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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The Gauntlet

Whenever I hear those words I think of 3 things..

v1.bTsxMTM3MjY4MjtqOzE3NDExOzEyMDA7MTUzNjsyMDQ4#1 The 1977 movie staring Clint Eastwood and Sandra Locke. IMDB describes the movie as, “A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make it into town alive.” Like most men, I have always been a fan of Clint Eastwood and his style of brash, no nonsense bravado in all his films.

 

 

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#2 To me he epitomizes the stereotypical hard assed, blood and guts male that many a young boy of my era aspired to be, if only in our dreams. Unfortunately I for one could not attain the level of machismo needed to shelter me from all the bullies of my youth. Suffered I did through school and more, all the while dreaming of a time when I would be the one in control. I feel that time has come to pass in my life, and I relish it.

#3 The section of I95 that runs along coastal New Jersey north through New York City and into Connecticut. Ask any truck driver in the northeast and he will agree, this section of highway is “The Gauntlet.” Many drivers from the Midwest refuse to drive here because of the traffic and the vast confusion of roads. Many times I have been intimidated by the mad rush of those familiar with the area, dissuaded and confused with the many interchanges to be negotiated to arrive at a said delivery. This is not for the faint of heart in a car never mind a truck 70 feet long!

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Crossing George Washington Bridge Into New York City

In my years of driving I think this one area has helped me to overcome more than just a fear of getting lost or other such misgivings. I think by driving under this pressure I have found an inner strength and calmness in the face of adversity that will help guide me as I go forward into my chosen future, as I face uncertainty in unprotected waters. I don’t “Rattle” easy and stay calm even in the worst situations, a blessing to help make better decisions in the face of fear.

One learns many things in simple, daily experiences if you are willing to pay attention and see the lessons in life. Never should you feel content in all things lest you fall before the hard reality that you are never in complete control of your life. Never do you amass such a wealth of knowledge that nothing more can be added. The day you think that is the day you fail completely.

 

The Chariot Of My Dreams

When self doubt rears it’s ugly head, I ask myself “why am I doing this.” Years ago that doubt would take over and I would most likely walk away from whatever it was I feared and give up. But not this time. I will not hang my head and go quietly into the night. This time I will fight with all my might and win.

It’s hard to put into words my motivation, but I feel the true reason for my goal of living on a boat is the fear of the unknown combined with my want of living a minimalist lifestyle. I have a deep need to prove to myself that I can achieve my goals, I can live a much more fulfilling life. I freely gave up all my past friends, sold or gave away anything of value I had, all for a dream that was clouded in the insecurity I have heaped upon myself. I must release myself from this burden or die a broken man.

Now that I have bought a boat, and the overall quest has begun, I also find myself reassessing what is a reasonable goal for my future, what is it I am REALLY looking for. All I know is that everything in my past is NOT what I wanted, so it’s time for something else. Will I sail to distant shores? Not in this boat. I’m afraid that goal was a little beyond my ability to bring to fruition, the costs for a boat of that caliber were just too high.

As I think this through I realize crossing an ocean would be a wonderful experience, but so would sailing to the Florida Keys, crossing the Gulf to Louisiana and Texas, maybe cross the Panama Canal and travel up the west coast to Alaska. There’s so many places this boat can take me that are completely foreign to me, and I could spend the rest of my life sailing and not see them all. So why do I need to cross an ocean? I really don’t. Like most things in life, it’s all about compromise.

So as I refit the chariot of my dreams over the next year or so I now understand what it is I am searching for, what drives my restless spirit to cast off the lines and sail into the unknown. I want to live free from the drain of modern society and all the burdens placed on us to “fit in” and be accepted. I want to conquer the fear residing in all of us, that nagging doubt that stops many from reaching their goals. I will risk it all for the beauty of the human spirit that resides in all of us, and I will do it on my own.

This post and it’s title were inspired by this video by Liz Clark, a woman I admire for her inner strength and courage to take on the challenge. Watch this short video, you won’t be disappointed.

The Truth Of Ones Destiny

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Do you believe in destiny? Do you think your future is predetermined such as in the concept of fate? Like this bridge, do you think there is only one road to your future? I for one know not what the future holds, or if some all seeing guide is providing clues to lead us one way or another. All I know is we are presented with choices each day that have a direct impact on our lives, and I try to choose based on life experience, instinct, common sense and lessons my parents taught me. I must say my choices have become less problematic as of late.

By simplifying everything in my life I have cut down on the afore mentioned choices therefor reducing the chances of bad decisions. At least that’s what I tell myself. In reality I hope it’s just the knowledge I have amassed over the years of trial and error that lead me to the best decisions. Either way I see a better future than I did 15 years ago with a real sense of accomplishment for how far I have come. I now like me.

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Like the beautiful calm in this picture of Portland harbor I took last winter, I feel that same calmness washing over me as I plan for the refit and my time on my sailboat. Whether it’s 5 years or the remainder of my life, that time will be filled with serenity, stillness and a profound sense of content. Each day I awaken to the cry of gulls, the gentle slap of the water on the hull, all of the trials to date will wash away in the solitude of a life immersed only in nature. Each photograph, meal or walk on a deserted beach with nothing but my thoughts and my dog, will be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I have worked so hard for. No houses, no people, no demands….only freedom.

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I think the truth of ones destiny lies in the truth of your heart. Only if your willing to listen and understand what it’s saying to you can you attain a stillness to your soul, a bounty of blessings free for those who make it their goal. Only when you understand what really matters will you be at peace. My destiny lies on the sea, and to her I say, “Just a little longer and I’ll be right home to you.”

 

 

New World Man

He’s a rebel and a runner
He’s a signal turning green
He’s a restless young romantic
Wants to run the big machine

He’s got a problem with his poisons
But you know he’ll find a cure
He’s cleaning up the systems
To keep his nature pure

Learning to match the beat of the old-world man
Learning to catch the heat of the third-world man

He’s got to make his own mistakes
And learn to mend the mess he makes
He’s old enough to know what’s right
And young enough not to choose it
He’s noble enough to win the world
But weak enough to lose it

He’s a new-world man

He’s a radio receiver
Tuned to factories and farms
He’s a writer and ranger and a young boy bearing arms
He’s got a problem with his powers
His weapons on patrol
He’s got to walk a fine line
And keep his self-control

Trying to save the day for the old-world man
Trying to pave the way for the third-world man

He’s not concerned with yesterday
He knows constant change is here today
He’s noble enough to know what’s right
But weak enough not to choose it
He’s wise enough to win the world
But fool enough to lose it

He’s a new-world man

Learning to match the beat of the old-world man
He’s learning to catch the heat of the third-world man

He’s a new world man
He’s a new world man

New World Man – Rush

Rush has always been one of my favorite bands. Their lyrics put forth a concise vision, a view expressed by many without voice, only thought. This song brings forth a feeling of acceptance about who I am, a rebel and a runner who has left his poisons in the past to run the big machine. A romantic soul searching for the truth of this life, trying to keep my nature pure. I understand I had it all wrong, I ignored the wisdom of the elders even when I knew it to be right. Foolishness is tied up in the heart of a boy, the rod of reality will remove it far from him.

Experience has shown me the correct path, yet I forget to follow it at times. Caught up in the moment my eyes are sometimes blinded by wants not needs, fears instead of hopes. I am human after all, full of weakness and shortcomings, sadness and regret, hopes and dreams, nobility and kindness. The human spirit can overcome almost anything but only if the will is there. I have proven my will by walking away from my sordid past, but it takes more than one conquest to make a new world man.

When I went to the Winterport Boat Yard to reserve my space for this fall, I met several other boat owners preparing their boats for launch. We spoke for a few minutes until I expressed my hopes for the future upon which they laughed and wished me luck, then walked away from me. At first I was a little dismayed, maybe a little hurt by their disregard of my goals, but upon reflection I see no reason to let the words of old fools discourage me in any way. They may have been sailing for years, obviously have more money than me, but I have the strength of my convictions, the power of my will that has been greatly tested, and I am no quitter.

As I’ve said before, what are you willing to give up to get what you want? I have given up almost everything I owned, still working a job I don’t really like, and walked away from every so called “Friend” I had. I have no house, no apartment, an old used car, and cheap wal-mart clothes. And yet I have something many people with millions never have…hope of a better life by my own hands. Nothing can take away from my devotion to my ideals, my commitment to see this through. I have tried and failed many times in my life, but this time I will succeed.

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Walk Along The Lonely Street Of Dreams

I don’t know where I’m goin
But I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
But here I go again, here I go again.

Tho’ I keep searching for an answer
I never seem to find what I’m looking for.
Oh Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on
‘Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time.

Just another heart in need of rescue
Waiting on love’s sweet charity
An’ I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days
‘Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a hobo I was born to walk alone.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
But here I go again, here I go again,
Here I go again, here I go.

An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time.

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
‘Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
But here I go again, here I go again,
Here I go again, here I go,
Here I go again.

Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

I think this song describes my outlook on life in such a deep and compelling way it’s almost eerie. I find myself looking back at moments I wish I had made different decisions, but then I realize if I had chosen a different path I’m not sure it would have been better. But one things for sure, I aint wasting no more time. The past is past, nothing can be changed now.

 The strength from within keeps me moving forward, never again will I fall prey to the weakness of the past. Never again will I allow the sins of the flesh overpower my aspirations for a better life. I am stronger than the pull of the salve that hides the truth of happiness. Nothing good is ever easy, nothing worth living is without effort. I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.

 If I am to live this life alone, so be it. I am learning that the power to overcome starts inside each of us. Yes, assurances and buttressing from others can assuage fears of making incorrect decisions, but the truth of oneself can only be found from within. Only when you truly understand what makes you happy can you find your “Val Halla.” Only when you accept who you really are will you see the way to a peaceful life.

I have written many times about living a life on the sea, pulling away from the lure of the big lights of modern society and all it’s trappings. I felt if I saved enough money for the “Perfect” boat, all my problems would be set aside in the grace of the dream. Now with the slap of reality in my father’s death I see the shadow of age growing longer, the realization of the shortness of time pushing me to accept that I will never find the “Perfect” anything, never have exactly what the vision leads us to believe. It’s not a compromise, just reality. I can accept a smaller part of the overall dream now because some is better than none.

I may be just another heart in need of rescue, but if it never comes I will carry on. My hope for the future does not rest on the love from another, but on the love of oneself. If your not happy with the person you are, how can anyone be happy with you? If your not true to what you believe in, are you not deceiving others with a false image? Time has a way of shining a light on your shortcomings, but you have to embrace them to change who you are for the better.

The “only road I’ve ever known” is not the way to the fulfillment of my life and I know it. Grandiose plans with no hope of achievement is the road to discouragement, not a life of contentment. If your willing to give up all for the sake of some you may find it is enough. Is it not better to live half a dream instead on none? That is why I chose a smaller boat instead of waiting for the perfect one. What good is a dream if it’s never fulfilled?

Tomorrow I place the down payment not on the boat of my dreams, but the boat that will take me down the road to that dream. I realize the dream is not anything of this earth, but rather a state of mind. The dream is a connection with all the things I hold dear such as a connection with nature. The boat is nothing more than the vessel that puts me into the “thick of it” as it were where I can immerse myself in the beauty of what is free to all if you only stop to see it.

So here I go again on my own, walking down a different road than I’ve known. Like a drifter I may be born to walk alone, but I’ve made up my mind, I aint wasting no more time!

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Higher Ground

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warrin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

Powers keep on lyin’
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

I’m so darn glad he let me try it again
‘Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
Till I reach my highest ground

Teachers keep on teachin’
Preachers keep on preachin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long, oh no

Lovers keep on lovin’
Believers keep on believin’
Sleepers just stop sleepin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long, oh no

I’m so glad that he let me try it again
‘Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
Till I reach my highest ground

An’ Stevie knows that nobody’s gonna bring me down
Till I reach the highest ground, ’cause me ‘n’ Stevie, see
We’re gonna be a sailin’ on the funky, funky sound (till I reach the highest ground)
Bustin’ out and I’ll break you out, ’cause I’m sailin’ on
(Till I reach the highest ground)
Just sailin’ on, sailin’ on the higher ground (till I reach the highest ground)

Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Someone said to me recently that I was reinventing myself on this blog, but I don’t see it that way. I think I’m the same person now as I was in my youth, minus the drugs! I don’t think much of who we are on a very deep level changes over our lifetimes. Sure your opinion about this or that will differ, your taste in friends may temper, but the core of who you are will not. You still hold on to the things that brought you joy, you still like the same music, you still follow the same ideals. Were you born with this? To some degree yes, but alot of it was taught to you when you were young by your parents, teachers, and even the shows you watched on TV. You are the cumulative effect of genetics and outside influences in your formative years.

So who am I? I have asked myself that question alot over the last few years, and I think I denied the truth as a way to placate those to whom I feel the most connected, the few that matter in my life. I’ve tried to keep a balance of what they wanted and what matters to me to keep the peace, not ruffle feathers as it were. But I understand now that if they truly care about me, as I’m sure they do, they will accept me no matter what. Here’s a few truth’s about who I really am!

I love hard ass rock and roll. I know many of the songs I put on my blog could be considered mellow, but I am really edgy and heavy metal underneath. Nothing fires me up more than playing Higher Ground at 120 decibels on my new car stereo! I get too loud and curse alot when I’ve had a few, much to the disdain of those with me. I like guns and have many, including an AR15 and a 44 magnum revolver. I don’t like people much and prefer to keep to myself most of the time. I do put on a good show around those I work with, but only 2 have proven to be anything more than workmates. Their loss I say.

My goal for the future is quite simple, get away from society as much as reasonably possible. I’m tired of the social drama you have to go through just to fit in. I don’t care about your kids, your new house, what car you drive or how much you make. I’m tired of all the insecure imps thinking with their genitals, spouting their ill informed liberal opinions about this group or that, trying to impose their belief system on the nation as a whole. I’m not saying you should shut up, you have the right to speak your mind. I’m saying I don’t have to listen to you. In comes the sailboat.

With a sailboat I can have what I feel has always been at the core of who I am. FREEDOM! I won’t be tied to any one place, free to go where I choose when I choose. Free to be the person I so long to be, free to express in pictures what inspires me the most…nature in it’s raw form. Although I can be a little abrasive, deep down I am very sensitive about certain things. Every day I see animals dead on the highway, and every time it bothers me. I can’t watch anything about animals being killed, even by other animals! Nature is what it is, but I’m not fascinated with watching animals die. One of the hardest days of my life will be when I have to put my dog Vinny down in the not so distant future. I’m not an activist by any means, nor am I a vegetarian. If I was hungry enough Bambi would be on the table, but animals should be treated humanely.

I don’t care about the middle east, and I’m never going to visit a Muslim country. They have been killing their own for centuries with no end in sight. Yes it’s sad what happens to the people in war ravaged countries, but it’s their own doing. If they really wanted to end their strife they need to stand up as one and take control of their countries. I’m not against sending food or medical supplies but that’s it. We need to take care of our own now instead of sending our sons and daughters to die in another country. And if you choose to go over to volunteer and get abducted, your on your own…STUPID! What did you think was going to happen?

The only thing in this country that is a right is “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and that’s all. the rest are gifts as we are the most generous people in the world. You are not entitled to anything else unless you are willing to work for it. My father was never without a job, even when it meant working in the cold winters of Maine. He understood what it was to be a citizen, to take care of your own, to carry your own weight. As children we wanted for nothing, we felt secure, and I thank him and my mother for their efforts.

Yes there are those to whom we should strive to take care of, those who through no fault of their own, cannot support themselves for one reason or another. I don’t think anyone would deny them food, clothing, shelter or medical needs. But today’s society has become a feeding ground for all those who are not willing to put forth the effort, those who feel they are entitled to these things. I for one am tired of paying for you, so in the future I will work only enough for me to live so I can pay almost no taxes that go to those who abuse the system. I will do my part for those that deserve help through voluntarism and direct help. Their is nothing more satisfying than looking into the eyes of someone you have helped in a direct way. It’s all the payment you need.

No, I’m not reinventing myself. I’m embracing who I really am without the worry of being judged, without apology for the things I hold dear. As I strive for my Higher Ground I feel a great relief in expressing what I feel is my life’s work, my true purpose in this world. I wish to bring another perspective of what life has to offer, another view of the world around us. I want to put in pictures how I see the beauty around us that so many take for granted, the quiet side of our existence on this planet called Earth. If we could learn to live with nature, go back to a simpler time, I think we could understand what it means to have a better life worth living.

PS: On another crazy note of who I am…I get my first tattoo’s in a few weeks!

Exceptional People

I’m sitting in Carlisle PA tonight, and I will continue to Maine tomorrow and take a couple days off to rest and have my truck serviced. I always look forward to these brief respites back in the state of my birth. Even with all my travels it still feels like home.

In my lifetime to date I have met many people. Most are but a small blip in the movie reel running through my mind. Past coworkers and acquaintances left in the wake of time, some I thought were friends that have faded away. Lonely as I am, I was reminded recently that all is not lost, there are some exceptional people left in this world.

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This is the TA truck stop in Commerce GA that I stayed at two nights ago. It’s not far from Atlanta where I picked up my return load to PA. As I’ve said before I generally choose TA stops due to their cleanliness and amenities. It’s been about five months since I was last here, and I went to the same restaurant as the last visit. Only a “Chain” restaurant but I like to treat myself once a week just to keep it interesting.

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When I go out to eat I always sit at the bar for two reasons. I don’t feel the need to take a table that would serve many and I find the service faster at the bar. As I walk in I see the same young woman working that I remember from my last visit. When I sat down I could see the look of recognition in her eyes.

Mary is her name and she remembered me from my blog and the photographs I showed her on my last visit. I must admit I was a little stunned she remembered as most people in the service industry meet so many people It’s hard to remember a face after so long. They were not very busy and I showed her some more of my recent photo’s and blog posts.

When I told her of my fathers passing, and she read a few posts I had written about it, I could see genuine sadness in her eyes. It’s hard to explain how I felt right then, but I guess it borders on an understanding of how she was brought up, what her outlook on life is, what makes her an exceptional person. You might say, “How could you possibly know that in the moment”, but I say you can.

I think when you first meet someone there is a period of time when there is no mask, no false bravado or fake niceties. We tend to fall back on our upbringing and the lessons taught in being polite in society. I find this most evident in the south where family is still the most important part of the culture. Parents still take a greater hand in the raising of their children, instead of allowing teachers and modern culture impress ideals in young minds we may not agree with.

Church groups and an etiquette of modesty are more often the norm, not the look at me mentality that rules the airwaves and drunken clubs downtown. I may not be a religious person, but I can see the effect of that upbringing and the type of people it produces. I prefer them, to speak the truth, instead of the loose and free lifestyle of many younger people, or the bitter and angry middle aged souls that feel the world owes them something. I have felt the pull of that bitterness many times in the last few years but I am fighting with all my will to escape from it’s grasp.

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As I walk Vinny on a dusty patch of grass I start to think about other exceptional people from my past. Mr Lowell my high school Asst Principal, Mr Mason my Jr high science teacher, and of course my parents. The person I am today is due in part to the things they taught me as a young boy. Some I remember well, some come back to me in a given situation, but all were vital to the stable and productive person I hope I have become. And to Mary’s mother I say thank you, you did a great job!

 

Thank You 

How about getting off of these antibiotics
How about stopping eating when I’m filled up
How about them transparent dangling carrots
How about that ever elusive kudo

[Chorus]
Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

How about me not blaming you for everything
How about me enjoying the moment for once
How about how good it feels to finally forgive you
How about grieving it all one at a time

[Chorus]

The moment I let go of it was
The moment I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it was
The moment I touched down

How about no longer being masochistic
How about remembering your divinity
How about unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How about not equating death with stopping

[Chorus]

Thank You – Alanis Morissette

When I was young and selfish I had no use for thankfulness. I had the world by the balls, one single squeeze and my will would come to pass. My mind was unbridled by the stupidity of foolish adults, unclouded with the brutality of realism. I knew what must be done and no one was going to stop me.

And then I woke up…

Thank you dad for being the man you were, even though I was to blind to see the wisdom of your words. You never backed down from your responsibilities no matter what. You were a great man and I didn’t deserve you.

Thank you mom for the strength you have shown throughout your life. Even with all that you have endured your steadfast manor and positive attitude are a reflection of the well rounded person I am striving to imitate.

Thank you Cheryl my sister for taking such good care of our mother. I’m so happy she has your help in the most vulnerable time of her life when the help of family is at it’s greatest need. I respect you greatly, even if you wont talk to me.

Thank you Greg my brother for all the times you stuck up for me as a child, all the days you made time for me, even when I got in the way. Though we have grown apart to some degree, I always look forward to your calls and our limited time together. You will always be with me.

Thank you Kathy my sister for all the times you took care of Cheryl and I when we were kids. Even though I don’t remember much about those years I know you were a caring and steady hand when mom needed the help. For your efforts you should hold your head up high and remember your brother is thinking of you.

Thank you David my brother for the fun times we had when I moved to Dallas to get to know you. Even though you decided to move away from the family and broke off contact many years ago, I hope you are doing well. I will come looking for you again soon.

Thank you John my brother in law. You are the only person in my life that has treated me the same no matter what. Through all the years I could count on you to help me when I needed it the most, and you always treated me with respect even if you didn’t agree with my lifestyle. That says alot about you and I have nothing but respect for you to.

Thank you Sheldon and Dave, Ryan and Alex, Andy and Scott and all the other outstanding people I work with. This company has been nothing but kind and generous to me in my time of need. They have bent over backwards to accommodate my situation with my folks without hesitation and I am in their debt. Now I may be able to repay that kindness to some degree in the near future and I wholeheartedly embrace the challenge. More on that as it unfolds!

Thank you to all the friends I have made in the blog world. Your encouragement and support has helped me open up more in the last 2 years than I have in the 50 before! It truly has been a blessing to “Unload” all of this from my mind and gain a better perspective.

And lastly, Thank you to me for realizing it was time to embrace who I am. No more hiding behind false bravado, trying to fit in with people I didn’t really agree with, living a lifestyle that led only to grief and sadness. Thank you for coming to terms with all the pain, some self inflicted, that I have been living with and realizing it’s really all part of what makes me who I am. I now like who I am. Understanding I can’t fix all I have done, just strive to be a better person with the time I have left, make a difference that is worthy of the gifts that were given to me. I am the Weird Guy With The Dog and I am happy about it!

Fragile Lives, Shattered Dreams

When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat

Now the neighborhood’s cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

Jamie had a chance, well she really did
Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids
Mark still lives at home cause he’s got no job
He just plays guitar and smokes a lot of pot

Jay committed suicide
Brandon OD’d and died
What the hell is going on
The cruelest dream, reality

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring

I was just sitting in a truck stop restaurant having dinner and I overheard two young women, both in their early 20’s, discussing their lives in the booth behind me. One woman was very animated in describing her unhappiness with her relationship. She went on and on about he did this, he did that, he never this or that. I thought to myself how silly her complaints seemed to me, but is it just because I am male, or because I’m much older?

Why when her friend said just leave him and she countered with “but then I’ll have no money or car” did I feel like she just didn’t get it? She didn’t seem to realize how petty and shallow that sounded. Is she just that immature or does she see relationships as a way to get things? Is her self esteem so low that the thought of going it alone seem beyond the limit of her ability?

I will admit I was very much like her when I was young. My self esteem was so low I really didn’t understand my worth in this world, the value of my life was lost in the simple thinking of day to day existence. Without a goal, without a plan to achieve it, I was open to the influence of others looking to use me for their gain. Just as that young woman was using him for his car and paycheck, he was using her for sex most likely. I hope she wakes up sooner than I did and realizes the benefit to the world she could be if she just believed in herself.

I think the dreams of youth can be inflated by pop culture, social media, ideological professors, disconnected parents and other outside influences that can cloud a young and fragile mind. Too often we read stories of young “Snowflake” millennial’s that can’t adjust to the world outside of the collage cocoon, no “Safe Space” to run to so they wont be hurt by words or ideas they don’t agree with. Just because you have a degree in some social science dreamscape does not mean you will find a six figure salary your first day after graduation, or ever for that matter. I don’t feel bad that you now have a huge student loan, it’s your responsibility to pay it off not the government or the taxpayers. Welcome to the real world!

I don’t feel you need a degree in this world to make a difference. We all do our part to make things better in some way, even something as simple as holding the door for others has an impact. You don’t need a degree to check on your elderly neighbors instead of thinking “Meals on Wheels” or some other agency will insure they are fed and safe.  All the big ideals of Globalization has caused us to ignore the people in our small sphere of influence. We forgot what it feels like to truly help another individual on a personal level. I’ve done this in the past, and I’m going to do it again.

Every time I see a politician or celebrity on TV talking about this government program or that charity, how the children will suffer or the homeless are dying, it really makes me mad. I wonder if they ever directly bought some food for a poor family, brought a homeless person into their home and fed them? You can bet that NEVER has happened! No, they donate their time for the adds, hold a fundraiser for a charity, or just write a check. They go back to their gated community and congratulate themselves on how they made the rest of us look uncaring and mean spirited.

I’m afraid modern society in many ways has forgotten what it means to be a good neighbor, what it means to help someone directly. Oh there are those who volunteer at a soup kitchen or even join the peace corps and travel to Africa to help starving children. To them I say thank you for really giving it your all. But why can’t you start right here at home? Are not other countries responsible for their own destiny for the most part? Why should we neglect our own while sending billions overseas, sometimes to people who hate us? Am I wrong or does that just seem stupid!

I don’t hold out much hope that anything will change in the near future. Our leaders are so power hungry they are blind to the plight of ordinary people. They are so removed from reality that our voices are nothing but the incessant buzz of a house fly to be swatted. The saddest part of it all is that it’s our own fault. We keep blindly voting the same group back in time after time, even though we complain about the lack of results. Sounds like the definition of insanity to me!