Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chipping Away at the Old Block

Cute title, don't you think? A real play on words especially with a picture of me and my father taken in Florida in March sitting below them. However... some "old blocks" can't be chipped away at. Sometimes you just have to stick a ton-and-a-half of dynamite below them, light the fuse and hope you don't wind up killing yourself in the process.

Yeah, for me it was that kind of trip. If I had to subtitle it, I would tag it "Process can be a bitch."

All I can give you is a taste of what happens when you know that there is major emotional baggage that you've been carrying around for way too long and you decide at some level, "That's enough." My father and I had our reapproachment back in 1995 after my younger brother died at 35 years old. He was my only sibling and at this point I had not spoken to my father for over 20 years. I had created a total detachment from his entire side of the family, burned all bridges at front, back and in between.

I'll make a long story short and say that I wrote him a letter and he was moved enough to actually meet me and we talked for hours. That was 14 years ago and we've been glaciers, slowly and emotionally moving inches over time. As for me, I could always feel the remaining distance and I knew that I was internally responsible for most of it. One can't escape the heaviness, the wordless lies. The presence is always there.

So I drove down to Florida to see him in the first week of March, my life partner Jeri along for the ride (and what a ride!) My family took this drive several times in the Sixties and just the time spent in the car on the trip down was affecting me.

So what happened during the three days we visited? I had an awful lot to forgive and release within myself about this man, our family and my view of myself. I had put myself in the position of "no escape" by traveling down there. What manifested during those days was an excruciating episode with my back that I had to drive back home with, more tears during the passage than I ever knew were within me, emotional upheaval akin to being manic depressive and more insight about being the "author of my own story" than I could ever have achieved otherwise.

Oh yeah, deep end of the pool stuff. I had been carrying it around seemingly forever and it HAD to go, so I constructed this "destruction." Of course, I know that one can't actually "destroy" anything. This much I can say; I now feel a deeper sense of peace and authority in my own life than I have felt in a very long time. It has manifested itself in the phone conversations my father and I have had each weekend since I returned. There's just a new sense of closeness there that didn't exist before this trip.

I had to travel many miles to "come home." I'm glad that I finally did. My answer to the question I posed yesterday is that I'd rather be happy. No doubt about it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

So Who Are We Now?

It becomes fascinating to examine old photographs, especially when they contain an image of you and even more so when they contain you as part of your family. Pictured here is my 1974 high school graduation and left-to-right is my grandfather Kondler (my mom's dad,) my mother, me, Grandma Mae (my grandfather's second wife) and my father.

This is looking back 35 years ago for me. I think about some of the drama that we had already known at this point (like moving these grandparents out of Newark, NJ during the 1968 race riots) and the some of the drama yet to come (such as my parents divorcing in the next six years and I not speaking to my father for more than twenty
years beyond that.) Yet this shot is one that captures one of those "momentous occasions" we all rendezvous with numerous times during our current stay. We have "no idea" what is around the corner; all we know is how the moment feels (sometimes.)

That's really the point this is coming around to. It can all seem so "obvious" when we look back with the benefit of hindsight. "How could I have NOT known that would happen? All the signs were pointing right at it! I must have been blind." I'll quote from one of my favorite albums and animated movies, "The Point" by Harry Nilsson. As his character "The Rockman" says, "You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear, dig?"

I often remind myself of that now as I see the world of my choosing. We all do it. The question is, is it really the world that you and I want to see? Well, answer this... would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Careful, the answer you give might not be what you think! More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Journal Takes Flight

When I was in high school in the early 70's, I wanted to be a journalist. I was caught up in the excitement and energy of the time (especially the breaking Watergate scandal.) To me, journalists were equal parts crusader, celebrity and spy; defending the public trust, shining a light on the plentiful good and bad aspects of the world and exposing the crooks to the harsh light of scrutiny. Big words, big world, big job.

It's funny how things work out in the game of time. My career never went that path for reasons that I still can't quite put my finger on. However, that doesn't change the fact that I am and have been a "journalist" all of my life. I have been jotting down observations, conjecture and ramblings in journals for most of my life, recently having celebrated fifty-three trips around the sun. Considering the seismic shift that's changing the face of how we consume information (as well as the fact that newspapers are teetering on the brink of complete obsolescence,) this blog is as good a place as any to share my thoughts, ideas and observations with any who are attracted to them.

The hardest thing I've had to digest in life is that in order to have control one must surrender all pretense of being in control. That illusion's not worth the monstrous effort required for zero-to-minimal results (and most of them are fleeting.) I'll touch more on that later down the road.

If you've been drawn here to partake in this offering I say "welcome." I'm truly honored to have you along for the ride. I've learned that there are no accidents in this world so I hope you find your time well-spent. I'll be sharing some things that have indeed left me both amazed and amused. How you will find them all depends on your point of view.

After all, it's your world. I'm just visiting!