the ups and downs of being passionate

jjj-2018

I am nothing if not a passionate man. It is perhaps my greatest, at least my strongest, character trait. I have strong beliefs, a concrete set of values, an opinion on everything and a sincere zest for life. I love to learn, take any opportunity to help another person and get very into things. As a patient with chronic illness, having had several brushes with my own mortality, I do not fear death. I fear a life unfulfilled. I don’t care if I only have 10 years left, as long as I can spend them doing things that I love.

I consequently have a real hard time dealing with people that don’t have passion. I don’t judge, I want to inspire them. I have a great story to tell, and if someone were to hear it they may think like I do.

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I used to be an ardent follower of Russian philosopher Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. She unabashedly promoted that mankind’s sole purpose of being on earth was to achieve his own greatness. She vehemently opposed all things communist, so her ideas came across a bit selfish. If you were to say to her “we are here for others” she would reply

“then what are others here for?”

I eventually broke from her because of her views on charity. She played a little “fast and loose” with who is deserving of charity and who is just a waste of flesh. But I did take away a powerful message of worth and achievement. Some nuggets: nothing is more unacceptable than wasted talent; a man owes it to himself to achieve his best; if you believe something then fight for it and shout it from the rooftops. It ties into my ideas of worth, in other words, I always ask of people (inside my head of course) “what is your joy. What do you bring to the table? How are you making the world a better place by your presence?”

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I know it’s a little hardcore, but do you ever wonder what your funeral will be like? Do you know how you will be remembered? Will you be remembered fondly? Once again, as a person with a lot of health issues, I often think of my legacy. I would hope that the attendees of my memorial would raise a glass and tell a funny story or of something I did for them. My stone will most certainly say

here lies Bill

He really cared

About what I have no idea

That’s passion.

Of course, there’s another type of passion that I am sadly lacking in. In the love department, my furnace is out of oil. Not for lack of interest, but lack of opportunity. I fondly remember being in love. Sadly, it wasn’t with my wife. God bless her, my little Silver Medal. I am speaking of the one that got away.

To say that I was passionate about her is the understatement of the century. The very thought of her excited me. She was my everything. Sex is great, I love it like the next guy, but a mere kiss from this girl would make my feet spontaneously combust. We loved hard and we fought harder and I would still give anything to be with her again. I have never loved like that again, and I’m afraid I never will. After 24 toxic years with the wrong person, it’s unlikely. In that department, I am dead inside. But I want to.

Life without caring is a life unfulfilled. I don’t think I would change my style even if I could. I look at it as you either give a shit or you don’t. People without passion will continue to disappoint me but, like politics and religion, it’s their deal. To me, it’s the only thing that keeps me going.

#JusJoJan Daily Prompt – January 1st, 2018

 

 

the benefits of boisterous

jjj-2018

bois·ter·ous
ˈboist(ə)rəs
adjective
(of a person, event, or behavior) noisy, energetic, and cheerful; rowdy.
“the boisterous conviviality associated with taverns of that period”
synonyms: lively, animated, exuberant, spirited, rambunctious

There was a time when my name and picture would be next to this definition in the dictionary. The younger me, according to a lovely young lady that I worked with at the local supermarket during High School, strutted like a Rooster; shoulders back, chest out, heart on sleeve and mouth in gear. I was silly, friendly to strangers, energetic if not a little obnoxious. I was boisterous. I was in the comfort zone of my own henhouse. The nickname Foghorn soon followed.

I would eventually learn that not everyone enjoyed my energy and jocularity. It took a while because I had the gift of being physically intimidating. I may have been silly, but I was 6 foot and 220 lbs of silly while carrying two 50 lb bags of dog food on each shoulder. Any criticism or mocking would be done behind my back. It wasn’t until I closed the bathroom stall one day and saw this on the door “____ ___ is a fucked up shithead“. I knew who wrote it but it still stung. It was 35 years ago and I remember it like yesterday.

That hastily scrawled, nasty message would serve as a lesson that sometimes people are laughing at you, not with you. After that revelation, I didn’t retreat into my shell like a frightened tortoise but I became more self-conscious than I wanted to be. It was more than just an adjustment of the volume knob, it changed my station. It’s a shame too because I could dance to that station.

I remained an outgoing person, albeit a guarded one. If someone from my Foghorn days were to see me now they wouldn’t see the same person at all. I’m happy on the inside but I’m tragically selective about who I let see that side of me. I don’t speak loudly in crowded rooms for fear of being mocked and I don’t say hi to every stranger anymore, I’m now selective based on how friendly the face is. I have retained some of my old boisterousness but it is reserved for select company and occasions. My warped sense of humor has stood the test of time, but fewer people are exposed to it now.

I like to think that my cheerfulness has stood the test of time as well. I have always believed that if you can’t get out of bed and try to make a good day then you should stay in bed. I continue to see the good in things and people. It is definitely a big part of how I managed to work right up until noon the day before my transplant surgery. Positive thinking, a cheerful and optimistic attitude and a little bit of denial carried me over the goal line on its shoulders.

Still, I miss being Foghorn.

“Boy, I say Boy…he must, I say he must be in there somewhere…!”

 

#JusJoJan Daily Prompt – January 1st, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

smells like Teen Drama

I had the pleasure of having my youngest daughter with me for the entire school vacation week. We had a nice week. Since the separation, I haven’t spent a significant block of time with any one of my children so this was much needed and appreciated. Before the move, my youngest and I had a standing date every Saturday night with the sofa, Netflix, and a pizza. Of all of the things I miss from my previous life, one on one time with the offspring is the toughest one.

She and I had a nice week. There was no pressure to fill the week with activities, this house is her go-to spot for relaxation and to catch up on sleep. We spent a few nights catching up on some shows but it wasn’tas relaxing as before. In the last year, one thing has been added to her repertoire that I can’t compete with…boys. And all of the accompanying drama. The endless stream of texts, “snapchats” and FB messages made it impossible to just chill and watch our shows like we used to. I can’t compete.

Despite having all of the features treasured by the superficial, hormonal teenager, my daughter has always kept herself grounded and humble. She tells me that she has low self-esteem but the astronomical amount of “selfies” she takes indicates to the contrary. At some point in the last year, she has apparently come around to the possibility that she is attractive and now interacts pretty freely with the boys. To her credit, she is not drawing attention to herself, but she is still getting it. And some notoriety, if I am to believe the story that she rejected the captain of the football team last week, causing her stock to rise further. The only thing I know for certain is that, when it comes to the male gender, she is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, deep fried in a puzzle. In other words a hot mess.

I raised my kids to talk to me so naturally, I heard all about the different hormonal messes, I mean boys, vying for her attention. While it is mostly a blur, here is what I have so far. She likes the bad boys but won’t date one. She likes nice guys but they’re not “hot” like the bad boys. She has rules about dating friends of guys she likes or has liked in the past. Apparently, one boy, who is friends with a former crush, has started drinking and smoking weed because she won’t date him. She feels bad that she doesn’t like this guy, she wishes that another guy liked her more. It goes on and on and on.

I wanted to help, but there wasn’t much I could do but listen to her. She showed me some of the posts, the boys seemed to be behaving themselves. She knows that if I see a Dick Pic someone is going to die but there was none of that. The temptation arose to tell her to “cool the drama” but I knew that I, as an adult shouldn’t do that. I have been there, suffered teen angst and had my heart broken. I needed to limit my participation to giving the best advice that I could. At the end of the day, I have tremendous faith in her decision making and her values. She does have a flair for the dramatic but it’s more a matter of her making up her mind as to what she wants than an actual crisis. Still, it’s tough not to administer the antidote when you know you have it.

Her dramatic phase will pass, eventually. After all, it’s for teenagers right? I’d like to think so. Then I saw an FB post from a 41-year-old female friend that said

“Grrrrrr so aggravated right now!”

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Ah yes, the generic plea for attention while offering no context post. Soon to be followed by a string of replies imploring “what’s wrong honey?”, “are you OK?”, “Oh, you poor thing”. Drama, maybe it’s not just for teenagers after all…

#JusJoJan Daily Prompt – January 1st, 2018

 

 

A New Year’s Toast

A Toast

to the parents struggling to care for their family. May they provide sustenance and love for the 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 them. May your mission be righteous and your body unscathed

to the health care workers who give more to others more than they give to 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 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.

 

Inventory

I was reminded today of one of my favorite expressions.

“Happiness is not having what you want. it’s wanting what you have.”

And in a very close second comes the Stones with

“You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.”

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2 years ago I would have measured my success as a man by how much stuff I had. It was the life I was living. I lived in a nice neighborhood with neat lawns and beautiful cars in driveways. I had the Jones’s on both sides of me and I was trying frantically to keep up with them. I couldn’t. My illness was increasing, my income was dropping and trying to keep up was literally, and I never use that word, killing me. When I lost my job the bottom fell out and we knew that moving and breaking up the family was imminent. I was livid, disgusted with myself, mad at the prospect of not seeing the kids every day and feeling like a complete failure. I was also relieved to be out from under the crushing weight of the lifestyle I was living.

Fast forward 2 years and what do I have? If measured in possessions…not much. I own as much stuff that would fit in a ’13 Honda Civic. If you were to measure my heart. I have everything.

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Once I realized my career was virtually over, my dreams of a beach house were gone, my marriage was beyond repair and my health was in serious trouble I had to assess what I did have. It took some serious soul searching but I found that I was a wealthy man in assets that money cannot buy.

I don’t have everything I want. By the old standards. But I really want what I now have.

I have become a totally honest person, in particular with myself. I know who and what I am and no longer have a job pushing the boundaries of my ethics on a daily basis. I am comfortable in my skin for the first time.

I have a wonderful relationship with my children. The distance has created the need for quality time, and conversations were had and growth was achieved. I found that they respect me and understand the situation. They just want what is best for me.

My mind is clear and sharp. I’m reading the books I’ve always wanted to, I’m writing on a daily basis, reading some great bloggers and thinking on a level previously unachieved. In addition, I feel inspired.

I have renewed my relationship with my mother. We were very close until my wife put a wedge between us. We are like best friends again. Not to mention how much she is helping me right now.

I have optimism for the future. There are still so many things that I want to do, and if I set reasonable expectations and listen to my body I may be able to do them.

By having some “me time”, forced or otherwise, I realize that for the first time I like myself. If it’s possible to not say that in a self-serving way that is.

 

This year-end I want to end on a high note, with momentum and heading in the right direction. Unlike many other years in which I was down, defeated and counting on a new calendar to give me a better life. It just doesn’t work that way, I have to make it happen.

 

 

Happier New Year

I am really looking forward to seeing 2017 limp out the door Sunday night at midnight. I hope that it was a wonderful year for anyone that sees this, but for me, it is one to be forgotten. I won’t dwell on the bad stuff if you are a reader of this blog, you already know what I have been dealing with. I am encouraged that, after self-evaluation, I am still able to look to the future as an opportunity for better things and new opportunities.

My son last night told me he is glad that I am optimistic after this last year. I explained to him that I had, in fact, lost it for a while but now have it back. I explained a boxing analogy to him.  A good fighter can take a good shot to the chin, shake it off and come back swinging. For years I was able to do that. This year, this fighter took a devastating series of blows that I couldn’t shake off. I fell to the mat and was down for the count. But I’m back now and I want a rematch. As I tear a page from my daily planner, underneath is a fresh day.

One thing I am very happy about in 2017 is this blog. I have always dabbled in writing but never had the time to commit to a blog. Now, for better or for worse, I have nothing but time. I have committed to working on this blog every day. It has done wonders in helping me to exorcise my demons, to express myself, and to unburden myself of the excessive emotional weight of the events of my life. And I am so happy to have readers.

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I have almost 40 followers. A paltry amount to many but a big deal to me. As an aspiring writer with a story to tell, you give me the motivation to continue to write, to explore my boundaries, to share my story and in the process, free my soul.

I follow so many of you, I enjoy your posts and admirable writing styles. You give me feedback, hope, and encouragement and you have become a part of my life.

I hope all of you have a wonderful New Years Eve and a fantastic 2018 full of pushing forward towards your dreams.

My car has a big windshield and a small rear-view mirror because what is behind me is not nearly as important as what is ahead.