Sometimes Goodbye Is A Second Chance

My eyes are open wide
By the way
I made it through the day
I watch the world outside
By the way
I’m leaving out today

I just saw Haley’s comet, shooting
She waved, said, “Why are you always running in place”
Even the man in the moon disappeared
Somewhere in the stratosphere

Tell my mother, tell my father
I have done the best I can
To make them realize
This is my life
I hope they understand
I’m not angry, I’m just saying
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance

Please don’t cry one tear for me
I’m not afraid of what I have to say
This is my one and only voice
So listen close it’s only for today

I just saw Haley’s comet, she waved
She waved, said, “Why are you always running in place”
Even the man in the moon disappeared
Somewhere in the stratosphere

Tell my mother, tell my father
I have done the best I can
To make them realize
This is my life
I hope they understand
I’m not angry, I’m just saying
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance

Here is my chance
This is my chance

Tell my mother, tell my father
I have done the best I can
To make them realize
This is my life
I hope they understand
I’m not angry, I’m just saying
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance

Sometimes goodbye is a second chance
Sometimes goodbye is a second chance

Second Chance – Shinedown

I’ve said goodbye to many things in my life, some good some bad. Through it all I felt a deep need to let go of anything that reminded me of situations I never want to repeat, choices that led to despair. People that unintentionally dragged me down, some that tried to help. Many people I had known for decades…I wonder if they miss me? Thoughts like this can make me second guess my actions. Were they to harsh? To abrupt? I made the best choices I could at the time, and there’s no going back.

Like the young woman in this song I thought I knew what was best for me, what road I should go down. Will she pass the audition, or will she come back home? Will her parents still be mad, or will they be happy to see her? Many times I was led astray, but my folks were always happy to see me come back. I can’t thank them enough for their support through it all.

The passing of my father has left a deep scar on me. That scar comes from my regret for letting petty and insignificant feelings interfere with my relationship with him. I knew I was wrong, yet I couldn’t let go of my inner child. Now it’s too late to make amends so I will have to live with what I did. Watching him die the way he did was so totally horrifying. I still see him lying there, so weak and gaunt. That image is burned into my memory forever. If we could talk right now, I’m sure he would forgive me, I just have to forgive myself, and that will take some time. If your listening Dad, I’m truly sorry.

When you read this mom I just want you to know how much I care. I was very lost for a long time, but I always listened to your words of wisdom, even if it took years for it to sink in. A piece of you and dad will be with me all the rest of my life. Your strength of will and dads willingness to work hard and provide for his family is part of who I am, part of what makes me keep going even when I feel down. Even though I will have to say goodbye to you also, hold your head high knowing you leave behind a son who will never forget how much you did for me and many others.

I’m hoping all my goodbyes give me a second chance. A chance to get it right, find some peace for my weary back and my aching heart. I’m searching for an answer to the question of worth, trying to place a value on the remainder of my life. What can I do that will be remembered? And who do I want to remember it? I will make my mark on this earth, however small, and if only one person see’s it and remembers me, I will have accomplished something real.

I just saw Haley’s comet, she waved
She waved, said, “Why are you always running in place”
Even the man in the moon disappeared
Somewhere in the stratosphere

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Something Means Nothing Here After All

We steal to lose every color
From the sky
Then crawl as a child
While the shadows burn our eyes

We know there’s no longer shine
On this burned out rainbow

Lately it seems we’ve been chasing
What times resolved
Maybe something means nothing here
After all

Whispers are now screams
This conclusion never ends
My pride with your kiss
Even angels can’t defend

We know we’re running head on
Into our confusion

Still we hide safe behind these crumbled walls
Cause we know there’s nothing here after all

After All – Collective Soul

I think this is perhaps my very favorite song.  I never grow tired of hearing it and it gives me the same thoughts and feelings every time.  Like many other people, it’s the story of my life.  It’s like looking through a window into everything I have ever felt, wondered, sensed or dreamed.  Every hope, prayer, wish or path that has been crushed by reality, laid bare over the coarse of time.  It’s me accepting my fate, understanding my place in this world.

I’m never going to be rich, never going to be famous, I’m never going to travel the world and visit all the places I dreamed about.  I’m never going to have a dad, at least not like I needed growing up.  I’ll never be able to make up for the mistakes of my past, resolve differences with people I have wronged, say I’m sorry to those I have hurt.  Never be able to change what has happened.

This may sound like someone feeling sorry for themselves, crying out for some kind of redemption or forgiveness, but you’d be wrong.  This is me taking a deep breath, and diving head first into the rest of my life.  I can’t change the past, but I can change the future.  I can no longer live with the burden of my misgivings and past sins.  I have to let them go.

Even in the last few days I have tried to come up with ways to redeem myself, plans to help others before myself.  I realize I am of no use to anyone until I forgive myself.  I can’t hope to give to others what I don’t have for myself, and that’s love.  I must follow my simple plan, continue to find out who I am.  Follow my new found passions, photography and writing, and see where they go.  I have a feeling that when I get to my sailboat, both are going to blossom.  (Thanks Osyth for your encouragement!)

I found a sailboat today that would be perfect for my plans.  I have no money to purchase it right now, but I will.  Right now I am paying, literally, for my past lifestyle.  Here’s the short story.  I have never hidden my past drug use from anyone.  I regret it, but it’s part of who I am.  I hid my pain behind a crumbling wall, trying to find solace instead of facing my fears head on.  I was young and naive.  It also led to my taking very poor care of myself.

I now live with alot of pain from injuries and abuse of my body.  I had many dental issues over the years resulting in some tooth loss.  This came to a head last year when I had 22 teeth pulled in 1 hour.  That was a difficult day in more ways then one.  Last week I had 4 more pulled and had a partial made for the bottom and a new plate for the top.  This week has been very bad with intense pain and sores that come with new dental work.  For that mistake in my life, I am paying my dues.

It’s easy to feel bad for yourself when all you have is pain and sorrow, but it wont last.  The pain will ebb, the sorrow will subside, and then your left with the remainder of your time on earth.  What you strive for is who you are, what you achieve is a measure of your will.  The fact that you never gave up, is a testament to the power of the human spirit.

Oh, and that boat?  It was only $7500.00!  I’m paying that for all my dental work!  I can do this, I can save the money by next spring.  That boat may not be there, but there are others.  I MUST NEVER STOP, never grow tired, never again give in to weakness or dwell on the past.  I have to keep my simple goals first and foremost in my sights.  I have to believe Something means something here after all!

The War Is Almost Over

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I went to visit my father today at the Togus VA Hospital in Augusta Maine. Like all my other visits I first took Vinny for a walk around the grounds. It was an overcast day today, but still a beautiful day to be in Maine.

The grounds are a perfect example of what Maine has to offer. The streams, the trees and the spring flowers are what make this my home.

As I walked down a different road than I normally follow, my heart skipped a beat. As I continued on, my heart was crushed under the weight of the feelings that took over my being.

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I was so taken by that moment that I had to sit down on the grass. There is so much more than graves here, so much more than the people who died in service to us and this country. There is the sacrifice made by all those left behind. The wives, children, friends and others that lost a part of themselves when this person died.

Then there are the others, the ones whose battle never ended. The survivors with physical and mental pain and suffering that did not end on the battlefield. For some, surviving was only the beginning. Let me tell you about one such person.

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Dad age 4

My father was born on April 28th, 1929 in Portland Maine. He grew up in a suburb called Riverton in a very modest home at 10 Tarbell Ave. My father talked about his younger days with a mix of longing for a return the adventure of riding motorcycles with his friends, juxtaposed with a resentment for the way he felt his father treated him. I think his father was just a strict man, and he just wanted the best from his children. Maybe he didn’t understand how to be a father. I’ll never know as he died when I was to young to remember him.

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My Grandfather Chester Pierce

My grandfather, Chester Pierce, had opened a business not long before my father was born called C.A. Pierce Company in Portland. This business started as a furniture restoration company, then eventually into the furniture sales store it is now, run by his great grandson Larry Pierce. I don’t know all the history, but I think my father was more interested in motorcycles and girls than furniture, and never became part of the company. My father lived in New Mexico before joining the Army and worked at a creamery and as a roofer. He told many stories of riding motorcycles in the desert, and many fights in local bars. I think he was the rebellious “James Dean” type in those days.

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He joined the Army on February 13, 1951 and was honorably discharged on May 25, 1956. He survived 6 months and 8 days in the combat zone in Korea, but like all who came back, part of him died as surely as those buried at Togus. He told a story of waking up one morning to every other man in his tent dead with his throat slit. “Psychological Warfare” they called it. Someone had slipped in during the night and killed them in their sleep. My father never got over living when the men right beside him died.

My father at about 15
My father at about 15

Some gave all, all gave some. I can think of no truer words to describe the plight of anyone that has gone to war. You see it in their eyes, the window to our souls. Something is missing, and in my fathers case I think it was the ability to connect with his children. I know he loved us, and we loved him, but I never felt like I had a Dad, just a father. It’s hard to explain, but I felt very alone as a child. I spent many hours by myself in Fort Williams, alone with my thoughts I dreamed about sailing away to distant shores filled with adventure. Such is the mind of an 8 year old boy longing for attention from his dad. Even though my father tried many times to do the “Dad” thing, I don’t think he knew how, just like his father.

Mom & Dad
Mom & Dad

All these years later when I look at him, I understand how hard that must have been on him also. I think about the times as an adult I didn’t make time for him when I know he wanted it, and I regret it very much. I was just like him even if I didn’t know it. Maybe there is some truth to the thought that we tend to follow the example put forth by our parents.

He was never one to shy away from responsibility. I learned from my father the drive to work hard, never ask for a handout when you could just work harder and get by. He gladly accepted the 3 children my mother had, then had 2 more of his own. He was never without a job, even with only an 8th grade education. We never felt poor even though we were close to it. He was “Old School”, and by that I mean he felt his duty was to provide the money, and my mother should raise the kids. That was the mindset of that generation.

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Acting silly on vacation

I grew up resenting him just like he did his father. Maybe for the same reasons. As an adult, now free from the influence of a poor lifestyle rife with drug use and other poor choices, I see him in a new light. Maybe he is a victim of circumstances as surely as I. He never felt connected to his father, and that led in part to his inability to connect with me. Maybe his experience in Korea only exacerbated the situation further. I don’t know for sure, but I do know it’s to late now to reverse my mistakes, and try to make up ground.

The reason for my visit was because my mother, sisters and both brother in laws went to see him 3 days ago on their 54th wedding anniversary. My mother called me afterwards very distraught at the state of his health. I called the hospital and spoke to his nurse. She explained his situation, and I said I would come home to see him.

Last fall at home
Last fall at home

My father has dementia along with PTSD from his tour in Korea. Its possible the dementia caused a slide in his condition a few days ago. He seemed to bounce back a little, but there is a marked difference in just the last month. The difference in the last year is alarming. Last fall he was starting to wander, and my concern was for his safety. We tried to get him into a home owned by an RN with another veteran. That lasted 3 days and she decided he was to much for her. He was moved to Togus at that time and has been there ever since.

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Taken today

This was never what I wanted for him. The pain I feel every time I see him leaves me feeling a little more weak and disheartened. I want so much to tell him how I feel, but every time I try I don’t think I’m saying it in a way he truly understands. I will never forgive myself for waiting so long, waiting till it’s to late.

I don’t think he will last much longer. His voice was so weak that I had to lean in to hear him today. One minute he was talking, the next he was falling asleep in the wheelchair. I helped him to his room, into bed and he fell asleep almost immediately.

As I write this, tears are streaming down my face as I think about his life and what he has endured. I remember all the times I could have been a better son, and now I must live with my lack of forethought. Maybe the lucky ones died in battle. Maybe, had he never come back, less people would have been affected by what happened to him and all the suffering he went through. I’m only human, and I don’t know.

What I do know is, when he dies, a big part of me will die with him. The part of me that wanted to play little league, and have my dad cheering from the stands. The part of me who wanted to go camping and fishing with him. The part of me who wanted him to teach me to ride a bike.

The part of me left, will never forget him. I will never forget how what happened to him, also happened to me and all of his family. I will never forget the man he was, and who I bet he wanted to be. I will do my best to live up to what he wanted, and hope he finds some peace soon. For him at least, the war is almost over. But not for us.

 

 

 

Bitter Tears

In the mist of my endless search
The best in life becomes clear
The rest just begins to fade by itself
That’s a trick I learnt though it took so long

Bitter tears taste so sweet
I’m seein’ my way for the first time in years
When the love around begins to suffer
And you can’t find love in one, in one another
Push away those bitter tears, bitter tears

Bitter Tears – INXS

My life so far has been an emotional roller coaster. There have been times I think I’ve cried an ocean of bitter tears. Some of the bad experiences were my own fault, some not. Some I think I deserved given the way I treated others, and some were a result of people taking advantage of me at my weakest point. For many years I suppressed it all with drug use, bad friend choices, and other distractions instead of trying to come to grips with what was eating at me. I was very lonely, and I still am.

The human mind is incredibly powerful, but not without it’s faults. Each day brings with it a cacophony of trials, each very small in the grand scheme of things, but effervescent in nature. They boil up from within because we tend to suppress minor problems until they become to irritating to ignore. A small scratch becomes an infected sore if not cleaned up early. Some people say,  Don’t sweat the little things!  That may be true on one level, but I feel the little things are best solved early, then set aside so as not to accumulate into a brow furrowing affair.

Part of the path I’m on now is a new awakening, a discovery of who I truly want to be. Everybody has an idealized view of their life and where their going, but wishes and reality do not always come together in a clear and concise package. Dream Big they say, Follow Your Dream or Stand Tall! These phrases and others are intended to illicit an inspirational response in people. To bad it wont always work for everyone, including myself.

I think I’m my biggest fan, and detractor. I can bring myself to the edge of pain and despair, wandering aimlessly thru the day with nothing but a bad moment stuck in my thoughts, or I can feel nothing but joy and hope for a better future, lost in thought all day with no distraction to alter my mood. I even have days filled with both, fighting against each other for the supremacy of my soul.

Yes, the human mind is assuredly the most complex computer there is, one prone to memory failures, hard drive crashes, data loss and power failure. Each day we are forced to reboot ourselves, trying to look at life from a clean angle without the combat of peace and hope giving way to indifference or insecurity. Ever hopeful we find purpose in this day, something to assuage our fears. A reason why we are here.

As I burrow deeper into myself, I realize I may not be ready for someone in my life until I can put aside the past and realize who I am. I need to let go the pain and fears that have so controlled my being for so long, I need to find me.

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Weird Guy With The Dog

If I Ever Lose My Faith

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You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy Church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse, but
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do

If I Ever Lose My Faith in You
By Sting, The Police

As I was driving in the Pennsylvania mountains this morning, I was thinking about the people and things I lean on in my day-to-day life. Family and friends can be a great support system when things get rough. Music and books can temporarily take you to another place, away from whatever is troubling you. Pets give you unconditional love no matter what. But when you stop and think about it, there’s only one thing you can really count on, yourself.

You are the one person in control of your life and where its going. No matter what anyone says, you have to take the advise or ignore it, you have to make amends or walk away, you have to change your path or continue on as you are. If you have a lack of willpower, no one can instill that in you, you have to dig deeper. If you don’t have faith in yourself, no one else will.

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Life can be very stormy, hard to see the way forward. The challenge we face can seem very daunting, insurmountable at times. One problem after another, sometimes many in a single day. Sometimes a little thing can set you off, turning an otherwise nice day into one of turmoil and despair. Gloomy clouds fall over you, fear stinging like a driving rain in your face.

You have to believe in yourself to get beyond this. You can’t let your past mistakes or fear hold you back. You can’t listen to the naysayers who tell you your ideas are foolish, unworthy. You can’t let the bad things in life block your view of what is beautiful and worthy of getting up every day for, and that is you.

You the person who loves to roll in the grass with your dog, sit by the campfire with your family, walk through the woods alone, sit by the ocean and listen to the waves. You the person who helps someone in need, with no want of pay. Listens when someone just needs to talk. Sits quietly holding someones hand when they just need a friend there beside them. You can be all this and more.

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The road of life is never straight. You may not be able to see what’s coming around the next turn. You can choose to live your life in fear for what comes next, or you can just believe in the power of you. You can face everything with the peace of mind that comes from within, the strength of hope and determination that you can overcome anything if you try.

When you hear your favorite song, see a beautiful sunrise, listen to the birds singing, you can feel very inspired. It can change your whole outlook on the day. As wonderful as those thing are, are they truly what is inspiring, or just the trigger to what’s already inside you? No matter what happens in this world, no matter what life throws at you, don’t ever lose your faith in you.

 

Policy Of Truth

You had something to hide
Should have hidden it, shouldn’t you
Now you’re not satisfied
With what you’re being put through
It’s just time to pay the price
For not listening to advice
And deciding in your youth
On the policy of truth

Policy Of Truth by Depeche Mode

The policy of truth is a blade used to smite the enemy, deceit. Used as a weapon, the veil of lies falls, exposing your soul to the light of truth. Used as a tool, the wool is sheared from our eyes giving us the ability to discern the best path.

As we examine the folly of our past, truth brings forward the realization of our shame. Shame for all the times lies were used to garner sympathy, to manipulate a gain. Ashamed at the selfish pursuit with disregard for others. Such is a drug addicts mind, deep in the despair. So strong the hold, lies overcome love of self, concern for family.

As we start to heal, the strength of the emotion becomes overpowering. We feel the pull of the ancient demon, calling out from the depths of our addiction, trying to pull us back to the comfort of numbness. Never shall we again fall victim to the sins of our past. The truth has set us free. Strong is our conviction, yet reminders of the past haunt our dreams.

Our policy of truth is the shield that protects us from all who would control our lives, including self. The beauty of it’s simplicity is the source of our strength. The policy of truth was not decided in our youth, we ignored it at that weak point. But now, through years of pain, years of despair, we see the truth for what it is. The only path forward.

I Am A Liar

“Momma said its just a little white lie, aint hurtin nobody.”
From the movie Forrest Gump

We humans lie to cover up something we’ve done, we lie to get something we want, we lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, but very often we lie to ourselves. I think it’s a normal way of compartmentalizing traumas in our lives and dealing with daily bullshit.

We tell ourselves, “It’s no big deal”and stuff the memory in a safety deposit box in our minds, and lock it away. For years we may forget the very existence of the incident, until something reminds you of it. Then, like a kick to your chest, it all comes rushing back. Every bad feeling you had, however small, is a time bomb waiting to go off someday.

Sometimes its a good thing we waited. As an adult, we have the reasoning power to process and put aside the pain and anger, the maturity to forgive the slight or transgression. The ability to understand no one is perfect, we all make many mistakes. But for many young children, they have no way to cope, and this can lead to anger or other complications including suicide.

Children today are surrounded by lairs. Their parents, everything they watch on TV, and most of their friends. What great examples they have to learn from! They will grow up not seeing any problem with lying. But if everyone lies, there is no trust. Without trust, there are no endearing relationships. Its like sex without love, shallow and meaningless. Nothing but a selfish act in an effort to relieve ones carnal desires.

Sometimes we lie to avoid the daily “Drama” that just seems to follow some people. “I’m sorry, I have to walk my pet fish, so I can’t come over right now.” Some people have lied so much, its just a normal part of their day. You never really know if their telling the truth or not. After awhile, people like that are going to end up alone and sad, wondering what went wrong with their life.

To not be a lair takes effort. You must understand how your lies effect yourself and others. Realizing the self destructive nature of lies, you must strive to change who you are. That means being truthful with yourself. Not always an easy proposition. Each morning when you get up, ask yourself…”Am I going to continue leading a life of deceiving myself and others, or shall I adopt a policy of truth?”

Another Sunrise Closer

It’s another sunrise closer to my dream. I’m enjoying the ride, snapping a few shots, and a song comes on that just crushes me emotionally every time I hear it. I was thinking of you while taking the pictures, and the song drove it home. This post is for you mom.

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I Am Weird, Hear Me Roar!

This last week I have been struggling with the same old demon, self doubt. When you’ve had something weighing you down for so long, it takes a lot of effort and time to overcome it’s hold. It hides in the shadows of my mind, waiting for the slightest sign of weakness so it can assert itself over my thoughts and actions. Like an ancient Knight, I joust with the opponent, with each pass I add another dent to its armor, gain a little more control.

a (17)Even now, as the very attractive server brings my dinner, I try to engage her in conversation while my inner self says “Be careful” she may think I’m just a weird truck driver! It’s actually a relief when she appears genuinely interested in talking and we had a great conversation. I still didn’t have the nerve to ask her name, but I thank her for the conversation. I come to this truck stop often, next time I’ll ask! It’s funny how the mind works.

a (122)Also today, I got the news that I was voted the Employee of the Month at the company I work for. I must say I was very surprised by that as, there again, I felt I was just an average employee. Ive always felt I do a good job with the customers, even the jerks, take good care of the truck, who wants to break down, and I try to keep calls to the office down to a minimum. I’m not the only driver after all! Thank you to all who voted for me, it means a lot!

a (45)Slowly but surely I drag myself out of the shadow of my past, and into the light of my future. I’ve decided not to wait, but go ahead and purchase a small sailboat this year. Something around 25 feet or so. There are many to be found here in Maine for as little as $3500.00 in good shape. This will not be my “Liveaboard” sailboat, just a learners permit! It’s small enough to sail single handed up and down the coast, but big enough to spend a week long vacation on it in comfort.

a (66)I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and just follow my dream. I fear if I wait I may find one excuse or another, delay after delay, and wind up years from now wondering why I never followed through. My dream is to be self sufficient, self contained and self motivated. Each day I find something of beauty, say something kind, do something polite and do something weird! After all, I am weird, hear me roar!

 

 

 

Step Back From That Ledge

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I think many of us have felt we couldn’t go on at least once in our lives. Stress and a strong hopeless feeling can overtake our minds to the point of contimplating suicide. Everybody has a breaking point, so they say, but can you change where that point is? I think you can.

I have known a few people who have tried to end it all, and 2 who succeeded. I have heard some say that many people who try are just crying out for help, that they really don’t want to die. Maybe that’s true. But if they don’t get any help, if the screwed up system we have fails, what makes some recover on their own while others end up dead? Mental illness is part of the story, the closing of so many psychiatric hospitals another.

The unnecessary complexity of the health care system, and laws that make it next to impossible to help someone who is not in control of their life, was brought on, in my opinion, by a group who feels that people have a right to die in that alley instead of being instatutionalized. This is a huge problem. When all those hospitals were closed years ago, many people were dumped on the street and died within the first few years of being released. With all the technology and people who really want to help others, we could have fixed the bad apples in the system instead of closing them. Good intentions failed so many due to a lack of common sense.

There have been many points in my life when I felt like giving up, but I’m to stubborn to quit. Each day I find at least one reason to keep going. Life is a gift, not a curse. It was given to you by your parents. It’s not yours to take. If your situation is bad, change it. Don’t say you can’t because that’s not true. You are the person at the wheel of your future. You have to steer around the obstacles, avoid the potholes when you can, and maintain your life. If you look around, you can find something each day worth living for.

For me its simple, a great sunrise, the smell of good coffee, the taste of fresh bread, the sound of running water, bird song in the warm spring sun, Vinny looking up at me begging for breakfast. These simple things make each day worth living. As you all have noticed, music is also inspirational to me. Here’s today’s music to live for.