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Monthly Archives: May 2011

I think I might have a super power.

I know what you’re thinking.  I’ve finally gone off the deep end and have lost the few scraps of sanity left to me.  I disagree.  The evidence has been right there in front of me for years, I’ve just chosen to ignore it.  But, I think I have to accept it, I’m special.  And, no, I’m not talking “special” in the sense that you say a friend who is a moron is “special.”

So, now that I’ve figured out that I have this power, how can I give it back.  What is this power, this ability, I claim to have and so cavalierly wish to give up?  I have the uncanny ability to get sick any time there is a holiday, vacation, or other event planned.

Now, I’m not saying it happens every single time, but the percentages are lodged solidly in the over 75% range.  This past weekend was no exception.  I had been feeling fine, not a sign of trouble, until Saturday morning.  Upon awaking I found the beginnings of a sore throat had taken hold.  By the end of the day a full-fledged cold with all the trimmings was joyfully kicking my ass.

<sigh>

The illness is never terribly severe.  Oh, it’s enough to make things much less than fun.  And it certainly is enough to make me prone to bouts of crankiness and fatigue.  But, generally speaking, I do my best to ignore and/or medicate the symptoms and soldier on in an attempt to make something of the holiday, trip, or whatever that the germs are trying their best to disrupt.

I am beginning to believe that my body produces a pheromone of some sort.  It only begins to seep out when I start to feel anticipation for an upcoming event, and the closer the event comes, the stronger the pheromone gets.  It must be like a siren’s song to germs, calling out to them with promises of their own holiday cookouts in my lungs and sinuses.

And it must be one hell of a party.

So, please, if anyone knows where I can go to turn in this wonderful ability of mine, please, let me know.  I would even consider paying a disposal charge if that sort of thing is necessary.  After all, head colds and triple-h days (hazy/hot/humid not the wrestler) are not a good combination.

My writing on the blog recently has been more than a little random.  I apologize for that fact, as I have many other times.  I’d like to say it won’t happen anymore, but we all know that probably isn’t the case.  The reasons are many and manifold ,  but they boil down to two big things.  First, my muse hasn’t exactly been working overtime lately and, thus, my voice has been more difficult to find.  And, second, I don’t want this to be a place where I do nothing but vent and whine.  Nobody wants to hear it, and I need to keep my mind pointed in a more positive direction.

That said, this post is very likely going to veer quickly in a melancholy direction.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life.  I guess everyone can say that.  But, the problem with my personal load of mistakes is that some of them are real doozies.  One of the biggest was my decision to cut myself off from my family.  Looking back now I understand that it was a decision born of cowardice, selfishness, and weakness.  I’ve come to accept that about myself, and I am trying to fix it.  I have been working to reestablish those ties and be the son and brother that I should have been all those years I was gone.

Unfortunately, in many ways the old saying “you can never go home” has a certain truth to it.

One of the things I learned early on as I began to do the work that would eventually reunite me with my family was that my mother passed away in May of 2006.  It was devastating news that I have never truly been able to come to terms with.  It’s funny, you grow up in this world and think that you learn something about grief and regret as you go, but life has a way of showing you that you don’t know anything.

I have come to hate the month of May since I got that news.  May is now a rapid fire succession of days reminding me of my failure as a son, a brother, and a man.  After all, last Sunday was Mother’s Day.  Yesterday was the anniversary of my mother’s passing.  And this Saturday is her birthday.

Susan Ford was one of the best people I have ever known.  I know that many people will smile and nod at that while thinking I am deifying my mother now that she is gone.  Perhaps, but the evidence would be to the contrary.  She was much loved by not only her family but also by her students who apparently showed up in droves for her memorial service.

I say apparently because I was not there.  I was not there to hug and comfort my father as he mourned the loss of his soulmate and the love of his life.  I was not there to hold my sister’s hand while she dealt with the sudden absence of her mother and friend.  I was not there standing beside my brother as we tried to lend each other strength.

I was not there.  I wasn’t even aware that there was a “there” I should have been. I never said goodbye.  I never told her I loved her.  And, God help me, I never said I’m sorry.

Yesterday afternoon I got in my car to pick my wife up from work.  It was a normal set of actions that I do without thinking that included plugging in my iPhone for music.  This time, however, I skipped straight to a song my sister had gifted to me a few months ago on iTunes.  The song was “Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond, one of many songs by Neil Diamond and James Taylor that will forever conjure images of mom.  I drive through now familiar streets on autopilot, not really seeing what was around me, losing myself in that song, singing along softly. And I remembered.

There is no way I can ever make this particular hurt right.  Not with my father or siblings.  Not with my mother.  Not even with myself.  It is a hurt that will never really go away and a grief I suffer with alone.  That’s just the way of things and the consequences of a terrible mistake.  I can live with that.

But, this May, I hope that somehow, somewhere my mother is looking down on me and that she understands how much I love her.  How much I miss her.  Everything that is good in me, everything that makes me anything approaching a worthwhile person, starts and ends with the influence of my parents and siblings.  My mother is owed the credit for all that is good in me.

I love you, Mom.  I hope you know that.

While driving my wife to work today I commented on a strange epiphany that hit me a few days ago when driving along that same road past the local community swimming pool.  The pool had caught my eye because they have begun the preparations necessary to ready it for opening, a sensible thing since May has arrived, I suppose.

But, I digress.

The thing that struck me that day as I drove by the pool was the fact that the concept of pools is simply an extension of natural animal instinct.  Throughout nature you can find examples of animals seeking out bodies of water, whether they be lakes, streams or watering holes, to cool off in the warmer months.  All  of us have seen the nature films of zebras and hippos at play in their African watering holes, after all.

The pool is an obvious extension of this instinct.  When it gets hot, jump in the water to cool off.  Simple enough.  The thing that struck me, though, was how we, as human beings, have managed to create a watering hole which belongs exclusively to us.  We don’t have to watch for predators or unsavory visitors that bring the ambiance of the place down. (well, perhaps we haven’t really solved that one yet)

We have, for all intents and purposes, made an exclusive club with a “Humans Only” sign prominently displayed outside.

When I explained my reasoning to my wife she made the comment that this type of instinctual extension is not limited to the pools.  Grocery stores, after all, are a similar extension of the hunting/gathering instinct.  And, once again, we have managed to find a way to concentrate our food into an exclusive location where we don’t have to compete with other species.  The closest thing to competition here is who will grab that last can on Pringles when they go on sale.

The examples are everywhere, but when you look at it from that angle it makes for an interesting view.  Our evolution as a species can, in some ways, be viewed as the founding of an exclusive fraternity or social club.  You just have to have the right genus and species to get in.  We will, of course, invite the occasional outsider into the club, but all in all it is fairly exclusive.

I know it is an oversimplification, but given the way we have endeavored to separate ourselves from the rest of the world as a superior species, can it really come as any kind of surprise that, with that mission accomplished, we now turn on each other and look for reasons our particular group is vastly superior to the others?  We as a species seem to thrive on the conceit that we have overcome all others and sit at the top of the heap.

Perhaps.  But, perhaps it is that very part of our nature, the thing that drives us to have a sense of superiority over those with whom we share this tiny plant, that will be our downfall.  Maybe, just maybe, that is what will tear us apart as a species.  Ego, self-righteousness, and the whole spectrum of other issues lead to one thing.

Hubris.

It may be time to reexamine our place in this world.  Nature has, after all, given us some pretty hard evidence lately.

I woke up this morning to hear my radio telling me that Osama bin Laden is dead.  I sat dumbfounded as I listened to the newsreader tell me about how Navy SEALs stormed a compound in Pakistan and killed him during the ensuing firefight.

It was a moment of astonishment.

There have been a few of those in the near decade since that fateful day in September of 2001.  The world changed that day in ways that can never really be put right.  And, since that day the world has hunted for the man considered responsible.  We have searched mountains and caves.  WE have lost good men and women in the fight against his confederates and supporters.

And now, he’s dead.

The reaction in many place has been celebration.  But, I have to admit that somehow celebration doesn’t feel like the right response to me.  I don’t feel joy or happiness at this news.  It is hard to feel happiness from the news that any man is dead, no matter how evil and deserving they were.  No, what I feel is more akin to a combination of relief and justice.

Relief may seem like a silly thing to feel.  It takes but a moment’s consideration to realize that the removal of one man, no matter how highly placed or charismatic, will not stem the tide of violence and terrorism.  The truth is that another has probably already stepped into his place, maybe even more than one other.  The man can now become a symbol for his movement, which in some ways makes him more dangerous than he was before.  But, I have to believe that men with such hate and violence in their hearts and souls are a cancer on the spirit of this planet.

And so, while I do not cheer for the violent death of a fellow human being, I am glad that this particular cancer has been excised.  The world in a better place with him removed.

Justice is a little more obvious, at least for those of us on this side of the issues.  Here was a man who plotted to end the lives of thousands of my countrymen.  A man who brought fear, terror, and loss of liberty to a place that should be a beacon of hope and freedom.  The acts committed in his name darkened the world with a cloud of fear that will never completely dissipate.

Much violence has been waged in the intervening period.  And we are not without fault in that violence.  But, you will have to forgive me if I feel a certain satisfaction in this death stemming from a grim sense that in some small way the scales have been balanced.  This will not bring back a single soul that has lost their life, whether in the incidents of September 11 or their aftermath, but knowing bin Laden is dead can bring a certain level of closure to the madness that has infected out nation psyche since that day.

I saw many things across my Facebook account today regarding this event.  But, perhaps the most accurate for how I feel in this matter came from a man who was a close friend in high school who simply quoted Mark Twain.

I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.

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