A man's choices, living out of his true story, impact others. A wildness within, a redemptive wildness, goes with us, contributes to the larger hopes, the bigger picture. A sacred wildness, flowing like Rolling Creek, a real place. Real, like you, me, us, the community we embrace.
Tarzan once said “It’s a jungle out there.” Tarzan also said “Don’t let go of vine.” (Invaluable Safety Tip!) There are not too many Tarzan quotes . . . he was a man of few words. But Tarzan was right: it is a jungle out there.
Some folks pride themselves on knowing how to make life work. AND … they will teach you how to make life work, for … $150 per hour? But, not all jungles are the same. What does it mean to make life work? For a heroin addict, making life work looks different from what it looks like for a pathological liar. A heroin addict uses heroin, to make life work. A pathological liar lies, to make life work. Someone who has learned to live in fear and anxiety, has learned to make life work, using their fear and their anxiety. How do you make life work? And how do you make it through the jungle? And … how is that working for you?
‘Stood below the six-foot mark; somewhere between 150 and 200; hair, eyes, the color of a muskrat; a recipient of a few psychological issues he did not ask for, one example being intermittent manic symptoms, with sting-like swings into melancholy. He was in his mid-thirties, and never considered himself an extrovert; but communicating with folks in social situations was . . . doable … for short periods.
[The drawing, top left, was created from Jeff Hein / heinacademyofart.com. This is an amazing image, that fits the good-hearted man I am describing in this post.]
If and when the first hint of depression emerged, he glided away like a prehistoric hawk, into hiding. During such times he read Faulkner, Hemingway, Foster, the Hardy Boys, and Jack London.
Eye contact was second to none with some unexplainable exceptions. He had a “lazy eye” (the left) and a full beard, slight gray in the middle.
He drove a red Ford pickup truck, with a gray wool blanket (purchased at a garage sale for a dollar) over the bench seat.
Thousands of sunflower seed hulls scattered over the floor mats. Between the driver’s side and the passenger side sat a worn brown bible (pages, thin, curved up at the corners – – – page numbers rubbed off) and a small spiral notebook to jot down “to-do” items and measurements for building supplies and sheds he was building for people.
His first cup of black chicory coffee was between 5 and 6am. The writing started about that time, and went to 10am. The deal with the editor was . . . three pieces each week: from fishing to hunting to grieving to laughing to friendship. Chicory coffee didn’t interfere with him from sleeping like a big dog. But he couldn’t sleep worth a hoot if didn’t write well. The book he was working on would probably never be finished. But that didn’t matter. He wrote every day between 5 -6am and 10am; and from 7-8pm until 1130-midnight. The chronic pain got going some nights during that time. He would write with such intensity to take his mind off the pain. I always felt like there was some courage, there, living on and writing on and pressing on, in the midst of mania, and blues, and pain. And if he couldn’t write, because of the pain, he would just weep for a while, drowned out by loud Bruce Cockburn music. If he wasn’t fishing, or hunting, or visiting old folks, or building sheds and things for the people he cared about, he played his fiddle, or took walks with his dog that looked a lot like this one (courtesy of http://www.farmprogress.com):
A good dog. ‘Didn’t complain much about anything. And that is all for now, other than that he was a good guy.
My last post about the tree house was called “Tree House Dilemma” (June 4, this year). A dilemma … because at that time forest fires were hitting hard here, and the thought of me building a tree house amidst uncertainty due to forest fires appeared to be a battle with logic. Should I keep going? The tree house has fed my soul, while stressors have been relentless. For a man, there is something significant, something sacred and powerful, about accomplishment. We want to conquer. We want to create. I just wonder … if any other men out there have felt something similar. Anyway, I wanted to give you an update since the last post about my tree house.
Here is another angle: And one last shot for the road.
Well, there it is … some place where I cand find sanity, believing I can accomplish something worthwhile. Peac out.
Big things do not drive a man over the edge: not the death of a relative; not the loss of a job. Its the little things: the repetitive “talking-back” from a son; the snap of the shoelaces when there is no more time.
The movie “Falling Down”, the protagonist is William Foster, portrayed by Michael Douglas, is a story about a man who tragically succumbs to frustration; his frustration turns into rage. An unemployed man keeps “going to work” with his briefcase when he is really not working; his ex-wife does not know he lost his job. William Foster walks away from his car, being stuck in a traffic jam, in Lost Angelos. Foster’s attempt to reach his estranged wife’s home in time for his daughter’s birthday party comes across difficult situations, one after another. In the end Foster goes over the edge; a tragic ending. I would not recommend the movie. William Foster’s frustration represents an extreme end of the spectrum for most of us.
“Low Frustration-Tolerance”, a well known term when it comes to some kiddos, comes up for adults as well. One article suggests the correlation between selfishness and Low Frustration-Tolerance. My thought? Whatever.
Men, women, sustain stress differently, regardless of gender. Consistent stress can lower one’s tolerance for frustration. Outlets to burn off frustration are good, and finding an outlet is not always easy or simple. It is good to be … attentive … to family, friends, those at the workplace. “Community” comes to mind as I tap the keys of my laptop. An easier, more time-efficient, approach is to recognize one’s heaviness / disruption and ignore the person. Continued isolation can intensify stigma, alienation, and frustration. Men who exude calmness, confidence, and appear to have no problems are good examples for me. If I sense arrogance happening, my appreciation quickly fades away. I have had a few seasons of multiple stressors. I have also had men and women who chose not to alienate me, but entered my world and offered a good word, real encouragement, and a message of reassurance.
There is an expression I heard in New Orleans: “Where Yat?” Translation: “Where are you at?” When someone I know, someone I trust, asks me “Where are you at?” I am usually honored by their effort to respectfully enter my world. So, Where Yat?
A “HOPER” is one who fights with hope. Hope is part of who a hoper is. Hope can be followed by disappointment. COURAGE happens when one hopes. From a book entitled Keeping Hope Alive, by Lewis Smedes, I read something that I decided was worth quoting in a blog:
“People who have the habit of hope … respond more effectively to crises … stricken, but not crushed by tragedy. When everything good about life shakes at the foundations and they cannot be sure of what will happen next, they turn their eyes to the possibility that something good can still come of it.”
I am a metaphorical thinker / writer. The sword, in the hand of an honorable warrior, gives me hope, and reminds of strength that we need, and strength that we have, but … sometimes … strength that we forget about. I found this picture on a blog of another WordPress-guy, Tobiasmastgrave@Wordpress.com. I really like it.
Another place I’ve visited on the web is a site called http://getbusylivingblog.com, referring to John Grisham: ” … a lawyer … first book A Time to Kill took three years to write … rejected 28 times until he got one yes for a 5,000 copy print. He’s sold over 250 million total copies of his books.” I always appreciate the stories, the wisdom, the examples from hopers. Tell your story, because I want to hear it. I want to hear about your hope. I think a good way to sign off is with a quote from Thomas Edison:
“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”