Wotta Night

 

One of my favorite blogs to read is called Stuff That Needs to Be Said, by John Pavlovitz. Much of the stuff he says does, I agree, need to be said.

And sometimes, it just needs to be said to me.

For example:

Last night, I had a terrible time trying to get to sleep because, as I lay in bed, I became overcome with a feeling of utter hopelessness over the future of America, if not the world. (It started as hopelessness over me, and quickly grew from there. That’s how my mind works.)

I just was overwhelmed with the feeling of what’s the use? Why even try to do any good in the world? We’re standing in front of a rising tidal wave of evil.

So today, I found this post by John Pavlovitz I recalled reading last April, called, “Here’s Why You Can’t Lose Hope.”

Really. That’s the title. I thought it would be a good time to read it again.

You see? Stuff that needed to be said to me.  Stuff I needed to hear. And I’ll probably need to hear it several more times.

If you think that stuff needs to be said to you, too, read it here

On second thought, forget the probably. I know I’ll need to hear it more times. Hope fades quickly these days; the fight is long and continuous and unrelenting.

But, so many have fought before us, we can’t erase their legacy by surrendering.

No matter how much sleep I may lose over it.

 

 

It’s All Right to Be Left

 

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Today, August 13th, is International Left Handers Day. A day for my people!

Yes, I am left-handed. A lefty. A southpaw. A weirdo. The English word sinister is derived from the Latin word for “left”. Gauche, French for “left”, is used in English to describe someone who is lacking in the social graces.

See how well thought of we are?

Nevertheless, I’m in an exclusive club; it’s estimated about 11% of the world’s population is left-handed.

Mind you, I’m not strictly southpawed. I throw right-handed. I golf right-handed. I bowl right-handed. I dance right-handed. Wait a minute…

Anyway, most anything else, I do left-handed. Yes, even that.

Writing left-handed is really annoying, though: I smear ink everywhere. I can’t even write in pencil without getting lead all on the side of my hand. And you can forget about felt markers.

Crayons, I remember doing okay with.

I’m sure it’s because pens are made for right handers. They’re not, really, but a lot of other things are. Scissors come to mind right away. We lefties just have to adapt. Like I had to when I broke my left wrist, and had to use my right hand for everything. That was fun. Fortunately, that only lasted a few weeks.

Anyway, I just want to say, take a lefty to lunch today.

And watch him eat.

 

The Secret to Happy Living

 

Lately, things have been pretty good for me on the mental front. I haven’t been very depressed. Hardly at all, really.

And it dawned on me today why that most likely is: I haven’t done any major screwup recently.

See, that’s what usually sends me in a downward spiral of emotions, when I mess up big time. That’s when I go through the whole you’re hopeless, you’re worthless, you should just do everyone a favor and die routine. I’ve practiced it a lot over the years.

And sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be a big screwup. Sometimes, just a little mistake can start the avalanche that eventually buries me in self-hatred.

Yeah, we’re all human, everybody makes mistakes, cut yourself some slack, blah, blah, blah.

I’m telling you, none of that helps when depression works its magic in your mind and says, Nobody f***s up more than you, idiot. Nobody.

So, I guess I just need to not ever screw up really bad again, and I’ll stay happy.

 

Well, given my history and my common sense deficiency, I’m pretty sure that ain’t happenin’.

So, I guess I’ll just enjoy this lucky streak I’m on for as long as it lasts.

I know it will happen soon enough.

Looking for Feathers

 

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I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

 

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

 

That was all a man needed: hope. It was lack of hope that discouraged a man.

— Charles Bukowski

 

It’s real easy for someone with depression, like myself, who tends to view the world through a rather dark lens to begin with, to abandon all hope in the future when looking at the state of things in the present.

The news is constantly discouraging, courtesy and manners have all but vanished from society, and kindness, compassion and morals are well on their way to doing the same thing.

I keep looking for reasons to hope, to believe in a brighter day on the horizon but, lately, despair takes up more head and heart space.

I guess it’s partly because, the older I get, the less faith I have in people. I’ve seen more cases of them giving in to their baser instincts, not their better natures. And the difference is in who they serve: themselves, or others.

Also, giving up hope is just easier; I don’t have to do anything. Hope takes work. If you’re gonna hope, you’ve got to care. And if you’re gonna care, you have to actively engage.

And that’s where the old blood, sweat and tears come in. Nelson Mandela spoke of “one’s feet moving forward,”; Howard Zinn talked about “the energy to act.” They knew what I still need to learn: hope isn’t a state of thinking or feeling.

It’s a state of doing. If I don’t feel hope, I just have to make some. People through the whole course of history have done so, when facing the most impossible circumstances. I owe it to them to do the same.

So, wish me luck. I need, and want, to find hope soon. And, I have a suspicion, a lot of us do.

 

 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

The Big. Six. Ohhhh!

 

The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

“Time”, Pink Floyd

 

When I was a kid, I thought 60 was old.

As I turn 60 today, I still think so.

Sixty. It just sounds old to me. It means I’m now officially an Old Man..

And no B.S. about “60 is the new 40.” It’s the same old 60, if you ask me.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to me already, for corn’s sake, as Fred Mertz used to say.

I’m hiring a private detective to track down where all the previous years went. I’ve done the math over and over, and get the same answer. Something is definitely amiss here.

On the bright side, I’m eligible now for lots of discounts.

 

I don’t know; turning 40 and 50 didn’t seem to bother me as much as this does. Maybe I’m more worried about my future: A, how much longer will it be and B, what kind of health will I be in?

Before I go any farther, I acknowledge all you geezers out there who left 60 in your rearview mirror some time ago, laughing at my lamentations over turning “just 60.”

Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve never been here before, and it’s a little scary. And, given my resting state, somewhat depressing.

Despite said depression, though, I must say that I’m glad to still be around. Most days, anyway. The bad days ain’t all gone, but they are fewer. For now, at least.

And, for that, I’m grateful.

 

I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things by now but, honestly, I’m not so sure what, if anything, that would be. In some ways, I feel like I’m still trying to learn how to be a man. Even at 60.

(The word man has always felt awkward to me, anyway. I still think of myself as some goofy kid a lot of the time.)

I realize I still have much to learn about love, respect, compassion, forgiveness, patience, good health, and a few other things. I guess the lessons never end.

I guess they’re not supposed to. I used to think, by the time I reached 60, I’d finally have things figured out. Turns out, not even close; I feel about as clueless now as I ever did. Must be a really slow learner.

So, onward I go, my hair more gray and less voluminous, my back a little more bent, my feet garbed in the age-appropriate socks and sandals. I’ve got my health, my job, my stunning good looks (Ha!), my friends and family, my lovely wife of now 35 years, and our two spoiled rotten cats, Izzy and Lizzy. Life is pretty good for this Old Man.

Well, gotta go. I got an early bird dinner to get to. Outta my way, whippersnapper!

 

Notes From the Dungeon

 

In my head is not a pleasant place to be these days.

Thoughts of despair, of hopelessness, of emotional weariness. Of just a general fatigue with it all.

Monsters from without and within, each taking its turn at me, no letup.

Thoughts of putting an end to all of it. Yeah, those thoughts.

Oh, depression, you’re so much fun to have around.

 

This isn’t really stuff I want to share, but I need to show the bad side, as well as the good.

It ain’t always like this (fortunately), but it’s not all zippity-doo-dah, either. This $#!t can pull me down pretty quick.

And sometimes, I even want to stay down. How twisted is that?

It’s just part and parcel of my life. Unfortunately, that means it’s part of my wife’s life, too. I hate that.

This, too, will pass; I know it will. Just sucks at the moment.

Hopefully, the next post will be cheerier. Love to you.