Monday, January 20, 2014

Unless you are a highly enlightened human, it is very hard not to assume whatever it is that is going on in your life , bad or good isnt going to stick around. . Something inside me tries to convince me that whatever it is is going to last forever. If its heartache, then the human part of me is certain in will never end. If it's lovely and fun I just don't think about the good time stopping, but it does. My mother has a tendancy to tell me "YOU NEVER" and "YOU ALWAYS".........blah blah blah.  Never and Always imply that something is constant and  unending.

 I was touchingly reminded this weekend that everything I know will end one day. It doesn't matter if something has been a certain way for 78 years or 78 minutes. The way of our world is constant change. Life, this thing that is fluttering strings of experiences strung together strictly by heartbeats moves closer to it's finality with every breath I take.

  I watched a tiny box roll right past me over the weekend that contained a small remnant of a hammering hurricane of a woman that once embodied a will and a determination that defied the size of it's container, a category 5 or F5 tornado of will.. Part amusement and  part consternation was experienced by everyone that knew her and loved her.. Honest to goodness as the shiny pretty box rolled by I thought to myself, "Our stories end" and it wasn't just a thought, it encompassed my whole gray headed being.

The point was hammered home to me, and more so than just a nebulous cautioning from a book that my time here , on this plane with these people all is subject to end without notices and BOOM!. Everything I know , everything I am familiar will is upended.

Instead of being a buzzard on my bed post , warning me of impending doom, I have noticed that presence of mind, awareness of the precarious state of being a temporary human just afforded me a clarity to feel more as it unfolds, to absorb everything about the present moment and savor it's flavor. To remember for myself and to gently remind others that "This too....shall pass". This isn't the place to sink roots into because our stories are told in forward motion so we must keep moving and not lose our momentum. This isn't the end of your story.

In my middle aged life I have seen so many things come and go. The Berlin Wall, the fall of Communism in Russia, Eastman Kodak the creator of modern photography fold it's company up. After 33 years of having a set of parents I have had a step mother for 16 years now, Blockbuster Video the BIGGEST video rental business there was for years is no more. Things end. So many endings.

Things end, seasons of productivity pass like the remnants of a summer garden in the deep winter. The trick for me is to absorb my life and all the bit players , enjoy it but not hold to tightly. One chapter will end and another will begin and one day the entire tale will be told. Our stories do and will end.

If you have a faith that has you preparing only for the afterlife, I ask you to stop and enjoy the life that God has given you here today. "Your' Soaking in It'. as a matter a fact. I love a country song by Trace Atkins

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the different.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When I was a wooden puppet......

There is a childrens story about a wooden puppet that longed to be a real boy. If you were to boil my life down to a bite size capsule, it has been my long held desired to be a real boy too. The strings that held me weren't made of cotton, they were fear, anger, confusion, resentment, depression and substance abuse just to name a few of them. They so thoroughly convinced me that the human experience was not one I was going to have in this lifetime, I retreated without questioning. I watched people have lives and experience emotions that I couldn't conjure up on my own. In fact, the last time I was at Psych. Hospital that also treated addicted people they had us write a list of things we had not yet experienced but would like to.

 The first thing on my list was I wanted to burst into tears over pure joy. I'd seen it on TV and in Movies and more than anything I wanted to know just once what that felt like.I even asked the counselor if it was a real thing or not.  The second was I wanted to be able to regularly have emotional responses to sadness or beauty. Everyone else was listing things like trips to Europe and getting married. My whole list mostly was filled with this list of things of feelings and emotions and reactions that humans had that I had only witnessed.

I had a stash of VHS tapes then DVDs of moments other people had where they were moved or became over come with emotions. Award winners, Athletes in the Olympics who had their gold medal moments. I was unable for decades to produce any good feelings of my own so I bootlegged and hijacked the emotions of others. Just like Pinochio, I was not able to produce human emotion, the only difference was I was flesh and blood, and the ties that bound me couldn't simply be snipped.

A lot of things happened in the last four years (3.75). The universe was kind enough to intervene on my behalf once more. This last time when my head rose again above the water, instead of looking for the next wave, I took a deep breath and started moving. Something remarkable has happened to me specifically in the last few months, I have begun producing my own gold medal moments. Simple words can move me to tears, music can be so touching it sucks the air from my lungs. I've told people I have known a lifetime that I love them and not sound like a bad actor with a terrible script. I have been vulnerable to the point where words temporarily weren't available in public and I have spent hours with people and showed up as myself.

 I left know trail of bread crumbs so I can't be sure exactly how I got here, but that's fine, I don't need to know my way back there. I have laughed so hard the noise escaping from my mouth made me jump. After decades and decades of life behind the great divide, this life , these people, the love and joy are every bit as delicious as I knew somewhere deep in me they would be. I knew there was more but I couldn't find my way out of the dark.

 I spent the day with a friend on an important day in her life and I showed up. I showed up feeling and loving and fully present in my real boy body. I am grateful. I'm grateful most all of the time but I was especially grateful today for myself. People matter to me, peoples plights matters to me today. I am moved by a stranger with everything they own in sacks walking down Highway 80 because I know what it feels like to be walking and have no where to walk to. I know the steps I took to reclaim my spirit but I have know idea how I got from there to here. It's better than I ever knew it would be but every bit as good as I dared to dream it would be.  Movies and TV probably saved my life at some point and in movies because they offered escape. Somewhere in the hour our 90 minutes  the main character gets the resolution he sought, the credits roll, yet I find myself cry out for MORE. Please hold the credits.The story is JUST NOW getting good.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I realized something tonight while quick texting a friend. I am a survivor. I have the tale to tell of someone who found a way out of hell on earth. I have stood knee deep in rubble on the bombed out burnt up battle field of my life and somehow found how found a the strength to crawl out. When there was no color and no visible sign of life, I stumbled forward.

And do you know what that experience has provided me with? It's given my first hand experience to tell someone when they are standing knee deep in rubble of a bombed out burnt up battle field of THEIR life and tell them with absolute certainty that "this too shall pass". This isn't the end of your story. I am a survivor, SA-VIV-er. It's the thing you become when you get past the thing you thought would take you out for good. I have more than a theory from a book or some nebulous hypothesis. It will hurt a while, it will suck a while and you may bleed for a minute. You may take to your sick bed and curse the heavens above. Life is life and we are all dealt terrible blows, some seemingly more than others.

I'm surrounded by teenagers 40 hours a week and I feel so sorry for them sometimes, because all they know is all they know. They haven't had the benefit of existing long enough to see that most everything passes. I tell them all the time the 3 months your here in the terrible place won't even seem like a speed bump to you in the history of you life in a year. In 3 years this will be nothing but a bad summer camp you had to go to as a kid. Battle scars are badges of honor, scar tissue is the single stronges piece of flesh you have and it says I was here, I took that hit and I'm still standing.

I have a lot of faith in my ability to withstand the glancing blows of life today. I have steps to take to save my ass regardless of the mess that's on my face. All my life I thought I wanted to be blond with blue eyes and the star of the football team. HOnest to God truth, if I could excise all the painful event's of growing up and the pain of being 20 and trying to convince everyone I knew what I was doing, all the best qualities of me would be erased. I got character through all the events and circumstanced I would have deleted at one point if given a magic wish.

Antiques have value because they have withstood the test of time. Repaint a 100 year old table or polish the patina off a 200 year old statue and you have rendered it valueless. The shit storms of life and our first hand eye witness report on how we got through it is so much more valuable to man kind than an unproven idea from someone in a think tank or a book author. You get colon cancer, you find a colon cancer survivor, if you are a drug addict, you find someone who is an addict and recovered. Our individual experiences here on the planet is what makes us valuable, not where we got a degree from or what church we belong to. Our experience makes us invaluable.

We attain wisdom through poor decision making and living through hardships. So, I am a survivor. I may or may not have claimed that moniker before but tonight, as my perspective shifted suddenly I realized that I had done the unthinkable. I made it through to tell my story of treachery, despair, redemption and survival. Face the fear, the confusion, the anger and the depression. Your story does not end here and it's a story that needs to be told and told. "I found myself knew deep in rubble, in the bombed out burnt of field that was my life". I made my way out of the darkness and you can too.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Our lives don't merely reflect our beliefs, it becomes what we believe it to be. If you believe the world has more than enough for you, you will experience a life free of fear of having to go without. If you live your life from a place of fear and greed, that is what you will see in the world and you forever will fill like there isn't going to be enough for you so you refuse to share and have a death grip on on all you view as important. I know a lady who would appear very generous by her actions but on the inside she resents you taking what she gives you and sees your successes at anything or good luck as a direct strike to her storehouse of having enough for her. You can't have good fortune because it means there is less for her to have. It's prison and it's taken a toll on her and especially with relationships. I would rather quit life now than spend even a year unable to be happy for someone else's success or good fortune. The core of 12 steps is we share freely and copiously our experience , strength and hope and each time we do, it is returned to us. This is the spiritual law of RECIPROCITY. Quid Pro Quo. To quote Dr. Dyer's book title , "Change your thoughts, change your life". My actions need to match my intention. Give without expectation. Serve without conditions. The break I give you today when you have botched something up, is the one that will be available to me, the next time I botch something. Ask yourself this question. Is there enough love for me in the world or is there a lack of it. You will find your life reflects your answer.
I was at Family Dollar earlier. Just in front of me at the checkout counter was this handsome cowboy, his pretty wife and their two kids. The daughter around 7 or 8 had wrapped herself around the dad's long long and was doing ballet moves while holding on to him to keep steady. He dials his phone and I listen. His voice, as manly as his countenance , he seemed to be looking for way to end the phone call as soon as it started. Something in the tone of his voice reminded me of the phone calls to my dad. Stilted and halting, "Well, ....I..Just wanted to wish you a ....happy birthday before they day got away". "Well, I'll try to get by next weekend but I can't say for sure. "Okay", "Well, you know..we love you". He hit the end button and looked his wife. Wife "how was he". Husband, "couldn't wait to tell me his OTHER two sons both got big deers this week". Wife rolled eyes, husband shrugged. Clinton's heart broke a little. He scooped his kids up like a grizzly bear and they disappeared while my Alka Seltzer was rung up. I have made hundreds of calls like that. I felt lonely in the middle of those "How is the weather calls" and depressed when they were over. It was a tiny slice of "REALITY THEATER" happening 2 feet from me and it drives the point home once more, we are all more alike than we are different. Phone calls to my dad are better these days. I don't feel depressed when I phone him or see him, but it's no fantasy ending either. I let him be who he is, which is a man who doesn't navigate emotion well and feels more at ease with horses and cows and I show up as myself, a much less desperate angry truer version of myself. Sometimes we talk about the weather. He's a farmer and the weather is a big deal to them but when it happens it doesn't hurt. Lower realistic expectations have given me a real freedom from the crazy fantasy in my head of what our relationship was suppose to be like. It's a freedom I take, these days I am ALL ABOUT collecting the freedoms, Bitches!