Friday, March 29, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

Once you realize, it is already gone. Slap your pockets all you want. Retrace your steps. Try to convince yourself that your senses are deceiving you. It can't be. It couldn't be. But it is. Acceptance is freedom. Suicide is a choice. That choice is always available. 

Sometimes memories bubble up to torment you. They confuse the process. You question these memories now because they have proved that you are fallible. 

There is something to be said for minimalism. For not tying your happiness to objects or things or money. Money is potential things. All this can be a burden, but it feels like security. You have to determine for yourself what safety means for you. 

Maybe there is freedom in loss. Lose your things, lose yourself. See what you find. Isn't that what the hippies were yapping about before they became plastic-loving financial advisors? Before they bought their Beemers. 

I like water because it is a lost and found. Water is the life giver. Water is a playground. Water takes so much, but it always gives it back. Speaking of which, I didn't know that dropping out also meant filling your kids with micro-plastics. Choking out sea turtles.

Live and learn.


  1. Anxiety

    It’s creeping down the back of your head, right on down to the spine. It’s electric. There’s a charge to it. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s useful.

    We all experience it for different reasons. Some feel it when they are around others. Some, when they are alone. Some people use it to spur themselves on to great heights, and some drown in it, flailing their arms, trying to stay on the surface

    There are ways to kill anxiety, but you better be careful. Your brain likes to look for easy solutions, and those solutions are usually wrong. Sometimes dangerous. Sometimes deadly.

    They tell you to breathe and you think, I am breathing. But you need to do it consciously. Deeply. So you can feel it. So it can soothe you from the inside out.

    When you think about it, it’s a burden we learn to live with. We accommodate it because there is no other choice. We tease it with movies and books that keep us on the edge of our seats.

    Anxiety can be a toy.

    It’s hard to hold onto the memory, though. Once the feeling has passed, it can be almost impossible to bring it back. That’s part of the design - that keeps you from going absolutely crazy.

    I think I’ll buy my anxiety a therapy dog. One that wears little sweaters over its brown fur. One that will sit beside me and breathe with me. Or, maybe I will make that dog so anxious by proximity that I have to buy it one of those anxiety vests.

    Maybe I’ll get one for myself, too.


    1. These two pieces hit home. Love the rhythm in the first one, the metaphor of the lost and found of water. In the second one, I felt the anxiety palpably and I was deep breathing along with your words. Anxiety vests for everyone!

  2. Roses

    They are beautiful and painful. You want to look at them, but be careful about touching. There is a price for carelessness. But look all you want. Smell them. They’re fascinating. It’s amazing that something so delicate has survived.

    We use them to romance people. We give them to people when they are sad from some kind of tragedy. Or triumphant from a victory.

    I like roses, but I think I identify more with the thorns. They are protectors, and they can cause pain, but they don’t mean to.

    They just want you to leave them alone.

    I once saw a waterfall of roses when I was fishing. They rushed down the stream, and I wondered where they came from. I imagined a lonely woman sitting on the bank of the stream, casting red roses and watching them float away. I pictured romantic notions, but it could have been almost anything. Maybe they were from a funeral. Maybe, there was no explanation at all.

    I wondered what the fish thought, but I guess fish see a lot of weird things. I wouldn’t want to be inside their minds, if I’m honest. It seems absolutely terrifying. And trout don’t have thorns to protect themselves.

    If you aren’t careful, you’ll find the thorns in everything you think is beautiful. Beauty can turn on you very easily. Beauty can be traitorous. Beauty can make you bleed.

    The world is full of roses, full of thorns. That’s what makes it interesting. Just keep your wits about you, and you’ll be fine. Just like the trout wondering what shadows the water has invited.

    1. Nice. That last line hits hard. The woman I imagined was sitting on the bank of the stream, flinging each rose from a cheating partner's bouquet. And maybe cutting herself on a few thorns. As one does.

  3. Impostor

    If I’m not careful, they’ll figure it out. They’ll be on to me. It’s so fragile, this place I’m in. I pretend for all I’m worth, but I know that it is only a matter of time. They will find me out. The jig will be up. I will suffer for trying to deceive.

    Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe it’s all of us. Maybe we are all just pretending and hoping that no one looks too closely. Too carefully.

    Some of the most capable people I know feel like they are always on the verge of disaster. Exposure. Public scrutiny and contempt. They live their lives of quiet desperation for no reason. There is no conspiracy. No one is waiting to out them. Everyone has their own facade to rationalize and tend.

    This is called being human.

    When you’re young, you’re immune. My daughters used to come up to me with drawings that looked like they were made by a schizophrenic with a palsy in his hands. But, to them, these were works of art. Masterpieces. Noone is making a three year old feel like an impostor, and maybe that’s part of it.

    In all sincerity, confidence is a rarity. We all aspire to it, but it is slippery and it is easy to lose.

    I had a friend who moved to the desert to be by himself. No one to impress. Just him and a couple dogs. He died recently, but he might have been the most emotionally healthy person I ever knew.

    Still, he was lonely.

  4. Wow! You really crossed the emotional spectrum with those, JD. And the final one bitch slapped me. I miss him too.

    1. That hit hard. I miss Leland, and keep wondering about his final days.

  5. 3/14/2024 was the 10th anniversary of the day a 22 year old speeding motorcyclist T-boned my wife's SUV. The newly purchased crotch rocket was piloted by a helmetless, shirtless young man on a gorgeous Spring day.

    I'm sure death was the furthest thing from his mind when he throttled the bike up to 90 +/- mph making him feel more alive than he'd ever felt before. I KNOW that feeling. Felt it numerous times myself as I did stupid things in my '71 Camaro on the wide open freeways of my youth.

    But he wasn't on an empty highway. He was on a 35 mph city street next to a busy University campus. My wife had the misfortune of turning left exiting campus into his path. She never saw him. Didn't even realize what had occurred in the seconds following impact. When she looked out her window and saw a tennis shoe lying in the road she thought one of the students on an adjacent grassy area had thrown it at her vehicle. She did not see the now downed bike that had come to a stop over 10 feet away. She did not look down to see the young man wedged in the driver's side front wheel well. Couldn't understand why onlookers that rushed to the scene tried to spare her the sight by preventing her from exiting the SUV.

    It took hours to clear the scene because everything must be photographed and measured. Witnesses interviewed. All in order to assign blame. Hours after, I drove by seeing the wreckage down the block not knowing my wife was involved.

    Witnesses and investigators agree that my wife wasn't at fault. When she began her left turn the cyclist was far enough away that she could have safely completed it had the bike been travelling at something closer to the posted speed. The sound of the bike's whining engine caused countless people to look up and see the entire incident. Perhaps if my wife's windows had been open she might have been warned by the sound. Perhaps if the rider had been wearing a helmet he might have survived. We'll never know.

    Countless lives were devastated that day. The young man's large family & friends. His aunt, a nurse working the ER at the hospital he was taken to. My wife was practically catatonic in the days that followed as I dealt with insurance companies and news reporters. Big news in our small college town. I will never forget the kindness of his aunt, the ER nurse who came a few days later to tell my wife it wasn't her fault. That her nephew was a reckless , inexperienced rider and brought this on himself by doing something incredibly stupid.

    My wife was never the same after the accident and once she'd done all the talking about it she was forced to do, locked it away in a box in her mind and has never spoken of it again. Until I die, I shudder and am overcome with a feeling of dread when I hear the motorcycles being ridden as the weather turns nice after the long, cold winter.

    1. How heartbreaking. What an unimaginable (yet imaginable) burden to carry with you throughout your life.

  6. Her eyes follow the movement of my hands when I clean the shelf with the baby blue rag advertised to capture dust like a magnet. But all I seem to be doing is spreading the dust around and making myself sneeze. “Serves you right,” I can hear her saying. “When, and might I inquire where, my dear, will you be placing me?”

    Shame reddens my face, a now-familiar feeling, as what remains of my mother’s corporeal form sits in a box—not even a nice box but the original packaging—on the dustiest of my dusty shelves ever since I took my allotted portion of her home. To the home that she helped me clean, when we first moved in, when she arrived on my doorstep with white vinegar, baking soda, cloth diapers, and a let’s-do-this smile. The home where she made me food when I was too depressed to eat and in too much pain to stand on my feet for even as long as it would take to craft a sandwich. The home where she took refuge and comfort when, as a new widow, she could not bear to sleep in her own bed. The home where she ever so politely defended me when my mother-in-law clucked about the state of my refrigerator and my housekeeping skills in general: “No doubt she has more interesting things to do with her life,” I imagine she might have said.

    “Speaking of which,” she no doubt would say in this moment, the completion of the thought that she is essentially dust in a box that needs dusting in a house that needs dusting too obvious to require conveying.

    “I’m sorry, Mom,” I say to the box, knowing that somewhere in my house are those miraculous magnetic cloths, and I should go find them. Instead I recall conversations with my siblings about where they want to scatter the ever-so-precious dust that my mother had become. The south of France. A public estate on the banks of the Hudson, where she loved to walk through the gardens and down a trail that led to the river. I have been batting a few possibilities around, not settling on a favorite. Then I sit for a while, looking at the box, turning the sad nonmagnetic cloth around in my hands, asking her where she’d like to be spread.

    She doesn’t answer.

    Then I think of the Berkshires, where she loved to go in the summer for the antique shopping and the classical concerts at Tanglewood.

    I’ve never been to Tanglewood, despite the many times she invited me along. It felt like too much stress on my body: a long car ride, sitting in uncomfortable lawn chairs in the hot sun, needing to go to the chiropractor the next day. Now I so badly wanted to bring her there, like a penance, like an offering, like a pilgrimage. I think about what I will need to make my trip more comfortable. The list gets so long I break out in hives, a small itchy line of them across the tender skin on the underside of my forearm.

    Then I hear her voice, normally so quiet, now in her louder tone that always drew attention because of the contrast: “It’s not about me.”


    “Whatever you decide to do about the ashes. They’re just ashes, honey. Not me. But you need to do whatever makes you comfortable. Whatever gives you peace. If it gives you peace to keep the box on the shelf, have at it. If you want to go to Tanglewood because you truly want to go there, more power to you. Don’t feel like you have to choose something I might want. There were far too many ‘shoulds’ in my life, and I don’t want to put that on you.”

    I think about that for a while, knowing in my heart that’s exactly what she would have said. I’m sure that I will come up with something that gives me peace, but for now, I go looking for the good dust cloths.


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