Well lit tunnels.

For the better part of four years I have focused a great deal of my attention on the elimination of a debt for the business I am charged with operating. This is a debt which took a decade or more to incur, one which took away entire days of my life with thought, planning, and execution. Through my concerted, often dogged efforts, the debt has been brought within striking distance.

As of January 1, 2022 this seemingly endless debt will be officially cleared. The overwhelming sense of relief that is forthcoming has already begun to wash over me. There is grand feeling of accomplishment when you see the finish line of a grueling march. With this feeling comes a serenity of knowing that I will never be again be flattened by this debt and the weight that it bore upon me. Never again will my sense of self worth be tied to whether or not I attended to this obligation.

This is a prime opportunity to take stock of this accomplishment and to extend my sincerest gratitude to all of the players involved who faithfully honored their contracts and payment arrangements. All of those people who aided me in orchestrating this years long attack on debt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without all of your efforts this goal might never have been possible. You have an ally in me for life, for whatever that may be worth.

Today’s smile is genuine and unforced. 2022 promises to bring more of them. Let’s go there and see what kind of greatness is in store.

The need for change.

There has been an incessant voice in my head for as long as I can remember that has told me to keep moving. Keep trying to find that certain something that will feel like purpose, the fundamental thing that drives my life. This has given me ample opportunities to try my hand at a million different things with varying degrees of success but none of them so far has felt like the one.

Am I missing the point of the whole thing by constantly searching? Does this rob me of my availability to be present in every moment? These are the questions that come up every day in my mind. These are the thoughts that are responsible for how I operate on a daily basis and I don’t feel as though they are always my own. They feel like automation to some degree, and that is a frustrating feeling.

The first voice every morning is one saying to search. The voice offers no advice as to which direction I should be facing with this search, just that it should continue in every waking hour until satisfaction is achieved. Thus far the satisfaction has been either painfully brief or completely out of reach. Both scenarios leave me wondering if there is something fundamentally misplaced in my mind and heart. Figuring this out requires a different form of searching, a deep dive as opposed to a broad casing.

Writing of this now engages the broad search and it makes me want to create lists, set priorities, and go. So for now, head down and grind. Keep pushing. Rest, revise, repeat.


It is Thanksgiving in the States today.

The one aspect of this day that holds is an open expression of gratitude for all of the good things we have. In my case, it is a near daily sense of gratitude for being able to work with family and make my own way in the world. Gratitude in the unbelievable fortune of being with someone that I love and that returns it more than I could ever dream of. I live in a place and time where I have all of the first world comforts a person could want and then some. There is never a day I worry about having a roof over my head, food to eat, or enough to drink. In many ways, I am spoiled to my core.

There will always be an abundance by comparison, and I’m forever grateful for that.

Thanksgiving week.

It’s always a strange week for those of us in the States who have Thanksgiving as a holiday. On a Thursday.

It is a hold over from our early times, from before we were even really a country yet, but it doesn’t stop us from ruining the better part of a week in the name of forced interaction with people you seldom see. It’s also a perfectly legit excuse to get middle of the week wasted the night before Thanksgiving.

This year is slightly different in my circle of humans. There isn’t really much of a plan on Thanksgiving but we are going to host friends on another coveted American “not really a holiday holiday” Black Friday. That is a much better use of our time and money, as none of us are really shoppers anyway. It is certainly nice to be able to look forward to something when I know winter is knocking at the door within a month. The doldrums have set in and I can feel them early, but I’m doing my level best to essentially distract myself from the months ahead.

This space is a lovely form of distraction. I’m thankful to have it, and a family and friends who will help me through.

Cheers to them all.

The whipping wind.

Walked out this morning to a howling wind while it was still basically dark outside. The woes are nigh-daily and it is as important as always to manufacture my own sunshine where possible. Vitamin D does well to help with some of these woes but it isn’t/won’t be enough.

Another year in the Midwest but I knew it was coming. Hang on tight, lest you get blown away. Only another 4 or 5 months til the sun comes back out.

Make up your mind, sky.

Woke up to snow covering the world today. It wasn’t much but it was a stark reminder that another year of this nonsense has come to pass and I didn’t have the common sense to get the hell out of here.

It was also a reminder that I must address the practical concerns to come, dealing with being in a vehicle that will routinely have to traverse the impossibly large sheet of ice that will be the entire state of Indiana.

Gotta get the hell out of here and get some sun on my skin again sometime in the coming month(s). The desert calls for many reasons. Need to visit my patch of dirt in Arizona.

On matters of life and death.

There’s an old standby that the pessimists (realists?) of the world reiterate in times of challenging news: When it rains, it pours. It is purported to be axiomatic; with one comes the other. I’ve stood in rain smiling and laughed when it poured. It has been cathartic. Recently, however, the referenced pouring has been decidedly less pleasant. This leads me to ponder the phrase for application in different contexts.

The widely accepted form of pouring referred to has come to the forefront of daily life in my family. An unimaginable disturbance has arisen in the form of cancer. Cancer carries the weight of generations by its mere pronouncement. Now our family is forced to speak evil into the world once more. We are to give voice to death and allow it a place at the table again. I am of the opinion and always will be that we are wise to wish death well, that it is always welcome. An unfortunate but necessary guest. Hushing the word away is akin to an outright denial of reality.

We must celebrate our place in relation to death, still able to draw breath and be grateful. Life is a stop along the way.

Death is but a single, perfect black moment. The fall from the edge can seem to stretch time and make it meaningless, but the fear is not in the black, it is in the fall. We are prone to fear falling from our birth. If you can lay this fear to rest, as you should, death can at long last become an ally.

Fear not the fall; few things in life are so inexorable. It is in the fall that you realize the heights you have actually reached.

Love this day and every day as though it were your last, because eventually it will be. Death is not an adversary, it is a welcome reminder to cherish life.

My daily bread.

All at once the gray has set in, though the orange and fading green are amongst the cloud blanket. A cold sets upon us and the heralds of winter in white suit shortly after. Before it sets upon us in totality, an afternoon of fading light. Night comes soon and for what will feel like months.

But in the brightest days, blinded by striking blue against a white sea, the silence comes to usher away the dead. All so the spring can lift them along with the spirits of the rest of us left doing something resembling living. This too, shall pass.

Here’s to you all.

I was going to make this post a diatribe on my disagreements with spurious nationalism and the multitudes of people who fall into that category but I’m going to let that sleeping dog lie.

Instead let this serve as a humble thank you to the veterans who have served something larger than themselves. You all did the work humbly that so many braggarts tout when they raise the flag. Your service was appreciated even if I don’t completely understand the full reasoning for it. It isn’t my lot to understand why a person would commit to this endeavor, but it is within my reach to respect any effort done with conviction.

In short: Thank you.

From someone who hates the world which causes young men to die far away from home at the whims of old men.

What is modern masculinity?

Lately I have been contemplating my standing in the world, specifically with regard to where I land in terms of my masculinity. That has raised the higher order topic of defining what masculinity looks like in a modern context.

It occurs to me that men are given the broad strokes as we mature, and that the picture which comes into focus is more of what might be deemed to be machismo. This is a stereotypical, almost caricature of masculinity, watered down to the even looser term of manly. The picture is devoid of context and contains zero of the nuances that make up today’s deeply complex modern man. There are obviously caveats to my branding: Not all of us are what might be considered deep. Not all of us wish to analyze ourselves in the context of the time we live in and would prefer a time in the past, where men were almost comically manly. But this removes all subtlety. All of the shades are blasted out in favor of conformation to a standard that is at best outdated, and at worst, blatantly sexist. This classic, stereotypical image of a man has never made sense to me, no matter how far I have tried to stretch that image over my character. All I’ve ever gotten was an ill-fitting skin and mirrors that lied.

So maybe the classic image isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of masculinity. Maybe there isn’t a solution at all. Nevertheless, I find it within the confines of my curiosity to try and define what I have come to see as my unique brand of masculinity. And maybe that’s the rub: it is unique to the individual and thus impossible to define so broadly.

In my experience:

Masculinity can take on less than ideal characteristics.

Whether it is the stereotypical stubbornness or emotional distance, masculinity can make the wearer appear shortsighted, childish even. As a person who has worn both of these unattractive qualities on occasion I can confirm that they did the opposite of bolstering my feelings of being masculine. This can feel more animal than human, as though acting purely on an instinctual channel. Animals have little need for emotions and can seem autonomous in their motivations, and there are times it feels the same to be masculine. I understand this may be an oversimplification and that this can just as easily take place on the feminine side of things, but my experiential database has all been while embodying the mind and body of a man.

Problematic word choices and comparisons to the animal kingdom.

It seems a common theme among modern men to bring up the concept of the Alpha male, and typically shortly after that, any number of titles lower in the Greek alphabet. At some point, someone with a marketing degree figured out that there was a dollar to be made by telling men how to become an Alpha (read dominant) male. Only shortly after did the same set of geniuses decide there was more money to be made by foiling these Alphas against their inferior, weaker counterparts, Betas. If you want to be a manly man, the surest path forward is an aggressive, domineering appearance, if not nature. In my experience (as is the case with this entire editorializing), strength more often shows up as steadfast consistency to any given cause. Of all the times I’ve been lead by anyone and took note of their overriding strength, it resembled a calm, focused attention on the goals of the group. There is very little boasting, chest thumping, or loud proclamations of superiority. There are simply demonstrable examples of how the person leads to consistent positive results. It requires zero explanation. These kinds of people are undeniably magnetic. You WANT to be lead by them. It is rare and it is powerful. It’s the type of man I aspire to be, but must take leave of my ego every time I consider I may be one. There is always more to learn, there are always ways to improve. To assume I have become anything approaching this is admitting that my search is over and that feels like a surrender more than an epiphany.

Loud versus quiet.

Treading the line between obnoxious and unassuming has been my modus operandi for much of my life. There are times when I find myself among the type who always has a better story than everyone and it becomes necessary to blend into the room and observe. Yet at other times I will find myself in a room full of wallflowers and feel personally responsible for getting to know them. The part of me that bulldozes through doubt in both rooms is a factor of my masculinity. But what drives that is an insatiable curiosity about any human experience unlike my own. Having a reserved person open up to me one on one makes me feel as though I have a superpower. On the contrary, when I am within a group of outgoing people, I challenge them openly with conversation. The goal is the same: a greater understanding of who they are. But maybe this is just being a human, free of the trappings of concepts like femininity or masculinity.

Masculinity is only a piece of the puzzle.

…but it is a corner piece. As I’ve attempted to deconstruct masculinity it has become clear to me that it is a cornerstone of what it means to be a modern man. Though the definition itself is set in stone, as are so many words, the proper usage and context is amorphous. Nothing about who we are as men fundamentally requires the adoption of classically masculine traits, but societal and internal pressures can become insurmountable. Challenges are issued almost daily; between men and within men, and who doesn’t love a good challenge? But when is the best time to press pause on these challenges, observe who we are and where we are in time, and alter course? That is all this treatise is; an attempt to press pause in my own time and build upon my current level of understanding.

One day my understanding will be closer to whole. In the interim, I’ll do my level best to be a good human first and foremost, picking up clues as I go.