Solar Solace

FullSizeRender 2 late September sunset in the Ozarks

“Some days are diamonds… some days are rocks.”  -Tom Petty

There’s no two ways around it– some days are just harder than others.  This past week has been absolutely abysmal.  I’m getting to the point where I can’t even watch the damn news– I’m consciously tuning it out like the numerous neglectful mothers I’ve witnessed ignoring their crying children in public.  I just don’t want to hear it anymore.

I’m tired of reading headlines about mass shootings and natural disasters and neo-nazis.  I’m tired of feeding my misanthropy with stories of how awful and cruel human beings can be to one another.  And I’m tired of hearing that yet another one of my heroes has died.  Social media and celebrity “news” culture has never been my thing, but it’s been impossible to ignore the in memoriam tributes over the last year or so, as it seems that damn near all of my childhood heroes are dying off.  I guess it’s just a part of growing older… I dunno.

Which is why I want to share a little beauty with everyone today.  We had a marvelous sunset here in Northwest Arkansas a few nights back– it carried a painterly quality with the colors of a Maxfield Parrish palette, so I snapped a few pics with my phone for posterity’s sake.  I’m thankful now that I did, as I’ve returned to those photos numerous times in the last few days for a fleeting moment of solace, and I’m hoping I can provide someone somewhere else the same.

IMG_5776closeup of said sunset

 

Turn Around

 

Turn Around

Cold hands, warm heart,
Big dreams, false starts.
Those pills don’t work,
They just make it worse.
Don’t say you’re through–
I’ll swim beside you.
So this town, this sea,
Won’t drag you underneath.

You gotta know that this will turn around,
Until then I will not let you down.
When you find your ship has run aground,
You can call me, I won’t let you down–
I won’t let you down.
This will turn around.

Sick days, drunk nights,
Short fuse, loud fights,
Lose weight, all bones,
White trucks, the undertow.
Don’t say you’re done–
‘Cause you’re brave and you’re loved.
And this town, this sea,
It won’t drag you underneath.

You gotta know that this will turn around–
Until then I will not let you down.
When you find your ship has run aground,
You can call me, I won’t let you down–
I won’t let you down,
This will turn around.

I won’t let you down.
You’ve gotta know that this will… 

Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh
Turn around, turn around, turn around oh

(apologies to The Postal Service)

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!

stuartsmalley