These Don’t Co-exist

First Posted 04-Jun-2015

A bit of housekeeping before I continue with the post. The featured image in this post is Edward Munch’s, “The Scream“. Munch has been dead more than 70 years so his painting is in the public domain. My copy of his work comes from Wikipedia.

Back a few posts ago I wrote about Darlene. I have a friend who is skeptical that prayer can be an antidote to anxiety. It can. Some of us are overly attached to our anxiety so it takes a lot of prayer to make the change. But . . . I did it and if I can, others can as well. His way of dealing with whatever is in front of him at that moment is to count blessings. There are too many blog posts that are merely lists. I avoid writing lists because I value original prose and narrative content. There also won’t be a homily on why we should count our blessings. I’ve got nothing original to offer there.

I had an idea in writing the title for this. It is that we can’t both be in control of our lives and surrendered to Christ. We can’t be disciples of Christ and overly attached to our anxieties. Spoken by a guy who is anxious about almost everything almost all the time. So, I am the pot calling the kettle black. Worse because I’m getting all preachy about it. I am surrendered to Christ. I’m also daily working to trust Him so the anxiety thing goes away. I’m better but I am not free of it. Still working on it.

Today, in the camera car with my coworker, I learn this phrase, “At least I have . . .” To at least have whatever is not enough for this coworker. He won’t settle for just getting by. It’s not enough to say, “at least I have a job, at least I have a home, at least I’m still married, at least I still have my kids, at least . . .” he wants more.

I found it odd because my Dad’s plan is to die broke. At last count, he still has most of the pension buyout from 30 years ago. Through investment he has managed to earn enough to take care of himself and my Mom and still keep the principal amount. Pretty good.

I am a survivor. That’s what’s ended up after 36 years. I fall apart and I get it together. I come through ok. It’s never been in the plan to settle for “at least I have.” Also, it’s never seemed possible to me that I could have a principle amount to invest and live off the capital gains. What I sought, what I value, is the chance to be creative, to write, and through writing, both enlighten and entertain. The thing I’ll leave behind is my work. That’ll be my legacy, my more than “at least I have . . .” I’ll probably die broke like my Dad. I guess I get to do both.

I can relate to my coworker’s annoyance at folk who fall to a low common denominator and decide that it is where they’ll stay. I am restless. I wasn’t happy to just go to college, graduate into a career, meet & marry someone from college, then tick off the next few decades working, raising kids, to arrive at retirement ?successful? It’s the narrative I keep coming back to as the thing I didn’t want. It is what I still carry around as a “normal” legacy. I wanted more. I guess I got more. Today, typing this post while in a hotel in Gorham, NH, it’s kind of good. Life is full of supposed opposites. Die broke or leave an estate. Life is full of things that seem to be too big for one town. And guys like me who subvert the dominant paradigm and show that it isn’t either die broke or leave an estate. My son will never get rich off this blog. But it’ll be here, it’ll be something of me he can have forever. It’s an estate I can be proud of. So I don’t leave this post with no blessings counted, here are a few in no particular order:

  • This job, which pays more than I’ve made in 20 years, has me traveling to remote corners of the country, and let’s me do something I’m good at–drive.
  • God, who puts up with me and answers my prayers in ways I don’t agree with all the time but end up being pretty good.
  • My house. I’m still high on the fact that I have a house.
  • My car. Ok, it’s a crappy old cop car that needs a ton of expensive work. Kinda like me. Maybe that’s why I like it.
  • My friends, without whom a lot of what I’m doing would be much harder.