Trouble every day.
Some kind of trouble. Something troubling.
Overall, life looks good. Right?
If you make a good vs. bad list, looks good. Overall. But…
That thread of trouble just won’t go away.
Trouble wears on you, eats at you.
Sometimes you just want to shut your eyes and rest.
That rest, the reprieve from trouble, can be so good, you don’t want to wake up.
Why DO we wake up? What is it that gets us up even when the desire to rest, to escape, is so strong? What is the source of willpower and courage (?) to end the rest, get back on the trail, put one foot in front of the other, and get moving?
Negative? It’s not. It’s the reality of trouble.
You can try to ignore that troublesome thread, but at some point you’re going to have to give it a tug. Ignoring it will drive you nuts.
(Like Pirsig’s dripping faucet in Zen.)
Deal with it.
Look at it directly.
NEW SHORT STORY: “REST”
“Tim. Tim! Wake up. Tim?”
Paula’s husband had closed his eyes for what he’d thought would be a short just-home-from-work power nap on the couch before they headed out to do Friday night shopping at Target.
He heard her, as if from a distance, but he was so far away he couldn’t respond.
And he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) open his eyes.
Tim was gone.
I am Tim. Named by my crazy hippie-mother after, yeah you guessed it, Tiny Tim. No, I don’t resemble him at all. I’m not a hippie or a neo-hippie sympathizer. I prefer people that I interact with to be well washed and sober.
I help people. My profession. Since I do it sixty hours a week, that’s mostly who I am. My license states that I’m a recovery counselor, but I no longer believe in recovery. Recovery flew out the window years ago. She never flew back. Coping took her place. Coping lacks the idealism of recovery, but she’s a more reliable lover. A “rainy day lover” as Gordon Lightfoot might say.
People in my groups – broken, sad, bitter, angry, pathetic people – start by asking me to help them recover. I say, “Recover what? Idealism? The purity of your youth?” They pause to think, their eyes light up, then reply, “Yes!” Their eyes go dark again when I say, “Forget recovery. It’s not going to happen. You’ll never get your innocence back.” Before they have time to slink away or stomp out, I add, “But I can help you learn how to cope. I am a master at coping.” Nine out of ten stop and listen to the rest. “Coping is the closest you’ll get to happiness. Recovery is unreachable, but coping is a one-hundred percent guarantee.”
I shouldn’t say one-hundred percent. Even after my best efforts, I have the occasional fail. A person who just can’t learn to cope.
Paula stopped shaking Tim. She sat on the chair next to the couch and looked at him with worry. She’d yelled, poked, and jostled so much that he’d have a headache when he woke up.
If he wakes up.
Tim’s face looked peaceful, calmer than she’d seen him in months, the worry-furrows gone from his brow. You could see traces of the beautiful child he’d been, a little boy with wild hair whose mother had repeatedly told admiring strangers, “No, he’s a boy.”
Peaceful, but the dark semicircles under his eyes are still there.
The living room was quiet.
Quieter than usual.
Paula heard the refrigerator in the kitchen say, “Tick!”
A mockingbird’s muted call came through faintly from outside.
The sound of my breathing.
“What? What did you say?”
He whispered again, but she still couldn’t make it out.
The rest of “Rest”?
BOOK REVIEW: WALKING
“LEAVE THE CAR AT HOME”
Erling Kagge’s Walking is a philosophical exploration of slowing down on purpose in a world that goads us to neurotic overstimulation and insensitivity to our surroundings.
Get out of your box.
Smell those roses.
Talk to people (you’d normally drive past).
Lift your face to the sun.
Enjoy the small things.
Kagge makes a case for putting on those walking shoes and leaving the car at home, at least some of the time.
Many people walk for exercise. They walk the dog. Not uncommon. Good for the cardiovascular. But how often do you walk to the neighborhood store or library a mile away? We drive to save time, to get things done, deftly avoiding and ignoring the worlds in between home and such destinations.
Walking is a worthy read, full of good stories, valuable insight, and tidbits from other walking philosophers like Thoreau and Kierkegaard.
“And this is precisely the secret held by all those who go by foot: life is prolonged when you walk. Walking expands time rather than collapses it.”
Link to goodreads review:
Seven’s on its way, already in my head, should arrive with its weird little self in a month. Once short story #7 (#14, since the summer of 2015) is out, short story paperback collection #2 will get underway. After that… novel #3 and Kevin-and-Jack #3.
ONE ANGRY MAN
(Okay… more like “One Frustrated Man.”)
The teacher’s summer reward.
Hours of questions and waiting during selection.
We stared at the innocent (until proven guilty).
He stared at us.
Minimum sentence: 25 years.
“Does that bother you?” they asked.
Please have them select someone else.
Yes, that’s my typewriter.
(Courtesy of my generous family in honor of Father’s Day. Thank you!)