Friday, February 19, 2010

New home of Where I Write


Hello everyone! Sorry, didn't mean to yell but I'm excited. I'm not going to be updating this site anymore. Now you can find me at my own dot com.

Look for my writing and other stuff here:

http://www.danfugate.com

Monday, February 1, 2010

January 30, 2010


            There it is.  I can see it.  On the other side of the windshield there is highway ahead of me.  Through three small mirrors I can make out what I’ve passed and what’s coming up behind me.  Less than two weeks away from my thirty-fourth birthday, my second without my father, and I’m returning from a trip to be with my mother who has just had heart surgery.  Did I come close to losing her?  I can’t be sure but she seems well now. She is at home.
            It was late.  We had waited until my son’s bedtime to leave so that he would sleep the whole way home.  My wife napped on and off while I listened to my favorite rock and roll channeled directly to the earbuds tucked tightly in my sound holes.  The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Stone Temple Pilots and Warren Haynes drove my mind as I drove the car toward home.  The reflection in one of the three mirrors showed glimpses of my son’s face lit by the passing lights.    As I stared at the road ahead I thought about a lot of things: my mother, my wife and son, my father, my friends and my family. 
             I continued to follow the lines leading south as if on autopilot.  All the while thinking of my life and things I could see in the other two mirrors fleeting and slowly approaching.  Headlights, from behind me in the distance, crept up and were beginning to get close.  Objects in mirror are closer than they appear and can be a distraction; drawing focus from what is ahead, they suffocate my thoughts like the heart disease and cancer that run in my family.
            Very few men in my family make it out of their sixties.  My father died at 65 and his parents passed when they were even younger.  I try to live a fairly healthy life, fairly, but it seems that what is good for the soul is very seldom good for the heart.  This possible expiration time frame weighs heavily on my mind.  There is so much that I want and need to do before then.  Fear is a power motivator.  The fear of failure is one of the things that pushes me every day.  I’m afraid of what will happen if I can’t provide for my family.  I’m afraid of what will happen if I am a disappointment to the people I love.  I’m afraid that I don’t know where the road is taking me.
 It doesn’t matter what road I’m on or how many times I’ve traveled it.  Where I am right now is specific to me and no one else.  This is true for everyone.  My thoughts as I read road signs and cautions are different than even those of the people who are with me.  We share experiences but the memories of those things are not the same.  Many elements are identical but the differences in perception and how we deal with the minutia show our truths.  The miles traveled can’t predict the miles ahead.
            Lines on the road and time ticked away as I drove toward Pensacola.  I’m doing what I can to get to a goal that I don’t understand.  The cliché says that the means justify the end but what happens when the end is a question mark?  I’m working on a master’s degree, in part, to help combat my fears.  I will use it as a tool, part of a set, to help me get to where I should go.  That last fear, not knowing where the road is taking me, will be my shoes. 
            Finally, as one day turned into the next, we pulled into the driveway.  My head full of caffeine, stomach full of doubt and wired on rock and roll I settled in and began to write.  I think that this is what will take me to where I am supposed to be.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Comfortable Truth


Looking into his eyes I could tell that something was gnawing at him from the inside.  This wasn’t usually the case.  Today it was obvious that he had suffered.  His calm demeanor, though merely a façade, was an effective tool capable of hiding a deeply buried pain.  At this particular moment, however, the truth was visible.  The façade had failed.  I turned from the mirror and contemplated returning to bed. 
Everything that makes a person who they are is impacted by illness and suffering.  Variables that are out of our control make changes to our physical, emotional and mental health without concern for whether they are impacting us positively or negatively.  A broken bone produces a tangible physical pain that others can understand.  It is a temporary pain that can’t be hidden but will heal leaving little physical evidence of its existence.  Emotional wounds, on the other hand, are much harder for others to understand.  They heal far more slowly, if at all, and the scars are only visible to the affected individual.
I have managed to cover over sickness and pain in my mind.  Some scrapes take longer than others to scab over but eventually my brain wraps them up and tucks them away in a safe hiding place.  Over the last thirteen months I have experienced suffering and illness that have brought me to my knees more than once.  But what do I really know of either? 
Just over a year ago my father lost a short battle with cancer.  We both died that day.  I have had other experiences with suffering and illness but none that have impacted me as strongly as this one event.  I’m not as strong and independent as I may seem.  I used to turn to my father for answers to questions, even the ones with answers that I already knew.  His reassurance strengthened me and my decisions. 
We suffer at the hands of others, because of events that are beyond our control and because of our own demons.  There are medications that can be taken to help mask the pain but is that what we really want?  I don’t think that it’s what I want but it is what I do for those around me.  I would prefer to be normal, or at least what my idea of normal is; no medications, just inner strength and mental power to help overcome the difficult times.  Without a doubt, though, the people who don’t need medication to get through life are in the minority.  The medication may be legal or illegal but these things help many people get through the tough days.
Suffering changes who we are.  It breaks us down and we stay broken.  We do our best to get back to where we were before but close is still immeasurably far away.  Today you’re one person but what if tonight you get word that your best friend has died?  Tomorrow you will be frozen.  A zombie in shock or possibly in denial but once you thaw you will be quite removed from where you were before your friend’s passing.  Life teaches us about life.  There is no way to truly learn the important lessons without experiencing them firsthand. 
Right now in Haiti the streets are lined with the bodies of thousands of unnamed people.  A situation beyond their control shook the country to its foundation and beyond.  Their rotting flesh waiting to be picked up by workers with dump trucks in the middle of the night, many of whom will be cast into mass graves.  Their suffering is over.  People walk the streets sifting through piles of rubble looking for missing loved ones.  Children are orphaned and have no safe place to go.  They know what suffering is far more than any of us can possibly understand.  But still they are thankful for their faith and the fact that their own lives have been spared.
As bad as things may have seemed at any one point in my life I know that they could always be worse.  I've not experienced anything nearly as traumatic as the people in Haiti.  Every event that breaks me down also serves as a reminder that there is farther down to go if I let it happen.  Often we forget to be thankful for what we have and only focus on our woes.  I have lost loved ones.  I have been ill.  I have even thought, once or twice, that my time was about to expire.  All of those moments that bring me down make me realize that I don’t know the real meaning of suffering.  I haven’t had a real dose of illness. 
I am never alone in my suffering.  Woe is not me.