If someone was to make a movie of your life what actor/actress would you want to play you?
A mixed assortment of memories and thoughts:
If you grew up in Southern California and are of a certain age you might remember a commercial in which a wife screams Don’t Take The Car You’ll Kill Yourself! Not sure if it ever aired anywhere else, but I remember it well.
Or should I say that I remember how much of a joke it turned into. The sentiment was sincere and the idea behind it was/is not a joke, but not unlike so many other things it evolved. Kind of reminds me a bit of the commercial for Life Alert.
“I have fallen and I can’t get up” became a huge joke. It was one of those things that we made fun of for a thousand years. If you tripped and fell it was a virtual guarantee that someone was going to say or think it.
My sophomore year of high school had a number of highlights. I remember one class in which we had this bitter old man teaching us, at least that is how I remember him.
Twenty-five years later I see a man in a worn cordoruy jacket sitting behind a desk. Sitting behind his desk, dark oily hair on his head, he’d lecture us about life. Tell us that it was his job to puncture our illusions of grandeur and make us face reality. We weren’t as smart as we thought, or so he’d tell us.
“I am going to get you ready to take the the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test so that you can see what you are really good at it. Some of you will end up as janitors and plumbers. Only a few will do really well. Most of you will be lucky to get by. The ASVAB will help you understand what you are good at it so that you don’t waste time.
One of my classmates would sit in the back of the class and sing Institutionalized to himself. He was a year older than me, had a beard and wore boots. At first I was a bit intimidated by him, but as time passed we developed something. Occasionally he’d grunt at me. I heard a while back that he was shot and killed during a gas station robbery, but I don’t know if that is true.
At fifteen the lyrics to Institutionalized were pretty radical, or so I thought. I see them a bit differently now, but not really what I want my kids listening to.
Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn’t work out the way I wanted to.
I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn’t work out the way I wanted to.
It’s like I concentrate real hard and it doesn’t work out.
Everything I do and everything I try never turns out.
It’s like I need time to figure these things out.
But there’s always someone there going.
You know we’ve been noticing you’ve been having a lot of problems lately.
You know, maybe you should get away and maybe you should talk about it, maybe you’ll feel a lot better
And I go:
No it’s okay, you know I’ll figure it out, just leave me alone I’ll figure it out.
You know I’ll just work by myself.
And they go:
Well you know if you want to talk about it I’ll be here you know and you’ll probably feel a lot better if you talk about it.
And I go:
No I don’t want to I’m okay, I’ll figure it out myself and they just keep bugging me and they just keep bugging me and it builds up inside and it builds up inside.
So you’re gonna be institutionalized
You’ll come out brainwashed with bloodshot eyes
You won’t have any say
They’ll brainwash you until you see their way.
I’m not crazy – in an institution
You’re the one who’s crazy – in an institution
You’re driving me crazy – in an institution
They stuck me in an institution
Said it was the only solution
To give me the needed professional help
To protect me from the enemy — myself.
I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything
But then again I was thinking about nothing
And then my mom came in and I didn’t even know she was there she called my name
And I didn’t even hear it, and then she started screaming: MIKE! MIKE!
And I go:
What, what’s the matter?
And she goes:
What’s the matter with you?
There’s nothing wrong mom.
And she goes:
Don’t tell me that, you’re on drugs!
And I go:
No mom I’m not on drugs I’m okay, I was just thinking you know, why don’t you get me a Pepsi.
And she goes:
NO you’re on drugs!
Mom I’m okay, I’m just thinking.
No you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs! Normal people don’t act that way!
Mom just give me a Pepsi, please
All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me
All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me.
Just a Pepsi.
They give you a white shirt with long sleeves
Tied around you’re back, you’re treated like thieves
Drug you up because they’re lazy
It’s too much work to help a crazy
I was sitting in my room and my mom and my dad came in and they pulled up a chair and they sat down, they go:
Mike, we need to talk to you
And I go:
Okay what’s the matter
Me and your mom have been noticing lately that you’ve been having a lot of problems,
You’ve been going off for no reason and we’re afraid you’re gonna hurt somebody,
We’re afraid you’re gonna hurt yourself.
So we decided that it would be in your interest if we put you somewhere
Where you could get the help that you need.
And I go:
Wait, what are you talking about, we decided!?
My best interest?! How can you know what’s my best interest is?
How can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to say, I’m crazy?
When I went to your schools, I went to your churches,
I went to your institutional learning facilities?! So how can you say I’m crazy?
They say they’re gonna fix my brain
Alleviate my suffering and my pain
But by the time they fix my head
Mentally I’ll be dead
It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably get hit by a car anyway
I suppose that I should clarify and say that sometimes I wonder what that 15 year old thought the future was going to be like. I think that I remember. I think that I know, but the passage of time makes me wonder.
In theory that won’t be a problem that I am going to have, at least when it comes to the five years of my life that I have spent blogging. All I have to do is sift through the archives and it all comes flooding back to me.
Wonder what I’ll think about all this in twenty years.
REASON, SEASON, LIFETIME!!!
People always come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
or to provide you with guidance and support,
to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away.
Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON,
it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall,
the season eventually ends.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person anyway;
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being part of my life.
Everyone hears what you say.
Friends listen to what you say.
Best friends listen to what you don’t say.
I go back and forth about these sorts of statements. People want to believe that there is a purpose in everything, some sort of hidden meaning that they can sniff out.
I am no different. During hard times it is comforting to say that everything happens for a reason. When you are heartbroken you want to say that person xyz came into your life so that you would learn some profound lesson.
It is not easy for me to buy into all of that. I want to. I love the sentiment and I want to believe, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I latch on and have complete faith and other times I shrug my shoulders and just roll my eyes.
On the other hand there are people that I share too many coincidences with. They have come into my life and turned it upside down. So in the end I find myself waffling on whether I believe or disbelieve. I am not a fan of sitting on the fence, but in this case…
What do you think?
Age is a funny thing. Until recently most of my experience with it had been waiting to get older. There were a million things that I wanted to do, but I wasn’t old enough. Slowly but surely I hit those marks and gained the ability to do whatever it was that I wanted to at that point in time.
But until recently I never really felt old or felt the pressure that age can bring with it. Maybe it is all in my head, but with the end of my thirties rapidly approaching I no longer feel like I have eternity to fall back upon. Now I feel the weight of time and it makes me wonder.
You can blame some of this upon certain life experiences. Almost all of my friends are married, most for quite some time. Virtually all of us have children. And now we have reached that time when a number of the marriages are ending. As these relationships end or evolve I have noticed that some conversations that I had thought had been left in the past have resurfaced.
Four years I wrote a short post called Do Men Have Emotions? It wasn’t anything special, but it is one that comes up in keyword searches on a regular basis. It is suddenly relevant to me again because lately the discussions about whether men have feelings have become more prevalent, and not just among the women, but the men.
I suppose that you can attribute the increased discussion to age and maturity. The boys don’t really have that need to be tough, at least not among each other. Now there is far more support for sharing our tales with each other. It is far easier to talk about the girl that broke your heart in the past or the present as the case may be.
The other thing that I have found to be sort of funny is that I have heard a number of women complain about this show of emotion from the men. The cynic in me would accuse them of double standards. You want men to talk about their feelings, but when they do you complain that they are less manly. It is a catch-22 that not even Major Major could get out of.
I am not a social worker. I am not a therapist or some sort of shrink whose job it is to make sense of all this. That is not what I do. Men are men, women are women and we can only do what we can to try and figure it all out.
But I can guarantee that there will be a few women who end up on this post and ask for answers. All I can tell you is that we do have feelings. We fall in love and our happy. Relationships end and our hearts break. We are happy, we are sad and everything in between. We’re humans just like you.
The biggest difference is that we’re logical and you aren’t. 😉 And now if you’ll excuse me I am going to employ the duck and cover technique while I sneak out of here.
Sometimes I am plagued by doubt. Sometimes I look in the mirror and stare at the face and wonder how that guy is going to get through the day because I am not convinced that he is up for the job. I stare and wonder if everyone else can see that he is just really good at faking it.
And then sometimes I feel the exact opposite of that. There are moments that I can only describe as being triumphant. Moments in which I am completely confident that everything I desire will come to me because I can make it happen.
The real trick is to not live in either extreme but to try and stay centered. Most of the time I feel like I do a pretty good job of it. Most of the time I feel like I have a realistic view of what is going on and a solid idea about how to keep things afloat.
But the moments of doubt do come. There are those times when I feel like have the most tenuous grasp on it all, when I feel like everyone else gets what they want, but I don’t.
When that happens I take a deep breath and take a general accounting of what I have. I look around and remind myself of all that I have achieved and accept that it is possible that I could lose it all. Everything could go away. All that I love and hold dear could be taken from me.
I know this. Been to enough funerals to see the truth and the possibility of it all.
But I also know that it is highly unlikely that it will happen. Life is always going to be a bit of a roller coaster. There are going to be the good moments and the bad. So all I need to do is try to steer that middle course and remind myself that nothing lasts forever. The good times may come and go, but so do the bad times.
The hardest part for me is taking my own advice. I’ll be damned if sometimes the hard times don’t seem to have taken up permanent residence. I suppose that part of why I like blogging is that it makes it easier for me to see the evidence of all sides.
Anyway, I am working hard on taking one piece of advice more seriously, and that is getting more rest. So if you’ll excuse me I am off to catch some shut eye.
I remember a day from a time not so far past. I was walking down 42nd Street towards Times Square. It was the middle of July and the day was relatively warm. For a kid from L.A. the heat wouldn’t have been noticeable but I was dressed in a suit and carrying a laptop. There was business to conduct.
The sky was blue and relatively free of clouds. The usual noises of the city surrounded me. Cars, taxis, buses and people all moving in every direction, semi organized chaos. I was lost in thought about someone who had offered to pepper my pike. I’ll let you wonder what that means, it doesn’t really matter.
As I walked someone stopped me on the street to ask directions. I laughed and told them that I was just another tourist wandering the streets. She looked at me and said that I looked so intent she assumed that I knew exactly where I was going and that I had to be a native. I smiled and told her that home was across the country and that I could answer any questions she might have about L.A.
Can’t tell you what happened after that, I just don’t remember. What I do remember was feeling like life was about to change, and I was right because my life did change.
Six years later I am standing outside of my house. Beneath blue skies peppered with clouds a boy with my hands is attempting to push me. For almost ten minutes he has tried every trick he can think of to cause me to give ground. I haven’t told him, but these moments are getting harder for me.
He has grown bigger and stronger. More importantly he has grown more confident in himself and he knows that if he keeps trying he will eventually succeed. He knows this because I have drilled it into his head. Persevere, persist, keep trying, keep searching for the thing that works and you’ll find a way. Practice, practice, practice and it gets easier.
I want him to win. I want him to beat me at this game and I hate the idea that one day he might. I don’t let him beat me at everything. I don’t let him win all the time. I want him to lose so that he learns how to deal with it. I want to force him to think about different ways of approaching the situation so that he might come up with a solution.
My feet are burning. The driveway is hot and I am beginning to notice the flames dancing from between my toes. Another moment and I am going to have to decide whether to let him win or if I should scoop him up like a sack of potatoes and go running.
Ego wins and he ends up thrown over my shoulder, but it takes a moment to get him up there. He has anticipated this move and attempted to counter it. For the moment size and strength are things that he can’t compensate for and I win.
Laughing I launch us up the road at a sprint. A short time later I am hunched over, his old man is huffing and puffing a bit. Sprawled on the lawn we share a cold drink and talk. He wants to know what sort of rules for life there are. That is not exactly the question he asks, but it is close enough.
I tell him that the rules are simple. Try to be a good person and do what you can to be happy. He tells me that he wants more details and I smile and say that the rest is commentary. He doesn’t catch the reference but he understands the part about happiness.
We talk more and share a few secrets. A moment later we are lying on our back staring at the sky and my mind wanders off. Within the last ten years or so I have stared at that same blue sky in Jerusalem, Toronto, London, New York, Chicago, Dallas and LA. And in each of those cities I have made a point of looking up at the night filled sky too.
Changes are coming. I feel it. Those moonlit nights and clear blue skies spoke to me. I think that I have known about these changes for a long time. Can’t say exactly what is going to happen or how, I just know that change is coming and this time I think that I just might be ready for it.
Those rules for life I gave work when you let them, so that is what I am trying to do. Don’t know if that makes much sense to anyone, but that’s ok with me.
Time to try and get some shut eye, an old man like me needs more than three hours. See you in the AM. 😉