A Moment of Silence, My Friend Passed.

This not a traditional tribute. It is in a style that will be unfamiliar to most. A word about the title, “I am not asking for a “moment of silence”.  It is not a plea for please, rather it is an explanation of a state and a suggestion for your consideration.  There are societal norms that deserve respect, but that is not my concern now. Do not do it for him, his wife or me, but for your own enrichment and understanding.

He was extraordinary in his humility

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                                                               Blue Skys over Chaos                                                                         

road pic by Will & Wade

 

. Well-Founded confidence based in reality and faith is essential for true rather than false humility. The key is not to expand borders, know your limits. This type of confidence allows you to respect others. Respect for others and something bigger than you is the foundation of real humility. People who are weak in spirit and needy should not apply. My friend’s ability to humbly influence was enhanced because he never needed my approval or yours.  My friend understood that approvals’ presence or absence said more about you than him. He was a man of faith. I have heard it said “Pray as if your prayer was already answered,” I think the key is to act as if it was answered. To my friend, faith was not about acting or saying the right words; it permeated and was inseparable from the reality of living. This is my understanding of many long conversations and observations that was my good fortune to experience with him. He said I talked like a Yankee, fast and with many words. He verbalized far less and communicated most loudly with the silence between the spoken words. I talked and he taught me how to listen.  

My friend never seemed lost. He always knew where North was, but preferred the South. The four cardinal points I would use to describe my friend in reverse order of importance are “Simple, Profound, Positive and Love.

Profound

One of the many topics we explored, perhaps, because of our increasing age; was the varying degrees of inevitable decay that accompany the continuation of life in humans and dogs alike.  The ultimate culmination of this process returns us to dust. In short, we discussed death. A minor, and yet slightly more relevant point than you might think at first glance, was my dislike for the euphemistic term “passed”. Perhaps the use of such terms to soften the blow of permanent absence for children has merit, but surely there comes a time to put away childish ways. Listening to my friend of relatively few words, it was brought to my attention rather obliquely, a different perspective on passing. Leading a person more by actions than words allows them to think it was their idea. Walking more than talking carries a determinative weight that is lacking in the telling. There is wisdom in the expression “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  I would pair it with the following expression, “trying to push a horse to water or telling him where the water is located is a fool’s errand “. It is possible I made that expression up, not the fool’s errand part, but the rest. The point I believe remains valid. To me and many who remain in our present stage of the living process dead is dead. But to my friend, it is a passing to the next stage. I know he is in a better place.  His confidence in this knowledge was core to his ability to accomplish what many aspired to find but few accomplish, seeing the simple in the complex. Building his treasures in things that are safe from thieves, moths, and rust; his positive attitude had a most resilient nature. The precursor to and the result of these qualities was love. It would not be a stretch to say love is simultaneously both the Alpha and Omega.  Love, Silence, and Passing represent the ending of what was known and the beginning of what is yet to be experienced. It is popular and important to tell someone you loved them.  However, its depth is transmitted in the silence of a look, a smile, or tear.

Simple

Einstein changed the world by boiling so much down to the simple equation E=MC^2.  It is the ability to find the simple in the complex the separates the genius from the rest of us. It is no less true in life. My friend was a musician and spent his life making beautiful sounds, but even in that, he understood the importance of silence. I always think of him as the space between the notes. Having no musical talent myself, I am informed they are called rests. They give meaning to what is played. In their silence you are not tossed into dead air; no, not the sound of nothing, but instead the fullness of the moment. Reflecting the joy of what was and pregnant with anticipation of what will be. I remember telling my friend I am not sure we have much in common; I am completely devoid of musical ability all I know how to do is listen. He said, “Sounds good to me, when I play, you listen, and you like to talk and I’ll listen”. There was simply no barrier to friendship. He was able to see through the confusion of today’s world and find contentment in the moment. He had no time for tomorrow’s worries or yesterday’s mistakes.

Positive

He was known for his positive attitude. His constant refrain when asked how he was doing was “Simply Wonderful”. Personally, I don’t think it was an attitude as much as a deep-seated belief. It was not conscious; it was fundamental to who he was. You don’t ask if a fire is hot, it is its nature.

Love

Love as many traits: it can be unrequited, lost, puppy and inwardly intense; often loud and exciting in its expression. My friend saw its encouraging, quiet qualities as most important. He preferred being the eye rather than the storm. The place where someone could rest, lay down their burdens and collect themselves safe from the chaos of life. His love like still waters ran deep and encompassed him as thoroughly as ambition and greed consume others. My religion calls me to be in the world but not of it. My friend taught me this is not achieved by the rejection of society or even judging it. No, it is about the importance you place on its values. I should say the lack of importance you place on its values.

Matthew 6:25-26 25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

More than a bible verse to my friend, it guided his life. This kind of lifestyle left little room for planning. He was easy to walk with, but hard to follow. His way is for the few not the many. I will not try to tell what my friend meant to me; he knew. Besides, it is best understood in the silence of the space between the notes.

Our Friendship

 Transcends time & space, noise & confusion 

still heard in the silence & calms my soul

Wade

 

Gone Pig

A Memoir of an Aging Chiefs Fan in Prime Time

It is Christmas Eve day, I am having coffee and recovering from another primetime loss. Nobody loses in a more entertaining fashion than our Chiefs. My first thought is thanks “Me Too” for the loss of Kareem Hunt. Those disputes should either be limited to politics, entertainment, (football is a religion in KC) the corporate world or at the very least the off season. It is not my desire to offend anyone. Let it be known I would have been perfectly fine with having a circle of women kick the crap out of him after the season. It also occurs to me letting some of the biggest, strongest guys hit him is not inappropriate. Just take the money. In all seriousness, I understand it is a business, even in college, but I do think there something to be said that the field is the one place in life when nothing matters except what you do there. Simplistic, yes. Naïve and unworkable undoubtedly. I just remember thinking that on the field was the one place when everyone is truly equal. Not in ability cuz I didn’t have any.

Sorry for the rant. What I really wanted to talk about is my reaction to the game. I quit smoking, two years ago, I have greatly limited my consumption of alcoholic, and Marijuana  is still against the law in Missouri. I am not sure if those were contributing factors to what happened or not. I released my inner pig. I did not passively snack on sausage and cheese, I devoured it. I then promptly moved on to  cookies, chocolate & almond covered pretzels, eclairs and swallowed with an aggression suited only for competitive sports.  It was ugly, it was a case of  piggy gone wild. Visible bloated and miserable I wondered if solace could be found in one more bite.

 

Why Sad

Turns out I want to feel close to someone. Human touch. It is not that I am under-going the sudden change of emotional fortunes of  younger days; instead I am to fading away with time. I still love and want to be love. I want to hope and laugh. I want to rise and smile with the light of the day. thumbnail_fullsizerender

Missing the Mark

To be open is not without risk. You might think after revealing yourself in pain and fear there would be a type of immunity develop. There is, but it is not all-inclusive. The vulnerability lies in thinking your efforts will elicit a specific response. That your depth of feeling will be recognized and appreciated.IMG_0251 You work long and give it much thought to make it worthy of what you believe is a special relationship. When it is politely dismissed, there is an emptiness that ensues born of confusion and embarrassment. Think I’ll eat a worm.

An Unlikely Friend

(Dedicated to Dr. Robert Williams)

I took a drive with a longtime friend to a place called before. Pryor to letters, titles, and the personal accomplishments that put each of us in our proper place. When a child’s eyes still saw heroes in the form of Grandpa and Dad. Walking the land, turning over rocks, and a dropping a branch line in the creek was both classroom and playground. After lingering awhile in the shadows of the past, the setting sun made it clear departure time was near. Like pigs called to the trough we were off to the virgin watering hole, which somehow survived the ravages of change with its innocence intact. Fresh paint could not diminish the smell of grease that activated our salivary glands in preparation for this guilt-free feast. Wiping our chins with stained napkins, the call from the counter,”two vanilla shakes” signaled it was time to go. Inhaling the smoke from the gravel lot, it dawns on me, I share some core values with this unlikely friend. Continue reading “An Unlikely Friend”

An Unlikely Friend

(Dedicated to Dr. Robert Williams)

I took a drive with a longtime friend to a place called before. Pryor to letters, titles, and the personal accomplishments that put each of us in our proper place. When a child’s eyes still saw heroes in the form of Grandpa and Dad. Walking the land, turning over rocks, and a dropping a branch line in the creek was both classroom and playground. After lingering awhile in the shadows of the past, the setting sun made it clear our departure time was near. Like pigs called to the trough we were off to the virgin watering hole, which somehow survived the ravages of change with its innocence intact. Fresh paint could not diminish the smell of grease that activated our salivary glands in preparation for this guilt-free feast. Wiping our chins with stained napkins, the call from the counter,”two vanilla shakes” signaled it was time to go. Inhaling the smoke from the gravel lot, it dawns on me, I share some core values with this unlikely friend. Continue reading “An Unlikely Friend”

The Youngest of Three Children (Troubled Waters)

I am trying something different. We played around with photography, never got far. Lack of money and knowledge lead me to just use my phone. Hopefully using pictures and a few words I can convey some aspects of life that affect many of us.

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The path is not always smooth and is often uphill.

It is easy to get separated.

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We been looking for you.
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Come back, we love you!
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Where are you? Where do you think you are going?
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The climb is too steep for me to follow. I can only get mad or cry; probably both.
Far removed

I understand finding your own way, but how did we get so far removed from each other?                Is this your idea of finding the light?

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The light is out here. Your eyes will adjust, please come see.

Inside-Out then Outside-In back to Outside again

When you think about how you want to be remembered, what do you think of? Maybe I am not alone in having trouble finding a consistent answer to that question. Sometimes I would have answered a caring and thoughtful person. More often my thoughts and actions reflected the motto I wanted on my gravestone, “Never did I have a friend or foe that each wasn’t repaid in full”. To the extent I was caring and thoughtful it was limited in scope and understanding. I will not try to suggest what your legacy should be. What I will propose, is that your legacy is the final expression of your standards and your adherence to those standards for a Life Well Lived.thumbnail_img_1772

This is a huge topic and since this is a short essay and not a short book, I will narrow it down very quickly. Whenever you are going through a transition, (def. Transition: sometimes used as a euphemism for when things are big time crappy; especially when you get older) your self-identity becomes more fluid. You are facing a realization that can’t be ignored. At these times you have two options, either find an entirely new way or make a qualitive change in your current way of expressing yourself to the outside. (def. Outside: the world & people beyond you) Often the best way of dealing with the current dilemma you are facing is focusing outside yourself. People will often respond to tragic deaths by starting a charity. It doesn’t need to be something so complexed, however, it does need to give you a sense of purpose beyond yourself. Sometimes you need to approach a problem obliquely, from a different angle. The best way to handle the pressure, pain and even despair is by focusing on others. This is phase one, inside-out.

Phase two is outside-in. In this phase we realize that to consistently become the person we want to be to the outside, we must learn to treat ourselves with the same love and respect we try to show others. Take intimidation for example, we not only need to quit acting in an intimidating fashion (unless that is our goal) but also greatly reduce how often we are intimidated. Guilt & insecurity that lead to fear prevents us from becoming more consistent in our thoughts and actions. Part of the problem is our amazing lack of education in the art of risk assessment. Some people have jobs that require them to develop an expertise in risk management, but often it doesn’t extend to other areas of their life. Often they exclude themselves and problems their dealing with. When you talk about risk management you first need to understand these three facts:

1.risk means something can go wrong.

Some risks can be eliminated, but more often it is a matter of minimizing.

2. This applies not only to others, but you too.

3. Accept what we can’t change and change what we can.

We should spend a lot less time feeling bad about decisions and actions we made. And a little less time celebrating our victories. This time is better spent on improving and using our risk management skills. In other words, evaluate adjust, and move on.

Some people feel a sense of virtue in feeling negative about themselves. There are legitimate reasons why people feel this way; while. Although these emotions are understandable, they are not virtuous but selfish. We cannot be our best if we carry this burden. As we improve in understanding and healing ourselves, we are continuing to develop our skills in expressing ourselves to the outside world.

So, we are back to outside again. It is entirely possible this only makes sense to me, but it has certainly made a big difference in my ability to deal with issues both big and s

Searching for Periods through Sunshine & Rain

I haven’t written or posted for a while. Maybe I lack inspiration or just ran out things to say. I’ll stick with that; sounds better than admitting confidence and meaning are slipping away. A kind person responded to me the other day and reminded me of two things; one, when I started my blog my goal was to try and help one person with one problem. Her second point I realized through its effect on me. The power of a well-timed comment can act as a comma or exclamation point. She showed me that one comment can help slow down or increase momentum down a given corridor of the mind. Thank you.

I am sure you have noticed that I sure do like commas and semi-colons even though I am not sure how to use them correctly. Many of my thoughts and experiences run together and I don’t know where or how to punctuate. I guess I am just reluctant to end something. Who decides when something is a complete thought? Part of the aging process is to witness the passing of periods. Children see periods often, my toy broke, therefore I will never have a fun toy again. The simple act of staying alive makes sentences that once contain our whole world and future appear both forgettable and frightening. They are forgettable because they are just one of the many that make up your book of life. Frightening because of a growing exposure to their finite number.

My mom passed a while back, I remember her saying all her friends were either dead or dying. This stage of life she lamented, is funny because like a child you feel more of an onlooker than a participant. The difference is a child can sense the growth to come and you feel the inevitable decay. When decay becomes your most relevant perspective, you turn backward not forward for meaning. In the turning, the question becomes what is the appropriate reaction. Should I whip my back bloody with the stripes of past mistakes, failures, the road left untaken? On the other hand, should I inflate my own accomplishments, while diminishing those of others? Perhaps, I should become bitter and bemoan my fate, play the victim. I am both sadden and perversely comforted by the fact that even those who played their role with respect and dignity are soon forgotten. Even when remembered, their legacy depends more on the needs of those remembering than the facts of the life being contemplated.

P.S,

I have nothing against the term “passed” for describing the dead, but neither am I fond of it. I think of death as opening up a book in a completely new genre; its unknown realities we can only guess at. In closing, I find the act of writing requires me to be open, vulnerable and at least look for some periods. No wonder it can be scary.

What is on My Account?

 

Like most people I believe in accountability, especially other peoples. Ever noticed that Dems hold Republicans and Republicans hold Dems accountable for all “their” party’s actions. If you endorse somebody once does everything they do go on your account. If so, I am deeply concerned. It seems to me that just because you vote for someone doesn’t mean you wanted them to do stupid things. Your vote isn’t a blanket endorsement for everything they do or promote; at least it shouldn’t be. My thoughts today are preoccupied with accountability not politics.

You see I am struggling with the intersection of liability and children, one in particular. Sense I did a lot more than vote for my offspring, I assume I should have more culpability. Is that a forever thing? What about term limits? When do your children reach the age of accountability? Is there a starting and ending date? I never remember telling my children they’re not responsible for their actions. Neither do I know how to quit caring for them and feeling I could have done better. It occurs to me that accountability implies choice and control. Choice can be much more elusive than it first appears. When control is absent and influence waning your list of effective options is limited and just on a personal level. Society’s understanding of choice and control is constantly being revised.

There are more questions today about what we do control and how that impacts our choices than ever before. Damn the enlightenment! Do we need to answer those questions before we evaluate other people’s behavior, including our own? Most of us believe we have control over things we don’t and at same time fail to exercise the free will we have. I want to give my children joy, purpose and take away their pain. The child I am concern with at the present has chosen a path removed from my experience and to a degree understanding. That said, there are many things we share. I would like to tell them that I understand feeling isolated and filled with self-doubt. To make them understand that when hope is little more than a fading shadow, learn to wait. It will appear again. Mostly, know you are loved. I am sorry for the times when I could have done better. When the right words and actions I did not find, perhaps I did not look. To be an effective father and person I need to accept my faults and forgive them. Self-reproach only bares rotten fruit. My far too simple conclusion is FAT.  1. Forgiveness over blame 2. Acceptance over expectations 3. Treat yourself as you think you should treat others.