The Maze

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately.

Ok, more than a lot…

I sometimes feel like I am in purgatory. Not heaven, not hell.

I sometimes get to touch heaven. Taste it. Embrace it. Let it envelope me. Let me enjoy it.

Relax.

Avoid the chaos.

But my life rides on a pendulum. I am only there for a brief moment before I begin the long, agonizing ride back.

My past haunts me.

My present mocks me.

My future is a tease.

I am “starting over” in life. I never spent time thinking about what that meant until recently.

Starting over.

Examining your past. Looking at what you bring to the table. Realizing what you damaged.

I have painfully come to the realization that my accomplishments in life have been small.

Insignificant.

If I had to write down a list of my accomplishments I would not get far past “being a father.”

I get by.

I got by.

And now I have entered a maze. There is the light at the exit, but my past has created the walls.

They are thick.

They are tall.

I can’t see over them.

They have no cracks for me to peek through.

The walls are my past. They keep me trapped. They lead me to dead ends. They tease me with different entrances.

But they always take me back.

For a brief period I see my heaven. I feel the love. I feel the caring. I feel the emotions. I can see such a wonderful future. I think I may finally get there.

But it is short lived.

I return to the chaos.

My pendulum descends.

Tired.

Sad.

Anxious.

Depressed.

Lonely.

My heaven is strong. She is patient. She understands. She gives me hope. She surrounds me.

Can I escape my walls?

 

Smiling Inside

I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately. It’s amazing what you can learn when someone is suddenly paying attention and challenging your ways.

Last week I blogged about happiness and hope.

Happiness is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately…mostly because I have been happy.

A few years ago I went to a comedy club with some friends. When we left one of them asked if I had fun. I said that the comedian was pretty funny.

“But you didn’t even laugh.”

It dawned on me that I’m not very good at showing that type of emotion. I could really find something to be funny, but I would laugh inside.

Just like if I saw something worth smiling, I would just smile inside.

I didn’t have that physical release.

Why?

I think it could be that to show that emotion would be to open myself up too much. I like my masks.

They keep me safe.

Whether I have my earbuds in with no music; pretend talking on the phone; wearing sunglasses on cloudy days; or sarcasm, I use them all.

I’m good at deflecting a conversation to something else.

But that has been changing.

I have found someone where I want to laugh out loud.

I smile all the time – with my mouth.

When I say I’m happy, I’m not deflecting to avoid the truth.

She tells me almost every day that I deserve to be loved.

I’ve had a difficult time accepting that; but really, don’t we all deserve it?

Don’t we all deserve to be so happy that we can actually show it?

Right now I will smile for real just by reading a text. I even “lol”. Sometimes there may even be a snort mixed in there.

That release has been good for me.

Good for my soul.

I’m not coming out of my shell; I’m just enjoying the turtle life more.

What is Happiness?

I’ve been gone for a while.

Mentally.

Pressure kept building while I did my best to ignore it.

I stopped caring.

Stopped being happy.

Then someone took a tiny crowbar and entered my heart. Suddenly there was light on the horizon instead of the dark clouds that consumed me so intensely. Happiness once again warmed my skin. Love filled my pores. I realized I still had some purpose.

Sitting in the airport yesterday, she challenged me on something I said. She always challenges me.

It’s bittersweet.

Emotional.

I told her that she makes me want to be better. But did I really know what that meant? I said that I want to have the life where I can make someone else happy.

Seems easy enough, right?

She challenged me. “So for you, being better means making the people you love happy?”

At first I thought a simple, “Yes” was the answer. But I was boarding the plane and had a few minutes to think about it.

At what point does making someone “happy” destroy a relationship? Does it involve avoiding an argument just to make someone happy? Is it conceding just to avoid conversation? Is it the irrational belief that just by saying the right things everything will turn around and be ok?

Maybe I thought so. I’m not sure.

I would be challenged on that statement too.

Getting to my seat on the plane, I understood that’s not happiness.

It’s avoidance.

I’m good at avoiding. Diverting.

I’m happy when I can make someone happy, but not because I am looking for the things that make that person happy. I want happiness to be natural.

No, I NEED it to be natural. It gives me purpose. It gives me life. It gives me love.

Maybe I can overcome my struggles.

There is hope.

Hope.

Not just hope that I can “fix” something…hope that I don’t need to try to use happiness to fix the unfixable.

Hope.

Skipping Funerals

There are many things that my wife, the hippy, does as an extrovert that I just don’t understand.

Last week there was a fatal crash in town where a teenage female lost her life.

Tragic, no doubt.

I didn’t know her, nor do I know any of her family members that I know of.

She was the daughter of a friend of a friend of my wife. My wife had never met her. May have never met her parents either…she’s not sure. But when the name was released, my wife went into full emotional crisis mode.

She was calling up friends of hers to let them know the news. She was trying to find out when the funeral was going to be. She was doing everything someone would do who had ties to the family.

But she really doesn’t.

And this is not a unique circumstance.

She attends more funerals each year than I have attended in my entire life. It’s not that I don’t care; I just don’t want to go to a funeral for someone I don’t know. They are sad enough as is.

Plus, being the introvert I am, I don’t want to have a conversation begin with a family member or someone who truly cared for and loved the departed where it becomes obvious I didn’t know them.

I am uncomfortable attending birthday parties for people I don’t know. I am uncomfortable attending weddings for people I don’t know.

There should be no doubt that I would be uncomfortable attending a funeral for someone I don’t know.

Instead I will be leaving work early to pick my son up from school since my wife will be going.

70 Shades of…well, me

A couple of weeks ago I got a nice message from a follower. They asked if I would be open to answering a bunch of questions…honestly. After seeing they weren’t too terribly personal or embarrassing, I agreed. So, here you go:

  1. Were you named after anyone?

Not that I am aware of

  1. What is your favorite lunch meat?

Turkey

  1. Do you have kids?

Just one – a six year old boy

  1. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?

Probably not…I know, rough

  1. Do you use sarcasm a lot?

All the time

  1. Do you still have your tonsils?

Yep

  1. Would you skydive?

I have, and I would again

  1. What is your favorite cereal?

Fruity Pebbles all the way

  1. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

Not usually

  1. What is your favorite ice cream?

Good ol’ vanilla

  1. What is the first thing you notice about people?

The safe answer is the eyes, but I am a guy, so…

  1. What is the least favorite thing about you?

My weight

  1. What was the last thing you ate?

Cheeseburger and fries. I’m sure that will help my weight.

  1. What are you listening to right now?

ESPN Radio

  1. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

My assistant

  1. Mountain hideaway or beach house?

Mountain hideaway every time

  1. Favorite sport to watch?

NFL on tv, baseball in person

  1. Eye color?

Brown

  1. Do you wear contacts?

Sometimes

  1. Favorite food?

Cheeseburger

  1. Last movie you watched?

Pixels

  1. What color shirt are you wearing?

Blue

  1. Summer or winter?

Tough one. My favorite activities happen in summer, but winter is still my favorite

  1. Favorite dessert?

Ice cream with cool whip

  1. Strength training or cardio?

Bacon

  1. What book are you reading now?

Apollyon

  1. Any tattoos?

Seven

  1. Rolling Stones or Beatles?

Aerosmith…then the Beatles

  1. Do you have a special talent?

Sarcasm…and the ability for people to not know for sure if I am joking or not

  1. Where were you born?

Loveland, Colorado

  1. Where do you live now?

Helena, Montana

  1. What color is your house?

Yellow

  1. Pets?

A black lab/dalmatian mix about to be 16 and a Russian Blue cat who is 14

  1. Do you take shampoo from the hotel?

No, I bring my own to the hotel

  1. Biggest pet peeve?

I have a billion, but the first one that popped in my head was when someone starts a sentence with, “You know”

  1. Do you count your steps when you walk?

Ok, that’s weird, but sometimes I try to guess how many steps it will take me to get someplace.

  1. Have you ever peed in the woods?

Of course.

  1. What about pooped in the woods?

Yep.

  1. Do you ever dance when there is no music playing?

Only to make my son laugh…or look at me like I am crazy.

  1. Do you still watch cartoons?

Just with my son

  1. What do you drink with dinner?

Usually a diet coke or diet pepsi

  1. Favorite food?

Still a cheeseburger

  1. Were you ever a boy scout?

Yes

  1. Favorite type of sandwich?

If I consider a cheeseburger a sandwich, then yes. Otherwise a steak sandwich

  1. Legos or Lincoln Logs?

Lincoln logs. I love how they smell, and I don’t love when I step on the lego.

  1. Have you used a gun?

Yes

  1. Favorite fruit pie?

Peach

  1. What do you wear to bed?

Underwear

  1. Peanuts or sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds

  1. Can you curl your tongue?

Yes

  1. Who would you like to see in concert?

Aerosmith

  1. Have you ever won a contest?

Yes, I once won an all-expense paid trip to Jamaica.

  1. Black or green olives?

Black

  1. How long have you been married?

I better get this one right. It will be 13 years this month.

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?

Jesus. How cool would it be to see the man in person and find out how true the stories are.

  1. What does your last text message say?

“I don’t know what you are trying to say.” Seriously

  1. Who is your celebrity crush?

Probably Reece Witherspoon

  1. Do you have a collection of anything?

Hall of Fame autographed baseballs

  1. What’s your biggest “what if?”

Either enlisting in the Army, or having not re-enlisted.

  1. Do you have a nickname?

Bernie

  1. What is your astrological sign?

Gemini

  1. What’s a song that always makes you happy?

“Smile” by Uncle Kracker. I made a video of my son’s pictures to that song a few years ago.

  1. What super power do you want?

Super tough question. I am afraid of what I would do if I were invisible. Flying would be awesome, but so would being able to close my eyes and go anywhere I wanted.

  1. You can re-live any point of time in your life, but only for 30 minutes. What would you choose?

I would go back to when my grandmother was alive. I would bring a video camera with me and try to get as much of those 30 minutes of her telling family history as I could.

  1. Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes

  1. Does anyone hate you?

I hope not. No one that I know.

  1. Do you think someone is thinking about you right now?

Right now? No. Maybe while reading this.

  1. Most important thing you’ve ever done?

Became a father.

  1. Boxers or briefs?

Boxer briefs

70. Flying or driving?

Driving. I could drive forever.

The Art of Successful Fishing

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The Art of Successful Fishing

  1. Spend hours online looking at how the pro’s set up their line
  2. Do something totally different because I can’t figure out the knots
  3. Place bait on hook and cast line
  4. Recast line because it only went three feet
  5. Hope that bait stayed on hook
  6. Sit down and expect fish to already be biting
  7. After a few minutes wonder if bait is still on hook
  8. A few minutes later, realize I have to pee, but can’t leave because once I do the fish will bite
  9. Sprint someplace to pee
  10. Walk back out of breath
  11. Wonder if the bait is still on the hook
  12. Resist the urge to bring in the line to check the bait
  13. Try to find cell service to find out how to tie the proper knot
  14. Pray
  15. Get mad at the person who drove their boat on the other side of the lake causing a small wake because it scares all the fish
  16. Pray
  17. Check my line to make sure it isn’t snagged
  18. Look at the directions on the bait
  19. Look at my watch to see it’s already been 20 minutes
  20. Act happy for the guy that just showed up and caught a fish
  21. Bait must have fallen off
  22. Reel in the line
  23. Find the bait is still on the hook
  24. Hook the camping chair
  25. Hook my pants
  26. Hook my shirt
  27. Cast the line out
  28. Watch the bait fly 10 yards further than the hook
  29. Reel in the line to put on new bait
  30. Get the hook snagged in the weeds
  31. Break line
  32. Set up new line using the new knot
  33. Forget the new knot after trying three times
  34. Recast to the exact same spot no bites were happening
  35. Tell someone who just asked that you haven’t caught anything, but you’ve gotten a ton of bites
  36. Pray
  37. Decide the fish aren’t biting, time to go home
  38. See fish jump right where your bait is
  39. Wait five minutes with no bite
  40. Bring in line because bait obviously fell off
  41. Notice bait is still on
  42. Recast to same spot
  43. Miss bite while sitting back down
  44. Rebait and recast
  45. Catch fish

After four hours of fishing, consider it a good day.