I’ll be honest with you, I’m cold as hell. It’s currently 48° (8°C) and I’m sitting outside. God knows why, I could be under the covers with Buffy (the cat) by my side. But no! Here I am outside on a sunny but blustery day freezing my ass off. Sometimes shocks to the system are often the best ways to shake things up. We often find ourselves so accepting of the norm, that we forget change can be good.
For the past few weeks I have been going through a rough patch. Just seeing things in a negative light. Worrying about things that aren’t worth worrying about. Working myself up into a lather that wasn’t even worth washing. Now that I’m pulling out of this funk, my mind is going in a different direction. I’m focusing more on my own well being. As my family grows and expands, the expectations I placed on myself are lessening. Giving me more time to focus on my own needs.
I know it sounds selfish, and goes against every core belief drilled into my head. But there comes a point when you have to take care of yourself wholly. For decades I had to put the needs of others above myself. While this form of self-sacrifice is noble; it often causes more problems than it does benefits. It’s like looking into a beautiful cloudless sky, then hearing the noise of a leaf blower going next door. Remember there’s no shame in thinking of yourself. There’s plenty of room in your soul for everyone least we forget.
My anxiety and depression seem to be working overtime lately. For the past number of weeks I’ve been very anxious about my health and our financial issues. The depression comes to me in the form of fatigue and lack of any desire to do anything. The fight between these two things have so driven the direction of my life for over 20 years. Till I’m at the point where I am just tired of it all. These two things are at the root of most all my physical problems. So much so, that I often find myself fighting my physical ailments over the mental ones.
It's hell fighting a two front war. Devoting most of your time fighting one battle over the other. For the last six years my physical situation has been front and center. This in turn has left an opening for my mental issues to establish a new beach head. The war references fit this situation well. For there are strategies and options that have to be played out to win this battle. But at times, much like now, the war simply seems unwinnable.
So I have to remember to pull back for a moment and let my batteries recharge. Ammunition isn’t inexhaustible and regularly armaments have to be replenished. So I think I’ll sit back for a moment and allow a little self-healing to take place. So often I will write and write and write, to just try and convince myself I can make it. But even then in the darkness of night, the anxiety and depression win. The indestructible wall around me is breached; and every fear, weakness, and inadequacy comes flooding back in. Weakness is a hard thing to admit, especially when you’ve been the capstone for everyone around you. But often letting go is the only way to stop me from fighting myself.
So it begins, about this time of year we start pulling out the sweaters and long pants. Airing out the blankets and comforters along with cleaning the cobwebs and dust off the space heaters. For us here in South Georgia USA our mild climate affords us the luxury of few genuinely cold days. But if you listen to most southerners winter starts when the temperature gets below 65° (18°C). But this season some of the leaves actually changed color. For our usual fall foliage often goes from green to brown in a flash.
The cabbage, mustard, and turnip’s are looking great in the garden. And the neighbors will be invited over to pick themselves a mess for Thanksgiving next week. It’s the little things like this that I love about living around here. In my life, things just aren’t that complicated; at least not like they used to be. Still we all pick our battles and find our own troubles. I have a few friends and family that seem to thrive on conflict. For them I guess life is just a bit boring without something to fight or be mad about. It’s a little sad in a way, because all that stress and conflict got me nothing but one foot closer to the grave. So I decided to just let it go.
Letting go of all that pressure and strife has added years to my life. So while I still suffer from the aftereffects of that pressure, the fact that I accept it and moved on, is still a bit of a surprise to most. In this stress induced world, it’s nice to have a place where the truly important things in life can be experienced. The problem is, we often don’t take the time to appreciate or experience them. Our minds often look for distractions. Stress and fear thrive on the adrenaline created by conflict. Don’t let your heart be seduced by such things. Let life take it’s course. Appreciate the good and overcome the bad.
Not quite the week I had planned, but when someone you love is in distress, what do you do. My wife and I are keeping an eye on a friend (family really) for the next few days. She had an injury that required surgery and a bit of healing. The thought of her being alone during this time reminded me of days/weeks I spend in isolation. With no one to help, feeling totally helpless. Now I know on the outside she’s quite stoic, but I have been there and I understand.
In a world that seems to thrive on isolation. I find myself traveling among thousands that look totally alone. It’s a world that assumes so much, yet there is so much more to learn. I breathe in what the earth teaches me. If you must, a world created by the hand of God. As an example, a mouthpiece to a larger and deeper truth. While my sister rest, I stare out over the water so still, so mirror like. But when I look a little farther I can see the current moving. Changing the landscape, breathing new life into the dark water.
We move through the world in our individual boxes, isolated and cut off in a way. Yet if we look deeper there’s still a current that moves. An under tow that wants to pulls us together. Call it spirituality, call it karma, call it what you will. The Christian Bible says, “it’s not good for man/woman to be alone”(Genesis 2:18). So we search for deeper meaning in the stars or through some spiritual experience. I simply see these things through nature. Through the changing of the seasons. Through the life, decay, and then life again of the land. What greater example of love and unity is there when you’re feeling so totally alone. Hey, I understand.
Going home is always a mixed bag of excitement and dread. Excitement because I get to see old friends, and family, and the place I call home. Dread I suppose from the anxiety I experience being away from familiar things. You see, home is like a ghost to me. You miss the emotions, the camaraderie, and the comfort it held. But time often fades memories into a sort of nostalgia. And the ties you once felt have become really nothing more than dates on a discarded old calendar.
Being accepted doesn’t always mean, being accepted. The passage of time and neglect, can often reduce your importance to nothing more than the pleasant memory of a long lost pet. We often place ourselves in importance more than we should. While the words and sentiment are genuinely real. In the back of my mind there’s that distance, that ever evolving change we often feel. I like to think of myself as becoming a little wiser over time. But often when I travel back, I feel like I’m reduced to that insecure, overweight child that I once was.
I know that’s probably a silly feeling. But the sands of time and 30 years of self-imposed isolation can do that to you. But back then, I just had to get away. Away from the ghost and the failures I had experienced. While more of the same faced me when I moved up here, I had to learn to depend on myself. But in all honesty those lessons also robbed me of a certain amount innocence and of relationships I’ll probably never get back. So I stand here with nothing, the same as I did when I left. Feeling a certain amount of anxiety that really has no place here. For the current flows down these dark waters, will surely continue after I’m long gone.
The unattended consequences of life often take us to strange places. Often, they are places and times we’d much rather not go. Throughout my life I’ve been touched, impressed, and unimpressed by a lot of people. People who’s faces and names are familiar and unfamiliar. But in some strange way, most remember me well. This is especially true when I found myself in either Chatham or Treutlen County Georgia.
I never thought of myself as much of a vagabond or wonderer. But I guess to my small social group I am. For many from my early years, I guess I just disappeared altogether. In later years, I suppose I did the same thing again, and then again when moving to Alamo. Now in these last four or five years, I’m once again doing the same. I don’t feel like my attitude has changed or that I’ve simply outgrown the people. It’s more like each person in your lives becomes road sign in your life. Guiding us to our eventual destination.
Age and circumstance changes us. Physically I’ve changed quite a bit, especially over the last few years. I suppose I went from an unhealthy overweight person to a carpet of skin draped over some bones. In fact my son-in-law last night who hasn’t seen me in over two years asked, “Are you okay?”. It’s funny because I get asked that a lot. Mentally, I like to think of myself as being more at peace. But I still hungry for adventure and desire, just not at such a quick pace.
Yeah, life doesn’t often take us where we thought it would. I guess for many of us without a plan it’s destined to turn out that that way. But for those of us that have plotted a course, it can be more traumatic. The head winds often change, there are roadblocks and accidents along the way. We lose sight of our goals, or our goals change all together. Don’t fret or become overwhelmed by all this; accept these things as lessons more than just destiny. Dust yourself off after changing that flat tire. Or better yet accept help when it’s given. You never know, you might be helping someone else.
What is it like to have friends? A funny thought to think, but one I have to ask. To never go anywhere but to other places just to be alone. To sit and have pointless hours of long conversation. To walk together through the woods or work in the garden. To make no sense just sitting in the shade.
I think I had friends once, now I have obligations and appointments. Things discussed, then forgotten. Lists of chores, TV schedules, and things to fix. Books never read, just time spent alone… a book club of one. I tell the world a lot of things, while keeping volumes hidden to myself. Baggage that needs unloading, not parceled out in sentences in the correct tense. A shoulder to lean on. Those anyone remember?
I think I remember, but it wasn’t on a video chat. It was a bike ride or a few steps away. It was wrapped in a towel, sitting on lawn furniture, or parked in a car out by the water. It was stumbling with words and emotions. It was fear, it was madness, it was joy. It was something I can barely remember. Just as letters appear on this screen and quickly fade away.
Talk about depressing, on my upcoming birthday I’ll be the same age as my Mom and Dad when they died. So technically I’ll be older than my parents starting this year. Ain’t that a kick. Used to whine and b*tch about it, but for some reason I’m just over it. As I may have told you a thousand and one times, I had a real fear of death. But ever since 2015, I’ve pretty much gotten over that.
Since then I’ve adopted a “laissez-faire” attitude towards it all. Now that doesn’t mean I just let the chips fall where they may. Or that I’m all for deregulation of everything in life. To me it simply means, “what will be, will be”. In other words, take the cards you’re dealt and play your hand. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t bluff or take any new cards. It just means to play it smart. At one point I was 356 lbs., a smoker, and all around totally unhealthy person. So after my brush with the reaper, I did my research, listened to my doctors. And although I still have so many more health issues than I can name, I’m proactive and continue to do something about it.
Last Tuesday, my doctor weighed me fully dressed out 231 lbs. This morning my blood pressure was 119/68, and my blood glucose was 87. Not perfect, but certainly better. Yeah, I may have given up on a lot of things in my life. But ever since completing my graduate degree and then seeing the other side of life; I’ve learned a few things. One, don’t take your health for granted. Two, do what makes you happy. Three, quit living in an attitude of misery, feeling sorry for yourself. Four, listen to your body and your mind. Don’t brush aside the pain, listen to what your mind, heart, and soul are telling you. And five, learn to forgive, especially yourself.
It’s a bit of chilly, the wind is blowing from the Northwest. So I found me a spot with a little shade and sunlight. I’m washing some of my daughter’s throws and linens; to get rid of the George smell. The Baptist next door are filling up the parking lot, I assume to have a prayer vigil for the Atlanta Braves. As for me, I guess I’m having my own prayer service out here in the yard. Other than the wind, I hear the occasional car drive by, the rustling of the dying leaves, and of all things the sound a single engine airplane overhead.
Right now my mind is drawing a blank. Nothing pressing worth talking about is weighing on my mind. If anything I’m a little apprehensive about the iron infusion on Tuesday. Probably more than anything, I’m just ready to get it over with. But the cool air pulls the anxiety away for a moment. Not so much by ignoring the emotions, but by allowing me to listen and gain perspective.
We all have our moments of doubt and fear. For me it’s like every day is a new adventure in survival. I understand most of you really don’t get what I’m say, and that’s okay. It’s just the fact that I’m putting the words out there that is important. You are never alone. If nothing else you have the rustling leaves and gentle wind to remind you, that life is often a hard and stressful race. So take a deep breath, listen to the emptiness. Allow your mind to rest and listen to the continuing sound of nature.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.