December 13, 2016

Hold On A Second

Hold On A Second
By John R. Greenwood

Hold on a second, where do you think you're going? I was just getting into June when August arrived and blew through the front door. I haven't enjoyed anything but work this summer. Once again May showed up unexpectedly and the next thing you know it's Labor Day and the kids are buying up all the three-ring binders. It doesn't seem fair. I don't think  I've enjoyed a summer since I was a teenager chasing around my life guard (Mrs. G.) girlfriend. SPAC concerts and long walks home after the movies were plentiful. 

Back to my present day missed summer fun. 

I worked hard this summer. I mean I really worked . Injuries and a lack of testosterone in today's males left us as understaffed as a McDonalds at noon. I'm really sick of listening to people in their 20's and 30's complain about sore anything. Since I peaked at 40 I've been told I have arthritis, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, among other things. I'm now 61 and every morning I get up and creak down the hall gaining momentum and equilibrium as I go. In his new book Roughneck Grace, author Michael Perry compares his morning ritual to a: "wincing stick insect disentangling itself from a flannel cocoon and shuffling off puffy-eyed to the bathroom." 

Somehow at the end of the day I'm still functioning and earning a living without any prescription medications. I know things could sour in an instant and I take nothing for granted. I feel it's important to keep attached to the world. Working for the same company for decades creates a long list of familiar people. People who know who you are and where you live. You've watched their children go from a nursery school to a college. Yesterday you were handing them a coloring book when their father came in to pick up his check. Now they bring them along to take my Defensive Driving Course. You don't walk away from that day to day closeness easily. I like my personal quiet time, but I also embrace the fact that my life has been blessed with hundreds of hard working, generous, and caring people. Why would I want to give that up just so I didn't have to set my alarm anymore? 

What I've discovered about myself these last few months is that I have enjoyed a really good life. I think more of us than we like to admit have, but judging by the whining and complaining I hear, there is a large majority that feel our happiness is the responsibility of others. I could understand if it was the people who are struggling the most that were complaining but it's not. It's the ones who have jobs, and homes, and two cars in the driveway that's seem to feel they deserve more. Happiness and contentment are up to the individual. I feel fortunate to have what I have but I've also worked very hard for it. The mistakes and miscalculations I made were my fault not yours. 

Now it's almost four months after I began writing this and I've muscled through another couple physical setbacks. I'm feeling better today and hoping this is the beginning of another hike up the mountain. Life does that to you. One minute you're having a nightmare, the next minute you're doing a happy dance. It's learning to enjoy the entire package that's the trick. Being here to enjoy it at all should be enough for us, but as you can see by clicking on the remote any time night or day we usually aren't. More, more, more is the world I see. 

Rather than wallow in self pity for having neglected my blog for months I guess it's time to get back up on that sway-back and get busy. I've learned that life won't wait for me, it's leaving with or without me. 

I want to thank Michael Perry and his new book "Roughneck Grace" for winding me up once again. His writing style and stories have been a go-to place for me since I discovered them many years ago. This latest book is a collection of brief essays from his Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column, "Roughneck Grace." I have been using the book as a pre-work relaxation exercise. I do my 5am body workout in the cellar. Forty-five minutes later I emerge with the vigor of a young man.  Then I make a cup of hot coffee, grab my book, turn my reading light on next to the couch and enjoy the best part of my day. Reading Mike's essays is like sitting down with a fresh package of Oreos. You open them knowing the first ones out will be the freshest. You bite off half an Oreo and then stuff the rest right in behind it. Seconds later there's already a few missing. I have to treat this book like I do the Oreos. It's a challenge to pace myself. I sip my coffee read an essay, pause, enjoy, sip, read, enjoy, repeat. You want to stretch out the next 30 minutes to make it feel like an hour. You know the day will be filled with two truck problems, an injured driver, and three delivery mistakes so this relaxation fix needs to hold up for awhile. You could could sit there and eat all the Oreos in one sitting but how will you cope with next week's staff meeting if you finish the book in on Wednesday this week. Six decades gives you lots of practice perfecting this relaxation routine. Ration the Oreos and the essays with care and enjoy them fully. For all you forty-year old kids out there I'm trying to save you some time with a little helpful advice: read, pause, enjoy, sip, read, enjoy, repeat.

"Honey, do we have any more Oreos?" 


  1. Thank you for keeping an eye on RI. I've been delinquent in my keyboard exercises.