Five Random Items Make Up the Contents of my Head – Where will this lead?

Yesterday would have been my Dad’s 85th birthday. Holy crap. Last night we saw Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Wow. My mom bought her first computer ever today. Yay. A friend of mine texted the news that Joe Paterno died this morning. Strangely emotional. I found out today that a kid I used to babysit for many years ago took his own life just before Christmas. So sad.

I’m not exactly sure how these five random things fit together, except for the fact that they are all in my head right now so that means they somehow are all blended like a confusing dream that makes no sense but makes total sense at the same time. I figured I’d just throw all these random thoughts down on paper and see where it leads so here we go. It may be more of a journal entry than a blog post, but we’ll see? I guess if you’re reading this it means I decided on the latter.

We went to my Dad’s grave site today. I go there a few times a year. Back in the old days when I had the occasion to be on the road during the day I used to go eat a sack lunch in my car by his grave and pretend we were talking and having lunch together. I guess I needed the physical connection more back then. I’m content with my few times a year visits at this point. My dad would have hated the movie Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He would have thought is was too freakish and way too violent and sexual. But he still would have felt badly for Lisbeth and if she was real and if he met her he never would have judged her based on appearance or personal choices. That’s the kind of guy he was. He had a strong conservative belief system but he never passed judgment on an individual despite his values. My Dad probably would have bought a computer before my Mom finally got around to it if he had still been alive. I’m not sure why I think that but I just do.

I found the movie last night deeply disturbing and at the same time very inspiring. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie or if you’ll see it all but let me just say I think it’s an important movie. I think it’s important because it ignores any stereotypes about what is a “socially acceptable” relationship. I think it’s important because it forces you to look at uncomfortable situations that happen for real on an everyday basis in every country in the world even if they are painful to watch. In fact I found out through some Wikipedia research that the author wrote the book to exorcise some personal demons he carried from witnessing a gang rape when he was 14. I guess writing can be pretty therapeutic, eh?

My Mom and I went to the Apple store today and a guy named Alex spent over an hour with us answering questions about the products and provided service that would set an example for pretty much anybody in any industry. When it was all said and done, he made it easier for my Mom to try something a little bit scary but at the same time really exciting. I appreciate the time and delicacy he showed.

I received the text letting me know that Joe Paterno died while I was driving to my Mom’s. I actually got physically choked up which caught me off guard. At first I couldn’t figure out why but after I thought about I realized a couple of things. I realized that my Dad would be about his age now. I also was realized that he must have died with or from a broken heart. That makes me very sad. Say what you will about his choices to report or not report or whatever (we may never know all the facts now), but I will say this. Nobody works as hard as he did for as long as he did in an university setting without caring an awful lot about the growth and development of young people. We are judged both by the actions we take and by the actions we don’t. I think I’m going to choose to remember the good about JoPa and I think my Dad would have done the same.

I was stunned by the news of the kid I used to babysit for. I didn’t do a lot of babysitting when I was young. In fact I may have only done it a couple of times. I have had no contact at all with this person in well over 30 years. I can only remember him as a tow-headed blond kid running around the back yard in a diaper getting in and out of a kiddie pool filled with cold water on a summer day. I thought to myself, “Why in the world would the person who is that image in my head want to take his own life?” I started to try to create an image in my own head of what he would look like in his thirties. The image I conjured up was frighteningly too real to me. I was about to write more here about some other people I knew who made the same decision or tried, but it’s just too hard to figure out how to put the words together. A bit like that scene in the movie that was too painful to watch… maybe I’ll write more about it some other day in some way. Maybe loosely woven truths in a fictitious novel. Who knows? They do say all good fiction is based in reality.

So where does all this random stream of consciousness writing leave me right now?  I think it leaves me in a place where I’m about to sound like a dime store therapist, but here’s my conclusion. I think all this stuff together in one brain at one time is a brilliant reminder to me that every day is filled with potential disaster and with great joy. It’s our choice which one we want to focus on. Every day we make a choice to either accept change and try a little harder or to resist and struggle with our inner demons. Every day we have the opportunity to be grateful for the things we do have or to anguish over the things that we don’t.

If you don’t want any hints that will spoil the end of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo skip this paragraph and read the rest. Isn’t it interesting that at the end of the movie, Lisbeth has “borrowed” over 2 billion dollars from a drug and weapons trafficking thief, yet when she gets back home she visits her somewhat incapacitated former guardian for a game of chess. And she doesn’t say anything about the money but instead says, “I made a friend. A real friend. You’d be proud of me.” And she wants to buy that friend a meaningful gift.

On this day I am joyful for the number of blessings in my life. I’m excited about the changes that will occur in the next year. I’m grateful for the numerous good friends and family members I have that inspire me to live an important life.

I randomly noticed on Facebook tonight that an old friend who I only have occasional contact with was recently matched with a baby for adoption. I remember vaguely that she had considered trying to adopt some ten years ago. I think she’s about to turn 50 next month and she just adopted a newborn baby with her husband. How awesome is that?

When I was leaving my Mom’s tonight I noticed this little plaque on her mantle. I never noticed it before so I’m guessing it’s something she found at a resale shop. This is what it said:

Words to live by? Little wonder I’ve had a pretty good life with a Mom and Dad like the ones I got. I’m thinking that recently adopted baby got a pretty good hand dealt to him too.

It’s the actions we take and the actions we don’t take that affect the outcome. Isn’t it amazing how art imitates life. Look no further than these five random things in my head for more than a few examples of both of those truths. To post or not to post? And the answer is….

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About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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