“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month”
” It is only through painful labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things”
~ Theodore Roosevelt ~
The words and wisdom of the above quotes by Teddy Roosevelt certainly resonate true with me, now more that ever. Although unfortunately despite my knowledge of this, the opposite has occurred. I have been sitting for a month, and then some. This is my trouble. My goal IS to kick myself in the pants and so I will no longer sit idle. Rather than kicking myself in the pants I tend to kick my self in the head, too often. I can be my own worst enemy. I procrastinate and put things off. I become lazy. I should get my ass off the couch more. I am out of shape both physically and creatively. I know this. This entry is my first attempt in 2023 in kicking myself in the pants.
It was just under a year ago, however, that I made the choice to get off the couch on a cold February night. It was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I met my love, Carey. A lot has changed since then. I have had to break out of my comfort zone. I have had to re-examine my priorities, my routine and my life. Just this morning I was talking about how fast time is flying by and how important it is to live each day. Really live. I can’t live sitting on my ass thinking about what I should do. You cant get time back or slow it down. No one can.
Carey and me in Colorado. October 2022
After many years of feeling alone, not necessarily lost, but alone and lonely I got up off the couch on that February night in 2022. I was not looking, it just happened. I am glad it did. I spent many years trying to figure out what I wanted and what I thought I needed and realized I had to spend time alone, by myself to figure out me. For many years my definition of who I am had been based on external things. such as my job, my relationships, my children, my things (guitars, cameras, antiques), my home, how much money I had, etc. It was only a short time ago I realized all these things can be lost, taken or given away in an instant. or in some cases over time. Whats left after we lose our external sense of who we are? Whats on the inside that makes us who we are? Who are we when we lose it all?
I know now that I am just me. Whether I am in an amazing relationship or not. Whether I have millions of dollars in the bank or am bankrupt. Whether I have a nice warm house to call home or a tent. I have strived these last few years to figure out who I am on the inside. What can never be lost or taken away? With this I have come to explore my character traits deeper. One thing that sticks out and that has always been a constant for me in times of turmoil or peace has been my creativity. My creativity has manifested itself through my deep love and appreciation of music and the arts. My creativity has been an integral part of my music, my photography, and even my work as a substance abuse/mental health counselor. I also possess a deep love for nature and beauty which presented later in life. Although it may have always been there. It wasn’t until around 2011 when I reconnected with my old childhood friend Gary and we began our yearly travels and countless hours on the road having deep conversations about life that this character trait started to enhance my life. Gary is and will always be a great friend and mentor to me. You can check out his amazing work here as well. LEADING ALONG THE EDGE
Gary and yours truly on Whiteface in the Adirondacks, NY
For many years, it seems, my gift of creativity was lost on external things. The need to stroke my frail ego, monetary gain or some sort of recognition only gave me a temporary and fleeting sense of satisfaction. I would soon be left feeing unhappy and looking to do something greater or bigger to fuel my never ending search for happiness. I was under the misguided assumption that success and happiness were defined by external measures. I went through a tortuous phase of comparing myself to others and never allowing myself to find satisfaction in my own efforts. What was missing was joy, pure and simple. I just kept raising the bar each time I found that elusive false sense happiness, instead of looking within. I had mistaken happiness for joy. I love creating. I love thinking outside the box. I have found now that I am less busy with my creative work because I have let go the need for external gain, kudos or financial achievement. I only need to impress myself and find happiness in creating for the sake of creating and enjoy this gift of mine. I am grateful.
I often ask individuals that I work with what they are thankful for. The responses I typically get back are, “I am thankful for my children, my spouse, my job, my home, my financial security, my health”, and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for these things too. One thing I have begun to realize is that any of these things can go away at any time. As we age, many of us begin to have health issues and we begin to contemplate our own mortality. Relationships can end. We can lose our loved ones. The stock market can crash. Our homes and possessions can go up in smoke. As tragic as this may sound, when we put our identify and definition of who we are in these external things, we are often left with a loss of purpose and identity when these things go away. I encourage people to think about their internal strengths, character traits, and values that remain constant in spite of losing external things. I have found more that I am thankful for my appreciation for beauty and nature, creativity, love of learning, honesty, forgiveness, kindness, humility and humor. During the times in my life when I felt lost and confused, it has been these internal strengths that have helped me grow and remain strong. I took them for granted. As I try each day to strengthen these internal character traits, I find the external things in my life that I am thankful for seem that much more meaningful and rich. I try not to take these external things for granted. I know I can lose any of them at any given moment and I hope by continuing to enrich my internal strengths I will continue to grow towards my personal path of enlightenment.
I have developed a greater appreciation of music, art, travel and learning. All these things have been a huge part of me for years but I sought them out for the wrong reasons. I feel like I hear music differently and appreciate all types of music when in the past I was pretty closed minded. I love antiquing and just traveling and visiting antique shops, flea markets and rummage sales. Even if I don’t purchase things, I enjoy getting out, meeting new people and talking about vinyl, coins or antiques. I find myself appreciating conversations and new relationships. I find myself listening more. I have always been more of an observer opting to sit and just listen and watch, rather than get overly involved or become the center of attention. I have always been quiet. Some may have mistaken my aloof quiet nature as arrogant or conceited, when in fact I am rather quite shy. I am happy to have someone in my life who enjoys similar things as I do. Carey also has a love for travel and we have made some cool plans to travel and enjoy nature together. She supports my photography. Even though I am doing it more for me and for the simple joy of capturing and sharing beauty through photography, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel and or the ability to share my experiences with others through photos. I am thankful for the opportunity to share some of my knowledge with others. Whether it be cool new locations, travel tips and tricks, camera settings, or digital art advice, I am thankful for the humility to share and teach. I was not always like this. I am thankful I choose to make changes in my life, my thinking and attitudes.
In closing, I want to say I am thankful for all the amazing people in my life, past, present and hopefully future. Many people along the way have challenged me to be the best version of me. Many people have forgiven me. Many people look up to me. Some don’t, thats cool too. Many people have taught me. I am thankful for the opportunity to show others kindness and love. I am thankful to share what I have with others. I am thankful to help others when I can. I am thankful for new relationships and new opportunities. I am hoping that in 2023 I may bump into some of you along this journey and we can share experiences. Whether it be in an antique shop or a record store talking over vinyl and music, whether it be out on travels or adventures in a national park or just in the woods hiking and enjoying a waterfall or the fall foliage, whether it is sitting at a pub enjoying a conversation over a pint, I hope all our relationships can grow stronger and we can focus on whats on the inside. I want to dedicate this blog to Carey Jeane. Thank you.