I stood and walked toward my office door. I lingered for a second before gently pressing it closed. I heard the gratifying click signifying it would not open under its own power. I returned to my desk, removed my glasses, placed my head into my hands and vigorously rubbed my forehead. The left side of my head humming with pain. Rubbing my forehead briefly allowed the pain to go away knowing it would not return until I left the office. That time would come but not soon enough.

I sit at my desk and my back remains fixed toward the large windows which adorn my office. I am happy to have windows but on this day, not being able to see the sunshine might have been a better option.

The phone rings and I am made aware my next patient awaits. I stand and walk toward the window and see my Vespa through the window. For a split second I am lost in thought; daydreaming about the ride home which will be the most relaxing part of my day. Before I leave to usher my patient to my office, I call one of our nurses and ask for another “cocktail”, the medication which I know will help this throbbing headache go away and will allow me to hobble through the rest of the day.
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After my patient leaves, I begin to think about this session. I realized I have not consistently done the things which I have asked him to do in his recovery. I open my journal to reveal I have not written in it since June 20th. I felt like I had nothing to say; obviously, that wasn’t the case. My meditation cushion has been obscured from view, lying under a pile of opened but unread magazine and newspaper articles. I reached for one of my fountain pens only to find out the ink has dried from lack of use. The pen needs to be cleaned before it can be re-inked. I sigh and walk to the bathroom to clean the pen. As I am flushing out the old, dried ink; I become mindful of my need to flush out these same thoughts which are keeping me tied down. I have allowed myself to dry up and become unusable.

I re-inked the pen, my favorite; a Visconti Homo Sapiens with a nib which writes unbelievably smoothly. I touched the nib to the absorbent paper of my journal and watch as the ink and the words the ink has become, fill the page. Thoughts and feelings are pouring out of me like a water faucet which has been turned on high. I stop momentarily, in disbelief as I previously thought there was nothing there to come out. The clog has been removed. Thoughts and feelings begin to flow again, unimpeded.

Namaste

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Emotionally Drained

I returned home yesterday thankful my 6 PM appointment had canceled and sad that my 7:30 had not.

I hate feeling like this, not sad, not depressed as “everyone” says these days; just emotionally tired, exhausted.

I take care of myself and am happy with my self-care. I found my stride so to speak as I haven’t missed a day of journaling since the start of the year. There are days here and there where I write simply to write, simply to put words on a page. More often than not, the words begin to flow with more ferocity and a paragraph turns into a page or more.

My journal is more than a collection of thoughts. It is a list of books I want to read, passages from literature or quotes which I simply want to remember. It is also a collection of random jottings or musings. The nib of a fine fountain pen gliding across a page provides the tactile stimulation which a keyboard does not.

Wilhelm Von Lenz wrote in 1855, “When Beethoven was enjoying a beer, he might suddenly pull out his notebook and write something in it. ‘Something just occurred to me,’ he would say, sticking it back in his pocket. The ideas that he tossed off separately, with only a few lines and points and without bar lines, are hieroglyphics than no one can decipher. Thus in these tiny notebooks he concealed a treasure of ideas.”

Hemingway had the following to say about writing in his journal, “I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.”

The weather has started to warm to a level which is becoming increasingly comfortable. I needed lightweight gloves this morning on my walk/run because the temperature hovered just a few degrees above freezing. This was my first walk/run since my surgery on April 6th. It’s been 291 days since my last full run what was a comfortable 7-miler. Over that time I have lost pretty much all of the fitness I had worked so hard to build. Getting older doesn’t make the return of that level of fitness easier to return. I successfully navigated through three running segments and the fourth caused some discomfort. Time will tell if I can return to the level of running with which I had been comfortable.

Last week I had a chance to see a new doctor. He’s an ENT or Ear, Nose & Throat specialist. Within the last month I have noticed ringing in my ears. Tinnitus is a logical explanation but since I don’t have my medical degree, I’ll leave diagnosing up to the doctor.  I can now see why people with such a condition  can become more easily frustrated. One day the symptoms are there the next they’re not. The next day they’re there but at such a profound level it makes focusing on anything a chore.

I met with the doctor and was gratefully informed that my hearing is excellent. Unfortunately my wife was made aware of the quality of my hearing. This has brought to a relatively abrupt end my successful ability to tune out the chaos.

Anyway, the doctor is trying a couple of things to make the somewhat intrusive ringing easier to manage. This involves the prescription of a medication and testing which is scheduled mid-June.

The other night, after a particularly difficult day at the office, I returned home unlocked the bike and went for a ride. I had no particular destination in mind other than out of my head. I have always found running and cycling to have a restorative quality. As the years have progressed, cycling has taken a backseat to running because quite frankly I don’t feel safe going out for a ride. As running has been sidelined for an undetermined period of time, cycling it is. This is another time for me to reflect, plan and become more focused. It would be great if employers would provide an opportunity to shower because I would find myself commuting to work.

Next week I leave for vacation. I look forward to a week spent on the beach, cigar and bourbon in hand. My kindle and journal will also make frequent appearances.

A Beautiful Day

I greet you with hands clasped together in gratitude. Gratitude for this beautiful day and this beautiful life.

This past Sunday, I was awarded with two exceptional items in my day. The first, my grandson’s presence at our home for the entire day. As sick as he was feeling and as unenergetic as he was, it remains a pleasure to have him grace our home with his presence. The other was the beautiful weather which accompanied Chase.

My Sunday morning went as smooth as it normally does. I take a few minutes to ask the question,”What good can I do this day?” This question is a daily question. It is a challenge to myself to be a better person every minute of every day. I am not perfect and I catch myself falling back into old ways; old behaviors. Difficulties only arise when I do not catch myself lingering in the past and do not acknowledge the work which remains. As I grow older, I am acutely aware my time on this plant is set. Like everyone else, I am unaware of my expiration date. There is no fear for me in death, there is however fear that I will not accomplish everything which I have set out to accomplish.

I digress as I desire to keep this post brief and to remain on point.

I rocked Chase to sleep, that beautiful feeling of contentment in my arms. I am having difficulty deciding if I want to continue to sit, holding him or put him down. I decide on the latter and decide to retreat outdoors. Before I do so, I gathered my journal, my newest addition to the fountain pen family which has been freshly inked, my journal, a favorite cigar, my lighter and a two fingers of one of my favorite whiskeys.

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I am immediately caught by the stunning scene as I exit my home. The sun, still high in the sky, its rays piercing through the still covered canopy of the maple tree in my backyard.

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The sweet smell of fall immediately strikes my nose; leaves which have recently fallen from their perch, the decay of the pumpkins being chewed upon by the neighborhood squirrels and the dew remaining on the grass. Yesterday, Stephen and I had raked all of the leaves and the grass was cut. Today, it was as if the grass was never touched; carpeted by a new covering of colorful leaves. A smile crosses my face and I retreat from the porch to my favorite Adirondack chair. I softly brush the leaves from the seat and place myself in the comfort of this chair. I clipped my cigar and touched the flame to the end and begin to puff. The smell of this exquisite smoke curls upward and eventually dissolves into nothingness. It is at this moment which I am reminded again of the briefness of life.

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I reach for my pen, a Visconti Homosapien freshly inked with a beautiful blue ink. The ink, I notice is the same blue as that of the sky.

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I open to the last page written and this beautiful nib glides effortlessly across the page, my thoughts flowing with the same ease. The pen, recapped, returns to it’s leather home and now I sit. I sit and simply take in the beauty that is this day.

Namaste

Sauntering

Today I went “sauntering.” Henry David does a much better job of explaining the definition of this fine word than I so I will allow him the effort. “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of walking, that is, of taking walks – who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” A Saunterer, A Holdy Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are in deed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which therefore, in the good sense, will mean having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.” – Henry David Thoreau

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As I watched the Sunday morning news, I found myself glancing toward the window several times to assess the weather. Each assessment rendered the same result; a cloudy, overcast sky. The news, now concluded offered me brief respite from the reality of the goings on in the world. I put down the Sunday Times and retrieved my camera from it’s hiding place in my camera bag in the basement. My camera has not seen the light of day in several months due in part to the excellent camera on my phone also an opportunity to work with Groupon left me feeling emotionally exhausted and with no desire to pick up the camera, let alone to make photographs.

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I inserted a memory card, cleared the card of any photographs left over from a previous shoot and retrieved my hat, mittens and a cigar. I entered my car, clipped the end of the cigar and toasted the end before lighting the cigar and inhaling the fragrance of this fine smoke.

 I made the brief drive to the location where I wanted to shoot, parked my car and grabbed my gear. After turning on the camera, I set it to monochrome desiring to make every photograph in black and white. The overcast skies lent themselves to the simple beauty of monochrome as it allows the highlights and tones to stand out and speaks volumes regarding the mood of the lighting. It felt like a black and white day.

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Because of the time of year, I had the entire area to myself save for the one or two people also out sauntering. I made my way around Gateway Park to an area adorned by several benches. I brushed the water left over from a cold night from the surface of the bench, sat my camera bag down and pulled my journal from its hiding place in the back pocket of my camera bag. From the front pocket I retrieved one of my favorite fountain pens inked with the deepest of black inks to match the black and white mood in which I find myself.

I wrote with abandon, the thoughts pouring from my brain faster than they could be captured by the nib of the fountain pen. as I stopped allowing the ink on the page to dry, I lined my head back and allowed the emerging sun to shower me in its warmth.

Today was a good day.

Patience

I realized this morning I have quite a bit to learn about patience.

I rose and dressed in an uneasy anticipation of a bike ride. I stood for what seemed like several minutes and began to undress. I thought about the beautiful weather awaiting me. I also contemplated the thoughts coursing through my head. When I do not empty my head, my anxiety rises steadily. Instead of a ride I decided to walk Jack.

We retrieved his leash and exited the house. He enjoys as do I a leisurely walk around the house unleashed. He travels one way while I travel the other. We meet on the porch in front of the house. Neither of us had any desire to move. I rose briefly and returned to the house retrieving my journal and fountain pen. I returned to “my spot” and listened intently as the birds sang their joyous song welcoming the sunrise which was peeking over my right shoulder. I glanced a few hundred yards to the intersection and watched as the stop light controlled the lives of those travelling to and from their destination. Red. Green. Red. Green. Red. Green. Most travelers moving about mindlessly, paying little if any attention to what I am present for.

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Jack rose and moved toward me pushing his nose between my left arm and torso. It was this moment which resonated so deeply with me. I was thankful I had not ridden today. Sure I could have but I would have missed out on this gift because of the lack of time. Despite my spiritual beliefs and meditation practice I remain a relatively impatient individual.

I realized as much as I enjoy my bike, some of the luster has gone. I feel rushed, constantly checking my watch to assess pace and miles ridden. It is difficult to leave this watch at home. Everything is a competition. This is what I miss about my running; the ability to run where I cannot bike. The ability to stop when I want to sit, to write, to contemplate.

My brain understands it’s okay not to put in a certain number of miles at a certain speed; my mind on the other hand argues this point. Anxiety rises and panic sets in. It’s okay if I sit and write. It’s okay if I sit and think. It’s okay.

When did we become so impatient? I recall the relaxed atmosphere of my youth. Dad returned from work. We ate dinner as a family uninterrupted by the false priorities we have created. There are no text messages, no phone calls, no television. Cable television, cell phones and twenty-four hour news stations had yet to be created.

Breathe * Slow down * Breathe

Namaste

April Fools…a little late.

April Fools Day! The sun shines and the clouds laying gently across a palate of blue remind me of the days when I lay in a field during summer staring up at the sky and guessing the shapes which they made.

 
Through the walls of the house I hear the steady roar of the wind. Through the window of my room I can see the bud encrusted branches being blown about by the same wind. They are at the whim of the wind; soon to grow into the leaves which will provide the beauty and shade of these magnificent trees.
 
The sunlight this morning is deceiving as the temperature hovers just a degree or two above freezing. Snow showers are in the forecast for this day and for much of the week making the decision not to ride the scooter to work an easy one.
 
I sit and listen to the quiet, interrupted only by the rhythmic ticking of a nearby clock as it marks each passing second.
 
Briefly I put down my fountain pen and watch in wonder as Jack’s lungs fill with air and then expel that same breath only to repeat the cycle. His eyes remain closed and he remains fast asleep. I sit with wonder and guess as to the thoughts which gently go through his head.
 
He appears content with what he has: a full stomach, a dish of fresh, cold water, fresh food, a soft bed and a human who scratches him behind the ears until he makes that sound that signals contentment. Briefly his eyes open. He looks in my direction as if he knows he is crossing my thoughts.
 
Perhaps we have something to learn from our animal friends about the simplicity of life.
 
Namaste

Sunday Sun

The weather today was spectacular after getting off to a 2-degree start. The sun shone brightly this morning. The sky was a magnificent blue. As the sun rose it reflected across the new snow and sparkled as it reflected off the frost which coated every available surface. 

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I arrived at Goat Island to enjoy the sunshine. The photo shoot scheduled for the same time had been cancelled due to illness. I arrived prepared with snacks for the squirrels but instead of making an appearance they appeared to make themselves scarce. 

I find places such as this interesting. There is an invisible switch which is tripped as I get closer to my destination. Once I turned onto the island, I reached for and turned off the car’s radio.

As I pulled into a parking space I opened a window. I checked the temperature. It had grown 30-degrees warmer than this morning. I leaned my head against the headrest and listened to the birds singling in the nearby trees. I reached for my journal and uncapped my favorite fountain pen. The thoughts flowed as easily as the ink from the finely tuned nib. 

My writing was interrupted by the continuous singing of the birds, chickadees I think. I stopped writing and watched as the birds gently landed on the outstretched palm of a man. He feeds them, sunflower seeds no doubt. As they land and accept the offering they sing the praises of the stranger, thanking him for the snack.

Off in the distance the sound of the Niagara River, it’s peaceful flow growing more argumentative as it passes over the boulders in the upper rapids, nearing the brink of the falls where it will make its final steep descent on its journey toward Lake Ontario.

Namaste