Of Sunsets and Sentimentality

IMG_1874another spectacular sunset for a less than spectacular day

There’s nothing quite like a magnificent sunset to calm a man’s senses and allow him to put things into perspective for a few moments in an otherwise listless and godforsaken day.  We had a remarkable sunset last night in the Ozarks, and again tonight, and I felt like sharing my shitty iPhone pics on this blog.  It rained damn near all day yesterday (a miserable downpour worthy of building an ark), but as the sun began to sink over the horizon, the rain ceased and the sky opened up just enough to put on one hell of a show.  It was a much needed show, too.

Anymore, most of my days are spent mired in despondency and regret to a debilitating degree.  Fortunately, I’ve been busy enough at work as of late to keep my mind off of unpleasant things (idle hands and all that), but as soon as I return home and am left to my own devices, the loneliness becomes too unbearable to ignore.  I keep waiting for circumstances to change and for things to get better, or at the very least to become more palatable, but they never do.  Which is why it’s so important for someone such as myself to take the time to appreciate something as simple and powerful as a beautiful sunset.  Sometimes a sunset makes all the difference.

IMG_1887tonight’s sunset, as seen from a nursing home parking lot

For far too long now I’ve been telling myself that things could always be worse, and I’m tired of using that thought as a crutch.  Speaking of crutches, I visited my mother in the nursing home tonight, and while I was walking down the hallway of the home I witnessed an old man in a wheelchair camped out at the twenty-five cent candy machines with a cup full of quarters as if he were an old lady playing the slots.  Both of his legs were gone, likely long-since lost to diabetes.  And yet there he was, eating fistfulls of Skittles at a time.  One must have priorities, I reckoned, and I suddenly remembered my paternal grandfather, who was diabetic.  For the life of him, despite his diabetes, he couldn’t give up his favorite candy– those cheap gummy orange slices.

orangeslicesmy grandfather’s kryptonite

I loved those crappy candies when I was a kid, and I’ve always associated them with the memory of my grandfather.  He shot himself around this time some thirty years ago, which is crazy to think about.  When I wrote a post about the concept of deathdays a while back, I forgot to include that it was my grandfather who actually introduced that concept to my father.  And the older I get, the more I recognize the significance of this concept.  To every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time to every purpose under heaven.  [apologies to Pete Seeger and the Byrds]

Thought For The Day

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And what if you don’t have EITHER of those things, Gretchen darlin’?  What then?

Coincidentally, Gretchen Rubin is originally from Kansas City, home to the baseball team I rooted for as a child (who just won Game 1 of the World Series in 14 innings) and home also to one of my oldest (and loneliest) friends, Steve, who I actually drove up to K.C. to visit last week.  It was good catching up with my ol’ pal whom I hadn’t seen in years, but Steve is a fellow depressive as well as a fellow victim of loneliness, so it was a little despiriting to commisserate with someone who’s also battling melancholia as severely as I am.  What makes Steve different, though, is that he’s hands down the funniest motherfucker I’ve ever known as well as an optimist at heart, so through all of his adversity he has managed to retain both his senses of humor and hope, which is more than I can say for myself.

Thought For The Day

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I know what you’re thinking: “He fucked up that proverb! It’s supposed to be ‘When one door closes, another door opens‘, right?” But no– I didn’t fuck up that proverb. Quite the contrary, actually, as that proverb fucked me up, and now I simply can’t help seeing it from the other way around. But then again, I’ve always been a bit of a “glass half-empty” kinda guy.

It’s downright ignorant to assume that closing the door on a crucial part of your life will automatically lead to something better. I mean, who even knows what’s behind that second door? Could be something good… could be something bad… we don’t know. And who’s to say there’s even going to BE a second door? Guess what, folks– sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes when a door closes, you’re left standing with your proverbial dick in your hand in an empty hallway full of other closed doors, and no matter how hard you knock on any of those doors, they’re going to remain shut. That’s cerrado, pendejo.

I think what’s too often overlooked in this expression is the finality involved in the closing of that first door, and that’s exactly why I’ve restructured it for this blog post– because people need to fully grasp the significance of having that first door forever shut. News flash, Holmes: regardless of whether or not another door ever opens, whatever once was behind that first door is now essentially gone forever. So consider this a PSA from your friendly neighborhood perennial loser.

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On Faith, Willpower, and Bears

About a week ago, I posted the following thought for the day: “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.” Well, I’ve thought about it, and now I’d like to offer my two cents.

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Taken at face value, this quote is absolute bullshit because I reckon there are countless obstacles that can stand between a man and what he wants from life. There are figurative obstacles, such as those found in the day to day trials and tribulations of our overburdened human existence on this mortal coil. And then there are literal obstacles, like bears. Why didn’t the originators of this quote at the very least account for bears? I think a good-sized grizzly is a much more legitimate obstacle than willpower and faith, as this quote would have us believe. With that out of the way, I do see what this affirmation was getting at, and I believe there is some truth to it after all.

grizzlybearIf this guy is standing between me and what I want from life, he can have it

Honestly, the first part of that aphorism (“the will to try it“) often trips me up. I’ve never really been one to try new things–I’m an old soul who is fairly set in his ways. One of my co-workers recently recommended I listen to a new musical artist, in the event that I wanted “to branch out.” I replied, “Do I honestly look like someone who branches out?” She said, “Well, no…” And she was right.  When I find something I like, I usually stick with it. For instance, when I go out to eat, it’s always at one of only a handful of restaurants, and regardless of how expansive that restaurant’s menu may be, I typically order the same damn thing. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not necessarily averse to trying new things.  Hell, I’ll branch out every once in a while with the best of ’em.  For the most part, though, I rarely set foot outside of my comfort zone, and I recognize now that this has been a detriment to my social development as both a man and a human being.  But then again, it’s the fear of the unknown–or more precisely, the fear of failure–that cripples even the best of us.  We must continue to try new things for the simple fact that choosing not to do so keeps us in the dark–it keeps us from growing and ensures that we will continue to live our lives partially motivated by fear.  It’s the equivalent of “letting the terrorists win.”

terroristswintrumanTruman didn’t let the terrorists win–he bombed them into kingdom come

Now, even if I manage to drum up enough courage to get past the first part of that aphorism (“the will to try it“), it’s always the last part (“the faith to believe that it is possible“) that gets me every time. Faith is the one virtue I appear to have had the most trouble developing during my lifetime; it’s like the fried egg to my teflon pan–it just doesn’t stick.  I have a hard time believing in anything, especially myself.  I wasn’t always like this, though–there was a time in my younger years when I seemed impervious to self-doubt.  I was the smartest, fastest, toughest, and funniest kid in my class all throughout elementary school.  But then I began growing up, and along with my middle school years came feelings of social inadequacy and the realization that I wasn’t who I wanted to be.  That realization, coupled with the subsequent fear that I would never be the person I wanted to be, kicked off a crippling social anxiety disorder and mindset that I wasn’t good enough and never would be good enough.  These are difficult concepts for a seventh grader to comprehend, let alone overcome, and by all rights I am still working through some of them. There’s a fine line between faith and delusion, though, and even if I’m unable to muster much faith, I reckon I’d be a lot happier if I could be just delusional enough to overcome my pragmatism and blindly believe that not only are good things possible, but that I deserve and am entitled to those good things. As Stuart Smalley used to say, “I’m good enough… I’m smart enough… and doggone it–people like me!

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