Driven to the depths by fear, my mind wants to shut down. These are the moments when I wonder how I’m not an addict. Searching for whatever means to escape this hell. I suppose responsibility is what always grounded me. Though there are moments. So I suffer through battling the endless “what if's” that scan across my mind. You’d think by now I would have discovered a magic cure. But sometimes even medication and therapy are mute points. So I turn to my one coping mechanism, my words.
Who knows what direction this thing is going into? Sometimes it’s a message of hope, sometimes just an explanation of why I am. Either way, I’m buried under the covers. Lisa knows well to just let things be, the rest of the house just stays the course. I don’t really know what brought on this attack other than a moments worth of attention. When it comes to my insides, does it ever really need a reason?
So I cross the plain of knowing better and just not giving a shit. Accepting the emotions as they come and exposing my pain for all the world to gawk at. Bitterness, fear, anger, hate they all become a part of it. So I’m sitting here believing, this too shall pass. But for the moment those words ring as hollow as a church billboard sign.
No amount of positive reinforcement pulls me from this muck. Only time and listening to what my insides say. But life continues to turn and no matter what, bills need to be paid and things need to get done. Maybe's that’s my saving grace, purpose of life. Meaning and drive see other day. And while I’m sure I’ll pull through this; at the moment I lay here and grieve.
My church is the earth. Through the trails I walk, the birds I hear, and the wind I feel. A long time ago my Uncle Mack told me his tabernacle was nature. An imperfect man, Mack seemed to enjoy his own company over people. Not that he wasn’t friendly, just quiet and reflective. A solid man with more demons then he’d care to recall. A gentle man that I would dare not cross.
I grew up in the suburbs of Savannah, hung out a lot down on the Ogeechee River. But still a city boy at heart. When I moved my young family up here to Central Georgia in 1994, my Grandma and Uncle Mack were the rocks we leaned on. When Granny died, Mack took on an even more important the role. Over the years I learned a lot from that man. His philosophy on nature and God, how to hunt, how to just enjoy the quiet, and how to be compassionate to the world around me.
It’s been a years since Mack passed away, but when I walk a trail and catch the sound of a passing whitetail; I cannot help but remember. The quiet serenity I learned from just sitting still and letting life give me it’s lessons. I don’t claim to be much of religious man, although I was well indoctrinated. But with mediation and the quieting of my fearful mind. I learned to see how the human soul is tied directly to the earth. For we rose from the ashes of the ground and one day we will return.
For a summer day this would be nice, 88° (31°) and not a cloud in the sky. But considering it’s nearly the middle of October, seriously? I shouldn’t complain too much, at least there’s a breeze blowing. And the Good Lord has left a few leaves on the trees to provide some shade. But ain’t that how life is, there are just enough good days to make up for the bad.
For the first time in months I went down to the state park. And much to my surprise there’s still water in the lake and even a few water lilies still blooming. To be honest, it was quite a meditative few moments. Being out there in the quiet, with hardly a sound but the wind and the water.
Far too long I’ve been cooped up in this house waiting. Waiting for cooler weather, waiting to feel better, waiting for just one break. But it’s time to quit waiting and start doing. Yes, I may be bound by my physical circumstance, but that has never stopped me before. It’s time to breathe deeply the breath Mother Earth gives and to open my eyes to what I can, instead of what we cannot do. You see, we have but one life. Maybe it’s time to stop waiting and start doing what we can. For the benefit of ourselves and the world around us.
After making about a dozen different disgusting noises this morning. I’m up and ready to go. Although to be honest, I have been up since 3:30am. I spent those four hours reading my newspaper (yes, I still read newspapers) and I caught up on my messages. I don’t mean to sound like a disgruntled employee of life, but sometimes life just sucks. So you’re probably thinking, “Here we go again”, but hear me not.
As much as we wish to make life this grand adventure, for the most part it’s just a boring routine between stops. But you know what? That’s okay. Because just as in nature, our lives consist of routines. Everyday deer, squirrels, and birds forage for food. And sometimes if they are lucky, they have specific spots they can to every day. Also important things like bringing up their young depend on routines to teach them to survive.
For better or for worse we humans have more choices. Our frontal lobes plan and worry and grow bored with our routines. I know that in my own life, anxiety and stress pulls me away from the basic things like rest and yes, even routine. Even in the Christian Bible there’s a verse “Consider the lilies…” there it says, they don’t work or worry, yet they continue to grow.
Life’s all about choices. Where we live, where we work, and what brings us joy. For the most part a lot of us are pretty miserable. I know I get that way staring at these four walls with not a whole lot of exciting things to do. But then again, that’s okay. I have my family and my friends, and I have a talent I love to share. Life maybe full of routines, but the routine of sharing your love and being compassionate, can bring the rest of the world a little joy.
Once again my insides are twisted, by the very thing I once desired. So I lay here feeling somewhat distorted, but at peace all the same. With arrogance there must be judgement I suppose. For the foolishness we have done. But there are also times when pain comes by no fault of your own. Yet the pain is just as real as if you’d caused it yourself.
I see lives broken, yet I have no solutions. All I know is that I accept the moment and work my way through. To listen and to have compassion are the best gifts we can give anyway. But to cling tightly to anger and oppression, only steals and causes more pain.
So I refuse to hold on to those emotions, giving instead words of kindness and wit. For the greatest gift I can receive is to be remembered as a good man. For I’m long past the dreams of fame and fortune. Long past the hopes of single-handedly changing the world.
But with one light, you can change one life. That will hopefully continue to burn beyond your reach. So as I lay here a little weary, but hopeful. All each of us can do, is give a little kindness and just a little compassion to this sad and lonely world.
I won’t say it’s cool, but it’s sure as hell nicer that the 99° we had yesterday. I just got through taking a shower, so I decided to throw some sweats on and come outside. I used to do a lot of walking on the local trails. But a setback forced my doctor’s hand, so I was ordered off the trails till fall and winter. While most days I feel pretty good, yesterday walking those school halls with those 100° temps, really wiped me out.
Much more so than I’d like to admit in fact. But I’m feeling better today and looking forward to hopefully some cooler weather tomorrow. Looking at these selfies I just took, I see a shitload of my Dad and a little of my Mom’s cockiness. They’d probably laugh at me if they could, with all this reflecting I do. I think for the most part they just lived in the now and to hoped to see the next day. And isn’t that what we should do, live in the now and hope for another day?
I sometimes get paranoid with fear. The slightest heart flutter or shortness of breath can send me there. It usually takes me a few days to get over it. Oh, but I put up a good front saying “everything’s fine”. But it doesn’t make the internalized fear any less potent. So I live each day as it comes or at least I try. I am not the same man I was 30 years ago nor am I the same person I was yesterday. We all grow and change, just like the weather. So let us all hope the impact we make on this life is a good one.
It’s funny after so many years, that I would find myself creating again. In my youth writing and performing were just second nature. But with the responsibilities of a family and my subsequent mental breakdown, I abandoned art. It has only been in the last few years that I have actually gone public again with my work. Art has become my release, writing and photography have now become an extension of myself.
Hardly a day goes by that I'm not snapping a pic or jotting down a line. Since going “social”, I’ve befriended a lot of other artist working in different mediums. Some are painters, others are photographers, I’ve even befriended a few musicians along the way. Each of us doing battle with that thing that burns deep inside, that need to create.
Unlike many of my peers, I am totally untrained. I majored in System Analysis and Networking, then went on to earn an MBA. Who knew I would end up back at my roots? Doing the very thing I did hidden in my room with a notebook and a pencil. Jotting down scared thoughts for no one but myself.
So where do we go from here? I for one, haven’t the slightest clue. All I know is I’m happy and more at peace with myself then… well ever. My point here isn’t to tell you to quit your “day gig”. We each have our own level of comfort to keep. All I’m saying is don’t let your dreams or desires die. Because at some point little pieces of you will die, when you abandon the thing you truly love.
I am all but tired of scrapping up pennies. Yet I am in no condition to do the work required. So I contribute where I can, putting out words of love and patience. Yet it’s impossible to fill bellies on the kind words in reply. I understand the frustration of an impatient world that sees the few with more and the many with less. Yes there are the outliers that work hard for their piece of the pie. But what price do they pay to keep their standards that high?
I’m just disillusioned by it all, just another angry voice in the crowd. Fueled by anger and rage seeing my small piece of the dream fade away. So we look for excuses, anything but ourselves. For the mess we are in, the lies we believed, and dream that we are really free. So we cling to our guns and our God’s, but do they ever talk back? While nothing but bitterness and vile pours through our veins.
My heart often reminds me, anger is a bitter pill. That fear is a poison that kills the soul. Still I lay here in the dead of night losing sleep, while the world around me gently sleeps. I’m reminded of the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.” I am such a fool sometimes for the things I fear. I often have to laugh at myself for my folly. But fear, anger, and worry are all a part of us. But it is also a part of us to find balance and peace.
Defeated, how can I put it any plainer. I know that people don’t like to hear words like that, it brings them down, makes them sad, or forces them to look at their own situations. But that’s just how it is. This is looking to be a bad month, the end of the year bills are pouring in and impending medical test are looming. It’s shit like this that creates stress where stress is already at a premium.
I really don’t enjoy spilling all this crap onto this page. I’d much rather talk of “taking lemons and making lemonade”. But I was always told confession is good for the soul. For the first 40 or so years of my life I bottled up every worry, every anxiety. And what did it get me? Years of taking antidepressants, more trips to the psychiatric clinic then I care to remember, and decades of hiding my shame. So if I make you uncomfortable reading this, well welcome to my world.
Despite sounding a really shitty motivational speaker, this too shall past. There are so many motivational gurus out there to are selling nothing but “snake oil” cures for real world problems. I’m not saying my way is the only way. Lord knows, I’m not that arrogant or stupid. What I am saying is, look within yourself. Listen to what your heart is saying. If somethings wrong, then somethings wrong. The stresses of life are real, and they will eventually cause you harm. So find your truth, use avenues of relief that are comfortable and uplifting. Be your own best advocate but seek help when needed.
Through a glass darkly we see what we want to see. Good or bad our perception of a situation depends on our willingness to accept what is in front of us. Every day I am reminded of my limitations. Yet within this tinted glass there lies are still sparks of hope. Acceptance can seem like a narrow street. But when taken in context of sheer will, the possibilities are endless.
It would be easy for me to look at my current circumstance and simply give up. Laying on that gurney in the ER some four years ago, I could have easily written myself off as a lost cause. Sitting in a state-run psychiatric center with anxiety and panic attacks that were so severe, I couldn’t take care of my family. Should have definitely written me off 20 years ago. But I persevered, I clung to the hope that I will make it.
Faith is a funny thing, it can lead you greener pastures or it can run you into the ground. Faith is not a sure thing, it not only takes hard work, but a willingness to change. I think about some of the people I know, so scared and unwilling to change. They see they’re situation and simply give up. Or worse they cling to some stubborn idea that never really was.
So while I see things as they are, I also see things as they could be. I’ve learned to put faith in the better angels around me, to listen, to try, and to keep an open mind. What I have gained isn’t fortune or fame, but a better understanding of who I am. That yes, life doesn’t always turn out like you plan. Which doesn’t mean giving up, it just means you adjust your sails.