I noticed this morning that I am becoming my Grandmother. I pulled a tissue from the box wiped my nose, then folded it up and put it in my sweater pocket. I know, right! We like to think of ourselves as more enlightened than the generation before us. And in some ways maybe we are. We treat other cultures with a little more respect, we see woman as equals, and we think more about the environment. Who the hell am I kidding? From what I see, all we’ve done is pull the shiny wrapper of politeness towards others off.
No disrespect to Granny, but my Grandmother at least to me never showed disrespect towards anyone. But today I see more outward displays of hatred, then I have since I was a child during school integration. But it’s not just about race or equality, it’s the outward display of selfishness. The fear that someone’s going have more than me. Listen I lived that life. For years I lived a life jealous of other’s successes. The bitterness, the anguish all has its roots in fear and self-hatred. Frankly, it’s no way to live.
While we wallow in our jealousy and fear, the world is dying. Children are torn from their families. Woman work for less pay and respect. And the environment is quickly decaying into a wasteland. All because we think only of ourselves and our own petty fears. Listen, I don’t mind people disagreeing with my views. Hell, debate and compromise are a healthy thing. How about we put aside our paranoia and see the commonality we each share. Then who knows, maybe Granny can rest easy knowing we finally learned something.
We all have moments, moments where fear overcomes the mind and takes us to the darkest places of our soul. I can stay calm under pressure, but beneath it all there’s a ground swell of panic and fear. Last night I was awakened by such a fear. A moment when the panic overcomes the comfort of sleep and takes over my mind. I don’t mind speaking about my secret shame, mostly because I have learned the best way of letting go is by telling my story.
It’s hard to describe in 300 words the process in which I use. But through a tremendous amount of trial and error, I discovered that confession, forgiveness, and letting go have brought me the peace I so desperately sought. Make no mistake, I am no walking miracle. There are days, weeks like this one where I feel like I have been drained of every ounce of energy. I wish I could be the bearer of some new miracle cure, but I am not. All I know is what works best for me.
To breathe in and breath out, to pause for just that one moment. Call it prayer, call it meditation, call it what you will. The silence gives me relief. But now I fight a new ailment watching myself wither away. While the presents of an old friend come’s back to haunt me. The panic and fear, the anxiety and depression envelopes my soul. Feeding me lines of helplessness and dread. The sting of death doesn’t bother me as much, as the withering away.
I know it sounds a bit silly but looking at my life I see so many things I wish to accomplish. Yet here I am staring out a lone window into the grayness of the morning. Still I am here typing out my thoughts, my fears hoping for a break in the clouds. Enabling myself once again to make it through another day.
It’s a little cool this morning, it’s cloudy and damp unlike yesterday’s cold but sunny. Sitting here crossed legged on the bed I’m wrapped in a blanket; I’m trying to keep my fingers warm. All this a little new for me considering I lost over 100 lbs. When I was over 300 lbs. I was quite warm during the winter months with little extra clothing. Now I’m cold to the bone, wondering how “skinny people” make it.
While all this weight loss might seem like a blessing in disguise, it still makes my General Practitioner nervous. She says I’m losing weight way too fast. But without any outward discomfort other than my overactive digestive tract, it’s all a mystery. I’m going for a colonoscopy in early December and do a colon screening every year. So other than some elevated something in my liver from one of my medications. Some of my doctors think maybe it is a blessing in disguise.
So I sit here, the panic side of me wanting to over-obsess with the situation. While the calmer more reasonable side just sits here and waits. Now my ever-present satirical side is thinking, “Here you are worrying about a chronic heart condition, all the while, it’s probably going to be something totally out of the blue that takes us out… Typical.” (Insert eyeroll)
Listen I can moll over these hypotheticals all day; but what good does do but cause even more anguish and worry. Ignoring the problem certainly isn’t the answer but wishing it to go away is even worse. I remain proactive in my treatment and pay attention to what my doctors say. In fact my doctors have commented me on just how aware I am of my treatment and my situation. You can’t go through life “wishing” for happy dreams. Always walk your path aware of where you are stepping. Life can be a beautiful adventure. But only if you look at things wholly one moment at a time.
After a lifetime of either hating myself or lying about it. I now look at things with a much more aware filter. In polite company I know I should say the right things. But more often than not, I end up wearing no filter. My family likes to refer to me as the “grumpy old man”, but I look at myself as a “truth teller”. Writing has become my preferred form of communication. Not only because of my lack of a filter, it allows me more moments of clarity and less opportunities to put my foot in my mouth.
This morning I was awakened with a shout, this time around two in the morning. As usually I went through my social accounts and left notes to a few friends across the world. I listened to some messages sent to me, again giving back as encouraging a word as I could. I don’t have many face to face friends anymore. Frankly most people simply don’t have the time. So my little social circle is pretty much it.
But I don’t think of myself as lonely. I suppose that’s because I enjoy my own company. Still many people I see are lonely. Oh they’ll smile or give a polite wave, but deep down they seem to be dying. Not so much physically as they are spiritually. You can see it in their eyes.
At this point of my life, I’ve learned to be reasonably content with the way things are. It’s not that I am not motivated to do better, it’s just that I find life much more pleasant than I ever have before. Through the simple act of accepting and loving myself. I have discovered, things don’t have to be perfect. That most of the dissatisfaction in my life came from my own self-hatred. Through the simple act of acceptance and forgiveness, I have learned that working from the inside out. Is the best way to change myself and the world around me.
It’s just one of those days. Not much on the agenda, maybe watch a little football, go to the store and pick up some things, that’s about it. I suppose I should just keep my mouth shut and go with the flow. But that ain’t my style. Because I’ve had some really weird dreams lately. Mostly about me parents and grandparents, you know the ghosts in our lives. Nothing horrible or tragic, just memories and dreams.
I’m sure other people dream the same thing, about pleasant or maybe unpleasant things from their past. Strange how those things work, you think you’ve sweep things under the rug. Only to rediscover they are right there where you left them. Maybe that’s way I’m having “one of those days”. Before I would bury deep the emotional garbage, I kept inside myself. Only to discover that much like hazardous waste it eventually seeps out and poisons everything.
Relief came through creating an honest dialog with myself. By facing the things that were hurting me and listening to the pain. I learn to give yourself a little compassion. So many times, we “guilt ourselves to death” for the things we have done.
To forgive yourself and to ask forgiveness of others, is the first step to a greater understanding of who we are. Life is so much more than just a paycheck or shiny new things. It’s about living in the moment and taking the happiness we feel and spreading it around. Don’t continue to live your life drowning in your own poison water. Breathe. Forgive. Dream.
The realities of life are often hard to bear. I know that in my life I see the responsibilities I face as a mammoth mountain I can hardly climb anymore. Years of selfless duty have taken a toll, not only on my mind, but upon my soul. Just a few years ago I would have never written this down on paper, let alone posted it online. But I have come to a point in my life where I can freely express my emotions, at least in the hopes of relating to other kindred souls.
I don’t mean to sound like a winy ass complainer, but even when you know what you’re getting into. You are still unprepared for the realities that you must face. I’ve spent 30+ years facing the responsibility of being a caregiver and guardian to two beautiful people. They have enriched my life in so many ways, but there are still moments when fatigue and frustration overtake me.
We have to create balance in our lives. Rather at work and in our home life, things just have to even out. No matter how obligated you may feel, you can’t just give, give, give. I don’t know what it is about some of us, we feel this constant compulsion to give so much of ourselves; even to the point of ignoring our own needs. I suppose it’s a craving for the love we never received. I know that selflessness is a virtue, but when given to feed our own needs, is it still? You are worthy of your own attention. Focus your mind first on restoring your own soul. The rest will come freely. Be honest with yourself. Listen to that inner voice. The rest will work itself out.
Well I’m back outside again. A place that over the last few decades has become a weird place to be. As a kid we stayed outside, we played out there from daylight till dark. The alternative was staying inside and doing chores or watching “Days of Our Lives” with Mom. Luckily enough we had woods to explore and bikes to take us there. We don’t have cellphones or trackers; we could ride our bikes to other town, just as long as we were home by supper.
I got laundry hung on the line, the clean scent of washed clothes blowing towards me. I hear the sounds of the world around me, a tractor-trailer locking its brakes to make a delivery. Cars passing on the highway and the sound of an annoying leaf blower down the street. The sky is a cloudless blue while the remaining leaves rustle in the trees.
Here I am, bearing the scars of three days of poking and prodding. With the sun behind my back, I’m still trying to get my bearings. Today has been nice, so I can’t really complain too much. But I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with yourself. Going an entire year without ending up in a hospital, only to land right back there…again. Life is a continuing journey. Full of ups and downs you can never predict. The best you or I can do is live moment to moment doing our best to be kind.
Life can be a vague inconvenience, pulling us from routine to unwanted adventure. My mind is still a bit groggy from the weekends adventure. So I’m sitting outside after a week of being locked in my room. My eyes strain from the sunlight and senses distracted by the sounds of nature and man. Trying to find my center to all the madness I sense and feel.
I’m really trying not to think too much, the probing and information I received is still being processed. My cardiologist told me to take it easy for a few days and allow the new medications to sink in. But I’m still surprised how “out of sorts” I feel. My balance is a bit shaky and my insides a little uneasy. But I push through hoping at some point it will pass.
I guess I should tell myself to just take it easy. To just go back to bed and shut out the world. But here in the backyard I feel a connection. A connection between myself and the world around me. I want so desperately to just get up and move. But my heart tells me it’s time to rest. So I’ll end this little story by simply saying, give yourself time. The world isn’t waiting on you, so let the inconveniences go for another day and breathe.
Searching for greater meaning can often be a fool’s folly. For all we have is what is right in front of us. Oh, we can change bad habits or make improvements in our standing. But I truly feel we are who we are. I guess what I’m trying to say is, all the power to improve or get worse lies deep within ourselves.
I grew being told that I was flawed. That I had sinned and come short of God’s love (Romans 3:23 paraphrased). So for a great deal of my life I felt unworthy of love and was doomed to a life of misery. Even though Christian teaching gives a way out through “grace”. It still didn’t calm my soul’s paranoia that somewhere I would slip up and burn in hell. So I spent the bulk of my life walking on eggshells worried that no matter what I had done, it still wasn’t good enough.
The thing that I eventually discovered was, that in order to accept myself, I had to learn to love myself. In my Christian upbringing denial of one’s self is key to living a “righteous life”. Some would say my thought process here is flawed, but it is what it is. But for me to find peace I had to learn to embrace and love myself, flaws and all. Most of my life I hated myself. I hated myself physically, mentally, I hated my habits, basically anything. So no matter the amount of “grace and “forgiveness” I was given. I still hated myself.
My point here is not to step on anyone’s belief system. As stated, this is about me. All I ask is that you listen to cries that come from within. Far too often we compensate for the misery we feel by giving of our whole selves to others or by drowning our sorrows in destructive behavior. Believe me I know. Until I learn to face yourself, listen compassionately to my pain, and learn to let go; I was never be truly happy. Life is more than just giving; it’s about receiving as well.
Creativity is such a fickle lover, moving in and out of our lives on a whim. While I didn’t consider myself much of an artist, I still see inspiration move in and out of my life. Either giving me moments of creativity or drought. I prefer to write in the short story format, first because I don’t have much of an attention span. And secondly, because it allows me to throw bursts of spontaneity into my work. I guess you could say I’m a, “throw it against the wall to see if it sticks”, kinda guy.
But seriously that is nothing new, most artist of today find solace in the idea of spontaneity. Creating from what the moment brings. It’s funny for me to say these things, because I was such a planning. On a number of projects I worked on, I’d usually end taking the lead as project manager. A job I accepted timidly, but soon learned to relish.
But since my health scare and its aftereffects, I’ve taken a long hard look at my life. What I concluded was that some wholesale changes had to be made. While I thrived on many aspects of project planning, at the same time it was killing me. Maybe I should be more specific in saying is that my lifestyle and mental health habits were killing me. What I required was a complete turn around in my thinking and my physical habits. While a lot of damage was done, it was up to me to turn things around.
The eventual solution came by returning to my first love writing. While therapy and medication helped, it was my discovery of mindfulness and meditation that put me on my road back to finding myself. The idea of living in the moment brought a certain degree of peacefulness. It let me know that living in the here and now is where I truly needed to be. Worrying so much about the next moment brought on such anxiety and stress that it nearly killed me.
In the world in which I currently live, I maybe a lot poorer, but my mind is clearer and more focused than ever. I have written thousands of short stories and hundreds poems. I’ve become more in tune with nature and the world around me. I have more patience and compassion for others. In general am thriving in a world led by spontaneity. It allows to explore places in my mind I once feared to tread, adding to the peacefulness I feel. You may not feel like you are an artist, but we all live in a world of performance and net value. But how much easier would it be to place more value on your true self and on those that surround you.