Friday, January 14, 2011

Whoa, that was close... !

Last night, at the recommendation of a very good friend, I watched a movie called "Kick Ass". Awesome! I won't spoil or even discuss the movie here but, though a bit gory, was loads of fun, tons of Super-hero references and kitchey as all get-out.

Not many American adolescent boys can say they have NEVER dreamed of being a super hero (if I may borrow from the movie's opening monologue). I was no exception. I will spare you, true-believer, of the near-insane details of my own meta-human fantasies and delve right into my real thoughts for this posting. Namely how often in our own lives do we defy some or even all odds and can sit here and converse with one another. We can all name a few. Here are a few of mine.

Through a careful balance of self-magnified stress, self medication, ignoring personal health signs and generally being (virally) sick, I ended up in a coma on May 5th, 2006. I can't tell you much about the experience here (I will save those details for another time) but I can tell you it was a surreal experience (again, we can have a great off-line discussion about the white light later). But to keep it brief I awoke six days later and really felt as though I had left and come back. It wasn't like a really long REM sleep, it was... something else. Later I had discovered that, among other things I had gone septic. The medical term is known as Sepsis and kills tens of thousands every year, with as high as an 80% mortality rate. Yet, here I am today, typing this experience to share with you. Whoa, that was close.

At age six, my Mom and I were arsoned out of an apartment building in Boston in the early 1970's. I remember lots of shouting and commotion and my Mom carrying me over her shoulder me groggily watching the event unfold in reverse as I look back over my Mom's shoulder watching timbers and staircases collapse in jaws of bright orange flame. We then, in quite Hollywood fashion, were the last people out as the doorway literally exploded in a burst of white-hot flame, watching the entire six-story tenement bellow a fiery, unearthly glow. Whoa, that was close.

At age nine, on my way home from the bus stop on a brisk fall after noon, a young man was trying to haul a significant stack of luggage up the street. "Hey kid, can you help me? I need to get my stuff to my apartment, I'll pay you five bucks." As we walk up Huntington Avenue, I notice I had been walking for a while and asked "where is your place?" He responds, "oh it's just a bit further". After a couple more times of me asking this and getting the same response I let him know I couldn't go any farther and had to get home, Mom was waiting. "Oh c'mon," he said "its just a little farther up the street." When I said no he got really ticked off, grumbled something unkind under his breath, took his luggage from me and hustled off. Two days later that same guy appeared on the local evening news as a suspect in eight different child molestation incidents. Whoa, that was close.

These events help inform lots of things in my world. How I relate to others, how I raise my children, how I play video games. In relating to others, I know that we all have our own life agendas, so when people speak, they speak from their belief system and their goal-induced sense of daily purpose. As a Dad, I know that every word I say, action I take and move I make are under scrutiny by four people whose lives I help mold. As a gamer, I know that simulated fantasy is just that but it also provides insight; be good to others and good things will come to you. Recklessness begets recklessness and that emptying 2,000 rounds into a killer robot really can help end a bad day on a high note.

Life has a funny way of reminding us about the delicacy, fragility and immeasurably precious nature of our lives. Ever have a bullet go by your head? Ever been mugged at knife point? Ever see someone get run over by a car? I have. All these things remind me of how closely we must hold the wonderful gift of life. Super heroes, as a phenomenon, epitomize ordinary people given the opportunity to do extraordinary things. That capacity lies within all of us. I think it helps remind us what life is really about. In short; it's the journey AND the destination.

We should all be so blessed as to have a few times in our lives when we look back say to ourselves or to others "Whoa, that was close."

Monday, January 10, 2011

This year's resolution; no more damn resolutions!

I'm fighting it. I really am. I am fighting the urge to become the grumpy old man who bores everyone with tales of woe that always seems to begin with "... well in my day." As if 'their day' was some long-lost, forgotten time when all men were mighty warriors that fended off horrible Pterodactyl attacks where these giant predatory monsters swooped down and stole our young. If you're still breathing, isn't today still "your day"?

I am referring of course to our cultural ritual of making "New Year's Resolutions" that time of year when we purpose to better ourselves in some way. Loose weight. Read more. Save the planet. Blah, blah, blah. Well, as for me, I'm Fed-Up. Whats wrong with me as I am? Yeah, we all could shed a pound or two, I would love to read more, blog more, take that creative writing class I have been flirting with.

I don't want to appear crass, but if the first 30 or so years of New Year resolutions didn't take, then why would this one. My oldest son asked me on New Year's eve; "what's your New Year resolution Dad?". I didn't have one. While I sat in my bedroom with my three adolescent sons and a teenage daughter all sleepily watching a tape delay of the Times Square Ball do it's midnight drop (we live in the Southwest so the East Coast is a smooth two hours ahead of us), it dawned on me, I haven't the slightest interest in declaring something new over myself. That plate is already full!

So, after lengthy deliberations, this year, I do indeed have a New Year resolution: No New Year resolutions! Why put additional stress on myself? Believe me, I am putting enough pressure on the current me to do and be better. Check in with me next January. Maybe then I can start saying; "... back in my day (2010), we used to make New Year Resolutions that mattered." Then the Pterodactyl can swoop in and scoop me up.