Wilder Man in the Fangorn: Off My (Winter) Game

Off My Game …

Writers don’t always have the words.

Sojourners metaphorically entering the Forest of Fangorn, unsure of what is ahead; unsure of what to do with what is ahead; unsure of what words to use; what weapons to wield in the battles to come, the battles to fight.

Winter.  I’m off my game.  Firewood has always been cut, chopped, stored, by now … albeit in different quantities / levels of sufficiency.  ‘Snow blower has been “on-line”, ready to start, and go, and blow.  Wool socks?  Off course.  My ski-bib overalls? Definitely.  Boot-traction pads?  Yes, they come in handy.  This winter, no.  All pieces scattered, not in place.

So, what happened?

Questions.  Sometimes, the questions are (far) more important than the answers. I believe these dropped-balls are indicators of a deeper pain.  I sit, and walk, in the tension between … immeasurable thankfulness, and undeniable longings for the fullness that I know could be there, or rather … here.  I am reading excerpts of a book entitled Finding Our Fathers by Samuel Osherson.  So much I could quote, but instead I will acknowledge a thematic, a global substance.  Some of us, men, did not find … or receive … what we longed / long for, and we continue to live out our longings for our fathers, still hoping for what we needed / need (or wanted / want?).  With that being said, I am in a place, my family provided for (not in abundance).  I am also in a place … more weathered than ever before.  As a dad for my kids, I cringe because of not being emotionally present, a provider of all that I want to provide (greed, or honorable longing?); as a husband, sad that I do not live as a swashbuckling Wilder Man bringing adventure to my awesome wife?

I am in the Fangorn Forest, a place where many men refuse to go. I feel compelled to share these parts of my story with other Wilder Men, hoping to encourage them as I need to be encouraged.

  • Do not give in to the night;
  • Do not forsake your vision;
  • Keep your sword, your sharpened sword, close and ready;
  • Live for those who you love, those who love you, in an other-centered movement;
  • And, love well …Not only fight well, but love well.

In the Fangorn Forest, I hope to walk with you, pushing through.

“Fangorn Forest was known for being the last habitation of the Ents. It was named after the oldest Ent, Fangorn (Treebeard). “

Entering Fangorn Forest; imgarcade.com

 

Aragorn: “The tracks lead away from the battle! Into… Fangorn Forest.”

[The three look up into a very dense forest.]

Gimli: “Fangorn! What madness drove them in there?”

On my end, I’ll get back on my game.

 

 

SkunkORama !!! Dog’s Curious, Not Smart

Nocturnal Bark

… has been rare this summer, not only amongst my two dogs, but from other dogs in our woods.  The bigger, more profound, exception (with the nocturnal bark) would be when the bear comes near.  Our dogs have a distinct “bear howl-and-bark” when a bear gets close.  And the other dogs would be in league with ours, a passionate vigilant howling flying out of their bark-boxes through the rocks and trees.

Last night, I heard the Nocturnal Bark, somewhere between 5 and 5:30am. Stash was the only one barking.  I was holding out for the possibility that the barking would stop.  I was not meant to be so fortunate, it appears.  I went outside to the deck, over the garage.  It took a couple of seconds … only a couple of seconds … to recognize one of the most disgusting scents I’ve ever encountered: the spray from a skunk.  You can imagine my first thought.

 

 Mephitidae

Scientific name for the Skunk, which also means
“Stench”

 

I stood on the deck, calling our dog, Stash (Stosh – – – with a short “o”).  I could hear her, but could not see her, in the darkened woods.  I was dreading the possibility that Stash’s focus was on a skunk, and she had no intent of leaving her post to come in.  Shortly after my calling began,  I heard Stash emit what sounded like a playful growl … All I could do is roll my eyes.  I thought to myself:  “She is either getting ready to get sprayed, or … she has already been sprayed, and she thinks that this skunk is playing with her.”  I kept calling, and she kept refusing to come in.  So, I came back in a half-hour, and resumed my calling.  Finally, I heard her rustling / thrashing through the trees, making her way toward me.  She climbed up the steps, through the gate, with the appearance that she had enjoyed playing with someone new in the forest.  I didn’t want to smell the air around her, to determine if she had been successfully targeted by SkunkORama.  I got the gate closed so that she couldn’t go back out to the woods.  This morning, I walked out, cautiously took a whiff, and, to my disappointment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my dog had been skunked.  I know that one of the next things that needs to happen is that I have got get Stash into counseling, so she can push through these issues of acting like an idiot.  Anyone have a referral for a dog counselor?

By the way, here is a picture of our dog, resting.

Dog Stash
Stash Dog, resting, when not upsetting skunks.

 

Garage of a Wilder Man: LOST

Unconfirmed Rumor

(I just started the rumor about 15 minutes ago)

 

Scientists have researched Black Holes, in outer space, for many years – – – obviously.  Now, there is reason to believe that there are Black Holes on our planet; not only on our planet but right here in the Rocky Mountains.  That explains my (outer) garage.  I had wondered many times about my (outer) garage, whether or not it was an actual Black Hole.  It might be, but there are some characteristics about my (outer) garage-Black-Hole that don’t really fit the conventional Black Holes in space.

  1. One difference:  I actually conquered the daunting chaos in my (outer) garage about three months ago.
  2. Another difference: with Black Holes in space, once you go in, you never come out (I think that is right).

Regardless of my victory over the (outer) garage, I have a sobering update.  My garage is now lost, swallowed up by the Black Hole.  Why?  I am appreciative that you asked, my friends.  My garage is lost, submerged in chaos, because we have projects (approximately 550), and whenever we are finished with a project we take our tools, materials, boxes, and place them … where? … in our (outer) garage.  I was quite pleased with my progress when I conquered my (outer) garage.  I made shelves of different sizes, storage areas for hardware, a place to store our tarps (hanging from the ceiling).   I almost called Better Home and Gardens to have them come and do a story on my (outer) garage.  But I came to my senses, and considered that irrational thought is not all that it is cracked up to be.

I gazed into my garage with a mixture of shock, grief, and confusion, and asked myself:

“Where

did all the space go,

from my outer garage?”

And then I realized, after looking at two words I chose in my question: 1) “outer”, and 2) “space”.  Outer Space.  That is where my garage space went.  Outer Space.  Chances are, it is in some Black Hole.

Artist’s portrait of what a black hole might look lie.

Artist’s impression of the surroundings of the supermassive black hole in NGC 3783[21]

 

 

The Boys are Asking Questions

Hey, Guys … I have wanted to write this post for a while.  This is for men; this is for the sons who need good men to be in their life; this is for women who can encourage men as they feel led.  And just as importantly: this is for the young people in our generation, in our lives, who desperately need something, like support, like a “Hello”.   Years ago, I worked with at-risk kiddos: both boys and girls; mostly adolescents.  I remember in a group we were having at the group home, one boy was responding to my words that his participation in the group without screaming profanity was very important to everyone.  His words were:

“Who Cares?!!”

Here is what he meant:

 

 

No One Cares Depression Overcoming Depression Quotes

 

The question, “Who cares?!”, I learned is not meant as a question, but a statement.  After the boy asked that question, I answered him: “I care.”  He looked at me, rolled his eyes, and said  “It wasn’t a question.”  There are two other questions that were “asked” often:

“What difference does it make?”

“So WHAT?!  What are YOU … going to do?”

These two questions were like the first one: statements.

Okay, my point is this.  One of the dynamics that was going on, and maybe the kiddo did not even realize it, was this … in my own description:

A boy throws out a question that is really a sneer,  another version of

“F _ _ _ Y _ _”. 

The question / statement is also meant as a dare.  My paraphrase, instead of “Who Cares?”, what is meant is this:  I DARE YOU TO CARE!  Don’t tell me you care, because I’ve heard it all before by mean people, and didn’t care.  You say you care, but I am going to go run from this place, and … guess what?  You’ll never see me again!  Do you know how many stinking counselors I’ve had since I was ten, when Social Services took me away from my parents?  No, don’t tell me you care.  I know better.”

I’m going to add one statement to those three questions:

“I don’t care.”

The big picture, guys, is that this area of discussion is a big mess.  Our society has betrayed our kiddos.  If you were to invest into a kiddo, one of your hurdles would be to give that kiddo a reason to care.  Another hurdle: to show that you actually do care ( in response to the question).  And it will probably take a while.  Another hurdle: get a handle on how you are going to answer the other question, “What are you going to do?”  If you say you are going to do something, then do it.

Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. 

For their question about “difference” … that’s a tough one.  Our kiddos today need to see the difference, because talk … is … cheap.

And, my last encouragement, guys, is this.  As men (not kids / adolescents) we have our own “stuff”.  Maybe some of you are saying to yourselves right now,

“I … Don’t … Care.”

If you do not care, then forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.  Let me rephrase that:

PLEASE …

forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.

If its your son or you daughter, that is a different story but the importance of caring is no less important.  If you are doing the “I don’t care”, then you need to … somehow … get your butt from the stagnant pool of toxic emotions where you are sitting in, to some dry ground, where you will stand firm, and stand in the gap, and fight for your son and your daughter.  You are needed now.  Let’s do this.  This could be one of your finest hours.

 

 

Leave The Children Alone … Men, Be Good Men

Top secret

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/14/obama-transparency-podesta-sunshine-week 

 My heart truly goes out to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics  … angry and saddened … for fellow-Catholics who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns.  Another story in the news: victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, get a settlement (Seattle).

*”The Archdiocese of Seattle … to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.” http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

“The agreement comes weeks after Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”   (Same article:  http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

Those words from Pope Francis stir up many questions:

“(The Catholic Church should) … take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”

Pope Francis’ words came, according to the article, within the last several weeks. And sexual abuse has been happening since … the 1950’s (?) … but they have made a profound observation that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders.  Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”.  Surely this does not suggest that the Catholic leadership is more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?  I wonder: if the sexual abuse was not exposed, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?

https://i0.wp.com/api.ning.com/files/O55D1Wr7*l9nXy8hPltdUzY5JITwIO-MlakVQAYMB8kbYXHpehDEoYtmDy1IM0Q9BN8LQ88-nmMjVA91LeFhHWWkuFb4bqw2/secrecy.jpg

http://wittenbergtrail.org/group/lutheransforliberty/forum/topics/liberty-quotes 

And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes?  The words “Hush Money” have been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse to be quiet about their abuse.  “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace.  Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been abused?  I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way.  Many victims kept silent for a long time.  Why?  Shame? Fear of reprisal?  Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”?  And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests.  For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but instead a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled.  You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do.”

The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous.  At least, there is some good news: the “Hush Money” is exposed; the sex offender priests are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known.  All of this as opposed to the secrets continuing.

  • Secrecy …
  • Is a predominant theme …
  • In the depravity / violence of …
  • Sex offenders …
  • And the fear / shame of …
  • Victims

When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.

Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.

*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone.
*$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month).
*$100 million in 2005, January.

“According to Donald Cozzens, ‘by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that… more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees.’  This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.”  http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

Between 1994 & 2009,there have been over 1,835 victims of sexual abuse.
Settlements / legal fees between 1994 & 2009?  $1.269 billion.

Here is the last piece in the story that brings about great disruption and immeasurable sadness from the link, http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer:

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,

“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”

REALITY CHECK, people.  Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing with all of these men and women who have been victimized.  For some, yes.  For some, no … for some there will be no healing.  And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say (my paraphrase) …

“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad.  And we don’t want to hear anymore about this.  Now, get out of here.”

Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.

The money …
d o e s   n o t    c h a n g e …
what happened.
The money …
d o e s   n o t    g u a r a n t e e  …
full healing.

Last question, maybe irrelevant:
Is there any correlation between victims of sexual abuse and suicide?

Those are just a few links to go to if you are interested.  All links are unanimous in their research: yes, there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and suicide. So, healing?  No, not for everyone.

 

Wilderman Dogs

The dogs know more about what’s going

… than I originally thought.

 

There are two of them, up here.  Sometimes I can see them huddling up, and I know … Oh, yes, I know … that they are up to something.  But most of the time they split up.  Sure, they do a good job of barking when some squirrel gets too close to the house.  But sometimes they just bark, to pretend that they are on top of things. At night, it is not uncommon for me to be sitting at my desk, or in one of the big chairs, reading, writing … and at some point I feel like there is someone staring at me.  Yes.  You must have dogs that do that too.  I look up to see one of the dogs staring at me.  And, in a split second, the dog looks away, and stares in a different direction.  Sneaky.  That’s  what they are.  Sneaky.  This is the older dog, a mix between a German Shepherd and a Gold Retriever.  She will sometimes wear my daughter’s lime green ski helmet, trying to disguise herself.  Again: sneaky.

But when I go for a quick hike, or a walk through the woods, oh … one of the dogs jumps in.  The enthusiasm that flows through her eyes, tail wagging, and she even has a prance as she is trotting along with me.  She loves the wilderness.  She loves me.  She is a Wilderman Dog.  Officially she is a Bernese Mountain Dog.  But she is, unmistakably, a Wilderman Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Solving, Men

“Bro: yes, there is a problem. 

Now, what?”

A friend from the distant past had a sign above his door: “Now, what?”

I connected with the question, my thoughts and my strategies a part of “Now, what?”

Hypothetical: a man asked, “Well?  Is this a problem?  Or is it an opportunity?”  I smiled at the older codger, filled up with himself.  I slowly moved my head left to right, and simultaneously said Yes“.   A confused look appeared on to his face.  “What the heck do you mean?  You are shaking your head, which means ‘No’ … and you are saying ‘Yes’, which means … “Yes’.  Which one is it?”

Fortunately, my mischievous tomfoolery was hidden, knowing that I had managed to bring some disruption to the man.  Yes, the old motivational quip most of us have seen for years and years does apply, to some degree. 

“A problem is an opportunity in disguise.”

But, if a fellow is in deep yogurt, his anxiety alarmingly high, chances are he is not thinking of a motivational poster with a cool picture and words about a problem being an opportunity.  The wilder man may just want a solution to his problem, have no interest in an opportunity. 

 

Wallpapers Chalkboard Tags Equation Theorem Math Image Resolution X   1920x1200

http://www.wallsave.com/wallpaper/1920×1200/chalkboard-tags-equation-theorem-math-image-resolution-x-2768651.html

Some of us men have found ourselves in a  crazed-pickle, with the only opportunity we saw was the opportunity to get our butts kicked, in some form or fashion.  For those who have the problem-solving “opportunities” wrapped up like a Christmas present, congratulations.  But some of us have not yet fully arrived at this state of transcendence.  Here are some out-of-the-box thoughts that I have come up with while walking down the Rolling Creek Trail:

  1. Two are better than one, especially when the yogurt is deep … depending on who the “other” one is, obviously;
  2. When problems, or “opportunities” come up, this is a serious place where negativity rises up like a bunch of hoodlums going after a wilder man;
  3. Admittedly, opportunity comes with problems, but we may be oblivious to such unless / until we change our thinking for the better;
  4. Denial and procrastination are both options, but not good ones, and fear often fuels both of these thugs.

Within this realm, of “opportunity-solving”, there are perspectives close by that can help, or hinder.  Here is one: “A problem is not a problem if there is no solution; it is a situation … and I have no choice but to deal with the situation.”  A dangerous move is to embrace the phrase “I have no choice”.  We always have a choice.  And if a problem is (also) a situation, that does not mean that we quit looking for a solution.  The solution may in fact show itself, but not immediately.

The journeys of good wilder men mean that we bring our tools with us: initiative, courage, confidence, teachability, good relationships, wisdom, realism, optimism, vision, creativity, a sense of urgency, and sharpened awareness skills.  Oh, and two more things: humor and hope.  Until next time. T