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.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you, anonymous. Maybe next time you can leave your name so I can thank you properly.

    Dan

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  2. Dan: I like your style of writing, nothing pretentious, so real ! This post touched my heart so deeply; I remember my fears when my beloved mother faced her heart surgery ; I didn't have anyone who was truly interested in my feelings; although I only know you through twitter, I will pray for you both.

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  3. Thank you very much. Prayers are very important and help us all.

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  4. Dude. Let's pledge now to get in better shape. My parents died in their 50s. Your words resonated deep. My dad died of a heart attack and my mother an aortic aneurism. We owe it to our kids to be around. Thank you for your words...

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  5. Dan, so eloquent and so real. Don't worry so much about what's at the end of the road or how long it will take you to get there. I am 50 years old and still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

    You are such a kind and loving soul, and really love is what matters in the end.
    Conne

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  6. I love Connie's comment so much I'm changing my name to hers (of course, that makes me 10 years younger too :)

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  7. This was a great read I felt like I was drving for a second lol. It also helped me relize my family all died farely young as well and to be honest I'm in bad shape so this really just opened some eyes. All in all great read hope you dont mind that I share it.

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  8. Nick - Agreed. We should definitely take better care of ourselves. Pretty much everyone could make healthier decisions.

    Connie - Wow, I'm humbled. Thank you.

    Colleen - I mean, Connie II, Wow, I'm humbled. Thank you. :)

    Jumpmanig - I appreciate it. I don't mind at all. It's on the internet. Please share it.

    Thank you all for reading and commenting. Please feel free to comment on anything else. Don't be afraid to tell me if you don't like something and why.

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  9. Wow! I felt like I was really there with you in the car! Great post! I love how you reply to all the comments. It makes a real connection with your "fans".

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  10. John - I'm glad you liked it. I figure that I should reply to people. If someone takes the time to say something it'd be kind of rude not to respond. Trying to stay on top of that.

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  11. Wonderful read, Dan. What I enjoyed most about it was that it came from a sincere place and a raw, relatable experience. I made similar drives home when my mother was fighting cancer. How much more real can you get than a lost or dying parent or loved one? I'd day not much. Surreal comes to mind as well.

    I struggled with the same emotions, the moments of doubt, the contemplation of continuing with my own life, and raising my daughter. My experience with music was a little different though because most of the time I was alone and singing along to my favorite songs by Cowboy Mouth, Drivin-N-Cryin, and Toad the Wet Sprocket. Nonetheless, I relived all of it as I read your blog tonight. Thanks for that. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers as well.

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  12. Dan, this is a fantastic piece, very visceral, powerful. You have such a wondeful way with words. From the first line you're able to convey such depth of emotion. The readers, be they near or far, are able to relate to what you're thinking, going through. I'm headed toward a big question mark on the freeway of life as well. So I know what that's like. Brilliant piece. You're a great communicator and writer. Your Mom will be in my prayers. Glad to know she's fine. Take Care.

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  13. sjsturkie - Tough, surreal, difficult; they are all words that can describe this type of situation. I appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers. Glad you could relate.

    Dave - Thank you for your prayers for my Mom. I'm glad that you made a connection with my writing. My hope is to be real, descriptive and to write things that people can relate to. We're not alone in what we do and others have very similar experiences.

    We just have to figure out what the question mark is asking and then answer it. We can do it.

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  14. I think you are correct. Writing can take you to where you need to be, can be therapeutic. If it is any consolation, I also don't know where the road is taking me. I start in one direction and then life, being unpredictable, throws in something random and strong...the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, a parent's sudden heart attack or (you can fill in the blanks). When there is calm, I try to focus on the present joys, large and small. The smell of my son's newly washed hair. The baked apple, rich with cinnamon. Good books.

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  15. BookingAlong - "random and strong..." Exactly. The only thing that's really predictable is, well, nothing. What helps me is to try and find the positive in situations.

    Thanks for stopping by and reading.

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  16. Wow...truly moving and very enlightening. Writing is a gift that you do so beautifully. Forever a fan. Debbie

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  17. Debbie - Thank you. I appreciate the compliment. Glad you enjoyed it.

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