There is a quiet place, a secret place, that is yours for restoration. There is a realness in the stillness. Go there, when you can; when you need to. It's safe. For me, it is the Other Side of the Trees.
Today March 17, is St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Many male children born on this day have Patrick as their Christian name. One of those, living in the village that I call home in the north of County Donegal, will mark his 87th birthday today on 17 March 2018.
He is not known as Patrick at all, but as Paddy. Not only Paddy, but for many, many years of my life, he was ‘Young’ Paddy as his father was also Paddy, or ‘Old’ Paddy. ‘Old’ Paddy – or to be more accurate ‘Ould’ Paddy in the Donegal pronunciation – died not long before Christmas in 1967 and I am not sure when ‘Young’ Paddy became known as simply ‘Paddy’ Vaughan.
10 year old Paddy
Paddy was well known for his ‘tall tales’, many of which were totally outrageous, some of which were totally unbelievable and all of which were…
Recently, I had an image in my mind, a man … many years compiled; white hair, weathered face, eyes that drew you into his stories, his life, seasoned in his silence. A man who did not speak, just so he could hear himself. I searched for the picture of a man who fit the image I was contemplating. The drawing below, of a man’s face, brought to the surface, something allegorical.
Grady. Late seventies. A jovial man with a thankful spirit, in an assisted living-type of context. I met Grady in a sports bar a number of years ago. The stool next to him was open. I didn’t ask, I claimed the place along the bar. He wore a surfer-style t-shirt (it could have been him on the board riding a wave), thick white hair, large forearms; he had the marked and worn hands of a carpenter, with a nice collection of scars from building houses. Grady was drinking coffee.
I asked, ‘”Why would a fella come to a sports bar and drink coffee?”
The man set his coffee down and looked at me with a strong poker face. Sizing me up, he said, “Big TV’s to watch sports. I get to talk to pretty women.”
I saw the mischief in his blue eyes, a contagious grin. I asked him what his wife thinks about such tomfoolery.
‘There are no big TVs in my home, and only one good-looking gal to talk to. Belle. She is my wife. And she understands such matters.”
I sat with Grady at the sports bar once, or twice, monthly, Wednesday evenings. He said I had a higher calling than to hang out in sports bars. I told Grady “Maybe you also have a higher calling than hanging out in sports bars.” Grady stared up into the heavens for a bit, before slowly nodding: “This may be true.”
Belle passed in ’91. I attended Belle’s funeral, sat with Grady, with an unexplainable sense that Belle was there, also, sitting with Grady. Soon after, Grady moved to where he is now, an upscale assisted living set up. I hang out with Grady, on Wednesday’s. Grady has not changed a bit since we met; I was heckling him about drinking coffee in a sports bar. He is the same big-boned man, somewhere above the six-foot mark, a strong smile and a weathered gentleness. Grady will shift from regular sentences into multiple phrases; eyes focused on a place, a thought, beyond our here-and-now. I think about what he is saying; I look for a pattern, or patterns; and I am able to follow him. He has a sharp mind.
“Vision … you get it, don’t lose it …’
Belle’s love … “
Friend … priceless …”
Recently, I asked, “How goes the battle, Grady?”
“It goes, my young friend, continues on many fronts. Sometimes well, sometimes not.” “Example?”
“(Pause) We have these debates that come up, some of the men, here. We encourage each other. At times, someone will get a bit heated. That happened yesterday (pause). I’m learning more about appreciating that … tension … in community. Over many years, I have found myself worried about losing a friend, if I say the wrong thing, or if I don’t do what people want me to do. I do not need to fear the tension, the conflict. These are good men, and we have the freedom to be real and to speak freely. It’s alright if we see things differently. Yes. They are good men, like you.”
I still need to dig a bit deeper with this allegory, to get the big idea, Based on what I have, so far, I think this allegory is about our gravitation towards authentic relationship; the inner substance of redemptive desire to understand each other, respectively; the potential committment to stick with a relationship for the long haul, versus fading away to move on, to the next “thing”, the next friend. I hope that you have enjoyed this allegorical place I have gone to.
Harrison Ford is Dr. Richard Kimble, a fugitive from the law, an innocent man falsely indicted for murdering his wife. In the movie, “Fugitive”, Chief Deputy Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) relentlessly hunts Kimble. Dr. Kimble slips down a storm drain, into the tunnels. Gerard follows Kimble, slips in rushing water, drops his gun. Dr. Kimble grabs the gun, points the pistol at Gerard: “I did not kill my wife!”. Chief Deputy Marshall Gerard’s responds “I don’t Care!”
The words “I don’t care” scream apathy, the opposite of love, a “no-man’s land”. We have no business in the realm of apathy. Adolescents I worked with years ago, removed from parents’ custody, often expressed: “I DON’T CARE!”, words that reflect apathy. For kids living in a group home, the words are, in reality, a cry from within, a challenge: “Care for me! I dare you.” These kids had very few people to stick with them. Case managers come and go; counselors come and go; group homes come and go. Some of these kids would never be reunited with their parents. When we hear apathy, something else might be happening. An alternative to vulnerability is to raise a shield of apathy, for protection. Apathy blocks an unwanted emotional reaction. Like the angry adolescent living in a group home, longing to be loved, apathy can be a challenge: “Do you really care? Are you authentic, or a poser? Or are you going to fade away?”Continue reading “Apathy: No Man’s Land”→
Back In My Younger Days … I worked a summer job up in Rocky Mountain National Park. A place called the Trail Ridge Store, right-smack-dab in the middle of the drive, Trail Ridge Road, from Grand Lake on the west end, to Estes Park on the east end. During the summer, tourists start on one side or the other, drive 24 miles up to the store, and then get out and buy some chili, or a sandwich, or coffee, or trinkets, or camera film, or jewelry, or a t-shirt, etc. And after the restroom break, the family gets back in their vacation-mobile, and continue on their way, this time down the other side. What was always interesting … to me, was that visitors entered the park, parked a couple of times on the way up for pictures, stopped at the store, and parked a few times for pictures on the way down. And most folks wouldn’t take time to get active, hike a trail, and really see what is out there. But then again, they were probably on a timetable. They had to be in Denver for their hotel reservation, west, or in Boulder for a hotel reservation there.
Timetables. Cover as much ground as you can, even if it means missing some wonderful experiences along the way. Be active, right where you are at. Or, don’t.
By the way, special thanks to my friend Bryan, who inspired me write this post.
“Shrouded”… one of my favorite words. I see mountains shrouded in clouds, and I get a little mix of peace and intrigue. Men, women, children, are sometimes shrouded … in something, or by something … a phenomenon not always “nice”, but sometimes messy. This morning, I’m thinking of men shrouded … shrouded in the places of hiding: places of perceived meaningfulness; places that are considered safe; places where wounded warriors go, with hopes of healing. The man is shrouded. Maybe, his glory is shrouded.
“Who are you?” Silence
“Where are you?”
“What is your calling?”
Two questions for you: 1) have you ever sensed this … men shrouded in something, metaphorically “the clouds”?; and 2) do you have any thoughts about glory … your glory? It’s been said, that we are more aware of our ______________ (blank … fill it in … one word could be “shame”) than we are (aware) of our glory. I think of glory as something that shines. Glory is bright, powerful, indicative of man-fully-alive unleashed in an honorable manifestation. So, again: we are more aware of our … shame … than we are of our glory. And the glory can be intimidating: glory is bright and therefore hiding is more difficult; glory means, on some level, being known … more disruptive than not being known. Here is another image. This is a an odd little shelter, up on the road to Mount Evans, just about 100 yards off the main trail head.
Stepping into this little hut was a little weird. It felt pretty good. I didn’t stay long because I knew that I could find myself shrouded, inside this little shelter … and this was not where I was supposed to be. And that … is a loaded idea: to be where we are supposed to be. An individual who tells you where you are supposed to be, might be wrong. Either way, the pressure men and women feel about finding that place to be is a very real force that can throw us off our game.
Having owned drones for a while. I decided I wanted to use them commercially as I could fly them well. So just a few weeks ago my licence arrived through the post and here is a bit of footage from the last few weeks to show a little of what myself and my drone (Inspire 1) can do. What I love about the inspire camera is it shoots amazing quality and it looks like all my other cameras. Unlike the old drone with a go pro where the horizon and edges are all bent and distorted. I’m very happy with it.