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Fleeting

“Gather yourself, up ’til now there’s been no clue
the awakening will be swift and harsh and rude
and it won’t be what you know and it won’t be what you’d expect
and it will carry with it the force of fear-inspiring wreck”

-from the song “The Awakening” by Jennifer Nettles

Every now and then we all find ourselves at an impasse.  Suddenly the cruise control of life goes up in flames and we’re standing there unable to move forward.  Maybe we’re afraid that if we do, that unexpected opportunity will actually close.  Maybe the memories of how it felt, the hopes it fostered and the feeling of “being alive” is too much to step away from.  Or, maybe, when you’re standing there afterward, and you’ve been exposed, you’re forced to realize how empty it all is.

 Creating relationships that rarely know my inner feelings, fears, strengths and desires is what I do.  I am not easily impressed, or moved, by someone’s words.  After all, words are effortless.  Time is my guide and actions are my witnesses. 

But, on very few occasions, I meet someone who jumps right into the mix without warning or reason.  They dive in and make themselves right at home.  It’s not logical, nor is it guided.  And rarer yet, sometimes that person jumps right back out.  Of course, when jumping out, there are valid reasons or excuses.  Hell, who am I to blame someone for behaving in ways similar to my own?   I get it, it’s not personal, it’s not an attack, but it is still rejection.  And it’s the kind of rejection that shakes you to the center of the force that keeps you closed in the first place. 

 Standing there afterward, you feel the regret of an emptiness that was forgotten; an emptiness that never makes itself known until these moments.  And these are the moments that remind you there are very few people who, unwittingly, sneak right into that little space and propel us over the walls of fear.

 And after they’ve abandoned the flight, we are left in midair with a choice to make.  Keep moving forward and be thankful for the experience that pulled you out, or tuck back inside and slam back into the safety of that familiar compound.  This is the impasse.  I am reminded of what I had been running from, but I was also given a glimpse of what I secretly long for.   

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Beautiful Stranger

Recently, I was standing alone in a diner waiting for a table to open up.  As I stood there playing with my phone I was struck by the sound of a woman’s voice.

 “Hola mi amor!”

I looked up and saw a petite woman kneeling in front of me and facing a small child.  Her arms were stretched out and her face boasted a huge smile. I was convinced the child was her niece, or some other family member that she hadn’t seen in a long time.  The woman was almost glowing like a proud parent.  The little girl shyly turned toward her mother and hid her face in her mother’s leg.  The woman stood up and began a conversation with the girl’s mother.  She never stopped smiling as their conversation continued.  By now, her personality had captured the attention of everyone in the lobby.  After their short interaction, the woman walked up to the host and informed the host she had a party of three.  This confused me as there was a total of five in that group; I had assumed they were all together. 

The host wrote down her name and then called out another. The little girl’s mother picked up her daughter and they walked off to their table.  The woman was now sitting with her husband and a much older woman.  As the host returned she called out my name.

She guided me to a booth toward the back of the restaurant and handed me a menu.  After a few moments the waitress came by, took my order and I resumed reading articles off my cell phone.  I got about one line into the first article when the sound of a screaming child pierced my brain and sent my thoughts running in fear.  I looked over to see a small child holding a fork in one hand and a knife in the other.  He sat there screaming out the words, “I want bacon!”, and proceeded to pound the utensils on the table.  His parents ignored his hideous behavior while the rest of the restaurant debated leaving.

After about five minutes of this my nerves were shot. I was ready to hog-tie this child and beat its parents.  However, to my surprise, the woman from the lobby walked over and sat down at the table.  She looked at the child and said, “Hi hunny, so, you must really like bacon?” 

“Yes! It’s my favoritest food ever!” The boy exclaimed.

 “I like bacon too.  Can you quietly tell me why you like it?  But remember, we have to use our inside voice.”  She said while smiling and holding the boy’s hand, thus removing the utensils.

I was blown away!  I was shocked! Not only did she just prevent an uprising in the restaurant, but she gave the child the attention he needed (while setting boundaries) and also demonstrated a lesson to his unprepared parents.  For the next couple minutes she sat at the table, smiling and laughing with the family.  As she got up to leave, the little boy waved and said, “Bye Mrs. B”.

Part of me wanted to hug this woman.  Not because she spared us from that tiny demon, but because her presence naturally made me feel happy.  Her actions all came from something so simple; kindness. 

So, to that beautiful stranger, thank you.  You reminded all of us of something that day.  It’s so easy to get caught up in life and become frustrated and judgmental, but maybe if we all remembered to focus more on kindness and patience, there would be a little more happiness.

Stumbling

With each day that passes I find that I become a little less tolerant of the environment around me.  Daily interactions with people, processes at work and the incessant whining of everything else; it all makes me feel frustrated and anxious.  I used to be someone who truly loved the adventure of new people, the excitement of unknown places and the challenges of overcoming a difficult task.  Now, I find myself withdrawn from those experiences.  What happened?  When did it all change and how did I fall off course?

Friends tell me to confront certain issues, but the thought of confrontation makes me feel tired.  I retreat to my bedroom or a quiet walk or sit at my favorite bar stool and lose track of time.  On the outside I’m connecting with those around me, but on the inside, everyone is at an arms length… “Keep away”, I say to myself.

The excitement of being successful and “living the life” no longer calls out to me.  The desire to find love and build a life together has faded.  Instead, I do the things I do because I have to.  I have to be responsible, I have to plan for tomorrow and ensure that my actions today support a better experience for tomorrow.  I do this while waiting for “it” all to return.  Hoping that that drive, the hunger to succeed, the excitement of “getting out there” and facing life’s daily adventures… all comes back again.  At one time, life was full of bright colors and called me to its spotlight.  Now, I look out and see black & white stills of what was, and I pull at my memory to help me feel those faded emotions.

The up and down slopes of life are confusing and navigationally challenging.  Is this really my life?  Is this as good as it gets? I had expected so much more!

A change is happening and its definitions are still being written.  At the end I will, once again, be full of that drive and passion I once felt.  Until then, I survive the storm and keep faith.

My LapTop Is a Bitch!

I learned today that my laptop has jealously issues. It doesn’t like when I multi-task. Whenever I pick up my BlackBerry and focus on whatever the BlackBerry has to share with me, the laptop goes into standby mode, shuts off and pouts. Before I am able to get back into its good graces I have to turn it back on and sign into it, proving that I’m committed to it.

This seams like a whole lot of nonsense to me! Maggie, that’s what I’ll call my laptop at the moment, shouldn’t be such a bitch. It’s only a BlackBerry, I love you both just the same. Quit freaking out! Then I got to thinking about this some more. Why does Maggie get pissy and shut down if I don’t show her any affection for 5 minutes? The answer is simple, somewhere along the way she was programmed to behave this way. After fondling her settings for a little while, she is now satisfied to wait for 20 minutes before storming off and giving me the silent treatment.

Fixing this was easy, but finding where a person was programmed to react to something is much more difficult and can be painful to watch. Especially when that person is someone you care about. From the outside, I can see straight to the source of the frustrations, but I lack the ability to play with the settings. I lack the intelligence of finding the perfect string of words to explain a possible solution. Instead, I offer the words I know and hope that it’s helpful. I offer the best hug I have, I hope it seals in my words and support.

Life is a series of events, new and old, and they all come together a thousand times a day. Sometimes they’re perfectly connected and fit together easily. Other times the pieces fit together after you’ve maimed them with a hacksaw and used a nail gun to keep them in place. But, most of them just kind of fit. They’re not all flawlessly cut to perfection and laid out, some have holes, some have uneven edges and others just float there. And that is okay.

These events are your story. It’s up to you to make it a beautiful story or a tragedy. So, with my best hug and a slap on the ass… Get out there and make it a beautiful story!

The Guide

The guide offered many things

It showed happiness, sadness and confusion

It showed anger, confidence and trust

It showed no trust, no confidence

It displayed beauty and disgust

Reflections of choices and beliefs

Good and bad

Memories of pain and comfort

I heard music and I heard noise

It whispered my name

It screamed my name

It explained and it frustrated

It described and it infuriated

It spoke of luck, but insisted on faith

It offered answers and support

It allowed choices

I walked away

I wrote this eleven years ago.  It’s amazing how much one grows and discovers in eleven years!

Getting the Mail

At the end of the road I look out over the valley

Staring off into the bluish haze of hills I feel small

The sun behind, the moon in front

How beautiful

The sky dances with color and power

Clouds slowly grace me with images of many

Thoughts of the past and the future float away with the drifting images

I feel empowered, higher than life

I look out over the field, grass swaying

The breeze effortlessly bends the green blades

They show ease and strength

I listen to the sounds of the various birds

With arms open they welcome the breeze

Dancing in its movements they demonstrate grace

Their sounds echo peace and harmony

Higher above a much larger bird keeps his arms open

He watches my movements and his surroundings

Without fear he keeps his arms to the wind and glides

With one of nature’s soldiers watching I walk through the field

I stop at the edge of a small pond

Looking into the edge of this liquid body I see my reflection

I watch the blues and whites of the sky; my guide is still with me

The water ripples with life underneath

When the air shifts the water follows

Like scales it pushes against its limits

I continue to walk up a slight hill

Passing some trees and rocks

The trees tell stories

The talk amongst themselves

I wonder what they’d say if I could understand

A lesson incomparable to any book I’m sure

At a low stonewall I stop and turn around

I look back out over the pond, the field and the tinted hills

I respectfully look to the top of the sheltering trees

I remember my past and think of my future

                           The sky takes my dreams, the trees remember them and my spirit ensures it

I recently found myself surrounded by a relocation spree.  Two friends of mine, who have been dealing with life’s upsets, have decided to hit the reset button.  One is returning home and the other has chosen a brand new beginning.  I couldn’t help but notice that both of these individuals made a series of poor choices that lead to their current situations.  From the outside I wonder if their need to flee is based on the hopes of a rebirth, reconnection with the self they’ve lost or simply panic.  As time has passed I’ve listened to their complaints and feelings of frustration grow into a daily chant.  Has the choice to move finally given them the sense of control they’ve been missing? After all, in a life full of doubt, frustration and disappointment, a drastic change is very attractive.  And can be extremely healthy; as long as escapism isn’t the objective.

My concern begins to grow when their words fail to connect with the opportunity laid out before them.  I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them while asking, “What lessons have your mistakes taught you and what choices have you made to foster a better future?  You have made changes already, right?  You’re not going to wait until the state line to figure this out, right?”  Many times I’ve listened to a person unleash their verbal frustrations about an offender, but I find that it’s riddled with hypocrisy.  The individual is laying out their expectations of how someone should, or should have, behave(d), but yet, that individual has failed to realize his biggest student, is himself.  

Moving for atonement only works if you’ve taken the time to find the root cause of your issues, change it, or yourself and forgive (yourself or others).  A year from now, when they find themselves in similar situations, complaining to friends and comparing it to the past… Will he stop and ask himself, “What did I do to end up here, again?”  Like Buckaroo Banzai said, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

My only hope is that they’ve already made the changes necessary, and can truly enjoy the happiness, and freedom, they’re seeking.

The trouble with dating and the truth is that whether or not you’re actually being honest, the listener often times is deciphering your words with a number of filters, unknown to you.  He is listening, but thinking back on what he thinks he heard you say, what he thinks you did, what he hopes you will do and all this is being filtered thru a larger, more dangerous filter; emotion.  By the time you’re done expressing your feelings and explaining why you feel as you do, the listener has created an entirely new reality.  And you’re not even aware of it!  When you have, finally, been invited to roam the halls of his mind (usually the invite is in the form of an unexpected reaction) you’re speechless and baffled by what has been created. 
Was the truth so boring it had to be spiced up?  Is honesty not dramatic enough?  After all, it’s far more entertaining to bust someone in a series of lies.  But, what do you do when confronted with the simple, boring, impersonal truth? Some may piece together an assumed story line with soap-opera-like dips, turns and hidden scandals.  Others will hear you, simply say “thank you” and walk away; they understand it’s not personal.  
In some situations, I’ve found myself walking away from a conversation feeling the gears in my brain blow apart.  The theatrics were so great that I’ve doubted my own words.   However, while staring off into the air trying to grasp the process I found myself kidnapped by, I find my footing and remember, this is not my problem.  This is why that little voice in my head said, “keep your distance”.  And this is when the listener can thank himself, for making it personal.  The listener’s filters may be a maze of confused emotion, but they’ll clear, and he’ll settle on his own version of the truth.  Which, will no doubt, fuel the next disappointment.