Archive for August, 2010

Indian Warriors & Switchback Roads

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

As I tossed and turned in bed last night my mind wouldn’t rest. Instead of sleeping my mind brought me back to a moment in time that I couldn’t step away from no matter how hard I tried.

Sometimes our inability to open up can cause great pain to others as well as ourselves. Being stubborn isn’t a good quality to have and many of us wish we could leave it behind. Although the thought of it seems easy the actual undertaking of it is an entirely different beast.

Even if we feel a certain way we remain stubborn and don’t say anything. Every person has a different reason for doing certain things and being silent to the people who mean the most to you can sometimes lead them to believe that you don’t feel what they want you to feel.

In a moment of silence you can come across as uncaring or rude. Meanwhile, inside you’re dying. You usually know exactly what you want to say and you can feel it, but for some unknown reason your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth and the silence sends a message that seems so distant and cold.

Although you want to reach out and snatch the moment out of thin air, you let it go. You know that no matter what you say nothing will ever be good enough. You want to defend yourself, but it’s not possible because of your actions. The only person that will ever truly understand why you act as you do is you.

Sometimes we want to scream at the top of our lungs so the entire world can hear us, but nothing comes forward. The lips remain locked and you appear like an old Indian warrior with no emotion. The Indian’s job is to hunt and bring food back to the tribe. He loves his family,but he remains stone cold throughout his life. It’s hard to imagine, but he has lived this way since he put on his warrior paint when he was a young man. As with anything a few bad moments earlier in his life have created this stone cold feature.

When the tribe was attacked he became angry and vowed vengeance. As one experience led to the next he became further and further from the members closest to him. He might have been scared to let them in because he was afraid of losing them like so many others had been lost along the way. He might have wanted to keep them at a distance so he could center his mind on all of the tasks that he had to complete. He may have been stern and quiet because he didn’t want to show any weakness that might allow him to fall on his face.

So………….he remained quiet. His feelings were always just below the surface but he kept them to himself for an unknown reason. For any of us who have read Indian stories we know that it probably would have been easier for these warriors to let people into their world for comfort and security. Instead, they pushed everyone away and insisted on doing things their own way.

These habits were displayed over and over and eventually led to the destruction of a nation. It’s sad, but it still happens today.

I’m guilty of the same thing. I’ve been at a crossroads for a long time. Opening my mouth and letting the words flow would probably have been much easier, but I lurked in the background hoping that I would never have to face the reality of everything around me.

In many ways I had become too comfortable and I’ve finally paid the price. Some might see me as uncaring, but it goes so much deeper than it appears. I would like to explain myself away, but it’s not understandable to anyone but me.

What’s ok and what isn’t? My actions haven’t been ok and I can own up to that. Sometimes we need an eye opening experience to get us back on track. We have to step off the road of comfort and figure it all out while we travel across rough and rugged mountain roads that switchback through the steep hills and deep valleys. We might have to drive along roads with two wheels on the edge of a 500 ft. drop, but we have to keep moving forward.

I’ve always been afraid of heights so some of these roads are terrifying. I have to remember to stay focused and not look over the edge. Eventually we conquer our fears if we face them enough. We learn that we can overcome anything in front of us if we put our minds to it. The ones that get stuck in time are the ones that will always live in fear.

I’ve been stuck for a while, but thanks to one of my very best friends I’ve been slapped in the face with the realisation that it’s time to ride along the dirt roads on the edge of the canyon. If I freefall to the bottom at least I will have attempted to get to the end. If I sit there teetering on the edge of disaster my chances of falling are about the same.

I wish I could go back in time and react differently. Unfortunately I can’t. All I can hope for is a tiny bit of understanding. The understanding that it has been a long road. The understanding that I’ve been in hiding for a little too long now. The understanding that I’m now setting my mind in a different place in order to stay away from any situation where I stare into the darkness and say nothing. The understanding that losing out because of the failure to acknowledge great things is not acceptable.

I’m not sure how long this road is, but I’m hoping I’m at least 3/4 of the way to the end. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of guidance from a very special person. The person has been more than patient, more than giving, more than helpful and I’ve been nothing but a bump on a log. My goal is to somehow give back no matter how long it takes. I just want to say Thank You for the ear, the support, the laughs and the undying patience.

I’m on a mission. The road is taking me to the high country where the elk roam in the mountain meadows. Since I’ve been there before I’m sure everything will come full circle. I’ll be back in the near future to talk about my adventures.

My Dog Theo

Monday, August 16th, 2010

A lot of things have happened over the last few weeks. I’ve spent quite a few hours on the road and I’ve had plenty of time to think about everything under the sun. In the course of the last two weeks I’ve driven through the Adirondacks to Utica, Inlet and Long Lake on separate occasions.

It’s amazing how the mind can center itself on one thing for long periods of time while you drive. It’s even more amazing how it can dash from thought to thought to thought with reckless abandon.

I’ve spent the majority of my “quiet” time thinking about my dog Theo. He isn’t well and it saddens me. I can’t complain because he has been the best friend anyone could ever ask for. He has tagged along behind me and never asked any questions. He has went for long rides with me and enjoyed the thrill of being able to stick his head out the window to let the breeze blow through his fur. He’s 15 and has lived a great life.

He has moved a handful of times over the last decade, but he always seemed happy when he settled into his new places. Sometimes it took a few weeks, but he always tried to make the best out of some inconvenient situations.

When I checked him in at the vet’s today I decided to wait outside until it was his turn to see the doctor. I could see his ears twitching and his legs shaking.  When he goes to the doctor’s office he always gets so nervous that he makes himself sick.

As we stood under the tree in the shade my thoughts dashed back to his childhood. I can remember the first day I got him like it was yesterday. I had spent the day in Massachusetts at an archery tournament. It wasn’t one of my better performances, but I tried my best as I always did.

On the way home I was a little depressed. All of that disappeared when I walked into the house and saw a black furry little dog that resembled a fox. He brought immediate joy to my world and he continued to do so for the next 15 years. He loved and still loves me unconditionally which is the greatest gift that anyone can ever receive. More times than not the only time many of us are loved unconditionally it is by our parents.

A dog is different. Theo has went on many rides with me. I’ve taken him for walks when I needed to be alone. I needed him to listen to me because I knew that he wouldn’t judge me or give any insight. He would simply walk beside me and listen. When I rested he would rest. He would wag his stubby tail and the happiness would shine from his face. His body language made it quite clear that he was content.

He stuck by my side when I went through hell and he laid beside me in bed many nights when I cried myself to sleep. Many times I reached over just to make sure he was close to me. When I felt his tiny head it gave me a sense of security and loyalty. He gave me things that I really needed. When the days seemed to be as dark as the nights he was always there. He didn’t give me lectures on what to do or how to handle certain situations. Instead, he just laid beside me and let me love him. Although I was at the bottom of the barrel I knew that he was happy. He was happy because I was loyal to him and he knew that I would look after him no matter where we went.

It was easy for me to see that he knew how bad I was hurting inside. If he could talk I’m positive that he would have offered me words of encouragement and support. However, he did more than enough by showing me in his own way that he understood. It’s something that only dog owners can truly understand.

I’ve tried my hardest to give him a good life although I’m sure I’ve failed from time to time. He’s like a child to me. I’ve had him since a month or so after he was born.

I’ll never forget the time he got sick in the back seat of the car in the Cumberland Farms parking lot. When I came out of the store and got back in the car I could smell something gross. Not sure what it was I began looking around. After a brief examination I found that he got sick, but it only lasted a few seconds. For some reason that experience created many laughs over the years. I haven’t laughed about that day in a long time, but today I quietly stood in the shade outside of the doctor’s office and laughed to myself. It was so long ago and he was so full of life. My life was good and so was his. We were both unsure of what would happen in the future, but we knew that we would always be together. Dog is certainly man’s best friend and this case is no different than any other.

Today was different than that day in the Cumberland Farms parking lot. Theo was breathing hard and the life that he was so full of has slowly been fading.

I can see that we probably won’t have much longer together and I feel selfish because I want to have him with me forever.

After our short visit we got in the car and headed home. In the old days he could jump into my truck and run around on the seat. Today he couldn’t even jump into the car at ground level. Instead, I gently picked him up and placed him on the seat. I patted him on the head and told him that I loved him. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but I do hope that he knows what I said to him.

When we got home I let him go out in the yard by himself. He roamed around as if it might be his last time. I had a very hard time suppressing my emotions. After a few minutes he dashed across the front lawn like old times. It brought a smile to my face until he suddenly lost his balance and rolled down the hill and into the vines. As he struggled to get up I could feel the pain inside. I reached down and helped him off his back. He ran back up the hill and tumbled down the front steps. He was trying so hard to do what he did when he was younger, but the more he tried the worse it got.

Eventually he stopped and I picked him up and brought him inside. I let him lay down while I went outside to go for a walk. I let my feet guide me as I tried dealing with the events of the day.

My best friend isn’t suffering, but he’s getting older by the minute. The only thing I can hope for is that I’ve made him as happy as he’s made me. I hope that I helped him when he wasn’t feeling well just as he helped me.

I’m not sure what the coming days, weeks, months or years might bring, but I know that Theo has been the best gift that I’ve ever received. He has helped me to be a better person. He has taught me to ride through life and quietly listen rather than talk. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned from my little buddy and he has never uttered a word. Thank you Theo for showing me the way.