Friday, May 17, 2013

Denigrating the True Value of a Smile... Another Cowboy Sermon on Perspective

This fits into our chosen lifestyle I think. I've heard it claimed that what we do, how we do it, why we do it is escapism, diversion, shallow... a hollow replacement for life... to which I've always been amazed, but couldn't quite string all the ideas together as to just why...

Then a couple of months ago, a seemingly unrelated story unfolded and it all came clear to me... I let it percolate for a while to make sure that I had it straight in my own head and here it is.

Now... there's a spot or two in this lil' sermon where I don't pull my punches but little. If you're thin skinned... you might want to go shopping instead.

Do you read George and Tioga? He'd been pretty down, sinking awful low. He said something in there that started pokin' at me like a burr trapped under a saddle blanket. It's a fairly common story I think and it just kept pestering me and workin' in my head. There was something floating in there for a bit was just out of reach.

Then one afternoon what was wrong with this common story, and how it fit into this life of mine finally clicked into clarity.

George described the things that make him happy these days as being only distractions to divert his mind from the sadness and hollowness that had grown in his life. He also quoted an interview of Woody Allen where Woody also talked about people using Art to distract themselves from the emptiness of life...

Seriously? Distractions? Diversions? Listen folks, maybe I'm being a lil' hard shelled here... but it's time to Cowboy Up and push all that nonsense aside. I don't mean to hurt feelings here but sometimes you have to break a few eggs... you know?

To label the experiences that inject joy into life... as "distractions"... is to me, somehow... denigrating the treasures of life. Whether it is self inflicted or the result of emotional fatigue it remains basically a blindness of the spirit. But a blindness for which their can be no excuses.

I've struggled too hard for too long... I've seen precious friends struggle too hard hanging on to life with all their strength and still losing it... to see their fights and effort denigrated as... Distractions. That's an insidious, hurtful and wholly unacceptable idea; and one more easily avoided than cut out once it's taken root.

It is the definition of self pity. Yes... there is a time you have a right to embrace those sorrows and pity yourself. But then the sun comes up again and it's time to stop your crying and stand up. People... trust me... I've been there. I've done that. I've wallowed in the self pity and the agony of great loss...

But then, at some point you have to make a choice. Yes it's cold but I'm impatient with self pity. Die and get the hell out of the way and disgrace those you lost... or stand up and Honor those lost, Honor yourself... and Get on with living.

Listen... what does a doctor do when he's cleaning out an infected or dirty wound? Think about it. He flushes that wound. He irrigates it. He forces the junk out so that only clean and healthy flesh remains to heal. He leaves no space for infection. He creates a clean void in which to heal.

Put that idea into this conversation. Your mind and your soul are wounded. The cure is to flush that pain out of your heart. Fill your eyes and your mind and your spirit with beauty, music, joys and laughter. Leave no space for the unwanted and unavoidable sadness and pain that slams into us all.

This is not distraction. It is not "busy work" to use up your minds time. Hell, it's the purpose of life. It is called Healing. It's called living for those who could not! It's often called being worthy of the gift that they earned for you with the happiness their life gave to yours.

What greater purpose can there be than to seek out and find the things that make each day worthwhile? To seek out laughter, fulfillment, creativity, love, challenge... to find those things that make you smile is not somehow of less value than the pain you are forcing out. Those pleasures are THE value to replace the pain with. They are the strong and healthy  new life created to heal the wounds and sorrows.

To belittle them as distractions, is to me, incomprehensible.

If your heart and your mind are suffering; If you look around and see an emptiness, if you are enduring a hollowness from some grievous loss... it is wrong to look at those things that bring a smile to your face or fulfillment to your heart as "distractions" or even worse, to feel guilty about taking those actions.

If you were bed ridden from some accident or illness and your muscles were atrophied from disuse you have to get up and walk to restore them.

Likewise, if your heart and soul carry a dark void from some great loss... You have to search out the people and life that dispel the darkness and fills the void with new light.

Damn people! To sit around feeling sorry for your situation and your loneliness and sink ever farther into your sorrow... while the tools, assets, abilities and life to refill that emptiness with joyful activity, creativity and experiences surrounds you... is to deny the purpose and value of life...

How can I say this nicely? ... That is Bull Shit!

Get out and Live! Cowboy Up! No damned excuses.


Anonymous said...

Damned right. 'nuf said

Walden Creek RV said...

Cowboy Brian-- I may not always agree with you --BUT- I think this is one of your best posts! You and Mark up in Ouray our at your best when you get a good old rant going and set things straight- Walden Creek Rv steve

sierrasue said...

LOL !!! I Love it !!! So true. Of course we all get our down times but life is realy what you make it! Happiness is right in front of you . You only have to open your eyes and your heart to it.

acheapguy said...

Cowboy, I'm with you 95 percent of the time, but.....

Keep reading George, you got a little of it, but he puts more out each day.

Don't forget, a few months ago he fessed up that he had been in a hole, after denying it for so long, but he was now doing better.

Now he says that he was still in a depression but that he now is not.

He is like a butterfly, with big changes everyday.

What I'm sayin is that what George says today is true for him today, but tomorrow could be very different. He doesn't have the luxury of a lifelong partner to bounce our screwed up thought off of :) BTW, get writing, I need a new book to read. Best wishes.

Brian said...

turnwhentheroaddoes, Walden creek, sierra sue; Many thanks!

acheapguy; I didn't mean to criticize George if you took it that way. What I was working to say is that we're all hit with that same train of thought that doing things for our own fulfillment and pleasure in life is a "distraction" and just selfish. THAT which is the "Cure" is maligned as selfish distraction. That was my point. :) from a conversation I had with George up in Rocky Mtn Nat. Park a few years back I gathered that he's the sort that, when he's knocked down, like the rest of us, he feels sorry for himself for a while, then stands up and gets back to working out LIVING. ;)

acheapguy said...

Ok Brian, I'm with you on that now. Interesting how one person tries to make his thoughts clear as possible, and the other reads it totally differently.

That may be why this is my second marriage

Pam said...

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the TiogaGeorge site memorized, but I think you have misquoted George or misinterpreted his use of that "distractions" quote. If I remember correctly, he wasn't referring to things like travel and nature and new experiences when he said that. George had been watching a lot of movies and I think that was what he was referring to. He felt that in his grief, he had been using movies as as an escape and a distraction.

You're describing things that bring us joy and I agree completely that it is not selfish to seek those things and those experiences. George, in a way, was describing the opposite. He was talking about things that we use to numb ourselves like movies, in his case, or all the folks who watch TV all day, every day, or any of the other countless ways we choose to avoid life, rather than embrace it. Like I said though, I totally agree with your conclusions, I just think you misunderstood what George was initially saying. Great rant though! :)

Janna and Mike said...

Well said Brian.

Brian said...

Pam; I let this simmer for a bit. I'll have to find the time to go back and read his comments again. I agree about the TV thing. Most of it mindless drivel. I don't know that "Good Movies" fall into that category. They are "visual literature", as much so as good books; from which much can be learned... in balance of course. It's my opinion George was being too hard on himself and maybe making my point in the end?

After all, it was what he was doing, finding those small pleasures, that took him through that bad time, eventually pushed out the sadness and re-inflated his spirit?

Pam said...

Hi again, Brian. I agree about good movies and that George was being hard on himself. I went back and checked the post where he quoted Woody Allen and he was definitely talking about watching movies as a distraction.

I remembered it wrong too though, because at that point, he was saying it as a good thing-almost defending his movie watching. (Which he shouldn't have even needed to defend but some commenters were giving him a hard time about it.) It wasn't until a month or two later that he said he had stopped watching movies as a distraction and was getting out and doing things and spending time with people instead.

Anyway...I didn't mean to be argumentative about all this. Like I said, I agree completely with your basic point, I just thought you had misread what George was saying.

Brian said...

Pam; No worries! I never took your comment as argumentative and can't see it in your comment now, only the possibility that I misinterpreted what somebody else said.

Which we all know... what with me being a bullet proof genuine western hero and all could Never happen! ;)

If we can't have a friendly back and forth -Including- any possible variation in perceptions... we'd be a pretty feeble excuse for a conversation.

I would HOPE that if you caught me mis-speaking, or mis-understanding something or someone that you'd give me a gentle nudge. :)

Though... sometimes it takes a firm WHACK! to get my attention. :)

Keep me on my toes and paying attention... Please! :)