It’s funny how in my “so-called” enlightened state, petty things like vanity still get in my way. Speaking with an old friend, he spoke of showing up at my front door one door. Outwardly I laughed about having to find me first, but inward I was terrified. Thinking of how the “mighty” have fallen to abject poverty and little means. Especially considering the potential I always shown. Yet here we are barely keeping it together, literally scraping by with pennies picked up off the street.
Oh vanity, that wretched little spark of superiority and complacency, where have you gone. Yet here I lay at 4 in the morning with a roof over my head and a good woman next to me. Still worrying about how I appear to the rest of the world. Not to mention how little I think of my old friend, that he would place vanity over friendship. I mean have I really learned anything?
More than anything we should value connection, we should value faith, we should value love. “What good is it for you gain the whole world, yet lose your own soul?” (Paraphrased: Mark 8:36 KJV). I've listened to the cries of people much better off than I, cry over broken promises and lost affection. I’ve seen what a few misplaced words can do to the wealthiest men.
Yet we hide in shame over vanity? What have we truly learned? Life is but a series of moments, each lived across a circle of time. My job is to offer little sprigs of kindness as I walk my path. Listening to those who’s path I cross, giving without need of reward. Crying with those who are in pain. Life is so much more than silver and gold, it’s the light you leave along the way.
It’s been a few days since I ventured outside. Not that it’s been rainy or cold, it’s mostly due to being inconveniently ill. For the last few days my continuing digestive issues have kept me confined to the house. But today has been a “dry day” so I decided to head outside despite the cloudy weather. I hate having to restrict myself, according to how my mind and body responds. But we do what we have to do.
That’s kind of strange where I am in my life right now. It feels like I’m in some sort of holding pattern, you know, just waiting. In a life that has been consumed with deadlines and crisis after crisis to resolve. It’s a little “weird” to just sit here and be. Maybe I should just consider this my reward for giving so much. But in all honesty, my ego would never let me go that far.
So I sit here in the autumn of life, hoping for at least a few more years. But at the moment, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the scenery. Watching, observing, and listening to what the natural world has to say. Other than that, I’ll try and not allow myself to get too bored with the way things are. For life is a back and forth struggle between ourselves and the world around us. So don’t let it get you down, despite the circumstance. For faith has a way of seeing you through, whatever the restriction.
The wind carries the salty air, past my face and into the marsh grass behind me. The sea oats planted on the dunes wave in time with the wind. I sit on the sand as the tide pulls away. Dreaming in shades of remorse, regret, and pain.
I know better than to feel this way. But my soul still cries for the things it’s lost. The spriteness of youth, the gift of freedom, and the spirit carelessness. All lost to the reminders of responsibility and obligation.
So I sit here my grey hair blowing from my face. With only messages to remind me of who I really am and where I want to be. Embracing the soul of one true love. Changing, yet never changed. Pushed by circumstance into the corners in which we reside. Misunderstood, made to blame, damaged yet glued together by love.
In a dream I was down at the river, spending what I thought would be a quiet weekend with my adopted mom Betty. Instead I discovered that Betty had turned the fish camp into an Airbnb. So on my “relaxing” weekend, I ended up helping Betty tend to the several college kids staying in the cabins that weekend. The kids were nice enough, they were not rowdy or anything, but they did seem to enjoy Betty’s “retro” cooking and the “primitive vibe” of Uncle Shed’s.
Other than their bottomless stomachs they very much enjoyed hiking along the river, swimming at the sandbar, and just sitting around under the live oaks without a smartphone in site. The dream ended with an old friend of Betty and Tony’s buying a large barge Tony had been fixing up before he passed. He invited me and Sandra to go out on the boat for a little spin on the river. We launched from the boat ramp and sped away down the river.
Along the way we came to a dock with a fuel station and a restaurant. The owner looked familiar and was quite the grouch. But as the attendant fueled the boat, the owner came out with sandwiches for the three of us. As we continued on our way towards Kings Ferry, I noticed a metal ashtray nailed next to the throttle. Within it was a single dried out half smoked cigar, I knew it had to be Tony’s and it made me smile.
Dreams often have a funny way of bringing us back to ourselves. Earlier in the night, I was awakened by a bad dream and a mild panic attack. Then just before I awoke up, I had this dream. Be grateful for the gifts your heart gives you. I’m not much of a spiritual person anymore. I often see the world in a very literal sense. So to have my soul give me such a gift, I’d be a fool to turn it away.
Pulling myself out of a dream, I lay on the bed, my throat dry, my heart pounding, and my insides bond. Just another 1:30 wake up call for the panic stricken. It’s like a vicious circle you can’t pull out. For days’ things don’t seem to bother me. Then there are those days like now that more than make up for the absence. These four walls are a prison as well as and a refuge. Building my frustration while keeping the peace. With only the gentle snores of my bribe holding the balance.
I’ve talked about this so much; I’m nearly talked out. But the line bears repeating, that you are worth the fight. I am often weary of quiet moments, for those are the times when my mind wonders into some dark places. But I’ve learned that if I center myself and listen without judging, I can hear the cries. For a soul deserves the forgiveness and love it so desperately craves.
Without eating away at the little time you have, remember. Feelings of fear and worry are just natural. They come from our very core of existence. But to ignore those feelings eventually leads to pain and anxiety. So stop and really listen to what your mind and body are saying. Without balance happiness and fear cannot live together. We need both in order to survive. Mindfulness is the practice I choose to keep fear in check. And while it may seem my balance isn’t there, one-time fixes never work anyway. Balance is maintained through practice.
Not feeling particularly inspired this morning. But I’ve gotten into the habit of typing out whatever pops into my head, just to see if it sticks. And right now it’s just one of those days were only a line or two comes through. But that’s okay, with as much shit as I spit out, maybe a day or two of keeping my mouth shut isn’t a bad thing.
Other than wading through the holidays it’s been pretty quiet around here. The mechanic got the old truck running, my son got the screen door fixed, and we found the hole where the opossum’s been getting into the house. Maybe I said too much there, but that’s life in a rural community where deer show up downtown to eat grain blowing out of the silos.
After 25 years it all seems routine for a boy bought up in the suburbs. Now I’m surrounded by the rural bight of abandoned storefronts, empty warehouses, and closed shirt factories. We watch urban centers grow and grow while the rest of the country fades into obscurity. Yet the “well-off” and the “educated” can’t figure out why we elected a madman to be king.
Too many questions for one man to answer. But when people are hurting, they tend to rally around what they know, like the myths they see I on TV and in the movies. They cling to the things they’ve been taught were right. God, Guns, and the Rights of the Common Man. I don’t want to tell you what to believe. The words of a Reality Show Monarch or the whiny promises of a Socialist Utopia. Either way, you should always look behind the curtain and see who’s really pulling the strings.
What is my highest goal? Is it to just survive or is it to conquer? Is it the accumulation of wealth or to just give it all away? I don’t know, that question has been stuck in my head for a while now. When I started writing it was a therapy. Then it became a way to pass the time while my body recovered. So I decided to give my little stories away for free. Then I thought that maybe I could make a little money selling collections of my work in book form to make a modest living.
What I have learned over the years is everyone’s fine with logging in and reading my work. but they are definitely not willing to support the art. Maybe I shouldn’t be so honest or greedy with my little gift. But it is what it is. At this point I would love to just go back to work, but my stamina is definitely not what it used to be. While my doctors agree, apparently the powers to be think I should become a beekeeper or something.
So this all takes me back to my original question, what is my highest goal? Life is nothing without purpose. Our damned higher cognitive function insists that is should. So here I sit with a shit ton of blah, blah, blah and not much else. Maybe I’m just fooling myself and the world is nothing more than a selfish game of take, take, and more take. At this point I’m not even going to speculate, but the evidence seems clear. Art is the act of giving without daring to ask anything in return.
I’ve been dealing with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression for over 20 years. I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Chronic Depression back in 1999. That’s funny because people who know me, never saw a thing out of place. But my mental health issues are here and they sure as hell ain’t going away. Since coming out with having “mental health issues”, I’ve had so many people tell me I should go and have this thing “prayed” out of me. Or still other people saying, “if I’d only embrace positive thought and meditation, it would all disappear.”
Well here we are, after much prayer and positive thinking, I’m still sitting here stressing out and having my ever-present panic attacks. My medical doctors are often at a loss as to why I manifest certain physical health conditions. Sadly, they fail to look at the underlying mental health conditions that manifest themselves through physical problems. Listen I am no physical or mental health doctor, but I am a researcher and systems analyst. I know how to look at a problem wholly and with an eye for detail.
My point here is, there is no “magic pill” for a lot of situations. My panic and anxiety know me, because they are me. They are not some alien life form that took control of me. Simply put they formed from the seed that live inside of me. So every day I do my best to not water those seeds. But life has a way of raining down on them and causing them to bloom. The best I or any of us can do is accept that and continue to work and find our balance.
The solitude of my life is often disturbed, by the uneasiness of the night. I sit here now at five in the morning half trembling, half hot; from the fear and discomfort I feel. While I so wish I could cast aside these emotions, the fact that they are here gives some resolution. That my life is both blessed and cursed by this affliction.
I don’t mean to sound so melodramatic, but the artist in me searches for some deeper meaning. When in fact it’s probably no more than a trick or imbalance of the brain and nothing more. The silence in which I live only increases the torment of my soul. The mask I wear so well has a veneer that has worn with age.
The darts I once cast aside so easily now pierce the skin cleanly. I don’t mean to make excuses for my trouble. We are taught from an early age to dry our eyes and “man up”. But those words ring hollow to a troubled soul in need of relief. Troubles come and troubles go, but the steady pulse of mental affliction isn’t often ignored. So we walk the streets by the millions, often unseen, often unknown.
People of means sometimes wonder why the poor among them seem so burdened or sad. Or they marvel at the hoops the poor will jump through just for a crumb from their table. But I’m sure most of the elite simply amuse themselves with the laziness they perceive of the poor as moochers. “Sad isn’t it, that they don’t want to work harder for their piece of the pie.” Funny that in a society built on dreams and fair play, we still adhere to a mindset of elitism, racism, and gender inequality.
That little nugget at the core of our brains creates fear. It is a survival tool that has served us well since our species was formed. But despite the development of our frontal lobe, the amygdala still plays a major role in our perceived paranoia. In the Christian and Buddhist traditions I follow, self is important; but so too are compassion, selflessness, and generosity. To hold a perceived prejudice against another person is simple wrong.
Yet here we are, holding on to the notion that anymore different than us is somehow less. Power corrupts. It seems to me the ones in control of the purse stings are the ones most guilty of sowing discourse and fear. Rather through elitism, the caste system, or good old fashion racism; the fear we carry is continually stoked by what we perceive as losing control. One day maybe we’ll figure it out, “that he who has the gold rules”. Money is a tool, nothing more. Money cannot create peace of mind or give you self-worth. If anything it makes you paranoid, sad, and fearful. Maybe we should all take a moment and ask yourselves, what mindset do I follow?