Friday, April 19, 2013

Still Clinging to that First Cup of Coffee....

For the past five years, I have engaged in the daily (well - almost daily as I have missed a day or three along the way) exercise of using this space to exorcise and to exercise my demons.  Five years in, we have worked up one hell of a sweat - my demons and me.   Whether all of that perspiration has amounted to anything more than odorous armpits and collar stains I know not.  I tend to doubt it.   I am, after all, intimately familiar with the source from which it emanates.    

As a much-younger man I lived in dread of fulfilling my self-created prophecy of being my father's son.  I say that not because there was anything wrong with Dad....other than the flaws that exist in each and every one of us.  I had the luxury as his son of seeing them in him even when he could not - or would not - see them in himself.  He died at a time in my life when we were very much waging war on one another.  I was fourteen.  I had reached the age where it appeared for reasons I never quite fathomed as if Dad no longer viewed his sons (and there are three of us) as proteges or companions but rather as potential threats and adversaries.  In what turned out to be the final six months of his life, he and I said a number of things to one another, which things never were rescinded or taken back.

For any number of reasons, Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams has long been one of my favorite films.  Among those reasons is the scene in Ray's VW bus as he and Terence Mann are driving back to Iowa with a young ballplayer named Archie Graham in tow.  Ray tells Mann that as a young man he said something deliberately hurtful to his father shortly before leaving home for college and that his father had died before he could take it back.  While I reasonably anticipate that had he lived at some point Dad and I would have reached the nadir in our relationship and thereafter climbed our way back to respectability,  his death prevented any such bounce from occurring.  At this point in my life, almost thirty-two years after his death I know not whether that was an expectation or merely a hope.  The line between the former and the latter can become quite blurred.  

Once upon a lifetime ago I sought solace from the voices that were fighting for air time in my head in the soothing elixir of alcohol.   Do not misunderstand - consumption of alcohol is a habit I have never been able to shake entirely.  These days however I possess an "OFF" switch, which switch appears to have been installed at or about the time Margaret and I got married.   It took me a considerable number of years - and a considerable amount of money - before I learned that the voices I thought I was successfully drowning night in and night out had merely learned how to hold their breath for a long, long time.  Their return was as certain as the next day's arrival.  

Even after I learned how to greatly curtail the amount of alcohol I consumed, the chorus of angry voices still sang out in my head.  I spent a lot of time being angry - about any number of things - including more than a few that were worth neither the time nor the effort nor the anger.  I had things on my mind and on my chest and needed a place to expel them.  Luckily for me and for my family, I have worked at least thirty miles from home for most of my professional life.  I came to appreciate the effectiveness of a lengthy commute as a coping mechanism. Whether the strangers sharing space with me on the State of Concrete Gardens' highways and byways embraced it with similar vigor I know not.  I tend to think they did not.   

I write for much the same reason that I run. It is equal parts cathartic and therapeutic.  It quiets the voices.  It quells the anger.  It provides a release point for the frustrations brought about by day-to-day life.  It is perhaps the single-most selfish act in which I engage.  And I do it on a daily basis.   Over the course of these past five years I have received feedback to some of what I have written.  Surprisingly, most of it has been complimentary.  Less so, a small percentage of it has been something far, far away from complimentary altogether.   I have angered a number of people due to one or more things I have written.   

It was not - and has never been - my intention to inspire or to infuriate you.  This is a piece written not for two but for one.  Only for one.  Always for one.  This little piece of virtual real estate belongs to me still simply because I need it.  It fulfills a very important purpose in my life.  For as long as it does so, it shall be here....

....and so shall I.   Long after everyone else has gone home.  And long after my cup of coffee has gone cold. 


-AK 

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