Part one of Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control is one of my favorite posts. You can find it over here.
It is a few minutes after six and I have just finished exchanging a series of texts with my cousin. Her aunt, my cousin died today. It wasn’t unexpected but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for those she left behind.
The funeral will be in Chicago but I don’t think that I am going to be able to make it out this time. There is an off chance that might change but the likelihood is relatively small and I have already confirmed with the family that it will be ok.
It has been a brutal day here for a million different reasons ranging from taking care of a sick child and sick dogs to craziness surrounding work. In approximately one hour I will leave to go play ball and will do my best to expunge the demons of the day upon the court.
Part of the challenge surrounding the day is the feeling that I might have taken three steps forwards and two steps backwards. I am running through the mud and carrying two sandbags on my shoulders. When I was 25 I might have been happy to prove how strong I was by doing this but I haven’t any need for that any more.
There are constant interruptions and I am short tempered with everyone. This is not how I want to be nor who I want to be.
Chicago is never far from my mind which is kind of funny since I have never lived there nor have I wanted to. It has always been a place that was home to a million relatives. It is the city my mother was born in as were most of my grandfathers.Â Although my father wasn’t born there he did live there for a while so it has great meaning and memories to him.
That is not to say that I look upon the city with disdain. Sure, I make fun of the pizza and lament the inability to get a good steak or hot dog but I could see living there. It would take some getting used to. It is a city that only has 90 days of good weather, none of them consecutive.
Once upon a time the Shmata Queen used to tell me that cleveland was like Chicago and I used to laugh. I’ll spare you the reason and details.
Jim Croce is singing in my ear now that New York’s Not My Home and I am beginning to feel that edge lose some of its bite.Â I am taking deep, measured breaths and look at old posts to see if they’re worth linking to.
There are things about how to cure writer’s block and stories about unfulfilled promises as well as lessons in how to make your coworkers hate you.
But none of this addresses the underlying concerns of it all.
Fear is what is bothering me now. Fear, uncertainty, insecurity and frustration are the current four horsemen of my apocalypse. I won’t name or provide specifics here because it is not necessary. There are boundaries in blogging and you don’t need to know everything. Nor should you forget that I show you large snapshots but not everything.
All of that is a side issue to that four letter word above. I told the horsemen that I will ride out upon the field and do battle. I will go to war because the anticipation of what could happen is making me crazier than I already am.
Sarah McLachlan is singing Possession now and my thoughts have taken wing and left this world. It is 1985 and I am in a bar in Jerusalem watching Live Aid. Some friends and I are talking about the future and making plans for what happens when we return to Los Angeles.
I tell them that I can’t wait until I turn 17. I don’t know why but I think it is going to be great. But what I am most excited about it is coming back to Israel for at least my freshman year of college, maybe more.
One of the girls asks me if I am ever afraid of anything. My nickname is Rambo and I ham it up because I am 16 and I can. I tell her that I am afraid of nothing and take another deep swig of beer.
It is a baldfaced lie but at 16 I can’t admit it, especially in front of girls.
That is not the case now. Now I can tell you that some things frighten me. Now I can tell you that I am not fearless but I have learned through time and experience how to walk the razor’s edge.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments where I am less certain and not as sure footed as that 16-year-old boy was. In the back of my mind I can hear my grandfathers speaking to me. They tell me don’t worry about what you can’t control and I nod my head.
It is excellent advice and I work hard to follow it. They whisper other messages and I silently nod my head. Don’t know if these are echoes they have left behind or a visit from their spirits but it doesn’t matter because the words and memories are comforting.
All I need to do is heed their words and remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”
Looks like I need to work on my five minutes.
Hajra March 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm
I am so sorry for the loss. But we really do us much harm about worrying about things which we really can’t control. So why worry and make it worse for us. But yes, not doing is something we really can’t control! Ironic.
Loss makes us think so much.
Jack March 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm
Some people find it easier than others to sit back and relax. I am not usually among them.
Jens P. Berget March 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm
I’m sorry for your loss. It seems that a lot of things are happening to you and your family right now, but hopefully something good and exciting will come out of it. I’m still looking for your announcement, I know you won’t tell (yet).
I have never been to Chicago, but I’m sure of two things. The weather is a lot better than Norway, and so is the pizza, but I live by the words, that there are no such thing as bad pizza 🙂
Bruce Sallan March 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm
When you feel THIS way, take a walk outside JB. We live where it’s largely gorgeous – especially today – get outside!
You know what I say about control?
I ONLY control what I eat for breakfast…and even that gets impacted when my boys leave me NO milk for my coffee or cereal!
Jack March 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm
I spent most of the day outside and it truly was glorious. It was amazing, invigorating and rejuvenating.
Teenage boys are quite efficient at disposing of food. I remember and expect that in the not so distant future the boy who lives with me will remind me of that insatiable appetite again.
Elaine Spitz March 1, 2012 at 5:23 am
Jack, I’m so sorry for your loss. Even when you pray for your loved one to go and be out of their misery (my grampa), the shock and sadness when they die is unimaginable.
Your bit about fear is right on, very revealing for you, but certainly most everyone can relate, if we’re being completely honest. Thanks for spelling it out. And please, don’t worry….
Jack March 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Life is filled with all sorts of interesting moments. That is part of why I blog, to comment upon some and memorialize others.
I don’t mind revealing that I am afraid of some things because experience has taught me that this is how I get beyond it.
We all have our ways and our path- I am just a knucklehead who doesn’t always watch out for the brush. 😉
Gina February 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm
I’m very sorry for your loss, Jack. It’s never easy.
Chicago nails steaks, pizza and dogs so don’t know where you’re coming from there. Apparently no one has taken you to the right places.
IMO, you couldn’t live there…too cold for you.
Jack March 1, 2012 at 12:33 am
My family has lived in Chicago steadily since 1880 something if not a bit earlier.
The smarter members knew enough to leave but we are stubborn folk so some stayed.
I have been to the hole in the walls and the tourist joints. So I know that Chicagoans think they know something about these things.
There have been job opportunities that have popped up from time to time that could lead to my making the move to the city so I can’t say it wouldn’t happen for that reason.
And with all of the family I have there it wouldn’t be a lonely city either.
The weather isn’t enough to prevent me from living there or being happy. I bloom where I choose to plant myself.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t know a better way to live involves real beaches and warm weather. 😉
Vincent February 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm
“Don’t worry about what you can’t control” is advice we should all carry in our wallets or somewhere easily accessible at times we feel like we’re running in place. Introspection often offers up a double edged sword of nostalgia and missteps. I never had the good fortune of knowing my grandparents. I often wonder how they would have impacted my life. I do know that the idea of moving forward makes sense. I’ve seen too many good friends getting caught up in the past as if they’re unwittingly setting traps to sabotage their future. It’s tempting to indulge in such activity because the grass is always greener in hindsight. in a way it’s much more interesting to reflect on bad things then good things. The villain drives the story much more than the hero. But that’s life. Thanks for the honesty in your posts Jack. Keep up the good fight.
Jack March 1, 2012 at 12:25 am
Thank you. I try hard to be brutally honest with myself. Part, point and purpose of the blog is to ask the hard questions and there is no point in doing so unless I am willing to answer them.
Can’t say that I always get it right but I make the effort. I am sentimental and I like looking backwards but I live in the present with eyes on the future.
Can’t do anything else very well now can we.
BigHeadDad February 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm
Sorry about your loss and you are right, it never is much of a comfort when they are no longer there.
That being said- Chicago has Great pizza. I eat it twice a week. AND LOVE IT.
Jack March 1, 2012 at 12:21 am
I appreciate the condolences and the Willy Wonka reference. It is not my fault that Chicagoans think that eating a manhole cover is the same as good pizza. 😉
Course the New Yorkers think they know a thing or two about this and they are wrong too.
See, I am equal opportunity basher. 😉