves dancing above me. I hear birds singing in the distance, and catch the slightest hint of petunias on the wind. Still I find myself feeling a little weak. But that’s just the order of things where the vigor of youth gives way to fall-like serenity of chasing shade.
I woke up a little early this morning. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling too good, so I spent most of the day in bed. When I went to sleep last night, I wasn’t expecting to sleep very long. But I did surprise myself and slept till around 6 am. I’m sitting at my desktop which I rarely do anymore. My bedroom/office is still dark. It reminds me of the nights I used to sit here at the desktop and work on my college studies several years ago. Back then I worked at night on the weekends in 12-to-14-hour shifts. That way I had the next four days to run errands and do my college studies.
With this particular school (University of Phoenix) it took me 7 years to complete my associates, bachelors, and graduate studies in Business Systems Analysis. It’s funny now, because that seems like a lifetime ago. And for over forty years of my life, I thought that elusive college degree is what would validate me. All those achieved goals, all those fulfilled dreams, now reduced to adject poverty and just watching the world turn. But with that I have learned to accept the truth about who I really am. I’ve learned from long introspection that I am more than the sum of parchment paper I have collected.
I wish I could down in 300 words or less the work and sweat I’ve had to put into getting myself to this point. I suppose you’ll just have to keep reading my stories to find out. But my point here is, we don’t have to be defined by any particular one thing. A mistake made decades ago doesn’t have to be a scarlet letter we wear forever. Neither are the scars left upon us by our peers. My life may not have turned out as I had planned, but it hasn’t stopped me from living. Look inside yourself, listen to what your heart cries for, forgive yourself, and forgive those that wronged you. In due time peace and satisfaction will overcome all the adversity.
We just got back from our youngest daughter’s house. We went over to have breakfast with her and her family, a sort of Mother’s Day thing for Lisa. Our two grandchildren give “Granny” a homemade card then ran around terrorizing each other. It’s a little funny now but just over six years ago, our daughter trusted me with the secret that she was pregnant with our granddaughter. She told me and her husband’s late grandmother the news while we were both in the hospital. I guess she thought we looked a little worse for wear, so she went ahead and told us. The same thing happened three years later when she became pregnant with our grandson. I guess my daughter is just like her old man, always looking at the worst case scenario.
I’m sitting out here under the fig tree/bush enjoying the breeze as a cold front blows in. It’s a welcome change from the pre-summer heat and humidity we had last week. I’m feeling pretty well considering, I got my second Covid booster yesterday. Things like that make my PCP happy and besides science and medicine have kept me alive this long. Figs are just beginning to bud, while the turnips and mustard in the garden are flowering up. Bringing out the bees and butterflies to pollinate. You know seeds must be sown for nature to flourish. The same can be said for humankind. The eyes of wonder, that spark of energy I see in my grandkids. I saw in my children and also remember in myself.
We are all given a certain amount of time. If we try that time can span a generation or two. But often we are limited by what we see in front of us. So while living in the moment gives us the fullest existence. Living selfishly and with fear, only stifles the potential we can reach. Don’t be one of the many that walk in selfishness, stubbornness, and fear. Each generation creates it’s own boundaries. All we can do is have the faith we taught them well. So quit hanging on to power, quit being so damn selfish. Your way may not be their way to true enlightenment.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.