Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Present and Accounted For

The blame can be placed solely and indubitably at the feet of Stainless. It was just a few hours ago, that as we stood in his driveway, he asked me when was the last time I had any fun? Now mind you, I have been on a couple of pretty cool vacations, been to the UK a couple of times for speaking engagements, seen a few concerts and sporting events.....and for some stupid reason I answered, "Back when I was hitting that ridiculous blog on a regular basis."

True talk. That silly response was the best I could muster. And I have absolutely no idea why it came out of my mouth. But it did. And here I sit. Back in my therapy chair. So comfortable. And so, so cheap!

Trust me when I say that a thousand or two topics have come to mind over the last couple of years. But all of them just exhaust me. And if I dared to bring up even one of them, then I would have to listen to your incessant rebuttals. And quite frankly, you exhaust me even more! As I get older, I truly am getting more and more okay with your right to be wrong and I, for the most part, have given up on trying to make you see it my way.....the right way.

Consequently, instead of addressing societal ills, of which there are thousands. I am going back to where this little experiment all began and I am going to discuss my very most, favoritest topic.....ME!

I find it amazing how so many of my favorite quotes are found on T-shirts. I'll never forget the first time I saw a shirt that read "I don't even like the people I like." Within 24 hours, I had Shoe's wife press me one out and to this day, that shirt remains one of my most valued possessions. Goodwrench, however, is currently sporting a shirt that I must one day own. My jealousy is incalculable. I offered him $100 cash the first time I saw it. On a couple of instances, I have been frozen with envy as Goodwrench has walked into the room with a shirt that says "JUST PRETEND I'M NOT HERE. THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING."

Sometimes, this strikes me as funny/sad. Other times it strikes me as sad/funny. Then there are times, when I'm all alone in my head (a very dangerous neighborhood), that the truth behind this silly sentiment, on a silly t-shirt, just completely breaks my heart.

And I start to list all the places in my daily walk, that I am so tempted to just pretend I'm not here.

I will suggest a few of these places. And I will do so at the risk of retribution. But this ridiculous quote, on this ridiculous shirt has caused me to question:

Do I pretend I'm not here on my job? Have I pretended I'm not here in a house of Worship? Have I not been here when out to dinner with friends? Have I pretended not to be here sitting on the couch watching TV with my wife? Have I really not been here at a choir concert of one of my children? Have I not been here while visiting a friend in the hospital? Have I pretended not to be here at the funeral of a loved one?

It's very, very plain to see that this list could go on and on and on and on.  I cannot describe the extent to which this truth disturbs me.

For those of you keeping score from a few years ago, I am still meditating every day. Coming up on 1,400 days in a row.  The ongoing mantra almost every day from my little Tibetan Monk is to just be present..... right here..... right now.  This simple thought might be the biggest challenge I face in my daily life.

But Goodwrench's shirt has challenged in a way that I've not been challenged in quite some time. And I really, truly want to make a change. And in ALL the instances mentioned above and in all the other hundreds of situations I find myself in, I'm going to strive, to the best of my ability, to be PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Lesson From The Last Jedi

There are recliners now in movie theaters! Who knew? Obviously, I didn't. I'm not sure of the exact year that I last stepped foot into a movie theater, but I can assure you that it was prior to everyone getting their own recliner! It was really nice. I may go again this weekend.

We were all together this year for Christmas. Big Tuck had some time off and was around the house. And the children (Tuck's word, not mine. Funny though!) were in town from Knoxville. Other than me having to sabotage one afternoon with some hardline views, we had a really nice visit. I made my amends and learned my lesson well.

On Saturday evening, we watched whatever Star Wars episode precedes Disney's current release in order to refresh our memories, before attending The Last Jedi on Sunday. Call me crazy. But I'm pretty sure it was just a "do over" of the Original Star Wars I saw as a kid, which I think was Episode IV. Kind of gives me ice cream head trying to keep them straight.

Anyway.....I will offer no spoilers or ruin your movie watching experience (did I mention the recliners?) But, I need to address a couple of lines from this flick that have been consuming my thoughts since we left the comfy confines of those recliners.

I don't even remember the girl's character name. I do remember she was talking to Finn. I do recall she was on the good guys' team (The Resistance) and I do know they were speaking of the incalculable odds they were facing against the bad guys (The First Order).

That's when this little pearl slipped out:

"That's how we're gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love."

Talk about thunderbolt and lightning! My very first thought was "Crap! I'm gonna have to dust off Cheaper Than Therapy and write about this." My second thought was "Crap! I'm gonna have to try and implement this mindset into my pathetic attempts to survive in this crazy, fallen world!"

I am NOT going to enumerate the dozens and dozens of examples of "fighting what we hate" that we are bombarded with each and every day. One of my sincerest goals with this little experiment is to try and encourage my tens of readers to think. So, you can come up with your own.

But the whole notion of "saving what we love" is raises big questions and even bigger challenges. I can promise you it is WAY, WAY harder than "fighting what we hate." The task is frustrating. It is difficult. And above all, it is going to be simply exhausting! But I believe it to be worth it. And I believe the fruit from this effort to be so much more rewarding!

Now, don't you all wish (as do I) that we had gone into see Pitch Perfect 3?

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Moderately Miserable is Hard Work

Most people who interact with me on a day to day basis are familiar with my canned response when they query "How are you doing?" Ninety-nine percent of the time, I answer, "I'm maintaining my normal state of moderately miserable."

It happened just Monday night at the gym. I entered the facility with a woman, who is little more than a casual acquaintance that I met four or five years ago. She noted that it had "been awhile" and asked me how I was doing. Upon my response, she said, "I would expect nothing less."

For some reason, that kind of stung! An eye-roll, a snicker, or a giggle are the only appropriate responses to my sarcasm. Didn't she get the memo? After all, I'm just throwing out shtick here. Right? Surely, she understands that my sarcasm is just a "front" I throw out for shock value.

Or, IS IT?

Recently, I have been reflecting on the role I have purposely and intentionally taken on as the "grumpy old man." The CURMUDGEON! When first called that term on FB, I actually told myself it was a compliment. I had become Red from "That 70's Show." Minus the beer, I had become my TV hero, Red. I was a malcontent and I was surrounded by dumba***s and I liked it!

The problem with the shtick, however, is that, over time, it seemingly becomes REALITY! And I am only now realizing that "maintaining a state of moderately miserable" is hard work.

Well, actually, it's really not THAT hard! A daily dose of the news channels help. And it doesn't matter which one. Left or right! Those arrogant blowhards on Fox News anger me just as bad as that bitter, miserable chick on MSNBC. And I've actually blogged about that! Deep down, I know they are just doing their jobs. Their job is to produce OUTRAGE. That fact was discussed in this very same forum some time ago. I shouldn't fault them for simply trying to draw a paycheck.

The news channels, however, pale in comparison to this silly device I hold in my hand several hours a day. I am only just now realizing the power this thing lords over me. I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker! Without even realizing how subtly it happened, I was following some of the meanest people in this county on the Twitter. And I wasn't just reading their tweets. I was reading ALL the responses. Some of these threads go on for days. And I couldn't miss a single one!

I don't know if there is any hope for me or not. Maybe I am just a curmudgeon and maybe I just need to own it. But I have taken baby steps in trying to lessen the severity of it all.

I unfollowed all those pundits on the Twitter. Even though I agree with 99% of what they say, I cannot participate in that vitriol. I've unfriended a good friend on the Facebook. I genuinely like and care for the guy. But he has NO filter! And he posts egregiously inappropriate GIFS and comments on my Timeline. It makes my blood boil. And I just can't afford to let that discourage me. And I am off the news channels. After all, I already know what they are going to say anyway. Their respective points of view haven't changed in years.

I'm not certain as to why the change of heart. My natural inclination is to stay in the problem. It's warm and squishy there and over time becomes normal and comfortable.

But I do know this. My energy is waning in my older years. And I just feel tired. I am tired of Harvey Weinstein. I am tired of the NFL. I am deeply saddened by the Vegas shootings. But I am tired of that, as well. And I am tired of the OUTRAGE!

I am just gonna have to leave that for those of you who are better equipped to handle it.