How to lose a friend….

I guess there are many ways to lose a friend, but not many ways to lose a true friend. To lose a true friend, well, you have to do something really stupid, like fall in love with them, or ignore their feelings. Either can work.

I lost a friend by getting so wrapped up in self discovery, that what we had built – the two of us, became all about my view point, and less about my friend’s feelings and thoughts. I got so hyped up in figuring out why I was me, I forgot that other people were there for the journey too. A lot of friends, especially when you are younger, tend to slip into that : “Oh dear, I think I love you,” phase. That leaves the one who doesn’t love you, but did like you – a lot, squirming as they try to defuse the situation and go back to being “just friends.” Which, of course, never happens, because the specter of  love either: denied, unrequited, or possibly flaring up again, lays in wait to spring up unexpectedly in the middle of an argument, often, the last argument- as friends.

Friends put up with a lot of your crap, as you do theirs. Sometimes, it hurts. You apologize, and they know you mean it. All is forgiven, and you actually grow closer. Once in a while though, the hurt punctures their soul, or their heart, the friendship bursts, leaving scattered pieces of guilt, shame, sorrow laying around amidst the : “I didn’t mean…”,  “wait, let me explain…”  and ” please , listen, I am sorry…” that are strewn about tripping any tiptoeing back into the relationship from happening. You have lost, a friend.

It isn’t easy to lose a real friend, and maybe, given enough time, you don’t. Yet, when the friendship renews, the roots are damaged. You can grow new ones, but the situation has changed, and the friendship needs to heal again. Sometimes it leaves a scar, other times, the scar is just a reminder, and a good story. Once in a while though, the scar is disfiguring, altering the friendship into a scared, timid, not very forceful shadow of its former glory. Housebound, in a small room, in an almost empty heart.

Friends can accept: “I am truly sorry.”  They can’t accept: “Oh, I am sorry. Did that hurt you?”

Cherish your friends. And your friendships. Don’t let them end without a fight, and don’t end them with a fight.

Re: I love you. How many times can you say that, to how many people, and mean it? I , for one, have changed my mind. True love is rare.

When I was younger, I thought that you could learn to love anyone, given enough time, enough in common, and close environs. Now, some sixty years on in life, I have changed my mind. True love, Romantic/Lasting/Deep love, is rare. It does take time, chemistry, and experiences, both bad, and good, to cement the foundation of love, to the scaffolding of life, and time. I have said: I love you, to two women in my life. Kathy , has been in my life for 34 years. Had she left after two years, I would have still loved her, I just wouldn’t have been with her anymore. My first love, well, is the reason I had a second love, I learned how to love.

Most chemistry type loves, end rather quickly, as soon as the passion wears off, it is over. Other loves fade once the kids come, or the careers come, or change comes. Think back to your “best friends” , a prerequisite for true love , by the way. If the one you love, isn’t also one of your best friends, your love is fragile, no matter how long it has lasted. Brittle. It can shatter in a moment. Without that best friendship, love is strong, but not flexible. So how many of you even have a best friend? Not a recent friend, not a work friend, not a church friend, but a friend , more than that, a best friend. One who knows all about you and likes you anyway. Not many of us have lifetime friends. They tend to be situational, locational, or occupational. Not best friends, they stay that way for life. If you haven’t seen them in 15 years, and you sit down to talk, it is like no time has passed since you last saw each other. That is how powerful best friendships are…the physics of time, space and duration, do not apply. I have a best friend. I have had him for more than 50 years. My wife IS my best friend, and I love her romantically too. I was given two loves in my life. A very lucky man. Some folks never even find one. And some, never even find a best friend. Some lucky people have two, or even three…after that, the circle of intimacy is to wide to support true best friends, I think. Unless those friendships have all kinds of attachments and limitation.

I call my best friend once a week, and have for decades. We never run out of things to talk about, and both our spouses are amazed, as He is not a talker, and I don’t have many new stories. Yet, we talk. Yep. We have a blast, and when we hang up , our spouses say: “What did you two talk about?”  “Stuff.” We really don’t remember, or we have plausible deniability. LOL So how many friends do you have? How many would you consider Best Friends? I thought I had two best friends a couple decades back…until an unfortunate disagreement over War, of all things, ended it. When he came to visit, and that was the visit that ended our friendship, my daughter said something truly profound, and she was only a new teen at the time. Here is what she said:

“Dad, are you sure he is your best friend of eighteen years, or was he your best friend eighteen years ago?” It turned out to be the latter. Yet, the women I loved, I still love. My best friend, is still my best friend. I have five close friends, and two of them, in my mind, could easily grow into true Best friends. The only thing my five close friends have in common, is that they all like me, just the way I am. So, not counting family, and children, and in laws; I have three true best friends, five close friends, and many good friends. My inner circle is one, than two, than five. Almost a fibonacci sequence. LOL I couldn’t handle more , I don’t think. Not and give them the love, attention and time, necessary to build the friendship, or love, to the point where time, attention, and love are no longer necessary. They have formed a black hole, and once you enter that loving inner circle, you are there for ever.

Love is rare, loving is not. Embrace love in all its forms. Make friends, for you never know when they may get sucked into that inner circle that never lets go…and always loves. Peace. Kevin

re: Hey how about this, marriage advice from a man, who is …well, married, and has been for a long luxurious time, to his Hero: Kathy

Okay, one of my friends sent me a couple of articles on marriage advice, mostly trying to get men to be what their women want them to be. And all of them skipping over the biology. So, here we go…and let the chips, and soda fall where they may.

First if your partner isn’t your best friend- good luck. Find some one you really really like, and learn to love them. If all you do is Love them, when the Love is over, it is over.

Second: Friendship and affection are the lifelong partnership builders, not love and sex. Now, loving, friendly, affectionate sex…is a great combination.

Third. Men, aren’t women, never will be, never wanted to be. I am sure women feel the same way, they want to be women, not men. I don’t know why we constantly ignore biology. It isn’t your destiny, but it doggone sure is a major player in how you feel, what your needs and wants are, and what things fill you with passion. A million years of evolution isn’t going to go away because you have an intellectual veneer that is less than one lifetime old.

Another note on this (in case Feminists – who have a major point or two to share, have their hackles up) if you are over the age of 15 , you have already figured out that smart people are exactly that. Strong people are strong people.  Kind people are kind people. You get the point, human traits don’t care about gender, on the other hand, women can have babies, men can’t. Period. Which, by the way, is another thing we don’t have. So, no, we don’t know how women “feel”, but if you live with a woman, you can learn when she needs your help, a kindness, a cuddle, or chocolate. Pay attention.

Fourth: If you get a place together, it is hers. You can pretend if you want, but look around, if you are a guy, anything you chose before she moved in, is now in the garage. If you are lucky enough to be a parent, and you have girls, get as many bathrooms as you can fit in your house! Believe me, a bathroom for every girl is not a luxury, and it will make life easier for all. LOL

Fifth: People change. Men and women are people. Ergo; you will change, both of you. If you aren’t aware of the changes, and adapt, you will be caught off guard when the papers come. Change does not mean you have to leave your partner. It just means the core is the same, but the outside has been added too, remodeled , or removed. Change is uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes painful. The analogy I use is puberty. When boys and girls are ten years old, they are almost the same creature…then, bam! Hormones. Five years later, it is hard to believe those cute little ten years old kids, have become young ladies and young men. By age twenty five or so, it is over. We are done with the plumbing and physical changes, and have become “adults”.  That decade of change was a powerful one, shaping our:  wants, ideas, bodies, and minds- so even with the aching joints, the need for sleep, the awkward moments, the cracking voices,  the new onset of periods, and dating- no one wants to go back to their prepubescent body.  Remember that when one of you changes as an Adult, and thinks your relationship has to end.

Last point; most of us don’t know what it is like to be five years older than we are now, and a decade older than you are now is beyond imagination. Aging, is coming. Yep. Some things will fade, some things will fail, or not work as well, other things will become more important to you. One of those things, is people. When you get older, you will support younger people in their dreams, and it won’t matter if it is your niece trying for a Basketball Scholarship to Connecticut, or your nephew hoping to start an interior design business. You will find yourself wishing success for each of them. At the end of the day, if you worked at your marriage, a project that never ends, not one time in your married life, can you sit back and say: “It is done.” Nope. It takes your input, your trust your love, and saves it all in an emotional bank account, so when the bad crap happens, you can withdraw some affection, or kindness, or forgiveness, and stay together.  At the end of the day, when you close your door to the outside world, the two of you can laugh, smile, and be glad you are together. We are.

Some thoughts on aging, and how close it is to being a baby. Yep. Except instead of everything being new, it is old. LOL

My thoughts may be a little jumbled, as this blog is more about free association of some things I am trying to link in my mind. Age, and Birth. It seems to me, that prepping for Death, is much like being born, at least as far as some of the insights, and processes go. If you find this confusing, welcome to my world. LOL

Okay, when you are born, you have to find your limits, an what you are aware of , and what things, people, and words mean. Connections have to be made between what you want to do, and what you can do. Limits have to be explored, experienced, and accepted. When you are a baby, it can be simple things, like focusing your eyes, attention, or mind. When you are older, it can be simple things, too. Like: focusing your eyes, attention, or mind. LOL When you are a baby, you trust very few people, until you know them. When you are older, you trust very few people, because you know so many of them. When you are young and a baby, your world is new to you, and you can’t wait to explore, forcing your self to crawl, wiggle, and even walk, to get to things you want to see, or to play, or just to see if you can walk  to it! When you are older, you force yourself to get to things you want to see, to play, or just to see if you can still walk that far!

In both your baby years, and in your Golden Years, you don’t know your limits. In one case, you literally do not know. Babies have no idea how big, and overwhelming life, and living really is, which is why, I think, the systems come on line so slowly, and why the brain takes more than 20 years to get to a pretty functional place. We move , as babies, from just becoming aware of ourselves, then our surrounding, then our bodies, then the cultural and societal surrounding, then the ephemeral concepts, like love, forgiveness, hope, things that require some real thought beyond the mere physical; beauty, truth, honor, become as real as steel and stone. In our old age, something similar happens, we have to be old to strip away: ambition, validation, competition, material things, and the past. Like the first passages into adulthood, where we struggle to find out who we are, and our place in Society and Family, well, as older folks we struggle to find our place in Society, and Family without the twin pillars of status, and labels. When we are old, we are free, just as babies are, to create our own meaning of what is going on around us. We no longer like people because we are told too, or because of their position, or other people’s opinions. Just like babies, we don’t like, nor trust, certain people- period. Unlike babies, we can vocalize. Depending on the context or situation, we simply do not tolerate, or associate, with folks that we don’t want to be with. Including family, or “friends”.  We don’t have the time anymore, nor are we worried about what other people think. Babies cry when they are hungry, and keep it up until they are fed. Us older people become much like that, in certain situations. We ignore the societal rules, and focus on what we actually want and need. Invite one of us to a party we don’t want to go too, and guess what? We don’t show up. LOL No explanations necessary. No apologies either. We followed the rules for so long, that we are numb to them, or have outgrown the need to rubber stamp your needs. Yet, if you need someone to listen to you, without judging, without advice, well, us old people are just like babies, we won’t take our eyes off of you, and you have our full attention. Like a baby, when you take your troubles, woes, and concerns out the door, they go with you. We don’t let monkeys jump onto our back, we are supportive, not co dependent. We gave up manipulative guilt a long, long, time ago. We will support you, but we won’t fight your battles, or make them ours. Yes, you can be truly sorry for someones predicament without taking it on. It is one of the many gifts of old age. What gift is that? You ask.

It is the gift of being able to see that human problems are created by humans, and they can find solutions. When you are old, you recognize that your own actions put you where you are, and only you can learn and grow from them by facing them. Old people do not support Learned Helplessness. We will commiserate with you, extend empathy, in rare cases, even some physical means of support or safety, but we won’t fix your problems. They are yours. You got yourself into debt, you will get yourself out- or not. Just like babies, old people have figured out that you don’t always get what you want, when you need it. Many a diaper has dried before its time. LOL

 

I like this being old thing. I am finding out, just like a baby does, by trial and error, how much I can do in a given day. What amount of activity is right for me. I have even learned a few limits that I know I can’t exceed. The equivalent of having burned your fingers on a hot pot. When you are a baby , it is a big leap to move beyond the concept of heat, and something is hot, to having reinforced that intellectual idea of hot, with the physical act of being burnt. Once you get that first blister, YOU KNOW WHAT HOT MEANS. Well, old people know what Loss means, what Love means, what Forgiveness means, because those are not intellectual concepts to them, they have been burned by Love, by not Forgiving, by true Loss. Very few 20 year olds can imagine what it means to lose someone you have lived with and loved for thirty years or more. Loss when you are young, is a Mom or a Dad, or a friend in an accident. It is a bright, shiny, grief. There is no way to get a grip on it, it is unfair, and shall stay that way your whole life. Loss at the other end, well, it is a deep, brooding, grief, that takes some of the color out of your life. Unfortunately , by sixty, you have (usually) lost your parents, no matter how much you loved them, or enjoyed them as friends – My Mother was not only , well, my Mom, she was one of my best friends, and up until the very end, I enjoyed our lunches and dinners, and quiet chats. Death has become familiar to you. You are truly sad for another’s loss. Yet, you know your own mortality grows nearer.

This is another of the gifts of old age, because you know the “End is near,” and not just a cardboard sign in a cartoon; you appreciate the little things, just like a baby. You are happy to pee, or poop. Just because you can. LOL And like a baby, sometimes they come as a surprise to you. LOL Which after the embarrassment , makes you laugh or giggle. The little things like a smile, a hug, a cup of coffee with a friend, a morning looking out the window, holding hands across the table, watching squirrels play, seeing children playing , or holding a grand baby, watching your wife read, when she doesn’t know she is looking. Having a good nights sleep. The thrill of waking up. Yep, all of these things make you baby like, with an adult brain to process it all with. I am, a big baby. I am glad. I don’t cry to often, because just like a baby, I am more curious than anything. Isn’t that curious:

 

 

re: Oh dear, must I resort to “Shut up. Take my money , please, and I don’t need to know , no matter why you think I do.” TV and gossip bump up against me …again.

Okay, I am in the grocery store, and I guess it was my fault as much as anybody’s. I am standing in line, ready to check out, the lady in front of me holds up one of those “People/Celebrity/Gossip” type magazines. Some actress is going through her third, or fourth, divorce, and is pregnant, and has decided to have the baby “without him.”   She says something along the lines of what a trashy guy this ladies X is, and how he would be a horrible father, and she hoped he didn’t try and get visiting rights. I say: “Must be fun to work for those magazines and just make up lies about what was said, or done, in someone”s private life, as if you know what they were thinking, or doing, every minute of the day.”

She stares at me for a second, gives me an awkward smile, and turns back to the counter. There is a newspaper there, with a blaring headline about the horrible death of a small child , the same story that made me run from the gym the other day. So, the lady and the cashier have a chat over this guy, and the gory details. I get out of line. The cashier says: “Where are you going?” I said: “I forgot some things, happens when you are my age.” We both laugh. In my head I am thinking I just want to get away from the conversations, when the lady in front of me holds up the newspaper and says:  “I suppose you think this is all lies too?” With a very smug look on her face. I smile right back. “No, I think it is sick and disgusting.” I turn and leave the line, with about four other folks standing open mouthed as I walk past them, for – it turns out, they were all listening to the conversation about the baby , and wanted to add their own two cents worth.

I walk around the store for about five minutes, and come back to a different check out. I pay for my groceries, and walk outside. And there, is that lady again. This time talking to two other ladies, and as I walk by she says: “What have you got against me?”  “Nothing.”  “Well, I thought you were very rude in there.”  The other two ladies are looking at me like I am a bugger on someones face. “Sorry about that. I am not usually considered rude. In what way, was I rude?” “You didn’t fool me, you left that line on purpose. You don’t have a single other item in your bag, then you had when you were in line. ” She stares at me accusingly. You know, looking back, I should have just kept walking. LOL

I say: “Miss, I don’t like to read , or hear about people I don’t know, have never met, and aren’t in their lives. I especially don’t like hearing about babies being hurt, or killed, as casual conversation. I just became a Grandfather again a few days ago, and I share the joy of a newborn, not the fear, hate and suspicion that stories like you showed me,bring about.” She says, and I am quoting here:

“Don’t you want to know what’s is going on the world? Don’t you want to see this horrible man punished? Don’t you want justice?” Now the other two women are staring at me along with this lady. I said: “No. Look at you. You are very upset, angry, and mad at me, and you never met me. All I did was politely leave the line, before I said something rude. Talking about dying , or dead babies, to a new Grandfather? Before breakfast, and before the Grand baby is even a week old? Why, why would I want to hear any of that?”

With that, I bid them a good day, and walked off. In a giant stage whisper, I hear her say (as did anyone within fifty feet of us. LOL) : “Look at that, rude twice in one day.” I kept walking…I am a slow learner, but I do learn. Luckily , I also overheard a comment from one of the two ladies who were listening to us talk. That lady said, in an equally loud stage whisper: “Well, he does have a point. He just became a Grandpa. ” After that, I was to far away to hear anything. Why do folks feel that their gossip is my business, and I have to have an opinion on it? I have my own opinions, and most of them have little to do with that kind of crap. Wait, I guess calling that stuff crap, is an opinion. LOL I wonder why no one ever opens a conversation in a grocery store with: “Man, did you hear they may have found the particle that makes gravity?” Or, “Man, have you seen the latest deep space photographs?” Or, ” Dude, did you know they have found over a thousand other planets, that there are more than 400 solar systems besides ours? And counting!” Or, “Man, I was listening to this TEDTalk the other day, and the lady gave a talk about the brain that was so beautiful, I cried.” Or, ” Did you hear about that albino humpback whale? It has like thousands of followers on its FAcebook page.” Or, ” You know, I was thinking of taking the day off, grabbing the wife and kids, and just heading out to the beach to play.”

Nope. Never. On the other hand though, I know all about Zombies, Fifty Shades of Gray, and Game of Thrones, from standing in lines. LOL

Smiles, Kevin who seems to step in it, even by accident.

re: I went to Hell once, and here is the story. Vision? Dream? Still don’t know….

I went to hell. Dream? Vision? Whatever, it messed me up for a while…

When I was in my late twenties, I went to hell. I found out that the devil was actually trying to stop us from doing evil. It was the most beautiful place I ever saw, and all the Devil’s were incredibly beautiful, dressed in silver suits, and silver dresses, and they were all seven feet tall. The floor was made of squares of clear diamonds, and each contained a Universe. If you looked closely enough. As I entered the Lobby, Lucifer came over, and he was taller and prettier than anyone there. He was crying. He came over to me and said: “I am so sorry. I tried to stop you from your uncaring pride and vanity. But, all my efforts were fruitless. You are in Hell, and my punishment is I couldn’t stop you from coming here. ” I asked what my punishment was? He said: “You have to go to your door, and find your own personal hell waiting for you.” I looked over, and there were thousands of doors.I walked to mine, which had a dolphin shaped glass handle. I looked at it closely, and inside the handle were dolphins! Somehow full size and inside the handle that fit my hand. And THEY were crying too! The whole host of Hell stood behind me, and sang: “Go. Open the door. We are so sorry, we couldn’t help you. ” I opened the door, and there was my entire life. But not from my perspective. Oh sure, I knew every little memory, and deed, and stuff I had done, but, I didn’t see it from that perspective. I saw it as a ripple through everyone’s life who met me, or interacted with me in any way. This is very hard to describe, but here is an example: When I was eight, I went to Catholic School. It had marble shiny floors, and metal wall lockers. The Nuns were very strict, and if you didn’t get into your classroom by the third bell (one bell at five minutes, one bell at two minutes, and a third bell at zero minutes!) They closed the door on you. Then you had to go to the Principal’s Office- miss class , and explain to your parents how you got a tardy for that day. Back in 1959, this was a big deal for a kid. So, my best friend Roddy, and our friend, we shall call her Elizabeth-but everyone called her “libby” walked to school together every day. This day, we were running late, and came to the hallway on the second bell. We were running. I tripped, and my book bag (which is what we carried back in the day) spilled open, and my lunch bag, my pencil box, my notes, all flew out, and skidded down the polished marble hallway. Roddy and Libby immediately started gathering things from under lockers, and down the hall. Libby, stuffed my lunch back in the bag, and said: “Kevin, I have to go! I am in the farthest class room.” “We know Libby, run! Thanks for the help!” And she scampered off. Since the second bell had already rung, we knew Roddy and I might not make it. Roddy said: ” Libby is such a cool person.” ” I said: ” I know, that is why everyone loves her.” Well, in my dream/vision- I was inside the spirit of Libby when she overheard us. I could feel her heart soar, and a warm squiggly feeling, and a giant smile fill her mind. Then I said: “To bad she is fat.” Instantly, I felt her feelings change, as she felt small, and ugly, and fat. I could feel the hot tears that flowed. But, Hell didn’t stop there. For the rest of her life, that buried memory of my remark, and its effect on her teen years, how she put weight on after her babies, her constant battles with weight loss and self image, all because of that one callous off the cuff remark. She never even remembered me saying it. But, I saw the damage it did for her whole life. And that was Hell for me. I had many examples of which Libby was the mildest. I realized when I woke up, and my wife had to wake me up, because she said she was scared..she said I was sweating, and she could see my pulse pounding in my neck. My heartbeat was over 200, and when she woke me up, I couldn’t breathe, I was crying, and we had to change the sheets on the bed. I was so wired. I couldn’t even tell her what I dreamed/visioned until weeks later. In fact, just typing this, there are only about a dozen folks I ever told this experience to. I am not religious in anyway, I am not agnostic, or an atheist, or a believer – I simply don’t think about it much. I figure when we die, whatever is next we will know then, and nobody knows now, they just think they do…so, I ignore it. That is why it surprised me, and anyone who knows me, that I would go to Hell, and find out everything we have been taught about the Devil, and Hell, was wrong. That Hell, real Hell, is caused by us not caring about others. That everything we say, or do, leaves a ripple through mankind’s existence. For a few years, that dream/vision altered my life…I tried to make sure that every word I uttered to other folks, was kind, uplifting, and supportive, and the truth,as I knew it. Then it faded. I still try to be kind as a default setting, but I am to human to make it all the time. I think it was as powerful an experience as Susan’s, just different. I have never had one like it since. More than 30 years ago. I have been interested in the brain ever since.One childhood event, and this event, combined to be two things that fired my curiosity about how we think, or how we even know: “I am me.” I have never done drugs in my life, I have never tasted alcohol, I have never smoked cigarettes, or any other substance. As I used to tell my kids while they were growing up: “Daddy never drank, smoked , or did drugs, and still I messed my life up. You don’t need that stuff.” LOL But, you asked for an experience I couldn’t explain, and mostly still cannot. Maybe my brain just fired an imaginary story to get me to be kinder. Or maybe I had collected so much guilt and angst , because I do have tremendous empathy ( I still cry when Bambi’s Mom gets shot) that the best my conscious mind could do: is use the endorphins, to combine with the over active amygdala, and the creative power of my temporal lobe, to induce a dream/trance/visionary state- which put my reticular activating system on hyperdrive. Or then again, maybe I was dehydrated, exhausted, and had finished a reading of Dante’s Inferno, and my subconscious revolted against the hierarchy of the Church. Or, then again, maybe it was just a dream with random firings from associative cortexes – or, to quote Dicken’s “… a bit of undigested meat, or an under done potato!” Or maybe, like the theme of Groundhog Day, I was being taught that until I learned to love without conditions, and to love life as it is, I was doomed to Hell for my unloving comments! Smiles, Kevin

re: The circle of life comes in all sizes…and at all different times…there is no script.

Today, I was greeted with sad news, the passing of a young man with his future before him, and very little past behind him, he had enough of this life, and chose to leave it. Not an hour later, I got a knock on the door, my downstairs neighbor had her baby, a little boy; both Mom, and Baby (and Daddy) are fine. Exhausted, but fine. An hour later, my daughter calls and asks if Mommy can come help her with her daughter. My daughter is expecting her second baby any day now. So, life throws circle after circle at us. Death. Life. Birth. Old. Young. In between. All in a mornings time. As my one friend said in his grief written note: ” Life’s equation balances out, in the same note I have to tell you about death, I am also compelled to ask if your daughter has had her baby yet?”

That made me really stop and think what the Mystics, and Spiritual People, and even Physics says: “It is all the same. Just different angles, perspectives, and times, but :”Dust unto dust,” is little different from: “Matter and energy must always balance out.” So what is death in a world without beliefs? Simply the transforming of one state of being to another. What is death with a belief system based on some form of spiritual existence? Well, it is the transformation of one state into another. Words get in the way, but they all say the same thing- what is…is. You can convert energy into matter, or vice versa, but you can’t gain anything on either side, they have to balance out. So what is that life energy that makes one thing living, and another bereft of life? Some folks call it a soul.

Yet, most of us hold onto life, even when it is painful, when it hurts, when it sucks, and when we feel lost and alone. Why is that? Rational thought would say: “If your life sucks and is filled with pain, the reasonable thing would be to end it.” After all, we actually put people in jail for letting a pet suffer pain and indignity, we advise them to “end its suffering, put it down.” And we do. Out of love. Yet the People we love; by law, we can’t offer them the same release, instead we subject them to the very pain, suffering and indignity of dying without loved ones around that would put is in jail, if we did it to an animal. In one of the most egregious of “crimes”, the penalty for trying to commit suicide, is jail. Your life sucked, so if you live through trying to take it away, we will take it away. Oh, dear.

I like my life. I have been lucky in many ways, that the joy of just being here, the constant amazement that I : “Am Alive!” Seems to outweigh the things that have brought me pain, loss, and suffering. Most of our suffering comes from our state of mind. As old Mark Twain once said: ” I spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened.” Yep, could be’s, would be’s , should have been’s, and would have been’s, well those are the conversations most of us have in our minds all the time. Today, the circle of life made itself clear to me- life may not be a choice, the little one that came today, didn’t ask to be here, he wasn’t even consulted. Yet, he has life. When he took his first breath, a young man, college aged, with his adult life in front of him, made a choice. For reasons known only to him. Endings, and beginnings, with a whole lot of middle, came smashing up against my life this morning. It is a circle, and I know not when my loop will close. I like it like that. I couldn’t choose to end my life, but I could, and have chosen to live it as long as I have it.

Kevin

The Toad and the Frog, by Kevin Hughes

“You look almost like me! But lumpy.”

The frog stared at the Toad some more , and the more he looked, the more he saw she looked a lot like him, but lumpy.

“Oh, I know, I was just going to say the same thing, almost. You, look just like ME! Except smooth. Can you hop?”

“Oh, yes, watch this. ”

With that the frog hopped exactly four inches forward, and two inches up. Then hopped backwards exactly four inches, and two inches up.

The toad let out a long whistle:

“Impressive. What hopping control. Watch this!”

With that, she hopped straight up, turned her body 180 degrees, landed softly facing backwards, and before the frog could even begin to whistle, she leaped back in the air, did another 180 and landed facing him.”

” Wow! I can’t do that. That is the most amazing control I have ever seen. Professional level stuff! (Her Toad heart was almost filled to bursting. No male had ever told her she was exceptional, at anything. He was clearly stunned by her, and believed what he said. She would have cried with happiness, but, Toads don’t cry.) But, I can do this.” He gave her a sly frog smile and a gentle warning: “Stand back, and don’t be scared.”

With that, she backed off a couple of body lengths, to heed his warning.

Then, without warning, as soon as she had backed off, he flung himself into the air, with a mighty gathering of his leg muscles launching him out of her field of view. The toad had to stand up on her hind legs, and waddle to see where he landed. There! More than nine feet away. In spite of herself, the Toad couldn’t help but be in awe. Nine feet. Oh, my, God.

It took her several hops to get over to where he was. He looked at her, and angled a bit away, and shyly said:

“Er…I can’t really move for a few moments. Those giant hops seem to take it all out of my legs for a few minutes.”

“I could NEVER do that. Never. Oh, my God. Where did you learn to do that? ” She was obviously quite impressed, he could feel his throat sack filling. He was going to Croak. “Oh ,No. Not in front of her. She is a Toad. Maybe she won’t know what my croak means. ” He turned a darker shade of green,  his throat sack filled like it never had before,  out came a giant Croak. A single rush of sound so loud, it surprised even him. He stood embarrassed.

Well, the Toad, she was more than impressed. It sounded like a Heavenly trumpet to her. It tingled her to the core, leaving her more satisfied than if she had a lunch of tasty waterbugs, or, if she had that exciting tingle you get when you eat a bee or a spider. Tangy, sweet, exciting, dangerous. What was this feeling? Then, it dawned on the toad…

“I don’t mean to embarrass you, or …well, you know…if I am wrong…I , well, I don’t…you know, want to hurt you…but, I am a Toad, and wasn’t that Frog Speak for : “I love you?”

The Frog stood stock still. Turning yet a darker green, making him look more like her, with her molted dark greens, and grays – which he found profoundly attractive. He found his voice, saying:

“Yes.”

The Toad’s mind swept along in a flurry of thoughts. What would the other Toads think? What would her Mom think? How is she going to explain this? What is she feeling? ” He is bigger, stronger, thinks I am pretty, and talented. I like him, he is shy, but confident, and not afraid to admit a girl might have skills he doesn’t.” Those thoughts passed through her mind in moments. She made up her mind.

“Well, this is how we say : “I love you. ” With that, her molted  bland colors became darker, deeper, and somehow brighter. Then, suddenly, all of the lumps on her back grew into large toadstool looking stalks. Rounded, with some beaded material making each one glisten and shine, like wet diamonds. it took his breath away. Without thinking , he blurted out:

“You are a jewel. You…are….so….pretty…I can’t breathe. A jewel.”

Her tiny toad heart soared. “Yes. This is my Frog now. I am his toad. ”

He found his breath a moment later. “What is your name?”

The Toad thought furiously. She knew Frogs thought names were important, but toads, well, we don’t really care about names.

“Jewel.”

“That name suits you perfectly. ”

She smiled and her heart skipped a beat. Tiny as it was, it still was full of love.

‘Where did you get it?”

“Just now. From you. You named me, and I love it. ”

The Frog puffed out his throat sack, and an even bigger more delicious sounding croak came out. For miles around other frogs stopped and stared. They knew that Croak! You don’t hear it often. It is the Croak of true love. Female frogs swooned when they heard it, childhood dreams reawakened. Male frogs either listened with envy, or with pride. A few lucky frogs, looked over at their mates, and both gently wrapped a webbed foot around each other. A softer version , a quiet intimate version of that same croak coming out as almost a whisper…” i love you.”

Even the toad felt it, and her jewel like appearance grew shinier, more inviting, and welcoming.

The Frog inched forward, gently sliding one of his giant webbed forefeet, over her strong, shorter, silky forefoot. Her eyes closed, as did his. They sat like that for a moment that went on and on, until it took root in their souls.

“What’s your name?” The toad whispered

“Husband.” He told her.

She squeezed his webbed foot, and leaned up agains his smooth skin. It was like nothing she ever felt before. She glistened even more.

The frog was mesmerized. No skin on a frog every felt like soft diamonds being pressed against him. The glistening sheen she had, let her skin glide over his, like pure pond water. It made him shiver with delight. He snuggled closer. She was so small , compared to him. But, her heart was so huge, she could love him, even with him being a frog. It made him want to be all he could be for her.

“Husband.” She tasted the word. His name. His place with me. Lovely.

“Jewel.” He said. Tasting the name she chose from him. It was how he felt about her too, precious. Yes.

The forest grew silent. The moment grew into a lifetime. Whenever things seemed impossible, both the Frogs, and the Toads would bring up the story of : Jewel and her Husband. “Anything is possible.” They would say.

Smiles, Kevin

 

re: A poem on old age, in fact, old youth….

I cannot see myself, and that is a joy,

for in body lays not the decades that have gone by

but the heart and soul of a little boy

 

All my loves live, and alway will

the sun is warm, and to walk a thrill

but my body doesn’t heat up, like it used to do

and even my mind has a bit of a chill

oh the young have dismissed me, in fact, long ago

there is no reason to chide them, for they don’t know

Neither did I

Neither did I

My belly is bigger than my chest, but my arms still hold

I can smile with my heart out in the open

my words are softer, gentler , and kinder,

Like my bones, they can’t take hard jolts anymore

I move a little slower, but I can run a bit,

I savor my food, while I can still taste  of it

Watching children, which is anyone under thirty five to me

Makes me smile at what they are wasting, as they feel for me

Oh no, I don’t need a mirror, to tell me my shape,

I can look at my hand, and the colors that drape

I can stare in the sink, at some of my hair

or look at my belly, my hands, my feet, places where it wasn’t there

my eyes, my ears, and my tongue, none are as sharp

so I hear more, see more, and say less

I am a much older youth, but the mirth has survived

to laugh at myself

as old age has arrived.

and it did

and it does.

re: Thoughts in no particular order…and man, I hate TV….LOL

I can’t believe the number and maliciousness of comments I overheard at the gym today, about some poor soldier being returned home. All of it was hearsay, and opinion. Not an ounce of mercy, understanding, or empathy. It made me sick to my stomach. Yesterday, I worked out so hard, and so fast, just so I could get out of the gym, and away from the blaring visual pollution. I wonder why, it is so difficult for people to understand that every single sound bite  they hear, or see, has been edited before they even saw it? That issues aren’t simple, and they don’t always come with two minute answers. That no one knows what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes, until you are in that position. I call it : “Talking out their ass.” Believe me, over the last two days, I have heard a whole bunch of it.

I know nothing, and I know it. Who knew that would ever give me an advantage. People act like they have lived in Afghanistan for their whole lives, understand the mentality , the language, the customs and the religion, and the family set up. They act like they know Constitutional Law, were privy to high level meetings, and have the actual facts of what went down, when and where. What the mind state of another person is, both before, and after he went to war. Mindless, pointless, ignorant opinion. I mean it is bad enough when I see a woman, one with no children tell how “easy” it is to raise babies, to a woman who has two children under the age of three. I smile at the innocent ignorance. When I hear a man tell a woman what it is like, well, the smile becomes a smirk. “No way buddy. ”  Sure you can know facts. I know bunches of them. Like this one: in 40 degree ocean water, you have about five minutes of strength, and then, well, ten minutes left in life.  I knew that for years…as an approximation. Then, under controlled circumstance, I jumped into water that cold…and well, I now KNOW what immersion in cold water means, and feels like. After first getting in the fetal position, I got in one real swim stroke, and the second stroke, was weaker, the third stroke was just slapping water. Luckily, warm blankets and ready help was right there. And that was in a pool, what the heck is it like in ten foot seas?  Ever see those Polar Bear dips, up in the Great Lakes or in Minnesota ? There is a reason they are called: “dips”, because no one stand still, or stays in. Even in the ones where you can stand up, with only your waist, and below, in the ice cold water can put you in shock. Alone, falling through a crack in the ice, well, most folks wouldn’t have a prayer.

On the upside, I had a great bike ride with my bride today. We got lost, or discovered a new way not to get there, your choice. LOL My prostate is the size of a small cantaloupe, but, other than that, two hours wandering through pine covered running and hiking paths, on a bike, made for a fun filled hilarious game of : “You said this was a short cut.”  “Well, there is one here, somewhere.” We ran into a young lady with her big dog, and asked if there was an actual street at the end of one of these paths in the woods. She said: “Oh, yes! But, I just follow my dog, he always gets us out of here.”  We laughed until we cried. We didn’t have a dog. LOL

I also got to see my grand daughter, and I got to help out my wife a bit, by doing some laundry, and making the beds, and sweeping the floors, and doing the dishes, so she could go help my daughter get ready for the birth of her second child, sometime in the next few weeks. So, the made up News stories and horrible rhetoric got shuffled to the background, because I had actual people in my life, whom I know, love and cherish. So, I did. Smiles, Kevin