Keep the Pieces Coming

I’m fortunate in so many ways  …  Countless ways.  Even the wounds are a gift.  For I I learn from all of this.  Every week or every other, I meet with a wise woman, walking with me for a short season.  I bring a few pieces for the puzzle; I reach down, I reach out, to find pieces that might fit.  Sometimes a piece will fit.   I might want a piece to fit, but it doesn’t.  I just keep the pieces coming.  I call this process “Puzzle-ing”.

 

Snows, Spring, Pushing Through

SnowBelle in Snow
SnowBelle in front of the two feet of snow.

Three days ago I walked out to see how much snow was still on the ground.  A few patches in the shady places, where sunlight filters through the trees.  My thoughts were that Spring is coming through the mountains; that we had seen the last of snow.  Such thoughts were in the space of obliviousness.  I had not checked the weather, which according to some folks up here is a cardinal sin.

Two days ago some of the people I work with were talking it up:

“How much?”

“They’re saying up to two feet above 8,000.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Oh, it’s gonna happen. It’s going to be a upslope.”

“When?”

“Tonight.”

Yesterday morning, the snow was just getting ramped up.  Around noon, I had to push through my reluctance and the thick snow on the driveway.  Snow blower doesn’t work, so it was me and shovel.  We finally measured our driveway a while back.  I would not have guessed, but its 450 feet long.  There is a curve in the middle. I embraced the thick wool dungarees  that I bought in 1992 at a thrift store; a t-shirt; a workout jacket; a polar fleece; wool hat; Sorrels snow boots; and some gloves (one right, and one left).  I attacked the snow, driving back my nemesis (one of my nemesis), to the sides of the driveway.  I felt like Gandalf, not with a staff but with a shovel, standing against the bellrog: “YOU … SHALL … NOT … PASS!!!”

By evening it was hammering pretty good.  This morning, I looked out the sliding glass door at the two feet of snow.  Ahhhhh.  Just what I was looking for: more snow to shovel on my 450 feet steep-steep driveway.  So … switching  gears.   The metaphor of the snowstorm connected with my heart and mind.  I’ve been in a difficult season that has gone on … way too long.  There have been several events over the last 7 years that have knocked me off the horse.  In some ways, I have been a hiding man.  In other ways I have been a wounded man.  A handful of people, who know me well enough to speak candidly with me, have said numerous times over the last seven years: “T: get back in the game …”; “Get back on the horse …”; “You know what you’re supposed to be doing, so do it …”  I don’t resent their counsel.  They are right.  And yet, I see some logic to the idea, expressed in this hypothetical question: “Why should I get back on the horse … just to be knocked off, again?”  The snowstorm metaphor.  I have no choice but to push back the snow.  The snow cannot win.  I have what it takes.  As Winston Churchill said: “This will be our finest hour.” Chances are that some who are reading this post might have experienced some of the same anguish, some of the same type of dilemma.   So, are we going to do this?  Are we going to push through?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“BE GOOD” … OK, With Or Without Authenticity?

“Who are you?  Who? Who?” from the band “The Who”.  By the way: who are you, and who am I?

This excellent piece, below, came from a site http://www.mileychile.com.

take me as i am quotes: Take Me As I Am Quotes ~ mileychile.com Daily Inspiration

Once I have established who I am, a question comes from within, at times:

“Am I good enough?”  If my level of “good” defines who I am, then I’m up-creek without a laptop, without coffee, and without a paddle. “Being good” can be truly ambiguous.

Am I good?  Or am I good?

Yes, No.

Houston, we have a problem

Things are not always as clear as they seem.  I can be “good” and still have some issues.  “Challenges”, “opportunities”, and mistakes can come up; and I can still be “good”.   The wheels may be falling off; the car may need a transmission; my friend may be ticked off at me … but I can still be good. 

Plenty of examples, but one of my favorites is with Apollo 13.   Image to the left is from the link http://ecrc.nl/houston-we-have-a-problem/

Jim Lovell: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
CAPCOM 1: “This is Houston. Say again, please.”
Jim Lovell: “Houston, we have a problem.”

Astronauts Swigert, Lovell and Haise were definitely going for it, which is what we do, right?  When “a problem” emerged, things were ugly.  But, the mission wasn’t just the responsibility of those three wild men.  Other men, in Houston, were for them. 

http://history.nasa.gov/SP-350/ch-13-1.html    A photo of the Gold Team in Mission Control     Authenticity, in the midst of our struggle to be “good”, means being willing to have mistakes.  Authenticity means having some good folks you can walk with through this jaded, conflicted, addicted world … friends who are for you. 

“Things are not as bad as they seem.  Things are far more serious than what they appear.” Anonymous

keep-calm-and-tell-houston-we-have-a-problemI believe the human mind, the human soul, the human condition, can drive one to be so preoccupied with “being good”, which connects with being accepted, that we communicate this: “Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it so I can ‘be good’ …” One issue with that approach to acceptance and identity, is that one’s inner peace may be contingent on someone else’s decision: “Are you good enough?  Are you performing the way I want you to perform?  Are you meeting MY needs?”

I actually believe that some individuals don’t care about inner peace.  For me, inner peace has great value.  If I have a problem, I will keep calm.  I will tell Houston that I have a problem.  I will deal with it.  And I can still be good in the process.


Story Series: An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory Part 1

Story Series: “An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory”

Notes: A great joy, storytelling, comes with a great privilege: to release my craft of storytelling in the midst of a fairly large group of willing listeners, two to three times each year.  After telling a fellow blogger, prior to the most recent storytelling session (12/1/13), that I would be telling one of my stories in front of a crowd,  I was fortunate to have this good man / blogger express his interest.  He suggested that I bring the story to the blog realm.  Here are some “safety tips”, if you choose to read An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory”:  

      • Time and setting: 1779; a young America is at war with England.
      • American Patriots are severely outnumbered and out-trained.
      • This story is not about the United Kingdom being “The Bad Guys”.
      • This story is about the reality that we all have battles to fight.  
      • Our battles are interlinked with our own individual, unique stories.
      • Our battles are harsh, and ugly, and we will get nicked, wounded, clobbered, dazed, knocked down, discouraged, and at times we will forget what is it we are fighting for.
      • We are not fighting alone; we need vision, hope and courage; we do not give up; we need to know we are fighting our battles for something worth fighting for; and this will help us see why we do not give up, why we  keep fighting.

George Washington Crossing the Potomac / http://www.PasteMagazine

The Story: An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory Part 1

The year is 1779.  We are at war with England.  We are patriots.  We are Americans.  We are a young country, and therefore, we are a young America.  We are thirteen colonies. And, in the eyes of England, out of the mouths of the British, we are fools and rebels.

Below: picture of King George III made possible from www.napoleon-empire.com.

Rebels?  Yes.  We are rebels. We rebel against tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation, and “The Quartering Act”.  Fancy wording, eh?  “The Quartering Act”: it means “Home Invasion”,  British soldiers living in our homes, against our will.  Rebels? Yes.  Fools?  No.  We are not fools.

Right: picture of George Washington, made possible  from sccoec.edublogs.org.

 The British Monarchy and King George III’s perspective goes something like this:
      • “I don’t care if you live in America, Russia, Jamaica, or on Mars.  It makes no difference.  The British Monarchy and I, own you … the Patriots.
      • We will tax you heavily, you will pay dearly.
      • We will take what we want, when we want.
      • You will fear us because we are so powerful, you will be thankful to be servants of the British Monarchy.
      • You will LIKE it, you will not complain.  You will be silent, say nothing.
      • This is the way it is, this is the way it will always be.”

The Patriots’ perspective is, as you might imagine, quite different from that of King George III’s.  Picture yourself sitting with King George III.  The discussion might go something like this:

  • “Your Majesty … Let me stop there and confess my confusion.  This wordmajesty” means dignity, and grandeur, supreme greatness.  And then, there is you: a “majesty“; a little man, a large amount of greed, and an addict’s desire for control and respect; but you will not give freedom, and you will not give respect.
  • Anyway, Georgie, that’s not why I came.  There has been a misunderstanding.  You and your people have expressed that we will LIKEyour oppression and tyranny and excessive taxation; that we will be thankful for our servitude to the British Monarchy; that we will not speak; that we will accept this as it is, and as it will always be.  
  • Here is the truth:  we do not like “it”, and never will.  We will not settle for this. We will not take this lying down.  George, we have made efforts to work this out with you and your people.  But it looks like you want a war.  If it is a war you want, it is a war you will get.   I’ll close with this, sir.  Read my lips, I know I do not speak very loud:

WE … ARE NOT … VICTIMS.

WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

In 1775, British troops marched into Lexington and Concord with two objectives:

        1. To seize the armory of the Patriots: their ammunition, artillery, and supplies;

        2. To capture two Patriot leaders, John Adams and John Hancock.

The British failed with both objectives, thanks to an American spy ring, successful in obtaining  invaluable intelligence data: the British plans to march into Lexington and Concord, and their objectives.  The Patriots moved their armory / supplies ahead of time to a safe place; and  the Patriots moved John Adams and John Hancock to locations where the British would never find them. 

Below:General. Gage, Commander of the British Army and Military Governor of Massachusetts, from www.landofthebrave.info.

File:Thomas Gage John Singleton Copley.jpegThere is a rumor . . .

that the intelligence data came from Mrs. Thomas Gage, the wife of the General Thomas Gage, Commander of the British Army and Military Governor of Massachusetts.

Mrs. Thomas Gage - John Singleton CopleyTrue, all sources indicate that this was never proven.  However, General Gage sent his wife away, back to England in 1775, shortly after the battles at Lexington and Concord.   
Mrs. Gage, wife of General Thomas Gage, from

April 19th of 1775.

British troops marched into Lexington and Concord.  A 500 man militia of Patriots were waiting, armed and very much pumped up.  The Patriots gave the British a run for their money: key word “run“.  They retreated all the way back to Boston.  These two battles, Lexington and Concord, marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.  It was a long, and ugly, war.  The Patriots did not win every battle.  But they did win the war.  

This is a good perspective: we will lose some battles; but we will win the war. We are called to fight with honor, for what is good.  We are called out to live with passion and vision, even when the cards are stacked against us.  We have an opportunity to leave behind us a powerful legacy.

This is the end of Part 1