So here we sit my old friend, and I don’t mean “old” in the pejorative sense but rather in the pure number of years we’ve endured. I’m sure there are geriatric wrinkle removing and liver spot removing and hair growing, libido building info commercials that will try to convince you that sixty is the new forty——-but anyone of common sense and a bad back will differ on these comical claims.
I suppose “endure” is too harsh of a word to describe our dance with time. We haven’t “endured”, no, we’ve “thrived” over the past six decades. As in so many things in life, it’s not so much what is said, but rather, how it’s said. But I can’t help but look back at the passage of time and wonder “Did I do and achieve the things I set out to do? Was I a success? Did I compromise my character in exchange for transient rewards? Did I try hard enough? Maybe all that stuff really doesn’t matter. For me, it boils down too, “Was I a good friend, father, lover”? Did I “get it”?
I’m not perfect, but I have tried my best to mitigate any regrets by thanking god or a higher power for looking out for me. Because, in spite of me, and all my frailties, I’ve done my best to learn and evolve. Such is the mortgage we pay for being given a body to house our ethereal souls. Maybe I’m not less of a wretch, but at least better at knowing when I am behaving as such? Thankfully, my “asshole alarm” goes off sooner and louder warning me to shut up and be kinder.
Now that I’m older, I find myself considering the idea of “time”. Maybe time isn’t a drain, but rather a vessel that we fill with love and good memories. I suppose you can fill it with whatever you choose.
Endure, we’re all seeking to endure——-like a stationary pine tree trying to out run a forest-fire. It’s not fair that out of control forest fires are called wildfires and are measured by the acres of forest they feed on; but tree’s are measured by the rings that spiral our from their center. Tree’s don’t have a heart that beats, but they have sap for tears, slow motion tears dripping down their bark like skin.
I never really considered a tree being a tree, nothing more—- nothing less——-no different I suppose than you and I——nothing more, nothing less. I sat and stared at a tree today. It was windy out, and I watched as it swayed and danced in the breeze. I listened to the wind through its branches, and it sang a sweet song. I never consider the songs of a tree—-it made me smile. Native Americans believed that all things——-tree’s, boulders, bears, all have souls——-and maybe they’re right. One religion holds no moral high ground over any other religion. Praying, meditation, fasting, wind through a pine tree——-they’re all, more or less, the same.
I talk to tree’s, I listen to the secret language of rushing rivers, I thank the sun for her warmth, I let the stars guide me. Most call this crazy talk, but this comes from the ones handcuffed to their cell phones, imprisoned by made up virtual worlds——we’re all, more or less, crazy.
If Jesus could walk on water, then why is it strange to believe that trees can sing?
“Looking at life from a different perspective makes you realize that it’s not the deer that is crossing the road, rather it’s the road that is crossing the forest.” – Muhammad Ali
There are words I wish I’d said. But I always told myself there’d be time for words, 26 letters assembled into some future confession of love. But tomorrow is never guaranteed——-the future is a theory, an algebra problem where x doesn’t always equal y——a law of physics that can’t explain the speed of loneliness. But it takes courage to say what’s often left out because it’s so much easier to comment on the weather. Why is “I love you” a secret tattoo hidden beneath your long sleeved heart. I tell myself, “Oh it’s obvious, they already know how I feel.” But that’s bullshit I feed myself. Do you ever check to see if your emotional Fitbit has reached your quota of kind words required in a day? Why is it that anger and petty complaints come so much easier than kindness and compassion? These emotions are stuck on mute in a movie with no subtitles. It’s easy to mistake a deep kiss for a vampires siphon, like that feeling you get from someone who’s always taking, but never giving back. But then, without warning, there are those who’s humanity walks me back from the edge. Things I wished I’d said, “Jackie Gleason was right, baby you’re the greatest.” “I’m so fortunate to have you in my life”. “You make me laugh, cause you’re the only other person I know who’s favorite movie is ‘Herold and Maude’”. “Thanks for ‘getting me’.” “You make ‘goodbye’ the saddest of all words.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you.”
Don’t let anyone tell you that poetry is ‘nice’, because it’s not, it’s a clumsy coping mechanism to escape the chains of depression. It storms the tower and breaches the walls of isolation. It doesn’t make everything okay, but it makes the darkest hours of the soul tolerable. Tolerable?—–Thinking too hard, feeling too deeply, is a road leading to a cliff just beyond the horizon. I put my thumb over your wrist until I feel your pulse match mine, we gradually fall into a comfortable rhythm. The heart is a muscle because it takes so much strength to reach out to another. Things I wish I’d said, “I choose you.” “If I had to be quarantined for the rest of my life, I’d want to spend it with you.” “You make me wish I were a piano, cause your touch makes me feel like music.” “You make me believe everything is gonna be okay, one moment at a time”. “You’ve always been there for me and I’ll always be there for you.” “You stood up for me when the ones who I thought would give a shit just couldn’t be bothered.” “My heart will always be your 7-11, a bit shabby but open day or night for you.”
Love isn’t like a pair of flip flops that claims one size fits all. I’ve tried on the wrong size only to be left with painful blisters. Sometimes love is something you struggle to squeeze into because it no longer fits comfortably. Sometimes it’s all false bravado and make believe——it takes trust to be allowed inside another’s world——-Be careful who you share you world with, it may leave you with painful blisters and a bad case of athletes foot—-one size doesn’t fit all. I know this because, I have small feet and a big heart. In all this chaos that makes up a life, finding a true friend is a rare and beautiful thing. Things I wish I’d said,“ ”You and I are a good fit”. “I desire you”. “In this world of 7 billion people, I’d always choose you to be my partner”. ”After all the meanness this world can dish out, you somehow make it worthwhile.”. “When my day has been shitty, you have a way of making me feel better”. You taste like spicy chili on a snowy January night, you’re my comfort food.” “You smell like a July afternoon at the beach, a blend of Sea and Ski suntan lotion and a salty sea breeze—-you’re the sun on my face”. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.” “You make me laugh in a world constructed of bullshit and lost promises”.
There are those who will tell you that you have all the time in the world, but that’s a lie. Time is a Salvador Dali clock slowly sliding off the shelf of your life. But we pretend we are immortals, that we can transcend life and death with a foreverness, but forever is like trying to comprehend a blackhole where at its center time stands still. If I could, I’d pull you in beyond the event horizon and give you a forever kiss. And who say’s “Theoretical Physics” can’t be romantic? When I think of these impossible thoughts for too long, I scare myself. My emotions are like the lone hitchhiker on a dark stretch of a deserted highway. Should I stop and pick this stranger up or just keep moving on? You can never be sure who or what you’re letting in. It might be a stranded depression, a deserted memory, or an abandoned truth. Or, perhaps emotions are more like Jenga? You just never know what will happen by pulling out a single block from the tower of teetering blocks. And, if it all comes down, do I have the time to put it all back together? It takes a lot longer to build something than it is to tear it down. Time is a rogue wave, you never see it coming until its crashed on you and swept you out to sea. Things I wish I’d said, “If you were drowning, I’d dive in and save you.” “I feel better just knowing you are out there”. “Thanks for listening.” “Thanks for making me feel like I belong.” “Lets you and I take a walk in the woods.” “When I was ready to take the ten count——When everyone was screaming for me to just stay down, you gave me the strength to get back up, you are my second wind.”
I can’t go back in time so I keep moving. My movement isn’t always forward, sometimes it’s backwards, sometimes in a circle. Movement offers me a false sense of progress. This life seldom dispenses second chances, it offers up lessons. I keep moving, I keep reaching out.
It’s a lonely quest, scavenging through life in search of purpose, love and someone to relate to. To be understood is to be loved. To expect to be understood is “crazy”. If you want to be loved in spite of all your weird idiosyncrasies and foibles, adopt a rescue dog. If you want to be exploited and abused, allow a cat to adopt you…Relationships are built on such subtle differences. Friends will change without telling you, others may ghost you for unknown reasons and some pass away never to be seen again———at least not in this life.
I worry, “Did I let everyone I love know how much I appreciate them in my life (Note to self, tell everyone I appreciate them in my life, excluding those occasional assholes). I fret over the thought that perhaps I never let my parents know how much I respected and loved them. We become so accustom to our parents unconditional love, that it’s easy to take this gift for granted. My parents stuck by me, in-spite all my stupid life decisions. Time goes by quickly, words are free, don’t hold back——let those you care for, know how much you love them.
These days I lack a meaningful connections with others,…….Maybe I could better define this malady as a disassociation syndrome. In other words, so many things no longer fit together—My “Why’s” far out weigh my “How’s”……..The veneer of this thing called reality is wearing thin. Everything seems so unreal and strange to me. I stumble about thinking, “Is this the way things are supposed to be?” “Is this the way I supposed to be?” We all have our own brand of craziness, we just become comfortable by wrapping it in our own private shiny distractions. If you don’t know how the trick is done, then it’s magic——misdirection, sleight of hand, illusion, Love?? Life??
When sitting at a extra long red light, do you ever wonder if perhaps you’re wasting your life
When standing in the chips isle, struggling to choose between Doritos and Barbecue Chips, have you ever found youself questioning if maybe you’re wasting your life
When lying in bed with the snooze alarm going off for the third time do you ever conceive of the notion that you’re probably wasting your life
Have you ever sat in a crowded bar watching everyone laugh, flirt and drink and come to the conclusion that you’re possibley wasting your life
When sitting in front of your big screen watching the same commercial for the third time, have you ever pondered why you’re wasting your life
Sitting silently in a cluttered break room, have you ever decided that you’re definitely not doing what you’d like with your life
Have you ever sat on a couch in the middle of some big party filled with laughter and loud music and despise the idea of wasting your life
Have you ever traded three hours of inebriation for a tomorrow that guarantee’s a headache, sour stomach, a worn outness and once again it leaves you questioning why you’re wasting your life
Has your life ever felt like a grainy B movie with no plot, or a corny country song about a broken hearted cowboy and you find yourself humming along to the soundtrack of his wasted life
Standing in a long line at DMV waiting to renew your vehicle registration, have you ever viewed yourself from above and watched as you wasted away
Sitting on a squeaky pew in an empty church, crumpled up and praying for faith only to find that my guarding angel is refusing to circle, Jesus is busy choosing the next big lottery winner and the fucking silence of it all grows ever more deafening
Have you ever found yourself watching the news, different day, different names, but the same old bullshit and ask yourself why does everyone seems to be wasting their life away
While waiting in a huge line at Starbucks to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a fancy coffee, I suddenly become shocked by the insanity of it all
Does anyone else suffer a similar craziness to it all?????
I pump gas, pay bills, feed the cat, do laundry, shop, cook and clean, only to find myself tearing another month off my calendar
Have you ever walked into another room and forgotten what you came there for, and this is what wasting my life feels like
Amongst all the nothingness of me, I see us flying kites on a windy day and the green field smells of freshly cut grass, the blue sky stretches out to the Sierra Nevada foothills—–and your dress blows up in the wind and it makes us laugh. We let our kites go and I kiss you and it feels like I’m cutting all my strings. And for that small moment, all the nothingness of you and me no longer matters to anyone or anything……
I climb into my faithful old Tacoma pickup and head west. You can tell a lot about a man by the truck he drives. The cab smells of rag weed, muddy boots and fresh orange peels. I drive past the fields, the farms and the redundant strip malls. I eye pretty small town girls with odd names like Galenda or Karla. Their perfume scented skin I won’t stick around to touch. These places and girls belonged to other boys with their Friday night hot spots and their Sunday morning houses of worship,——— a community of suburban anchored hearts. I’ve tried to fit into such places, but never could.
I drive til I come to the ocean. I check into a cheap motel that wears the odors of mold and a thousand forgotten summer vacations. I wonder how many have made love on this tolerant mattress, or how many have cried themselves to sleep within the walls of this soul suffocating room. The walls are knotty pine with a bathroom sink that drip, drip, drips. Outside my gray skied window the pavement smells of early morning rain, the sun rises with a memory of how small her hands looked when she touched me. Once again I find myself at the edge of this sad stained continent. There’s a damp coldness blowing off the water that chills me to the bone. January is my favorite month to revisit this rundown seaside town. The boardwalk is empty and quiet except for the rusty Farris Wheel squeaking and moaning under the strain of a gusting wind. I pull my knit cap tightly over my numb ears.
All my once hip friends are now vengeful Republicans, need I say more? Out of nowhere I find myself singing “Into the Mystic”——I take a shot of Jameson with a beer back. “And when that fog horn blows you know I’ll be coming home——-I wanna hear it, I don’t have to fear it”.
The bed-stand clock glows with its red digital numbers, the sound from the dripping faucet warns me of time passing by. How do I carry on? Where do I go from here? Am I too old to start over again? Have I squandered too many chances. I’ve moved to new cites, I’ve found new jobs and I’ve broken promises to the few who might of cared for me. I’ve never been one to reinvent myself or attempt to tame my faults or bad habits——I’m all that’s left of my best mistakes.
I sit on a carved up and pigeon stained bench at the end of the pier. A wrinkled asian man is standing as still as a statue as he waits for a fish to bite his line——I suppose we’re all waiting at the other end of one kind of fishing line or another. A young kid with chin stubble and unkempt hair takes a seat next to me. He asks if I have a light. He helps me cup a flickering flame from my Bic lighter. He squints as he stares intensely out at the foggy horizon. I know that look, I know this kid. He speaks “You got a wife?” “Yeah, I’ve had a couple of them.” He continues his interrogation “You got a job?” “Yeah, I’ve had a few those too.” “Did you get everything you wanted?” “Like most, I suppose I got what I deserved and a few things I didn’t expect. Sometimes it isn’t what you get, but more importantly, it’s being happy with what you’ve been given——-gratitude is the scale on which to weigh a balanced life.”
An older me talking to a younger me, what a gift. “Take good care of yourself dude.” I grab his cigarette, then take a hit off it before stomping it out. “Look after your health kid, you’ll wish you did when you get older——-and yes, we all do get older, that is, if you’re lucky.” He pushes his shaggy hair back “Do you ever think about your parents?” “Everyday I do. You won’t understand the sacrifices your parents made for you until you become one yourself. You’ll look at your children and be amazed at how parts of you became their flesh and blood. The best of times will be the time spent with your kids. Remember to give your weary parents the love and respect they deserve. The kids grow up too fast and our parents grow old and frail too soon. Once they’ve passed on, they’re gone for good. Time moves in one direction, forward. Regret is the child of missed opportunities.”
“Many acquaintances will come and go, but few will be elevated to the position of trusted friend. Choose your friends carefully, because they’re the only ones who’ll enjoy your ridiculous humor, tolerate your irritating idiosyncrasies and stand up for you when this world leaves you feeling insignificant, irrelevant and unworthy of love. They’ll embark on crazy adventures with you and provide you with the sweetest of memories. Your friends and family are your tribe and their unconditional love is the only thing that will sustain you through the good times as well as the bad.”
“I know that at your age you won’t believe me, but this life is tragically short. Don’t squander the time you’ve been given being bored or angry. Monies a fleeting vapor, a job that doesn’t suite you is a snare, pleasure without sacrifice is quickly forgotten. Look for true love and nothing less. You’ll know it’s true love because she’ll bring out the best in you. She’ll make you feel things you never felt and it will cause you to do things like hold her hand when she’s frightened. She’ll bear your children and cook you your favorite meals. For her, you’ll fix the things that break, mow the lawn on hot July afternoons and snowplow the driveway on cold January mornings. All these seemingly insignificant small things will comprise a full life. Keep your priorities straight and you’ll enjoy each day as it unfolds.”
The kid offers up a grin. “When I grow up, I wanna be like you.” “Take your time kid, being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to being.” I climb in my truck and head back home as I give a glance in my rear view mirror.