Seasons Of Myself

I found moving introspection in an old journal of mine I have not come across or opened for at least a couple of decades. Here are a few:

Entry dated December 23, 1977. (24 years old – married two years):
Love for members of the opposite sex will come on you suddenly and probably half scare you to death, but it will be one of the most heightened sensations you’ll feel. At first you’ll like someone and as you get older you will “think” you are in love, only one day to wake up to the harsh reality that you don’t even know what the word really means.

Entry dated July 15, 1980
In 10 days I will turn 27 years old. Thinking over the last 10 years I think the hardest time was just out of high school. It’s difficult to want so much and yet not understand how to get it. I wanted to be on my own and moved to Colorado. Got a job, but was terrible with money (I didn’t make much anyway). My car was repossessed… walked for six month to my job, hitch-hiked or borrowed roommate’s car. I ran myself down, ending up in the hospital with a stomach ulcer. Since then things have gotten better… but slowly. The point is…
* Beware of the times you think you’re right and those you care about say you are wrong…
* I am a firm believer in a person doing what he or she wants…
* That freedom is priceless and precious…
* But listen to those around you too…
* They’re right sometimes…

Entry Dated March 28, 1981
Life is the answer to its own riddle. You’ll not get it completely to make sense, nor will you ever completely figure it out. Learn what is presented and what you observe, but never let yourself believe you have really figured life out. You never will! Always be searching to understand though… try to be patient.

Entry dated 1973 (I lived in Manitou Springs, Colorado):
You smile and the song begins
And in my mind you enter in.
The lyrics lay heavy on all I feel,
Stabbing sharply with pain so real.

Memories of time lost in life’s confusion,
The song remembers one of life’s illusions.
The melody surrounds and makes me shake
With each soft chord the music makes.

The tempo builds and I run faster
Across the creek and through the pasture
Then stumble and fall hard on the ground.
Quickly I raise my head and look around;
I see no one… can’t hear a sound.

And with the silence’s break
I find myself suddenly awake
From what must have been a dream
Of scars I bear inside… unseen.

What do I feel from reading the old journal? I am older and different, but much the same. In spite of all I have been though, I never lost myself. I’ve grown up and am not nearly so lost and confused, but I am still the same man I started out to be. And for that I am extremely grateful.

We have to dare to be ourselves,
however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
May Sarton

Thank You Sherry

It has been several weeks since I had visited my favorite used book store and yesterday was pleased to find the poetry section had been restocked. In among the dozen titles I picked from Kahlil Gibran to Susan Polis Schutz, was a loosely bound volume titled “2004 Senior Citizens Poetry” published by Southwestern Oklahoma State University. From the introduction I learned it was a class project for the twelve students whose signatures were within.

Thumbing through the volume last night it was the twentieth page that touched  me to the point of reading it over and over. Not knowing if I would find it, this morning I searched on-line for the piece discovered yesterday. Too obscure and unknown, nothing was found. Reading the lines again this morning I felt something this heartfelt should be put into the world for others to enjoy.

“Ghosts”

I dance in the moonlight and your ghost in my arms dreaming of what might have been.

I hope that life has been kind to you and that I am not forgotten.

I send warm breezes to kiss your lips that I cannot reach and I envy them.

Time and space has taken their toll, but the memory of you and our lost love lives in the secret places of my heart.

We cannot know what the fates have in store for us as the future has yet to be written.

I wonder, will the paths we choose bring us back to each other or further apart on divergent paths, never to meet again in this life.

I only know that my memories of you warm me like a soft blanket against winters cold grip, comforting me when I feel I can no longer stand strong against the hardness of life.

We will not waste our precious time on ‘what ifs’ but yet in fleeting moments they invade my thoughts without invitation and that is when I dance in the moonlight with your ghost in my arms.

Sherry C. Potter, Ponca City, OK

I searched Google for the author and found an article about medicine access by a “Sherry Potter” who identified herself by saying “I live in rural Oklahoma 8 miles south of Ponca City, Oklahoma. I am the mother of two children, five grandchildren and am going to be a great-grandmother in mid August”. From the references she made I assume that the article was about three years old and “Sherry” was somewhere in her mid to late 60’s.

She goes on to say “I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in March of 2005… I was given just a few years and to date have far exceeded that time frame. All the doctors who are involved in my treatments have expressed their amazement that I have survived this long. I owe it to their treatments and investment in me as a person and my strong faith in my creator, as well as the many prayers made on my behalf.”

While writing this emotions have swelled up several times and I’ve come close to tears more than once. Inside is deep sentiment for this stranger who writes so openly of herself and her feelings. I dare not dig deeper for I fear I will find “Sherry” is not longer with us. For a heart so sweet and a mind so clear, I hope she is still around for her presence surely makes the world a better place. I am grateful to know her, even if ever so slightly. From a distance she touched me.  Thank you Sherry.

There are no strangers here;
only friends you haven’t yet met.
William Butler Yeats

White Knight, Boy Scout or Good Guy

My ghosts are still around, but thankfully not as prevalent as they once were. Even when my past is conjured up, I don’t get stuck there for long periods of time as I once did. The echoes of my past mostly sleep until something bushes up against my recall. Like last night…

My best bud M. and I attended a concert last night to see Motley Crue and Kiss. While not a big fan of either, I do enjoy performance art and was not disappointed. Early on came my notice that two rows in front of me was a woman who looked like a girl whose heart I broke badly over thirty years ago. She didn’t “kinda” resemble the one I hurt; she was the spitting image of her when she was 20 years old! I looked again and again at the woman/girl from different angles and my impression was always the same. She looked just like Anna! While some regret will always remain, the realization came that I had reached peace within for the injury I caused her. A while back I wrote here about what I did:  https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2011/08/17/apology-to-anna/

Later between bands at the concert, I glanced around and coming up the stairs ten feet away from me was a woman who strongly resembled another whose heart got broken from being involved with me. Although we had some great times, R. and I were not good for each other from the very beginning. We were both drowning in our own issues while trying to hold on to the other to keep from sinking. The face and body shape of the woman on the stairs was a reminder that threw me back into my regret for how things turned out. She won’t even speak to me today. Still working on forgiving myself for that one, but found the memory last evening came with more serenity than before. That’s progress.

The third memorable sight from the concert last night was a man and woman across the aisle from where I was seated. At first they seemed to be having a good time. With her back to his front they were looking at the stage while dancing with the music and smiling ear to ear. A short while later I glanced over as he began to overtly grope her. First he was grabbing her breasts.  She repeatedly swatted his hand away and smiled nervously. Soon after he began shoving his hand between her jean covered legs. She squirmed and pushed him away with a look somewhere between fear and disgust on her face. Trying not to stare, the next time I looked up he was gone and she was sitting down looking sad and disappointed. The fun was over for her. She just stared at the stage lost in thought from then on and left early with the female friend she was sitting with.

I was angry with the guy for his complete lack of respect for the woman and felt sorry for her. Then I tied it all together; the earlier reminders of the two women I had hurt along with what I had just witnessed across the aisle. While I never disrespected the two I hurt in the way the groping man did her, some of my behavior was just was contemptuous in its own way.

All in all I did not end up lost in remorse last night. Rather, I was simply reminded of what I have done and of what not to do. My reactions show me I have come far. My deeds can’t be undone, but they are no longer transgressions I can’t think about without getting distressed. There is a sort of melancholy peace within that allows me to learn from my past.

A reminder I am left with today is to always show respect for a woman. Whether others see what I do does not matter! How I treat a woman states loudly and boldly how I feel about myself. I am grateful to know at my core is finally the “white knight”, the “boy scout” or the “good guy” I always knew I could be.

Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth.
Only you can be responsible for that.
If you can’t love and respect yourself –
no one else will be able to make that happen.
Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad
and make changes as YOU see fit –
not because you think someone else wants you to be different.
Stacey Charter

Slivers of Insight

“Eyes in the back of the head” always seemed like a nonsensical statement that grownup’s sometimes claimed to have when I was young. Outside of being a figure of speech the phrase never had any particular meaning to me, at least not until the last decade. Now I think of those backward viewing “eyes” as being real as long as I forget they are there. 

At the moment my life is happening it is frequently unclear exactly what is going on. Activity of all sorts mix together to figuratively “stir up the dust” so no one spot can be perceived plainly. If it comes at all, gaining insight about the past comes in similar fashion to glancing into the distance at straight railroad and noticing the rails converging on a point. Understanding, when it comes, takes time, comes as an unexpected glimpse and only when looked back upon from a far-off view.

Also in my past there is the pointless, absurd, irrational, meaningless, nonsensical, useless and ridiculous of which no logical perception is possible. To try find real meaning where there is none to be found is “barking at the moon” and expending energy for no possible gain. It is a sickness of sorts to repeatedly attempt to find an answer to the unanswerable. 

When some measure of clarity comes to me about the past, it is almost never because I have “made myself” think about it until a conclusion arrived. Quite the contrary. What comprehension and insight I get arrives when I am long done beating the subject up and have let it go sometime ago. Only when I let my grasp go is discernment and comprehension of any of my past possible.

There is irony in the fact that the more I let go of my past, the better I understand bits and pieces of it. I am grateful for that insight and for those slivers of insight that make them selves known once I tire of digging for them.

I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past,
even though some are painful.
I don’t understand people who hide from their past.
Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.
Sophia Loren