Nothing

 

It’s Tuesday…I have been sharing my great wisdom and sense of humor on Tuesdays.  Sometimes I rant on all the subjects that bother me so….  Sometimes people even read them.  It’s Tuesday and I got nothing… nil, nada, zip, zero, zilch, nowt or is it spelled naught.  Hey, that’s something.

For a week I have been awaiting something to trigger a thought, something that I might find interesting to write about.  Something uplifting on World Human Rights Day?  Nothing!  I have waited patiently for divine motivation.  Nothing has sparked my interest.  I…GOT…NOTHING!

Clear your mind, something will manifest…I… GOT…NOTHING.

My mind is literally filled with thousands of subjects, nothing very interesting.  Nothing whispering, “Now this is something you need to blog about.”  No cute stories about forgotten youth, flamingoes, puppy dogs, or coming of age.  No rants on the joke that is the state of national affairs.  N-O-T-H-I-N-G!  At least nothing I’ve not spoken to.

Be honest.  There is something.  Anger.  I’ve turned into an angry old man. Angry because I’ve got nothing.  Angry because I’m afraid.  Afraid I’m running out of stories.  Angry because I can’t seem to get motivated beyond the occasional shower and change of underwear.

I have a vision of an old man sitting in his recliner surrounded by empty beer cans and molding pizza boxes.  Flies buzz overhead.  An ashtray is overflowing with cigar butts.  His tomato sauce stained t-shirt is covered in ashes and burn holes from the embers falling from his cigar.  He is staring at his TV set wondering where he hid the remote, deciding the infomercial about incontinence is better than getting up and searching for something to change the channel.

Is thinking about nothing thinking about something?  Elevate your mind…but ‘maryhoochie’ is still illegal in this state.

I need to do something positive…but I want to do nothing.  Is stepping out into the rain and removing overnight puppy turds positive?  I guess avoiding stepping in dog sh!t is positive.

Oh, my poor daughter.  “What is your father’s legacy?”  “Writing about dog turds.”  I have become an embarrassment to my wife, daughter, grandchildren, puppy dogs…and myself.

Okay, I’ll quit the self-pity.  Writing about nothing has done nothing for my mood.  I’m sure it has done nothing for yours either.  Tune in next Tuesday…it’s got to be better.

For more uplifting blogs or stories go to Don Miller’s author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Flatter Than a Toad Frog…

 

…on a four-lane highway.

It’s mid-November and I’m cold…freezing in my fleece sweats.  I feel the cold deep in my bones and today was quite mild.  The cold days are long, but the nights are even longer.  The darkness fogs my brain and waterlogs my soul….even in the brightest sunlight.

It’s months before the days begin to lengthen…well, a month before the Winter Solstice.  I can’t be wishing my life away; I don’t have enough life left.  This is the winter before my seventieth year.  What is it?  Four scores and seven…and we are certainly not guaranteed that.

Mid-November and I’m flatter than a toad frog on a four-lane.  December, January, and February could be a test of my waning resolve.  My cornbread already ain’t done in the middle and maybe a gooey mess before I feel the winds of March.

There is absolutely no reason for me to be flat…well, I’ve been seeing Christmas decorations in stores since mid-August it seems.  It’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving and then Christmas.  I’m waiting on April Fool’s Day.  For some reason holidays are tough.

It’s five forty-three in the evening.  We have a small mountain range to our west. The sun disappeared a half-hour ago.  It is five-fifty now and darker than the inside of a cow.  I think I know why people went to bed and rose with the chickens…boredom.  I also know why old-timey farm families were huge.

I try to stay busy during the in-between time when it is too dark to do anything constructive and too early to go to bed.  I fill the time as best I can.  Obviously, I write badly, I read, I watch TV, I play online Scrabble, I click on Facebook…sometimes I do all at the same time, slowly flipping from one to the other and then back again.  Sometimes I catch myself simply staring off into space.  Everything in a dim, soft focus, wondering how long I’ve sat with my mind in neutral.

It’s part of my affliction.  I can’t seem to stay focused on any one thing.  I’m fragmented. If I didn’t know I was clinically depressed I’d swear I was suffering from ADD on steroids.  Anxiety?  I’m driving my wife to distraction.  When I’m not bouncing from thought to thought I have a desire to sleep but even my dreams are fragmented.  At night, when I do sleep, dreams are wild and in 3D.  Luckily that is all I remember.

“Are you listening to me?” she asked.  “I told you that five minutes ago.”  “How many times are you going to ask me that?”  “You sure are sleeping a lot.”  “I’m beginning to worry about you.”  Like you don’t have worries of your own.  I have no answers to her questions or her observations.

Clinical depression with a good dose of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I just searched Amazon for a Happy Light…I do spend too much time in the dark.  I should have been a vampire…or a mushroom.

What I hate most?  The depression strips you of the desire to be productive but not the guilt of failing productivity.  Like a vampire, it saps your energy upon rising from bed.  It is a thief stealing my joy and happiness.

The very idea of going for my morning walk triggers an argument with the voices screaming in my head.  Faceless voices screaming “Gooooo!  It will do you good!”  Other’s yelling, “Stayyyyy!  Keep your rear end in that recliner!”  That might be a wee embellishment or I’m actually crazier than even I thought.

Like many, I am high functioning.  I hide my sadness and anxiety from those around me.  I am the subject of Smokey Robinson’s opening lyrics from “Tracks of My Tears”, “People say I’m the life of the party ‘cause I tell a joke or two.  Although I might be laughing loud and hard, deep inside I’m blue.”  It is easier to share this with people I don’t know on a blog than to confess to those closest to me.

Time drags, sleep is fitful and dream-filled.  it is the next morning, exactly twelve hours since I began this pity party, and it is even darker than it was last night.  It seems an unexpected rain shower decided to make its way north and camp over my head.  I must have been playing Scrabble during last night’s weather report.

Over an hour before the official sunrise…add another fifteen minutes for Old Sol to climb above the ridge and its trees to the east.  I guess I will add gloomy to the darkness.  Hopefully, the front will get out soon enough to trigger my morning voices spatting over to walk or not to walk.  That is always the question.

The good news?  I haven’t given in yet.  The bad?  I so want to.  My resolve is eroding.  I want to take to my bed and suck on my thumb.  Instead, I will put on my shoes and begin the day putting one foot in front of the other.  I’ll put on my rain gear and be confident no one will see the “tracks of my tears.” I will battle with myself.  I will climb the hills and try to use music to drown out my voices.  Hopefully, the walk back will be easier, hopefully, the malaise will pass…as it does.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image was from https://werunandride.com/2017/07/11/frogs-on-the-highway/ July 11, 2017

 

 

Life in Black and White

 

I share quotes on my social media accounts.  Quotes I can’t create because I’m not bright enough or because someone said what I wanted to say first…and said it better.  I wish I could be profound but instead, I rely on the words of others to enlighten, humor or sometimes, provoke.

I call these quotes, Don’s Daily Dose because a former student suggested the moniker after reading a few day’s worths.  I’m thankful to her for suggesting the title and helping me to realize someone was actually reading them.

I share these quotes along with some form of artwork to emphasize the point…or just because I liked the snake wrapped around an arm attached to a hand holding an apple… the quote was about temptation after all.  The apple different shades of red, the snake a bright kaleidoscope of color…I find the painting tempting.

2-original-sin-raluca-nedelcu

Original Sin by Raluca Nedelcu https://fineartamerica.com/featured/original-sin-raluca-nedelcu.html?product=art-print

Usually, the art I choose is psychedelic, me embracing my inner hippie.  Vibrant and wild colors from the LSD trip I never took; peace signs, VW microbuses, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix….  Sometimes I use the book covers from the authors I quote from.  I lean toward bold colors with purple and pink being favorites.

Then I quoted Ansel Adams and looked for art to go with my quote.  I was awed by his landscapes in black and white.  The quote was about the environment, something Adams photographed in black and white, his mode of artistic expression.  Mother Nature stark and sharply in focus…maybe auster.  Nature laid bare, no makeup to soften its features.

The picture I chose of a two-lane blacktop took me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when “filmed in Technicolor” was the exception, not the norm.  Stark blacks and whites along with muted grays were the standards, life laid bare in living black and white.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Road, Nevada Desert, 1960

Movies, television, stills from Life magazine, most were in black and white in those days.  If I wanted color I thumbed through my grandmother’s National Geographic.  Wild animals and bare-breasted native girls filmed better in color.  In this modern-day, life is replicated exactly as it is on large screened TVs, tablets and I Phones. I still find black and white to be more poignant, more shocking, more potent.

Doretha Lange’s depression-era Migrant Mother does not reflect her pain in its colorized form.  Color is too soft.  Her turned down mouth with fingers stroking the side of her chin…pondering her lot in life it would seem. Her furrowed brow, two of her seven children hiding their faces from the camera.  There are no soft colors, just sharp black, and white pain.

DortheaLange

Destitute mother of seven, Age 32 Doretha Lange https://www.wdl.org/en/item/81/

Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski pleading for “Stella”, wearing a torn and dirty T-shirt, his hands clasped against his head…Same in Technicolor?  Only if his head explodes.  Stanley Kowalski was not a nice person, black and white suits him.

streetcar named

Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire https://macmcentire.com/2017/04/03/random-warner-bros-a-streetcar-named-desire/

I watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, Freedom Rider buses burn, and Walter Cronkite tell the nation a war was unwinnable after Tet, all and more on a black and white TV.  Those depressing moments were befitting of black and white.  No color necessary, no sugarcoating with pastels, no bold makeup.  Just stark black and white.

Jack Ruby

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald as Detective James R. Leavelle looks on.  Leavelle passed away on August 2019.  He was 99.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/29/us/james-leavelle-dead.html

Most of my childhood memories are in black and white.  Friends and family posing, smiling on three, frozen as a Kodak catches their likenesses.  My parents so young in their courting pictures, people long dead, their faces faded in the old albums I liberated after my father’s death.

I sigh, exhaling heavily as I think about them. My winter depression may be sneaking up, edging closer.  It is a bit early yet but it always catches me by surprise like those “backshooters” in the black and white “oaters” I watched as a child.  Bad men willing to do their worst to the Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Willing but not able as they live on in the reruns of life.

It is still pre-dawn as I edit this and there are no colors other than black and gray of night.  Not even a hint of the sunrise to come.  The almost full moon nearing the western horizon doesn’t give enough light for colors to reflect.  I seem to do my best writing in the dark, surrounded by blacks and whites.   My best writing is relative and it is not the way I want to spend the rest of my life.

Life in black and white seems harsh and I’ve had my black and white moments.  Life needs a few black and white moments to give depth and meaning to the warm colors in between.  Profound.  Maybe I am capable of a good quote after all.  Time to greet the sun.

sun2

Autumn Sun by David Galchutt in 2019 | Fall | Sun art, Moon …

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The featured image was lifted from https://pearlsofprofundity.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/life-in-black-and-white/

 

 

 

Dealing with Writer’s Block

 

And that is a huge joke…one I’m not laughing at.  It’s not writer’s block, is it?  No, it is insanity.  It’s a little early for Seasonal Affective Disorder to rear an ugly head.

Writer’s block…”All work and no play make makes Jack a dull boy…Don a dull boy.”  I feel like Jack Torrance in The Shining although I’m not ready to chop a hole in a door….Maybe mad enough to chew nails and spit rivets…what in the hell does that even mean?  I think Don was a dull boy before the writer’s block.

Writing about writer's block

I’m writing about writer’s block.  Geez.

Honesty is the best policy.  It’s not just writer’s block.  It is do anything block.  I gave up and tried reading and then continued to binge-watch the series Justified… looking for motivation, to no avail.  I failed. I didn’t get my chores done either.  I’m such a slug.  All I did was vacillate between the activities I refused to do.

writer-meme-5

I have too many voices chanting in my head.  Imaginary friends, voices of long-dead friends, voices of enemies I wish were…no, I don’t wish that on anyone.  I have voices from characters in three different storylines I’m having trouble completing.  Completing?  I just want to move forward a bit.

I just reread forty-four chapters in one and deleted half of them.  I deleted them on purpose…garbage I say, garbage!

Writer'sblock1

I went for my morning exercise.  Usually, a bit of exercise will clear my head and quiet the voices.  I focused on the portion of the story involving the death of a major character.  I wrote it in my head, around and around it went, like flushing an imaginary toilet until I got it just right.

Returning home, I sat the chapter aside and let it marinade before sitting down and failing to get it written down.  Could death be the problem?  She is a fictional character and the story won’t work without her untimely demise…Geez.  I’ve become attached to someone who doesn’t exist.

2eikm7

It is another day and I write in the morning, in the pre-dawn hours…or in this case stare at my computer screen.  It suits me most of the time.  Friendly ghosts seem to surround me, whispering in my ear.  They provide no help.  I hear their little “Casper the Friendly Ghost” voices ridiculing me.  Maybe they are not that friendly.

I’ve wasted two hours of prime writing time writing this blog.  My story sits, unwritten…all three of them.  Lucretia still lives.  Allen Kell is frozen in my mind, his hand hovering above his six-gun as he tries but fails to save her.  How will he not save her?

Total word count for today

I must shut down the computer and start my day.  Exercise and then major chores.  Like the story of the hard-working ant and the lazy grasshopper, winter will soon be upon us and there is so much left to do…from not doing it during the summer.  Preparations must be made, must be made, must be made…if I say it enough….  How does a fiddlin’ grasshopper morf into a hard-working ant?

Don Miller, when sane, writes on various subjects, some real, others imagined.  Access his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Images from various meme mines.

On World Wide Suicide Prevention Day

Originally entitled, “The Easy Way Out,” I first wrote this three years ago and it bears repeating.  “Suicide is not an easy way out.” My own contemplations of suicide and my battles with clinical depression fuel my emotions, along with the thoughts of three friends and former students who in the last few years have opted to take the “easy way out.”

No one who knows me would think, “Coach Miller is suicidal” without being told so and many would say, “Aw shucks, you’re pullin’ my leg.  You?” Yeah, me.  Many people who contemplate suicide don’t “look like someone” who might because we are masters of disguise.  “So, take a good look at my face, uh-huh. You see my smile (looks out of place). Yeah, look a little bit closer it’s easy to trace, oh the tracks of my tears.”  The problem is Smokey, we do our crying alone and put our smiles on when we are out in public.

The Easy Way Out

Rewritten 9/10/2019

“A brave man once requested me,

to answer questions that are key,

‘Is it to be or not to be,’

and I replied, ‘oh why ask me?’”

“’Cause suicide is painless,

it brings on many changes,

and I can take or leave it if I please…

and you can do the same thing if you please.”

Theme from MASH, “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel

 

I don’t believe there is anything easy about committing suicide nor do I think is it totally painless. That would be two of the major reasons I don’t attempt it. When you are sick like me, one may find it not to be the easiest of ways out. I don’t mean sick as in “I have a terminal illness and it is going to eat me up from the inside out” kind of sickness but the “I’m crazy as a bed bug” kind of sickness.

I have suffered from clinical depression for over forty years now, so I believe I have the right to say, “I’m crazy as a bedbug.” Also, like a world-class alcoholic, I have become very adept at hiding it. You see, almost daily, I still have thoughts of suicide or when I do something I consider “wrong,” there are the thoughts that I deserve to be hurt in some way even if I do it to myself. YES, I JUST CUT OFF MY FINGER ON PURPOSE!!!! I’ve done neither so suicide may not be the easy way out after all.

Being suicidal and repeatedly not pulling the trigger, not slitting a wrist or taking a short step out of a very high window is hard. I spend some of my “very best” depressed “self-speak” contemplating, quite morbidly, the pain of a bullet entering my head as opposed to the pain the same bullet would have on the people I leave behind. The people I love and, despite my depressive hate speech, those I know to love me, at least I think…maybe.

My wife, my daughter, and son-in-law, my grandchildren, who I don’t yet know as well as I want, my brother and my friends. So far, my belief is that the pain of my action on those I leave behind would be greater…therefore, I don’t do it. There is also the fear of the unknown. Am I going to find myself inside of a vat of boiling “hellfire and brimstone” for instance, am I just going to “wink” out of existence or turn into some type of cosmic energy? Will I be reborn as an Egyptian Dung Beetle?..one of my favorites.  All options are scary, as are others, and I find I am not a very brave person or is “sticking out” the mental anguish, itself, brave?

Clinical depression is one of the odd ducks of mental illness. “Oh, you are just a little blue…” and the Grand Canyon is a little hole. Logically you ask yourself, repeatedly I might add, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Nothing!  Absolutely nothing.  Or, friends and loved ones ask, “Why are you depressed?” Those questions are quite tiring because there is no answer unless it is everything.

My depression is due to tiny, little, itty bitty chemical imbalances in my brain. AND IT IS TREATABLE, once you figure out it is nothing more than a disease. No different than diabetes, or arthritis, or toenail fungus except that for some reason it seems to be much more embarrassing to say, “I am clinically depressed and suicidal” than “I have toenail fungus and it is yucky.” It shouldn’t be.  Toenail fungus is pretty yucky.   We need to dispel the stigma of “I’m crazy as a bedbug” and treat the illness.

These thoughts were triggered by a phone call. A friend told me of suicide. I didn’t know the man; I know the family he left behind and can only imagine the pain they are going through. The unanswered questions, “Why?”, “Why didn’t I see it coming?”, “What did I do wrong?”

Suicide was not an easy way out for them. Suicide was not due to an incurable and painful illness like cancer. It was due to an incurable and painful illness like clinical depression.  There are no answers to the “Why” and “What” questions.  Quit asking them!

His suicide has me, selfishly, thinking about ME. I worry someday suicide will appear to be the easy way out… I won’t have enough clarity of thought to keep me from pulling the trigger. No there is nothing easy about suicide including the contemplation of suicide.

Before you worry, NO! I do not need to be put on suicide watch…at least yet. I’ll try to let you know and you should be paying attention…not only to me but the people who are close to you.  Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you okay?”  Your loved one will lie and say “Oh, I’m fine” or “I’m just a little blue,” but you should be looking for lies.

This post is for the people who have not had their clinical depression diagnosed or those who have and still battle it every day. You are not alone and you are not an embarrassment. There are many of us out there, a depressing estimate of one hundred and twenty-nine million worldwide, one out of every ten Americans and even more depressing, eighty percent never receive treatment. I was lucky.

There ARE people you can talk to. If there is no one in your life, try these:

National Suicide Hotline (800) 273-8255

Teen Health and Wellness Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433

Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or

text ANSWER to 839863

For more statistics  http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic

If you are interested in reading more “Ravings of a Mad Southerner” or other writings by Don Miller, please use the following link:  https://www.amazon.com/DonMiller/e/B018IT38GM

The image featured is from https://www.docsopinion.com/2018/02/25/depression-symptoms/  and comes from an article entitled 10 Important Symptoms of Depression.  I would suggest you check yourself.

 

Deafening Silence

 

I’ve been outside three times this morning…and it’s not yet seven-thirty.  The puppies woke me way too early.

I am troubled by the silence…the sounds I don’t hear.  I seem to be drawn to the quiet like a moth to a flame.  Everything is muted, even the vehicles climbing up the grade toward Hendersonville.

I don’t understand the silence and I am a bit disturbed.  Usually, the birds and bees are active by this time, chirping and buzzing.  But nothing is moving…just the toad that keeps trying to find a way into my house and the mosquito he must be chasing.

I don’t really mind the toad and admire his persistence.  I wish he would nab the mosquito. The blind puppy dogs seem to mind, picking up his scent and leading me to his location.  Waiting patiently for their “good dog” treats after I remove the interloper to his normal habitat.   Where is that damn mosquito?

Now I am looking at the bird feeders and they are not attracting any kind of activity…squirrels included.  I squint into the pre-dawn light to see if they were emptied during the night.

Did some spaceship descend from the heavens and abduct my wildlife deciding they didn’t need my toad?  I’ve seen too many end of the world movies.

My murder of crows has been quite active recently but not this morning.  Why I wonder?  Why are gatherings of crows called murders?  As I ponder, I realize I really have seen too many horror movies and am crazy as a loon.

It is as if the very air is absorbing sound.  Not a leaf moving.  The citronella torches I just lit are burning straight up, reaching toward heaven.  The heavily scented smoke defies gravity, swirling neither left or right as it disappears toward space.

It has been hot and dry…for us.  I think that makes us all crazy…wildlife included.  Mid-nineties in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.  Pre-dawn has become after dawn and there is no dew on the grass at all.  We need rain badly and a break from the heat.  It is as if the wildlife has already hunkered down in a cool place for the day.  Maybe that’s why the toad continues to break and enter.

Maybe it just my diminished hearing or my increasingly bad mood.  I find myself anxious and a bit depressed.  Am I depressed because of…or is because of why I am depressed?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if I even make sense.

What I do know is the silence is as oppressive as the building humidity and heat.

According to the local weather guru, there is hope on the horizon.  Rain chances increase late in the week.  Nothing for sure…just like life.  Maybe what rain we do get will wash away the silence…or maybe I should get off my ass and make some noise.

The featured image from https://dahni.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/words-matter/

Please take time to like Don Miller’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cigarman501/?eid=ARB0OtYgbYydIVtqtxaOGKECb-AvbbILtPybDOE835b4sChVMzC7w_vB9jqu161yiZWOmbn134yI6lwT

Or his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

 

Nevah Endin’ Loop

 

I don’t know why I’m thinking in my womanly, Southern voice,  “Nevahhhhhhhh Endin’ Loop.”  Elongated syllables and soft gees.  It is about my lack of sleep or the Southern character I’m trying to write.  My night was like the opening lines of a famous novel…”It was the best of nights, it was the worst of nights,” from A Tale of Two Darknesses.

I slept hard for four hours…and then awoke with a mind that simply refused to turn off.  Negative thoughts chased one another like wolves chasing the sheep I counted as I tried to get back to sleep.  I finally tried to write…and failed to write.  A loop of gloomy, bleak and fatalistic thoughts flicker like old black and white movies from a nickelodeon kept getting in the way.

Because I’m fragmented…History lesson alert!  A nickelodeon NOT Nickelodeon.   Many of you may be unaware that back in the day, there were motion picture machines found in storefronts called nickelodeons.  In the middle of the first decade of the 1900s, for a nickel, you could watch silent shorts or “peep shows” of people sneezing, silent vaudeville acts and women taking their clothes off.  This was before VHS, smart cards, flash drives, streaming, satellite TV and Pornhub.

Images were imprinted on “a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals” and ran as a film loop over a hand-cranked projector.

The loop continued to repeat as long as you desired to crank.   Thank you, Wikipedia. No, I have no idea what I quoted means…magic maybe! Exactly how did that image of a Victorian lady taking off her clothes get on to film?  Research to come.

At three in the morning my mind decided, on its own, to begin running an imaginary film loop of everything that was bothering me, ovah, and ovah, and ovah again.  A never-ending, mental, horror movie loop of sick and blind puppies, aging puppy parents not able to take care of themselves much less their puppies.  A friend who had emergency bypass surgery, home, and yard work that must be done, a tractor that does not run like a Deere, and two vehicles with over four hundred thousand miles combined with strange noises emanating from them.  Worse is my total lack of motivation to do anything other than sleep…except I can’t…even…sleep.   I have presents to deliver to my grandchildren…from Valentine’s Day.  Ah sweet depression, a depression by any other name is still a depression.

Can you be losing the battle if you are worrying you are losing the battle?  Did that make sense?  Probably not to anyone other than me.

It is late-morning now.  A gloomy mid-morning that matches my mood.  I walked in the sleet until I said ‘Oh Fudgenuts’ and went home.   Not because I was cold, I was.  Not because sharp, minute chunks of ice were hitting me in the face, they were.  Not because the weather gurus had missed the forecast, they had.  I could have overcome all that.  It is the never-ending loop running in my head…never quite ending and adding frames as it continues along.   Now I’m watching the sleet bounce off my metal roof.  The sleet is not helping me end the loop nor is writing this.  Wait…I just yawned…maybe a nap?  Ah, sweet silence.

For other musings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from https://www.britannica.com/technology/projector/media/478521/95460

Nineteen Seconds….

 

Nineteen seconds…doesn’t sound very long…it’s not very long considering the eighty-six thousand, four hundred seconds in a day.  But it may be the motivation I need to continue living.  Compared to yesterday, nineteen additional seconds of…blessed sunlight.  Say it blesssss-eddddd!  Nineteen additional seconds as the sun begins its annual climb into the sky, a full minute of glorious sunshine by Wednesday.  Overly dramatic?  Not at all.  The Winter Solstice is once again behind me.

I have a mild case of depression.  Mild.  I laugh at the thought.  Chuckle, chortle, guffaw!  Today my depression is mild, like soft spring rains.  My mind only slightly fragmented.  A thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle fresh from the box fragmented.  Only a bit of anxiety as I prepare for Christmas.

Blam!  Tomorrow my depression may land like a warm, wet, stinking cow patty from a, particularly tall cow.  Unknown sorrows bringing a squirting, diarrheic, torrent of melancholy gloom, doom and despair for no reason at all…other than it just is.  Splat…Rumble…Rumble…Rumble…Splat!

Similar to the symptoms of diarrhea, I never know when my depression will hit any more than I know when it will end…I just know it will hit…usually in the darkest hours the winter when sunlight is at a premium.  I know not when it will end…I only hope it will end.  Oh, glorious sunshine, how I wish to feel your warm caress.

What a quandary…dilemma…predicament.  At my age, I shouldn’t be wishing my life away.  How many winters do I have left?  Yesterday it seems I celebrated a birthday…and here is another…right around the corner.  Still…I hate living from a bout of depression to bout of depression.  Is it living?  Oh sunshine, why have you forsaken me?  Bring on the heat, humidity, mosquitos, and longgggggg days of sunshine!

You think my depression might be magnified by the season?  I’ve never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but you don’t have to be a savant to realize what is going on…summers with mild bouts of depression, winters with “Oh my god, I’m as crazy as an outhouse mouse!”  I’m in real trouble, my humor is not even funny to me.

What to do, what to do?  The sun is trying to peep above the ridgeline.  A walk before church?  It’s thirty degrees…ordinarily not a deterrent.  Today?  My disability is getting in the way…but there’s “gold in them thar hills,” beautiful golden sunshine.  Dress warmly, my friends.

For more of Don Miller’s musings or rantings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from http://7-themes.com/6937886-forest-morning-sunshine.html

 

Winter…Sucks

 

It is still over a month away from the winter solstice… the darkness is oppressive.  Last night was thirteen hours, thirty-nine minutes and thirty seconds of rainy, cold darkness.  It seemed longer… I was awake for much of it.  I feel the darkness in my bones…in my soul.  Tonight, darkness will be a minute and a half longer than last.  I am already dreading it.

It’s not just the darkness, it is the angle of the sun, rising low in the southeastern sky and staying low, lower, lowest for the next…forever.  I never saw the sun yesterday and won’t see it today.  Wet, winter doldrums and it’s only the mid-way point in November.

The acronym SAD just doesn’t seem strong enough.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I don’t guess miserable fits…as an acronym.  “I have MISERABLE!”  Or WRETCHED…or DISMAL.  On top of my spurts of just plain depression.

I have inherited much from my Grandmother.  Love for growing tomatoes, reading, bird watching, and wildlife in general.  I also inherited her depression.  Gray days sitting, wishing, gazing out at the winter contemplating when the sun will return.  I remember her “blue.”  Wilting and turning brown like plants touched with a frost.  I also remember her blooming in the Spring.  Hope “springs” eternal.

I see people gaily dressed in ugly sweaters and hoodies.  Embracing pumpkin spice and reveling in falling leaves and bonfires.  Elves in red who can’t wait to get through Thanksgiving.

Give me the sun.  Give me the hot and humid weather with mosquitoes and thunderstorms, lightning bugs and hoot owls to chase the darkness away.  Give me the sun, long and high in the sky.

Daylight is finally upon me…its still raining so I can’t see the sun.  A gloomy day that I feel cutting deep.  I can’t seem to concentrate or sleep.  My wife may be in for a rough day.  I write, check social media, pick up a book and stare at pages without reading, walk around the fireplace and then do it all over again.  I have a book ending to complete…maybe in the spring…or the summer, when my mind is not so fragmented by the dark.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD1

The image is from https://harrisrichard.com/tag/winter-sucks/

A TURN OF A KEY

 

Woolgathering doesn’t quite define it.  I wasn’t pleasantly lost in my thoughts…well…the triggering mechanism wasn’t pleasant.  Word came that a former player has died and then Aretha left us the next day.  Their deaths sent me down the metaphorical pig trails my wife often talks about.  I never met Aretha but Pat…Pat played for me and deserved better from his former coach.

I see him with his arms crossed over an ample belly, chin on his chest, his helmet cocked back on his head during a break in practice.  His head is cocked to the side as he listens to our diminutive offensive line coach pontificate.  They share a joke, both belly laughing and after a bit of back slapping went on about their business.  Seeing them in my mind is a prized memory.

He was a big youngster, playing offensive tackle, gregarious and fun-loving…except when he was trying to get in on the defensive side of the ball.  A pest with a huge grin enveloping his whole face, “Come on Coach Miller, I can do this.  I can make a play.”

He wasn’t the quickest kid, built for comfort not speed.  I tended to put runners on the defensive side, nasty folk who could fly to the ball…he wasn’t a runner…nor was he a bird.  He could be football nasty on occasion…and was.

Maybe I should have rethought my philosophy.  In a goal-line situation, we sent him in to add a bit of beef on the line of scrimmage and he came up with a fumble recovery.  I clearly see him running on to the field, chin and face mask jutting forward in determination, arms windmilling.  Smiling, I see him fist pumping in celebration as he took his place in what had become the offensive huddle.

His junior year we caught lightning in a bottle six times and had our hearts broken four.  The four losses were all heartbreakingly close and as their coach, I should have figured out a way to win a couple of them.  The last one cost us a trip to the playoffs.

Six and four was the best we could muster during my four-year tenure…back when I thought I was a football coach. There is much guilt, regret and now sorrow associated with those years.

He is gone, stolen from us in the middle of the night.  I’m still regretful…regretful I haven’t kept in contact. I forgot I coached kids, not football.  He and the rest of them deserved better because winning was never the only thing.

My pride was hurt and according to the Bible, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  I don’t know about the haughty spirit, but pride made me push the memories aside.  My “embarrassments” were placed in a mental “lockbox” and stored in a far corner of my mind.  I turned a key and walked away thinking it would hurt less.   “Out of sight, out of mind” meant the good recollections and warm feelings were locked away too.

There are too many good memories to hide them away…and too many good friends…the coaches and players.  People I should still be in touch with.  There is too little time to allow bad memories to overshadow the good.

Pat, I’m sorry it is too late for us.  I’m sorry about your beautiful family and their pain.  I know they are hurting.  I know too, they will have wonderful memories to fall back on when they are ready.

The key has turned and the lid has opened flooding me with memories.  The bad ones are still there but overshadowed by the good ones.  Bad memories can be handled when you have so many warm ones.

Rest in peace Pat knowing you will be missed…and adored.

The image was stolen from https://www.escapeyourfateup.com/store/p3/Multi-Room_Experience.html

For more of Don Miller’s musings https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM