Trust

Trust web

Trust, what is it made of? Experiences, hopes, faith, thin air?  What is it that makes us trust? What causes us to lose faith in another, in humanity, in ourselves? Poor choices, misplaced hopes perhaps?  How do we find trust and keep it near as a companion to be counted on through thick and thin? Is it worthy of that status, or is distrust the more worthy companion?

Intuition may be the more important topic here. Intuition is the fulcrum against which we find leverage to raise our trust or its more skeptical fraternal twin. So then comes the question of whether we trust our intuition. In some matters, my intuition is a most faithful guide; in others, it appears to have been reading B movie horror scripts while eating Cheetos from the bag without so much as a half-hearted washing of its hands. Funny how a companion who serves so reliably in the heat of most day to day battles can take a holiday when certain seemingly ineffable subjects enter the fray.

I trust most people at a distance, but few in close proximity. My family and a handful of close friends are, to use the snowflake term, in my “trust circle.” Beyond that, my intuition seems to blur, and as yet, my optometrist has not been able to suggest a solution for this impairment. Perhaps it is the broken bits rattling around inside that make focus difficult, blurry, and unreliable. Or it’s conceivable that I have yet to fully open my eyes. Either way, once bitten, twice shy as they say. Thankfully hope, and by association, trust spring eternal. And so I wait patiently for spring.

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.

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

The Work of Living

The Work of Living_by John Hussey

The rains came at the end of December and have since called this place home.  It is not the countryside, rather a despondency that blooms in the midst of this cold winter downpour. Those in the parts of the world where such weather is commonplace probably bare it away silently, knowing year after year that such is their fate. Here in southern North America, this bleak, relentless drenching has transformed myriad normal men and women into so many agitated, forlorn creatures.

The wearing down of the spirit by natural means such as continuous dark, damp days is in no way sinister.  In that light, this indifferent water torture shows a modicum of kindness. The spirit breaking inventions used by one human on another cut more profoundly, with much greater precision. Cruelty is intentional, and therefore personal. Such malevolent behavior, like the weather, is sometimes predictable, sometimes not.

Confronting darkness in any form, be it natural or man-made presents each of us with the opportunity to choose a response. With rare exception, we can decide whether to reflect or reject the shadows cast upon us. Reacting on impulse is natural, but void of the benefit of circumspection. Stepping back, taking stock, digging deep and choosing a way forward that lies outside readily ostensible options, a path that leads us back to the light, that is the work of living.

Holiday Postpartum

Holiday Postpartum_JH

January 9th. The Christmas tree, or should I say fire hazard now long in the tooth droops in the corner of the living room. Brittle needles find their way to the hardwood floor, forming a circular colony of tinder. Surprisingly, the scent of pine has been growing stronger, filling the front rooms of our small cape cod style home. Holiday postpartum has descended upon this place. Andy Williams is not singing of the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Festive open houses are closed. The last of the baked goods have fossilized and so been shown out to the frozen garden plot for the birds to beak. The heat runs near constantly as the days of subfreezing temperatures depress the mercury in this part of the world.

I miss the holidays, the anticipation, the many opportunities to raise a glass with old friends and make new ones. Over the years Christmas time has always managed to deliver joy, optimism, and magic. I found myself this season thinking for the first time about the fact that I have only so many Holiday celebrations left. It may sound morose, indeed but this recognition of reality is also a useful reminder. Living fully, openly, and with the intent to make the most of each moment is a choice…just that, a choice. We only have so long to become our best, then we rest. Have you made strides in this quest over this last year?

When the twinkling lights go dark, and the long nights unrelentingly hold the world, we may turn inward, we may be saddened, or we may take no notice. To each his own. I for one find myself a bit saddened, a bit grateful, and a bit nostalgic. Every day is not Christmas, though as Charles Dickens suggested we might do our best to keep it in our hearts throughout the year.

Barring an untimely demise, I will find myself eleven months from now decking the halls, raising a glass, wrapping treasures for those I love, and feeling that twinge of the childlike excitement that the holidays bring. I know not all share my opinion of the magic of Christmas time, and to those who struggle during the season, I wish you strength and love. May your days be merry and bright, long after the twinkle lights have faded.

Childish Things

Flexible Flyer Sled_by John Hussey

I spent 3-4 hours last weekend refurbishing runner sleds.  I have a bit of a fascination with these playthings.  Over the years I’ve accumulated five of them. The first one I received for my fifth birthday, a 1966 Flexible Flyer.  Another belonged to my maternal grandpa, dated 1906.  The third I found in the shed of the house my sons and I moved into once we were finally able to move out of our one bedroom apartment.  I stumbled upon the last two in a pawn shop on Nolensville Road here in Nashville, Tennessee.  If You aren’t familiar with Nolensville Road, it is rife with pawn shops, paycheck advance loan joints, and killer Mexican restaurants.  In addition to the family of runner sleds, I am in possession of one ridiculously long wooden toboggan, the sled, not the hat…and when the hell did we give birth to that term for a ski cap? But I digress.  Why this winter snow and sled proclivity?  I’m guessing it is a subconcious reaction to growing up in alway sunny southern California.  

Yes, I now live in Nashville, Tennessee.  No, we don’t get a lot of snow these days, though we used to.   In the early nineteen something-or-others we had such a winter here in middle Tennessee that the Cumberland River froze over.  The mighty waterway that splits our fair city turned solid to the point where one could drive a car across it.  Global warming…politics/science aside, I refurbish the sleds in the hope that we will have at least a day or two this winter to run them.

Peter Pan would have liked sledding.  Not the pop psychology Peter Pan, the immature fuck-up that many equate with the “not willing to work” type.  From what I read the real Pete fought valiantly for what he valued.  He worked to be free and shared the fruits of his indefatigable labors with the lost boys.  Courage, rather than immaturity may be a fine way to define Mr. Pan.  Do what we have to do to protect what we love, right?  

As it relates to surviving the aging process in modern times, what about blinders?  Some of those who are not familiar with the term “horseless carriage” may also be confused by the term “blinders.”  Blinders where created to be worn by horses as they pulled carriages through the busy streets, often more like mud troughs, of bustling turn of the century cities.  They were designed to protect the beasts from overstimulation.  Blinders, therefore, aren’t intended to create a state of blindness, rather they are intended to facilitate focus.  I think we can all give a nod to the value of focus.  Focus is the rail on which we are able to forge momentum.  It is the way we get from standing still to full speed.  Growing up is one thing, acting the role of a “grown-up” is another.  Focus is most likely about creating a life that matters, whether it fits a societally accepted norm or not.

Some people loved sledding when they were children.  Some people did not.  Some who did appreciate the sport lost that love as the grew up.  Others did not; (Sidebar, I realize my fixation with riding sleds is absurd).  Deconstructed, the act of sliding down a hill on a fast moving vehicle has no scientifically significant value.  You can’t necessarily become spiritually whole, the richest man in the world, or the president of the United States by sledding down an icy hill…or can you?  Olympic bobsledders may win gold medals then return to their day jobs at HomeDepot.  Are they the better for it?  Probably.  Have they become the Dalai Lama?  Ehh!

Sleds aside, what do we gain from our adult choices; from putting aside childish things?  Do we gain Money?  Security?  Power?  Freedom…Whatever the fuck that means?  Most likely yes.  What do we lose in exchange?  The process of maturing is exciting, confusing, intoxicating most often inevitable.  It can bring great things, but at what cost?  Do we have to surrender our child-like wonder in order to survive as adults?  If we do in fact, have to sacrifice our childhood consciousness to become grown-ups what language will we use to communicate with children?  If not their’s then who’s? 

Peter Pan was written by James Matthew Barrie in 1904.  He saw struggling children in need of relief, and so created a fantasy world based on his hopes for their emotional survival, or so I surmise.  He crafted a surreal safe harbor for humans faced with the reality of aging.  It was to be his most celebrated work.  It overshadowed all others in his career.  Curios that a story so well received at the time of its creation has been reduced to a term used to define those who refuse to conform to rather rigidly defined acceptable forms of “adulthood” in modern times.  

Back to sled riding for a sec, and for those without snow in there lives please substitute an appropriate metaphor.  If at times we feel stuck, sad, discontented, hopeless or just bored, perhaps a swift ride on a polished set of steel runners could be the perfect emotional reset.  If everything is just fine, all is right with the world, would it not be still be a hoot to make time to feel the rush of plummeting down a snowy hill, just to see where it takes us; feeling the wind blow through our hair as we descend a slope of memories long left behind.  Why the hell not? 

Freedom, heaven, hell, sorrow, joy, regret, redemption; they live within all of us.  On good days we get to choose which of them we will invite for a play date.  I find that when the long nights of winter begin to weigh on me the ensueing darkness can be parted by pushing off hard and diving onto my ’66 Flyer for an icy glide.   Sometimes its the simple things, often even “childish things” that make the world brighter, better, and for at least a rare moment, timeless.

I have nothing to say…

wordcloud inverted

Vintage random thought

I have nothing to say… Oh wait, that can’t be right.  The voice in my head never stops yammering, so perhaps I should just share a bit of that monkey din.  Let’s see, I was super uptight with my kids this morning in response to their less than “militarily precise” approach to preparing for the first day of school.  My fluster-faced antics were unnecessary and as it turns out, super unproductive.  They watched me rant with bemused looks of teenage indifference.  Suddenly it dawned on me that I was “choosing” to be an ass.  “Thank god,” I thought, and just like that, I chose to change my choice.  I decided that I no longer wished to be a “that dad,” so I stopped my foolishness, and apologized to my sons.  Breakfast and the ride to school were lighthearted and fun.  So that’s all I have to say…

Wait, I do want to mention that while I was acting like a child, they were keeping their distance, staying emotionally clear of the bad mojo vortex.  They had decided it seems, to give me the space to work through whatever ass clown hair shirt I was knitting without engaging.  Well done boys.  

I have nothing to say, that needs to be said, at the moment.  That said or said thrice perhaps, I like saying stuff.  When I was a young boy I had, as some parents might say “a lot of energy.”  My father was a man of few words.  Of those few words, the ones I often heard were “stop babbling.”  What?  Not enrich the world with my eight-year-old prattle?  You can’t be serious?  Poor guy’s ears must have been near bleeding!

I have a couple talkers in my house.  The suspects are male, ages 13 and 16.  While they both can go on serious verbal tears, the 13-year-old is exceptionally gifted.  He can speak incessantly for such extended periods that we’ve actually coined terms to describe his gift.  When he’s been thinking out loud at the speed of sound for some interminable period, we call it ‘streaming’…he calls it “broadcast mode.”  I used to talk, or “babble” like that when I was a boy, ha!  It doesn’t hurt anyone, so I just let him blow that horn.  

Some folks don’t talk much. Some folks do.  Some are great listeners while others don’t seem to have the ability to give two stray shits about what anyone says, even as they pretend to listen.   What?  Ha, just kidding.

So it seems I have nothing important to say, but I’m damn happy to be here, to have another day on this planet with opportunities in front of me and most of the “learning the hard way” behind me.  Babblers, quite folk, grumpsters, and joy monkeys, may you find wildflowers and spring water along your path as you walk to the beat of your own personal expression drums.

Broken Things

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 12.10.18 PM

Broken things, some we are quick to cast aside, some are not so easily released.  A Van Gogh, a toy doll, a locket, a person; all come into existence with the sheen of shiny fresh brand new ‘here I am.”  Over time that bit fades, ultimately replaced by the thing that most often happens to things that persist in the act of existence, some sort of brokenness.  A locket or pocket watch have sentiment on their side. If these become broken a fix of some sort is possible if the owner is sufficiently motivated by emotional attachment.  What of broken people?  As I glance to my left wrist, I see my great grandfather’s watch.   He, a broken thing that ultimately could not be “fixed’ left this working timepiece as a memory.

Hearts are regularly broken; so are bonds of friendship, vows, and refrigerators.  The casting aside and replacing of broken things happens when we lose faith, often rightly so, in the possibility of repair.  Other times we simply must do the work of restoration or so parish, as with our hearts.  I have a sentimental streak that has caused a light hoarding behavior at times.  I hold onto my collection of five old runner sleds even as the warming of the earth no longer offers winter in my part of the world.  The sleds aren’t broken.  However, their usefulness is but a memory.  Still, like a locket bearing the picture of a loved one, in my case winter, they hold value, hope, promise, or nostalgia, that I am reluctant to release.

I’ve walked some of my days with a broken heart, many adult humans do.  Fill in the blank as to the details with your own experiences, and we will likely be in understanding of one another.  It is a scar, or a badge, or a shitty outcome that clings to the soul like a limpet to the hull of a sailing vessel.  It by itself will not plot the course of a journey though it may slow the runnings.  So it goes with we who have minds made of chains that rattle and dance each morning when we decide to once again rise and face the day. 

I learned yesterday that my best friend of thirty-eight years, Dr. David, (mentioned in a previous Random Fiction blog post “Free Fall,” irony included) has acute leukemia. He has passed, at least temporarily from the realm of shiny new things into that of the broken.  He wore a brave face Thursday as he entered a month of hospitalized solitude to face down his indiscriminate adversary in a firestorm of chemotherapy.  

Interestingly, several months ago, before this category 5 shit-storm reared its ugly head, Dave and I spent a weekend visiting the college town where he and I met. Our in the moment state of unbrokenness found us commenting that we both felt as though we were still the same boys that had made acquaintance there those many years ago.  Alas, as some friend of Anne Lamott’s said, “we are all born astride the grave.”  Acknowledging that fact is ultimately both a curse and a relief… at least for me.  That said, I will give any and all of my time, money, and bone marrow to fix this particular broken thing.  Love to you my dearest friend.  My heart is with you all the way.

Sailing Upwind

sailing-a-storm-getty

Tacking hard back and forth across the teeth of the wind.  Spray filling my eyes as the bow plunges into wave after indifferent wave.  The imprint of rope on my clenched fingers may by now be permanent.  The going is slow and my destination still so far off that I’ve almost forgotten its original allure.  All I know is that the safe harbor I’ve been seeking seems to lie at the birthplace of the relentless headwind.  “Perhaps it is time to choose a new course,” I think as another wash of spray wipes my brow.  “Perhaps.”

The stories any of us can recall about sailing downwind are few for their lack of incident, even scarcer if one has never actually sailed, but let’s say its national metaphor day and roll with it.  For most of us, our many days are marked in turn by periods of smooth runnings, threatening waters, and periods of the listless, anxiety-provoking doldrums.  Each it seems has their time and place on the nautical map of our journey, and I imagine a reason they’ve found us, or we’ve found them.  Few milestones rise up in monolithic fashion while we are enjoying the momentary gift of easy passage through this life.  It may be that the cursed wind, or lack of it, thwarting our efforts at any given moment is also the very gift that aids us in the writing of a story finally worth telling.