Tag Archives: Hope

On the up and up…

The upside of being down is… well, it’s the upside.  You start coming back up one step at a time and before you know it you are back on top.  I beat back the blues (again) simply by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again as fast as I can.

I did not get to use my favorite treadmill today. And I brought the water bottle that leaks.  I turned on my music and I didn’t hit the playlist I had intended.  Instead, quite accidentally,  I started a single song.  On repeat.  Somewhere around the third time the song played I realized that I had it on repeat.  Somewhere on number five or six I had run just far enough to realize that I would definitely hit my goal for the year – one thousand miles.

This morning listening to the Cowboy Junkies’ cover of Vic Chesnutt’s  “Flirted with You All My Life” I ran.  I ran and ran and I cried (yep, on the treadmill like a lunatic) and I realized that I am not ready to quit.  (It’s not the first time that Vic Chesnutt made me realize that I am not ready to give up.) Chesnutt’s tune is about death and suicide but to me it has always been an allegory about letting go and moving on. Death is the absence of change, the absence of moving on and transforming.    And I am not ready to give up on Change.

I am so desperately afraid of that which is Unknown.  But sometimes to accomplish anything at all you have to change.  I am even more afraid of Hope.  But I am certain that in order to Change you have to Dream, you have to Hope.

When I decided that my bizarrely cathartic weeping and sprinting act really needed to stop I hit next on my phone.

And I had to smile.  The Universe was having a time at my expense today.  Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah serenaded me as I crossed my thousand mile marker.


I updated my Facebook status from the gym today (like you do) – “I try not to be a runner that is all “holy shit, y’all, RUN. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.” But if you don’t do something every day that makes you feel like every song you hear is the best. song. ever. and that you are at peace with everything and you totally understand your life – well then, find it. Because it will save you some heartache. Really.”

I can’t seem to find better words than those above. I don’t care what you do.  Yoga.  Meditate.  Paint.  Organize your linen closet. Skateboard. Do it. And love it.  And listen to music and figure out your whole entire life.  I promise you that the Truths that you realize in that hour a day will vanish.  It is similar to the way that dreams tend to evaporate in the time it takes you to roll over and say “damn, I just had the most fucked up dream.”  But for that hour everything makes sense and music sounds so good and your Life feels like no matter what it will all be okay….

I wanted to tell you what I figured out this afternoon.  I wanted to wow you with my simple understanding of Life and Death and Fear and Change and Hope.  But it’s gone.  Up in smoke.  Rather it is up in the grocery store and laundry and math homework and nap time.  But I will find it again tomorrow.

I want that for you. I didn’t run one thousand miles today.  I ran them over the last 343 days.  I have twenty two days to figure out what I will do with the next 365.

If you’re not sure what you are doing with the next year of your life go hide in the bathroom and listen to these two tunes back to back.  You still probably won’t know but they are damn good tunes.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you to all of you that have reached out over the last few days to say “Hey, I am sorry that you’re blue.”  It’s imperative that I write it down when I am hurting.  I need to.  It makes it start to go away.  But sometimes I forget to make the time to write it down when things are on the up and up.  I am back on an even keel, guys.  xxoo

“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

The library in my parent’s bedroom was full of books, most of them hardbacks. Sometimes they were exactly what I was expecting.  In the summer of 1984  I fell for Nancy Drew and I  was never disappointed.  Book after book, I enjoyed them all.  Several years after that Agatha Christie was more my speed.  I loved Christie’s Hercule Poirot (but I admit years later I love Albert Finney’s Poirot from the 70’s film  Murder on the Orient Express even more.)

Year after year I found more books that I’d not yet read.  I’d stand in front of the big built-in book case until something caught my eye.   Sometimes the books I pulled down were not at all what I had expected or hoped they’d be.

I read The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and spent way too much thinking about reincarnation for an average ten year old.

I pulled Helter Skelter down thinking it would be about The Beatles and was none too interested in the Manson murders.

I was titillated upon finding Lady Chatterley’s Lover but soon discovered that the late night viewing of Bo Derek’s Bolero I was able to catch on “the blue channel” of “Super TV” at an often unsupervised friend’s house put it to shame. (I recognize that this is a heinously long run-on sentence but I am so pleased with my recollection of SuperTV and the memory that the dirty movies were in blue in the guide.  I mean how many times could you watch The Golden Seal and On Golden Pond before you wondered what the “Blue channel” was all about?  I think it is only too sad that I might be the only person on the planet that remembers this weird pre-cable TV movie box, but I do so fondly.)

I first met Andy Dufresne the summer after seventh grade.  I tore through Christine that summer and then promptly read everything in the house that Stephen King had written.  My heart ached for Carrie and then silently cheered for her.  I remember remarkably little of any of  The Bachman Books (aside from thinking I was far more clever than my fellow 12 year olds for reading them at all, since we had the copies that did not actually say “Written by Stephen King” on them.)  I started and stopped both It and The Tommyknockers several times that summer.  And then I stumbled across Different Seasons.

I was as charmed by King’s Gordie in The Body  as I had been by Wil Wheaton’s in Stand By Me. But it was Andy from Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption  that stuck with me the longest.  Years later when the movie came out I was moved all over again. I suppose an alternate title to this post could be “Things I Learned from Andy Dufresne.” My pal Andy also suggested that I ought to “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” He’s a smart cookie, that Andy.

Lately I have had little drive to sit down to write.  And it’s not because I don’t have lots of Big Thoughts. Or Big Plans.   I’m just busy.  Busy living, I guess.  And hoping.

MQD and I  have been married now for one month.  And in the last month I  have allowed myself  to eat great big scoops of Hope.  And I’ve not dined on even a morsel of Fear.  There is plenty to be Hopeful for, and certainly plenty to Fear.  But for now I am trying to be mindful of Andy’s words.  Often when I am asked for advice by a friend it comes back to the same thing, over and over.  I always say “You just get this one life.”

I think that is what Andy meant when he said you’ve “got to get busy living, or get busy dying.”  And not until I started thinking about it today did I see the parallels between hope/freedom/living and fear/prison/dying.  I’d never thought of my countless “what if’s” and of my worries as a prison.  But it’s true.

If I had to answer the “what is different since you got married?” question today, it would be the same as my answer to “What is different since you turned 35?” (Eerie, right, if I had not celebrated my 35th birthday on the last day of our honeymoon.)

I am not afraid.

There’s not much that Vic Chesnutt didn’t figure out in his short life.  I have, to quote Jeremy, bought a pass to shake my ass at a zillion Widespread Panic shows.  And at at least a third of them they played Let’s Get Down to Business.  But I think I finally get it, Vic.

Let’s Get Down To Business shall we?
It’s time we stop playing stop playing games …
Let’s Get Down To Business shall we….
And tackle this what shackles us all of this pressing business. ~Vic Chesnutt

It’s fear that shackles most of us.  And I am unafraid.  I don’t know if it is getting married.  Or turning 35.  Or the big heaping bowls of Hope I’ve been eating.  But I am not gonna ask too many questions.

We’d been married for one week, on this day, the morning of my thirty-fifth birthday.  But it was May 10th I stopped being afraid.