At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Friday, December 31, 2010


I’ve touched on this subject before. You can read about a particular knee-jerk reaction of mine here.

Well, now I’m acutely aware of yet another: my reaction to a perceived lack of appreciation. It’s a topic I’ve touched on before (you can read about my toilet paper conundrums here), but recently I experienced it at a whole ‘nother level.

I won’t go into the details, ‘cuz they’re really not all that important per se. Suffice it to say that I acted in what I knew was a generous way. And I was criticized for that.

I shut down.

I mean I went in road kill dead. No joy, no warmth, no ability to even speak. I died inside.

And I’ve been pondercating upon that ever since. I wasn’t at all that way as a young man. I could easily laugh off others’ gracelessness. Often did. I could accept human missteps with calm aplomb. After all, when it came to “suavity” I was sporting two left feet myself.

I’ve discovered that I’ve changed. Profoundly.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating all the people I’ve known who’d bristle without much provocation. Believe me, I’ve seen “hair-trigger” tempers. Bore the brunt of some. I’ve watched violence erupt in the wake of...well...a mere twitch.

Today, I understand.

I understand because the one thing that all the souls I knew who would react so violently had in common was this: they had suffered. They had all been beaten, bruised and abused...verbally, physically, mentally, spiritually and every other whichway.

I understand/feel how a lack of appreciation inexorably drove me farther and further from my wife. It was that lack of appreciation that drove me deeper and deeper into an emotional abyss from which there was no escape except to destroy what once had been the love of my life.

And so it came to pass that I recently discovered just how much I’ve come to detest a lack of appreciation. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, I know. It’s an autonomous response.

It’s the scream of a soul that refuses to be hurt that same way again.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010

I’ll be spending Christmas alone, a not atypical circumstance for me in recent years.

I mourn the loss of family. I miss seeing Christmas through an innocent child’s eyes. I ache for the scents, sounds and tastes, the blessings and the hugs. I cling to my reveries, clutching them reverentially to heart. They grow ever more magical and precious with each passing year.

Time and loss change the texture, but not the essence of Christmas. The essence rooted deep within us. The knowledge that, should all church doors be barred and bolted, each ornament crash and shatter, and carolers fall silent, the human spirit will still prevail and remain steadfast. It is the essence of the soul to hope fervently through the longest, darkest and coldest nights. To follow stars and pray for peace.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I pray that Heaven’s grace wraps you tight and keeps you warm.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

On a Winter Day

 Because this day begs to be expressed as music...and this is the song.

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They graciously invited me to join them to view the Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park. It’s a holiday tradition in Gaithersburg. The park is festooned with lights beyond count. As night embraces the forest, cars enter the park and slowly wend their way through a glowing wonderland.

I was sprawled across the back seat, bemused and enchanted by youth’s enthusiasms. Retina reveled. Dreams and longings drifted through this aging man-child’s brain. We each fell into our own reveries as Ray LaMontagne sang of winter birds. Three singular souls, family and friends, bound together by threads of peace and joy.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010


It’s an awareness that grows within me. This notion of “Ars Longa Vita Brevis”.

I find myself astounded by the brevity of life. There were days, in early youth, that seemed almost infinite. There were seasons, years, that felt akin to lifetimes. No more. No longer.

I peer forwards and glimpse the truth of mortality. It’s just around the corner.

I felt immortal once. So mindless was I that I did my best to destroy myself via fast living...but I lived on. Little did I know that a human life is short indeed, considered in hindsight, regardless of circumstance. Sand flows through the hourglass regardless of personal effort to affect the flow one way or another.

Ars Longa Vita Brevis.

I’ve come to realize the truth Hippocrates discerned millennia ago.

I’m running out of time. I see it in the mirror. I feel it in my bones. Feel it in my heart. I’ve truly come to understand that “art is long,” that beauty is infinite...and the allotted days too few.

I’ve come to realize I will not live nearly long experience it all.

That no one ever has or ever will.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Distance Traveled

The trip odometer registered 2,170.9 miles when I parked my car in the driveway Friday night. That’s a fair distance...almost enough to require an oil change. More to the point, more than a few shabby, desperate years had come and gone since I had ventured alone that far afield. 2,170.9 is a number with a bit of heft, and my car’s odometer counted each mile with a pure digital dedication to purpose. But how far had I traveled, actually? How far had I truly gone...and come? An odometer to measure true distance traveled has yet to be invented.

I traveled far this trip.

I drove to Canada to visit one of my oldest friends. I had promised to visit decades ago. Promise kept...but it was long, TOO LONG overdue.

I drove sans music. That was once unthinkable for me (unless I was astride a motorcycle). I entertained myself by listening to my tires’ dulcet offerings. They moaned for quite while. They whistled often. Sometimes they thumped a steady beat, only to fall eerily silent. The vastly under-rated duo of “Rubber and Asphalt” entertained me halfway across a continent. The asphalt in Canada sparkled. And that was just the start.

I was greeted with hugs held long enough and tight enough that only love could explain such behavior. I was feted grandly. Too grandly for a miscreant such as I. Tonight I cry as I type. I came far in understanding the steadfast beauty of friendship.

Then off I went to the district we Americans call Columbia. Pausing briefly to revel in and listen to the water roar as it freefalls at Niagara. Over, through, around the Allegheny Mountains where, all the while, clouds and sun and rain cavorted (in no particular order or, sometimes/incongruously, simultaneously), and leaves fell in an otherworldly earth-hued blizzard. I drove enthralled. My eyes gazing in wonderment, my ears beguiled by Goodyear’s serenades. All around me beauty. Beauty I had savored several times before, but too long ago to truly remember. I gave thanks for each and every glimpse and taste.

I drove far to visit Family. And my family embraced me. Wined and dined me. Held me close. There were reconciliations, remembrances and peace. Deeper understanding.

And there were horse farms, and wineries, and day trips galore. There were deer, hawks and fox, pastures and forests. Magnificent estate homes, the salt air of Chesapeake. Many more fine meals, wines and laughter. Yet more friends and conversations (a few tears, too) that lasted deep into each and every night. Laughter, tears and sighs punctuated the darkness. I reveled in the optimism of youth, caressed a horse, played with dogs, stroked cats and danced drunkenly with two fierce, independent women.

I traveled far.

I ventured far, backwards and forwards, through time and space. Traveled farther that I had thought possible. Traveled far, very far. How far, exactly? I can’t say for certain. All I know is that I ventured farther and further than 2,170.9 miles.

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