Archive for July, 2010

From New York City to the Adirondacks

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

A week ago tonight I was still recovering from my trip to the Bronx on Friday night. When I bought the Yankee tickets I didn’t realize how significant they would become the week of the game.  There was no way of knowing that the Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and long time public address announcer Bob Sheppard would both die a few days before the game.

Before the game started they had a tribute to both men. It was an experience that I could never truly relate to someone else. In short, you just had to be there. With just shy of 50,000 people in the stands the normal electricity before a game wasn’t there. Instead, the fans waited for the moment of silence before the game.

When everyone bowed their heads it was amazing when the only thing that could be heard was the flags with all the championship years on them flapping in the wind. Although the wind was fairly calm where I was sitting, you couldn’t miss the sound of the flapping flags above the stadium. Halfway through the few minutes of silence a train’s horn could be heard in the distance, but it wasn’t enough to take away from the message the flags were sending. It was almost as if the wind was taking something out of the stadium.  I would like to go on and on about it, but I’ll just leave it there so you can imagine it on your own.

Once the game got going the crowd was somewhat quiet, but there really wasn’t much to cheer for until the later innings. When Nick Swisher tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning it electrified the crowd and things began to get back to normal.  After a stressful top of the 9th we all knew that we might be able to witness something that would be referred to as a Yankee Classic for years to come.

Once again Nick Swisher came through to get the job done. He ripped a single to right field which scored Curtis Granderson and the stadium erupted in celebration. The crowd remained standing and cheered for a solid 5 minutes after the game. It was something that I will never forget.

We walked briskly to the car once we got out onto the street and shortly after we were headed home. With the city lights quickly disappearing behind us we chit-chatted back and forth about the events that we witnessed over the last 6 hours. We all had a different perspective even though we witnessed the same exact thing.

Although it was a long ride home the energy kept us going until we arrived in town around 3am. I was happy to crawl under my covers and close my eyes on yet another great day in my life.

Once again I was fortunate enough to have experienced a memorable event with my family and friends. It made me realize how precious the good times that you spend with the people who are close to you become as life moves forward. Some of us are more fortunate than others in that manner.

I’ve always tried to do the things that bring happiness and fulfillment to my life. I can’t remember too many times when I did it by myself. If you can’t experience great things with other people it leaves an emptiness that isn’t necessary. That’s why I’m always careful while choosing the company that I keep.

I had to save this entry last night because the computer wasn’t cooperating. I decided I would come back to it today if I had the time.

I headed to Long Lake this morning to drop some books off at Hoss’s Country Corner. They called yesterday and told me they were interested in carrying the book. This gave me incentive to start my push for the end of the summer and early fall.

On the way home I stopped at Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon in Minerva to drop off some more books. Sporty was glad to put the book behind the counter for me. He also informed me of our upcoming family get-together in late September.

It’s hard to believe that fall will be here in a few months. The days go too fast. My ride was peaceful today. I went at my own pace and enjoyed my own company. Although it would have been nice to socialize with someone along the way I was perfectly content being by myself. It gave me time to thing about everything, yet nothing at the same time.

When you’re in the north country it’s amazing how insignificant you can feel. When you’re surrounded my miles and miles of uninhabited land it gives you an appreciation for the finer things in life.

On my trip I stopped outside of Olmstedville to take a quick look at the elk farm on Alderbrook Road. I haven’t been by it in about 4 years so I didn’t know what to expect. The small pine trees that surround the farm had grown high enough to make visibility marginal at best. I could still see a few elk wandering around. One of them had a dandy of a rack. It felt good to see elk. The last elk I saw was in 2006 which was the last time I hunted them.

Although I don’t miss the drive across the country I do miss my annual elk hunting trip. I always looked forward to it every September, but for some reason every year it came too quickly. It seemed as if I was never prepared. I hope to return to the Rocky Mountains of southern Colorado some day, but for now I have many great memories that bring a smile to my face when I sit back and acknowledge them.

Today was a good trip. Me, the truck and bare pavement beneath the wheels……………..solitude. A quiet mind for a few hours without much of anything wandering around between my ears. It was something I needed and possibly something I will be doing more of in the coming weeks.

I’ve found happiness in many places, but the only place I’ve ever found true silence is in the woods. Fall is coming and I will go to the woods to sit and listen to the sounds of nature. You never know what you might hear or who might talk to you and that is why I return year after year.

A Wake-Up Call

Friday, July 9th, 2010

The heat this week has been unbearable at times, although I sucked it up and played softball every night of the week. As I sit here tonight the heat has finally subsided to more reasonable temperatures and there is a soft pitter patter of rain falling against the leaves outside.

Last week my buddy Neil called me to see if I could be a sub for one of his softball teams. Since I knew the majority of players on the team I decided I would fill in. It was a last minute thing and I was far from being mentally prepared when I arrived in the bottom of the first inning. I was introduced to the guys that I didn’t know and the game went on. Since I got there late I was inserted into the bottom of the line-up behind the catcher. Although he was a catcher in this league, he was also a pretty good pitcher on the Thursday night league. The Thursday team has been the cream of the crop in that league for many years. Last year in the first game of the season my team was lucky enough to beat them which caused panic across the league because we never should have beaten them. They went on to have a good season and that game was the one of their two losses for the year. I remember it so vividly because I hit a towering home-run to center field. It felt good and sealed our 8-3 victory. I hit the HR off the same guy I would be batting behind on that Tuesday night.

We trailed for most of the game and entered the last inning down by 5 runs. Somehow with 2 outs we rallied and came back to tie the game. We stranded the game winning run on third base. The game only lasted one more inning as the opposing team scored 2 runs and shut us down for the win.

We all chit-chatted for a little bit after the game and headed our own ways. The following Monday Neil called me to fill in once again. This time the news wasn’t so well. I would be filling in for the catcher. He had unexpectedly passed away on Sunday evening. I was stunned because it didn’t seem possible. Since we weren’t close enough for the event to have a big effect on me it still bounced around inside my skull for the remainder of the week.

I played on Tuesday night with the deceased man’s nephew and his best friends. They were all down, but they gave their best effort under the circumstances and came away with a win. The win didn’t make anything easier and had no relevance on the events that had transpired over the last few days. However, the game was played for him and in memory of him which his buddies will be able to take with them for the rest of their lives.

The rest of the week it made me reflect on how precious every single minute of our lives can be. Far too often we don’t realize that we can be gone tomorrow. We could go to bed and never wake up or something could happen on our way to or from work. Death has no favorites or schedule. It takes the sick as well as the healthy. It gets some people when they are far too young and takes others far too late. There’s no way of telling if it’s too early or too late with every individual.

The secret is to make sure you do things in life that make you happy. You can’t hide behind fears, obsessions and second guessing. If you do you could lose someone before you ever have a chance to share things with them or even talk to them about the little things in life. You could go on living in your own little world because it’s just fine that way and you don’t see any reason to do anything differently.

There’s such a wide variety of reasons why we do the things we do, but in the end very little of it makes any sense. Most of us live in fear which can be crippling if it goes on too long. Eventually we become immune to it and we don’t even realize what it has done to the quality of our lives. Actually, very few people can see it because from the outside everything appears “normal.” It’s the few people that are close to us that know the real deal and have no problem seeing the writing on the wall. More often than not these people are the ones that we keep them at a distance.

It makes absolutely no sense and (for some reason) no matter how hard we try we can’t get beyond whatever holds us back.

I’ve been lucky throughout my life and I’ve always told people that if I died tomorrow I could easily say that I’ve lived a complete and full life. This has been made possible by my parents and family and a few other people that I have shared moments with on my journey through life. I’m thankful for every one of them whether they hurt me or helped me. They have all helped me become who I am today and I’m happy and satisfied which is more than I can say for many other people.  I’m truly content from the inside out.

I will continue doing the things that I love because these things bring a peaceful balance in my life. Although I say that I feel that I have lived a complete life I also feel that there is more than I could ever do in a lifetime that awaits me. I thoroughly enjoy life and all of the high and low moments.

When the low moments sneak up on us they sometimes can be devastating, but if we take the time to step away and analyze them we sometimes see a picture that was never visible before.  The picture shows us the way and makes us realize that those low moments were essential for our growth as individuals.

There have been times when I thought I was on a sinking ship. The water poured over the sides and the ship quickly began to head to the depths of the world beneath the sea. However, I put my life-jacket on and held on for dear life once the bow of the boat plunged downward. The seas were rough and I was washed around in heavy swells as my body longed for a safe haven.

Tired, worn out, dehydrated and beaten I eventually washed ashore. I learned how to live again and started over halfway through my life. I’ve never felt so fortunate to experience what I have experienced. It’s even more gratifying to have been given a second chance to make the most of my life and what the future holds for me.

I can still hear the rain outside. It’s far better than all of the monkey chatter that has been bouncing off the inside of my head for days on end. It’s soothing and relaxing. I’ll leave the window open tonight to hear my tree-frog friends (that live across the road) sing all night. Although I have no way of telling, they sound genuinely happy so I’ll assume that I’m right in thinking so.

When people pass up the good things in life they sometimes miss the GREAT things in life. There’s a fine line, but you must decide if you’re content with the direction your life is going. If you kid yourself into thinking everything is ok it can sometimes be a very long road in front of you. As with an alcoholic sometimes it’s just easier to admit that you have to deal with something that has hid below the surface for a long time.  As a gladiator looks a tiger in the eye you must do the same………..After all we are all responsible for our own happiness and we are the only ones that have total control over where our lives go and how we spend the time.

I’m going to listen to my friends sing tonight. If I could live one night in their world I would surely join them. I believe they have a simple life that treats them well. They don’t overthink and they don’t live in fear. Instead, they dance in the rain and sing all night.