Just keep getting up.
Most of what we write is about technical, business, product development, and project management topics. I have no idea why I am writing this, or what to do with it when completed -if anything. Additionally, I am a little emotionally raw for reasons that will become apparent. Perhaps the writing will help me come to grips with this uncomfortable feeling.
I would like to start with, I am the product of the ’70s, I grew up on or around military bases. I have ridden motorcycles since I was 12 years old. I have broken many bones; sports, car, and motorcycle accidents. I broke my wrist in a motorcycle accident (motorcycle largely unharmed). I continued to ride that bike through the winter (even in the rain) with my arm in a cast. I needed to get my undergraduate degree. I rode with a sock or two on the broken hand (warmth), and a plastic garbage bag over it to keep the wet from destroying the cast. It was my throttle hand. It was interesting trying to accelerate as I could not turn my wrist but used my arm arc and fingers, it worked.
I have lived out of a car for a time (before my undergraduate) working fast food. For my undergraduate degree (4 years) slept on a cot in a sleeping bag. I have had many stitches, under my eyes, lips (basketball floor, meet face), elbow, and knee. I have stitches scars on both sides of my neck, when I was younger, I made Frankenstein monster jokes about my head being stitched onto my neck. There are many more examples, but the point is, to steal from an old Timex commercial, “take a licking and keep on ticking”.
I am not a fan of too much introspection; I prefer to look outward and forward. Something uncomfortable about introspection. It is not the self-improvement aspect of introspection. These excursions are focused and not meandering. I am beyond okay with that – it is required for adapting, learning, and looking forward. Still, something about the past stirs something I find unpleasant, at least in the last few months, and seems to come to a head today. Is it age? Maybe it is not introspection but a rumination of the past on top of a year like 2020, followed by the start of 2021 on top of all of the other years before.
Today (2.15.2021), there was a funeral for a family member. Another military funeral I attend on Fort Bragg. Driving through the North Carolina countryside on a wet and dreary winter day is an apt visual for a trip to a funeral. Passing by old abandoned farmhouses and barns in the process of reclamation by the forest, my mind could not help but wander to the past. All of this reminds me of the limits of our time. I am typically an upbeat but relatively serious person; I work and play hard. I get up one more time than knocked down. I wonder if the acquiring of more years reduces one’s (my) resilience and durability.
We drove past the abandoned gas station where we partied in the late 70’s early 80’s. Abandoned then, was it also. That made it a great place to party. We listened to AC DC and other rock music, probably cassettes or albums while imbibing. We passed the steep road that ended abruptly into highway 87; remember that Chuck, when we were lucky to stop that old beat up, purple Impala in time to not roll out into highway 87. Or the flash of the time we went fishing for catfish in the Cape Fear River from my dad’s flat bottom John boat, as we drove on the bridge over the river. We ate fast food hamburgers while out there, probably fished using some of them as bait. We were lucky to row the boat back to shore. I remember us paddling for all we were worth to make it to shore, and steadily going downstream. For what? We caught nothing, though in retrospect it was time well spent. Passed long-gone tobacco fields in which I worked. Past the shed in which Dave (guitar), Harold (drums), and I (bass) practiced. Past the house where Shawn drank too much BlackBerry Brandy, with the expected result (chuckle).
We passed abandoned tobacco barns reminded me of Eddie (not Eddie Van Halen) and his guitar, and the rest of our small group, singing and drinking beer around a fire just outside one of those barns using the structure as quasi-shelter from the fall weather. The repertoire John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, Jackson Browne, Jim Croce, and many more. Then sadly the recollection that John Prine passed away last year. At this moment John Prine’s song Souvenirs would be impossible to listen to.
I miss those days. I miss my friends, and all of this comes to the fore as I drive through my youth. My friends dispersed, all with busy lives providing for their family in the short and long term.
I do not know if it is the COVID lockdowns coupled with, workload, age, or all these other expected life events, but it has led to a touch of melancholy that has come more prominent with this trip. The passing of each of these places was a bittersweet moment. I am a long way from the trailer park and living out of my car, and I am grateful for that in many ways. However, this is not the first or last funeral I will have to go to. Like most people my age, we have experienced losses, and not just from the death of loved ones. Life leaves marks, even when we have made the best possible decisions. Sometimes we must pick the lesser of two bad decisions. That can be not much of a true choice. I guess no matter how strong or tough a person is, these things take a toll.
I will do what I do. I will get up and go to work tomorrow, early. I will work on the next book late in the evening, and keep plowing ahead the best that I can. It is difficult. Things get better by getting up and doing the best we can, even when you are not necessarily feeling your best self. I sympathize with any of you out there that are struggling, independent of your age. Hang in there best you can, best we can do is to do all that we can to make tomorrow better, and hope that will be true. Tomorrow will be better.