At times I need to understand life in the most simplistic form. Almost looking for the lowest common denominator that speaks to me in a way that even a child should understand. I don’t mean to say that it takes big letters and small syllables for me to get life but when it gets hard, when it get confusing and when hurts so bad you just want to crawl under the kitchen sink and close the doors, I try to break it down; sometimes in an anthropomorphic way.
I run. I am not a strong runner or fast runner. I don’t set goals or count my carbs for the ultimate distance. I run because it takes what I feel on the inside and makes it tangible. If the mood is good, the run is free and light. If there is conflict, the run is tough and drudging with the mind lost in thought. But I will never stop motion. Lately there have been a lot of “thinking” runs.
Yesterday I put on my running shoes and headed out the door to battle the trail and clear my mind. I reassess my choices made and people I choose to be around. And then out of nowhere I thought of something that made me stop. Not only did I stop but I sat. I sat, put my hand on my chin and closed my eyes.
I thought of a birdbath. You know, the ones made of concrete with a bird molded to the side to lure others to drink. Then I imagined this little swallow that was circling overhead trying to decide if the bath was safe to drink out of. Then he noticed there was a bird already there so it must be okay. He landed on the opposite side from the statue and stared across, finding comfort in it. He inched his way around until he was next to it. Since it didn’t fly off he took this as a sign of acceptance.
The swallow rubbed against it but there was no warmth. The conversations were one sided. His offers of seeds and worms were left untouched and even the nest built beside the concrete bird was left unshared. But the swallow needed companionship so he looked past these indifference’s and stayed put.
Through the scariest nights, the stormiest days and the coldest snow winds, the swallow stayed next to the bird. He hung on to the fact that because the bird had not flown off, the emptiness was tolerable because after all, 1% is always better than zero. But soon that 1% became became less of a comfort and more of a question.
And then the reality of the situation hit the swallow. He saw that there was really nothing there at all and his bird was only an extension of the bath ledge he was sitting on. The real gravity was the fact that through the scariest nights, the stormiest days and the coldest winds he was really…just alone. So he flew off, gaining nothing and leaving nothing.
I suppose many would say that the swallow was just stupid for not seeing that the bird was concrete. Not me. I believe that time and situation control many of our actions and though they may not make sense to many, they make sense to us. There is something to be said for knowing when it’s time.
I don’t know how it happens but every so often in life I stray off the path and get a little lost. I lose the big picture and the priority of people who should mean the most. I basically lose my map on where to go from here.
Sure there are my own theories for these times of discombobulation but one has to ask, why? Am I running toward something or running away? What are my true fears in life; failing or being alone? Is there really something more to all this?
I guess I am just reaching for perspective and inspiration.
I sent this poem to a dear friend of mine. These immortal words were written by the ALS warrior, Jon Blais. I keep this poem in my wallet and read it whenever I need to center my thoughts.
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living,
I want to know what you paid for.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are,
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
For your dreams,
For the adventure of being a live.
I want to know if you can live with failure,
Yours and mine,
And still shout at the edges of a lake, river or mountain,
Yes, I am a warrior.
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have,
I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair,
Warry and bruised to the bone,
To do what needs to be done for someone you love,
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,
And truly like the company you keep
In the empty moments of your life
And remember me,
It never ceases to amaze me how people confuse kindness and love for weakness. I guess nice guys do finish last but I didn’t know we were racing. George, you said it best.
“What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other.”
You need to be with people who get you. To be able to accept someone through faults, imperfections and quirky little peccadilloes with no thoughts of selfish gains is what life should be about. It’s tough to put your honest self out there and minuscule imperfections weigh heavy on people you care about. That’s a great sign to pack the car and head for better abodes. Life is too short for that.
See? Life is short and every time you think it’s hard or dull remember, there are people who see it end every single second of the day. I saw this video the other day and it brought me right back to Bosnia and other war experiences I have had. These images change you and they should. Good people in your life understand that and are sensitive to it. These images should invoke passion about ending violence or at least touch something in you other that chalking it up to a buzz-kill. Be with those who know and care where you have been. RIP Neda.
I guess this post was a little more self absorbed than I wanted it to be. There are times I believe we all stray and need to realign in both body and mind. I do believe that happiness is a choice but man, it’s choice that hides in the most odd places. Judas Priest said you don’t have to be old to be wise. I believe that and strive for it each day. Even on days when I need a nudge from the Blazeman.
This is how I choose to live my life.
Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely.
True strength is hard to quantify. It is invisible physically but it shows when it counts and everyone will see it.
Ask for a shoulder and don’t hold back on giving one.
Honesty is never regrettable. It is when people love you for someone who you are not. Be you. God made you and last time I checked He was perfect… or something like that.
Tell people you love them. And do it often.
Don’t dwell on what should have been, concentrate on what can be.
Apathy sucks. Be passionate because it inspires.
Run like you are not planning a return trip. Always look ahead.
Don’t use those around you for gain unless you can give it back to them.
Compassion is why we are alive. Truly, it is the only reason we are breathing right this very minute. So don’t hold back on giving it.
Complacency, rejection and even major hurts happen. Don’t let it harden you and don’t let it weaken you. This too shall pass.
Never drink milk before or after an intense cardio session. They lied. It does a body no good.
Hold out your hand if you need to. Someone will grab it. I believe in that.
Smile at people.
It is true that there are few people that have your best interest in mind. That’s no reason to be a dick.
Never be ashamed of being you and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Just try to do better each day.
Call your parents. And if you can not, pray to them. They love you no matter where they are.
Admit to being wrong and never hold back an apology.
Ok, that was a preachy list. But I felt I needed to write that. Life is a series of choices. Those are mine. Love ya.
I have unintentionally labeled myself a pontificating mouth around the department. Whether it is giving advise about personal problems that I have no business giving or sharing stories about past military experiences that usually end with “and that’s why you don’t stick your finger in this”, I am now the go-to guy for all non-essential advise and knowledge. Don’t believe me? Well I came onto shift today and found a dry erase board with the title, “Will-dom Of The Day” on it. My job is to write wise sayings, directed by order of the Chief. Me and my big feed hole.
So, I guess I better practice my Will-dom here so you can see what I am passing on to our men and women of the fire service. Be prepared for enlightenment.
If you have a black light throw it away. Unless you want to know how much dander your friends have.
Never trust a guy that 1) shaves his sideburns totally off 2) wears a charmed necklace on the outside of his shirt 3) orders milk with dinner at a fancy restaurant 4) says words “practically” “anyways” and “you know” in every other statement 5) wears a visor upside down and sideways. Actually number five qualifies as a ‘never talk to’.
Most girls will never see eye to eye with guys when it comes to Star Wars, The Godfather movies, watching golf on TV, that beer qualifies as an appetizer, and large malls should only be visited on December 24th. Just accept this, love them for who they are and the things you share and know deep down in your heart, that they are wrong.
Cross dressers are people too. It’s ok to laugh just don’t make eye contact with them when you do it. They don’t follow a guy code and have the prerogative to kick you in the balls.
Like the advice above, if you do feel a laugh coming on, don’t fake a yawn to cover it because it comes across that you are having a stroke and you fool no one.
Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Unless you have a dolphin obsession and feel the need to wear an airbrushed dolphin shirt from your 1989 Daytona Beach trip.
When monkeys attack they go for the face, thumbs and genitals first. Still think Virgil from Project X is cute? Yeah, he is. Him and his alligator.
Try not to make up your own exclamation sayings. Most will never catch on and the shock of the situation will be interrupted by your peers asking, “what the hell did you just say?”. ex.”What the Frippin’ Froop?!?!?” and “Mother Bitch!”.
Golf is not a sport; it’s a game. I am hard pressed to believe a 230 pound fat guy playing golf while eating a hot dog, drinking beer and smoking a cigar is actively engaged in a sport. Anyone one who disagrees with this notion is welcome to a slap contest at 3:00.
I have never heard of anyone beating their loved ones while high on pot. At worst someone probably received an angry hug. Why is it still illegal I ask you?
Why do people put election stickers on their automobiles? How bad would it suck to drive a car with a Gore ’04 sticker on the bumper? I am a firm believer in magnetic bumper signs.
When you fake a phone call to get out of a situation or conversation, always remember to turn the ringer off.
So what do you think? I say the people the fire department a getting sound words of wisdom free of charge. I think this is a promotable service. I am sucking IQ points straight out their heads and they don’t even know it. Mmwa hahahaha!
Every so often I come across something on the Internet so brilliant, I just can’t keep it to myself. I feel like I have to share it with my friends (you are my friends, right?) because I know they will like as much as I do. And if they don’t, I’ll storm out and kick the cat. Well, I’ll give it the finger at least.
So what is this awesome of awesomeness I speak of? Why it is none other than the nemesis of all civil minded people, the great Baron Mind.
Created by a very funny guy over at Revelation XIII, the character Baron Mind, played and written by Mike Revenaugh and filmed/edited by Kyle Camping, is on his way to become an international web-sensation. And finally, long over do, he is up for an award. The Horrible Awards from Dr. Horrible of the Evil League of Evil, has nominated Mike’s character for the ‘So They Say Award’ for the best non-musical video for the Evil League of Evil. So pop over to here and scroll down to the best non-musical video for the ELE and vote for Baron Mind. It takes literally 23 seconds. Watch the great Baron Mind and check out Mike over at Rev XIII.
In other news, I found out something. Did you know instant coffee has 120 cups compared to the brewing coffee that only has 90 cups for less money? Why didn’t anybody tell me this? Sure, you have to sacrifice some taste but like the great Crocodile Dundee said, “You can live on it, but it tastes like shit”. You know Mick? I can live on this and damn it, I kind of like it. The smell of instant Folgers reminds me of my Grandmother’s house in Pennsylvania. You want me to take you on a tour? The correct answer is yes.
My whole life I have moved at least every few years but this house you see above has remained a constant when I was growing up. I was here as an infant, every Christmas was spent here, more Nerf boomerangs have been eaten by the roof and more light saber battles have been waged in this backyard than Lucas could ever imagine. It’s hard to believe that there are over 30 years of personal memories here.
To get in the house we will go around back to the covered porch. The only people who come through the front door are deliveries and company. You’re with me so we will go this way. See that cooler over there? It’s always full of beer. There is nothing better than sitting on the porch with the space heater blaring, drinking Yeungling and reading my Grandmothers Parade magazine. I’m not joking. Just looking at this picture I smell the stale cigarette smoke and electric heating coils. *sniffffff……ahhhhhhhh*
From the back porch we get to the kitchen. This is where my love for instant coffee was forged. But this picture is bitter sweet because as I look at the chairs my mind drifts to the days when I was forced to finish my cooked carrots, no matter how long it took. You see, my grandparents grew up during the depression and not finishing your food was as insulting as telling them the Pope is a bag of dicks. So I would sit there and endure a child’s equivalent to water boarding as I would choke down cooked carrots, dry heaving and tearing. I do, however, have a great memory of my Uncle Mark coming to my rescue and scarfing down my carrots when my Grandmother left the room, giving me a wink and a shush finger as he headed out for his night on the town. I love that guy.
Leaving the kitchen we come to the dining room. It’s funny, but this room elicits a little bit of anger from me and it comes from a silly pet peeve. I hate eating in a quiet place and listening to eating noises. This side of the family eats….well…like a G-damn horse. They never have the TV on so all yo hear is crunching, smacking and nose-whistling. I always show up to the table with two forks; one to eat with and one to stab into my leg out of anger.
The living room! This is where we gather to watch TV and I swear, the local news is on at least half the time. To this day, coming home to Grandma’s is not official until I hear the channel 6 theme song, “Move Close To Your World”. Still makes me smile. I have so many memories in this room like playing with a Hasbro X-Wing fighter, using the Persian rug as the perfect play mat and ruining a vacuum with a missing Micro machine. But, now that I am older this is where my Dad and I have a book read-off because there isn’t shit to do. This past holiday I won with four books. But it back fired on me and I was robbed a few million brain cells after reading Bill O’Reiley’s book, Culture Warrior. I get his points but damn, that guy really talks down to people.
My Grandfather passed away a few years ago. Every time I am alone in this house I tend to stare at the old pictures and remember him. He really was the product of the greatest generation. He served in the Navy in WW2, came home, started right to work at GE making rotatory rocket engines for ICBMs, got married and had kids. I constantly think about his work ethic. Every year he worked like a dog to provide for the family and only had the one week vacation at the shore to look forward to. He never complained though and he never quit to find greener pastures. He was tough, selfless and had a heart the size of Gibraltar. But cancer came and took him from us in 2003. God I do miss him.
We are now upstairs. You are looking at the only bathroom in the house. If you look closely at the frame on the right you will notice that it has a slight curve to it. When the weather changes the wood swells and this leads to the door sticking. I can not take a shower without locking the door so that means the door has to be flush with the frame. So, I spend 15 to 20 minutes in the bathroom and 30 minutes prying the door open. Two years ago I pulled the knob straight off.
We are going to skip the other two rooms up here and go right to Uncle Mark’s room. This is where I usually sleep when I visit. Notice the folded cot on the right? Yeah, sleeping in here is a challenge to say the least. I try to beat Uncle Mark to bed because if he falls asleep first, it’s like sleeping in the trombone section of an orchestra. There is nothing worse, besides eating sounds, than trying to fall asleep over super sonic snoring and four-note sleep farts. Try to find your happy place during that!
GAAAA! Don’t forget who sleeps in the next room.
Now we are in the basement and this is the best room in the house. My Uncle Mark has occupied the basement ever since I could form memories. This was the place where I spent most of my time and I know that was a little selfish because I should have spent more time hanging out with my elderly great aunts and eating their blue mints. But seriously though, how could a kid resist cable TV, a bag full of candy next to the recliner, a computer with Duke Nuke ‘Em, and every cool gadget known to man. I mean, I didn’t grow up with cable so HBO and old school Nickelodeon was something you had to take advantage of. I swear I saw the movie The Explores and the show Pinwheel more times than necessary on these AstroTurf-covered recliners. If you clicked on Pinwheel I am sorry, but you will have that in your head for the next 12 years. My gift is your curse. Here are some quirky things around the basement.
The hat collection. This is actually willed to me. I’d like to say I can’t wait but that means somebody has to die. I’ll wait for the hat collect.
Here we are! The vacation fund and it’s full….of dimes…..and there is a lock on it. Uncle Mark’s ex-girlfriend was a graphic artist an she designed screen savers. This is one of them. I really hope this was the reason he dumped her because, WTF?!?!
Well, now you have had the tour. Very few people have seen the place that I call home away from home. I hope you enjoyed it.
Here is a survey question: I stayed at my Aunt’s house while I was in town and slept in my cousin’s room while she was away for college. If you weren’t paying attention, in the picture below, what would you brush your teeth with? I hope I am not the only one picked wrong.
I’ll post my failed pick tomorrow.
EDIT: If you picked this, we have something in common. That stuff really doesn’t taste as good as one would think. Actually, it was the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth. Ha Ha…I know where you are going to go with that Ginny.