On Gratitude

I’m in a bit of a pensive mood tonight and finding myself the mid-shift Duty Officer, it seems as if I have the chance to get something up for us all to consider.

Life indeed hands us some unexpected and downright unpleasantness. Be not troubled because He who is really in control has a plan for all of us. Does it involve success, money, popularity and to be loved by all? Hardly. In fact the love of that someone special is all we really need. The twists and turns our lives take while disturbing to us, is just part of the plan that we have no ken for. Yes I do get angry at our Divine Creator at times, but it’s a human failing or perhaps a fault of our society that we demand to get what “we” want and right-fucking now! This I know, that He will never let us fall without a plan for something bigger and better for us, all in good time, let me repeat that, all in good time. Perhaps to rephrase what I’m getting at here would be something like this: “At this exact instant, do we have all that we really, really need?”

So the question I have for us in the wee hours of this morning in the Berkshires, is somewhat rhetorical in nature. Whatever the case might be at this moment, did we honestly expect to be here, now and where we are?

The best laid plans of mice and men indeed…….

I know I sure didn’t expect it to be this way, but dammitall I’m OK is the answer between my ears. I’ll be grateful for where I am and what I have today, because all is well in G-d’s Universe, He doesn’t make mistakes…..ever. We’re just bit actors in this play friends.

20 comments

  1. 1
    LCBrendan growls and barks:

    Whatever the case might be at this moment, did we honestly expect to be here, now and where we are?

    No.

    I am still trying to find the sense or reason in the fact I am now alone. I fought so hard and so long, and I find myself asking is this all there is now? Was Marions death the end of my life as well??

    Where the hell do I go from here? I wasnt ready for this…who the hell ever is?

  2. 2
    LC Guy S growls and barks:

    Through the years I have come to realize I not only don’t know the answer(s) to questions posed to the Almighty, I am not even sure of the proper questions (at any given time). Mostly by my own hand and stupidity, I have been in positions where “Why me (Lord)?!!!” was uttered with a loud vehimance into the dark night. A lesser god would have taken the snarky road with a perhaps not too subtle; “Why not!!” , where as the Good Lord provides us with the answers in his own good time.

    I worry about the way this country is going, and the path it seems to be headed on. I worry about the world and what evil will spring forward next to try our souls, if not directly threaten our shores. But this is not so much for me anymore…rather, for my sons, daughter, grandchildren, nieces and nephews…for they are the ones who will have to take the brunt of it all. Me and my generation (and the one Greatest Generation before that) will either be long gone, or so close to leaving as to make little difference.

    And lately, even death does not seem to be something to fear. Not in the manner of giving up on all the wonders which are still here in plain sight…or to hasen his coming by that ultimate act of huberous. No, just that this life has been rich, and more than good …far more than I deserve. And what adventures await on the otherside….

  3. 3
    LC Jackboot IC/A growls and barks:

    LCBrendan says:

    Whatever the case might be at this moment, did we honestly expect to be here, now and where we are?
    No.
    I am still trying to find the sense or reason in the fact I am now alone. I fought so hard and so long, and I find myself asking is this all there is now? Was Marions death the end of my life as well??
    Where the hell do I go from here? I wasnt ready for this…who the hell ever is?

    Brendan my old friend. –

    That question is the one which bedevils me constantly. I wasn’t ready for my current situation either and it has some similarities to yours without the finality. Indeed I wasn’t ready for this either, yet here I am. It must feel like the end of your life without doubt, but she would want you to go on. Sorry if that sounds cliche. Yes, who the hell ever is ready for life on life’s (His) terms ? I know I sure wasn’t, but I’ve decided that I’m on the right path now. Unfamiliar and scary but damned if I’m not gonna walk it anyway. I do know He has a purpose for me that time will reveal. I see a faint glimmer of where this journey is going. You must find that purpose that we all do, to go on. It IS there, just a bitch to see.

    Guy- I too have shouted and cried into that bleak, dark night, fear and crushing loneliness have been my only companions. I only survive by staying out of my own head and push myself to be of service to my fellows. Perhaps He will see fit to give me back some small part of what was cast off by my own foolish choices.

  4. 4
    LCBrendan growls and barks:

    Jackboot Im not sure anymore. I just feel..numb. I can and have gone back to work..so what? Now what? Whats next? Will I be alone forever now? Is my life over too? I keep asking myself: is there nothing more?

    Did I expect to be here?

    FUCK NO. They keep telling me that God works in mysterious ways and He has a plan for me..well if its all the same Id like a copy of that memo. I am damned if I know what the hell I am supposed to do now.

    The part of my life that mattered the most to me is gone. So what the fuck do I do now? So what if I do or see good things..who the hell do I have to share it with?

    Where now?

  5. 5

    LCBrendan says:

    Jackboot Im not sure anymore. I just feel..numb. I can and have gone back to work..so what? Now what? Whats next? Will I be alone forever now? Is my life over too? I keep asking myself: is there nothing more?

    Did I expect to be here?

    FUCK NO. They keep telling me that God works in mysterious ways and He has a plan for me..well if its all the same Id like a copy of that memo. I am damned if I know what the hell I am supposed to do now.

    The part of my life that mattered the most to me is gone. So what the fuck do I do now? So what if I do or see good things..who the hell do I have to share it with?

    Where now?

    God Brendan, I wish there was something I could do to ease your pain. I can’t imagine losing my wife or one of my kids….and am not sure what I would do if that happened. There are a couple of friends of mine who have lost their wives, one lost his oldest son a year later in an accident. What do you do for them? about all I could think of to do was just shut up and listen to them, give them someone to vent to and unload on free of charge or free of unasked for advice…..just listen to them. That is all I can do for you man, that and keep you in my prayers, so vent away man, this is a good forum for it and if the bark is up maybe set something up with a few of us so we can talk in real time. Peace to you, please take care of yourself in this very difficult and painful time.

    As for being where I want to be, well……it’s a weird place to be in right now that I’m 61 years old and bailing out of the work rat race as quickly as I can.. When I was in my teens and twenties there were three things that I thought I wanted to be, a rock guitarist…..or an artist……and to get into good physical shape. I fueled those “ambitions” with as many drugs as I could take and with as much booze as I could drink. Most of my time was spent dreaming of those ambitions, not really doing anything about accomplishing them as that was too much work, but just imagining myself doing it…that was easy to pull off. As time went on, the drugs and alcohol dampened what little ambition I had. I found myself settling for a series of mundane jobs with no real future while the dreaming of success and accomplishment continued. Two things happened to change my direction, I moved to Washington state to take a job and I met my future wife there. We married in 1984, our first son was born in 1986 and I sobered up in 1987. As for my ambitions, they were put on hold as I did the bulk of raising our two boys while working at a variety of jobs including CAD drafting, Surveying, doing computer graphics for military vehicle and flight simulators as well as doing field research for them, teaching 3D graphics at the college and high school level……

    when I hit 60 last year I decided that enough was enough and I handed off a lot of my teaching duties to others and started transitioning towards retirement, I still teach part time but I keep it at a very part time level. This gave the time to do the things I always dread of doing, the difference this time is that the focus is there, as is the ability and desire to work hard to get good, and it’s paying off. I’m going to art school, something I’ve wanted to do since I was in my 20’s, I’m teaching art as well as selling some of my artwork too. My guitar playing still needs work, but I can carry myself when I play with others and have developed a passion for blues and surf rock as well as Hawaiian slack key and can play them all. My roses and my garden are blooming and healthy, and I am currently a full time puppy wrangler with a new pup in the family. For work, I do contract graphics work and train teachers in the local school district in computer graphics programs…..and I’ve turned into a serious gym rat and am getting into the best shape I’ve been in since I was in my early 20’s. My marriage is strong, my boys are grown and doing OK, and we really want for nothing (OK, OK, we could use a little more retirement income). But the most important thing I need to remember is what is behind all these blessings….it is my commitment to staying sober and turning my will over to God every morning. I know full well what will happen if I “do it my way”….past experience proves that I will mess it all up and I will lose everything. Should I get bored with all my spare time and decide to tie one on, I will die, of that I am certain. Should I get bored with my daily “mundane” life as a family man and husband and seek some excitement, I will die, my wife will see to that. So I need to stay focused, focused on what really matters…..that way I get peace and inspiration to do the things that give me true satisfaction.

    So….all in all, we are blessed….God has seen me and my family through my alcoholism, my cancer bout 5 years ago, our youngest sons troubles with alcohol and the law, the deaths of my wife’s and my parents all in the span of 7 years, and assorted other travails. A good friend of mine puts it this way, he says

    “I have no troubles today, I’m just getting lifed on”.

    yeah, I like that…..sums it up nicely.

    Blessings to you all here at the Rott, we need to take care of our brother Brendan.

  6. 6

    Jaybear, Colonel of Imperial Ancient Artillery says:

    This gave the time to do the things I always dread of doing,

    That should read this gave ME the time to do the things I always DREAMED of doing…..

    age sure plays hell with your proofreeding skills.

  7. 7
    LC Guy S growls and barks:

    Brendon, if it appeared in my comment above that I was saying “Don’t worry, God works in mysterious ways, and it will get better, you just wait and see!” That was not my intent or desire. I have no real way of knowing your pain (other than which you chose to share with us) or the depth of which it extends. And I hope never to be crass enough to toss a phrase toward you (or anyone else) in an attempt to make you “feel good”. You will deal with this as you will, in your own good time and fashion. For what it is worth, know we are there to lend and ear and or shoulder, should you feel the need.

  8. 8
    LCBrendan growls and barks:

    Guy its fine that wasnt aimed at you…just the phrase in general. Bleh.

    We never had kids and right now Im not sure if that was a blessing or a curse. I’ll manage.

  9. 9
    LC Jackboot IC/A growls and barks:

    Brendan- My story isn’t all that different than Jaybear’s we share the same awful disease that will kill us if we go out. In that context each day is a struggle to survive because the alternative is absolutely certain. Now this poses a problem for us. Boredom is deadly and when faced with that we revert to our stinking thinking and it’s off to the races. Just like Jay, I stay incredibly busy with things that are challenging, but fulfilling. That concept takes me back to having and more importantly feeling that I have a purpose and that is to help my brethren. That certainly extends to my brethren here as well, considering how long we’ve know each other. Just a few minutes ago, I got handed an absolutely incredible pile of dung to deal with, something that can’t be shared for many reasons at the moment. So, I’m well equipped by my sobriety program to deal with it. It’s that bad. Without what I’ve learned I would pick up and start along that final road leading to death.

    Find that purpose and dive in just as soon as you can. The Father gave you an awesome noggin, put it to use brother.

    -JB

  10. 10

    LCBrendan says:

    Guy its fine that wasnt aimed at you…just the phrase in general. Bleh.

    We never had kids and right now Im not sure if that was a blessing or a curse. I’ll manage.

    didn’t take it personal brudda……just concerned about you, that’s all.

  11. 11
    Tallulah growls and barks:

    OT, but not altogether: Here’s a source for legal incandescent light bulbs, a new type with 10X the lifespan:

    Newcandescent incandescent bulbs. Let’s keep them in business. (No, I have no connection with them personally, but I love to see American ingenuity confronting tyranny.)

  12. 12
    LCBrendan growls and barks:

    The Father gave you an awesome noggin, put it to use brother.

    My head is fine.

    My heart aches and my soul is miserable. I miss her every day, I cant seem to stop crying some days and its getting to the poiint that all I want to do is hide away and forget the world is there. I had to go back to work..I wasnt ready.

    Just..lost, right now.

  13. 13
    LC SecondMouse growls and barks:

    JB, as the old saying goes, life is what happens while we are making other plans. I can only relate what I have learned and am learning from my own life journey, in the event that it means anything to the fine people who congregate here.

    Everything in life is temporary. The bad, and the good. The most valuable things in life are not things at all. They are the connections we make with others, and the ideas we share about purpose and meaning. They are the blessings we confer on others through our own existence. Each one is a marker for our having passed this way, and touched another soul.

    This means that in a very real sense, humanity is morality. To be human means to possess moral character. Our ability to personally develop and share the finest moral virtues is what provides us the ability to be something more than just another species in the panoply of life. Our humanity provides us the compass we use for setting the direction of our purpose. Our humanity provides us with the capacity to love, honor and respect others.

    Brendan, I have no personal experience with the loss of a spouse, and imagining such a thing fills me with sorrow for you. I have experienced loss, perhaps the worst being the accidental death of my wife’s beloved teenage brother many years ago. It was an experience so powerful that words can still do no service to it. My wife and I have both realized that even if we had the power to go back in time to prevent his birth in order to spare our pain, we could not do so. This was one of the experiences which has taught me how fragile life is, and how temporary everything in our lives can be. Only when we come to terms with how little we control the course of our lives can we come to terms with the truth of our existence.

    It remains to you to find the proper place in your soul for the feelings which trouble you. Our lives are also in a sense the sum of all of our experiences and interactions with others, most particularly our loved ones. We do them and ourselves great service by choosing the best of their gifts to us to enshrine in our souls.

  14. 14
    LC MaxMomFL growls and barks:

    So very sorry for your loss, LCBrendan. Death is such a relentless monster. It tears an agonizing hole in your heart. I can only offer that while my own wounds from it have never gone away, I’ve learned to keep going forward. It doesn’t “get better”, but it gets “perspectived”. I have only recently been able to laugh about funny memories again. It has taken me close to eight years to do that. I will pray that you are able to reconnect with your sense of purpose while you walk your road this side of Heaven. From my own mistakes, I can also offer the suggestion to not “hermit” yourself. It is very tempting, but for me it totally backfired. I also want to let you know that your presence here on the Rott is one of the things I look forward to and you are very much appreciated. Hugs and love from Florida,USA.

  15. 15
    LC Jackboot IC/A growls and barks:

    LC Second Mouse-

    Everything in life is temporary. The bad, and the good. The most valuable things in life are not things at all. They are the connections we make with others, and the ideas we share about purpose and meaning. They are the blessings we confer on others through our own existence. Each one is a marker for our having passed this way, and touched another soul.

    That is the best “preaching” I’ve heard in a long time. Perhaps you missed your calling.

    My personal situation has been changed to the point to where all I have to offer others is that human connection. At this time, in a place that I’d rather not be physically and geographically, I’ve found myself and a purpose, if only temporary. I am connecting with many who have gone through many years of their lives unseen and unheard. Honestly, with many of them, I would have never socialized or noticed in my ‘other’ life. Since I don’t share what they’ve experienced physically for the most part, I’m only able to emphasize with their pain, a natural gift I’ve always had. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone for many things that I’ve taken for granted for many decades. That alone has given me much more insight into the plight of my brothers-in-arms here. I’ve also found myself in a leadership position in the organization, and I say that not out of braggadocio, but in a position to make things better for them. That IS my purpose at present, until I’m ready to move on. I can only pray that I be a good friend to these men, that gives them what they need to hear and not necessarily what they want to hear, and provide a bit of a positive example, stepping up to do the next right thing, regardless of how difficult it is for me personally.

  16. 16
    LC SecondMouse growls and barks:

    LC Jackboot IC/A @ #15:

    Thank you for your kind words. It would be an odd flock indeed, if I were its preacher.

    I don’t remember who said it, nor the specific words, but the measure of one’s character is what he or she does for someone who can do nothing for them in return.

  17. 17
    Tallulah growls and barks:

    Dearest Brendan, there is only one answer. When Mary and Martha grieved for Lazarus, they wept and said to him, “My Lord, if you had been here, Lazarus would not have died.”

    And Jesus wept. And then he raised Lazarus from the dead.

    He knows, and your dear wife is with Him. You will see her again. Throw yourself into His arms; only He can help you now.

    Those of us (yes, me too! hi, y’all!) who have received the great gift of a second life in AA are lucky beyond measure, because we, too, have seen people brought back from the dead. Every day we see miracles. And every day we have the priceless chance to help another human soul out of the abyss of alcoholism. No earthly “cash and prizes” compare to this.

    This is a beautiful sequence from the wonderful movie “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Brendan, I hope you’ll watch it. I haven’t lost a husband, but my mother and my sister died just six months apart, so I know something about grief. Just stay in the lifeboat, honey. You are still here for some reason, and you don’t want to throw away your chance to reunite with her in heaven.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=942Lm2FHeEE

    God bless you all.

  18. 18
    Tallulah growls and barks:

    This is an amazing story: how two Iranian muslim women found Jesus:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkczulZ-LkY

    It’s a death sentence in islam to be an apostate, as all of you know. Who among us would be so brave? They are now ministering in Iran’s underground church.

  19. 19

    Tallulah says:

    Those of us (yes, me too! hi, y’all!) who have received the great gift of a second life in AA are lucky beyond measure, because we, too, have seen people brought back from the dead. Every day we see miracles. And every day we have the priceless chance to help another human soul out of the abyss of alcoholism. No earthly “cash and prizes” compare to this.

    Hi Tallulah from another friend of Bill’s. Good words there, I am reminded of what the Twelfth Step states…..that having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the steps we carried the message to alcoholics practiced these principles in all our affairs.

    What I find so profound about the 12 Steps of AA as well as the Ten Commandments is that they are just damned good basic rules for living as well. Granted, basic they may be, but it takes work to apply them to everyday living and all of us fall short on occasion. Those are the ones that we reach out to, and help get back on track….be it from alcoholism or addiction or being mistreated or mistreating someone else or losing a loved one or whatever…..our purpose is to try to be an example, show others how our Higher Power (I call mine God) directs us on a daily basis. As is stated in AA, we cannot give away what we do not have. If I don’t have peace of mind I sure as hell am not qualified to tell you how to achieve it…..same goes with sobriety, or happiness, or healing from pain and grief. I need to achieve it first or I am of no use to anyone else.

    Glad to have you as a fellow traveler on the sobriety road, I’ve been walking it for 28 years now, how far along are you?

  20. 20
    Tallulah growls and barks:

    Jaybear, Colonel of Imperial Ancient Artillery @ #:

    Got sober in 1979: college senior. 🙂 Actually at the behest of my friends, who were doing acid and mushrooms, and playing in a rock and roll band — but I was out-drinking Janis Joplin, if you know what I mean! (If I’d been doing drugs, too, I’d be as dead as she is.)

    The fellowship is a real godsend in every way, isn’t it? It also brought me home to my childhood church, after many years of exploring. As W.H. Auden said:

    “He is the Way.
    Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
    You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.

    “He is the Truth.
    Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
    You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

    “He is the Life.
    Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
    And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.”

    — W. H. Auden, “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio”