From January to September, the light lasts a little longer each day.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
It's okay to walk alone. So many voices surround us and tell us that we need to constantly feed our social machines, and be in the warm, smiley space of the other.
But sometimes, you need to plum the depths. You need to search. You need to get comfortable with the idea of a long, hard night, a good book and a mild cup of tea in the winter. Ask the hard questions.
It's alright to miss someone, and to let that truth sting you. I miss people all the time - and I miss someone every day. I don't know if it'll change, and slowly, as I've felt the weight lessening, I've pushed on to different places. I've seen small victories. Little splinters of sun piercing through the wintercloud.
Life is a big, confusing, ugly, fuck-up of a mess. We compromise, and we tell ourselves we can get it right next time, and push on, and we shove off into the waters of the uncertain. We float our boats down the channels of contentment, and we are not even sure that we are where we need to be.
The grass on the other side of the future-fence stays lush and green, while we labour away in the here and now. The pain of the present tense.
But still, the beauty tries to talk to us, and we often don't let it. Adventure beckons and twitters from under the eaves of nightfall, and we close the window. We make our beds, and we sleep in them.
But in that sleep, we will build strength, and move towards a new horizon - a new zenith of potential and word-towers and songscapes.
We get busy and wrapped up in plans and nonsensical future-wrapped thinking, and we often miss that frosted glow that's shining right at our stupid faces - because we think a better one is coming.
I have forgotten how much fulfilment I can get from just cleaning my room, doing laundry and listening to songs that I haven't heard in a while. I get awfully social at times, but there are moments where I really enjoy the release of being alone and letting my computer churn through a few playlists. Death Cab has put out a few of those stinger tunes over the years. There is something unique about the faraway sadness and yearning in Gibbard's voice that draws me in close. I immediately get pensive and sentimental, and I smile.
It looks like I'm going through another shift. Work at the yard is slowing, and so I need to reconsider and reevaluate my next steps. The winter is morphing into something else. I am finding time to craft some songs that I've neglected for a while. I'm trying to put in the needed work to feel like I've cranked out something worthwhile and poetically reaching.
Yes - I'll do my best to be in this moment - but I'll make some plans while I'm here.
The Long Goodbye To Misty And The 12: The Farm (Chapter 4)
I didn't grow up on a farm, and farms have always been somewhat foreign lands to me. My cousins had a grandfather who had a farm near Dunrobin, but I don't have many memories of being around animals. They mostly revolve around causing trouble among hay bales and riding a tractor.
For the past week, I lived on a real, working farm in Oxford Mills. Every morning, in the blustery, brutal cold, I had to stretch a 60ish ft long length of hose from the barn and attach it to the tap on the side of the house, and provide water for 12 cows and one horse. Unfortunately, deep February face-fuck cold weather doesn't care much for water - and so each day, I needed to unthaw the tap first with some warm water. The thread of the hose was also usually a bit frozen, so that needed to be dipped in the warm water too, before being screwed to the tap. Once the liquid gold started flowing, I needed to double back to the barn and put the gushing hose through a wall into two blue barrels for the animals.
That's when Misty would show up - right on cue.
Misty, the very beautiful but very assertive and pesky horse, would always drink first. If any cows wandered up to try and get a taste while she was there, she would have none of it. She would bray them away or even slightly head butt their hind ends, making the cows take off in fear. After a few days, she let me pet her mane as she drank, but I wouldn't do it long. I kept a healthy fear of Misty and I think she saw that. Once she finally decided she was done, she would clip clop away to the hay bales and let the cattle have their turn. This is where shit would get wild. 12 cows don't understand that two drinking barrels need to be used in a wait-your-turn type system. For them, their minds solemnly say '12 of us all bucking for two barrels? What could possibly go wrong? Seems perfectly mathematically sound!'
The hell, you say.
A rampage would ensue, and I would make sure to get out of the way of the chaos before it got nutty. With various moos and snorts and head butts, these cows would literally get three heads into each barrel at a time, almost getting their big-eyed noggins stuck. It was almost like a mosh pit of beef - they would buck into each other for pole position, sometimes thrashing their heads or bodies up against the outside of the barn, sending a thunderous rattle across the doors. Many times, I had to shoot some hose water on to the ground just to quell the madness, as they would start sucking the groundwater fiercely off the ice and snow and mud and take any dregs they got. I've never seen water get hoovered so quickly. It was like God's wet-vac. Gone in a few short minutes.
After a while, I grew to love the chaos - watching the different personalities of the different cattle pop in and out the social atmosphere. It was like 12 drunk dudes fighting for the attention of one girl. As I'd finish filling, and they'd finish drinking seconds after, I'd hear them moo their disapproval of the fluid's end as I walked away.
For that brief half-hour to hour span each day, I gathered a glimpse into something simple - and yet something extremely complex at the same time. The city was a small fleck in my mind, and I didn't worry about job security or a pension plan. I breathed in the manure air, and I saw the community of animals work together for a greater good. The cycle of it. I didn't need to be anywhere else.
I only did one sliver of farmwork for one week, and yet, it made me appreciate the people that do this for a living every day.
Chelsea, the outdoor border collie, barks away at nothing into the glacial, darkening eve. The cows and horses stay by the hay bails and gather for warmth. It's amazing to observe rugged animals who can withstand such extreme temperatures while us humans, who think we run the planet, are some of the most frail things going.
An afternoon fire roars and snaps as I enjoy another day at the farm and work on some long lost songs. The heat gets thrown around the room in thick pockets of creosote scented air.
I've begun to live with the quiet. I've let it in. It's a blanket.
We can't be sure of how anything will turn out. We try to make our bucket lists, and we rail against the past crimes we've endured, and all the while, the beauty is waiting to touch us - waiting to etch its way on to our notepads. Our voices are car horns that die in the wind.
But rail on, I do. I sing my songs and I keep moving - I jag, and I turn, and I do my best to evade the dark - but it comes for us all.
I can be afraid of the quiet. Our lives get so busy and noisy and trinkety that we learn to live with a constant, whizzing hysteria around us - but when the quiet comes, we get freaked out because we don't know what to do with it.
Do we pray? Do we listen? Do we talk to ourselves? Do we turn the music on?
This week, I'm living at a farm on a housesitting mission for friends who were in need of some sun.
This morning and yesterday morning, I started my days by putting water out for 12 cows and one rambunctious horse. The cows shuffled in as the horse bucked them away. This happened a few times. There was the odd moo, once the cattle finally got their liquidy dues from the blue bucket, but the sound of their tongues slurping was like a chorus of sump pumps. I lurked around in my overalls, and walked between their giant bodies. It's good to feel small.
I've never understood the idea of a personal retreat, but I think I'm starting to grasp the concept of slowing. At first, with a full day off, I felt like I needed to be busy. I felt like I should run around and yell, just so the noise of my voice would reverberate off the empty farmhouse walls.
Right now, my keystrokes on my old mac machine are the only thing I can hear. There is no music. Only a window beside me that shows two of the pics in the above view. The sun is in the golden house of the sky, just below a thin veil of wintercloud. The striations and colours are pretty damn majestic, and hint at something I long for, but can't quite touch.
I'm not sure what I want out of life. I've sinned. I've been redeemed. I've pushed the envelope. I've walked the line. I've seen the sun. I've lived through dark nights. But it seems like I keep coming back to a place of recognition and acceptance and willful gratitude - and sometimes, it's overwhelming. When I recall some of the short cut lives and horror stories of my comrades, I know I have lived a charmed life.
For a long time, I felt like I needed to deviate from my track - to find the next glowing pit stop that lured me into its neon, gasoline-stink compromise. But lately, I feel like I'm pushing on towards something. My tires are locked into the country road. I'm not sure what the end result will be - but it feels nice to slow down.
The bitter chill stings the cheek. It holds you.
It grabs the heart and steals the breath.
The long winding line of footsteps reminds us of the places we've been, and the moments we can never get back.
I'm tired out. Pave the way. Too low on gas to save the day. Slaves and outlaws. Kings and Pharaohs. No tomorrow. Slings and arrows. I'm tired out. -Buck 65
I'm already reaching a breaking point with this blog bullshit. I want to be honest and real, and well crafted in my words...and I get a reminder on my phone, but every day, I find myself fantasizing about sloughing off the duty. Or shirking it. Or letting a loud 'argh' into the world. And seriously, that is sad. It's not much of a responsibility - it's a few minutes of pounding some words into cyberspace.
But I think it reflects the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing sometimes in this knockdown drag-out life. I feel like most people my age are somewhat established in some sort of career path, and they have some sort of force leading them onward. I feel somewhat unguided - like the stoney trail in front of me is only being illuminated rock by rock - and I'm not sure what else to do.
I just keep going.
I roll along, and I adapt, and I move from spot to spot, and I'm okay with that flow motion, but maybe this shit-blog is starting to show me that I don't really know what I want - in terms of a job or a pursuit or a career type deal. And maybe I need to give that some serious thought and iron-furnace forging.
I mean, of course I'd love to be a writer, but all writers who end up doing it for a career end up becoming assholes or in the looney bin. It's such a self-plumbing practice that can't help but drum up things from the deep that you didn't want to discover in the process. Real writing needs to be about solitude, and not buzz words. Marketing and business can go fuck themselves. The words need to come from a place that is not rooted in anything connected to the plastic monetary faux-paradise.
Everything is edited. Trimmed. Everyone in this self-conscious world is afraid to say what they really feel, because we've been conditioned to accept the awkwardness.
We've been told lies about who we are - probably on a grade school playground, eons ago - and we deeply believe those falsehoods.
I'm tired of trying to find out exactly where I belong. I want to be in the mix. I want to be known and felt and held and accepted and adored. Don't we all want that?
I want to write a kids science fiction space book that's mulled around in my head for over a decade. I want to work for Saturday Night Live as a writer. I want to run a record label and make albums with my friends. I want to tour on a bus for half a year and shoot videos for bands, and maybe even play my own music once in a while.
I have songs and words and sounds, and I need them to get out. But I'm tired.
Sleep will help.
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." (Lester Bangs)
At certain times in this life, there is a golden hour. It's a frozen parsec in time where the curtain is pulled back and we catch a brief glimpse of something beyond us. A cold sunset that cracks a tree line. Somebody smiling at you. A song that recalls a childhood memory. The smell of tar on the pavement that reminds you of burning your feet. The way wet leaves crackle and throw smoke off a fire. Most of the time, we don't time it out well - we are beckoned but we miss the whisper while we make weekend plans.
There is so much evil going on all around us all the time, and it's unsettling. It's haunting. Cities are burning. Life ending weapons are as easy to get as a stick of butter. We blanket-judge people. We throw scary words like 'terrorism' and 'holy war' around like a throat-clear - as non chalantly as we would ask for a glass of water. And we think we know the answers. We don't agree that there is a Good behind all of this, but we sure as hell agree on the malevolent, shape shifting and unadulterated horror that surrounds us in our sleepy towns.
If there was ever a time where people needed an escape pod - a hatch. We all need a tether to get away from the ship - even if only for a moment to survey the grand, gargantuan galaxy outside of our windows - and then to come back with new eyes. Refreshed. Renewed. Refined by fire. Ready to help, and ready to really scrub on the floors of other peoples problems. Ready to understand.
I have no firm answers on any wizard behind a curtain - but I do know about love. And if that's a collective starting point, where we can all converge and then scatter down the forest path together - I think we will be okay.
When the water makes certain shapes, our bodies move with the strange frozen fluid. What exact icy moment was it that a wave was caught still in motion? We never know the exact moment of the inception of change in our lives, but we chase after it with all our might - on a fruitless quest.
A journey through night with no fire.
But in a way, we are okay with that. The darkness becomes comfortable, and we trudge hard - with deep set steps. Our boots weigh our feet, like damp concrete.
We make creatures out of shadows, and our yawns draw out in the refrigerated air - stuck in time like cotton clouds taped on a blue bristol board.
Sometimes, the sky cracks strange, and the world feels slightly off its axis. The pavement we walk on seems uneven and even somewhat mushy. This is the experience of entering new terrain and discovering new lands.
I'll never forget a trip I took to Canmore last winter. It was one of the hardest, oddest and most picturesque trips I've ever taken. The walls of the mountains hemmed me in, and darkness struck at an unexpected hour every day. I walked across the balmy winter resort town, and searched for solace and peace, but I found little of it. It was one of those trips where it turned out to be the opposite of what you expected. People you had an idea about were not the people they seemed to be, and it was a week that seemed like an eternity.
Still - in that strange, cold and desolate mountain town, I found something. I found many things, in fact. Gems. Visitors and helpers were sent to my aid. A friend showed up from over 2 hours away and rescued me and took me to Calgary and gave me lodging. Another friend showed up for a few days visit, randomly, and was a calm sounding board for all that I was going through. A family took me in for a few days, and I was shown love and acceptance by them and their amazing and unique children. An old childhood friend took me out for burgers and it was like we had just hung out a few days ago - when in reality, it had been probably a decade. A new friend, who had been through a traumatic time, spent some time swimming with me and was able to unload some of his workings on me, and I was able to get outside of myself (we also tried to sneak into a Calgary Flames game, but no dice).
These things never would have happened if I had stayed home. Sure - there was tumult, but there was also treasure.
The visitors are waiting for you. You are cared for.
Hypersonic. Speed. Sight. Sound. The earth groans, and we try to listen. The dance happens all around us and most of the time, we are deaf to the otherworldly song that plays just beyond our reach.
I snapped the above photo on a quick trip to the Byward market last Thursday. At times, I feel like a bit of a ghost in this town where I grew up. The downtown core is an old neighbour that moved away - like most of my childhood friends. It's familiar but different somehow. They are not here, and I am still under their cascading shadows.
It's a good feeling to be restless - that shivery irk in the back of your mind that you have a lot of tasks to tackle, and not a lot of time to wrestle them off your lists. I am a man of projects, but for me, that's the fuel for my fire. Sometimes, I lie awake when I should be sleeping and my mind races like a jet engine on the runway of future dreams. I love the challenge. I love collaboration and learning from other people is a firing sparkplug in my engine. We are fucked if we think we know the best way to do something without properly consulting others.
If nothing else, I have left behind mementos of my work - a body of creative matter. And with any luck, I have much more to pump out.
I'm thankful for my friends, my family and the people who don't just praise my bullshit - I'm happy to have challengers in my life who push me onward and upward to higher heights.
It was right about this time that Joel decided he had better go down and check on his mom and uncle, who were most likely raking around the dumping concrete and having a lovely conversation while we slaved away. What he found was his mom and uncle breathing heavy and looking flabbergasted, almost completely submerged in a mountain of sludge, with splatters all over their clothes, hair, face and glasses. Deciding to relieve them to chute duty and random tasks, Joel and two younger whippersnappers (cousins of his) moved into the boathouse for chute duty while I stayed up top with the neighbour and others on the wheelbarrows.
With a few deep breaths, I was determined to master the 'technique' I lacked. After shedding a few layers and a few pounds on one of the hottest fall days imaginable, I took my second load at full steam to the ramp, jammed on the brakes at the right moment, and fully dumped all of my bucket contents down the chute. Cheers from Joel's mom and neighbour and everyone were a sign of encouragement, but an annoyance for me. I knew I could do it. As the wheelbarrows never seemed to cease, I felt like I was on assembly line. Sweat poured into every hole in body. My arms and back were sore, but we were all making headway. At about 11 am, the sun was in its full helm of fire, blasting both Joel and the youngins in the boathouse and I and the barrow movers up top. With only about two more spills from me all day, the work was slowly getting done, and at one point, I thought about the party at the Branch - and just how far away from the hellscape of reality that lovely moment was at that moment.
After hearing that Joel needed more help in the boathouse, as the barrow loads were unrelenting and unceasing, I moved down to help him and let the whippersnappers come up top and move some barrows. Joel was covered. I could barely make out his eyes and teeth under a thick lacquer of crusty greyness. More than that, the sun was now at an apex and where there was shade up top, the boathouse was a full on heat zone, open to the full torch of the sun. "Great," I thought - "I should have stayed on wheelbarrow duty". For the next hour and a half or more, Joel and I would take turns shovelling heavy loads that magically appeared through a hole in the boathouse ceiling. My new work boots were caked and my socks were soaked in about 12 inches of concrete on the floor. Under a hole, a mountain began forming, as Joel and I couldn't keep up with the breakneck speed of the barrows. While the concrete poured, you couldn't move it - as the spray was machine gun-esque as it hit the ground near our feet, and if you looked at the pile to see if it had stopped too soon, flecks of the shit would fly into your eyes and give you a sharp sting.
Within ten minutes, I was just as covered as Joel. My arm hairs were connected by a thick matte of stone dust. It was in our mouths. We had to keep yelling for them to stop, and eventually, we had to take a few minutes break and let the mountain form, and move it once the barrows had stopped their tumultuous reign of terror. Eventually, a large molehill of crete had formed between Joel and I - it was probably four feet high. Bit by bit, though, we moved the pile and raked and smoothed and did what we could. The whippersnappers helped us out from time to time, and we pushed and shovelled and raked and kicked and fought.
By about three o'clock, we had somehow done the deed. People had left. Our backs ached and our forearms felt like they would pop out of their skin. It was 29 degrees out. Joel and I carved our initials (along with all the others) into the new walkway in front of the boathouse. I drank about three litres of water.
We felt like kings who had been through battle. Joel and I jumped in the lake in shellacked clothing - boots and all. We dunked our heads and marvelled at the insanity of what had just occurred. Joel got a text from his cousin Jill who had offered us some cold beers at her place at the other end of the lake. With a bag of doritos in tow, we jumped in the old silver boat, fired up the motor, and roared across a glassy Otter lake. I barely remember getting to Jill's place, but we sat in the sun on her old pontoon boat, and drank icy Bud Lights. They tasted like springs from the fountain of heaven. After feeling myself start to fade, I excused myself, took a photo in Jill's bathroom of myself - to remind myself that I lived through this day - and fell asleep on her couch.
Later that night, after a change and a shower, Noelle prepped to sing her tunes soulfully to a bustling crowd at the Branch, and we did a quick run though of our Strawberry Wine duet on a rainy Clothier Street. The show went off without a hitch, and I spent a lot of it on the back patio of the Branch with a ton of pals. Miranda gave me gift certificate to Vertigo records. Drinks were bought for me by both my pal Kathy and Joel. John Carroll and Tia and Bruce talked about the changing music industry. Ben Mullin showed up with his lady Heather, and as usual, they brought some laughs with them. Ben has one of the heartiest chuckles going. Brad and I talked about music and how our friendship had changed so much in one year. We also found some random fan of both of our bands (Brad Sucks/Graven) online and marvelled at the weirdness of that. Zoe came and brought smiles. And as per usual, Amanda, Carey and Polly were in the thick of the social event, being their bright, happy selves. When the show ended, we all decided to move to Zoe's lovely backyard pad, and bonfire building and drunken trampoline jumping ensued. I tried jumping with Kathy for about 5 jumps, and had to get off 'the boozy rollercoaster that was my brain'. As Joel and I drove away, I sent texts of gushy love to everyone involved with the night, and we hit the cottage driveway at about 3:45 am.
I passed out immediately, and awoke to Joel's mom saying 'Good moooorning' loudly and warmly in the cottage about 5:50 am. I heard Joel's gravely voice and movement from another room, and the two of them started prepping. I finally woke up at about 6:30, knowing the truck was coming at 7, and I felt decent, but also sort of like a bag of smashed assholes. With the combined nature of a physical week of work, being involved in a show, and a massive lack of sleep - and oh yes, alcohol - I was not at my best.
Regardless, I was outside in minutes and found that Joel's mom had recruited a few family members and neighbours to help out and so there were about 7 of us involved in the whole concrete operation. I was sweating already, knowing that this would be one hell of a day. While Joel decided that being at the bottom of the chute would be easiest, he sent his mom and his uncle Bob down there to smooth out the wet, grey slop. As the truck showed up at about 7:45, four of us had wheelbarrows and the top of the chute and had to walk about 30 steps from the truck to the chute with full loads of teetering, stoney sludge. It seemed easy enough. I began to feel more confident as I calculated the odds.
What I didn't account for was the fact that as I walked across the bumpy terrain with my barrow full, I had to run up a small wooden ramp, with a good amount of speed, and then push the barrow forward to dump it and almost fall off a cliff. On my first attempt, I got halfway up the ramp, saw the edge and felt the momentum of the wheelbarrow, and lost control - letting a full tub of goopy pavement hit the grass. I began to sweat profusely as commands from Joel's mom and neighbour were flying at me about 'my technique' and what I could do better. I barked back at them quickly, in my hungover tired, angry state, and said something to the effect of 'TOO MANY CAPTAINS AND ONLY ONE SHIP!'
One night, this past fall, I tempted fate in a little town called Kemptville, Ontario. The night was September 26, 2014.
It was the week of my birthday, and as luck would have it, I had just started working at a lumber yard that very day of my birth - 38 years later. "How ironic", I thought, "that on the day of my birth, where most people relax and drink libations, here I am screwing down plywood floors on my hands and knees." I was in an empty warehouse, working alone for the better chunk of 8.5 hours, and I heard the rattle of electricians below me playing with conduit pipes. Later that night, some of my best and funnest friends in the world (Amanda, Carey and Paulina) showed up on my driveway in Nepean, and started yelling 'HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAAY' embarrassingly at the top of their lungs, most likely waking all 8 pm bed ridden families in the nearby vicinity from their ho-hum housecoat slumbers. After heading downtown, Joel, one of my oldest and dearest pals, showed up to meet us at a pub. Sore from my first day at the yard, I pushed myself into party spirit and drank some free microbrewed beverages and ate some lovely snacks at the Manx and later at Sir John A on Elgin Street. Jules met up with us for a few bottle tips, but didn't stay long as she was ill. I also drank a shot that had a mountain of whip cream in it, and nearly tossed my cookies. Later that night, the five of us ate cake by the Ottawa river - it was a cake that Amanda had made. And it tasted heavenly. Joel ended up dunking his head in the river while Carey and Polly held him by his feet. I'm pretty sure I wanted to follow him down, but I don't think Amanda let me. It's nice to have a level-headed friend like Amanda in un-level situations.
The week went on, I worked, and Joel had mentioned to me earlier that week that he had needed help re-pouring the foundation for his boat house. This meant a few things:
1. A full truckload of concrete was coming
2. He had planned it for a Saturday afternoon because
3. I was going to be singing a song with my friend Noelle at The Branch in Kemptville on the friday night before and
4. I had planned a massive birthday party with basically all of my friends from the region
Unfortunately, the concrete company contacted Joel on the Friday and told him that:
1. Concrete trucks don't pour a full load in the afternoon and could only come at 7 am
2. There was no backing out because it was guaranteed
3. A team of people would be best.
And again - another wrench.
Unfortunately, Joel's crack team of people consisted of himself, myself and his cousins Steve and Jill. With the changed time of 7 am, Steve and Jill were now unable to make it, and so Joel was stuck with little or no help. I got his cry via text while I was at the lumber yard, ready to get into party mode, at about 4 pm on the Friday. I felt angered at first, but then I realized how selfish an emotion that was - Woe was me to be stopped from a fun social gathering. While painting a massive snow scoop for a forklift, I stopped for a moment and looked at a dead blue sky and I realized that if I needed help, Joel would have done the same. So I opted in. Joel was so gassed that I was coming that he even offered to come to my birthday party, and drive me to the cottage that night - whenever the night would end.
I knew that this night would either kill me, or change me.
Walking out is the hardest fucking thing you could go through. Forget the bankruptcy and the broken limbs and the car accidents and the diseases and the rest of it. When you leave, you become a leaver and that is something you will always be.
You will look back for an eternity, and a piece of you will always be broken. There is no fixer. You will long for something that is gone, and you will wish with all of your being that you could make it right, but you will never be able to do that. You will look for a door that you wish you could magically walk back through, but it will be gone. And you'll be standing there - with yourself.
Don't leave my mind. Sleep out the sin and start again.
A relationship is a wild animal. A beast of the field that we bring into our living rooms. We pet their rough fur, and we hear them lightly roar while we watch tv, and we think it's cute. And all the while, a nature that we don't understand is evolving and breathing and becoming something far beyond the scope of you and me.
I'm not sorry for where I am now, and I'm not sorry for who I've become. I am better and smarter and stronger now than I have been in many moons, but I am sorry for the way it ended. I'm sorry that I couldn't have been more of a man. I laboured over that choice, and I will labour for a long time. It's my bed, and I will lie in it.
But beyond my petty worrying and waning, I know deeply - without a hazy doubt in a cloudless sky that I made the right choice. I was trying to listen and I was trying to be guided, and tonight, I gained some confirmation of that fact. The storm seemed to shift slightly, and the galaxy opened. And a tiny fragment of weight lifted, and my psyche changed - it altered.
Sometimes, when we carry a burden for long enough, it falls off our backs and we don't even realize it's gone - and sadly, and oddly, and sickly, we miss the pain now that it's gone, because it was there with us for so long.
What is it that makes you continuously not show up or follow through? Is it me or is it you? What started this small, nagging voice inside you that told you not to stand and deliver?
I get sick of people backing out - and I know this feeling well, because I've backed out on many. After a while, the taste becomes familiar. At first, the cold, metallic shock of the flavour makes your stomach kick up a bit and churn. But after a while, you get to accept it - and you swallow.
I've often wondered if there is some sort of psychological condition attached to people who constantly make and then back out of plans. Is it real or imagined? Is steel or is it only fathomed?
The lonely roads they walk are ones I'm aware of - their inner voices tell them they are not good enough. Not smart enough. Not funny enough. But in the end, enough is only a comparative adjective that means sufficient to satisfy desire.
So what drives the desire? Where did it come from? Don't shy away. Show up in your sweatpants and messy hair.
"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” -Jack Kerouac, "On The Road" The sad lap steel of a song from another room irks us and fills our souls with a choky mirk - telling us simply that we will know pain, and it will sneak up on us when we least expect it. And we sink in it. What is that feeling when someone leaves the room and you can't catch your breath? Because you know how special they are in your space, but you don't actually know how factually special they are until they are gone - and really gone. What happened to living like mad lovers? What happened to being fraught with passion and aching with a spiritual ascension that enlightened and frightened all of your being? When did everything become so boring and so autopilot? I've ventured down a broken path. I look at others, and I see a straighter line to the way they have lived. Bank accounts. Smart investments. Houses. Vehicles. Kids. Dogs. Cats. Condos. Boats. All the trimmings. I've put myself before others. I've sought my own pursuits when I should have shut up for the greater good of a combined effort and silenced my insatiable narcissism. I've been a target. As someone who has always found ease in forming relationships, I've been singled out and attacked by others who covet that ability and who found my love for people as unsettling and threatening. I've seen a lover become a stranger. And that, my friends, is one of the shittiest, most broken hearted ventures a man can ever endure. But in the end, I have done the things that most could never even fathom to dream about. I've roamed. I've seen the trappings of the east and the west and the north and the south. I've reconnected with lost friends who have made my soul jump. I've made new friends with a crop of kids who reinvigorated my whole being like a dusty church organ pumping back to melodic life. I've kept the ties and kept up the talk when others have hit the bricks and let the sadness walk. My path may be broken, but it has made all the difference in the repair of who I am becoming.
With only a few nibbles on our line on the Saturday, Sunday morning came like a freight train of reality. Some time in the night, Joel had tried to find the bathroom in the pitch dark after passing out, and in one fell swoop, knocked over a tv table and a side table, sending the jar of peanuts and a few cans flying, landing with a thud, and making a racket that sounded like a small herd of cattle being let out a pen. I shot up on the couch, thinking that an intruder might have stumbled upon us in Otter Lake, but I only heard Joel say "it's okay - it's just me. Ow. Joel fall down, go boom," he mumbled. When Steve got up in the morning and saw the crime scene in the living room and asked 'What happened?', Spencer responded "Joel happened." Chuckles ensued. We all helped clean the scene as Joel grabbed a few more z's. Cleaning the cottage is always a sobering task, but a small price to pay for entry to the promised land.
Spencer hit the road early to hit the slopes, and we wished him well.
Steve and I headed back to town and picked up some coffee and food. Smiths Falls looked salty and dirty. We didn't say much, as we knew the end was coming. Steve and I never have to say too much to understand each other. We blasted back to the cottage, found a living Joel, and we hit the lake for a few more hours of shack time. Steve vapourized as Joel and I cut a few log shards and stoked the stove. Heat was getting thrown about, and my frozen rock toes began to thaw. We looked around at our tiny sliver of winter paradise and marvelled at the arrival of February. A handful half frozen cans had been popped by the winter witch in the night. Steve enjoyed an icy Mill Street organic that Spence left behind. We let them thaw by the fire and cleaned up a bit.
The three of us hit the road after another clean sweep - Joel in his red truck and Steve and I in my CRV. I realized how much both of these guys mean to me, and in a moment of midday sun, I turned to Steve and said, "Well, even though we didn't catch anything, at least we got to spend time-" my philosophical moment was cut short by Steve still hashing plans for a revamp of the shack "-Ya know, Canadian Tire have these cool parabolic heaters..." and off he went, on a usual Steve build-wizard tangent.
I smiled at the hilarity and coolness of that instant.
And wouldn't ya know it, less than two kilometres from my house, the squealing belt finally snapped, and I forced my car through a few turns as the power steering was seized. But I made it home, and I took it all in.