groom me, baby

Unkempt

I don’t think that my wife holds much hope that I’ll ever develop into a full-blown metrosexual.

I don’t really understand how she can arrive at that presumption.

I bath.  I brush.  I trim my nose hairs sometimes.  I even take my pocketknife and clean the grease out from under my nails.

How much more obsessive can I be when it comes to personal hygiene?

I guess I’m most comfortable in “scruffy dog” mode….paint spattered and wearing my oldest clothes, bearded and subconsciously unkempt….like some kind of nomadic and homeless hippy.

(“Subconsciously unkempt”….I like that.  It would be a great addition to any resume.)

But…I’m not like that.

I think that except for my lack of consciousness of grooming product use, I’m about as close to being a metrosexual as you can get without having any real skill or interest in that area.

I’m a dirtbag metrosexual, if you want to know the truth.

I’m just kidding about being a metrosexual.  I’m not really sure exactly what that entails.

I think that there’s a sweet spot that I approach where I can be scruffy enough to be able to live with myself comfortably…and presentable enough that I don’t attract any major attention in the “self-improvement appearance areas” that the people around me monitor.

“Are you going to be wearing that?”

But you can get in trouble if you think you’re beating the system by looking refined on the outside…but wearing some raggedy underwear to maintain a sense of scruffy individuality.

(They say that in the event of an accident, that wearing clean underwear should be one of your top priorities. I think that you have other things on your mind when an accident comes around.)

I like looking good.  I like it when that happens.

But what I really like is looking good on my terms.

When I’m feeling appropriately funky scruffy…and my family lets me go out into public like that…it feels like a real victory.

It’s probably a pretty hollow victory, I suppose.

Self perception isn’t always one of my strong suits.

I can be reformed, I suppose.

A starched shirt, expensive watch, a nice bottle of 75$ aftershave, some talc for the secret spots, and some polished shoes that don’t track in any chicken “leavings”…I could be as metrosexy as anyone who ever walked the face of the planet.

If I did that, though….if I went over to the “dark side”…I suppose the response would somehow still be …

“You’re going to be wearing that?!  I thought you were going to mow the lawn?”

If I can pull off this metrosexy transformation, I’ll never have to do any real work again in my life.

The hardest things I’ll have to do are requesting the offshore money transfer and calling the secretary for another double mocha latte.

I’ll be like the lady with the 5 inch fingernails that curl back on themselves and look all yellow when you can see underneath the polish and who really kind of grosses you out when you stop and think about it later….I’ll be like the lady who has to call someone over to open her can of Coke because she can’t do it with her gross yellow nails.

People will understand that, even though I’m eager and willing to do any of the dirty work required, my lifestyle choice doesn’t support it.

People will understand my new metrosexy ways.

That’s kind of exciting.  I’ll have to be sure and brush my teeth before I leave for work this morning.

 

 

accidental attainment of solitude

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16493464

I woke up this morning at 4 instead of my usual 5 AM.

It was something about the crusty eyed glance at my watch betraying me.  I was sure that it said 5:15….past time, past time, past time….time to get up!

And then, when I was up and pondering why it was really dark and really quiet this morning, I noticed that it was also really early.

I guess you probably shouldn’t make life plans when you still have one foot in a dream.

I pursue quiet time like it was a treasure hunt.  I love it when I can choose when it’s quiet and peaceful around me.

So this early morning accident feels pretty nice.

I’m not sure if it’s a sustainable habit, though.  I’d be pretty tired if I kept getting up earlier and earlier to grab my chunk of peace.

There is only so much time in the day.

The thing that I’ve noticed, though, is that when I’m by myself now there is always the edgy feeling of “Where’s Jenny?  Where’s the kids?” if I’m at home alone unexpectedly.

I’m too old to be pulling a Macaulay…running through the house doing that hand/mouth scream thing he popularized…but that’s what I feel like inside sometimes when I come home and no one’s here.

( The Macaulay reference is one that would be good resume padding…it inspires confidence in an adult male to picture him running through the house, hands to mouth, screaming in surprise and fear.)

macaulayThis is the classic “careful what you wish for” situation.

Sometimes it’s “ohhhhhhhhgoshhhhh…..get off my back!  Quit climbing on my back…I’m trying to get some work done…quit!  QUIT!!! I’m….I’m….”

Sometimes it’s so crazy and wild I can’t believe it.  It is the anti-quiet.

I love quiet now.

But, good grief…I do miss the noise and frenetic activity when it’s gone.  It drives me crazy to be home alone with a quiet and empty house.

I think that parents know that quiet is what we’re all hurtling towards…faster than the speed of a mis-read watch.

We’d freak out if it didn’t happen at some point….”What do you mean, you’re never leaving?  Never?!”…but in the midst of the growing up it feels like they’ll always be around to climb up on our backs at inopportune times.

We hold on to these little guys like every tomorrow meant that the supply of tomorrows was everlasting and never-changing.

Maybe that’s why it’s so frenetic…it’s so we don’t freak out when we realize how fast the time is passing?!  We’re too busy to notice that it’s all going away because we’re too busy to notice…much at all.

Once again, I’ll repeat myself and say, “I don’t really know”.

It’s quiet in my house now.  At 5 in the morning, it’s still early enough that it’s pretty quiet still.

That’s nice.

(Another aside…I am really getting into elevator music lately.  I find myself thinking, “now…that was such a nice song…I remember that song”.  What’s that a sign of?)

What was I saying?  Oh…right….the thing about quiet these days is that it reminds me of how much I miss the noise.

Noise is my reality…frenetic activity is my life.

That’s nice, too.

wheeeee….I’m alive

fullershock7

It is raining this morning.

It is raining heavily.

Apocalyptic rain, end of days style…pounding every dry inch of this part of the world into a soggy submission.  This rain is making its mark.

I woke up this morning to the sound of this heavy rain, and my first thought was “how’m I gonna keep all that mail dry?!”

Funny how that’s part of the first round of thoughts I have for the day.  I guess my job has made its mark on me.

One of the next thoughts I had…and the one I thought I’d base this blog on…was that I sure am glad that I can feel the discomfort of delivering in inclement weather.

( From what I understand, the PO didn’t start the old saying about “rain…or sleet..or snow” and the constancy and dedication of the mailmen….mail people ….out on the routes doing the “dirty work”.  Someone else outside the situation celebrated our dedication and hard work.  It sure sounds good, though…and the post office can use some positive publicity anytime it can get it. )

My route is what is called an “H” classification now.  That means that at the last count, I didn’t have enough mail to qualify me for a “J” route or….even nicer…a “K” route.

“Uhhhhhhhh….so what does that mean?” you’re thinking.

Well, what that means is that my job is a 6 day a week commitment.  I don’t get a day off with an “H” route.

The reason I mention this is because knowing what my schedule is, the chances of running the mail in the rain are about as good as it gets.

If it rains during the week, I’ll be there.

So….rain (or snow…or sleet) can be kind of a wild card depending on how heavy it is.  It changes the nature of the days work.

It can make life interesting.

My friend Garrett introduced me to a book called On the Loose while I was working at a camp down the road from where we now live.

There is a quote in the book that I always think about during inclement weather…whether it be on a hike or at work.

The quote is:

Take shelter under the cloud, while they flee to carts and sheds. Let not to get a living be thy trade, but thy sport. Enjoy the land, but own it not. Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs.    Thoreau

“Take shelter under the cloud”

My “discomfort”…and it’s such a minor discomfort in the big scheme of things…is that I’m going to get a little wet today.

It is going to be awkward to keep the mail dry.

It will be awkward to work a heavy volume Monday in the rain.

But I know that every thing that is hard in my life is just another opportunity to enjoy the days that are filled with sunshine.

The contrast is what gives the good days their power to be appreciated.

It’s no great revelation to remember that…but sometimes I have to think for a second to recall that some temporary irritation is just that…an only temporary irritation.

I’ve said it before…if I was a farmer I’d be loving this rain.

But I’m a mailman with an “H” route…so I tolerate it and appreciate what it can teach me about the deeper lessons and meanings of life.

Riggghhhhhttttt.  I’m gonna get soaked.

the gentle art of appreciation

My friend Dave posted this on his Facebook page yesterday.

I’d never had a chance to see it before….what a great performance by Heart of the classic Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven”.

Watching Heart perform the song, the thing that really struck me the most was the three remaining band members’ response to the performance.

They are really moved.

After all the fame, the wild living and road life, the attention and positive feedback…after everything that they’ve accomplished in their musical career…they are still moved by a performance like this.

I sat watching their faces during the performance, and I couldn’t help but think of Rutger Hauer’s character in the movie “Blade Runner”….

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe….”

These remaining members of Led Zeppelin are getting older…and they’ve seen things, too.

They’ve lived and experienced pretty much everything…good and bad..that the rock world offers.  They’ve lived for years with their fans’ obsessive appreciation.  They’ve had an opportunity to see just about everything in the world that could leave them jaded and unimpressible.

All the things they’ve done and seen and they’re still moved by an amazing performance.

That was pretty great….that to me was almost the real highlight of the moment.

There really is a gentle power in genuine appreciation.

No matter what our station in life, no matter what our accomplishments…we all love to be genuinely appreciated.

Not flattered, not pandered to…genuinely appreciated.

We love it.

And it’s not just a one way appreciation.

When we appreciate someone else’s acomplishments, we feed off the responses we get to our efforts.  We appreciate it when other people get pleasure from our appreciation of them.

So it’s a win win situation.

I really did appreciate getting a chance to watch these men’s response to this performance.

I appreciated seeing their joy in being appreciated so artfully.

 

 

 

graduation morning

I’m, in typical fashion for an early bird, the only one up the morning after graduation night.

I watched our first-born child graduate last night.

It was a night of violent weather and the need for flexibility.  Kind of like a progressive supper where you eat a different dish of a multicourse meal at a number of different houses, we started on the football field and ended up in the gym to finish the ceremony…a mad dash in the rain towards the “finish line”…maybe more fitting than we appreciated at the time.

It was a progressive celebration.

I love this Mr. Rogers appearance. He encourages gratitude.  I love that.

There was a lot of love on that field…and in that gym.

These young people worked hard to arrive at this point of moving on to something new.

These children are a product of the love we feel for them…as we are the product of the love of family and friends who care for us.

The full measure of the gratitude that we should feel towards those who love us doesn’t sink in immediately.

We usually feel it when we least expect it.

I guess the important thing is that we all feel it at some point.

Our children teach us as much sometimes as we teach them.

I am grateful for my daughter.

Happy Graduation, Zoe.

 

graduation night

graduation caps

Our daughter graduates from high school tonight.

That’s a pretty huge milestone for a young kid.

It’s a big deal and worthy of great celebration.

I remember my own graduation.

We had the ceremony at the Cobb Civic Center from what I can recall.

When the ceremony was over, I remember going outside with my parents and our friend, May, who’d flown out from California for my big night.

It was hot…like it gets in Georgia in late Spring…muggy and hot.  I was standing in the parking lot with my parents…standing by our old Ford Fairlane.

Every one of my friends were tearing out of the parking lot in their old trucks….going to parties at the lake,etc…. parties, parties, parties….wild times on graduation night.

They were finished with something big…it was time to move on to the next chapter.  But first, they needed to party hard.

I was standing by our old station wagon with my parents and sister…and our family friend, May.

My parents said, “You can come home with us and have cake with May”.

I listened to the tires screeching…and the excited yelling of all my friends going off to have another adventure….going off to have the last adventure they’d have as “high school students”…..and my parents were inviting me to go back home and have cake with May….and I think that I panicked a little.

This was a big night for me.  I needed to be out in the world with the other celebrators.

I got into the Fairlane and rode home.  I had cake with May.

But I was chomping at the bit to get back out and find my friends…and after we’d had our cake, I explained that I needed to get back out there and celebrate….and I left.

From what I remember, I did end up finding a few of my fellow graduates and we went out and roamed around together…went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, got a late bite to eat.

It wasn’t really a rocking party.  It wasn’t a blow out.  It was more of a trickle out, if there is such a thing.  I guess it was kind of a slow leak kind of celebration.

All these years later, I can’t help but think of May coming all the way from California for my big night.

May wasn’t a “blood relative”, whatever that may mean, but she was as close to our family as any relative related by birth.  She’d been a close and loved family friend for what seemed like forever.

I wish that I could have calmed down long enough to realize that having cake with May would be a bigger deal than partying with my friends.

That’s probably just something that you figure out when you’re older.

May’s long gone…and I never see most of the folks I knew in High School.

My parents are both gone now, also.

Tonight my daughter graduates from High School.  She drives an old truck, but she isn’t really in the “tear out of the parking lot” mode.  I don’t think she’ll have the same situation going that I had so many years ago.  I hope that she has a good celebration with us…and with her friends.

“You can come home with us and have cake with May”.

I’d like that.

 

image from here

 

 

in the world, not in the world

Quiet_Getaway,_Lake_Tahoe,_Nevada

There’s a phrase in the Bible that describes our situation here on Earth.

It says that we’re to consider ourselves “In the world…but not of the world”.

I wrestled with that thought for years…wondering how do I transcend daily life, how do I draw so close to God that, even though I’m stuck on this earthly plane, I’m close enough to Him that I’m not really of the world?

Maybe I thought it was like getting a leg a little farther over the fence or something…impossible not to straddle a little, but my efforts would be enough to “get over“.

I pondered this thought hard.  I wondered why something so difficult would be required or requested.

Later, I came to the conclusion that what it probably means is that we’re here right now ….but that ultimately this world isn’t our home.

“Here” wasn’t something to transcend.  “Here” was a gift to be used like it mattered.  It wasn’t something to be feared or regretted.  We are “in the world”…we are here right now…but in the end, we’re designed for better things. We are not, in the end, of this world.

No one ever told me that when I was wrestling with my misunderstanding of the phrase “in the world…but not of the world”.

In keeping with that thought, driving around or running or doing any of the things I do outside, I notice people outside listening to what used to be Walkmen…but now, unless they’re real throwbacks or unable to afford something new, are probably MP3 players.

It’s like they understood the phrase to be “in the world, not in the world“.

Not even in the world.  It’s like they’ve got something to transcend every day… and they don’t even know it.

“YO, Man…gotta have my jams!!!”

It seems like getting out into the natural world is our shot to hear the wind, hear the little new frogs we call peepers around here, see the grass move in the breeze, hear the crunch of our footfalls on the gravel or pavement or dirt trail.

It is our chance to be in the world.

To be fully immersed in the world.  To be covered up with “world”…right here, right now….a good animal able to experience everything the world has to show us.

But instead, we stick something in our ears that lets us “do something practical” with our time outside.

“Let’s not waste a moment….while I’m exercising outside I can listen to Britney Spears and really get something out of the experience.”

I’ve done it…listened to music while I exercised.  I’ve been a gym member…paid my dues to come someplace inside to lift weights while I listened to really loud music.

I’ve done that.

I’ve even run with what at the time was a Walkman.

That was kind of goofy.

I’ve started wondering if that is the wrong way to approach things, though.

I think that when we’re outside, we need to be outside.  Not somewhere inside our heads, not somewhere else….listening to music is great, but Nature doesn’t need another soundtrack.

The soundtrack it provides should be enough.

And that, my friends, is the beginning of the true definition of “opinionated curmudgeon”.

Enough said.

fishing

Sunset_fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I woke up this morning at 4:30 instead of my usual 5:00.

I’m not sure why a half hour would make such a difference, but it felt really early.

When I looked at the clock, I thought it was like I was going fishing.

For a minute, I thought I was going to miss all the fish I wasn’t even trying to catch.  I thought I was going to miss something.

I remember when we used to go fishing…up so early to get on the lake and catch the fish before they knew we were after them or something.

That was what you did when you went fishing…you got up early.

Back then, I was the one my father had to wake up.

“Wake up…time to wake up” and I’d get up and have some breakfast and then we’d get in the station wagon and drive to the lake.

Now I’d be the one doing the waking up…but for some reason we don’t go fishing.  Maybe it’s something I should start doing.

My children can wake up early, too.

Fishing is a good reason to wake up.

Yesterday when I was just starting out on the mail route, I looked up to a porch I never deliver to and noticed an older man in overalls staring out into the fog.

Fog is pretty atmospheric.

( “fog is pretty atmospheric” ?  Very true, Sherlock, very true.)

I’d seen him pulling weeds out in his garden before…but never noticed him up on his porch.

“I wonder what he’s doing up there?” I wondered.

( I’ve stopped listening to the radio when I deliver the mail.  “Wondering” must be what I replaced the external noise with…I seem to be full of wonder these days.)

I finally arrived at the conclusion that he must be watching time.

( Have you ever noticed that when we say “finally arrived at the conclusion” we never let it be the end of the thought?  Here we are at the “conclusion” and we can’t give it a rest.  Maybe finally arrived at the diversion….or “you know I’ll keep talking”…or something like that would be more appropriate. )

Watching time?  Like waiting for the fish to rise….

What better use of our time than just letting it wash over us some…times?

I don’t know what he was doing up on the porch in his bib overalls.  Maybe he was balancing his stock portfolio or setting up a big company merger somewhere in Bolivia…I don’t really know. He might have been doing something really involved.

It looked to me like he was “just” watching time.

You know….maybe fishing is just a good excuse for us to watch time?  Staring at that line going down into the water legitimizes it all.

When someone says…even if it should be obvious….”Whatcha doin’ ?”  and we’re able to tell them that we’re fishing, it sounds better somehow than if we say that we’re just staring into space.

“Watching time”  isn’t an answer that inspires the same understanding or confidence that “trying to catch some fish” does.

Like the old Rolling Stones song says…”tiiiiiiiiiiiime is on my my side…yes, it is”.

We should be able to watch it if we want to.

07 Time Is on My Side

acolyte

Flame

I remember the first time I was given the chance to be the acolyte at our small Lutheran church in Georgia.

I was probably about thirteen and was good at chasing butterflies.

I was distractible.

This was in the days before ADHD…but I remember myself as being the classic undiagnosed case.

But when I was given the opportunity to carry the flame up to the front of that little white church, my focus was laser like.

I think that I must have felt like I was some sort of facilitator…like I was the one who was going to bring the Holy Spirit into the church and allow the service to begin.

I remember each measured step, watching the flame at the end of that brass…what was it called?  I know it wasn’t called the fire pole…it must have had a name…that wick…watching it like what I was doing was important.

I was still a child but what I was doing was important.

What I was doing was worthy of reverence.

Maybe a better way to say it is that what I was doing demanded an attitude of reverence.  I don’t think anyone reveres me.

I think that’s a pretty powerful feeling to be able to give a child.  There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that we find ourselves able to sincerely revere these days.

To allow a child to feel their importance in the Creation is a good thing.

To be able to teach them to revere their connection to both the Creator and His Creation is even better.

We’re kind of a nation of smart a**** these days.

(That’s the kettle calling the pot black, of course.  I’m very guilty of being a smart aleck most of the time.)

I don’t think that reverence has much meaning these days.

It isn’t a “kinda like” or “yeah…they’re OK” or “I guess it was good” type of response that I think we’re after here.

But that’s the response we give.  It’s like we’re afraid to fully commit to something that’s worthy of more than complete commitment.

The definition of revere says “show devoted deferential honor to”.

Wow.

Who knew that was what I was doing when they let me slow down long enough to carry that tiny flame through that small church?

( And as an aside, that was probably one of the only times a group of adults felt comfortable with me walking around inside any building with something on fire.  It was probably a big moment for me for a number of reasons.)

“Devoted deferential honor”…that’s a pretty heavy thought.

I can do irreverence in my sleep.  That world view comes easy.  It’s easy to relax into gentle sarcasm and pointed humor, deflecting lack of substance with self-deprecating observations.

It’s not hard to suspect that most of the world is a curious place lacking the worthiness that would allow me to respond to it in a way that shows respect.

To give myself over to love in a way that would allow me to fully revere…to show reverence in the best and most complete sense of that word….now, that is something to shoot for.

When you’re a child, you probably don’t know what the word “reverence” means.

But…maybe that’s when you understand it the best.

I don’t really know…but I’d like to.