on being a son of an S.O.B

i barely dodged the swing. my cousin ran around the car to my rescue, pushing him to the ground and standing between us to avoid an escalation in the conflict. to this day, i’m still not sure what i did. i stepped out of my car and this guy comes at me full steam. the same guy i had been laughing with earlier that week for using the phrase “son of an SOB.” it was funny because he essentially called me a “son of a son of a bitch.” i thought we were friends, and we were. but this came out of nowhere. he was an oddball and had am intensity about him. i liked him, but i knew he was strange, different from most. he usually wasn’t trying to be funny with his rants and comments, but he was, and we all laughed. i think we treated him as more than his mental illness, although i can’t be sure. i was a teenager and didn’t have any frame of reference at the time. to me, he was just a strange kid that made me laugh. it was probably a fine line we walked between laughing with him and at him, but i wasn’t tuned in enough to know the difference. so he took a swing at me, and i’m still not sure why. maybe it was because i was laughing at him. maybe because mental illness makes no sense.

mental health is a real son of a son of a bitch. i hate that word and how it’s used, but the phrase my friend coined makes sense of the repetitive frustration i feel about this subject. and if anything should be termed “son of an SOB,” mental illness fits the bill. i didn’t understand it at the time, but now i know why my friend had been so up and down. living with bipolar disorder and ADHD will do that to a guy. ecstatic and smiling ear to ear one minute…sulking and moody the next, ready to snap. meds balancing him out until he forget to take one, then everything came crashing down. i don’t claim to know what all mental illnesses feel like, but i know what my mental illness feels like. and it’ s a son of a son of a bitch. here’s some statistics.

1/5 people personally experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives.

1/4 of deaths age 15-24 happen because of suicide.

nearly HALF of people who experience depression/anxiety won’t see a doctor.

i was diagnosed with depression nearly 2 years ago. for years, i had been living in a fog, okay one day and falling into the depths of despair the next. as a youth pastor, i tried my best to put on a happy face, but the cracks kept getting larger the deeper my depression took hold of me. i didn’t want kids to feel as hopeless as i did. meanwhile, i told them all about the extravagant love God has for them, but believed the nagging voice in my head that told me i was the exception to that rule. every christian struggles with that on some level, the belief that God’s love and grace is really as good as he says it is for everyone but themselves. the difference in my case, i think, is i internalized the idea that if God hated me, i must be worthless. and if God hated me, i might as well hate myself. because i’ll never measure up anyway. and if God hated me and i hated me, then my family must hate me. i must suck at my job and be a failure at the rest of my life as well. these are the lies that went through my head every day. and it didn’t matter how much evidence was presented to contradict these lies, i woke up each day feeling worse than the one before, stuck in a perpetual cycle of feeling worthless. my depression didn’t start with a faith crisis. i felt hints of it as a teenager, but when the core of your theology says that you are loved by God and you feel anything but, you start to feel an unresolvable tension.

like most stubborn men, i refused to admit i had a problem. i kept fighting the emotions and despair and refused to admit things were bleak, even when my wife told me for years to go talk to someone. my doctor, a counselor, anyone. i wasn’t sleeping. i wasn’t functioning well with work or my family. for a while, i could pretend everything was okay when someone walked into my office or stopped by for a visit. but i slowly lost that ability. it was easier to just quit going out. so i ignored my friends because it was easier to sit at home. but i couldn’t avoid my family, so they watched me sink into myself, trying desperately to distract myself with movies and television, which in retrospect made the problem worse. i went through the motions and worked as hard as i possibly could to pull myself out, convinced it was a spiritual problem. often depression can be confused for spiritual struggle. i felt hopeless. i’d wake up one day and try, only to fall flat on my face. i was angry, losing my mind at the smallest things. it felt inside like a pot of boiling water, and each day was a battle to stop it from overflowing from the pot. but each day, i would lose it. i still remember going to get an oil change. the sign said $39.99. they started and were halfway done when they informed me there was an extra $15 charge because i had a unique oil filter. i rolled up the window and yelled and punched my steering wheel, as if the car door was a noise blocker. i’m pretty sure i scared some people. but the anger was overwhelming and for no reason. all i wanted to do was overeat and watch mindless entertainment. it got to the point where the distractions couldn’t do their job anymore, so i finally listened to my wife. i saw my doctor.

hearing the words, “you are clearly depressed, and i think you need help” felt surreal. the shame and stigma attached to mental health is everywhere. it’s better than it used to be, but the feelings of failure don’t go away with a diagnosis. the fear of what others might think is very real. to have a name for what i felt gave me my first glimmer of hope in some time. so i grabbed a hold of it, still struggling, but ready to do battle. and i still am. i take a pill every day that levels me out and helps keep the darkness at bay. i fought the embarrassment, feeling weak, but knowing i needed help. so i swallowed my pill and it helped. it hasn’t cured me, but it’s helped. it’s one step in what’s been a long process of waking up again. it took months to share this with my extended family. longer still to tell coworkers and friends.

even now, i don’t shout it from the rooftops. i casually mention it in a blog post and share links on twitter or facebook about mental health issues, but i still feel it lurking. even when i do mention it, it’s only for a passing moment, and i don’t linger. if i do, people will ask questions. and if people ask questions, that means i’d have to be honest about my darkness. and if i’m a pastor and a christian and a husband and a father, shouldn’t i be all put together and whole? even as i write that, i know it’s garbage. but that’s what depression does. it takes the lies our mind tells us and makes them real to us.

well, i’m not a pastor anymore. and the idea that they, or any christian for that matter, should be all put together and never struggle is a load of bullshit anyway. good thing i’m not a pastor anymore. i just said bullshit. the idea that anyone should have it all together is ridiculous. we all want to be healthy, and good for you if you are. but when we are pretending for the sake of a facade we want to present to the world, that’s where depression does its damage. it hides in our fake smiles and mindless distraction.

i’m tried of watching people i love struggle.

i’m tired of making excuses for my depression and letting it have control.

i’m done worrying about what people think, stressing constantly over “if only they knew…”

i’m fed up with feeling alone and watching others pretend they are okay when it’s clear they are not.

mental illness does not have the last word. and if all i do is sit and wallow and pretend all is well, then i’ve already lost. i don’t want that for my kids. if they are fighting a battle, whether it be mental, emotional or other, i want them to be open about it, brave and courageous. i don’t feel any of those things most days. but i’m tired of letting it own me. and i don’t want others fighting the same battles i am to feel as alone as i did. everyone knows someone fighting a mental health battle. it’s just a matter of whether they voice it and you are paying enough attention to see it.

so here’s a rant from one depressed guy to the world. whatever you struggle with, know that you aren’t alone. talk to a friend. talk to a doctor. talk to a counselor. if you aren’t struggling, great! but let people know you won’t judge them if they are. let them know you will walk with them and give them hope. we all are that someone or know that someone. practice compassion on yourself. practice compassion on others. it makes a world of difference to have people know your darkness and love you still.

 

one final statistic.

Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.

there is hope, no matter how hopeless it feels.

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on bedtime routines
July 7, 2014, 3:52 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

it was nearly bedtime and she wasn’t back yet.

i nervously looked at the clock, debated calling, but instead convinced myself i could do this, even if it was a half-hearted effort. Bella was 2 years old. up until this point, her bedtime routine consisted of mom cuddling her until she fell asleep. i had tried a select few times to take on the role, but if my daughter caught wind i was trying to put her to bed to the exclusion of mom, all hell would break loose. you can say i should man up and do my job as a father. you’d probably be right. so that’s what i decided to do that night, more out of necessity than grit and determination. My wife was out with a friend she hadn’t seen in years. i know, right. how selfish of her!

i hummed and hawed and postponed and let the girls stay up later than they should have been until the moment came when i knew i could no longer postpone the inevitable. i could see the look of distrust in her eyes when i carried her to the bedroom. my oldest went to bed in no time. we were visiting grandma and grandpa’s house, and she had played herself out. Bella just sat on her bed and waited, refusing to lay down or close her eyes. refusing to give in to the tyranny and injustice about to happen. refusing to cooperate with her dictator father trying to corrupt her evening routine of mommy snuggles.

the crying started lightly when i firmly told her it was time to sleep. the screaming started when i tried to cuddle with her. not wanting to wake my eldest, i picked up Bella and headed to another room, still determined to make this young person like me, feel safe with me, be willing to give in to something new. the screaming grew louder and more desperate. Bella has a stubborn streak like no other. it will serve her well someday, but as a child…i was at a loss for what to do with this. if you met Bella today, you’d quickly learn this hasn’t changed. some who know her parents would say she comes by that honestly. they would be correct.

i tried cradling her, rocking her, laying her down in a different bed, leaving the room, rubbing her back…with each new effort, the crying intensified until it was a window rattling scream. so i picked her up and as i grew deaf in one ear, walked circles in the dark, at my wits end, wondering why i had been duped into thinking i could care for this little life. i was convinced in that moment she hated me. maybe she did. maybe my own self-esteem was so shattered i just couldn’t see this is part of parenting. but i was doggedly determined even as i felt defeated. i had started this, and i couldn’t quit now.

i kept hoping my wife would walk through the door and rescue myself and Bella as she had in the past, calming the cries of my Bella and allowing me to wallow in self-pity and drown my sorrows in TSN sportscenter.

but she didn’t rescue us this time. the time ticked on, and the crying and screaming intensified. my mother in law came to check on me a few times, making sure i was alive but knowing i needed to do this. she probably wondered what i had done to her precious granddaughter to torment her so. but she knew better than to ask in that moment what was going on.

i started singing. over and over, the same few lines, made up and sung to another popular kids song i stole the tune from.

“I love Bella, yes I do. I love Bella, how about you?
Bella is so beautiful, Bella is so smart.

I love Bella with all my heart.”

it took a long time, what felt like an eternity. in truth it was 1.5 hours. i must have sung those two lines 1000 times in the span of an hour. at first, the impact was not noticeable. slowly, she calmed little by little. it might have been simple exhaustion rather than the song that began to calm her cries. i like to think the latter. either way, the screaming gave way to sobs. the sobs gave way to gentle cries. the gentle cries gave way to deep, heavy breathing. and then she was asleep.

1.5 hours of screaming, crying, hitting and feelings of failure and embarrassment came to a conclusion in this peaceful moment. i was exhausted. tired and grumpy, having shed many tears in that 1.5 hours myself, all i wanted to do was put her down and go to bed myself. but i couldn’t. i just kept staring and holding her, my arms numb from carrying her so long, but feeling closer to her than i ever had. it felt like a battle of wills in which neither of us won, but we both submitted. i gave in to her, not by relinquishing to Missy as I always had, but by not quitting and taking the easy way out, by standing with her in her fear and uncertainty. she gave in to me, realizing i wasn’t going anywhere and that she could be safe in my arms.

she still screams at me sometimes, usually for my dumb jokes and dying when we play Nintendo. but we are close now. something broke that night. she woke the next morning and hugged me like she always had, but it was a longer hug, one that said to me that she trusted me now. maybe it’s all my imagination, but i believe it’s true. i started putting her to bed more often after that. she still didn’t like going to sleep, but now it was not a matter of screaming distrust at her less than present father. it was a matter of stalling your daddy who was wrapped around your little finger. to this day, she will snuggle in close and try to make me play and laugh, postponing bedtime in any way she can. and i’ll usually give in for a little while because i remember the days when to step into mom’s territory would not be so fun and exhilarating. it took one determined battle, but something broke that night. i became a better father. and i’ll never forget the moment. without it, i don’t believe my girl would trust me the way she does now.

the hardest moments in life are often the ones that make you grow the most. my daughters love for me is a testament to that. my love for her will never be any more or less after that night. but it is deeper and i understand fatherhood better than i did before. it gives my a glimpse of what my relationship with God has felt like many times. i kick and scream. i still am. but Abba still holds me, singing that silly verse over and over again because i refuse to believe it. maybe someday, i’ll give in the way my daughter did with me. hopefully sooner rather than later.



on crying and stuff easier to keep inside pt 2

Pretending is so damn hard.

Tonight, I wandered the house. I paced, back and forth, feeling uneasy, having an idea where my angst came from, but not completely sure why it was hitting me now. After all it’s been with me for years. On this night, it became too much. Even as I realized part of what perplexed my heart was a garbage day at work and exhaustion, the logical reasons failed me and led to me running away from myself. 

So lost in my own world, I announced to my wife I was going to Safeway, as if that was a thing I did. When asked why, my answer was simply, “I don’t know.” There was a vague idea of ice cream and chips, as if that would solve my anxiety and rising anger and discomfort with my inner turmoil. Sometimes those things work, but tonight it wouldn’t. I left, Missy knowing I just needed to run away for a while. Not from her or my beautiful girls. Definitely not. They were my only sense of sanity anymore. I just needed to go because to stay would be to wallow and drag down my family into the pit with me. So she let me go, always sensitive to when I need to be alone with my annoying self.

I went. I walked down the chip aisle. There were good sales, but nothing looked good. I went to the ice cream. Everything looked good, but nothing was on sale. I refuse to buy things that aren’t on sale. That’s not totally true. I just make myself sick thinking about the $1.50 I might have saved. So I pick up the ice cream, only to put it down again, knowing it won’t solve the swirling, rising mountain of emotion building up inside of me. I walk to the Redbox, flip through stupid movies I’ve looked through 20 times before, knowing I’ll find nothing worth my time. There is no distraction to solve this, not this time. Not ice cream, chips or Hobbits in imaginary lands could stop the wave from coming.

The drive home feels long. I want to arrive as if my leaving served a purpose. With something to show for my random disappearance. To act like all is well and it was actually normal for me to wander off. I can’t muster the strength. So I drive slowly with the music loud. I skip song after song after mind numbing song until Derek Webb, “Eye Of The Hurricane” comes on. The catchiest chorus I know speaks directly to the depths of my soul. Tears begin, but I do my normal thing and pull them back into their ducts. After the first verse, I can’t hold them back anymore, not even certain why. 

Cause I am the man from which I am running.

So even if I wanted to, I can’t escape.

This is the man that I am becoming.

Running in the eye of the hurricane.

The chorus describes my life beautifully. The idea of running from myself, being stuck with who I am, being the man I am whether I like it or not seemed to fit in the moment. Because I’m so sick of myself. I’m a 30 year old, failed holy man trying to be more than what I’m capable of being without the grace of God, which on most days feels too good to be true for me, so I run the other way. I feel the full weight of being a saint and a sinner (minus the saint part) and can’t bear the weight anymore of pretending to be the saint when I feel anything but.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Only that I am tired of running. I’m just so damn tired. Tired of not measuring up. Tired of a broken world, a broken me, broken trust and broken facades that used to be easy to hide behind. I have a history of being overdramatic, so forgive me if this sounds like a sob story wrapped in a big pile of give me a break. But I am oh so tired of pretending. And Derek Webb gave me permission to be honest about the garbage man I feel that I am. I beg of you. Please don’t comment here with how wonderful you are sure that I am. That only makes me believe it less. 

Because this isn’t about my self esteem, which will rebound into arrogance in no time once I meet someone on the interwebs I disagree with. This is about the man I am becoming. And if I can’t be honest about the sorry state I’m in here and now, then what’s the point of the rest of my journey? If my recurring smoking habit doesn’t catch up with me, I should have a good 40ish years left. If I have to fake it for that long, I won’t be able to stand myself. 

So I don’t know what this is. A prayer? A confession? A scream in my dark corner? 

I skipped ahead 4 more songs for some more Derek Webb truth and profundity. 

“It’s hard to keep from giving up. It’s easier to just close up your heart.

You place your votes, misplace your hope on men who let you down

with loaded words and broken promises, it’s hard to trust in anyone.

It’s easier to just fold up your arms.”

“Everything’s gonna change and nothing’s gonna stay the way it is.

One day you’ll wake and the curse will break and even you won’t be the same. 

Your hope is not wasted on the day when everything will change.”

That’s another writing session for another time. But for now, it feels true. It at least gives me hope that there’s more than my veiled eyes can see at the moment. For now, I hope in the day when I wake and won’t be the same. 



on crying and stuff easier to keep inside

it’s always been easier for me to cry in front of people than to cry in front of the one/ones. what i mean by ‘the one/ones’ is those people that mean the most to you. it can be a friend, family member, the montreal canadiens. i’ll never let Pacioretty see me cry, no matter how much it hurts when someone slanders Carey Price.

but if i’m in a crowd, it’s easy to let my guard down. there’s something about being vulnerable on your own terms that makes it manageable; when speaking in church or addressing my youth crew. but when someone else tries to set it on their terms…screw that. that’s when things get tough.

when i was a kid, crying only happened on other people’s terms. when i was in trouble. when people made fun of me. which happened more than i care to admit. i remember hating it with a passion. i remember feeling weak and vulnerable. like when Troy kicked me in the chest. im so tired of crying on others terms, that i fight the instinct telling me to let it out. no matter the situation, it seems that i try my hardest to keep it all in in front of my loved ones, even when it’s reasonable to let it out. it’s as if my reflex has become to do the opposite of what my heart tells me to do.

lately, this has changed. my protective instincts are gone and i am wide open and vulnerable as if i’m a child again. i feel like crying all the time. luckily, the Canadiens are still in the playoffs, or I’d be a mess. like i said, Carey Price completes me (my wife and i have an understanding). everything is as good as it should be, but nothing feels good as it could be. so the tears come even as i fight to hold them back.

wrestling with depression has kicked me into the gutter. it’s subtle and sneaks up on me. the over reactions to minutiae; so small, it doesn’t warrant a notice, let alone a full fledged man cry. a new job and an early 30’s faith crisis have taken me to the brink of what i can handle.

i’m tired of holding it in. but i know me, and i will continue doing so until i break. learning to be comfortable in my own skin is something new to me. much of my life has been spent trying to be someone i’m not. faking my toughness so my man-card can get punched (yes, ladies. that is a thing). putting on a smiley face and pretending my faith is in check so i can be a good pastor and not freak out the children (even though i know that’s the opposite of what Jesus wants from me). pretending i know what i’m doing, even as I run like wile coyote off the edge of the cliff, unaware of my imminent demise and fall.

i keep telling myself, “trust in Jesus. have more faith. just pray.” and those are all true things that i should strive for. but no matter how hard i seem to try or how much truth is in those statements…it doesn’t take away the intense pressure chasing me down that says i’ll never measure up to God, who is so very, very disappointed in me. and so i feel like crying, knowing deep down this isn’t how i was meant to live, knowing that it isn’t even the truth. but feeling more entrenched than ever.

that got dark fast. get back to the love affair with Carey Price jokes, already.

i know i’ll be okay. my God and my family have too tight a grip on me to let the depression win. i started writing again to be honest. to share not only my stupid stories and terrible jokes with the world, but my heart and soul as well.

so there it is. not crying is overrated. time to start listening to my instincts and kick depression in the ass. write more. love more. open myself up more. pray more. play more. play with my kids more. play tennis more. date my wife more.

and give less attention to the lies…more. just felt like i had to add ‘more’ one last time.



on missing my mark

My friend tackled an old man into the lake.

Ok, it wasn’t an old man. It was my other friend dressed as an old man. But it was definitely the most hilarious thing I’ve seen since Ricky getting hit by a car.

It was before the days of every 5 year old having a cellphone camera. I lugged the handheld mini DVD player down to Wascana Lake. I don’t remember why, but we got this brilliant idea to make a short film about us being the Wascana garbage collectors, taking out the human trash since 1991. I was the cameraman. My friend Ryan played the ringleader. My other friend Ryan dressed up as an old man. It wasn’t too hard for him, since his style mostly matched that of an 80 year old anyway. He only needed a cane to complete the ensemble.

The plan was to talk about the human trash residing in the park, and how it was our job to get rid of it. It was set up perfectly, with Ryan #1 angrily ranting into the camera about the ills of society. Ryan #2 took his place by the path along the lake. Ryan #1 said to the camera something about seeing some human trash that needed to be taken care of. He then proceeded to tackle Ryan #2, who had a fake cane and was far enough away from the camera to be mistaken for a stranger, into the lake.

It was perfect. The timing of the tackle…the gasp that left Ryan #2 as he flew through the air. We even asked another couple walking past to join the charade and feign concern for the old man as he splashed around the water.

It was around this point I realized I had forgotten to hit the record button.

I won’t rehash the look of disappointment on Ryan #1 & #2’s faces. Even the passing by couple was disappointed in me, shaking their heads in disgust for me having wasted their valuable time. You might wonder why tackling old people into a lake would be considered fun, and if you are wondering that, you have a solid point. I had recorded some speaking parts, but missed a few key portions, making the whole thing choppy and missing the climax tackle. If I remember correctly, they had to redo the tackle. Nothing was as brilliant the second time around.

I often feel like I’m missing my mark. In life, you only get one shot. Yes I did just quote an eminem song from 8 mile. And no, I don’t regret it. I feel like things are passing me by and I’m the oblivious bystander, fiddling with the record button. I had one job…

Anthony DeMello is a brilliant writer. His book ‘Awareness’ contends that to be alive is to be in the moment, seeing what’s happening all around you in people and events. So many of us sleepwalk through life, focusing on what’s next or what’s happened before. But he calls us out of the craziness of everyday life into paying attention to the deeper realities going on beneath the surface.

It reminds me of Jesus call to consider the lilies. To love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. To give to those who ask without expecting a return. To love God and love people. Jesus lived in the moment more than anyone. The beauty if a life well lived is seen in Jesus. I’m jealous of Jesus. Man, that guy had it soooo easy. Minus the crucifixion part.

I’m not Jesus. I’m Blair. And I have attention issues.

I can’t be Jesus or Anthony de Mello. But I can be me. It might not seem exciting, but it could be. I just have to start paying attention.



on taking life
April 30, 2014, 5:53 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The first time I had a clean shot at a deer, I missed on purpose.

My brother and I had hunted since early morning, starting as the sun broke over the ‘wannabe mountains’ Manitoba hilltops. I still remember not really being certain if hunting was for me. All I knew is that my dad loved it, my brothers did too, and I had fun pushing bush with my cousins when I was a little guy. If I didn’t try, I’d never know. Plus, I hoped to discover the first evidence of a Sasquatch, and I thought hunting might lead me to meet our future overlords. Trust me, it’ll happen. They are just biding their time until we are too fat from Cheetos and McD’s that we can’t fight back. Oh wait…it’s too late.

This time was my first actually holding the gun. The first time feeling the weight of the weapon, trying to be ready for the moment of truth. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted to be the hero.

Instead, we got skunked. We only saw one Buck, which ran out of the trees in the opposite direction before we could get a shot. The rest of the day was spent sitting quietly and walking through empty bush. Before we knew it, the sun was setting and dark fast approached. To increase our chances in the final minutes, my brother dropped me on a hill where he had shot a buck the year before, then he drove off to scope another spot.

After waiting for about 15 minutes and darkness nearly upon me, my teenage brain couldn’t comprehend sitting still any longer. I walked the dusty mile road back to the highway. Just as I got to the bottom of the hill, I saw her. A beautiful doe. Medium size, nothing spectacular by trophy standards, but a beauty nonetheless, especially based on the lack of luck we’d experienced that day.

I lifted my gun. It felt heavy from carrying for hours, and I couldn’t keep it steady. It could have also been that my scrawny boyish figure weighed about as much as the gun, but we’ll go with the ‘tired’ excuse. I tried lowering to my knees to get a better stance. She saw me move and froze. She must have thought to herself, “what is that strange, tiny, gangly creature that I could definitely snap like a twig with one kick?”

We stared at each other. It wasn’t nearly as intimate as I paint it out to be, but I imagine that she knew my fear as much as I knew hers, and wanted to call truce. I felt as if she could sense my anxiety and desire to be a man. Of course she couldn’t, but my mind raced on. In that moment, I knew I didn’t want to kill her. I looked to make sure my brother wasn’t nearby. She had eased from my initial movement and was walking towards the tree line, believing I wasn’t a threat. She had no idea how right that was. I took a couple shots, close enough that I could pretend I actually meant to hit her (in case anyone was watching), but knowing it would miss. Mostly so I could say I tried and tell a tall tale of ‘almost got one!’ to my friends. The truth is, even if I wanted her dead, I’d have missed anyway. I was a 16 year old punk kid who could barely hold a rifle, let alone load it. I’m sure there are many worthy teenage hunters, but I was not one of them. So I missed, and felt a strange mix of shame and peace as she ran away from the noise.

When my brother picked me up, I’m sure I claimed it was a buck, hundreds of yards away, so far away that an expert marksman would have surely missed. We cursed our luck and drove home.

14 years later, I’m still a terrible hunter. Last year, I went again, had several shots, actually tried to hit several deer, and missed. My best chance was from about 50 yards. A young, love drunk buck had been chasing a doe that was running away from us. He was thinking with his nether regions, so stayed in the wrong spot just too long. You know what I’m saying, gentlemen. We’ve all been there.

I opened fire once, twice…thrice. I was out of bullets and hadn’t come close as near I could tell. My brother was about 50 yards behind me and to my right, and got him. We watched the handsome beast breathe his last, and I had a hard time holding back my tears. I acted excited, and was for my brother, but truthfully felt unworthy of the gift this beautiful animal had given us.

I’m not cut out for hunting. It’s not that its wrong. It’s just that death breaks me. A loved one. A stranger. An animal that could feed a family (Insert vegan-power comment here). It’s so real and final, no matter how much I rationalize or justify it, it just doesn’t feel right. It’s the broken place, and I don’t know how to deal with it.

As Mufasa would say, it’s the circle of life, or some crap like that. But it doesn’t mean it feels right just because the Lion King says so. People die. Animals die. There’s a time for everything under the sun. Until then, I’ll avoid it like the plague. Coincidentally, the plague also causes death.

I don’t know what to do with deaths reality in my world. As a Christian, I know I should be less afraid to die and for loved ones to go, but what I should feel and do feel rarely align. In the meantime, I’ll miss shots, both on purpose and because of my poor skills, hoping to cling to life in all her forms.

I’m a bad hunter. Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, they say. Well don’t bring me to one either, because I’ll cower and cry and miss on purpose.



on hammocks
April 22, 2014, 4:59 am
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Hammocks might be the best things ever invented.

As a child, we’d go to our friend Jonathan’s house, and a game we’d play was to see how many of us could fit in the backyard hammock . Then the older kids would swing us until we inevitably fell out and scraped our knees and smashed heads. But it was awesome. And we’d climb back in and do it all over again. A form of self-torture that was too much fun to pass up.

The next time I used a hammock was the first time I got high. Much like when I was a child, my friends and I piled inward and were swung back and forth, cackling like idiots. It was much like being a child, only more obnoxious. My friend and I laid there for what seemed like hours staring at stars and feeling like grownups, even though we were proving to be anything but. I remembered the joy of the hammock as a child, and although this could have been the drugs talking, this felt even more meaningful.

A few years back, I set one up between two monstrous trees in our back yard. I tried to replicate the joy of my youth, minus the drugs and friends. It was okay. Nothing too special. I never felt I had the time to actually relax long enough to enjoy it. Toddlers will do that to a man. I took it camping and slept in it a few nights, in hopes that if would take me back to more carefree days. I tried afternoon naps on sunny, summer days. It was nice, but nothing could take me back to a past that was no longer attainable.

Nostalgia is funny. You can build up memories into these giant panoramas, making them out to be much more than they were. It’s like you paint a mural in your mind, only to realize it was nothing more than a finger painting.

My kids ended up using the hammock more than I did, often asking me to swing them as they giggled and got scared, the way I did as a child, minus the swearwords. Then my dog chewed holes in it, and I threw it away, much too cheap and unwilling to pay for a new one.

The truth is that memories only hold the power that we give them. While objects and people can take us back to certain places in time, nothing can replicate what brought us joy in the past. It wasn’t the hammock that made me happy. It was being with friends, laughing until I couldn’t breathe, experiencing life and growing up. A product can’t do that. If we spend our time trying to manufacture nostalgia, it will truly be a wasted life. If we expect items to bring us real joy, then we have no chance at experiencing the memories now that create nostalgia in the present, and will again in the future. We’ll be left unsatisfied.

Hammocks went on sale today, half price. I couldn’t resist, so I purchased another one. Can’t beat $25 for a chance to relive your dreams. I no longer expect to be taken back in time, though. That’s silly to expect out of a hammock. Besides, you need drugs to do that.

Maybe hammocks aren’t the greatest thing ever. But if your favourite thing to do is lie down, it might come close.