And now it’s me, early morning, tired and wishing I was someplace else. But yet I am here, of course, exactly where I am supposed to be.
Then again . . . where else would I be?
I have come to the conclusion that we are all inherently and internally crazy. We are all crazy in our own perfect little way, which is not to suggest that crazy is a bad thing.
At least, not as I see it.
We never really know how much we’ve grown. Until, something happens. Then we look back at how responded as opposed to how we might have responded in the past. Or maybe we see a group of old friends that tell the same old jokes, which used to be funny, but to us the jokes are old. They’re just not funny anymore.
One day I decided that I did not want to be held hostage anymore. It came to a decision, which I knew I had to stick with.
I was tired of the anxiety attacks. I was tired of the social anxiousness and tired of being afraid of people, places, and things.
I was tired of living “Rejection sensitive,” and feeling leashed or slaved to thoughts and feelings that had the ability to spiral me out of control.
And then there’s music.
Thank the heavens. Thanks to whomever or whatever.
Just be thankful there is such a thing.
Thanks for the sound.
I have spoken in front of groups on several occasions and asked the same question, which is, “What stands in your way?”
Of course, this question applies differently with different people. In some cases, this question applies to mental health and wellness.
In other crowds, this question applied to living a clean lifestyle, no drugs, no drinking, no crime, and no other means of self-harm.
In some presentations, I have asked this question to those who seek a better life. In some groups, this was directed to inspire those that live under the threat of suicidal ideation
Whether a better life is to be free from depression, free from the toxicity of abuse, of shame, fear, or free from anxiety, freedom from the thought machine, or to be free from all that we wish we could discard from our life, I ask, “When will it be your turn to have the life you want?”
I look back at the meals we grew up with and the plates of food, which acted better than any penicillin ever been prescribed.
Meals like this are better than any medication and better than any anti-depressant. They are the meals we grew up with. They were the meals we sat through, together, like family.
There is a part of success that most people do to recognize. This is the lonely part. This is the part when everyone else decides to quit (except for you) and goes home to rest for a while.
This is the part when nothing seems to fit right. Your endurance is tested. Your determination is tested. So is your patience. So is your temper.
It’s like every step you take is harder than the one before it.
But you can’t stop.
You just can’t . . .
I want to find myself here, on my own steam, living a life which I created by the steam of my works.
I want to find myself on the Pacific side of our country,
alone, looking out into the vastness of a peaceful blue sea.
Behind me are the palm trees and the Malibu lives,
Santa Monica, L.A., and even the hills,
the big Hollywood sign, the canyons,
and the sunsets,
which are unlike anything I have ever seen.
I am thinking of you now, young as you are, thinking about what you know and how much things will change for you.
I go back to me as a young boy, thinking about what I knew when I was as young as you are now and swearing by the things I believed, which at the time I thought were fact, but in fact, most of what I believed was true was never really true at all.
In the terms of a fight between two people, there are only two options to consider. The first option is the less attractive of the two, which is to lose and lose painfully. The second option of course is the more glorious of the two, which is to win. Fist against fist, skin against skin, two people enter the physical negotiation between them until only one of them stands at the end.
Beforehand, the other option is to walk away or talk this out as adults. But when it gets this far, adulthood has little to do with the options we choose.
It is easy for someone to say, “Just don’t think about it,” and act as if this is easy enough for someone else to do.
(There goes that word “Just” again)
When it comes to depressive thinking, telling someone, “Just don’t think about it,” suggests our thinking is a choice, which, maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. Keep in mind, this is neither a medical forum nor am I a professional with a professional opinion. However, I am someone that has lived with depression, which means I understand the struggles on how to interact with my thinking.
Remember something . . .
No classroom teaches experience. You can learn all the theories and you can learn about the ins and outs. You can learn about anything you want but nothing teaches us like experience does.
Experience is something you live through. Experience is when all the lessons in schoolbooks and all the theories go to the wayside.
It comes down to what’s in your gut.
Moving away from the old programs, I agree, there are times when we look around, we look at ourselves, we look at our attempts to change, and then we shake our head because we think, “Why bother? It’s not working anyway.”
Then we sabotage ourselves without even noticing. We create our own self-fulfilled prophecy. We fail and then we say to ourselves, “Look, see? I told you so!”
I was more than two hours into a three hour summertime drive. I was heading back up to an upstate world. I was miles away from the city and miles away from populated towns and overcrowded streets. After a while, everything looks the same on roads like this.
The road is long, straight, and seems to be unending. There are trees and the mountains on either side of me. The fields, the empty pastures, the occasional barns, the fields with cows, the occasional farm, and the scattered deer alongside the road; everything looked this way, pastoral and peaceful. Everything was so green and calming, of course, like a ride out to the country should be.
The word means more than we think.
Love means we have a heart. Love means we feel.
Love is this thing we have; it lives and it breathes.
Love expands and contracts.
Love is hope in hopeless times.
Love is painful. Love hurts. Love does not operate according to logic.
Love is a night when you can’t sleep because of fear and insecurity; meanwhile, all it would take is to hear the voice of your loved one
and then next, all would rest easily.
As I see it, there will always be a reason. There will always be an excuse. And excuses make sense, which is why we use them.
What are the common ones?
Too tired? Too frustrated? Don’t have enough time? Don’t have the energy? Don’t have the patience it takes? Don’t have enough money? Don’t have enough help?
Is it that you don’t have the words to define what you need? Is that you lack the language to describe the worries you feel? Maybe you don’t have the drive it takes to continue because once we pass the threshold of ability; this means we are capable, which means we owe it to ourselves, which means we have to be responsible now. This means we are responsible for the output. This means we are accountable for our actions, which means we have to take action on a daily basis.
But inherently, there is an immature laziness that does not want to be held accountable for anything. It’s like having a child inside, always tugging on our pant leg, always looking for recognition, always looking to be comforted, always looking to be validated, and never wanting to be cold or hungry, alone or uncomfortable.
I remember after quitting one of my first sales jobs, the sales manager pulled me to the side to have a quick talk before I left. He understood the position was not a match for me, which was fine.
However, in parting, the sales manager offered a kind handshake and left me with the following words as a gift of motivation.
He said, “Whatever you do, just work real hard and you will get wherever you want to go.”
There was a sponsor I had almost 20 years ago. His name was Nick. He was interesting to say the least. He was tough sometimes and passive on other days. Either way, Nick was my sponsor nonetheless.
One of the biggest takeaways I learned from Nick is that I cannot give in to intimidation and I cannot be afraid to try new things.
“So what if it doesn’t work?”
“Keep going until you figure it out,” Nick would say.
I know right now that everything seems crucial.
Your friends, popularity, the kids in class, the things you do, the music you like, the jokes you tell, even the clothes you wear are things that revolve around a crowd.
Not everyone is the same, which is a good thing. But even when we are different, truth is we all just want to get along.
I remember a night out downtown South of Houston, or SoHo, as it’s called. I remember thinking about the people I was with.
I thought of the pretentiousness of people standing at the bar, fueling each other with lies and drinks like whiskey and bourbon.
There was a portion of the night where I stood off to the side to just watch them.
When there was nowhere else to turn and no one left to blame, when all was down, the world was like this big place with too many doorways, too many windows, and too many options for me to consider. And me, I was on my own in a way I had never experienced before. My pockets were empty. I was alone in a new way.
I felt overwhelmed by the idea of rebuilding my life. I struggled to see my ability to adapt or overcome; however, and perhaps, this was when I realized my ability is equal to my belief.
When there is no room left to fall and there is no more damage to take on, all there is was me and my conclusion; I had nothing left to fear. My predictions became true.
There was just too much . . .
Too much time, too much excess, too many excuses, and too many things between you me, us, and the rest of the world. There was too much need, which seemed to benefit the basic meaning of supply and demand.
I used to be friends with a kid named Chris. I lived with him for a short while. Actually, we roomed together in a facility up a place in the town of Liberty, New York.
Chris was a tough kid. He was physically capable and good looking. The girls liked him. Safe to say everyone liked Chris (except for Chris.)
He played basketball. They said he had the ability to take his game to the next level. All he needed to do was learn to get out of his own way.
Chris had an anger problem. He drank too much and partied too often. Chris came from a history of abuse.
He was a street kid with a tough exterior.
Safe to say I admired him.
Worth the rewrite:
Speaking of worth . . .
Here’s a little poem about value –
The things people say are often different from the things we hear.
But hey, in the land of Interpretation, misconception is king (or queen, depending upon the circumstance.)
Along the way, I have to admit, I’ve met some interesting people. None of which are who most would expect. None of them walk with signs around their neck that say, “I used to stick needles in my arms,” or, “I used to drink a few pints a day.”
Along the way, I have met people that endured the worst of things. They survived (somehow) the worst that life has to offer. They survived themselves. They survived abuse. They survived rapes and beatings and tragedies and no matter how far down they fell, somehow, they had the ability to overcome and stand back up again.
Somehow, these people found the ability to heal and recover. You would never know it by seeing them but these were the best people I had ever seen before.
There is a commonality amongst us all in which we all grieve and we all fear. No one among us is able to escape the unfortunate and eventual fact that life ends.
This fact is no less true than it is inescapable; and in the stun of the painful news when we lose a loved one, we grieve, and we feel, we lose our breath, and instantly, the world changes because a part of our world is no longer with us.
You swear this is the last time you’ll ever feel this way. You try to convince yourself this is it. No more. From now on, everything is going to be different.
You promise yourself the world.
That’s right. Tomorrow is going to be a new day. And you tell yourself this like you mean it
(because you do.)
You practice saying the things you’ve been waiting to say for years. Only, this time, you say it with determination.
This time you mean it.
You say it with the punctuation, like an exclamation mark.
You look in the mirror, you give yourself that affirming nod. You look your reflection right in the eye; and you can see you mean it (this time.)
Now all you have to do is follow through.
From a young age, we were told we can be anything we want. We were told we could be an astronaut. We could be a fireman. We could be a doctor or a lawyer. We were told we can be anything.
All we had to do is apply ourselves.
There were times when ah, I swear, all I wanted to do was dive into the excess. And I mean, I wanted to dive right in, head first, and feel myself submerged in my own special bliss.
I can recall looking at the clock and counting the minutes. I would look at the time and negotiate the hours to make them move quicker.
One by one, the seconds would move me closer to a sensational plunge, which would alter my mind, and separate me from life and limb.
As I move into new branches of my life, I am reminded of the importance of my choices and which voice I choose to listen to. Understand?
We all have that internal voice. We have that internal monologue, which can often have a way of misleading us from our goals.
Before going forward, I want to be very clear about a few things. Understand that I am not a clinician or a social worker. I am not a medical doctor, psychiatrist, nor psychologist, nor do I want to be.
I am me and I say this proudly.
I am me without apology, in fact, and before going forward, I am not claiming to be a professional or an authority; however, I someone of experience on the matter.
I cannot say why or how or if I know for certain.
I can only say that I know my love is real.
I know my love is real because
I feel it.
It lives and breathes. It feels and it weeps.
My love is a laugh that I could not live without.
It’s a soft touch.
My love is the feel I get when I hear a name and I realize,
at last, I know I’m not alone.
It was right around this time. I knew something was about to happen. I had not gone all in, just yet.
I had gone back to old behaviors and used old defense mechanisms. I went back to the old coping skills of my previous life. Essentially, I went back to the old me because in the simplest terms, I failed to maintain the new person I had become.
Yesterday was the first hint of spring. The ground is beginning to thaw. I have not seen a red-breasted robin yet but I did watch a brown eagle glide in circles. The eagle swept around behind my house and flew between Horse Stable and Panther Mountain the other day.
One would think I am far from the city but I am not. I am still close but yet I am far enough away that I can disassociate myself with midtown chaos and the Kamikaze cab drivers that speed down Lexington.
This is us. You and me. This is us on an everyday basis.
We are all more relatable than you think. I mean, here we are on Project Earth, basically moving around on this huge conveyor belt we call a planet, trying to find our place in the circle, and at the end of the day, all we want to do is finish strong and come to some kind of constructive conclusion. Whether we get along or find ourselves on the same journey is a different story altogether. Either way, the sun will go down at sunset; and if we’re lucky, we’ll all wake up to see it rise one more time.
Somewhere, there’s a little unknown town with a diner that serves an amazing slice of pie. I imagine this place.
I imagine the people are friendly.
They say things like, “Hello,” and “Good morning,” as they pass each other.
Strangers are welcomed like family and smiles are like currency. This place is the kind of town where everyone knows each.
There is a problem that occurs when we settle for less than what we deserve. The problem is called resentment.
Eventually, we become resentful towards the people we settled for because in all honesty, we are mad at us because we took the trade.
Eventually, we grow frustrated because we traded away our dreams, which, we understood in the beginning. But in the beginning, we believed the that maybe things will turn out in the end. We accepted a smaller return but hey, at least it’s a return.
The truth is the world is not always a best foot forward kind of place. Adversity is real and so are the struggles we face.
Life has nothing to do with being fair or unfair. Life is only life. It does not act on behalf of or in regard to our plans or choices.
Life just happens.
There is something about those old photos we have keep packed away in boxes and placed somewhere in the back of a closet or down in a basement somewhere. There is something about the old photos taken at family gatherings, long ago, and from the days that seemed to happen to us in another lifetime.
There is more to us. There is more to everybody than what we see on the surface because on the surface, we might see a smile or maybe we see an exterior success. Maybe we see people and look; and as we look at them, we think how their lives must be.
On the surface, maybe we look at a student or n athlete. Maybe we see grades and an honor roll status. Maybe we look at the pretty people and think how “Their” lives “Must” be easier.
We divide ourselves by status and place each other in different echelons of popularity and social appearance.But that’s just an appearance.
Maybe we see the surface of the so-called “Gifted” and think how our lives would be easier if we were more like them. Truth is; however, the surface of anyone is only the surface.
Beneath is often an entirely different story
I ever tell you about the dream I have of Mr. Golden’s 5th Grade classroom? It’s not much really. It’s just a dream.
There is something to it though. There is a meaning behind the dream but sometimes, it’s hard to put my finger on it.
For some reason, I find myself in the back of the classroom, which is empty.
The room looks exactly as I remember it. The walls are covered in 5th Grade artwork. There are pictures on the wall, letters of the alphabet, and rows of desks which in fairness, for the life of me, I cannot recall where I sat.
I only know I was there.
I go back to a walk I never expected to take on a coast I never thought I would see. I go back to the beach and the sign on the hills, which said, “Hollywood.”
I go back to the way the Pacific looked and how the sun felt upon my skin. I think of this trip and the doors it opened. I think of its consequences and the doors which closed behind me. But I was fine with this.
You and I have talked about this before but I think it’s important that we talk about it again.
The word “Friend”
A friend is a feeling. It’s a person. It’s a relationship that helps us find balance in this crazy thing we call life.
A friend is a source of comfort. It’s a meaningful name that either puts a smile on your face or a feeling in your heart.
That’s what a friend is.
As we grow, we learn from a young age about how to be, how to act, how to think, and how to behave, how to say please, and when to say thank you. From the early years, we are taught things like, “be nice,” and “Share,” and “Don’t hit.”
We are taught things like The Golden Rule, which is do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The Gold Rule is a practice we follow to create our ultimate success, which, in a perfect world and in optimum conditions, sounds great. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from perfect and the conditions are far from optimum.
When I listen to arguments over opinions about our country, I wonder if people realize that it is okay to see things differently. I am not sure when opinions became fact. I am not sure how we became the way we are, so divided that we fail to see straight or realize that we are actually on the same team. I don’t know much about politics. I don’t always I agree with what I hear and I don’t always like what I see.
All I know is I am me without apology. I am not the right side or the left. Instead of choosing a side, I consider myself the middle. I consider myself the heart of this country. I am part of the pulse that beats the blood through the system of this land. I am no better or worse. I am me. I am the son of a man who chose to serve our country. In fact, my Old Man served our country proudly in the Army Air Corps in 1946.
This morning you asked if there was a way to bring someone back from the dead.
Out of everything I have learned in my life, I have learned one certain thing, which is in times like this there are no right words to say.
I was thinking about that small place I stayed in. This was a while ago in Fort Lauderdale on the beach. I was not too far away from The Ritz and some of the other glamorous hotels.
In fact, I was only few blocks away. I was down the street from the beach and witness to the morning sunrise.
It was pretty here. Of course it was. I was on the beach seeing beautiful things during an intense time.
But oh, how the ocean does wonderful things. I swear the sound of the waves rushing in was perfect enough to cleanse me the same way the waves cleanse the sands.
I have been thinking about the farm lately. I was thinking about the barn crews and the times we spent on the hill, running around, chasing each other, and playing games like capture the flag. Hell, I was only 17 years-old then. I was just a kid.
There was something to this place though. But in fairness, if you were to go back and ask me if I would ever regard this as the best days of my youth, I’d have laughed and said you’re crazy.
I suppose everyone on the farm would have said the same thing. We’d have all said you’re crazy
There is nothing more real than life
It’s as simple as that. Life is very real.
It happens every day.
Every morning, life happens.