Archives for November 2014

Contradictions

Tower Bridge At Night 2. Black & White. Nikon D300s. DSC_4452.
A thousand years ago I wandered through the streets of London knowing it wouldn’t take any effort to leave everything behind and start a new life there.

Did the normal tourist stuff, saw the things I had to see and wandered back to our host’s home and stood inside a shower built for a man that was smaller than I was in every way.

When it came time to wash my back or my front I had to do a funny sort of twist and turn type dance step that might have looked good in a square dancing contest but in reality had to look as awkward as it felt.

Sat at a dining room table looking out at  real English garden and wondered where life was going to take me. Two years of marriage, no kids and a job I could take or leave made it easy for my natural wanderlust to run free.

Made it easy to think there might not be a better time to shake things up and live a different life. My plans had already changed significantly. I had decided not to move to Israel before and gotten married thinking we would go later.

Yet in the midst of thinking about a life in London I heard Jerusalem calling out to me. It was three years since I had last been there and I missed it.

But it was part of the current trip, the stop in London had broken what would have been a 15 hour flight into a shorter trip and provided an opportunity to experience part of England, something I had never done before.

London was great but when we left four days later I was crawling out of my skin, desperate to get back to Israel because the hole inside me recognized how close it was to being filled again.

Jerusalem

When the flight landed at Ben Gurion and we got off of the plane I felt like the piece of my heart that had been torn out was repaired and the joints that had been out of place slid back to where they were supposed to be.

I knew I was in one of my homes. Didn’t know if it would turn into a place I lived in for a week, a decade or a generation but I knew it would be ok because I would live a lifetime during the moments I had there.

It was how it was and how it always went.

Showed my wife around the city and the country. Took her places that meant something to me and did my best to explain what you can’t understand unless you have lived it.

One night in Jerusalem I walked around the city by myself. Wandered through the ancient and the new and listened to the voices inside and out and heard things that have stayed with me to this day.

If I told you some of those things were messages that make sense now but did not then you might think I am crazy or maybe you’d wonder if I was lucky. Maybe you wouldn’t think anything about it at all.

When it came time to leave I thought again about not getting on the plane. I thought about calling home and telling them I didn’t need to come home because I was and that some day I would visit again.

Thought about how many people I had unexpectedly run into around Israel. Friends from high school and college in Tel Aviv, in Haifa and Jerusalem.

Wasn’t truly surprised to see any of them because there is a magnet there that pulls us in, a spiritual or cultural tractor beam.

And yet when the plane took off I sat in my seat and remained silent as that piece of me was ripped out of my body again. Tried not to scream because I felt like I was hurting myself unnecessarily and stayed still.

Somewhere during the flight I made the same promise to myself to return that I always made when I left. Back in LA I hugged my parents, grandparents and siblings hello and tried to make myself accept that I had made the right decision, that I had done the right thing.

You Know That Ghost Is Me

Gordon Lightfoot is singing If You Could Read My Mind and I lost in lyrics that are hauntingly familiar. I hear a section and something inside my head clicks:

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,

I am not the Edmund Fitzgerald and you won’t find me at the bottom of Lake Erie but you’ll find parts and pieces of the man I once was and the guy I am becoming floating around here and there.

Somewhere on the streets of Texas the boy who walked through Jerusalem in the ’80s came to life again. The parts and pieces that had lain sleeping inside had woken up each time he had been back to Israel in the 90s.

Every time he had come back to America he had pushed them down and forced them to slumber because they wouldn’t let him live as he was but under that Texas sky they broke free of the chains and swore to never be fettered again.

“Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time” Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) Green Day

If I told you I am walking down a lonely road you might wonder if I was being melodramatic or serious. If you asked for an explanation I’d tell that what I heard in Jerusalem is playing out now and I am doing what I have to do.

I’d tell you for the moment I am walking by myself because no one else can do it for me. There are no substitutes or pinch hitters for what has to be done. You can’t go where I need to go or do what I need to do.

This one is all me and I can tell I have got this.

The tears that do not fall won’t stain my cheek this time either because they won’t help me get through it any faster. But I got this. I have moved heaven and earth before and I will do what is required again.

I am a Taurus.

But I won’t lie and say I am not a little scared nor will I say I am not excited. I am both.

Life is filled with contradictions.

It Is More Than Just Bad Timing

Brokenness
It was a bad Thanksgiving dinner but not because the turkey was dry or because any of the other food was sub par.

I was the reason it was bad or rather it was my bad attitude and bad mood.

This year I didn’t want to do anything or be a part of any sort of celebration because I didn’t feel like I had anything to celebrate. Doesn’t mean I am not grateful for my health and for those I love because I am but this year it wasn’t enough to keep my frustration from spilling over a bit.

Job interviews have come and gone, some have resulted in definitive no’s and others have not said one way or another but the long silence between conversations doesn’t lend itself to optimism.

Dancing on the razor’s edge has become a way of life for me and though I have become adept at finding ways to avoid serious injury it doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered from a thousand tiny paper cuts nor does it mean I have cried about them either.

I have accepted what I could and done my best to just roll with whatever has come my way but that doesn’t provide me with much patience and the internal stores are almost all depleted.

That is probably why when the independently wealthy who had the good fortune to marry into money and or inherit very successful businesses made me so angry.

I couldn’t listen to them complain about hard lives because when money is the cure for what ails you and you have ample supply it is hard for me to feel badly.

It Is More Than Just Bad Timing

This post was going to be called Write Under The Write Conditions and it was going to be about writing but I decided to save it.

Decided to save it because I want it to run when it has a chance to get a little more play and see a bit more sunshine than is likely to come at almost midnight on the Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend.

****

Got a bottle of Scotch and a new cellphone eyeballing me. Tempted to pour more than a snort, grab my headphones and phone and take a few quiet moments to do nothing.

But I promised to participate in the daily posting required of Naboplomo so I can’t stop for the drink or to grab that single piece of pumpkin pie that is taunting me from the refrigerator.

The Beatles are singing “Once there was a way to get back home” and I am thinking about how much I relate to that, but mostly in an optimistic way.

I wrote earlier this week or last about how I miss having a home. It is not because I am homeless because I am not now nor have I ever been such.

But I haven’t lived in a place that I though of as being mine in a long time. Every where I have been has been a stop on a way to something better. Maybe it is tied into the storm I wrote about here.

storm

Frankly the hardest part about this particular storm isn’t the length as much as it is the dust it has stirred up. Got me thinking long and hard about multiple choices and decisions in ways that aren’t particularly helpful nor useful.

Got me wondering how I could have been stupid so many times, but when I take a deep breath it is clear that I wasn’t…most of the time.

There are one or two things where I can concede they weren’t the smartest choices but when I am fair to myself it is clear that some of the criticism is unfair.

I did the best I could given the information I had and some of what happened truly had nothing to do with me. I wasn’t responsible for deregulation or for the crash in 2008.

Wasn’t responsible for banks losing their minds or bosses who thought it was better to cut their employees compensation because it enabled them to maintain their lifestyles.

shareasimage

I could have taken a different path than I did and have. Could have walked a more common road and put myself in a position to have better handled the hard moments of this storm but I didn’t.

Didn’t become an attorney like I had intended or take some other positions that would have paid more than some of what I have done.

Spent most of my life doing things my way, even when I was going along with the crowd I was still doing it my way because it is all I know how to do/be.

There are moments when I remind myself that I am who I am by choice and that I am accountable for all that I have or don’t have. Moments where I accuse my ‘do things my way’ nature as being an excuse for being a fuck up but I don’t really believe I am.

Even when I am most frustrated, most upset and most nervous I never believe that.

I am just a storm walker searching for the eye of the storm. I have found it before and I’ll find it again.

When I do things will improve and life will be different than it is now.

But if I win the lottery, inherit mega millions or make it all on my own I hope I am never as jaded or as obnoxious as the people I heard the other night. I am sure they meant well but it just chapped my hide and the reason for it was more than just bad timing.

It Is Not An Illusion

12 segundos de oscuridad
The tick-tocking of the clock is pushing me to write faster so that I might finish this post before the time comes to shave, shower and change into proper clothes for Thanksgiving.

I am torn about dressing up for a day when we are supposed to give thanks for what we have and who has it with us because it seems to me comfort should play a role.

That is not to say I can’t wear something other than shorts and a t-shirt and be comfortable but some days that is what I really want because it is how I prefer to be.

Suppose some people might look at this moment and ask me what the hell I am doing on the computer when I should be preparing for what is to come and I’d answer that when the mood to write comes I answer the call because you never know what your muse will provide you with.

I am operating under the presumption that I’ll produce something worth sharing. A post that has meaning, insight and worth.

“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”― Robert Frost”

It is not an illusion is an expression I have used a handful of times to describe certain moments or situations I have found myself in.

When I finally break through the wall that has prevented me from publishing I’ll use it again to describe the feeling I get when I find out that people actually read my words and follow what I have to say.

Or at least that is what I think/hope will happen.

You never really know which group you’ll fall into and for whom.

I have no doubt there will be some who read my words and put me into Frost’s second category but if I have my way you won’t ever find me in the first group.

That is because I operate off of  the you miss ever shot you don’t take theory. I think that line can be attributed to Wayne Gretzky but I am not positive and since I am short on time I’ll let it stand.

Swing From The Heels

In the days in which I was an active baseball player I tended to swing from the heels because I knew that if I got a hold of the ball I could hit a home run.

I felt like that every time at the plate and like most home run hitters I struck out more often than I connected.

But I hit a bunch of home runs, didn’t matter if it was a good pitch or a bad one if I got a piece I gave it a good ride.

That swing from the heels mentality has been with me my entire life. It is my default setting. If I am playing football and I am a linebacker I want to blitz because I feel like I can get that quarterback every time.

Yet age has softened that approach somewhat because I have learned to enjoy mixing things up a bit and doing the little things that lead to victory too.

Maybe it is because I have learned that sometimes success comes from grinding it out and not worrying about making a big play every time because you can win by other means too.

I suppose if I had the time I’d flesh this out and talk about how much I have come to enjoy doing the things that cause plays to develop. The chess game that goes with it all is enjoyable to me too, but time is short.

Write Under The Write Conditions

Consider this a placeholder, a note for a post I want to write about the myth of only writing under the write conditions. That write  condition for me is where I am at, within the few moments I have, with the tools I have at hand and the understanding that I can write now and might not be able to later.

It is why I take posts like the one you are reading now and this one and work at them on a regular basis because my goal is to teach myself to give my best whenever, wherever and however.

Because when you do that you are always prepared to take that swing and even if you go to the default swing-from-the-heels mode you are more likely to make contact because you are ready.

And maybe, just maybe you’ll find yourself saying it is not an illusion from a place that serves as your perfect writing spot/environment because you did what you had to do to make it possible.

The Night Before Thanksgiving

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If that wacky woman the inimitable Shmata Queen were watching me write this I’d tell her I have a plan for dealing with those ships in the picture.

And if she asked me to spell it out I’d tell her I needed a couple of billion to secure my own fleet of battleships and that once I had I would officially become the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I’d put on my mask, board Revenge and become the scourge of the oceans but sadly there is one major kink in my plan.

I don’t have a couple billion.

Hell I barely have two bits right now but I just came from a party where I saw people who have known me for a good thirty years or so. A place where the guys and I laughed about things that happened a thousand years ago and told enhanced versions of tales we all know because we lived them together.

And then we talked about the stuff that is going on now and some of us shared some heartbreaking stuff because for a moment we were those guys who you could rely upon to just listen and prop each other up.

For a moment we stopped the clock long enough to pull ourselves out of our bubbles and to share our lives with people who care. And when you have that, when you spend a few minutes with people who knew you when and believe that when extends into now you remember that it can and you figure why not.

 The Night Before Thanksgiving

Sometimes we need to spend moments with people who know us as we were as well as how we are. Not because we need to get lost in time and remember days of glory but because they push us to enjoying the present more.

They help connect who we were into who we are and somewhere in that we recapture some magic, self confidence and belief in taking possibility and creating opportunity.

That is what happened to me tonight.

The guys gave me a lift when I needed it most.

Unselfishly and unexpectedly they did so and I remembered that I can find a way to make it happen. If I want that $2 billion I can find the way. I can create the opportunity.

Some people might scoff and ask me to prove that I can come up with the $2 billion but that is not important to me. I don’t need to prove to them that I am clever, resourceful or lucky.

I only need to prove to myself that I can. I only need to prove to myself that I can be the guy I have always wanted to be.

That is what the lift was about. That is what the storm is about.

I am not who I was and I will never be again but I am good with that.

If I never grew or evolved that would be sad but that is not something I have to worry about.

I entered the night before Thanksgiving feeling bitter and angry and ended it feeling optimistic and joyful.

And that is the sort of gift everyone should be given.

A Ghost You Can’t See

Invisible Mode
My Facebook feed is filled with people screaming at each other but no one is listening to what the other guy is yelling about so it feels more a steel cage wrestling match than a conversation.

I know why they are yelling. I understand much if not most of the various sides but this time around I am not wading into the middle of the muck because I don’t have the bandwidth to fight with people who haven’t any interest in listening to opinions that differ from their own.

There is no upside to that. I haven’t any interest proving that I can yell louder and longer. There are no rewards for such a thing so for now I’ll sit back and wait.

Besides I am too busy fighting the dragons that live in my world to look away for very long. Fighting is the one thing I have always been good at. It is easy to be a scrapper, to be the guy that does more than give as good I get.

The young man I used to be kind of got off on that but the wiser, more mature fellow asks what it has done for me and shakes his head.

“Tears are words that need to be written.” ― Paulo Coelho

I am thinking about fear and pride again. Thinking about how they influence me and how they influence you.

Thinking about how when people let fear push them into action they don’t always make smart choices. Thinking about how I use the blog to try and name my fear so that I can pull it out of the shadows and confront it.

Yet my fear is no less frightening in the daylight than in the dark.

Pride pushes me to find a way to prove I have beaten it down and pushed it into a box from which it can’t escape but that doesn’t always work out the way I might hope for.

Sometimes I hear the demons rattling their chains and howling. Sometimes I hear them find a way free of their fetters but I don’t always race down the stairs to recapture them.

I don’t always do the noble thing because fear overcomes me and I feel diminished, less of a man.

And then pride finds a way to stop licking his wounds and raises his head.

“Are you going to be like that guy in the Lightfoot song, ‘A Ghost You Can’t See’ or are you going to show them all you are man.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

Part of me wants to pull that guy out of his grave and ask him what he would have done without money, opportunity and luck.

Part of me dares him to tell me that he didn’t benefit from good timing and good fortune.

But I am not really interested in debating with him how, what or why led him to his position because it doesn’t really matter. It is not my real focus.

I am more interested in figuring out how many times the sun has risen and set since I was born. More interested in laying it out so that I can measure my performance against some sort of benchmark that lives only inside my head.

You have been alive for:
1,437,438,536 seconds.
23,957,308 minutes.
399,288 hours.
16,637 days.
2,376 weeks.
1,188 fortnights.
611 lunar months.
536 months.
178 quarters.

The numbers push me back to what Jobs said and I nod my head because it is a mistake for me to focus upon him as a high powered CEO who had enough money to do whatever he wanted to.

That is an excuse. It is a reason not to pay attention to the message in those words that I am meant to see.

I am supposed to follow my gut. I am supposed to follow my heart and not worry about it because in this situation it is just right.

Life is too short to spend our time making excuses for why we aren’t putting all we can into living the kind of life we really want to live.