In Chaotic Times…


I first wrote this a couple of years back — on the heels of the Tsunami in Japan.  On the heels of the recent presidential election, this is a good reminder that in a chaotic world, rigorous exercise can be a welcome break — if only for a moment…

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A View To A Time

I long to be in a simpler state…

Taking inventory of the events of the day – of these days, is better disclosing to me all the chaos within; the chaos within me, within the world, within an idea, or and within an atom.  We are doomed, yet we may only be probable at a given moment.  Humanity itself is either my illusion, or is god’s own Ponzi scheme.

The events in Japan have been heart-wrenching to watch unfold – from my comfortable sofa, wine glass in hand.   Earthquake, tsunami, radiation, and logistical chaos add up quickly to become guilt for me not being there to receive god’s ass-whoopin’ myself.  Rarely do I get included in disasters, warfare, or turmoil anymore.  Put me in Coach Yahweh, put me in…

Like many of you, I want to give Japan a big hug, or to roll up my shirts sleeves and help them dig out, but $75 via PayPal will have to suffice.  I feel like a donation is not enough.  I feel helpless.  Still, the events in Japan won’t change the facts that my bills need to be paid, my dogs wake me up barking every morning at 3:00am, and I have accrued some unsightly fat on my belly and am concerned that people will judge me for its presence.   And at the end of the day, I ride my bike 18 miles, and on completion I run 3 more, that I can feel good for a moment.

Pundits Of Doom

After watching 10 minutes of Glenn Beck today I asked myself,

How can intelligent, educated, and successful human beings buy into this…?”

Still, day-in and day-out many intelligent, educated, and successful people from all parts of this nation grasp Mr. Beck’s values and ideas as though they were the seat cushion which doubles as a flotation device as the jetliner of America must prepare for a ‘water landing’.  Not to mention, the uneducated, less-than-intelligent, and more easily influenced passengers on this jet of whoa, who also cling to Mr. Beck’s wisdom.

A Christian friend once told me,

If you call yourself a Christian, you are either a missionary or a liar.” 

That ideal is just dangerous.  It’s dangerous to the billions of people who are not Christians, and more dangerous still, to the hundreds of millions who are Christians but who don’t subscribe to that ideal of  proselytization.  That statement is an emotional bayonet pointed in the back of a would-be religious prisoner of war.

This nation might fare better if we could return to the good old days of suggesting to each other, my god is better than your god, and so too is my candidate.  Each month though, we are falling deeper into the trap of, my god is the only god, and so too is my candidate.  This nonsense needs to stop – please…

And at the end of the day, I lift weights for an hour and stair-step for another 30 minutes, that I can feel good for a moment.

The Hurt Locker Guy

Jeremy lives across the street from me.  He is a bit younger than me, career military, the father of 4, and one of the most well adjusted men I have ever met.  Oh, and he’s a veteran Hurt Locker guy.  When he’s home, Jeremy is an active and engaging father, and has a calm and present disposition – almost Zen-like.  I know him scarcely, but know that he defuses bombs for a living, and has done four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last eight years.

When I spoke to him on Thanksgiving day, he told me that he would be leaving for deployment number five in several days.  He then chuckled and asked me if I needed any help with my yard.  When I saw his car pull into the garage a month later, I asked Jeremy’s 8-year old son, who was playing soldier in our cul-de-sac, why his dad was home from deployment early…

“Oh, he’s dying of cancer” the boy told me, “and the Marines gave him back to us.”   I was gulp-smacked into the next week, and had no idea how to respond.  I just closed my eyes and tried to transport myself to Mayberry.  When that didn’t work, I went for a hard trail run, that I might forget the plight of Jeremy and his family, and feel good for a moment.

Making Sense Of It All In Chaotic Times

My view to modernity has become surreal in recent months; I feel like a passenger in the front seat of a car which is driving a long distance in reverse.  I’m looking ahead, but ahead is moving further away from me.  It occurs to me; time may not be moving forward as most believe.  Rather, time might be moving backward, and humanity, I’ll suggest, might just be looking out the wrong window.  That’s my analogy and I’m sticking with it.  And at the end of the day, I will exercise with some degree of intensity, and feel good for a moment.

Oh, and if you’ve come to this fitness blog expecting tips on lunges, chicken salad recipes, or thoughts on how to lose weight, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.  To compensate, I will now share everything you need to know about the concept of fitness:  Put down the cookie, and lace up your shoes.  Be well.  rc

a footnote:  although jeremy, the marine i referenced in this essay, and i are no longer neighbors, i’m glad to say that i spoke with him last week and has been deemed cancer-free.

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head…

Oh, and there is this from Singer/Songwriter James McMurtry.  Enjoy…

34 responses

  1. A very moving post Roy.. and the neighbor….

    It might do you some good to take some steps to just focus on helping you.. working thru those things that you need to work thru…. whatever it takes to get back to “being well”.

  2. This post just took my breath away. Seriously so much that I don’t even know what to say. The world IS spinning out of control and I worry what will be left of it for the lives of my children and their children (should they have them).

  3. Roy,
    ….(and I breathe a deep sigh)…

    You know, it’s so moving reading this today. I had a good friend (friend of our whole family) recently pass away, from cancer. That was about a month ago. Last weekend, I ran in a 5K with his wife (also a very good friend) – and it was right and good, in that moment – even though everything that has transpired for this family over the last year has seemed so challenging.

    I don’t know, maybe that’s it. We’re here on this planet for a finite time, and it is in the connections we make (both with ourselves and with others).

    …and I’m just back from lifting a bunch of weights (and that, too, felt right and good, while the world continues to spin…)

    • Thank you for “getting it” Lance. Movement is a drug of choice for many. Though it is only temporary, it can cleanse the soul for a bit while the world spins. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, but grateful that the connection with his wife keeps him alive.

  4. “…and I have never looked back.”

    My dear Roy, you do whatever it is you need and those of us who know enough about you, know it is the right thing. Being overwhelmed by the chaos among us, I find surreal, at times off beat, ways to deal with life. Most don’t understand and scoff at my new found freedom and outlook. My disconnection with materialism. To hell with them! They are the ones that are oblivious to the true worth of humanity and never experience the power and impact of empathy; leaving them cold hearted and dispassionate for anything.

    And what is it we must always remember? No regrets, no matter what! Do what you must and continue to live a truly passionate life!

  5. Maybe think of it this way, how would you be able to see light if you did not see dark?
    This is how we experience everything in life, through contrast.

  6. Such a stirring article Roy. Thank you.

    I have been wrestling internally with what it means to be in a “simpler state”. Having been forced to stay put for a few months now, I’ve had no choice but to slow down dramatically, and have noticed a huge change in myself and my closest relationships, particularly my children (for the better).

    As modern technology is crucial to my livlihood, I’m not convinced it’s all bad but personally, I believe being far more selective and cutting back my use of it would behoove me..and really anyone. 🙂

    I sure wish you the best and have developed a great respect for you since finding this blog. Your writing is a tremendous blessing to me.

    I hope you can find out just what you need to do for yourself to calm that chaos within..and admire your courage and determination to take whatever steps you must.

    I’ll be the selfish one and step out and say I’d be so sad to see this blog go! 😉

    • Thank you Julie — very much. What I look at most of all is that, if I were to turn my back on technology, I would also be turning my back the collective advancement, and intelligence of tens of millions of people over the last hundred years. That is, I am much more a product of technology than a victim of it. I would be denying the contribution of millions.

      Like you tough, I was once laid up for a long time, and it seemed that both time, and information mattered much less to me during that year.

  7. Roy,

    I am often very reserved with my online comments but I read your posts. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t. What keeps me coming back is the honesty and emotional depth at which you expose yourself to your readers. In an age where most people have a difficult time being honest with themselves, it is truly refreshing and uplifting. You have given us moments for pause and reflection when otherwise we may have missed “it”.

    You often talk about being unplugged, and this possibly may be the best thing for you, but I can say without a doubt it would be to your readers detriment.

    Best,
    Anna

  8. Hey there Miss A! Thank you for your kind words, and your willingness to “come back”, despite that you don’t always agree.

    I’m not sure why the honesty is so important here, I appreciate that it gets noticed by a few. As far as technology goes, see my reply to the comment above.

    And Anna, please don’t feel like you ever have to comment here, but I appreciate that you did this time! Miss you…

  9. I find as I get older the desire to be “unplugged” grows stronger. I think part of it has to do with coming to grips with how fleeting life is and the realization that the memories held dear involve human interaction. Realistically I can’t expect to uproot my family and go live in the backwoods of Alaska for the sake of creating meaningful memories. I can however create some great memories by taking my family camping or going to the coast for a long weekend without computers or tv. Sometimes thats all we need is a serving instead of a daily diet. As stated in another comment, moderation and balance is a constant act.

    • “Sometimes thats all we need is a serving instead of a daily diet”.

      I love that Nicole, and as one of the more grounded people I know, who is able to manage that balancing act, I thank you for taking to the time to share your thoughts.

  10. All of us face tragedy in our lives, some more complete than others. I thought about the people of Japan and then about your neighbor as I read this and wondered if, as he sits in a warm home surrounded by family, does he feel blessed that though he may die, he still has time, the support of his loved ones, a home.

    Growing up my other always taught me to look at my problems in terms of how much worse they could be than how much better. That may seem like a very Polyanna view of life, but it does help in times when getting out of bed in the morning seems like more than I can handle.

    Another another note Roy, I will miss your blog if you choose to leave it behind, but understand completely that sometimes a change is just what one needs. Be well.

  11. Thank you Karen. Pollyanna ain’t so bad sometimes, but I guess I always see it as a disguise for the the worst possible scenario. My Jewish upbringing showing through here…?

    The more I read these comments, the more likely it seems the blog will remain, but the TV and a few other things can go. I will ruminate on it further….

    • Can you even get telegraph? Wait, I know the answer, it’s the US Mail.
      Even better I could do it like the good old days and get on my bike (horse) and ride over to your place and just discuss it directly with you over a beer.
      Also, since you won’t have a TV you are welcome to come over to our house for good games like Denver VS San Diego and of coarse there is always local sports bars.
      Now that I’m thinking about it maybe I will also check out from all this technology. The harder and probably impossible way to do this would be for me to use personal self contol over my technology, but can I? It’s like a box of cookies. I can’t stop eating them until they are all gone. So like so much of life it comes down to self control (help). I think I’ll get up, fix myself another cocktail and think about it.

  12. Roy – have you ever felt the work shift,a feeling of uneasy vertigo that only you seem to notice. The people around you seem to continue as before, but it is as if a membranous curtain has been pulled back and you simultaneously see them as lighted shapes, fireflies even, acting out the morning breakfast scene on a stage within the immensity of nebulas, collapsing stars, galaxies billions of light years away? My response to that glimpse at the immensity of it is to feel the earth has gone planar, and I’m sliding off the end. It’s too much to fathom with our limited senses. It’s extraordinary, …a glimpse into what we have within us. There is so much we don’t understand, or remember. And, we are part ouf it-magnificent, pulsing, hate, love, pain, love, toil, ease. Making sense of it is beyond us. Go sit on the porch, listen to the birds, feel the sun on your shoulder, eat a strawberry, help when you can.

  13. There’s a moment Cynthia, in the shower every morning I look at the stars through a window which is over my head. From this context I see nothing but sky; clouds, stars, setting moon. And as I look up and out the window I feel like an astronaut on getting ready for my day, and each morning I think of the words of Story Musgrave, “we’re all astronauts, on a very large spacecraft”. I have this serene thought every single day and for a moment am detached from my experiment with intelligence. I could stay there all day…

  14. Roy,my dad – a vital eighty nine who lived through twenty nine missions over europe – goes out to look at the night sky every night. perhaps a practice of cleansing the chaos of the psyche I should be more regular about. I asked him for any advice he’d give to clay & I at this age in our lives. He had lived several times thru recessions, being self-employed with six kids. I keep his answer close: “i just wouldn’t worry so much. Everything tends to work out. ” he had it really hard at times-the stress.

  15. Thank you, Roy – for always finding words to make the thoughts that pulse through my body make better sense!!! Chaos is all I know — however, being what I think is a Christian mom, I am always looking for ways to show my kids how to live right (trying to help them see that their teachers’ take on the translation of the bible can be interpreted in other ways). I have begun meditation and I look forward to the benefits that it will bring me… I admit that I am an undiagnosed adult with ADD – or perimenopause (which I think are the same thing) and multitasker to a fault — but without the technology of today (iphone/facebook), I would be (and still am, somewhat) so out of the loop of the world and friends. Please don’t leave us!!!
    And, of course, you know that all the little wishful thoughts (some people call prayers) that you send out bring good joojoo (juju) to those looking to receive! So, while it is difficult to see others in pain/turmoil and to feel helpless, you are not totally helpless!!! Keep sending the joojoo!!!

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