Between Son And Father…

Six years ago this moment, I was staring out the window on a flight from Philadelphia to Athens. I was enroute to visit my daughter who was winding up her time studying archaeology in Greece. My father had died just 20-hours prior.

While his body was being transferred from the industrial refrigerator which housed him, to the factory where they burn bodies and  subsequently place them into fancy bags so people can keep place on their mantel or carry the ashes about to be spread into forests or over the sea, I stared out the window of an Airbus A3000 for 13-hours. Mostly, I looked down into the distant ocean.  Eventually day turned into night and I begin looking upward into the darkness, to the stars, and thinking about my dad when I finally broke down .

That would be the last time I would have to  feel the guilt that comes with  having to choose between being a son or being a father. On that occasion, I chose father and I would do it again.

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But it haunts me, ongoing, that as I landed in Athens full of excitement and enthusiasm to explore Mykonos, 3000-year-old ruins, and Greek culture with my daughter, that my father lay cold, stiff, and waiting to be burned, bagged, and buried after a life largely unfulfilled.

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It stops me in my tracks daily
The unfinished business of a son

And each time I look in the mirror
I see his plans unfinished and his life undone

And if I am the continuation
Of those intentions that he left behind

I try hard not to disappoint him
But in my darkest hours I feel so blind

Yet I wake to another moment
Another chance to break new ground

And the daughter whose eyes are upon me now
Is still unsure about her dad some how

But tomorrow holds more promise
And I’ll hope that I rise above

Fueled by fire and passion
And with the guiding light of my father’s love…

Jhciacb

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If you’re not already a subscriber, please scroll up and take a moment to do so. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when you push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Dad’s favorite, the great Herb Alpert.  Enjoy…!

Monotheology…

My Road…

For the things that have mattered to me most; hobbies, interests, business practices, and even in matters of personal fulfillment, I have always preferred the path of being self-taught. That is, I’m at my best when I work within my own structure and on my own schedule.

Translation: I have an authority problem…

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For nearly 2 decades I’ve been attempting to create and adhere to a personal theology. My own beliefs, practiced within my own structure, and within my own timeframe and schedule. During the last couple of years, I feel I have made significant progress in this area.

The beliefs I value, the rituals I practice, and the sermons I create and study on my own behalf, have become an integral part of my daily life. And I can say with great certainty that they have made me a better person.

Though this Religion Of One is something I am quite proud of, some part of me has always questioned whether it’s the correct path. In a world full of ornate houses of worship — great and small, paint by numbers acts of ritual and obedience, and volumes of scripture which everyone has read but nobody has written, to state that I have carved out my own theology can seem lofty, ignorant, and selfish – – even to myself.

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Though I have mostly embraced my personal theology, I have also been skeptical of it.

This past Sunday I attended a structured house of worship for the first time in many years. It was with a small congregation in the small town where I live. Everything about it was cordial, charming, and peaceful. That is, I found the experience to be everything that is right with religion. It was pleasant.

As I took it all in though, that skepticism I’ve had of my own theology slowly and steadily began to flake off and fall from my skin. Though I greatly appreciated all that was taking place around me; the observance, the reverence, and the community, I felt uncomfortable and out of place. I was longing to be back out in the woods, conversing with my maker and contemplating my place in this vast and complex world.

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Leaving that service last Sunday, and stepping back into my own rituals, my own forms of charity and community, and on my own schedule of observance, I felt for the very first time that my Religion Of One is not a path of blasphemy or guilt, but the most available and the most direct road to where I’m going. So I will just keep stepping – – left, right, left, right, left, right, down the center of my own little path, with the absolute belief that this is just right for me…. Jhciacb

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If you have not already, please scroll up and  hit the subscribe button in the upper right-hand corner. Please check back in a couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Shiny Ribs. Enjoy….

Road Transitions…

I have written down nearly every workout I’ve taken for 43 years. Every weight lifted, every repetition performed, and every set completed has been documented in handheld spiral notebooks since I was a kid.

A pen to spiral binder is a crude form of data collection, but it’s information nonetheless. Information to be studied. Information to be drawn from. Information to be used to make future decisions in pursuit of ongoing improvement.

After all these years though, I know how much I should be squatting with on a given night, or how much weight I should load on the bar for some skull-crushers. The putting the pen to paper at this point, is about more than gathering information. Above all things, it is about ritual, and for me, it is a sacred ritual at that.

This documenting of my actions with these crude tools, helps connect me to what I’m doing — to my purpose in the gym. It’s a necessary part of the workout, and a necessary part of my spirituality. In one sense, I’m writing down my actions and storing information for later use. In another sense though, I’m taking inventory of my beliefs.

By etching these letters and numbers which have accounted for so much of my life, I am in a sense, taking sacrament at the altar. It is this dogmatic process which transcends the workout itself, taking it to a much more spiritual level. That means much more to me than the gathering of information to be used later.

Another part of that ritual, is to close one spiral binder after several months, and begin another, which I did last night. Another mile-marker along the never ending road that I’ve been on since I was 13-years old, and I will follow so long as I am alive.

I don’t know where this road is taking me, and I don’t know when it will end, but I have enjoyed, and I have found great meaning in documenting the journey…. Jhciacb

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Richuals…

The Little Ball Of Rituals…

My skin might someday burst for all of the rituals which are packed within me, waiting, not always patiently, to be carried out each day.  From the moment I get out of bed, everything I do that matters, I do ritualistically. Every action has a purpose and must be executed at the right time and in just the right way.  To live a day in my shoes, is to extend one ritual right into another, connecting them end-to-end to form a completed day.

Turn on the coffee pot.  Shower.  Stretch.  Check my electronics. Text my daughter.  Walk my dog.  Hike.  Eat.  Work with clients.  Workout.  Write.  Share time with friends.  Listen.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I own it as if that is exactly where I should be and exactly what I should be doing.  I savor these times, these actions, and each conversation.  I think this is a good way to be.

What makes all of these things rituals to me, and not habits, is that as I am doing them with reverence and appreciation.  Turning on the coffee pot, as I my finger directs the lighted button from left to right, is the only thing which matters at that moment.  We are one, me and Mr. Coffee.  Nothing in my life is as important as watching my dog call our walks to a halt as he pauses to sniff the underside of weed’s middle leaf.  The picture I take of a tree or a bird or teaspoon of peanut butter each morning, and text to my daughter, is always the most important text I will ever send.

When the earliest of my morning rituals have been completed though, and I feel confident that the day will come off okay, then it’s time for the ritual which matters most in my life; my phone call to Miss Trudy.

A Song In Her Voice…

Though we are no longer married, Trudy remains the most important person in my life – tied for 1st place with the daughter we share.  Most mornings, and most evenings I call her or she calls me – just to check in and say hello, and to ensure the other is okay.  So imbedded is this ritual, that very often, as I am preparing to dial the phone, her number shows up on my caller ID, and vice-versa.

My day officially becomes official when I utter the words,

“Good morning, Miss Trudy!”

And she reciprocates,

“Good morning, Mista Roy!”

I think her voice might be what a flower would sounds like if flowers spoke.

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What a voice might look like…

Here’s the thing, nothing big happens – especially with our morning phone calls.  You see, our evening phone calls generally take place right before we go to bed.  Not much latitude there to expand on.  It’s simply light conversation inquiring to about how well each other slept, and about how well our dogs slept.

We might dig a little and inquire about each other’s impeding workday.  Perhaps catch up or discuss any major news that broke overnight.  Talk about the weather.  We may even talk about what we plan to have for lunch.  Occasionally we’ll ask each other about a YouTube link to a song we felt like sharing the day prior.

I lied when I said nothing big happens.  You see, the biggest thing of all happens when I hear Miss Trudy’s voice; I know for certain that I have a true friend and a compadre in my corner.  There is a song in her voice.  Maybe the song is more like a medicine which soothes the stresses of life which often get the better of me.  There is a joy in the simplicity of innocent conversations with her.

When I reflect on all my rituals, and the ones which mean the most to me, and when I consider all we available in the form of vices to help us feel better, I well appreciate that what soothes a confused mind or an aching soul isn’t alcohol, sex, entertainment, or even money.  It is hearing the voice of my dearest friend each morning, and again each night.  May you all hear such sweet music in your own lives.  Be well… rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from George Harrison and Bob Dylan.  Enjoy…