I’m certainly glad I took these pictures of the flowers. The next day after I shot the series, my landlord cut them down. Usually, I’d be the first one to cheer if he’d cut that bush at any other time. It’s big hanging branches make it hard to see the street when I pull out of the yard. But it’s during this time of the yard when everything else is dying; that this big leafy green monstrosity begins to bloom.
If you read any of my work, you know there’s always going to be a touch of gloom. That’s because I’ve lived and survived enough shit to know better. In business I was called “The Boy Scout”, that’s because I was prepared for every disaster. And believe me rather you’re digging ditches or rewriting system code, somethings going to go wrong. Observation is a key component in finding awareness. Learning when to be quiet and allowing those inner voices to speak id also key. If you hang around me, you know I am anything but quiet. But being around people is a luxury these days, so most of my time is spent in isolation.
As usual, my body is going through another crisis. The iron levels in my blood are below nothing… quite literally. My body fatigue is getting worst, and my heart has been palpitating a little more than usual. Other than that, I feel fine. After getting the diagnosis from my hematologist at first, I joked about it. Then I got mad about it, and now I’m just accepting it. I feel a little like those blooms on that bush. One minute I’m happy-go-lucky and the next, I’m being cut down. But like Jerry sang, “Every silver lining got a touch of grey”. So I’ll go through this, just like everything else. Because I don’t fear the future, though I’m still chased by the past. For moments are just moments, so live them as best you can.
The exhaust of the day burns through the air. As industry and progress struggle against the stillness of the earth. Sitting here watching the garden grow. I often ponder the struggles of the natural world and our unquenchable desire for new distractions. Distractions that while convenient, often pull us away from fundamental truths. I suppose I really shouldn’t complain, after all I gave up pen and paper for the convenience of a keypad and cloud storage a while ago.
There are advantages to this modern world. But with those advantages should come the wisdom to limit our appetites. Power and domination seem to be so implanted in our DNA. The need to survive often overrides our ability to be compassionate. Our moral compass, so rooted in our religious grounding. Now seems to have faded into the wind. Tribalism and fear have so overrun the make-up of our world. It now seems that we have simply reverted back to being cavemen with better weapons.
Like I said, I got nothing against innovation. But as our world becomes more mechanized, so to have we. The compassion and enlightenment we achieved, often wanes when it is convenient. I suppose no differently than it has in the past, but with a sharper edge. It would be wise not to think so highly of ourselves. The threat of imminent destruction rather manmade or not is always a strong possibility. We are all kindred spirits, rather we believe it or not. Destroying our world, our futures, is short sighted and impractical. Hating you fellow human due to race, gender, or religious belief is even worse. All I ask is you “think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
A warm mid-October breeze blows. Our week of fall weather is pretty much is gone. The sweaters and long pants we pulled out are once again put away. Still conversation quietly turns to the holidays, of loved ones missed, and loved ones gone. I found myself a little shade in this 85° weather, longing for a more traditional fall, which I haven’t seen in years. My arms covered are by the marks of time; my face wrinkled from the burdens of life.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with any of this. I mean I’ve written enough stupid to last a lifetime. But for me, to quit writing would be like trying to stop breathing. I try and not think too highly of myself. Nor do I overthink my craft or my position in life. I am just who I am. A broken man that spent most of my life looking for a rainbow that never really existed. Broad strokes of a pen cannot change one’s station. But they can sure give you some peace of mind and a little perspective.
So I sit here as time rows on. Not really fretting over the seasons. Or any of the holidays that just happen to come by. I cherish my moments of privacy, while still longing for truer connection. For you can still be alone, even when surrounded by need. To have and hold love is a rare thing. To know love and not being able to reach it is just tragic. But the marks of time eventually catch up with us all. Scaring our bodies and our souls with moments of regret. But the secret to it all is to listen, recognize, and forgive. For time marches on.
As you can see, I’m wearing pants. And if I’m wearing pants then that means I went to the doctor. I got my matching orders from my PCP two weeks ago to go back to the hematologist office for more weekly blood work. There’s something weird about going to the hematologist office. For one, everyone’s on top of their game. I mean from the office personal, to the lab technicians, to the doctor himself. They know my name (which my own PCP has trouble with), and they know exactly where I need to go, and what they need to do.
The lobby of his office is pleasant enough, comfortable chairs, and a TV playing either Dr Phil or the Price is Right. But once you head into the inner sanctum you see a maze of offices and exam rooms. Then you come to the big door. Inside the rooms are cold, the large lab has at least ten lab stations and techs. But beyond the lab is a room full of large recliners each with IV stations hooked to a number chemo patients. Some are old, some are young, some laughing, others just keeping to themselves. A number of them don’t even look sick.
You know, I’ve spent a lot of time in different exam and treatment rooms. Some in group therapy with other mental health patients. In emergency rooms with thin curtains separating life from death. ICU units, Pulmonary Care Units, were I’ve spent weeks recuperating. But this is a new one for me. But much like the PCU and ICU, there’s that mixture of optimism, quiet, and dark souls that have just giving up. I look at death with a morbid sense of humor, especially over the last several years. Some look to it as some sort of “resurrection”. I see that as a defeatist attitude, a cop out for doing nothing about the situation. So when my life closes in, I’m bound to go out kicking and screaming. Remaining optimistic, even with my morbid appetites. Hoping going with my pants on.
It’s 5:30 in the afternoon, a cold front is supposed to be blowing through. Buffy and Boots are rolling around on the grass pouncing on each other like a couple of kittens. As for me I stopped watching the Georgia/Kentucky game and came outside for my sheer sanity. But the wind is whipping around pretty good, but still no cool air, just another fall afternoon in the South.
We all pour ourselves into something, rather it’s work or recreation. I look to writing as my escape. Like the wind blowing through the tops of the trees causing the dry leaves to fall. As I grow older, that’s how I see my writing. With the wind acting as inspiration and the falling leaves the product of that inspiration. I see every day how big business and conservative media “wail and gnash their teeth” over supply chains and lazy Americans not willing to work. Well maybe if some of these tax dodging corporations would to look at their employees less like commodities. And more like human beings, than maybe they wouldn’t have a disenfranchised workforce.
But enough of standing on the soapbox. Why are we so afraid of free thinkers? Why were we so much more comfortable with our creativity packaged in shiny little boxes instead of in the vision it was intended? For a few years now I have tried my best to commodify my work. Package it in simple easy to read books and blog post. But the more I try, the less inspired I become. I guess what I’m trying to say is, no matter you’re calling or station in life. Make your life your own. The only reason we need more is we desire more. Look at your life, decide for yourself what is most important. Allowing others rules stifle your creativity is a disservice to yourself and humankind as a whole.
I’m missing my parents today. I guess that’s an odd thing to say considering I believe no one’s ever really gone. But I suppose I do. I guess it’s that unbroken bond, a kind of permanent umbilical cord that forever ties us together. But facing the music I am getting older. By now I should have accumulated at least some treasure. But the irony is, I have less now than I had say some 30 years ago. I suppose by the world’s standards I’m not worth much time. A pull on society, a non-contributor to the greater good.
And in some ways, that maybe true. But I try and put my talents to some use. I write words that I hope edify and build up. But I’m not one to put on any airs, because what you see is what you get. Which is where I miss my folks greatly. They never threw any punches; they give you the shirt right off their backs. That’s just the kind of people they, that’s the kind of person I hope I am.
In business school I learned a lot about strategy, statistical analysis, marketing, and managing people. I learned everything I could to be a success. Yet while working towards those goals and being as ethical a business person as I could. I was absolutely miserable. The stress, the hours, the strategizing; all took a toll on my already fragile mental and physical health. So I spun out of control and nearly died…for nothing. At the moment I’m under the shade of an old sycamore tree in my backyard. Wasting time I suppose, telling this little story. And while a good 80% of those that “like” it won’t even read it through. It’s my contribution, my way of paying it forward. For the benefit of you and to the love of my parents.
I’ve been indulging myself in a little bit of poetry writing. Pulled away from writing essays for a moment just to let the jets cool. As usual I’m outside watching the laundry dry, listening to the world drive by. Not asking myself any questions just thinking of those I love, extending thoughts and well wishes. The weather has really working on my attitude. Allowing me extended time outside to create.
I dream in portraits both black and white and in color. I dream of love and the complicated situations it places us in. In the beginning love can be an intoxicating fragrance that won’t let you go. Then there are moments when love becomes a prison, binding you to a life of servitude and unhappiness. I’ve lived both sides of this coin. It has filled my passions and it fuels my pain.
So while I sit here enjoying the slightest of breezes, with the fragrance of the fresh wash passing by. I dream of moments of ecstasy, while living in moments of pain. For creativity is sparked by both of those emotions. As you move about your daily routines, never forget to believe. For life is fueled by the dreams of contentment and misery. So don’t cry for the moments you missed, instead know I am right here keeping you within me.
The last few days I have been in a bit of a fog. My sinuses have been working overtime, while nothing I have written has given me any satisfaction. I guess I could call it writer’s block but I think it has more to do with having nothing much to say. I have literally written thousands of posts. So maybe it’s time for me to shutdown for a while. Maybe as I get older it’s just the genetic makeup of my father that is coming out. My old man was a fellow of few words. As I grow older, I understand better the pressure he put himself under. His unexpected outburst, the verbal abuse, and never seeming to measure up.
I got reminded that it’s Mental Health Awareness Day today. To be honest, while I was diagnosed with mental health issues some 20+ years ago. I keep that fact hidden most of those 20 years. The stigma of mental health struggles around me still seems as taboo as it was 22 years ago. Even mentioning having a mental health issue has cost me jobs and frankly family relationships. Unlike a physical disability, mental health is very much a silent problem. Leading to undiagnosed issues being ignored, which can lead to self-harm and abusive behavior.
Believe me I know all about that, both self-harm and abusive behavior. The self-harm, things like unhealthy habits and low self-esteem I’ve pretty much got a handle on. But it’s the abusive behavior that really needs more of my attention. Like I said, my dad wasn’t much of a physical abuser, but he sure was a good verbal abuser. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my father. That’s because as get older and see the reflection he has had on my life. Because masking pain and making excuses for it only creates more pain. To end generational abuse, one has too honest with oneself. Don’t be afraid to seek help and get support. And learn to speak up when something feels wrong.
Got outside a little late today, because I had to take my son to the barbershop. While I was in town I went ahead and checked on George and found my daughter’s lunch sitting on the back porch steps. So let’s just call another typical day at the Thornton house. The weather people have been promising me rain for three or four days now, but I ain’t seen a drop. There hasn’t even been that much dew on the morning. So we’re having to water the seedings and plants we put we over the weekend. It’s but that’s how it is when you’re working towards a goal. You plant and you water the seeds till something finally comes up.
We live with such a “get rich quick” mindset. We do things without the slightest thought of a plan. We work hard for about 15 minutes and if we don’t see any results we quit. I was thinking back some 20 years ago when I had the dream of finishing my college degree. Here I was in my early 40’s, working a full-time job, taking care of two special needs family members, along with three other mouths to feed. And oh yeah, did I mention my ongoing battle with mental health issues. I tried attending technical school, a number of local colleges, but don’t find the right fit till I started attending college online.
Online learning afforded me the flexibility of working at my own pace. Plus this University, despite it’s notorious reputation, gave me leeway when my mental health issues come up. And even provided me with local counseling when I needed it. This allowing me to complete my associate and bachelor studies, along with finishing my masters’ studies in early 2015. My point in painting this picture for you is simple. To show you how determination and vision goes a long way towards helping you achieve your goals. Even with all my physical setbacks over the last six years, my mindset has been the same. Envision your goal, make a plan, ask for help when you need it, and most importantly, learn to believe in yourself.
I’m often reminded of the fragility of life. That tragedy and death are very much a part of it. I am not immune to the stings and arrows of living. I’ve witnessed death and tragedy with my family, my friends, and damn near myself. Sitting outside smelling the hint of smoke in the air, probably from a controlled burn; nature experiences these same things. But unlike the noise of this busy world, the natural world accepts it’s fate and moves on.
I don’t mean for this to sound defeatist, but life is a living circle. Acceptance is the first step towards renewal and change. Without looking at the situation honestly, there’s no way to motivate and improve. It may sound like I’m going around in circles. But nature has the ability to adapt and change as situations change. Rather through flood, fire, or manmade disasters; nature adapts.
Recently I posted images of myself from 6 years ago and today. While I can still see the flaws, many commented on my weight loss and how much better my skin looked. None of this was overnight, it took determination and acceptance to achieve my goal. Listen we whine and we moan, but until we learn that true change only comes from our natural desire to survive. Just as nature adapts to new situations to survive. So to should we in order to thrive and not just to survive.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.