November 15, 2011


You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.
                 Denis Waitley

I wouldn't describe myself as lacking in confidence, but I would just say that the ghosts you chase you never catch.
               John Malkovich

    "It absolutely terrifies me that someday my decline will begin and I will no longer be able to improve." 

     That's a sentiment conveyed in my son's latest post (From what do you flee) from his blog (130 Miles). 
           It more than caught my attention.  

      I don't for even a second pretend to know the minds of others, how they think, what causes them to formulate thoughts and experiences into their specific system, their platforms of belief and actions, any of that. But as I read his post, I was struck by a couple of things; being made aware (again) of the symmetry of our thought processes, and secondly, the connectivity he'd found with that particular statement and some of the other arenas of his life; a very full, almost hectic (as it seems to me) at times, life, although he would take issue with that. I guess it's like everything else in that it's all relative. One man's mayhem is another man's cozy fit (I suggest also that in saying that I exhibit amnesia-like symptoms as far as my former life is concerned, but that's another story for another day).

      On occasion, something I read or hear will cause me almost reflexively to stop, literally in my tracks. It is a brightest beam piercing darkness, exposing detail that was always a part of the whole but still a mystery. It is the phrase that bridges the gap between idea and realization, the missing variable in a perplexing equation. 

     My life, the focus of my life, has gotten very narrow. I readily admit that, though not in the form of a confession. It's more of a concession. I grant myself the reality that I have given up much of what I had previously known or done in or with my life. That goes not only for activities but also, and probably more importantly, my need for interactivity with others. I did that willingly, almost eagerly, now that I bother to really examine it. I guess the way I've come to live really has to do with a couple of things; the fact that I'm getting older, and the idea of real quality.
 I have no control over the former, even though I hear every day that 'you're only as old as you feel' (Okay Pollyanna, you can let yourself out), but I do have direct control over the quality of my life, and for one part, superficial relationships with people that I can't be around for more than a few minutes certainly doesn't qualify as quality. In their defense, they are not to blame. I am. I admit that, having willingly cultivated a definite aversion to social niceties and interactions. I have gotten to the point where I can count my quality relationships on one hand and not use five fingers. I treasure my relationships with these people. As the years continue to grind past, they have ingrained themselves into the essence of my life, and I know they will always be there. 
    How I got here is for yet another story. Let's just say for now that the absence of alcohol in my life has really sharpened my vision, and therefore my outlook, and that made it extremely easy in subsequent years to simply vaporize.

  It's all about what's really important to each of us. There's no way that I can substantiate the reasons each of us have for doing whatever it is we do. I can only take a stab at why I am the way I am, and my son unwittingly helped me immeasurably by writing what he wrote. I'm pretty damned comfortable with who and what I've turned out to be, but he sure helped me clarify the reasons why.

 Like I said, it's all about what's really important to each of us. A line from a song written by Paul Simon comes back to me...

      "... when I think of all the crap I learned in high school..."

   ... and so I began to wonder how much of that which I spent years learning really applies to life. To my life. What's it worth in terms of holding onto? How much of it is so insinuated into our lives that we aren't even conscious of it? Yes, it can be said that everything we 'learn' is somehow incorporated into our ever-evolving personality, but when it was time for me to actually sort things out and in the process identify myself, I had some searching to do, and found a lot of crap I had to throw out. Maybe we all reach a point where we do what I did, I don't know, but what I saw when my head finally cleared enough for me to see who I was, well that was really sobering. Don't get me wrong; there were those times and people I will always hold close, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. But for much of it, well, let's just chalk it up to a general lack of confidence accompanied by an overwhelming need for constant approval, and say good riddance.

 Thankfully, at about the same time I discovered how lost I was, I re-discovered fishing. Fishing with flies.

       Funny, that a single ever-expanding set of concentric rings could point the way to the rest my life. Could define the rest of my life. Captured? No. Released? Most definitely yes. 

When I look back, I realize I was given a second chance. A fresh start. It was, I think, a gift I was finally ready to appreciate. One that, as is said, would keep on giving, for a lifetime. One of quality. And all of my energy, my focus, my needs, wants and desires have been directed into developing the craft surrounding my fishing ever since.

Aaron, in his post, says;

"I suppose the point of this rambling is that no matter what the event or subject matter or activity, some of us are born to question ourselves."

 Another pearl. He is wise beyond his years. Some years ago, a woman, a massage therapist who was also very wise, said of Aaron that he "has an old soul", which reflected her respect for him. I'll never forget that, either.
 He's right on the mark with his observation, and I could not help but apply it to just about every facet of my past. From activities to personal relationships, always wondering, no, worrying, if it was good enough to the point that I was literally paralyzed whereupon I did, and therefore accomplished, nothing. I was so paralyzed. I had no dream, no big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, to follow. I was day-to-day, minute-by-minute, searching for nothing more than another way to postpone the inevitability of growing up. Look those up in the dictionary and there's a picture of a young Steve smiling his empty, lost smile for all to see. Years later, I ask myself; where was the quality in an existence like that which of course is a rhetorical one because there was none.

      Now, finally, I know what quality is. True enough that it is up to each of us to discover and nurture that sense of appreciation for whatever we do with each parcel of time in our lives, and it is a gift beyond measure to be confident in one's approach to and participation in those things. That, to me, is quality. It pays dividends, too, for if we enjoy what we do, we do it well. We gain confidence. And if we do it well, we do it often. And if we do it often, we continue to improve, and it's all a concentric, ever-expanding set of rings, feeding itself, and you, for as long as you wish. 

          Thank you, Aaron, for helping me see more clearly. 

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE that final paragraph. Wow. The concentric rings! Its almost TOO perfect the way it unfolds. Geez, if I had known I was going to be quoted in such a terrific piece of writing, I woulda used gooder english.