Archives for July 2016

987 More Reasons Why We Answer When Adventure Calls

I never expected I would buy a Justin Timberlake song but here I am listening to Can’t Stop The Feeling and smiling because yesterday I called adventure and said I am ready to go.

If you are lost I strongly urge you to go read 69 Reasons Why You Answer When Adventure Calls.

Go on, I’ll wait a moment or two.

Hell, I really shouldn’t be sitting here because this house won’t pack itself but then again this is the perfect time to take a deep breath.

The roller-coaster is almost at the top of the hill and in a moment it is going to go flying down the next hill at break-neck speed and it will require immense focus to keep the car from flying off of the tracks.


Dangerous busines

Steiner the minor and I watched Saving Private Ryan tonight.

It was his first time seeing it and in some ways it felt like mine.

The funny thing is I have seen it a handful before tonight but this was the first time I watched them storm the beach and thought about how close in age my kid is to being eligible for the service.

I caught myself staring at him and wondering what the hell I would do if he was drafted or if he decides he wants to enlist.

It was so surreal to me to try and reconcile it all.

If things had taken a small shift I would have moved to Israel and done my time as a soldier there.

It wasn’t just a thought or an idea, I looked into it a number of times and came damn close to making it happen.

*****

I remember being 25 and telling everyone what my plans were. I remember actively working on tying things up so that I could go and well obviously it didn’t happen.

Some of you might wonder why I didn’t serve in the US or if I considered it.

The answer is a blog post or two in itself but I can tell you I thought about joining the Marines more than once.

Anyhoo that didn’t happen here either and if we flash back to the thought/idea of my son it was interesting to me for lots of reasons.

I am hawkish and a supporter of our military.

I respect our troops, am grateful for their service and well aware that someone’s child is risking their life for my family.

So part of me felt a twinge of guilt that I don’t want my son to put himself in harm’s way. Part of me asked myself to take a hard look in the mirror and answer the question of how I can ask others to do what I don’t want to do.

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Three Dog Night is singing Mama Told Me (Not To Come) and my focus moves back to my conversation with Adventure.

“Jack, is it fair to say you always intended to come?”

“It is probably best not to ask me questions you don’t want answered because I just might.”

I don’t tell adventure I always knew I was going to do it because a man has to keep a couple of cards for himself  but smile because I am so damn excited.

Excited because I worked my ass off to try and make some things happen and this appears to be the fruition of hard work and because sometimes when I am nervous I get a little silly.

It is easier for me to vent by making some off-color remarks than to say “Fuck, if this bomb I am holding explodes it is going to be messy and painful.”

Better to blow off some steam and trust myself to manage things.

Besides if you look back at the conversation with my daughter in The Agony & Ecstasy Of Blogging I told her this was happening and said I think it is for the best.

Nothing has changed, I believe I have done what I need to do to give us all a better life.

I also understand some people think I am taking a risk and I have no problem saying they are right, but life is filled with risk.

The person who tries to avoid making a mistake and who runs from the hard stuff will never get away from their personal bogeyman.

Sooner or later the monster crawls out from under the bed or bursts from the closet doors and forces you to face him.

I prefer to force the monster to meet me on my terms or as close as I can come.

courage

Not long after the movie ended I wandered upstairs, picked up a dumbbell and stared at the mirror while I tried to focus on doing a proper curl.

The idea was to channel some of the nervous energy in a positive way and to try to clear my head.

Usually the combination of exercise and writing does it and I can walk away feeling like clarity has been restored.

I don’t expect the US to bring back the draft any time soon, if at all so I am not going to worry about whether Steiner the minor will be drafted.

Given his current attitude and mindset I don’t expect him to tell me he wants to join any of the various branches of the military either.

So the answer to the question of what would I do remains uncertain and unknown. What I do know is I have taught him to respect those who serve.

That conversation has included police officers and firefighters.

It has also included a discussion about why we respect them and why we hold them to high standards too.

987 More Reasons Why We Answer When Adventure Calls

Friday night marked the 30-day point before I am supposed to meet Adventure on location which means I have an enormous to-do list and limited time to get it all done.

Adventure said it wasn’t enough time and is concerned about whether I can make it happen.

Do me a favor and don’t tell adventure it is almost too much time for me and that I do better when I have shorter timelines to work with.

The reason you want me on board for somethings is because I excel in these moments. I know how to sustain my effort and energy over long periods.

This is what I am built for and what I like to do.

And the reason I think I have become good at it is because I can tell you good people I am scared and I am a little nervous.

But I can use that to keep me sharp and as a reminder that I am alive.

Got to run now and get back to it all.

See you in the comments.

 

69 Reasons Why You Answer When Adventure Calls

If you haven’t heard Three Dog Night singing An Old Fashioned Love Song you’re missing out on a song that immediately reminds me of riding in the back of my parent’s station wagon.

It reminds me of men with long hair and thick mustaches, of women with feathered hair and a million other images of the early 70’s.

Images of my friends and I spying on older siblings making out in VW vans float through my mind, a childhood spent outdoors on bikes.

We ran amok through the neighborhood and tried to remember to be home before dark but I almost never made it.

It wasn’t because I was a bad kid, I just got lost in what I was doing and inevitably wouldn’t notice the sun’s descent before it was almost too late.

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Those early days when I would join Snoopy in fighting the Red Baron slowly morphed into the time in which girls moved from annoying into interesting.

It is hard not to think back upon those times without a giant smile crossing my face. I had an amazing childhood and the fun I had as a teenager could be described as legendary.

This is the backdrop I use when I look upon the lives my children are living and ask myself if they are having as much fun as I did.

I  work hard not to compare the two because times are different and it is impossible to measure happiness in a meaningful way.

Hell, there is no apples-to-apples comparison I can use to determine if their childhood is better or worse than the one I lived and that is ok.

Well, most of the time it is ok with me, but sometimes it is isn’t.

Sometimes it is hard for me not to look back and think about how I lived in one house from the time I was three until I graduated from high school.

Hell, my parents didn’t sell that house until earlier this year so my kids knew it as well as I did.

Anyway, I kept my old house for ten years but that didn’t give the kids enough time to say it was part of their entire childhood.

It wasn’t the central root, just a part of it.

When we first moved I told them it was part of an adventure but I didn’t really mean it. It was just something I said and then things changed.


Useful pain

69 Reasons Why You Answer When Adventure Calls

Don’t ask me to tell you when I started to believe the lie I told my children because I don’t know how to answer it.

What I know is somewhere during a very dark moment a fire that I had thought extinguished found new life.

Can’t tell you what the spark was or claim that I stole fire from the gods I can only tell you I remembered who I was.

I remembered the boy from the station wagon and the teenager who told a girl he couldn’t kiss her because he wouldn’t be able to only do it once.

When those echoes of the distant past surfaced in the present I knew I was ready to throw myself into living life hard.

I knew I didn’t just want adventure, I needed it.

Adventure wasn’t something I lugged around in a box called extreme sports or limited to anything you would accuse an adrenalin junkie of using for a fix.

It was all of those things and more.

Because I remembered when you spent time with the right person and opened up your soul the world would fill with magic.

Or more accurately you would see the magic that had always been there but you had failed to recognize.

And I promised myself I would do my best to answer the call when adventure knocked.

The Traveling Jack Show

Adventure knocked on my door the other day and I heard a soft voice ask if I was ready to leave the Shire.

My heart leapt and I did my best to stay cool and reply with a soft “maybe.”

Not because I was playing a game but because I needed to confirm my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me and time to process what it meant.

Adventure confirmed I was the recipient of the attention and asked how soon I could leave.

I asked three follow-up questions and said when I received the answer I would be able to tell adventure if I could go.

And then I started packing like a fiend and began making preparations for the Traveling Jack show because in a short time I’ll hit the road again.

Unless something crazy happens I’ll set off with a general destination in mind knowing that I don’t have a final one yet and won’t for a while.

I’ll figure it out as I go and we’ll see what kind merry time adventure leads me upon. Or better yet we’ll see if adventure can keep up with a man who isn’t as old as his birthday claims he is.

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I am nervous but excited about the things that come next.

There are 983,838,322 items on the to-do list but I know there is no way I’ll get them all done before I have to go.

Unless something crazy happens I’ll blink and adventure will knock upon my door at dawn and ask if I am ready to go.

I’ll say yes even if I am not and head out because the best moments in life are those you find when you are not looking for them.

And you don’t find what you are not looking for when you spend your time behind a desk or lying a couch.

Well, not always, sometimes life surprises you and you discover the quiet moment you thought nothing of is the one you can’t stop thinking about.

But the point is life happens while we are thinking about what we might do so we can’t let that thoughtful time stop us from doing what we should do.

Adventure calls and I answer.

How Do You Tear Down A Wall?

Somewhere in the moments trapped between thought and the old clock on the end table I saw daylight and took off running.

I hit the wall at full speed but I wasn’t Wile E. Coyote so you didn’t see an outline of my body and the hole it left behind when I went through it.

Instead there was a loud crash, a thud and the sound of my rage at not having knocked it down.

You’d think I would know better than to pit bone and blood against wood and drywall but I didn’t and I don’t.

Because I hit it hard over and over and over again figuring it would break before I did.

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The dream I could see regardless of whether I was awake or slumbering is what pushed me to keep going or maybe it was fear of losing the chance to follow the dream.

Maybe it was the dread I felt at the idea of never knowing if what I thought could be might slip away if I didn’t keep chasing after it.

I don’t know and I don’t care because it was and is all based upon a gut feeling, nothing more than a sense of running after my heart.

“I sat on the roof and kicked up the moss
Well, a few of the verses, well, they’ve got me quite cross”

Your Song- Elton John

People will say and think what they will and they’ll offer their own thoughts and ideas whether you ask for them or not.

They’ll tell you every reason why you shouldn’t do something and never recognize their reasons are applicable to them because they are their reasons and not yours.

You’ll be filled with their fears and hopes with little to no regard for whether you should consider them.

Thing is most will do so with good intention never recognizing they are raining on your parade and this is why you’ll ignore them.

Because if you are going to live your life you must live yours and not theirs.

They aren’t going to reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of your actions.

How Do You Tear Down A Wall?

A traditional wall never stood a chance against me.

I am not built for grace but brawn and demolition are close friends and given my childlike interest in seeing just how much I can lift or move, well walls are temporary objects.

Except we don’t always encounter traditional walls which explains why sometimes I have found myself puzzled by why I couldn’t pull down, run through or knock them down.

Can’t tell you if I spent minutes or moments foolishly trying to scare the damn thing by giving it the glare that stops kids and people in their tracks.

Some people reflect that intensity back and others just walk away but walls aren’t people and it would seem pointless to personify them.

Except when it is not because when you name your fear it fades a bit and it is power is diminished or so the theory goes.

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It took longer than I wish to admit to recognize I needed to change my approach and to accept brute strength wasn’t the key to success.

I jumped off of the cliff figuring I would learn to fly on the way down and somewhere between the air rushing past my ears and the sound of my heart beating I saw the answer.

A small button had always been a part of the framework but time and dust had obscured my view of it.

There was no need to do more than dust it off and polish it.

Followed it up by squirting some oil upon it and then I reached out and pressed the button.

There was a loud buzzing noise and the sound of footsteps.

A Writer Shares A Thought

Beams of sunlight are supposed to gently rouse your body from its slumber, but that is not always how it goes.

Maybe that is why some people use blackout shades or do things to help ease their way into a wakeful state.
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I am not really looking out at the mountains or staring at the beach below.

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I wish I was staring at either of those places and that I was the writer who had enough money and or resources to set up shop wherever I want to.

It is not because I think it would bestow magical powers upon my skills as a writer and storyteller.

No, it is a simple and selfish reason.

Because I think it would be cool and because my imagination tells me if I could afford to do that I would be a happier and more peaceful person.

It is a theory I’d like to test one day but I have a sneaking suspicion there is no truth to it.

Money and resources may ease some of my concerns but they are unlikely tofix all of them

It Won’t Make More People Read

It won’t make more people read my words here or at TheJackB.

Might make it easier to promote and reach more potential readers, but it is not going to make them stick around.

That doesn’t happen without providing interesting, engaging and entertaining content.

I know from experience that this is not a theory and that a good imagination can help take you a long way so maybe it is not really a big deal to not have those resources.

But damn, it sure would be nice not to have to worry about paying the bills once in a while.

The Agony & Ecstasy Of Blogging

My baby turns 12 in two days.

Last night she stopped talking to me because she was furious with some information I shared with her.

My little girl didn’t scream, she just went silent and I knew from the quiet how very angry she was and let her have her space.

There wasn’t any point in trying to speak with her about it because she wasn’t ready and I knew she wanted to pummel me for putting her in a position she didn’t want to be in.

But I also knew it was the right thing to do and that if I chose to go a different direction I would regret it.

Sometimes parents make very hard choices because we think they are for the best.

The Importance & Value Of Teaching Moments

Sixteen years ago I told another parent to stop telling me about how fast it all goes and to give me time to experience it for myself.

Tonight I wear a sheepish grin thinking about how unfair I was with him and about how sometimes the only explanation we can offer is we don’t know what we don’t know.

There was no way I could have understood or appreciated what this other man tried to share with me because I hadn’t lived it.

When I shared this particular piece of news with my daughter I knew she wouldn’t and couldn’t appreciate it the way I wanted her to but I shared it anyway.

Mostly because if some things come about there will be big changes soon and she’ll be angrier if she hasn’t been prepped at all.

I almost didn’t tell her because there is no guarantee things will go the way I hope and expect, but I saw a teaching moment there.

A chance to try and help her understand that sometimes we do things that we don’t like for more reasons than because they are required.

Sometimes we jump off of cliffs and hope that we develop wings before we hit the ground below.

And I told her because if we don’t develop those wings I want her to know I will catch her.

It is harder to sell that to a 12-year-old than a toddler or even a 9-year-old.

By morning she was willing to speak and by the evening she had more questions.

I revisited some of the things that happened in A Question of Dignity and I think that helped her understand why as well as where I am trying to lead things.

Woman and Child Walking Through Mist At Sunset Between Trees
The Agony & Ecstasy Of Blogging

The answer to the blog mutiny and the broken plugins came to me during the middle of the workday.

It was 107 outside and the sweat was pouring off of me as if I had been playing ball for hours.

Wish I had been because it would have been more enjoyable than standing on a rooftop clad in all black, stuck in a conversation that should have been named Mobius.

Got home hours later, tore off my shirt and pants and jumped on the computer.

Took less than ten minutes to see that it wasn’t a conflict between Jetpack and my theme.

No, it was MeanThemes screaming at Social Warfare or maybe the reverse of it.

****

I turned off Social Warfare and thought about potential solutions.

What I want to do is focus on writing and becoming a better storyteller. But I also want to make sure it is easy for my work to be shared and not risk losing exposure.

Life is chaotic, messy and complicated now. I don’t need any more challenges now so part of me looked at taking the easy way out, but that is not really how I roll.

I like challenges. I like problem solving. I like thinking.

This probably isn’t particularly hard to solve for someone who knows a little bit more about coding than I do.

But you don’t know what you don’t know.

courage
I need to work on doing a better job of designing images with quotes.

I need to spend time learning more about coding.

I need to spend more time working out and less time eating.

Hell, I need to do a lot of things and the list never seems to get shorter especially since there are very few people I can trust to handle some untangling some of the knots that have crept up in my life.

Been sailing through stormy waters for so long I almost can’t remember what it is like to be upon calm seas but I can see those reappearing in the not so distant future.

That is really what is behind all of the work I have done and all of the cryptic messages about changes.

Little Jack Steiner has been doing his best to move from the cocoon to butterfly stage and it hasn’t been easy.

More than a few people have told me my plans are misguided or wrong and have encouraged me to go a different direction.

I have ignored, refused and or gone around the naysayers because I don’t trust their words.

That is because their fear and concerns are based upon what bothers them and not upon what is best or good for me.

I don’t wear sweaters just to pacify those who are cold and I don’t listen to people who won’t pay the price for actions taken or not taken.

Lessons Learned & Lessons Taught

Somewhere in the blog you’ll find a post where I talk about the importance of change and remembering people aren’t trees.

We’re not rooted to the ground or chained to places.

I didn’t always understand that but I learned about it through some very hard lessons and found out that good things happen to those who make them happen.

The lesson I want to teach my children is the one I learned. I want them to see we aren’t fucking trees and that sometimes the smart move is to do just that…move.

If I had been wiser I would have made some of these changes long ago, but you don’t know what you don’t know.