Sunday, April 23, 2023

Haunted House

Our memories are ghosts. The houses they haunt are us.

"Forever" Pony Cars
The beautifully maintained 1964, Ford Mustang parked on the other side of the gas pumps was being filled by its owner of similar vintage. A new Kia Optima pulled in behind the Mustang. Its Gen X driver quickly scanned his payment card, activated the pump and began fueling. Gazing in admiration at the classic pony car he said, "That has to be awesome to drive." 

"An afternoon cruise around the area is enjoyable. If I was going on a road trip I would choose your vehicle.", was the reply.

"I thought the Mustang was supposed to be an amazing car?" asked Gen X.

"For its time it was innovative and exciting. Compared to the comfort, handling, and safety of today's vehicles it is a dinosaur."

The typical refrains of, "Back when I was your age, and In the good ol' days" are both descriptive and bromidic. The memories of bygone days invite us into a fantasy which is comforting, confusing, and heartbreaking. Take a look at the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man from the movie, Ghostbusters (1984). Fun and cute while providing distraction from the current chaos. Yet escapism is fleeting even when one chooses to reside in its fairyland. A one day pass to Disneyland starts at $104.00. Reside there too long and the expense will cause not only financial bankruptcy, but the inability to navigate daily life. 

I have numerous ghosts which haunt my being. The horrific ones include, but are not limited to needing to

Sheep in Cumbria, UK
end the lives of animals and pets on the rural acreage of my youth.  Some were for sport while others were for sustenance or mercy. No matter the reason, their eyes always seemed to be looking at me. My mournfulness was blended with the arrogance of power over other living creatures. 

In my recent past, the Red River of the North floods of April 1997, have dug a deep trench which is exposed when ancient Lake Agassiz seeks to reclaim itself. Initially my wife and I moved our daughters to a secure setting with friends. That security was fleeting! My wife and daughters drove hundreds of miles in order to reside with family. From their new location the rising, unpredictable waters were stories on the television news. I remained in the town surrounded by untested dikes. The Minnesota National Guard established an encampment within the town. Yet this tenuous security failed to provide restorative sleep. I was frightened that my fatigue would deafen my ears to the evacuation sirens if there was a breach of the levee. If that occurred the town would be multiple feet deep in water within minutes. 

Current flooding on the Red

Intermingled with these images are the ones of friendship, courage, camaraderie, laughter, and hope. Numerous relationships were created and strengthened. On the fatigued and forlorn faces were glimpses of consolation and compassion. While becoming an island surrounded by raging waters, the core of people created a community. Any dream of long-term, interpersonal kumbaya faded slowly as the flood waters receded. When the crisis was past the conflicts resumed. Yet, these memories open many doors in my internal house. Abiding with the haunting are the helpful.

The memories which cruise the avenues of my life have the power which I choose to given them. Primarily, I embrace the present. This is where I live with the freedom and the foolishness for the road trip which lies ahead. 

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Beauty Surrounds Us


Transition Time
There is no abrupt beginning or ending to the seasons. As much as I wanted winter to conclude in early March, it continues to hang on with schizophrenic characteristics. The increasingly intense warmth of the solar radiation, while welcomed, is creating a landscape of potholes, puddles, and porous piles of decaying snow. All the thawing and freezing accompanied by weather systems of frozen precipitation, strong winds, and ice underfoot creates an endurance event instead of a celebration of spring. These random swings are not limited to the external climate. The vacillation of feelings and perspectives have established a solid foundation within myself, as well.

In my ever increasing, normative chaos came words on a Facebook post.  The poignancy of the author's perspective touched me immediately. Going to the eclectic variety store for which she is assuming greater responsibility in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, while being an enjoyable experience did not provide the satisfaction I desired. A note left at the store followed by a couple of text messages provided Josie's permission to share her writing. Here it is:

There is still beauty in this broken world. Sometimes you find it after a hard run under a recently felled tree; in the leaves and fragments of what used to be. It's in between the challenges, it's before the cold, it's after the work. It's all around us simultaneously finding its place amongst the pain, the heartbreak, the anger, the uncertainty. It's part of a whirlwind of wants, wishes, wonders, and woes. Sometimes we have to actively search it out, but mostly it appears like a respite, a relief, a reminder of hope. Beauty isn't something that comes at the expense or suffering of others. It's not found in karma, or greed, or irony. It's infinite, and open for interpretation. It's in movement and stillness and song and quiet. It's man-made and nature's gift. It's long-lived and fleeting, monumental and nearly missed. It's universal. It's mine and yours and ours to share. If we keep navigating through the thick of the troubles and trials the beauty will always tread along the same track. Beauty surrounds us, in this broken world, we just have to let it in.

What if we recognized that we must wilt and wither in order to root and rise? What if we accepted that our life is more than just one bloom?                   Josie Danz      April 3,2023

Multiple Blooms

If I seek beauty only in that which provides pleasure or serves my specific needs, I constrict and constipate the vast offerings surrounding me. During transition, during frustration, during celebration, during life itself, beauty surrounds me!

Look for Josie at Zandbroz Variety, 420 Broadway N, Fargo, ND. I have known her for years, but under appreciated the depth of her insight about many aspects of life. We first met through the sport of running.