Fiction Fragment Series: Wilder Man & Cold

This post is part of the Fiction Fragment Series; this edition, “Wilder Man & Cold”

Colorado Backcountry Berthoud Pass /
Wood Stove
My wood burning stove

Around 5am he stumbled out of the sleep … somewhat like a man emerging from a heavily wooded forest … looked out the hut-window, saw night and snow.  His relative-friend, Melancholy, spoke to him from inside, triggered by darkness and cold outside.  He closed the old faded heavy wool curtain, shutting out the out, guarding the in.  The man was cold.  And the coldness he felt in his soul was … weighty.  His coldness was piercingly emphasized by the winter darkness, by the snow-cold.  The cast iron wood burning stove, immovable, was also cold, showing indifference with the man in this hut.    If a fire was laid, and started, then the stove would heat up, and give heat … to the man in this hut.  If there was no fire, then the stove would stay cold.  The man acknowledged the stove, in its indifference, and grabbed kindling, sticks, small log, and placed it all, intentionally, inside the stove.    Match, lit, its flame brought to a six-inch stick, and the man in the hut edged the burning stick was into the stove, to light the kindling, to bring about some fire.  His anxietous sense of urgency began to diminish.  He stoked the fire.  The warmth permeated his isolated, Siberian-like being.  A new urgency materialized, a passionate need for coffee.  With a similar focus, a sacred and fine tuned focus, the eccentric man in the hut began the detailed requirements for bringing an excellent cup of Mud to the appointed cup.  The cup was eventually filled with the nectar from coffee beans.  The man returned to the wood burning stove and tended to the fire; and then tended to his heart and soul.  The cold had lost some of its power.  But the battles would continue, until the other side of heaven.  And, he knew that.  He knew that all too well.



Haunts from Antarctic Wilder Man

CLOSURE.  I need some closure!

For years I have carried a distinct heaviness from a British Antarctic explorer by the name of Robert Falcon Scott.  He led an expedition to the South Pole.  They spent the winter of 1911 on Cape Evans, part of Ross Island, in a structure they built known as “Scott’s Hut”.  From here, Captain Scott selected four men to continue on for the South Pole.  Scott intended to get there before anyone else.  There was a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, taking an Antarctic expedition for the South Pole at the same time.  Thus, a race.  Robert Scott reached the South Pole (01/17/1912) and was unfathomably despaired to see a tent, left by Roald Amundsen.  Inside the tent a note addressed to Scott explained that Amundsen’s team had arrived on December 14th, five weeks before Scott’s five-man team reached the Pole.  Amundsen and his team made it back to Norway.  Scott and his five man team died on the Ice.

So, where do I come in?  I worked in an Antarctica field camp (there are quite a few of us Antarcticans) for five months, a breakfast cook.  One evening, I was told to grab my ECW gear (Extreme Cold Weather) and climb into a Hagglund (below,

Hagglunds BV206 Personell CarrierWe were going to Scott’s Hut.  The place is remarkably preserved, due to cold temperatures / low humidity.  I stood by the long dining table, next to the chair where Scott sat at the head of the table.  I feel like I know this guy; impossible … as he died before I was born.  His story is haunting; his pictures are haunting.  Maybe its time for me to quit thinking about Scott and Amundsen.  Maybe not.  His mission was a tragedy, not very positive.  Here’s the rub: Scott’s story is a prolific example of courage / desire to take on dangerous adventures. Things get crazy, sometimes, in a harsh environment.  Scott’s diaries show that he went after this dream.

I think of Antarctica as a cold, merciless, jealous, mistress that refuses to let some men leave; such as the five men on Scott’s polar team, pictured below: (
Henry Bowers pulled the string for the camera. Robert F. Scott’s expedition team at the South Pole, Jan. 17, 1912. Left to right: Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers, Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans.

 Here is an image of his last diary entry.  The lines read:

“We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. Scott

Last entry

For God’s sake look after our people.”

Men of 2014: Hold On To Your Hat!

I am hoping for a better year:


Of course I am hoping for a better year; and, of course … you are hoping for a better year, right?  Tell me I’m right.  Tell me you are hoping for a better year.  That’s what we do, right?  We hope.  ‘Cannot stop hoping.  If we don’t hope, we die … mainly inside.  If we quit hoping, it may be obvious on the outside; but death is really happening on the inside, even though it is a gradual process.

And …

of course we are hoping for a better year.  If it is obvious, then WHY am I mentioning it?  I bring this up because I am a firm believer in reminding each other of what is true, what is important, what is dynamic.  I believe we need to talk to each other,  face-to-face, phone calls, EMAILs, and … blogging, of course.  There is that word again, “course”: a reminder to …

S t a y   O n   C o u r s e

Man Your Post

And, Hold On To Your Hat


Gentlemen, all of “this” is not just about us.  This is about the people we love, the people we care about, the people who we will impact.  The women in our lives; the sons, the daughters, our co-mentors, those we mentor, and those folks we will meet in 2014.

Men Who Are Pre-Suicidal

Many men have these types of mantras:

  • Leave dust, or eat dust;
  • Nice guys finish last;
  • It sucks to be you;
  • Its a harsh world;
  • Each man for himself.

And there are other men who are:

  • Emotionally or psychologically paralyzed;
  • Wounded;
  • Having racing thoughts;
  • Isolated;
  • Hopeless;
  • Overwhelmed with futility.

Neither list is exhaustive.

The man who is pre-suicidal is not always recognizable.  He may smile when he is supposed to; make eye contact when he is supposed to; laugh when he is supposed to.

The man who is pre-suicidal may be a dad; or a husband; or a single man.

The stats show that many men who complete suicide do not tell anyone before it happens.  They don’t always give clues in their talk.

Some say that suicide is based on:

  • revenge;
  • irrational thinking;
  • depression;
  • fear;
  • anger;
  • belief that they are damaged goods.

Blogging, I believed, can be a significant means of decreasing suicidal thoughts / actions.  I say this because for some folks, blogging is the only community they have.  And community, when it is healthy, helps to keep an individual thinking healthy thoughts.

Some might disagree, understandably.  Some have a logical perspective that goes something like this: “If someone chooses to take their life, that is their decision.   I am not going to worry about anyone who may be suicidal / pre-suicidal, because I don’t have time to think about such things.”  And this makes sense.

Others worry too much about such things.

And others care deeply about the relationships with friends / family / work associates.

And what can you do if you sense that an individual is having suicidal thoughts?

  • A big part of this is that each person has their own responsibility to get help;
  • Another big part of this is the theory that some folks are so “down the road” that they don’t know how to ask for help; and even if they did ask for help there is a belief that no one cares.  And for some people, that belief is accurate.
  • Based on the above, we as peers can be (but are not obligated) attentive to any signs (verbal or nonverbal) that there is trouble brewing in the life of someone we know.

Lastly, the man who is pre-suicidal must:

  • Move in redemptive, productive, ways;
  • Grab hope with passion and intentionality, and hold on: that is a man’s responsibility;
  • Grab courage, because it is there . . . inside them;
  • Realize that it is easier to check out at times, than to check in.
  • Search heart and mind for the causes of suicidal thoughts, and make changes ASAP.
  • Build some healthy relationships that are reciprocal: investing into a relationship, not just “taking;
  • Think outside the box;
  • Pray.

Life is difficult.  Life has some purpose, and we need to find that purpose, and keep our eye on the ball.  There are honorable ways to fight.  We have to fight for our lives, our sanity, our self-care.  “For some men, it is not the fear of dying, it is the fear of living.”  Unknown







I Am a Rock . . . NOT !

It was before your time, probably … Paul Simon & Art Garfunkle … And if you do remember these two, maybe  you didn’t like them … You either liked these guys, or you didn’t.  Anyway, they wrote this song, “I Am a Rock”:

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books And my poetry to protect me;

I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

In one sense I can be a rock, because of my thick skull, and how I can act like an idiot … I don’t always understand the cues of redemptive intimacy … But I know that I would be lost without those who love me … starting with my family … and then a few good friends. 

And I’m thankful that …

I have my books And my poetry to protect me.

For anyone who saw the movie “Shadowlands”, there is a great line in there that a student told C.S. Lewis: “We read to know … that we are not alone.”

S.A.D. Truth: What Do You Do? Part Two


Winter Cabin /

Doctor-types  gave it a name: S.A.D., “Seasonal Affect Disorder“.  Pretty fancy. Spring will not step in until it is time to show up.  Power  struggles flare up between Winter and Spring.  Eighth season, and the snow is here.  My hope, is to get through it, stay ahead of it; read some good books, watch some quality DVDs, use the snow shoes, get more spiritual; read the bible more often.  Most of my neighbors are people who move back to a warmer place during winter.  Human interaction is limited.  Isolation is, almost, unlimited.  A famous man, or woman, once said ‘Live for the present’.  Okay, I guess.  The S.A.D.’s  is here. “

We bloggers have numerous works in progress.  I never throw mine away, even though they may never go anywhere.

For those who do experience the cryptic S.A.D., then you already know what it is, and what you do.  So, what do you do with Seasonal Affect Disorder? Some folks drink; some do mind altering substances.  Some just give up and sit in their depression, and are irritable, and isolate because … 1) no one wants to be around them; and 2) those with S.A.D. may have no desire to be around anyone else.

So if you have some substantial struggles with Seasonal Affect Disorder, here’s my take:

  1. Consider going through a winter without alcohol, and / or mind altering substances; or with a defined plan to cut down on your intake.  You won’t know if it helps until you try it.  It will guide you toward other choices and to think other ways.
  2. What? The road isn’t plowed?  Don’t use it as an excuse to stay home, be bored and depressed and grumpy.  So put on your Sorel snow boots, snow shoes, and go for it.  Get into town, sit down with some good coffee.  Go to the library.  Connect with someone.  What’s that? You don’t have any friends?  Well, that’s a potential problem. We can talk about that later.
  3. Lean into your pain, your angst,  your depression, and stand strong against that Black Dog.  Reach down into your soul, your fortitude, your experiences of battles from the past and tell yourself “I’m tougher than hell.”  And you are.  You might not know it.
  4. Find a therapist, to at least think outside the box  with.   Safety Tip – Get recommendation / referral from someone you know / trust. *Sometimes when I recommend therapy, people say “NO!  I’ll never do that!”  What I am hearing is that they would much rather be miserable, as opposed to discover some relief in their life.  Some people don’t know what it would look like to be happy, or to discover peace of mind.  Such a change might be too disruptive.
  5. Another piece to consider in all of this is the realm of prescribed meds.  Enough said.  If you can get relief from a non-addictive med, then its probably worth checking into.  After all, those of us who experience the Seasonal Affect Disorder knows that it has a fairly serious bite.

Winter is coming.  What do you do, for Seasonal Affect Disorder? 





S.A.D. Truth: What Do You Do? Part One

Excerpt from a fictional work in progress:  Unmaintained Road Stock Photo - 357645

“Its November.  We’ve had a few snows already.  More snow tonight, 4 to 6 inches. And Friday, maybe a foot.  The road, its unmaintained by the county.  Some days, ‘cannot get to town.  A fellow comes over with a snowplow, about four miles from here, but rarely.   My first winter indoctrinated me with a number of snowstorms, blowing in, settling in, around my little house up here at 10,500 feet.  Power outages happen and water pumps don’t work, electric lights become immediately dormant.  But lanterns do work.  Wood burning stove has a flat surface to cook a few things: tortillas, eggs, a steak, boil water for tea and coffee.  Yes, the snow is coming.  And with the winter season comes a strong mixture of melancholy and irritability.

See Part Two for the rest of this story.