It Is Spring, It Is Not, It Is Good

This post was to go out a couple of weeks ago.  Bummer.

I thought I would hold off before I stood up on a chair and belt out a song and a yawp of joy … Spring has been elusive, winter waiting until our guard was down, believing that Spring was bully here … and then rushing in like fierce snow birds, snow bunnies, snow squirrels.  Now, I think that the snow is over, for the year.  True, anything can happen.  Snow in June?? Not yet.  The injustice, here, is that Spring has almost flown the coop; slipped out the back, Jack; gone for the year … We may have a little  Spring left.   Those seasons, they keep changing. Such a simple statement, with profound implications.  Our seasons in our lives, they look different for all of us.   Me … I belief that I am in a season where I’m breaking through barriers of resistance.  It is one thing to decide that it is your / my season … to break through barriers; and an entirely different matter to do it.  This idea (you have already heard about)  that sometimes the places we are at in life, struggling with certain issues, difficulties, offer us something, like a “pay-off”, and because of that we choose to stay, to linger, in these places.  Those places might be in a desolate canyon with very few trees.  Or, anxiety is dominant, or we wear depression like a heavy wool topcoat.  And some might say that we struggle to move on, to move out, of those places … because we find some paradoxical comfort there.  Maybe it is “the known”, versus “the unknown”.  My final thought is this.  For us to break through the barriers of a difficult season: we need a blend of specific, trustworthy, wise, supportive, and sensitive  sojourners to walk with us; and we also need to embrace the reality that we must have some time to “sit in” a desert place of pain, to think through the process, the motives for wanting to leave what is familiar, and the implications of stepping into (again) the unknown.  Peace be with you, sojourning bloggers.  And, keep writing.

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How Did We Get Here? (Dialog Series)

How did we get here?

“We”?

depression, man sitting on floor thinking with copy space - stock photo
http://www.shutterstock.com/s/depression/search.html

(Pause) … Well, you are here, aren’t you?

No, no.  No-no-no-no-no-no.  You are where you are at, and I am where I am at.  And believe me:  I wouldn’t want to be where you are at.

How’s the view up there?  Up above guys like me who don’t have it together like you?

(Pause) What are you were asking me?  And, I’m kind of in a hurry, okay?  So, tell me what you need, and I will try to help.

I was asking  you … how we … “I” … arrived here, at this place.

“This place”?

Our relationship?  Fading.  I have become isolated.  My addictions, like work; like books; like fast food.  And, life – – – I do not enjoy life as much.  That’s a picture of what I am talking about.

Okay.  (Pause)  I have to get going, need to be somewhere.  Take care of yourself.

You asked me about “this place” I am in, I told you, and I thought we were going to talk about it.  But, you … are just leaving, now.

(Pause) I am sorry about your confusion.  I can’t help you.  I don’t do well with others’ shame.  I don’t do well with addictions.  Your isolation is something you have chosen; your relationships evaporating  didn’t suddenly happen.  It’s been in the works for a while.   And your enjoyment of life?  Not happening?  I don’t want to have anything to do … with that.  (Pause) On top of all that, you wouldn’t even hear what I have to say.

Why would I not want to hear what you have to say?

http://www.shutterstock.com/s/depression/search.html?page=1&inline=197995073

Because you are right where you want to be.  And if you are right were you want to be, why talk about how you arrived at this place?  If you wanted to change all that, you would.  But, there is no change.  

That’s harsh.

(Pause with some hesitation) Uhhhh, maybe.  

You’ve got me all wrong.

‘Doesn’t matter.  This is your party, not mine. 

END

*

The dialog, above, is like a metaphor, representing some of the relational pain / disappointment that happens … on some level … in the human soul.  Our hearts, our minds … bring about different dynamics of expectations (realistic and / or unrealistic), an arcane blend of intimacy (healthy and / or unhealthy, whether it be physical or emotional or both).  The relationship and dialog happening up above is somewhat of a composite derived from my years working as a psychotherapist with married folks.  Lastly, the nuances / verbal clues accentuate the factors / themes we deal with in our society, and our relationships:

  • “I don’t have the time to have this conversation …”
  • “Don’t blame me for you problems …”
  • “I don’t have any compassion for you, now …”

True, this is a rather cold exchange happening between two people.  My hope is that one can see their thankfulness for being able to transcend such unhappiness, such insensitivity.  We all need help, at different times, and in different ways.  Here is a truth that is disruptive to many, and this truth applies to the “composite” dialog at the beginning of this post:

Something good can come out of this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhino’s Hide; Dove’s Heart

This post is not about me.  But if it was, I wouldn’t tell you.  It’s about a man.  That’s all that matters.

An angry man.  Not something I say out loud to anyone.
People, both good people and the other kind, are able to translate, equate, restate, with differing degrees of inaccuracy.  Example: “anger” misunderstood with “danger”.  It is like that one exchange between folks that has been going on for centuries:

“This is what you said.”
“No, that is not what I said.”
“Well, that is what I heard you say.”
“Yes, I believe you.  But those were not my words, were they?”
“(Long pause) No, but that is what you meant.”
“No, that is not what I meant.  It is what you wanted to hear, maybe.  It is what you wanted to believe.”

You have the basic idea, yes?  Maybe you’ve had that dialog with different words.

Returning to the track, my thinking out loud about anger, I again acknowledge that I am angry.  Fortunately, the anger has not permanent residence, here.  It blows in, like a sneaky wind missing the normal comfort of a cool breeze on a hot day.  My anger is inward, and shows up on the outside with slight sarcasm, or less-than-kind comment, or an occasional scream of anguish … “AAAAUUUUUUGHHHHH!!”

“It’s not the big things that send a man to the mad house.  Not a death in the family (one example).  No, it’s the small things: the snap of the shoelace when there is no more time.”

Quote from Time Magazine I remember from about thirty years ago.

Anger rides my heart and soul about my depression that is always close by, but not always at sitting across from me.  This anger steals my joy for a while, until I rally up and fight it off.  This anger distorts my thinking / perception, long enough to take me off the path for a bit.  There has been a tragedy; and maybe I would say that is a small tragedy.  By the way: is that an oxymoron?  ‘Never liked that word: the word “ox” combined with the word “moron”.  Both have negative connotations, for me at least.

This tragedy … it happened a long time ago (thirty years or so?)  Like the depression, I fight this tragedy’s threat to derail my life.  It was the tragedy of minimizing hope; embracing more isolation than what was healthy; forsaking visions and dreams.  Fortunately, the older I become I experience the piercing awareness that I have to fight it, and that I don’t have to settle for it.  There is far more to this life than the psychological hoodlums lurking outside.  I am a fighter, just like you.  I have to tap that truth, and live with the hide of a Rhino, and the heart of a dove.

Hiding Writers, Reading

‘Revisiting some (old) lyrics, and a theme, previously posted, perused in one of the blogospheres (I don’t know how many there are) … A different direction emerged while the muse came by.  Two fellas, met up in 1953, the elementary school-scene in Queens (N.Y.) became famous in their school play, Alice in Wonderland.  One was the White Rabbit (Paul Simon) and the other was the Cheshire Cat (Art Garfunkel).  Actually, they did not get famous from their work in the theater, doing Alice in Wonderland.  They continued to be bro’s through junior high school and high school.  Simon and Garfunkel, their junior year, emerged as “Tom and Jerry” playing some good music.  Seriously?  Yes.  Someone in the recording studio brought up the “Tom and Jerry” thing … and it faded quickly.  “Simon and Garfunkle” was the balm, apparently.  Eventually, after “The Sound of Silence” which put them on the map, they put together this song, “I Am A Rock”, with the lyrics … here:

” … Gazing from my window to the streets below /
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. / I am a rock, / I am an island.
I’ve built walls / A fortress deep and mighty … “

I really love these lyrics, for quite a few reasons.  One of my favorite writing quotes goes like this:  “My wife doesn’t understand that when I am staring out the window, I’m actually working.”  I agree.  Productive? Maybe not, but … still … working.  Because a writer is always watching, observing, taking it all in, appreciating (some) details, editing others.  A writer would take time to ” … gaze from (his / her) window to the streets below, taking notice of the freshly fallen silent shroud of snow …”  And a writer is also aware of how easy it would be to become “a rock … an island”, with “walls, a fortress …”  Such imagery.

” … friendship causes pain. / It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain …”

I believe that some writers struggle with friendship more than others.  I actually acknowledge my envy of individuals who don’t seem to struggle at all, ever, with friendships.  They seem to be sufficiently charismatic, cool, and people love to be around these individuals.  Friendships are sometimes hard, and I do think that such struggles contribute to a writer’s persistence in writing, and reading.   And that is why these lyrics, here, resonate for me.  And … a question emerges that I pass your way: would you say, on some level, that you “hide” with books? With poetry? And do you have your armor that you protect  yourself with?  

“I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”

What is a bit weird is that I really find … asylum … with the spy novels (Thor, Ludlum, etc.) sometimes the Western novels (Johnstone, Lamour), and sometimes the good old mystery-“Who Dunnit”s (Charles Todd, Castle, Craig Johnson).  And there is that great line from Shadowlands (movie): “We read to know … we are not alone.”

So, yeah … I was just curious if you guys “hide” … from time to time … in your books, your poetry, your armor.

 

Relationships, Reality & Redemption

What do I know to be true?  Know yourself, and I will know myself, and if I come up short in that area, then … then … What?  Then what?  Oh, my!  Maybe the earth will rip off its axis and hurl into the sun!!!!

No, I doubt that will happen.  Here’s one truth about me: I am able.  I am able to do both good, and not-so-good.  I am able to empower (good).  I am able to enable (bummer, not-so-good).  I’ve walked with many folks over the last 20 years in the counseling context.  And in the realm of addictions, I have encountered the “enabling” dynamic a great deal.  And, if an individual is an “enabler”, that does not mean … that their heart is not good.  In fact, with every enabler I have sat with, there has always been a good heart.  We, with our good hearts, are able to miss the bigger picture, to mess up the smaller picture.  And we, with our good hearts, are able to walk with a soul and inspire, without many words.  We, with our good hearts, are able to run races with specific individuals who have come into our world who want to run well, with love in their hearts … a healthy love, an empowering love, a fragrant love, a tough love, a tough love not without honor, a tough love not without integrity, a tough love not without gentleness.

I am able.  I am able to go after myself with rocks and razored insults; rage and disgust.  There is a fancy word for it, I think: “self-contempt”.  Truly, I am not exempt from self-contempt.  And, truly, there is no exemption from redemption.

And, to use the title of one of my favorite films, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, there is an indescribably intense piece of fighting with honor and love and fairness and staying in the place of a safe place.  Not fighting with physical warfare.  Not fighting with psychological abuse; or verbal abuse; or emotional abuse.  No … this is a fighting where, at the core, is a deep authentic love for the other; caring for the other; and choosing to not let the other “off the hook” … because that is the last thing we need, to escape the responsibility of loving well and “doing relationship” well.

And that is all I’m going to say about that, for now.

Christmas!! How’s the fog?

“Christmas lights should help with the fog, pending on how bright the lights are … how thick the fog is.”

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ca/Dense_Seattle_Fog.jpg/512px-Dense_Seattle_Fog.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ca/Dense_Seattle_Fog.jpg/512px-Dense_Seattle_Fog.jpg

“Christmas Fog Consultant”.  That would be cool.  People would say “Oh.  That is good to know …”  or ask, “WOW!  Are you … like … a Christmas Fog Consultant?”  And With a poker face, I nod, and say “Yes, I am.  Now, please stand back.”  I experienced Christmas Fog for the first time on  Christmas of 1993:  Antarctica Ross Ice Shelf – Willy Field, a cold, windy, desolate, and somewhat isolated place.  December 01 emerged, out of the white.  Antarcticans began to think about Christmas.  Memories showed up  (like non-scary apparitions) of earlier Christmases with parents, brothers, their families; and other festivities you find in cities across the North American continent.

Christmas Fog thickened up due to numbness, to push back emotions of sadness and anger.  I was 10,000 miles away from home, at the bottom of the world, living at a field camp out where the planes flew in.  But the group I was “top-notch”.  We all made it through our Antarctic Christmas together.

http://www.coolantarctica.com/Community/christmas_in_antarctica.htm                      

(My first month in Antarctica I stayed in a canvas and wooden “Jamesway” Hut”, which is pictured below. Photograph from   https://www.google.com/search?q=jamesway+hut)

I found a VHS movie – – – Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.  I ended up checking this movie out countless times right before Christmas, right after Christmas, and periodically for the rest of my “tour” on “the ice”.

Holiday Inn (1942) PosterIt was, and is, a great movie.  But it probably perpetuated my numbness, getting me to think of being somewhere else besides a windy, cold, desolate, flat, boring field camp.  Having said that Antarctica was good.  But I don’t think I need to do it again.

My hope for you is that you will be able to see clearly through the fog, whatever fog it may be: materialism, cynicism, loneliness, missing loved ones, illness, transitional stress.  At Christmas time, the Christmas Fog is always near.  Keeping a good focus on what is important, and what is good, can be difficult at times, depending on … how thick the fog is, and how bright the lights are.  Peace.  T