It’s pretty cool to have animals that are so comfortable around you. That they can sleep deeply, even when you’re moving about. With our cats that is especially true. If you know anything about a cat they sleep with one eye open at all times. But it is nothing to have one of them near me and to not even bat an eye if I rub them. When I’m watching George after a little play and snacking he’ll usually curl up at my feet and nap. Like right now while I’m working on this story.
Comfort and peace of mind often allude us especially in this complicated over stimulated world. Just this morning I was hoping for a little deposit into my bank account to take us through the weekend. But being the firm believer in Murphy’s law that I am, I knew it was a long shot. So as surely as the sun rises, nothing showed up in the account. Leaving more worried and anxious than disappointed. But that’s why I create redundancies and back up plans. I do my best to leave nothing to chance. Over my lifetime I’ve found faith to be more of an empty promise until proven wrong.
Some of you may see my attitude as counterproductive to a life of mindfulness and living in the now. But as I have said a many a times, I’m a realist. I breathe in the quiet wisdom of nature. I don’t chant mantras or hang positive sayings on my walls. I get up everyday believing in myself and my abilities to survive. And while I do have many moments of doubt and fear. I listen to them, I accept them, and I put them away. Much like George and the cat’s trust I’m here for them. Comfort and peace of mind are never far away. Especially when you accept who you are and continue to work towards enlightenment.
Despite any common sense or the orders given by my doctor I’m outside. It’s 84°f right now with a feel like temperature of 94°. But there is a really nice breeze blowing and the walls in my room were starting to close in. The gnats are a little rough out here, but I got my bug spray. It’s an all natural product that has a bit of a strong scent, but hey, it works. The figs are beginning to ripen up on the fig bush/tree. So I picked myself a few to snack on and they are delish.
We got a few clothes out on the line and without a cloud in the sky they shouldn’t take too long to dry. It’s quiet out here for a weekday, and while my heart’s AFibbing a bit. I did mark it with my heart monitor keybob for my doctor to check later. After I wrote that little bit I went back into the house for lunch. Considering how close it is to the end of the month we are having to get a little creative with our cooking. So now it’s just a little after supper and I’m back outside. For supper I took a can of cream of chicken soup, some cheese, canned potatoes, and some streamed broccoli. I mixed and seasoned that with a bowl of rice and made what I thought was a pretty good supper. After some 30+ years of on and off abject poverty you learn a trick or two.
I remember asking my Grandma Thornton what it was like raising kids during the depression. My Granny kinda smiled and said, “we were so poor we don’t know there was a depression”. With things like they are, with two years nearly total isolation and now living through yet another recession. You’d think we’d just learn to grin and bear it. But a proud man never knew or has forgotten how to count change for a loaf of bread. So, he complains about the ones that do. Maybe I’m just in a bad position to think of such things. So I guess I’ll just sit here and watch another gate close and listen to the wisdom on the wind.
For the last few months I’ve been spending way too much time in my own head. Due to the heat it’s nearly impossible for me to spend any time outside. And as you may know, outside is my refuge, my place of release. But when the temperatures are in the mid-90’s and the dew points over 70°f nearly every day. Spending more than a few minutes outside becomes a chore in itself. So I’m dictated by fate and my current health, to spend my days confined to a very dark room.
Along with the heat the economy has taken is toll on our standard of living. Food prices I can adjust to by changing menus options. But the gas prices have really burned us out. With gas prices increasing some 50-60% and the increased number of doctor visits I’m making. Bills are falling behind and predatory lending has become a way of life. I’m sure most of you are uncomfortable talking about such things. But I figure in my “absolute candor” too many of us suffer in silence. So I might as well be honest. But I’m not writing this as some political statement, for I am a believer we create your own choices. My point is at this time life is really weighting down on my head.
So what are my options? Right now I’m laying here with a light blanket and an ice pack on my head, venting my fears and frustrations onto this tiny screen. Rather that helps or not remains to be seen. But over the decades I’ve seen that by facing the fear and discomfort, I’m unburdening myself of grief and pain. To ignore something is no way of escape it. But it is a way of compressing that pressure till eventually it explodes, and believe me I know all about that. Do what you can to repair whatever situation you may have. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But mostly be honest with yourself and know that sometimes a dark room maybe all you got. So use it.
With nothing much left but casual conversation the room turned quiet. But the electricity could still be felt between hearts pleading for the truth. Guarded by the hand that was dealt, we sit idly by looking for moments, but the moments never came. Leaving us with feelings of both joy and pain.
But life will often leave you this way. Caught between the things you desire and unanswered dreams. So long ago we found ourselves caught in the lies created by the impulses of youth. A time when potential stretched on forever and the words whispered in our ears burned deep. Forced to do unthinkable things because of the beating down. Believing that this was the only way to be loved.
We walked through those valleys abused and ridiculed. Haunted by sins done in the name of survival. And yet, we walked through damaged, but strong. Gentle, but covered with scars. So here we sit in polite conversation. Not saying what we want to say, not doing what we dream of doing. All because of the fear and pain we’ve seen. Being whipped again by the same words that hurt us so long ago. Peace never comes to the abused, but the wicked sleep soundly.
It’s funny when you hadn’t seen someone in a while how surprised you are that they now look different. That’s the distinct impression I get when people hadn’t seen me in a while. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, considering how much I’ve physically changed over the past few years. Still it is ironic how we file away these images of others, without ever taking into account the movement of time.
Within my own family we are such a distance apart, we only see and hear from each other on social media. Yet me, my brother, and my sister are grandparents now. But I often still see my younger siblings as those kids I fought and played with down that dead end street in Bloomingdale. I suppose it’s just something that happens naturally. But then there are some we were once very close to that now we hardly recognize anymore. Not so much physically, but spiritually and emotionally. So you ask yourself what happened? What happened to make them so bitter and indifferent?
With the march of time comes the different situations we each walk. Maybe something happened when you were away that changed them. Maybe something happened to you that changed you and your attitude? Either way each of us is hardwired with the ability to show kindness or hate. Oftentimes without being able to distinguish between the two. But to whomever that emotion is being displayed, they’ll know. I suppose in some twisty kinda way I’m saying. Be aware of change, do your best to be sensitive to others, and never automatically assume you are always right. In other words feel the room.
I am tired of painting pictures of this broken old man laying before me. Tired and feeble, with no strength to do anything about it. Feeling like a rung out rag dried up on the window sill, without an ounce of life left in it. I know, pitiful right? But despite whatever joke I may make of the situation, this is what you get. Still I try and write words that uplift and push things along. But lately all I feel is an epitaph pouring from out my soul.
I’m trying to file all this under the heading of just being physically exhausted. But even so I still have to fight with the demons of my anxious mind along with it. My doctors tell me to be patient. But patience is a commodity which I have very little at the moment. I can’t really say I’m in some sort of panic. Because after 20+ years of living with that old friend, what I’m seeing now isn’t living up to panic’s full potential.
I suppose more than anything I’m just here fighting with myself. Laying here somewhere between creating doomsday scenarios in my head and writing messages of positive charge. Still in-between all that is the silence that I hear coming from everywhere. So here I am tired. Tired of the tightening in my gut, tired of the misfiring heartbeats, and tired of the complicity of silence I find myself in.
Across Our Backs
Dark drifting into a trance. My mind speaks volumes muted by the apparent roar of fatigue. Two souls consumed by the slow erosion of life. While two are consumed by pain and selfish desire. Not able to let go, chained by words spoken in love. Now tied around our necks bound and choking. Screaming with obligations once appreciated then excepted.
I pull at the chain as guilty as ever. Physically beaten by a wipe I carry. Shaking from exhaustion and thirst, I drawn into myself. A cocoon that reflects no light, no growth, or redemption. Towing that chain.
Grace covers a multitude of sins. But what torments me is a selfless burden. An inadequacy seemingly taught from birth. That to be good enough you must give away your soul. A price I find too much to give. So I labor under the melodramatics of an unanswerable god. That beats me with a plow strap of guilt.
I had planned on taking a nap this afternoon. I mean the weather is just perfect for it, raining with just a touch of thunder and lighting. But laying here with most all the lights turned out. I can hear the rain hitting the window AC with the slightest scent of vanilla burning off my Dollar Store candle. Your face is burned into my memory, conversations tip-toeing around we really want to say. Telling the same old stories we tell ourselves each and every time.
But it’s our canopy of protection, our secret escape plan. Like a moat built around a castle wall, it’s that little extra overkill to keep pain away. We appear so open, so available to what others say. And in a way it’s so very true, we are available and open to help. But to open ourselves to a position of vulnerability it’s a god-damned scary thing. Because at some point we did that, usually when we were very young. Then without shame or remorse someone/something snatched it away from us.
So we live our lives giving without getting. Giving without being vulnerable because one too many times we’ve watched it happen. We’ve watched sincerity and even gratitude turn into wanting and expecting. Till all the obligation we ever felt because of our own damaged lives melts away. Standing at the river between what we really want and what we really have. I look across and I see what you see. Pain, desire, toughness, and fear. For once we’d love to tear down this wall. Each day we chip at the mortar and loosen the bricks. Patience. I keep telling myself…patience. So that dollar store candle burns reminding me every day.
Forgive me but my brains feeling a bit scrambled this morning. But to be perfectly honest, it’s been like this for a few weeks now. Ever since I left my gastroenterologist office a few weeks ago, where I was prescribed medication that slows digestive issues. Apparently this bad boy has greatly normalized my digestive system, but not without a few issues. I suppose when you resort to chemical cures, you can expect a little blow back. So I’m kinda going through another weight loss issue again. It seems like my appetite has disappeared and I’m only eating when I absolutely have too.
For many that maybe a great problem to have, but it has been effecting my cognitive and physical abilities. So as I said, I’m losing focus distracting my mind with mindless bullshit from social media. Avoidance is often our greatest imperil. To just “laugh it off” or “put it off till tomorrow “, is usually my go to modus operandi. But it’s hard not to look at things that way. Especially when juggling so many different medical procedures and appointments.
So I’m writing this down, as more of a therapy for myself then anyone else. Often my mind plays with me. Telling me to put duty before self. With outside responsibilities such as my wife and sons. You end up going through a sort of hero complex where you have been conditioned to believe you are the only one who can solve the problem. And while there is some nobleness to being the caregiver, it often comes at a price. So be aware of you limits. Know when it’s time to slow down and take it easy. Right now I got some major procedures coming up. So a balance must be maintained between my own health and the wellbeing of my family. I mean, what good are you to anyone else if you refuse to take care of yourself?
I usually don’t go through this much summer/hot weather suffering with my sinuses as I have this year. But unlike my usual hurting through the spring, then easing up for summer. These last few months of usually hot weather have been a bit more different than in the past. So I lay here under the AC like some dried up sickly person who’s never comfortable no matter what the weather. I mean, I hate feeling this way. Used to when something would get me down, I’d eventually bounce at some point. But this past year? I don’t know, it’s just getting harder and harder.
There’s nothing worse than sounding like a “Debbie Downer”, right? Well anyway, as I approach that magical age of sixty. I’m beginning to think my own smart-ass rhetoric about it is getting the best of me. I mean for my immediate family I am charting some unknown territory. I mean no one, not my Mom or my Dad lived to see the age of 60. And being that I’m the oldest sibling I’ll be the first one to cross that threshold. And yes I know, age is just a number. But considering my overwhelming battle with health anxiety for the last 20+ years. You can see how this shit is often front and center in my mind. We all deal with our own inner demons. Rather it’s an addiction or a phobia, but unless you’re in total denial, there’s always something that triggers you down deep.
There’s a lot more about this than I can tell you about in just one last paragraph. But know this. Sometimes fear can tighten up around me till it feels like it’s about to kill me, and believe me, I’ve been there. The key I suppose is to just hold on. Yesterday I went through a violent attack of acid reflux. To the point that I was questioning if it really wasn’t a heart issue instead. But I pressed on dealing with the discomfort till it finally started to subside. Now that’s not to say I didn’t mark the incident with my new heart monitor or at the very least check my blood pressure, because I did. I guess the thing is to never be ashamed to admit that you are afraid. Often it’s that fear that keeps your ass alive. It can also make you more aware of your priorities and give you a clearer idea of your self-determination.
I figured I’d sit outside for a few minutes till the gnats find me and tout me off. Lisa and I just finished shopping at the local “Wally World” and “Dollar Twenty-Five Cent Store”. Picking up this and that listening to store managers complain about corporate’s latest cost cutting memo designed for their own greed. Working in retail most of my life I guess I have a sympathetic ear to what they’re saying. But now that I’m retired from the game, all I can do is just listen, pay for my items, and go home.
The sun can be a close friend or ruthless enemy depending on the season. Right now it is blazing hot on me, while at the same time it’s causing a harvest to break through the ground. I don’t know what I’m trying to say with this pointless jabber. But sitting in front of our TV sets and smart phones, we’re shoveled regurgitated information with expert analysis thrown in for good measure. But me sitting here and complaining about it isn’t really much different than what mass media is already doing on a larger scale.
So for now, I’m just going to enjoy this little breeze and listen to my new neighbor cut her grass. There’s something to be said about the smell of fresh cut grass or the smell of just washed laundry on the line. At least in the silence I can hear myself think. And ask myself the hard questions that many are too afraid to ask. Sitting in this moment of reflection the sun filters though the green of the leaves. Making the leaves nearly translucent penetrated but not quite penetrating. Giving off a sense of what and who they are. Giving no judgement, just showing us purity of what is real.
It’s five o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. Me and Lisa spent part of the day visiting our daughter’s and our grandkids at their homes. I’m very proud of our four kids. Our two older girls and their husbands have ventured out and are doing well. They both own their own homes, both have good careers in their given fields, and have hard working husbands. In other words, they’re both doing far better than Lisa or I had done, at least on paper. But that’s the way I was always told it was supposed to be, that the offspring should always do better than their parents.
I’m sure all our kids in their own jaded, smart-ass way would say, “doing better than Mom and Dad wasn’t that hard to do”. And honestly, I wouldn’t be offended, because it’s actually true. From the word go Lisa and I struggled, marrying with one kid on the way. Then having three more in rapid succession. I struggled with work and making a living wage to house and fed four kids. Lisa struggled with her own disabilities. Then my own mental and physical health started taking a toll on our families well-being. I’ve always thought the reason our kids are successful is because they already seen the bottom and don’t ever plan on going back.
I suppose the point of dragging out all this personal business out is to say. No matter how successful or unsuccessful you may be, it’s the point that you tried that really counts. Rather it’s your kids or a co-worker, people are watching your actions. And if they see you trying then your point has been made. Oh, I can talk a big game. I come by that naturally. But my family also knows I’ll move heaven or hell for them. If you can build that type of trust in most every individual you know, then you have built a legacy no amount of failure can ever take down.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.