Friday, November 30, 2007

Taking A Ride with the Devil

Could be any of a million things, but I just don't find myself quite yet in the holiday spirit. Things have been downright hectic, and even now as I type there are about a hundred other things I feel obliged to take care of. Things simply never stop. Consequently, my ability to string together meaningful messages for this blog has been not at an all-time low, but certainly lower than usual.

It's not all bad. It's not all good. It's just constant motion. I can't even say I'm running from anything. I feel that I am running to the end of this search or that one, the end of an uncertain period, the beginning of a new epoch, to a time when I can better blend life's work and loves.

On three occasions in the past week, I was taken back deep into my past. Somehow my old stomping grounds have been resurfacing. In the last ten years, I'd have to say that I learned we spend the first 25 or 30 years trying to get away from where we came from, and the rest of our lives trying to get back.

The first was a conversation with someone who works for a state history agency. Somehow we got on the topic of the contribution of the Quakers, and I mentioned that the home I grew up in had an underground railroad tunnel in the cellar. Later that week marked the 30th Anniversary of my father's death. And I was introduced to someone who has family back in the almost-holler not far from where I grew up.

All in a week's time. So I'm paying a little attention.

These times, when we propel ourselves too far forward at such a pace but yet are so clearly reminded, if not downright notified, of our nature and our roots, is like a ride with the devil. We are tempting fate in these times, the fate of our psyche to be able to reconcile the life we are trying to put on with the life we were born to live. It's a winless race, but people run it every day, sometimes me included.

This dark beautiful tune could be the soundtrack to such a race. In my imagination when I hear this song, the opening is almost the music you might associate with a night ride on a river or down a canal past drooping willows, the kind of ride you might take to get away from the home guard if you were running from your master (and oh, how we all run from our masters). It breaks open into a fast paced, full string band theme the way you might break free and run across an open field in search of ultimate freedom. Whether you make it or not is uncertain. It always is, as uncertain as freedom.

But there's no good in not trying. That's letting the devil win. And makes you a prisoner for life, a prisoner of your life.

So go on and join Dirk Powell in A Ride with the Devil. Think about what you've been running from, and running to. And make sure you have good tunes with you.


At December 01, 2007 10:49 AM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

MM, Your wise words come at a time when I needed to hear just what you wrote. Thank you!

These in-between times are always dangerous for me. This one is rougher than normal as I question myself over and over again. I realize that I while I may be good at the business of politics, I may have too much integrity to continue. I've realized that to live my authentic life I must speak from my heart. My heart is telling me that it is time for me to stop killing myself for other people's dreams. I think if 2007 was the year of the pushback for me, then 2008 is going to be even *more*.

Thank you again for saying what I needed to hear just when I needed to hear it!


At December 01, 2007 12:29 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

It's these moments of being dragged back into our pasts or even family history that I love about the holidays. All of the memories that come with almost every part of the holidays should become an every day part of our lives and not just a holiday "event".

At December 01, 2007 3:01 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey y'all,

Shameless, you do question yourself so much. Why? Listen deep for the answers. This time of year reminds me too of the losses you've sustained. On the other hand, you have a constellation of wise counselors who've left this world for another one but I'll bet they have not abandoned you.

Shannon, you are SO RIGHT. Why can't we sustain the joy and cheer and rich feelings all year round? I say come on down and pass the pie. More game nights in 2008.

Love you both,

At December 02, 2007 8:21 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - You're getting some mileage out of that pie!

I don't know that humans are meant to be happy/satisfied. At least not some of us anyway. There are people who go to work every day, not loving but not hating their jobs, and come home to a beer and the TV and really are satisfied with their lives. I think if that's all you want, it's pretty easy to attain. But people who want more, who ponder their own decisions and those of others, are destined to have periods of uncertaintly and even sadness sprinkled into their lives. We can't keep the holiday spirit year round because then the holidays wouldn't be so special. Perhaps it's true that you can't know happiness unless you also know sorrow.

At December 03, 2007 9:41 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well, Doc, there was that article about how some people are predisposed to "happiness" and others are not, physiologically. So I think I would agree that technically, not everyone is meant to be happy.

The holidays aren't necessarily just "happy," however, but often contemplative. Sometimes creating a memory means being with people who matter to us without the expectation that we will "have a good time" but rather that the act of being together is enough. Usually that does mean a good time, in one way or another. I guess this creates a certain kind of celebration in its own right but maybe not the way we think of holiday celebrations.

Yesterday my kids and I spent a really good afternoon with some good friends who were visiting. We all enjoyed something, whether it was a game the kids made up or some tunes I played with my friend. In the end it was about hanging together and recognizing the connection among our families, and just enjoying ourselves in the moment. That's definitely something more folks can use year round.

Every day is a good day for pie.

At December 04, 2007 12:58 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

You're right. Everyday is a good day for pie. But this is just another symptom of what's wrong in society. If you go to a restaurant, have you realized how hard it is to just get a good, basic dessert? No one just serves plain old chocolate cake or just a nice slice of cherry pie. Everything is like "chocolate lava extreme" or "exotic-hip-trendy flavor of the month cheesecake. Just a simply dessert is so much more satisfying. I think there's a parallel there for life.

Anyway, to the point, I'm always reminded of the psychological research that indicates that depressed people actually see the world more realistically than non-depressed people. Now, I don't consider myself depressed but I do think that people who tend to contemplate life a lot tend to feel a bit more disappointed by it at times. Personally, I don't need more bonding time with family. I really am somewhat of a loner. But I get your meaning and I could use more time to just relax and enjoy life. That time, however you choose to spend it, is something we have too little of in our society.

At December 05, 2007 6:14 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Doc wrote:
"Just a simply dessert is so much more satisfying. I think there's a parallel there for life."

Wow, is that the truth!
"I do think that people who tend to contemplate life a lot tend to feel a bit more disappointed by it at times."

I think I was, for a while, when I took off the rose colored glasses that I was wearing most of my marriage and in a couple of relationships. But if we begin to approach life with a little less bourgeois suffering and a little more life as it is, taking the bad with the good, it gets easier to appreciate, well, damn near everything.

Life continues to surprise me, and people and situations certainly continue to disappoint me -- especially in my business! -- but in the end, it's a fairly loaded buffet. I hope you do take time to enjoy the good things it has to offer more. I know this time of year can be tricky but I know a place with terrific organic lowfat eggnog.


At December 06, 2007 10:53 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

"My heart is telling me that it is time for me to stop killing myself for other people's dreams. "

Well put, Shameless, and also about the year of the pushback. Going through something very similar myself. Not sure how I will be making a living but something will work out.

Don't remember what happens when the constant motion slows down or even stops. Maybe I'll find out.


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