I’ve Been Away

I have not had the desire to write for many months.

That doesn’t mean I have had no desire to express myself.

I have found a new form of expression.

It is quiet.

It is without definition.

I will just show you.

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A Moment

I want peace.

I think, above all else  . . . peace.

Joy, love, understanding . . . yes.

But peace just sounds so sweet.

Like a long deep breath, and an equally long exhale.

It is that moment, just before you draw the next breath.

That is where it is.

There, is peace.

Brief . . . Bathing . . . Fleeting.

Engulfing.

Peace.

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Peace

Don’t look into the pile, the heap of refuse.  It is where all things wasteful die.  Mourning, sorrow and defeat are chained there.

Look only to the meadow, where the wind is light, and the wild flowers and tall grasses sway.  Open your hands and walk slowly.  Let the grasses brush you.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  Raise your face into the sunshine.

In the meadow is peace.

 

 

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It Doesn’t End Here.

It was about this time last year that my life took a turn I never thought possible.  I am experiencing my world now as a 46-year-old single man, and I’m learning so many different things, that I often have a thought to sit down and write them down, and just as often, I don’t do it.  I say to myself, that I don’t want to spill all of my personal drama to the many masses that read this grand blog, for they may not want to return . . . and then what would I do?  All of my advertising income and endorsement deals, would surely float away into cyber space.  Right?  Well, I definitely don’t want to lose any of that cold hard (imaginary) cash that’s rolling up in here, like a bus load of retired snowbirds headed for Florida!

So, without giving away any gory details of my divorce, I will just mention that from the fall of 1986, to the Hoosier arctic blast of January 2014, I was married.  I had not drawn a “single” breath of air since I was 18 years old.  And, staying true to the generation I grew up in, I was a father before the wedding day.  Since that fall day almost 28 years ago, I somehow managed to round-up a total of 6 children, five daughters, and one son, and three beautiful grand-babies!  I could never imagine this life without them.  Any of them.  I love, more than anything, being a dad and a grandpa (Poppy)!

But it is the trial by fire, known as divorce, that has me evaluating, and re-evaluating even  the smallest details of how I interact with people, especially my kids, what my values are, and what I put my faith in.  I had never realized the range emotions that accompanies the Tsunami of divorce, and I was totally unprepared for the power of the wave as it hit landfall, and the flooding of our lives that followed.  How would one prepare for that?  I had never entertained the thoughts of, “What would you do if you got a divorce?”  I liken that answer to the answer of this question, “What you would do if you won the lottery?”  Well, you can’t really answer that, until you actually do win the lottery.  Now, I’m not suggesting that divorce and winning the lottery are in any way comparable . . . at least not in my case. The comparison is in the speculation of the unknown.

What is known is something called The Emotional Stages of Divorce.  The stages of grief brought on by divorce are well documented, and I am not qualified to attempt a proper dissection of this topic.  But, I am qualified to muddle through a portion of some of these stages, as I have come to understand them.  So here, in no particular order, are a sampling of my personal descriptions, of some of these experiences.

The Burning Hurt.

I am not sure how else to describe the feelings of hurt and anger, that begin to boil up deep inside you.  Like a witches cauldron on All Hallows Eve, there is a distinctive smell, and sound, of some wicked curse bubbling to the surface of an oozing, black pot, and a constant hissing of embers, keeping the pot boiling.  You go to sleep with it, and you wake with it, if you sleep at all.  The smell burns your nostrils, and the sound deadens your hearing, and all other senses fade in its presence.

The Bewildered Scramble.

I liken this to being tied in the final minute of a soccer match, when you are trying to maintain some type of control, in order to “win the match” (save the marriage, or figure out what comes next after it’s over).  Every touch on the ball is crucial, and extremely stressful, and the heightened level of stress has increased the chances of error dramatically.  Every player, in every position, is looking for an opportunity to score.  You even pull your keeper out of the box, looking for any opening; any advantage; any opportunity, to get that winning goal.  But as your keeper gets out of position, the possession is lost on an errant pass, and the ball is chipped just over the keepers outstretched hand.  “Game over.”  Yet, it isn’t over.  The final whistle only signifies the end of the game.  The final whistle doesn’t prepare you for what comes after.  Your mind zigzags through the “what if’s”, and “if only’s”, ad infinitum, while being fed healthy doses of that steamy brew, from that still boiling, accursed cauldron.

The Parent Unplugged.

This one, I am only recently realizing existed.  Apparently, when one goes through a traumatic experience, one can, at times forget certain attributes and responsibilities that were once a part of ones everyday existence.  You are so focused on the “alien in your chest”, that you can hardly see the one that has ripped open your children’s ribcage.  “They seem ok.”, you say to yourself.  “I know it’s hard, but they will get through it.” These uncomplicated thoughts, may be a defense mechanism to help ease your own pain, but they do no good in fighting that voracious little creature that has leapt from their chest, and left them seriously wounded.  I pause here momentarily to say that I have no experience in fighting aliens, or counseling children of divorce, and I never dreamed I would need to do either, especially my own children.

The Wait!  Who?  What?  Where?

This also is new territory for me.  You get so used to living life inside of your own little box, and then you get dumped out of that little box, in the middle of B.F.E., and it’s a little bit of a mad scramble to find the paved road again.  Like Clark Griswold lost in the desert, you did not start the day out preparing for a day long hike in the blazing sun, and extreme temperatures of this place.  No water.  No sun block.  No compass.  No camel.  Just you and your shadow, and a whole lot of sand.  You have to start thinking, and doing, and living, in your own frame of reference.  You have to begin to put confidence in your own abilities, and your own decisions, because it is all you now.

Yes, there are others counting on me every day.  But, they are not responsible for what happens next.  I am.  This is a little scary, and at the same time exciting.  Yet, I have a new sense of freedom, and a new spirit of change, that encourages me to find the paved road again, and stay away from that service station that Clark stumbled into.

These are just few brief descriptions of my journey into this strange new world.  I . . . we, have a long road ahead, and I have no idea what lies around the next bend in the road.  But I am glad to be moving forward.

 

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Once or twice upon a crossroad

Just six miles east of my town, on State Road 18, you will come to the Interstate 69 junction. For most of my youth, the only thing existing at these crossroads, besides the on/exit ramps, was the shell of a partially built hotel. I don’t know the specifics, but it seemed the developers built the walls, and never came back.  Those brick walls stood for decades, untouched, save for the hand of nature.

But eventually someone saw the economic potential of this lonely intersection, and development started taking off.  At first, a truck stop, restaurant and hotel.  Eventually a distribution warehouse and community college were built.  Now there are a couple of restaurants, gas stations and a Harley Davidson dealership.  And there are two notable vacancies, that have the potential to mirror the old, unfinished hotel walls of decades past.

Even the excavations have become overgrown.

Even the excavations have become overgrown.

Several acres were being developed for, of all things, a sports arena, to be home to a minor league hockey team, and other attractions.  Sounds good, but in a town of barely 30,000 people it would seem difficult to pay the bills.  But after months of doing the ground work, the efforts have all ceased.  Lots of excavation had been done, but that’s all.  Only a glimpse of what may have been.

The other location is much more tragic, and personal to our community.  Only a few years ago, a young and ambitious business man, moved his auto dealership from its downtown location, to a potentially prime piece of real estate at this crossroad.

Empty on the inside, and barren on the out.

Empty on the inside, and barren on the out.

A brand new building, in a promising location, was sure to prosper.  But tragedy struck this family, and it stands empty and unresolved today.  Nothing in the showroom.  Nothing on the lot.  And, no name on the building.

There is a paved street that runs a few hundred yards into the property.  It abruptly ends, and then turns into a short gravel lane for staging construction equipment.

End of the road.

End of the road.

This road, which had intended to lead to strip malls and apartments, would have been the entrance to the arena.  It was appropriately named Big Play Way.  A fitting name for big dreams, and high hopes.

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Fitting.

Each of these failed ventures has its own story line, including unrealistic expectations, mismanaged funds, and human error.

Overgrown, undeveloped acreage, an empty dealership and an unfinished road are all that remain of these unfinished dreams.  I now drive past this crossroad of unresolved lives daily, and it hit me in the heart one day.  Don’t let this be you!  This empty shell of one mans dream stares at me, no screams at me!  It haunts me like Marley haunted Scrooge.

But my personal crossroads aren’t fiction.  My ghostly visitations aren’t here to warn me of what could be.  They are here, in so many ways, telling me that there are things, there are situations, and there are relationships that will be left unresolved.  The paved road will end suddenly. You may have some gravel to travel on briefly, but then it will be untouched wilderness.  Your list of unresolved issues will do you no good in this wilderness. You will need a compass.

You had hoped to write a different story, or at least hadn’t planned on including a chapter with no conclusion.  But that’s what can happen at the crossroads of unresolved and unfinished business.  Your story just runs out of letters.  The pieces fall and you have to walk on, leaving them . . .

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A Brief Thought About Truth

I used to believe that love contained a binding element of “sink or swim.” It was the thread that held the fabric together. “No matter what . . . I am yours”, was in my mind and heart. The idea that marriage was 50/50 was never my mantra. It was ALL/ALL. There would be times when you, or your spouse weren’t able to give at all. Sickness, depression, physical disabilities. Someone, at some point, was going to have to give more, and get less in return.

Sink or swim, I am yours.

But, I see now that the only thing to give that kind of devotion to is Truth.  Truth about ourselves, and truth about others, can be difficult to accept. It is the one thing that we are most afraid of, and the only thing that may cause us considerable pain, but will never wound. Lies come in many forms, and are often hard to detect. But if you handle truth often enough, un-truth sticks out like a Pinto, on a lot full of Corvettes.

 

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Who Can It Be Now?

Deep breath.  How do I start this one?

Well, it is now 8:37 pm, and I am just sitting down to supper.  A nice big bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.  I just took a steaming hot shower, a well deserved one, if I do say so myself.  After picking up our girls from school today, I hustled over to our rental property, that was having some plumbing issues.  Two plugged up toilets, and two slow drains.  Hmm.  After three hours, one pair of rubber gloves, two wax rings and the purchase of a plumbing snake, I had all of the water flowing again.  As a side note, unplugging your own toilet is one thing.  Removing the plastic toy, that caused the debris pile up in someone else’s toilet is an adventure I’d rather not repeat.

Anyway, I have been thinking about my little blog, and I have discovered that I need it more than I had realized.  It has been, and still is, a good creative outlet for me.  But I see now that I have been hiding some things from myself, and as I have re-read some of my entries I am seeing some things a little more clearly.  I am not ready to share all of my personal revelations, but I will divulge one.

The title I chose, soccerdadconfessional, is now very telling.  It briefly describes how I see myself. I am a proud dad, I  love sports especially soccer, and I am in need of confession.  Now, I’m not Catholic, so I don’t know what happens during one of those ‘fessin’ up sessions, but I’ve been about as Baptist as you can be, and Baptists are all about repentin’ of yer sins an’ such!  I also have a deep regard for the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, which also emphasize admission of your character defects, and making amends with the folks I may have harmed.

But, to put the word confessional in the name of my blog, never occurred to me that I was admitting that I felt guilty.  Yes, Guilty.  I won’t go into all of that here and now, but I would like to reach out to all seven of you who wait anxiously for my newest post.  I think it’s time for a title change.  I am choosing to let go of the guilt, that has weighted down every key stroke; that has affected every decision I have made in many, many years; that has caused me to second guess how I coach, how I work, how I exercise, and how I worship the God I say I believe in.

So this is an open request, especially to those who know me, but also to any traveler who might stop in on their journey.  If you could re-name my simple little blog, what would it be?  Don’t be shy, don’t hold back, and don’t forget the hot sauce!

p.s. You can also reply to johnrumple68@yahoo.com

Posted in Christianity, Coaching, Faith, Family, Love, Parenting, Personal inventory, Recovery, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stillness: Part 1

The Heart Of The Matter

soccerdadconfessional

There is a place of stillness, on a path that is well-worn, but solitary.  Upon first sight, many travelers have met its simple beauty, with a lethargic mental shrug.  A narrow footpath; a small, circular pond; dense evergreens, and tall native grasses.  A seemingly proper subject for a novice painter, but as you get closer, you begin to notice something that you can’t quite put your finger on.  It is quiet.  The wind doesn’t blow.  There are no birds darting about, or squirrels leaping from one tree to another. There are no sounds that would normally be familiar to a place like this.  You do not hear the croak and splash of a startled bullfrog, or the rhythm of a band of crickets.  As you come closer to the pond, you realize even your footsteps and breathing seem as if they have been muffled.

Upon first look the water seems…

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The Only Thing Necessary

This blog of mine is many things.  It is a place for me to ponder and wonder; pretend and prove; show and tell; learn and practice; sort through rubbish or glean some nifty truth, and sometimes just to blow off steam.  This entry is mostly the latter.

English: Reel lawn mower

I put in a long day today of working my full-time job, (taming the unruly beast known as ground water, and making it suitable for human consumption), and mowing a few lawns to finish out the day.  My wife had put our supper in a crock pot, and had taken it to our last mowing stop of the evening, our cousin T.J.’s home.  After eating, I had gone outside for some reason I can’t remember, (and even if I could I am sure it wouldn’t be relevant to my rantings), and stood in the driveway.  T.J. soon joined me, and I pointed out to him that the neighbors dog, (who at that moment was frolicking playfully on their lawn), as menacing as he may seem, was not a Pit Bull, as T.J. had mentioned in a previous conversation, but was actually a Boston Terrier.

Boston Terrier brindle coat "Dawson"...

As we were discussing this, an elderly woman from down the block walked up just in time to hear T.J. explain that I had misunderstood him, and that the house on the other side of the menacing Boston Terrier’s house was home to not one, but two Pit Bulls.  Upon hearing the mention of Pit Bulls, the elderly neighbor was eager to share her opinion about not just the Pit Bulls, but about the “black and white couple” that lives there.  She was quite sure that they, the Pit Bulls, belonged in the part of our town that is largely populated by people of color, and, I suppose for effect she repeated that “they don’t belong here anyway”.  She went on to express, with much consternation, that if it weren’t enough that they had not one, but two Pit Bulls, the black and white couple kept their garden hose reel in the front of the house right out in the open, (so trashy, who would do that!?) and . . . well . . .  she supposed that they, the black and white couple did keep their place up well enough, to which I was able to muster the question, “who doesn’t belong here the black and white couple, or the Pit Bulls?”  With a slight wave of her hand, the elderly woman responded in a half chuckle that, oh . . . that was up to me to decide, and that it didn’t really matter to her.

A Garden hose.

Somehow, I didn’t believe her.  I didn’t believe it didn’t really matter to her where this couple lived, and more importantly that this couple was biracial.  Here was a woman who had abruptly entered a conversation with two other people, one whom she had never met, and in rapid fire fashion unleashed her opinion of her neighbor, with venom veiled as concern, fully expecting agreement from her listeners.  I will admit I felt shame for only responding with a simple question.  But as I stood there for those few seconds staring into her face, I had to think that this was someones grandmother, and I did not want to hostilely engage this person who has lived with this mind for more than 80 years.  On Sunday I turned 45 years old, and in my lifetime I can count on one hand the times I am sure that I have been discriminated against because of my skin color.  Honestly, I can’t think of even one occurrence.  I have seen this neighbor on a few occasions milling about his garage; tinkering with his motorcycle, and mowing his lawn.  It has hit me like a flood, that even without his knowledge he has been judged as inferior, by one of the most innocent among us, an elderly grandmother.  (As a side note, I wonder what she thinks about as she gets ready for church on Sunday morning?)

It was obvious that our conversation wasn’t even a blip on this woman’s moral radar, so I chose to take a breath and walk away.  Regarding matters of race and equality, it is moments like this that cause me to believe that we have still got a long way to go.  On the drive home I shared this brief encounter with my daughters.  I was still a little in shock and was having trouble saying things that made sense.  I think I was in a hurry to tell them what little I know of the fight for freedom, and civil rights, that black people have endured in our country, and I spewed out some garbled, half thought out recollections of things I have read or watched on television.

I’m not sure how to end this entry.

I don’t want to be preachy.

I don’t want to come across as anything but an ordinary guy, seeing and acknowledging something bad, and wanting to be a part of something bad ending.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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Stillness: Part 1

There is a place of stillness, on a path that is well-worn, but solitary.  Upon first sight, many travelers have met its simple beauty, with a lethargic mental shrug.  A narrow footpath; a small, circular pond; dense evergreens, and tall native grasses.  A seemingly proper subject for a novice painter, but as you get closer, you begin to notice something that you can’t quite put your finger on.  It is quiet.  The wind doesn’t blow.  There are no birds darting about, or squirrels leaping from one tree to another. There are no sounds that would normally be familiar to a place like this.  You do not hear the croak and splash of a startled bullfrog, or the rhythm of a band of crickets.  As you come closer to the pond, you realize even your footsteps and breathing seem as if they have been muffled.

Upon first look the water seems to be pitch black, but you can see that it is more like the eyes of a newborn; traces of all colors coalesced into darkness, each color longing for its right to be seen.  The surface of the pond is without a ripple; smooth as glass, and the sight of it has begun to dry your mouth.  You kneel down and cup your hands to dip a handful of water, but you pause when you notice your figure casts no reflection on its surface.  A slight sense of uncertainty is planted somewhere deep inside as you consider this strangeness, but you lower your hands anyway.  You lick your lips with a dry tongue in anticipation of the cool water, but as your hands break the surface of the pond there is no feeling of any kind.  There is no sense of coolness or wetness, and not a single ripple rolls away from your hands.  It is as if you were passing your hands through smoked glass, and when pulling your hands back up, you find them dry as dust.  Puzzled, you push the tip of your finger through the surface once more, just to recheck your senses.  Still dry, and still no ripple.

Still kneeling, you raise your head slightly to take in your surroundings, and you begin to feel as if this place is not familiar at all.  It is surreal; like a dream, and that small sense of uncertainty, is starting to strengthen itself with doubt and fear.  You stand and look long over this pond, and this place.  You turn and look back down the path that led you here, and across the pond to where the trail picks up again.  You are reminded of your thirst and look back down at the water.  You toss a small flat rock out across the surface but it doesn’t skip; it just gets pulled under without a splash or disturbance of any kind.  How could this be?  What is this place?  There is no one to answer.  You just want to understand.  You start to sense heat, but you are not sweating, then you realize that you have begun walking again.  You might have circled the pond, but can’t be sure if you have gone back to the trail you came in on, or if you have gone forward on another trail.

The sky is clear, and the wind is blowing slightly.  You hear some familiar sounds; your feet scuffling on the path; tall trees rubbing gently together; a woodpecker in the distance; your own breathing.  Familiar, but strange.  Something is different.  You can’t help feeling that you have lost something, or that something has been taken from you.  But you keep walking.  Walking is familiar.  Comforting.  The trail is one of many, and you sometimes cross paths with other hikers.  You may share a word, or just a nod, but you often wonder if they know what is missing?  You wonder if they have been to that place of stillness?  And you wonder, if they wonder, if it was real?

You keep walking . . .

When I originally posted this short, strange story, I had intended to write a part two that would surely dazzle and amaze my, faithful reading audience.  My words would come swiftly and with much wisdom, I’m sure.  But I have been away from the keyboard for some time now, and I have not given two thoughts to this story, or any other for that matter. But I was surprised to find that when I sat down and read this little piece, I could  relate to it more now than when I wrote it.  It was just some imagination, with a little bit of contemplating thrown in.  It was a metaphor of sorts, that I had hoped to be brought to a reasonable conclusion.

But, reasonable or not, I think it already has.

This stillness is a time, or place, or an event, that removes you from the reality you know so well, to a reality that could not be introduced to you any other way.  Like coasting through traffic, and out of nowhere you are hit broadside.  What follows, is total confusion in slow motion, but it seems to be over in a split second.  Disorientation.  Fear.  Panic.  Anger.  Pain.  A whole spectrum of emotions, and physical sensations that leave you out of breath and stunned.

It takes from you and doesn’t give anything back.  There is a hollowness that is dull, and full of pain at the same time.  It leaves you starving, but nourishment is the last thing you can think about.  All the things around you that you once thought ordinary and mundane, now seem alien and bizarre.  The routines of day to day activities seem like a vicious enemy, whose only desire is to chase you down until your lungs are burning and you collapse in exhaustion.  The stillness came without warning.  Blindsided.

And then . . . movement.  You raise your hand, and stare at your fingers as you make a fist.   You begin to hear, not just noise, but sound.  You begin to sense, not just feel.  You realize that you really have been breathing, not holding your breath.  Your mouth is dry and your throat burns from your thirst.  You aren’t ready, or able, to determine what has happened, and you have no way of knowing what may be missing, or broken.  You crawl out of the wreckage, and look for something familiar, and you start moving towards it.  Direction.

You may never know exactly what transpired in your stillness, but be sure that . . .

“the more I know the less I understand, all the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again.”

 

Posted in Christianity, Coaching, Faith, Family, Fear, Forgiveness, Health, Love, Mental health, Morality, Personal inventory, Recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment