Some friends of mine in California had the main road in their area knocked out by the recent rains. They live up near the mountains, so I was joking about them now having to live off the grid. They replied, “That it is squirrel stew from here on out”. While we got a good laugh out the situation, it got me to thinking about survival. I don’t just mean living off the grid, something I have no idea how to do. What it did get me thinking about was the survival of my soul and the extenuating circumstances that cause me pain.
On the surface, I had an easy life growing up. But like most everyone else there were the dark corners of circumstance that affected me more than I’d like to admit. Despite how put together I may seem, there was always a feeling of panic, chaos, and despair. Leaving me with the feeling that not only was life unfair, but that I deserved every unkind thing that ever happened to me. So for the next fifty years I took to blaming myself. It wasn’t until recently that I have been able to confront these feelings and overcome that guilt.
Being a late Baby Boomer I was taught to swallow my pain. Many of my generation (including myself) scoff at Millennials and Xer’s for being too soft and too dependent on their feelings. Thinking about it, does that really make us any better than the bullies and abusers we faced? Abuse begets abuse, until the cycle is broken. So many successful people are miserable to the point of death. Among many of my peers they have simply given up on life due to their circumstance. I can’t subscribe to that belief anymore. If nothing else my family has taught me that survival is the only thing that creates legacy. So when reduced to eating squirrels, rabbits, or goats remember, you are surviving. So don’t give up, don’t give in, “don’t let the bastards grind you down”.
After a foggy as hell morning it looks like the sun’s breaking through. I couldn’t sleep last night so I didn’t fight it and stayed up watching TikTok videos till 4am. I had and still have a headache, but I had a cup of regular coffee this morning. So I’m pumping on all cylinders till I crash. I catch the smell of firewood burning in the distance. And while it’s going to be in the 70’s today, I suppose someone out there needed the ambience.
Overhead there’s a damn squirrel in the sycamore tree bitching about something. Not exactly sure what it is they are bitching about, but it’s certainly messing with my mojo. And maybe that’s what it’s all about, something messing with my mojo. While I have an easy time focusing on my words. There are moments when my head feels like it isn’t screwed on straight. Like my thoughts are wanting to pull me back into a chaos I’d just assume leave alone. Lately my dreams have wondered into some strange alternate realities. Where I am who I am, but living a different life.
I suppose it’s okay to fantasize about the “what it’s”. But on more than one occasion I’ve discovered dreams don’t often fit into our realities. The fact that I spent several years trying to achieve the dream a college education. Only to discover that it didn’t satisfy me is a great example. Life usually pulls us back to our roots. My roots were to put my thoughts onto a page. So don’t worry that your career isn’t taking you where you want to go. Center yourself, look deep inside, then from there look to what makes you the happiest. Usually these things are hidden right there in plain sight.
When rooting around in the basement of my heart. I often come across shit I just assume leave alone. But in order to lead a more balanced life, free of the pain these moments cause me. I gotta sweep out the cobwebs and let in some light. From minute one, I knew I was in over my head. With a fiancé with troubles of her own, a baby on the way, and no real plan. We got married and lived our lives as best we could.
Over the years trouble just seemed to follow us. With three more kids and one with special needs, I was on a slow train to a breakdown. Ill prepared for any of this I served as full-time father and part-time mother. I worked mostly nightshift so I could keep on eye on the little one’s before they started school. With little change in my pocket, holidays were provided by grandparents and charity. And while I don’t know about you, for someone raised by a hardworking (but not an exceptionally affectionate father). I felt nothing but inadequacy and shame in those situations.
To this day while our kids are pretty successful and live good lives. I find it hard to really enjoy the true meaning of the holidays. Mostly because of that dirty basement where those feelings lie. It’s easy to say, that we’ve let go of something. But to put those words into practice is a whole other adventure. While I’m still working on my situation, putting on my brave face every day. Don’t think for a minute things don’t bother me. My ongoing health issues I can’t control, not to mention the mental baggage I’ve been “duct taping” together for decades. It all comes down to searching and desiring to live and get better. Ignoring shit only buys you a little time. Find a path and follow it and open those curtains let in some light.
I finally got through putting dinner together, just a little homemade chili simmering on the stove. But my digestive system has been making up for lost time. So preparing dinner has been a stop and start situation. I know that sounds gross as hell, but after 3+ years of this, you get used to it. But I don’t want to turn this into some damn pity party, because it is what it is. You live, you do your best, and still you end up going out in some gross way.
Listen, I don’t mean to sound like a hard ass, but that’s just the mood I’m in. And frankly I don’t blame myself. It’s been a rough month or so, and despite how hard I’m been fighting these negative emotions, here they are. That’s because despite how many mantras I may repeat or how many affirmations I proclaim; life can often feel, look, and smell like a pile of shit.
I know this may rain on some of yawl’s parade about finding joy and purpose. But you know what, I never found any true peace until I quit lying to myself about how I really felt. Within each of us there are seeds of happiness and despair. While there have been many examples of good in my life. There has also been an equal amount of bad. And while it may seem like I focus a lot on the bad, it’s just me giving time and attention to that part of me. For too long I buried deep those painful emotions. Which in turn created most of the sad situations I face today. Because without acknowledgment and compassion, there can be no peace. Because without forgiveness and honesty, there can be no balance.
As you can see from the images I’m finally outside. After three days of drizzly, foggy weather it’s a relief to get back outdoors. We are expecting a fair amount of rain this evening as the storms that hit the Midwest head towards us. But surprisingly the wind is still moving out of the Southeast and not the West. So at the moment it’s a sunny and toasty 74°f (23°c). It’s currently 11:11am (if that means anything to you) and apparently one of my neighbors got a puppy for Christmas. Poor little thing is yipping and yipping wanting some attention.
It’s sad how we’ve created this instant gratification state in which we live. Where we have to have our cake right now, instead of at the end of a well I prepared meal. Believe me though, I’m as much a part of the problem then the solution. But I am trying. Patience is a word we love to throw around, but seldom put into practice. But like my preaching family used to say, “I may have one finger pointing at you. But I got three more pointing back at me”. Putting good words into practice is a hard thing to do, but not an impossible one. The problem is that we see so many gurus preach results without telling us the hard truths.
Truths like you will fail way more than you’ll win. Or that the path to your goals is often lined with booby traps, mostly of your own making. Hey listen, I am the resident and chief of failing. For every achievement that I can claim, there’s at least a thousand failures. The key is forgiveness. Learn to forgive yourself, to forgive others, and mostly to forgive circumstance. This world is often cruel and unfair. But eventually the wind changes; and in those brief moments of peace. You can find your hope, your vision, and your toasty weather.
Stuck in another doctor’s office listening to Christmas music on repeat, wishing I could be somewhere, anywhere else. But this is the price I pay for living a reckless sinful life. Shit wears out I suppose, so I’m spending the latter half of my life in perpetual maintenance mode. I don’t mean to sound so cynical of this whole process. But after some four different appointments with three different doctors the last 30 days I think I’ve met my quota.
I don’t know why I even bother telling anyone about this, I’m more than certain everyone’s got troubles of their own. I guess it’s to show that we have some camaraderie in this human condition. I watch the news and read the morning paper. In them I either find myself getting pissed or laughing at what I see. It’s either things that are so obvious that anyone with common sense can see right through it. I personally don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I don’t think anyone is that clever. But if you see a bunch standing around and they claim they saw nothing. Usually that means they’re lying to cover their ass.
Still I sit here and wait on my nurse practitioner. My blood pressures been checked, along with my glucose levels, and my A1C. There’s no doubt I enjoy living, mainly because my NP is very happy with my test results. Apparently I’m one of only few patients that does what their told. But all and all it just takes is a little common sense; a lot less paranoia and even less following the crowd. But what can I say, we all got troubles of our own.
You know memories are often nothing more then photoshopped images hidden in our minds. Snap shots of brightly lite and created from reality or fiction. I was thinking of how we create images in our minds of friends and loved ones seldom seen. Of how we picture them as we see them. But in reality we are often shocked by how much they have changed. In the hidden images of my mind there are thousand of images. Each one crafted and kept to hold on to a memory. Memories that for better or worse create who I am.
We carry such things in our minds like vision boards to encourage us to keep us motivated in times of need. I’m not much of a vision board person. My motivation was rooted in my sheer will to take care of my family. But over time, the burden has shifted to where they depend less and less on me. I suppose my current physical situation gives me an excuse to lack any kind of motivation. But the past few years of surviving one physical crisis after another has taught me anything; it has taught me I want to live.
I wish I could give everyone the magic formula for having such a determined attitude. Because it seems like I’m surrounded by individuals that do nothing but complain, without doing a damn thing about it. It makes me sad, it makes me frustrated to know that some people are in so much pain. So much so that they see no escape. I guess it all starts with believing in something. Rather it’s some outside source (god, cause) or maybe just believing in yourself. So many of us walk a road of unworthiness, not able to believe in ourselves. But with small steps of accomplishment we can do whatever it is we’ll need to do. Listen at 59 years old and I will never run track in the Olympics. But I can get up every day and motivate myself to live. Now take a picture of that.
I’m a little tired, yesterday I had to run errands to the bank and then go to Wally World. Since we came home Lisa and I have both been coughing and running a little bit of a fever. Add to that my vertigo my ears are hurting and the drainage is giving me a sore throat. (I do paint a beautiful picture don’t I?) For the last number of years, I’ve had to walk with a cane. Not so much to hold me up, but mostly to help me maintain my balance. Someone at the bank commented me on losing weight. To which I cynically replied, that it’s not of my own doing, it’s just me slowly self-destructing.
I’m sitting on the front porch today. It rained last night and for a good part of this morning. But the temperature is cool and pleasant, with the lightest of breezes. The towns not sleeping, I suppose it’s just resting. Most everyone left for work this morning, while the golf cart crew are huddled inside because of the weather. I figured since Lisa decided to play the TV at a reasonable volume, I’d just sit here on the porch to avoid the occasional raindrop.
Still feeling a bit feverish I do have my semi-annual check up with my cardiologist tomorrow. Such things used to frighten me, but after this many years I take whatever news I get in stride. But time is nobody’s friend, least of all mine. I suppose that’s why I’ve learned to live in the moment, appreciating most everything I see. Watching the occasional log truck drive by or a fancy car leaving the courthouse. We all have some sort of place. Rather it’s providing for our families, creating a career, or just reflecting. Still never forget to appreciate these moments. Focus on the moment and take life as it comes.
This weekend was a bit of an escape. In that I spent most of the weekend either watching football or catching up on TV shows and movies I hadn’t watched. In itself that’s not really strange, I mean as modern human beings we do this sort of thing all the time. Both constructively and destructively. But as the day wounds down I found myself setting back into my reality of unfinished projects and decision making.
To be honest, I used to not allow myself much time to enjoy such luxuries as taking time for myself. As my children were growing up, my days were spent working, managing our home, and looking after my special needs wife and child. Today someone going through a similar situation was asking me advice. I gladly laid out all the facts I could, but in doing so I probably left out a lot of the guilt, shame, and burdens you feel during those times.
I suppose when asked again, I should bring up those subjects in a real and not canned and homogenized way. That things are often ugly, that you will loose your temperature, and that you will feel shame. Listen taking care of one’s self is not a shameful or selfish thing; in fact it is a necessity. A necessity that I still need everyday. I don’t use mindfulness and meditation as tools to just gain. These truths have become an integral part of my life. They sustain me and keep my heart, mind, and soul clear. They grant me peace in an otherwise gone to hell world.
Well I’m back outside, after a couple of days feeling blue. So with this new found energy, I’ve decided to hit up some of my Instagram and Facebook followers, family, and friends with a little encouragement. Listen I’m a smart ass by trade. It was a coping mechanism I learned at an early age from my family. While none of my children seem to get the joke, I suppose it’s because they’re a product of the “woke” generation and not the “suck it up buttercup” generation. I suppose that’s what you get from having parents raised during the Great Depression followed by a World War.
But I’m trying my best to be encouraging. Because the world seems to have gotten a lot crazier. But I digress, for in everything we should seek a certain amount of balance. Sitting here semi-bundled up the weather is crisp but still windy for an early December day. Lisa just fed our newest stray, a disheveled calico with the temperament of a shy child. It’s another female who Lisa says isn’t pregnant. But with our luck here at the home for wayward cats, she probably is.
But much to our children’s dismay we still find room to welcome another wondering soul. I suppose that’s just the way it is for us wondering souls that don’t know any better. A kindred spirit that needs a helping hand, a little encouragement. So we do what we can do, it’s built into our DNA. To be the charity givers that go above and beyond. The ones that know hard times when they see it, because frankly they’re been there themselves.
Just came outside a few minutes ago, after a morning of shopping and paying bills. When the slightest scent of sweetness passed through the air. It only lasted a brief moment between the smell of under brush burning and the log trucks rolling down the highway. The scent was much like the spring flowers that line around the early garden. But nothing remains of them now but dry grass and dormant bulbs.
Seeds planted grow and wither away with the passing of seasons. The strength of youth passes and hopefully the wisdom of age takes it’s place. I sit by and watch the beating heart of the world. While heart’s like my own fade into dust. I don’t mind speaking of end things. Maybe it’s an offshoot of my morbid sense of humor. Or maybe the peace I’ve discovered casting away the burden of time.
Either way, the sun pierces through the overcast sky, while our newest stray eats her meal. We’re all tied together by moments. Not man, nor mission, nor belief can pull apart the connection. No matter how civil the cause, until we learn we’re all in this together. We are just doomed to repeat the same mistakes, over and over again.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.