The enigma that is man…Just Jot it January

Today’s prompt is enigma.

I don’t understand…

Why, centuries after man embarked on the ages of “Enlightenment” and “Reason” we are more devoid of both than in any period in history…

Why the least accomplished generation ever is the most over-documented and photographed…

Why we have devolved into listening only with the intent of waiting our turn to speak and ignoring what is being said…

Why we have so much ability to judge and almost none to evaluate and improve our own selves…

Why we continue to hate and murder in the name of “religions” that proclaim peace and love..

Why we use people and idolize things when we should idolize people and use things…

Why we harnessed the laws of Science and Nature to create pollution and weapons capable of destroying both…

Why we chastise those of color and then lie in the sun to look like them…

Why we chase the appearance of youth when we should be embracing the grace and wisdom of our years…

Why we idolize the wealthy celebrity and demonize the calloused hands of the working man…

Man truly is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by a puzzle.

I don’t get it..

The Superman Saga…Just Jot it January

Today’s JusJotJan topic is a good one.

The prompt for JusJoJan 2019, January 3rd, is your blog. Why did you start blogging? How did you come up with your theme, if you have one? How has it changed your life? Tell us about your blog in your jot!

My blog definitely has a story behind it.

The name Superman can’t find a phone booth has a history. Through various phases of my life, I have been dubbed the moniker “Superman” in good and bad contexts alike. I have always tried to save the day. I was always able to stay up late, get up early and get through the day. But the most recent incarnation was when my wife, frustrated at my failure to stay at home, feel sick and dwell on my illness, chastised me for my stubbornness and said “Ok Superman! Do what you want, you’re bulletproof I guess!”

It wasn’t her fault, I was being stubborn. To me, not acting sick is the key to feeling healthy.

What she didn’t understand was that my insistence on dealing with my illness, failing career and mounting debt was to be strong, or at least act it for the sake of my worried children. But as I got sicker, I found that I was running out of outlets to find solace. In short, as dated as the metaphor may be, I was running out of Phone Booths to change into my Man of Steel costume. And CKD was my Kryptonite.

In August of 2017, the final step in the collapse of my life as I knew it occurred. I moved in with my mother, who lived over 100 miles from my entire world. I had lost my job, my Kidney disease had progressed to the point where I could no longer work, my family split up and we were forced to give up our house, I was forced to apply for Disability and ask my mother to support me until I could pay her back. While my life had been hanging on by a thread in every way for a long time, it had officially spiraled down the drain. A 2013 Honda Civic loaded with all of the belongings I could carry was all that I had left.

The marriage wasn’t a surprise. We hadn’t been happy in years. We had stayed together for the kids. I loved, more than anything seeing them everyday and there was no Shitburger for me to eat that was too big to take that away from me. Until Chronic Kidney Disease that is. Divorce soon followed.

I took the opportunity once I was settled into my new surroundings to take a hard look at my life. Where I was, who I was and where do I go next raced through my head day and night. One night, while enjoying a moonlit NH night, it occurred to me that it may help to write it down for a bunch of strangers to read.

But what to call it? It then dawned on me. Superman can’t find a phone booth. Talk about a theme to draw from.

I set out to be honest, brutally at times, with myself and I put my words to keyboard accordingly. I wrote about everything that came to mind. I didn’t draw much attention at first but those that did read me related to my story. Some even felt inspired by it. That meant the world to me. It still does.

I can’t tell you how it will end up, my story hasn’t been fully told yet.

Stay tuned…

Give a little, get a lot

There’s an old adage that states:
“You can’t help those who can’t help themselves.”

While this is largely true there is a caveat. You still need to try.

It all started with a phone call from a friend and Masonic brother after 10 PM on a Saturday night in October. Despite the bond between Masonic brothers being mighty and strong, the late hour, and that this particular brother is long-winded and hard to get off the phone, I chose to let it go to voicemail. He immediately texted me imploring me to call him. I did.

He was in jail.

It turns out my Masonic brother, who is held to a higher standard by our fraternity and by his own commitment to be a better all-around man, was pulled over for speeding and then arrested for outstanding warrants. He was unlicensed, uninsured and in violation of not paying 2 years of child support. He needed my help, in particular he needed money. His car was impounded and he needed 500 dollars.

I offered my ear, the full extent of my advice and any resources I had to offer but I had no money to give. I implored him to reach out to his family. What he then told me made me realize that I actually knew very little about my friend.

I always knew that he was under-employed. When I reconnected with him 7 years ago (we were friends in HS) he was working part time which I thought was odd for a man my age with children. What I didn’t know, and learned that night, was that he hasn’t worked at all in 2 years. His girlfriend he lives with had finally grown tired of supporting him and asked him to move out. His mother refuses to have him stay at her house. His 2 ex wives hate him. He is in a deep depression, and he is blaming his current situation on it.

The temptation to be judgmental was overwhelming. I had serious questions and opinions on how he had let himself get into this situation. In particular how just getting a damn job could have prevented all of this. But it would have been kicking a man while he is down, it’s not my style and it isn’t helpful. I needed to help him then and kick his ass later.

I implored him to reach out to anyone in his family that he can borrow from to get his car out of impound. He called me the next morning, his son had stepped up and helped him.

I have seen him regularly since then. He still has no car or license, he has been sofa-hopping every night, a hearing for his support is pending and he isn’t working. To be fair, without a car or a mailing address he really can’t work. But in my heart of heart I knew that he wasn’t trying. He was doing the one thing I hate the most…feeling bad for himself. Still, I withheld judgement.

Last night he called me. The situation was critical. He is officially completely broke, has nowhere to stay and has noone to turn to. I talked to him for hours, but after hour 3 I realized that he has a fatal character flaw. He doesn’t listen, he merely waits to talk again. I wasn’t getting through to him. I verified that he had a place to sleep that night and ended the conversation for the night. I went to bed but didn’t sleep well. I was very worried about my friend.

This morning he called me early. He was in tears. He had been a closed off rock before, not being able to ask anyone for help and not taking advice, now he had finally lost it. He cried into the receiver about how he wanted to be a better man, how he couldn’t take feeling like this anymore but he didn’t know where to turn. For the first time, he was willing to hear my thoughts. I again resisted the urge to give some tough love, some hard advice. It still wasn’t the time. He needed some stability to get his tears out, not worry about where he would lay his head that night or where his next meal will come from. I told him to hold tight, that I would call him back.

Before I go any further let me say that if I wasn’t 100 miles away I would take him in in a second. But I can’t.

But I had another idea. A mutual friend and Masonic brother of ours had a spare room and had previously offered it to me. He had also mentioned that he would offer it to our friend if it absolutely came to that. I called him and told him that it had indeed come to that and I updated him on the status of our friend. We both agreed that something had to be done. Inaction could result in something tragic and neither of us could live with it having not done something.

He was open to the idea of letting our friend stay with him but he had some genuine, legitimate concerns. He is also struggling financially. He can barely feed himself and is wary of having another mouth to feed. This is a fair assessment, our friend doesn’t have any means to support himself and would need some generosity for a while. We talked about his own situation for a while. We had concluded that it would be a temporary help for our friend and other than financial, it wouldn’t put him out. In fact, he would welcome the company. But still, there was the matter of money.

I told him that I would give him a check for $200.00 to pay for enough groceries for one month. I really don’t have it to spare but I need to do something. He was taken back by my offer but grateful. He thanked me for the offer but he would have to call me back. He recognized the urgency but needed a moment to think. Before he hung up he asked me where our friend was staying. I gave him the address.

I just received a call from my distressed friend. He was picked up an hour ago and he is enroute to his temporary shelter. He tearfully thanked me for my assistance and pledged his undying gratitude. I told him to take the reprieve to assess, recover, relax and game plan his return to being a productive citizen.

I don’t know where he will be in a month. I plan on visiting them on Sunday to get a better feel for where he is going. I want to thank my friend and Masonic brother for putting our brother up. For now, I don’t have to worry about him succumbing to his depression.

I don’t have much in the way of assets, but I am always going to be as generous as my situation allows with what I do have. Empathy, a soft shoulder, a cache of hard-earned wisdom and a meager but consistent bank account can go a long way.

No-one can do everything. But everyone can do something.

Superman out.

My wish for the New Year

You can work on “you” any time during the year. Change takes place only when one is truly ready. That is why I prefer to create a wish list each year of what I want changed in the world. If I am able to walk this planet with such goals in mind, maybe my example will inspire others and real change can happen.
I wish the following:
to the parents struggling to care for their family, may they be able to provide sustenance and love for their children
to the first responder running towards danger when others run from it, may you always stay safe
to the soldier thousands of miles from those that love you, may your mission be righteous and your body unscathed
to the healthcare workers who do more for others than they do for themselves, may their selflessness be recognized and appreciated
to the bullied child, may your struggles be recognized before it’s too late
to the bully, may you see the error of your ways
to the ill, may you experience healing and recovery
to the grieving, may you experience closure and peace
to the hungry, may your plate always be full
to our leaders, may they do what is right, not what is profitable or electable
to the disenfranchised, the angry and the frustrated, may you find an outlet and peace in your heart
to the practitioners of hate and division, may you become part of the solution, not part of the problem
to those that chose the path of honesty and integrity, may you never second-guess that choice
to those who are glued to screens,may you look away and see the beauty all around you
to those fighting a hard battle, may the people you meet treat you with kindness and respect.

Here’s to a better you. A better us. A better world. It’s up to us to make it a good year.

Here’s to you.