Friday, April 3, 2009

A Short Hike, A Long View

Sometimes staring at the blank post window is intimidating. It's one thing when you have a definite idea you want to work on, or if something odd, scary, or amusing happened during the day. But when it's just another featureless day in the life, then the post window is like an unpaid bill. It's odd. Sometimes I think about firing off a screed on one of the many things that make me want to screed: the MSM, enviro-weenies, tattooed chicks, libs and leftards, Teh Preznit, nanny state laws, and on and on and on. But the line for that soapbox stretches around the block, and there are zillions of fine, angry voices railing against the idiocy, and the ugly. One of my older posts actually got linked on someone else's blog a while back. He described the wfb as a roadside park on the information highway. I liked that a lot. And maybe that's part of the reason I haven't used this small forum to go off on all the bullshit out there. It's not my gig, so to speak. Anyway.

Today I fell back on the routine that sustained me pretty well between the time when the artistic burn went out, and the heart thang punched the re-set button on my whole existence. It is a daily routine of polished slack. Coffee on the couch with Mary, and Sam the Cat. Breakfast. Internet. A few minor errands. A hike up the hill. A little straightening up around the house. Dinner. Especially good is the hike up the hill. It feels good to work muscles, breathe hard, sweat. It just feels good to be able to do it. I remember well the long frightening weeks before the angiogram, when I could barely walk around the block. Waking up at night with chest pain, and hoping it would pass so I wouldn't have to call 911. And how bad that short stay in the hospital, and the deceptively simple seeming procedure kicked my ass. Gagdad Bob gave me a good piece of advice after it was over. He said (paraphrasing, here) to look at every day as if I was playing in extra innings. That each one after was a gift. I try to do this, and much of the time I succeed. And much of the time I don't. Even now, some two and a half years later, I find that I get angry quicker than I used to. My whole range of emotion swings from pole to pole faster, and easier, too. So if I'm more easily moved to anger or depression, I am also more easily moved to appreciation, gratitude, and thankfulness. I guess it all evens out, sorta.

And today, as I pushed up the steep hill on Solejar Dr., I wrestled with a lot of emotion, a lot of decision, and a lot of uncertainty. Big decisions, and possibly bigger changes are right on the horizon. I started writing about this stuff yesterday, but The Voice just said keep quiet about it for now. So I sidetracked off, wrote about Booger the Cat, and left an incoherent mess of a post that ended abruptly as soon as dinner gave me an excuse to get off the computer. And I'm not trying to be coy, but I still need to just sit on this stuff, and pray on it for a while.

I've learned not to pray for what I want. Because what I want at any given moment is colored by my immediate circumstances. What I think I want is not necessarily the best thing for me. So I pray: It is not what I want, but what God wants for me; not what I would do, but what God would have me do. You see- I figure that God has a somewhat wider perspective than my own, and that God ultimately has my best interests at heart. And prayer works. That's why so many people rely on it.

Give you an example- I started the part time job with the local school district as soon as I was on my feet after the heart thang. At first working a full eight hour shift kicked my ass so hard that it took me two days to recover afterward. But I got my strength back, and by that summer I was digging out sprinkler lines, working a jack hammer, and pouring concrete. A full time position came open- the one I subbed for the other night at Stephen King Elementary. I put in for the job. I did not get hired. Instead, they hired the twenty three year old kid. I was pretty disappointed. Now I am glad. I can handle doing that night run on a short term basis, but as a daily grind it would have beaten me down. It wouldn't have been long before I purely hated it. I would have been stuck there, too. At my age I don't have the years left to go job hopping trying to start one last career before the clock runs out. So that was a case in point. Now, I'm not saying that if I would have prayed to get the job, then I would have got it. God works, as they say, in mysterious ways. But I did pray for God's will in the matter, and in retrospect I can see that things worked out better for me than they would have if I'd got what I thought I wanted at the time.

And this week will be Easter vacation for the schools, and this year there will be no week long project like last year. So it's a week of slack, adulterated only by the mundane tasks of life in the last days of the world as we know it. Not a bad thing at all.



Ricky Raccoon said...

Great post, John. Thanks.
Yes. We pay for the “ups”.
Some people look like they never get the chance. I don’t think I would want that, if I could choose.

walt said...

"...a roadside park on the information highway."

With robots!

I'm convinced that the Biggest Truth is embedded in the smallest de-tails of our lives -- even unto how we have that cup of coffee, how we love (or endure) our cat(s).

Your sincerity is your gift; the content of your posts is contingent.

Sal said...

walt is right- the sincerity shines through. I file you under "No BS" in the bookmarks.

I, too, simply pray for God's will for everyone. I think that may be a mark of older/wiser. Or maybe lazy. I'm not sure.

xlbrl said...

It would not be better if things happened to men just as they wish--

julie said...

Yep, what they all said :)
A friend and former coworker of DH's left a comment on my family history blog the other day, which I think applies a bit here, as well:

I got lost reading these engrossing letters...I love the old pictures and letters with slices of their life. Who knew the "boring" details of their daily lives (what they ate, who they visited, how they entertained themselves, etc) could be so interesting to others.

What makes it interesting, of course, is you - your perspective, your honesty, your wisdom.

I don't think there is such a thing as a featureless day; rather there are days where we forget to be present because they seem so ordinary. But then, I think some of the most astounding beauty is often hidden in the ordinary, so maybe my perspective is a little skewed :)

Hans Urs von Balthasar said...

This, the level of experience, is even in ordinary life the realm where all life's irreconcilable aspects become integrated. The recalcitrance and drudgery of everyday existence induce us to flee into a sphere of illusion where we think we are going to come face to face with the beautiful in distilled form. And yet we know that it is only the overcoming of workaday rigours and perseverance in them that will hew out the precious stone which has to emerge from the rough block of our existence. The really beautiful shines from the place where the real has itself acquired form, where the seductive opposition between illusion and disillusion has been transcended. The totality of existence remains a mystery, but one the form of whose appearance is not a strange enigma for the experienced person who has been tested by existence; for him it is a luminous space which he has embraced. By having experienced existence the person who has thus become wise now understands something of the mystery of Being.