Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Post In Which I Feebly Try To Describe The Indescribable

I have this friend, her name is Steph.

I don't even know if I can begin to do justice to even a portion of what she means to me, but I'm going to give it a fair shake right here and now, because she has inspired me to.

She doesn't know it, but this morning as I was reading (a practice she has unwittingly thrust me into) I looked over at my nightstand and there, perched atop a stack of books that, before I knew her, would simply not have been there, I eyed a little blue booklet. It's a booklet she gave me once when I came to visit her. It's beautiful. You know what's beautiful about it? It is completely handmade by her. She made the paper. She bound it with silky blue ribbon. She attached a handmade ornament on the front. She then filled it with some of her favorite quotes by people like Shakespeare, Thoreau, Frost and even Dave Barry. All of them handwritten in, I might add, beautiful sweeping cursive penmanship the likes I've never seen. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's an absolute keepsake! And you know what makes it a keepsake? It's what moved me this morning when I saw it, to hold it in my hands and read it through twice and be warmed by this thought: It's a piece of her. She put thought and effort into every last detail of it. Right down to the fact that she left the last few pages empty so that I might finish it with my favorite quotes. That's just how she is. She cares well.

Have I mentioned that she's funny? Or smart? Or pretty? Or real? Or compassionate? Or witty? Or more wonderfully different than anybody that I know?? Well then, let me mention that NOW! This woman has a perspective that is...well, indescribable. One of my favorite things she has ever said about herself to me is this, "I rarely have a bad hour, much less a bad day." And I've found it to be absolutely true. This one thing about her has, more than almost any other thing, been my saving grace. It's not that I never have a bad hour or a bad day anymore, but somehow when I'm getting down, I think of her and I can't help but smile (if not laugh) with delight, and it pulls me out of almost certain doldrums. She is the smile of God!...with attitude. It's not a benign, or slapped-on smile either. It is as real as her soul because that's where it comes from. There's nothing fake about it. Even without knowing it at times, she has this way of finding something good about a person and accentuating it. She would probably deny that, but that's because she has a tendency not to see herself the way I do. I guess that's only fair because I have the same tendency when it comes to how she sees me. She builds me up when life tries to tear me down. Did I mention that she's amazing?

I would be remiss if I didn't say that she loves her God with all her heart and coming in at a close second are her two spectacular girls. There's nothing more precious than the way she calls them 'baby'. Nothing.(I love them both and they are darlings.) I've been lucky enough to witness both of her first loves first hand. One of my favorite pictures of her is planted at that spot in my heart where I hide things that I treasure. Suffice it to say that I've seen parts of her soul...And I am in awe. I cherish and treasure (CAT;) her more than mere words can describe.

However, there is one thing that I simply hate and it is this: She lives so damn far away!! I'm a communicative kind of a guy (just ask her how many ridiculous text messages she gets every stinkin' day!!) and there's something that emails and texts and even phone calls can't deliver. I think a good friendship deserves that one thing: presence. I hope to experience it again soon.

Very soon.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Just...A Little

My youngest son is 12 years old. In many ways he's a lot like most 12 year old boys. He loves baseball (Gee, I bet you didn't see that one coming!), he's the catcher because "I'm in on every single play." He loves soccer, he gets queasy at the thought of girls, and he could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In many ways he very, very different from most 12 year old boys. He's a voracious reader. I'm talkin' serious here. I got him the full set of The Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas (767 pages), he had it read in 3 days. And if that's not crazy enough, he LOVES to read history books. I mean history text books. He knows more about what's going on in the world than almost anyone I know. Last year his sister headed of to college at Washington State and one night late in the fall we got a phone call from her. She asked to speak to her brother (who was 11 at the time) to ask him the name of a particular General in a battle in the Civil War. His quote to her was: "You need to pay better attention! Everybody knows it was General such and such !" He had read her entire senior History text book the year prior-just for fun-he says.

He also loves politics. Sometimes when I have to leave him home while I run quickly to the store I'll let him watch TV to wile away the time. Invariably, when I get home I can see him flipping back and forth between CNN and Fox News. He loves the stuff! He can tell you all 9 of the Justices on the Supreme Court and who they were appointed by. He can tell you who voted which way on many major trials and who was the swing vote and on and on. Justice is in his soul. He and I argue vehemently on many political issues. I sometimes play the devil's advocate just to see if he's thought out his position. He's a bright boy. While other boys are playing X-Box or Gamecube, he's thinking about whether the U.N. is a viable entity. Seriously.

Not long ago he amazed even me when were driving down the road. He was looking out the window, seemingly counting clouds rush by, when he astonished me with this: "Dad, did you know that the fifth amendment basically says you can remain silent as to not incriminate yourself, and the fifth commandment basically says you should always tell the truth. Right? Well don't you think it would be better if more people, instead of invoking the fifth amendment (yes, this is how he speaks), knew they had to invoke the fifth commandment? (long silence)...Ironic, don't you think?"

He aspires to be a judge someday. Pretty cool don't you think?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Full Circle

I'm lucky enough to have a job where I get to ride around, both doors open, wind in my hair, gawking and imagining and generally being curious about many things. I get to be a moving part in a mostly fixed world. Houses, roads, ocean, sky all fixed in their positions and me, wandering through, fixing my gaze on the other movements.

Today I saw a little boy in a red baseball cap, riding his bike with his baseball glove slid onto his handlebars. I couldn't help but wonder where he was headed. What would happen when he got there? How would he remember today? I imagined the rest of his day and thought, Ahh, now that's the life!

Then I saw two men, probably in their late 50's early 60's, driving in a beat-up old Chevy truck. Fishing poles jutting out over the edge. Rubber boots and tackle boxes lined up neatly under the cab window. I found myself wanting to know where their fishing hole would be today. What a great day to go fishing! I pictured a few spots I would choose if I were them. I wondered if the fishing was really the point today. I thought to myself, Ahh, now that's the life!

Later I saw a man and his son in an enclosed tractor out in a field, pulling a 5 bottom rollover plow. The dad was standing next to his son, who was driving. It seemed he was pointing at gauges and controls and explaining to his boy what each gauge indicated and what the levers were for. A father and a son. A teacher and a pupil. What a sweet relationship that might be, I thought. And once again my loudest thought cried out, Ahh, now that's the life!

Still later, I saw man and a woman that must have been 80 years old, if a day. They were shuffling slowly down a quiet street. Hand in hand. Stopping more than starting. Every flower seemed to spark a new conversation. I couldn't help but stop and take it all in. I was curious about their pace. Were they going slow because they wanted to or because they had to, I wondered. Does pace even matter when you're holding hands? Wouldn't it be nice not to care, I asked myself. And then I answered, Ahh, now that's the life!

and suddenly I could feel a pair of eyes behind me. It was a little boy on a bike, it could've been me. He was staring at me with his eyes glazed over and mouth agape in wonder as if to say, 'I wonder what his day is like. Driving around with his doors wide open, wind in his hair and generally getting to be curious about life.' I thought to myself, Ahh, now THIS is the life!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Are You Ready...

...Okay. Here goes. For the past three mornings I've come here to try to articulate things that are going on inside, but I just couldn't get them from down here (pointing at chest), to up here (pointing to space between ears).

Sadness is a part of life. It just is. Just like learning to hate brussel sprouts as a kid, is. Happiness is also a part of life. I 'm sure of it. In the same way as having to listen to your mom say, "They're good for you! Now eat them!", is.


My previous post (since deleted) essentially said--I'm sad. It was a simple statement of fact. I could have just as easily said that I hate brussel sprouts, but then all three of you would have finally been convinced of that suspicion you've had all along--this guy has totally lost it! But really I haven't. Let me explain it.

The first part of my sad state has to do with my daughter heading back to school. It seems like just a few weeks ago that she came home for the summer. I had so looked forward to summer so we could reconnect and spend some time together--just to be. Well, she got a good job that kept her quite busy and, of course, she has a pile of friends that filled in the waking hours between. Suffice it to say we didn't spend much time together at all, and the times we did get were either hurried or one of us seemed preoccupied, and now she's all the way across the state at school.

Secondly, yet more prominently, there was Sam. Sam is a friend of mine that is dying of cancer. He has been a friend of mine for the past four years. Another mutual friend of ours, Mark, had a great idea. An idea spurred by a comment from his mom at a funeral last year. She slid up next to Mark and whispered, "Isn't it funny how many people will take a day off to go to someone's funeral but how few of the same people would take a half hour to visit when the man was still alive?" It struck a chord with Mark. He decided not to let our friend Sam go without knowing who he impacted and how. He threw a party for Sam and even put an ad in the local paper telling any and all who cared that Sam was not doing well and could stand a little encouragement. Well, the party was a huge success. There were cakes that said, 'We Love You Sam", there were balloons, there were cards to sign and all tolled there were probably around 200 people there. Each one armed with a hug or a handshake or a kiss. While Sam's body is becoming frail and his outward strength diminished, his spirit is bouyed and his eyes shone like the sun.

So, in essence, I was sad that I was sad. There is SO much to be glad about. I have a beautiful-beyond-belief daughter, and I have friends that let me be significant to them and they actually kind of like me.

Now I'm happy.