The Best of All Possible Worlds

 

Evolution

Hey Gang!

Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement. It meant the world and it once again reaffirmed that I have the greatest bunch of bloggers on earth as part of my “gang”. You guys are awesome and artists and wonderful people whom I am honored to have bumped into in this world wide web of disconnection!

I was walking Sofie not too long ago, enjoying the warm afternoon sun. We have a decent sized backyard and I like to walk around in the grass with bare feet. So, we walked around for a moment. She laid down and basked in the yellow light until a car door slammed. She jumped up and ran behind me. I was looking at the trees, oblivious to most everything except their creaking sound as their branches swayed in the breeze. Her hard tug made me turn and I saw my Dad paying us an unexpected visit.

He sauntered up as he always has since I can remember. He pulled up his jeans and cleared his throat.

“Hey Pops, what’s up,” I asked as we met half way.

“Christopher, what happened to your job,” he asked. His tone was more of inquiry than anger.

The first thing I thought was, “Oh, sh**, here it comes.”

My father and I never really had a relationship, most of you know a bit about that from the blog ‘Jogging My Mind’. I am not really used to the idea of a father. Not in a traditional sense. It almost seems comical in a way because it is such a foreign notion. Like watching Ward and the Beaver. So, when this happened I was a bit surprised. I could probably count how many times I have seen my father in my life and I will admit that I was bitter. If I were honest, I would say I still am.

You have this kid inside of you that is always there. The kid is you. Your base. Your root. “Youer than You” to quote Dr.Suess.

This kid in my head is still asking questions that I, as an adult, can’t answer and probably doesn’t want to know. The questions of ‘why’ this or ‘where were you’ that, have faded for a long while. Those left when I got older. My evolution faded most of those thoughts that plagued me as a child. That shaped me as a man.

I sometimes imagine myself walking down a long corridor in a dimly lit school. I walk to the end and open up a door. The room is lit by a single light overhead; people sit in a circle. The rest of the room is not visible because of the darkness. Only the center where the people are is visible. I see there is an open chair and I sit. I imagine looking around and they are me. All of them. I see my root, leading the discussion. I see the grade school kid who played with G.I. Joes a little too long but loved life. He sits playing with a Hot Wheels car. Not a care in the world.

Then, I see the middle school version of me. By his own definition, a “Curly Haired Slacker”. A victim of sloth and apathy.

I see the high school me. He sits, angry at so much more than what he believes. He says his mother smothers him but he is angry about the world and how he doesn’t fit in. He sits with green hair and a black hoodie, like he always wore.

Finally, I see the college version of me. The ambitious journalist who loved to have fun. Bettering himself. He would volunteer at places and then go downtown and drink a bit too much. Maybe wind up on an interstate but that is a different blog post.

Then, sit I. I look at all of these people and I see conflicting people. I realize that these are the past versions of a person looking for something he hasn’t found. I look at my root and he watches the door and I notice an empty chair next to me. The me that wears these black glasses and watches trees creaking. The me that has somehow become defeated but still optimistic. The me that doesn’t take my mortality for granted. The me, now.

The me that is waiting in that room for the next version to take his place beside him.

I suppose I divulge this bit of inner thought because I wanted to show an evolution of someone who became independent at a young age. I had to become a man in theory. I feel as if I turned out okay, probably better than if I had had a father but there is always that unknowing. The haunting question that plagues my base: What If?

I had to learn to be the man that was my mother’s idea of what it meant to be a good man.. So, I carry a lot of values of an older generation. Seems nice but you would be surprised how hard those old ideologies conflict with modern day women.

***

I tell my father everything that happened. I tell him about the loss of my job and my lack of luck now. I remember his face as he heard all of this. He just looked at the ground and nodded his head along with it.

I told him I had gotten a decent offer from a large business in Chicago but I couldn’t travel all the way out there when my Master’s starts in August. It would be pointless.

I tell him that I feel like I am stuck in limbo.

Then he says:

“Christopher, if it didn’t work for you, then it didn’t work. You did your best so… I don’t mind helping my kids as long as they are doing better. As long as they are trying to better themselves.”

I tell him, “thanks.” Then I mention how I feel like maybe I should have just went into the job market and skipped my Master’s. Maybe I should just stay home.

“Christopher, you are single. You ain’t got no kids. You can go wherever you want. You don’t have nothing tying you down. When I was your age, I had already had two kids. Man, if I had been in your position, no telling where I’d be.”

He said that with a longing gaze as he rocked in the swing glider. I didn’t say anything. What can you say to a man’s lifelong lament?

I just looked at him and saw that look of regret in his face and it reminded me of Voltaire’s Candide and how it harkened to the philosophical nature when it said, “…the best of all possible worlds”.

For a moment, my father was lost in that other life. That other world.

So, for my father, this isn’t the best of all possible worlds. Not in his mind.

I listened to him and took that advice (and all of yours!) and I feel happier now. I feel like I am doing what’s right for me.

My father and I stayed there for a few more moments and then he said goodbye. He called a few days later and asked about the job search. We talked for a few minutes and for the first time I made my father laugh.

In my evolution, I have been very angry about the absence of a father and then felt apathetic about it. Ambivalent. Now, I feel open to the idea of a relationship with my father.

The best of all possible worlds, in my opinion, is the one you shape. Not the one that is shaped for you. I may not have been born into the best of all possible worlds but I live in a world where I can make it that way.

-Chris

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My Life As A Dog

 

Image

Hey Gang!

 

So, I believe I have an unhealthy obsession with my dog.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. I have all their albums. Even the b-sides but I am usually a “let me pet you a bit and then you go lick something” kind of guy. I know it makes me sound like a mean guy but I just like that space. My aunt has a dog and it is basically an appendage; some extension of your body. He will climb on your shoulders or be on your lap and lick you constantly. You almost want to sit him down and say, “Listen, I just need some space. It’s not you, it’s me.”

 Reminds me of an ex-girlfriend, actually.

I feel like I should really be afraid of dogs, too. My cousin and I were chased by two Rottweilers and a Doberman. I remember hearing them bark a few fenced-in yards over and we just laughed it off. No way could they jump three fences to get us. We thought that all the way up until they did. The look in those dog’s eyes as they bound over each fence was a look of hunger for my tiny chocolate flesh!

 Frightening!

….and I still dislike Rottweilers. I know Cesar would say, “It’s not the breed, it’s the owner” but I mean the owner wasn’t licking his chops as he looked at me for dinner. Little give and a little take on that one, Mr. Dog Whisperer.

 I ran as hard as my 8-year-old legs could pump. My cousin almost got hit by a UPS truck as we took shelter on a random house’s porch. It was one of those instances where, when it’s over, you laugh and say, “That was insane!”

All that said I have become enamored with my mother’s dog, Sofie.

I have talked about how my life lately feels like a tornado tore through it and it was bugging me. I was frustrated and felt alienated from friends. I felt like my own home, my own life was a prison. Harsh but true. That feeling of being stuck in a hole but it is just deep enough for you to not be able to get out. Frustration.

I wrote my last blog a few days ago and came home from the coffee shop. I came in and laid down, facing upward and arms stretched wide. A few moments later I heard tiny footsteps coming my way and then a face that looked like a baby Wookie. She is a Shih Tzu and is fairly tiny. She has brown and white fur and huge glossy brown eyes. She came up and licked my face. Her tail wagged with vigor. It made me happy to be home.

I am a hair shy of 6’7” and my dog is maybe a foot long by 8 inches tall. So, yes, it is hilarious to see us play. I am sure it is embarrassing, but I don’t care. I usually get down on all four and crawl around on the floor. I bark at her and she barks back. We play with her toys but I like to get down on her level.

She is funny because she will sometimes be walking and then sit down and look off into the distance. She looks stoic, regal even. I often wonder what she could be thinking. What could she be thinking that made her stop, sit down and ponder.

“When does wood become wood and not part of a tree. Is a tree made of wood,” she contemplated.

I get so wrapped up in everything that is going the way it’s going; not wrong, just going. Whenever I play in the floor with Sofie, that stuff all kind of fades away. I know I sound like a crazy dog guy but for me that is what it’s about. We play like that and sometimes I lay in the floor and she lays next to me sprawled out, eating a chew bone. We just lay there. She snuggles up close to me and takes a nap and I try not to move, so as not to wake her.

I call her my shadow because everywhere I go she is right behind me. That day I came home I was so frustrated but then Sofie came and said “hi” and then went back to eating her chew bones and that’s when I realized something. This little entity doesn’t give a crap about what I have done or what straits, dire or not, I am in. She is only interested in one thing: being my friend.

I laughed when I said I would write a blog about a dog but when I think about it, this isn’t about Sofie being a cute little fluff ball, which she is.

It is hard for us to let go. Let go of everyday things or those that seethe. We become so worried about life and what others think. We worry about what happens next and we become so caught up.

We forget that life is so much bigger. Life is fun and beautiful and funny. There are so many things that we miss because we don’t want to see it. We, or at least I, can sometimes fall out of love with the many facets of life. It gets hard and turbulent and you want to go into your shell but don’t.

Don’t give up because dogs never do. They live to live. I think we have forgotten what that means.

I don’t mind those days when things go wrong because I come home and I get on the ground, play with some chew toys and live like a dog. Not looking behind me or in front of me. Just being in the moment.

Not a bad life if I do say so myself. Even if it is for only a short while.

-Chris

A Beginning’s End

 

Hey Gang!

So, this may be a part two I think to No Moss. In this blog I always try to analyze all the good things but I know that there is more to me, to everyone, than that deep thoughtful side. I don’t lie to myself; I am not infallible.

The other night my mother and I were hanging out, as per usual with this whole being back home thing. We were talking and I brought up that I wanted to maybe look into acting and writing. She responded honestly but it was not what I wanted to hear. Isn’t that funny how that works? We ask questions and we hope to hear what the other person says somehow validates or mirrors your own way of thinking but when it doesn’t it is devastating. 

She told me that it was a dream and that I needed to have a more concrete ground. I laughed, which pretty much angered her to no end, because she used the analogy that writing is like the champagne of life but I needed my “beerwallet” to pay the bills and for my family and things.

“Mom, I am single,” I said.

“Later in life. When you do have a family,” she said.

I get the gist of what she was saying. Writing and acting and producing are things I am really interested in. I plan on sending in a couple of screenplays to festivals in a few months, and a few revisions. I understand that these are not consistent forms of income but I have seen what a job is like when you have income but the job is terrible. I just thank the gods of blogging that when I worked at the call center I was on the ground floor (Dark Humor!).

I listened to what she said but I was more hurt by the fact that I didn’t have my friend there. That person who believed in me unconditionally. I didn’t have support when I needed it. It was like a stab when she said it was a “dream”.

I once dreamed that I was floating over the city. Literally, that’s it. If you remember an old post I did, I wrote about my dream that I went into outer space. Dreams. A dream is something I find unattainable. Everything else is an option. When she called my option a dream, I was offended. I thought about it long and hard that night.

I was laying in bed listening to Toro y Moi and looking up at the darkened ceiling. I couldn’t help but be angry with her. I was livid.

I was pissed off.

I didn’t know why though until I realized it was more than being hurt. It was more internal. It was the one thing that has been my bane since I was a kid: ambition. I have always been ambitious and it seems great but that hunger is insatiable. I wanted to do things that made me struggle. Things I wasn’t very good at and then become great at them. I tried basketball and got good at that. Mainly because I was 6’3″ when I was 12 but anyway. I was terrible at school and now I am getting my master’s degree with an assistantship.

I am not bragging I am just saying that I love the challenge and I love showing myself that it is possible. My mom is my mother and my best friend. I just want her to be proud of what I do in both respects.

This option is a risk, a big one but I need it. I have been writing, whether for newspapers or blogs or broadcast, for 11 years. I feel like I am just finding the tip of the iceberg that is me and my literary voice. It is what makes me happy. I love the fact that you can never be satisfied with your writing because you know it isn’t perfect.

We are all artists on here my friends. We do what others can’t always do. We craft a story in blog form and it is great but we always know that there is more we could say or a better way we could say something that would make it better.

I digress, though. I don’t want to skew into a tangent.

Ambition is a part of me I am not proud of. I don’t step on other’s toes or anything. I only try to be better than me but I know I can always be better. Drop some lbs or edit some stories. Increase your vocabulary. Maybe don’t cuss as much….

Changing, hopefully for the better, but never satisfied.

Content is a dream.

I feel angst in the fact that there is a fork in my road right now. There is this great song called “Closing Time” by Semisonic and in it there is a lyric: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

I feel like in the coming months I have a decision. One I must make without the ambition that clouds  my mind so often. I am going to be closing a very large book soon. Friends are moving away and I am moving on. This new beginning has to be the book of my choosing. I could choose the short sweet book of knowing. That path that has no grass. Paved even.

Or.

I could choose the long novel. The extremely long novel. Atlas Shrugged long. The novel where there is depth and so much there. So much to experience. There is more to it. That path that has barely been walked is the one I have to choose.

That long novel that begins with the line: “Chris decided….”

I guess we’ll see how that line ends soon.

-Chris