Bucket List

Bucket List image

My sixteen-year-old son and I were discussing bucket lists the other day.  He told me he had only one item on his, which was to attend my funeral.

“Why is that?” I asked.

He looked at me for a moment, “Because I don’t want you to have to attend mine.”

#heartbreakinglythoughtful

#love

In The Blink Of An Eye

Jackson Hussey 6th grade Trampoline

Now you see me, now you don’t.  

Yesterday I walked into my first day of kindergarten. I blinked and had a bachelors degree. A few days later I held my, ten-minute old baby boy, I blinked and he’s gone to college. We all feel it, the Einsteinian vortex that turns days into years, then decades into nanoseconds. All in the blink of an eye.

I am aware of the fact that I overuse the word ‘bittersweet,’ but I’ve not as yet found a more suitable way to describe this beautiful, sorrowful adventure. ‘Love’ is another word that some feel falls in the category of overused. I personally love the concept of the bittersweetness of life, so there.

In the presence of things we love we don’t want to blink. We don’t want to miss a moment. Then eyes shut tight when boredom, discord, or darkness flood our tiny worlds. So then it is the case that we choose to be open, to be present, or to blink, to escape. Hungry eyes open wide for the moments we cherish or crave, then clench to deflect pain or fear or push tears as they wash over us. Human nature, yes.

It’s easy to watch our loves grow up, not so to watch them grow weary and wither. Blink, and you’ll miss it, but what is it? The person you could have spent a mostly happy life with? Your children’s childhood or perhaps your own? The chance to create something beautiful that instead will never be? Adulthood takes on the quality of endlessness for a time, the perfect breeding ground for the cunning cancer of complacency. 

We cannot stop the ‘illusion of time,’ but we can choose to challenge its passage with vigilance. When the days grow short, and memory becomes our most precious holding; when we painstakingly replay the moments of our lives, will we rejoice in, or regret the choices we’ve made? How much will we have truly seen, known, or touched? How much will we have lost to the blink of an eye?

In My Time of Dying

In my time of dying

In My Time of Dying – Thank you, Led Zeppelin, for the opening line : )~

As to the next line of the aforementioned song, I won’t go so far as to discourage mourners, for that will no longer be an issue within my sphere of influence.

I will say though that I would prefer a celebration! Just sayin’.

Claiming a life well lived would be mine to conclude on the way out, and a point with which others could agree or debate, but again when the time comes such agreements or disagreements will be of small importance, at least to me.

What I do know is that for those I’ve loved, I will not be gone. A singing cardinal on the maple branch at dawn, a sudden thundershower, a new favorite song, I’ve loved those things in this life, and so they will always be a part of me, and I a part of them in the lives of those who carry on.

In my time of dying, I wish peace, tranquility, and acceptance for any who might grieve.  Most importantly, I want them to know they have been loved with all the commitment and earnest appreciation that a human being could have mustered in one small lifetime.

In my time of dying please play the following song, for those I’ve loved, those I did not have the pleasure of coming to know, and for me, if only in the form of memory.

 

P.S. My health is currently delightfully good. I was just having a dust in the wind moment and thought I’d get it all down while it was fresh.  

The Luckiest Person in the World

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The luckiest person in the world? Perhaps it’s the guy who parachuted from space and lived to tell (Felix Baumgartner), or the one lottery winner who didn’t destroy his life with his winnings.  Maybe it’s the girl who against all odds married the perfect man, the happy soul who put everything he had on Apple stock at $14 back in the day, or you, or me for that matter?

Hard work is well known to set the odds in one’s favor. However, sayings are “sayings” for a reason, and I appreciate the expression “It’s better to be lucky than good” for the sheer cheek it waves in one’s face. Some say that luck can be defined as the moment “when opportunity meets preparedness,” which I believe to be the best explanation I’ve heard to date, but that definition doesn’t account for the inherent cruelties of life.

In the last four weeks, the engine computer on my car died, relegating it to the role of the world’s largest paperweight. I wrecked hard on my mountain bike, cracking the rear axle and destroying my front forks. My employer of twenty-four years put the entire staff on notice that things were, to say the least, not looking rosy. Two friends of mine perished in freak car accidents, and my father and best friend both find themselves in the late stage throes of leukemia, options dwindling. Unluck seems to abound. Challenging, heartbreaking, costly, income free times have presented themselves. Lady Luck, are you listening? There are people out there who could use your assistance. 

It’s not me who needs the gift of luck. Those grieving needed the luck. Those besieged by disease need the luck. My trivial trials can still be wrestled into submission by hard work, by preparedness, and a dash of opportunity…for now. In spite of the rather steep downturn that’s befallen this house in the last month light still shines; dimmed a bit by recent events but glimmering none the less. Glass half empty, glass half full, glass accidentally dropped after too many glasses, whatever. Isn’t it all an elaborate brocade featuring equal parts whim of fate and the choices we make?  A bittersweet symphony.

I’ve jumped from an airplane 57 times, but never from space. I’ve purchased a lottery ticket, or two hundred, and once won $3.00. I married for love, but no amount of effort proved adequate to hold the union in place. I bought Apple stock at $200, after the split, and have no profit to show for it. On the other hand, I have a loving family, two amazing young men who I am honored to assist on their journey to adulthood. They light up the world as though every day is a fusion of the fourth of July and the summer solstice. Based on this fact alone, I consider myself, through no doing of my own, to be in the running for the title of, “Luckiest person in the world!”  

It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

rain storm web1

It’s always darkest before the dawn, but what if dawn never breaks? 

Optimism vs. fortitude.  One is outcome dependent, the other self-sustaining. Dark times come, and hopefully, go, but “hope” is not a strategy. The only meaningful goal then is to endure, rather than to dream of being rescued.

As the midnight storm clouds bare their icy fangs I brace for the knife blade deluge of unexpected misfortune this season demands.

Dream Home

Battery House

My dream home came up for sale today. It is not a house to which many would ascribe that moniker.  However, It is the very place where my sons did much of their growing up.  As it happened, our home was sacrificed, like so many, on the altar of marital dissolution.

The boys and I have spoken often of the dream of one day buying it back, of reclaiming our ‘home.’ Sure the brick facade has been painted over and someone else has imprinted it with their concept of ‘home,’ but with some blood, sweat, and tears, we would make it ours again.

After hours on the phone with bankers, it appears those hopes have been dashed by the advent of ‘market appreciation’ relative to my income. Dreams are fickle things. My heart, though full with the bounty of my good fortune, is a bit heavy today.

The More Things Same, the More They Stay the Change

The more things same web

Time is an illusion, or so say theoretical physicists, some Buddhists, and a few uncredentialed randos. Change, on the other hand, is palpable. On the cosmic continuum, our human lives are laughably short, unless of course one throws caring for a newborn baby into the mix at which point each moment takes on the guise of eternity.  

What to do with such a minuscule timeframe?  Establish an identity?  Wear it as a mantle, or suit of armor?  Perhaps.  On a more interesting tack, might we open our minds to the so-called illusion of time and embrace the challenge of change? 

That sound we hear at night when we cannot fall asleep, that jarring metaphorical thunder strike that suddenly and unexpectedly transgresses our imagined force field of normalcy, that ominous silence which becomes deafening during unwanted moments of solitude; that is the sound of inevitability.  It is the specter or the hope of change. It knocks at the door when we do not expect a visitor, or claws at the window on a stormy night as we toss and turn, tangled in our sweat-soaked sheets.  It is the ‘inescapable,’ taunting the prisoner.

Some folks make peace with change, even crave it. Others purposefully oppose it in archetypal ‘arch-rival’ fashion. One path leads to some manner of peace with what is going to be, the other leads to voluntary disappointment. Each is a fine perspective, though one opens new doors while the other bars them. Either way, the drama is short lived.

A dam with no floodgate cannot contain a relentless downpour forever.  So it is with the ‘illusory’ incubus we call ‘time.’  The waters will crest, the dam will fail, the future will wrench historical normalcy from the hands of every true believer and cleanse the land with the as yet unknown.  

Holding tight to the past, or even the present will give the illusion of effectiveness for a decade or two. ‘The more things same, the more they stay the change,’ but only for so long.  Nostalgia is bittersweet as is the inevitability of change, but only one of them is optional. Onward!

Namaste

Heaven & Hell

Heaven and hell web

The expression, “The world is going to hell, (sometimes in a handbag)” implies that some of us haven’t already been there. In my experience, heaven too gracefully finds its way into everyday moments.

Last Saturday, while racing our mountain bikes through the lush spring woods, my eldest son asked me, “Do you believe in heaven and hell?”

“I do,” I said. “Right now, here with you, I believe I am in heaven, though on my journey to this moment I have at times passed through what surely seemed to be the heart of hell.”

He smiled and offered, “Yeah, that’s what I think too.”

Heaven!  At least for now, in this precious moment.

Namaste

Happy-ish, Healthy-ish & Mostly at Peace

shutterstock_591017447 WEB

Perspective, a personal view that we use to define the world; our individual interpretation of “life as we know it.” Outlook is for better or worse the determining factor in our assessment of reality. A proactive, positive outlook will undoubtedly set studier groundwork for one’s future than a negative one. I’m not suggesting that the changing of mind will completely change one’s circumstance, at least not immediately. However, I do believe that taking charge of perspective is powerful. If you’re happy and you know it…Awesome for you!  If you are not, shaking up your perspective inventory may be an excellent first step toward finding a better way to start, embrace and live the day.

I’ve taken a lot of modern life at face value. I’m trusting that way, which is not necessarily a ‘best practices’ approach. Conspiracy theories abound about government, food sourcing, education, family planning, etc.. It’s easy to laugh them off if you’re not prone to such leanings. I imagine though that some of the less absurd assertions in this realm hold at least modicum of truth. We are consumers of information, entertainment, calories, fashion, drama, propaganda, medicine, and escape, to name a few. These ‘goods,’ for better or worse, find their way into our personal ecosystems. Taking a closer look, a more analytical, research-based appraisal of what we take in, consume or adopt, often on blind faith, may be the key to avoiding pitfalls on the road to a ‘best life.’ But who has the time for that?

As far as I know, I’ve only been here once so I’ll have to rely on historical data and perception to tease out an approximation of the facts. It seems to me that a few too many cars on the road sport some form or another of “Fight such and such form of Cancer” stickers. No, we don’t see ‘Fight the Black Plague’ stickers, yet, but something seems off with the current state of treat vs. prevent. Big business benefits from both pesticide use and miracle cures.  Coincidence?  Possibly.

Historically speaking life is more comfortable and less violence now than it has ever been, current prison system enrollment notwithstanding. That doesn’t mean it’s time to clock out and accept the lot we’ve been given right? The advent of the information age means that taking responsibility for our own health and happiness has never been easier. Of course, there is the specter of the disinformation revolution to consider. The first American president was treated for his final illness by being bled with leeches, cutting edge medical tech at the time. We have access to far more information than his medical team could have imagined. Is this current library of bio-wisdom more accurate?  Hopefully.

Questioning the status quo seems a brilliant starting point in the goal of achieving unimpeachable personal health and contentment. The questioning our motives, perspectives, and assumptions ranks a close second in this quest, should we choose to take on the responsibility of thinking outside the drive-through box. We can sleep when we die, and the one certainty is that though we may dodge taxes, ultimately we will all sleep.  While we still breathe it is vigilance, interest, and inquisitiveness that will bend the arc of our lives closest to an outcome that is defined as Happy-ish, Healthy-ish and mostly at Peace. May the quest for these treasures be defined in my life and your’s by fortitude, patience and a super-sized pinch of good luck.

Namaste