Anonymity & being Anonymous

I woke this morning with a heart full of gratitude for so many things. Today I feel gratitude for having the time at my job to take off and enjoy this beautiful summer weather we have been experiencing.

I woke this morning ready to start my day.

I was aware yesterday the NYS Office of Mental Health would be in the office today to review our program. Been there and done that. It doesn’t mean what it did in my career 20-years ago. It’s important, don’t get me wrong but I’m not in that top position anymore and I have to say, I enjoy not being in that position.

They came they saw and they reviewed. Today they’re in the office during which I spend the majority of my time and I’m off today. My boss is more than capable of managing what needs to be done, so the little bit of guilt which I have has been pushed to the side.

I was watching the Tour de France last night and I received a call from my dad asking if I was off Friday. I lied and said I wasn’t and he asked, “I thought you said you were off the next three Fridays?” I knew what was coming and I was right. I’ll be heading there sometime Saturday to “fix the computer.” Unfortunately, my dad is 79 and he often touches things he should never touch. I asked him what was wrong with his computer and he said: “there was a paper jam and when I tried to fix it a spring popped out.” Now we all know there aren’t any springs in a computer. Did I forget to mention my dad’s memory is beginning to fade and I am watching him become more and more confused. It’s sad. There are three kids and I am the only one who is ever called on for assistance. It’s not that I mind but there’s that anonymous thing again.

I thought about being anonymous. What a joy I think that would be. Not that guy in the mask anonymous but anonymous as in no one knows I’m there. No one knows I’m around. No one knows I exist. I want to do the job I enjoy and fade away into the quiet solitude of the night. My friend Henry Thoreau had quite a bit to say about solitude as did his counterparts John Muir and Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of the things I really enjoy about going on vacation is the fact that for all intents and purposes I am anonymous; at least for a short while. U2 wrote the song “Where the streets have no name.”

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I’m done. I’m going to cut the grass with my headphone listening to some Pearl Jam and enjoying the solitude of my relative anonymity. I’m hoping you enjoy your day.

Namaste

 

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A Sunday hike

I have not written, other than in my journal in some time. There are small pangs of guilt when I do not write as I think, “Will readers of my blog be upset?” I try not to focus on these thoughts and write when the mood strikes me. I am much more interested in writing something which appeals to the senses instead of filling white space on a page.

 
I woke Sunday and smiled as the forecast for the day promised sun throughout. Anyone who lives in the Northeast understands the importance of seeing the sun. At least for me, the sun, or more importantly seeing the brilliant rays of the sun is integral to my mood. While sunlight increases our body’s ability to make Vitamin D, it is also important to ease the bouts of sadness and depression which can also accompany this time of year.
 
Our economy continues to struggle. Daylight is scarce as sunset is at 4:45 PM. I drive to my office in the dark and return home in the dark. My thoughts went in the direction of running trails at a local park but this desire rapidly waned as I thought about going for a hike with my son. I went to his room and he smiled as he agreed to rise and walk with me. 
 
Both of us are Introverts. Anyone riding in a car with us or spending much time with us might wonder about the quality of our relationship. We spend little time speaking to each other but at the same time understand completely our feelings for each other. To understand this, one must be an Introvert. We do not require any special circumstances to fill the silent void which sits comfortably between us. My son updated me on his progress at college. As he did so i smiled inside listening to his desire to follow through with his goals; the happiness in his voice testament to his internal happiness.
 
We arrived at our destination. I donned a small pack carrying my journal and a fountain pen and a bottle of water. I attached my GoPro camera to a pole and off we went. The conversation on our walk was limited as it was on our drive to the trailhead. We both understand and agree we are acceptant of this quiet. It is the solitude for which I look forward to experiencing and I believe this is true for Stephen. We did not discuss this as there was no need to do so; our silence filled with understanding of each other as well as our need for solitude.
 
Thoreau said, “An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” These words spoken by Thoreau when he wrote his journal are words which resonate with me. I rise at 4:30 AM most days of the week, don my running clothing and step out the door to begin my day. Questions from those around me pummel me at various times throughout the day. Previously I would become angry with these questions, dismissing them as “stupid” and “ridiculous”. As I grow older I have come to accept the differing opinions of others even when they seem to me to be far fetched. It is questions such as “Isn’t it cold outside?” Of course it is, it’s the middle of winter. “Why do you get up so early in the morning?” This is the time of day as Thoreau has mentioned earlier which sets the tone for my day. It helps me maintain a healthy balance when navigating through the chaos which others seem to thrive upon. This pace, the one apparently so loved by others is not loved by me. I will not say it is “hated” but that term remains in my head.
 
We drove home, again in almost complete silence. The trees passing by in a blur. A smile on my face indicating the happiness which has been gained; a happiness which will accompany me throughout the day and into the night.
 
Find those things, those activities which bring you happiness. Resist the urge to jump into the stream of life and travel along with all of the other souls on a path which causes more stress and ill-health, a path which brings unhappiness to most of us. Once you have identified those activities, do them. Do them as frequently as possible. make a change in your life that is based on happiness and enjoying your life. 
 
Happiness comes from within. It does not come from material possessions or things. Identify the people and the activities which bring this happiness to you. Cherish it and do not allow its importance to be tarnished by those around you. Assess the gifts in your life; your family, your children, your health, your happiness. Do not give these gifts, this happiness away to those who do not understand it. Cherish it. Smile. Take care of yourself and the rest will follow.
 
Namaste
 

Walking and Thinking

Walking and Thinking

Early afternoon and the blue sky, covered now and then with pillow like clouds being pushed by a breeze which reminded us that winter was recently left behind. As I walked the stone road along the edge of the lake with my dog, the temperatures in the high thirties with a windchill pushing it down into the low thirties causes me to grit my teeth and be thankful I carried gloves with me.

I walked the stone road until I reached the bend in the lake. I sat on the edge of a smooth granite slab, my legs dangling over the edge, feet almost touching the water. Jack, my dog walked to the edge and sat beside me. The slab warmed by the sun. I watched as fish rose from time to time and the breeze blowing gently across the water’s surface causing small ripples.

This time of year, on this side of the lake few others venture allowing me the solitude which I sought. I became restless after a few minutes, thoughts racing around in my head. I unzipped my backpack and retrieved my journal and fountain pen. I began to write about the activities of the week which had just ended. The double bombing Monday morning at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the explosion at the factory outside Waco, Texas and the activities on Friday which saw one of the alleged bombers killed and the other taken into custody.

As a social worker and also as one who cherishes his sanity and the solitude which he creates around him; I found myself not paying much attention directly to those actions, but they remained in my thoughts. Why would someone do such a thing? This is a particular thought which I allow to come and go, never allowing it to spend much time in the forefront of my thoughts because I know anxiety and poor sleep will not be far behind.

It is times such as these that I turn to my long deceased friends Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Borroughs and Ralph Waldo Emerson to help me make sense of such things. They are of little direct help other than to remind me that there are some things in life for which logical sense will never be made. Instead I turn my tangled web of thoughts to those things which I can understand; nature. The solitude and solace provided by nature begins the process of untangling those thoughts. Here things are much simpler, as they should be. Henry thought a walk spoiled when he couldn’t out-pace the town and its news and when his mid was not successful shedding that news and those thoughts.

I began to think of my walk as spoiled so I retreat further into the solace and solitude brought to me by my walk in nature. I focused my breath and with shaky hand wrote and wrote; thoughts streaming forth as if from a faucet left on. Here amidst the pine trees and the rippling water I can breathe again. My breath comes easier, more rhythmic. Here my tangle of thoughts continues to unwind.

After a short time my thinking becomes increasingly clear. I can hear the chirping of nearby birds and the ripple of the water as the breeze, now more noticeable continues to disturb the once placid surface of the pond.

The walk has done its job. My thoughts, slowed to a snail’s pace are now clear. I acknowledge there is no sense to be made of this past weeks events and it is better to leave them where they began. I cap my fountain pen, close my journal and cinch the cord tight around the smooth leather binding. I sit for a few more minutes and decide it is time to go. Jack and I make the return walk to our car; my heart and head lighter from this walk.

It is humbling to know these thoughts will return again. It is comforting to know I have the woods in which to walk to help make sense of what I can to lighten my load.

Namaste

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