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.  

What Might Contentment Look Like?

Cheekwoold easter sculpture web

If one happened upon a place from which to view it,  what might ‘contentment’ look like?  Perhaps it would present as something like this…

Gratitude for all one has

Presence, being in the moment as often as possible

Meaningful friendships

Meditating

Living beneath one’s means

Giving

Crafting and pursuing achievable goals

Kindness

Continuing education, lifetime learning

Exercising

Stretching, literally and figuratively

Knowing how to survive being wrong

and as required, surrendering to what is.

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.