Friday, November 9, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
|Octopus strand, labeled!|
Sunday, September 30, 2012
|Decidedly NOT Mr. Potato Head|
Sunday, September 23, 2012
My world view is being inexorably altered as I encounter wisdom that can only be acquired through decades of trial and error. More than ever, I can see the outgrowth of decisions made long ago, and the impact governing life principles had on those decisions as well as the patterns that persisted. Put more simply, I see the sum result, that is the endgame of how people have chosen to live their lives. --And it can be very sobering.
On the one hand, there are married couples who have been married for 60 to 70 plus years, who take the latest challenges or inevitable realities in stride with something approaching gracefulness; who have children and grandchildren rallying around them in their time of need. Even if one of these is now far from their prime and suffering from advancing dementia, I can see flickers of who they once were, bolstered by the manner with which their family members relate both to them and to each other. If I ask these types of individuals how they cope with challenges, they meet the other’s gaze with a knowing look, then respond with something akin to, “Well, we just work it out. There is always a way.” With every situation, even when there is no longer a way, collective support abounds.
On the other hand, there have been many whose situations were far from the one described above. The person is alone, either because he or she did not wish to be tied down by such encumberances as a family and thus never had one, or because an impassable rift formed and they were separated permanently. (I am not referring to those who have outlived their entire family) In any event, no one visits, and no one (besides us) supports. Often through the course of interaction with these folks, it does not take a herculean stretch to surmise why no one comes. As they do their best to burn bridges even with you, you can begin to smell traces of a lifetime of burnt bridges trailing behind them; of many rivers crossed that can never be crossed again. Every bad thing that has ever happened, including the current situation, is somebody else’s fault. Sometimes, even though we have just met, it is even MY fault! Recrimination and bitterness abound right up to the end, until the realization that the end has come and you are alone. But by then, it is far too late.
Two extreme situations, to be sure. And yet, I have seen both of these and many subtle shades in between. Here is what am taking along with me from this: The decisions we make, even the seemingly small ones, matter. More importantly, how and why we make the decisions we do, matter. What we believe, matters. And how we treat other people throughout our lives, matters completely. No one is likely to spend time looking over our shoulders to see if our words match our actions, but that is no basis for altering how we live, anyway. In the end, there will be no fooling even a passive witness.
Live your life the way you would like to be remembered.
To CommunicateSenryu is a 3-line unrhymed Japanese poem. Structurally similar to haiku, it focuses on human nature, usually in an ironic or satiric vein. In other words, it appears to have been designed specifically for me. What better way to interrupt nearly four years of silence?
Wellspring of my life. Ergo--
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"My touchstones tell me that I have oft opted out of learning from the wisdom of others and instead earned my 3rd degree at the school of hard knocks." SG, 2008Reference definition
Touchstone: noun a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
In an attempt to hit the stressor re-set button, I headed to the mountains with the twisty roads. I’m still sans bike, so had to make do in my WRX with the windows rolled all the way down to let the air in. … It worked out pretty well given the circumstances.
Or perhaps it’s just the nature of the road itself. Even though I hadn’t covered the whole distance of it, it was still almost familiar because it’s kind of like my life, which is to say unpredictable... and varied. It veers left, then it careens to the right as it follows the shoreline of the lake. At times, the view is wide open and you can see everything, while at others you have no idea where you are because of the dense trees surrounding you. I drove by hills that were all purple with wild flowers, while the hill next to it was all yellow, and I went through meadows that were light blue or white. At still other times I didn’t see flowers at all because of the huge rocky walls and the abrupt cliffs on either side. But always there was the mystery of what was around that next corner (and there were a LOT of blind corners).
Once, the corner revealed COWS, though they were off to the side of the road. Another time, the irregular humps on the road turned out to be two squirrels basking in the sun, and neither horn nor squealing brakes would distract them. It was only after I passed completely overhead that they jerked up in alarm. Then, discovering that the danger had already passed, they both promptly flopped back belly down onto the tarmac to soak up the heat. There’s always something…
Varied and unpredictable are roads and life. A year ago today, my Dad passed away; an unanticipated result of an unexpected disease that struck the most unlikely of people given his excellent health and fitness. He’d never even been hospitalized in his life before receiving the Leukemia diagnosis. But he certainly was hospitalized for this, and this was the day that the struggle to survive ended. It could have been different for him, in a positive way. But then, it could have been different for those two squirrels as well, in a not so positive way.
Had our roles been reversed, I imagine my Dad might have spent the day remembering me in a more constructive way. He might have attempted to do something that mattered rather than abdicate himself from responsibility in order to tear it up through this mountain clime while singing music wholly inappropriate to the risky activity. But then, he wasn’t always predictable, either.
In many ways, I didn’t hold back or leave much behind on what is possibly a record setting time along that stretch. A lot of tears and rubber… that’s about it.
Monday, March 31, 2008
I have not been writing much lately because I’ve decided it’s a lot more enjoyable to write about humorous things. Or at the very, least, I like to write about things from a humorous point of view rather than tackling weighty and profound issues of great import. And, to be honest, I’ve been suffering from a significant lack of humor over the previous several months. I do find reasons to laugh when I’m in the moment, and it is always genuine when it happens. But when it comes to the dark art of putting lasting thoughts to paper, I feel the weight of things so deeply that there seems to be no way to unlock the bright or ironic side of life. So I don’t write.
With that said, I cannot seem to move on without at least attempting to process things in my mind eventually, and writing is the only way for me to do it without getting distracted or shutting it out with visions of a fanciful (and thus obviously fictitious) reality. So, here is where I am at:
The one colleague I have that I’ve come to consider my friend as well passed away last weekend. George was in his early 60s and not in great health, but this was sudden. I didn’t need to hear about that on the first day back from Spring break, when I was trying to buckle down and focus on the task of work. And I shouldn’t have walked into his classroom on Thursday as scheduled and tried to carry on with his little charges as though nothing had happened. (Obviously, it didn’t work) But that’s the way things are. It appears he went out doing something he enjoyed doing (tending his flower garden), and if this is not actually true, I don’t really want to know about it. I know in my heart that I did not make full use of multiple opportunities to reach out to this lonely and gentle soul, so I get to live with that and the fact that there aren’t any opportunities for a ‘do-over.’
Last night, I learned that my long time friend and one time mentor and gymnastics coach succumbed to Cancer yesterday morning. She was one of those people that if you could only use the fingers on one hand to represent the individuals who helped you to become who you are (in a positive way), she would be one of them. Not quite, but pretty close to parent status in terms of duration and overall influence across multiple aspects of life, I worked with her directly for longer than I have had contact with my own kids to date. I can say with all honesty that she made full use of the opportunity to help shape my life in a positive way, which is really saying something. Gwen is going to be missed by a lot of people, and I will not be the least of those.
Tomorrow will be April 1, the first Anniversary of when I held my Dad’s hand and watched him take his last breaths. There is a whole lot about this chapter that has yet to be written (if it ever will be), and some of the memories are hazy while others are so vivid I can still smell them. On April 1 last year, my Dad died… and we got several inches of SNOW!! The improbables continue to mount, it seems.
I am supposed to be working right now. My job is an important one, and I have come to really care about my students and how they progress. But all I can think about is taking a ride in the mountains and going really, really fast around the corners; NOT as a death wish, but rather as a celebration of life! The scenery ripping by and the smell of the wild flowers and other vegetation being ram-jetted into my nose through my helmet is the only thing I have found that seems to drain the stresses of the world out of me so that I can once again face harsh reality with courage. Out there, there is no escaping the fact that God is real and still on duty. It is as though I'm screaming, "Are you still there?!" And He answers affirmatively in ways that I don't think I can describe in words.
But my motorcycle is broken right now, so I am left only with the inescapable cumulative thoughts and memories of folks taken from me in this current life. And thus, on the inside, I am just as my office is now: Empty.