Welcome to Hypocra City: Population 1

I’m a hypocrite.

There, it’s been said.

It’s fact. I’ve tried to convince myself that it’s not the case, but no dice. I feel different. Act different. Think different. Things I thought I knew have evolved into things I thought I never would have imagined. My views on politics, life, recreation, and basic common sense. I know how I used to feel, but my mind is elsewhere. I know what used to be real, but my mind has challenged me to rethink. Frankly, I don’t know which way is right anymore. Lately, I find myself looking outside my environment, looking upon my life as a spectator watching tv or a film at the cinema. Don’t get me wrong or read into the perceived negativity. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just a different realization for me and something I’m finally coming to terms with. My sanity has been pushed to the brink several times and it’s taken close relationship or two along the way to steer me back again. But each time I come back to the path, I know I’m still lost.

Does changing positions on topics when you have more of the facts make logical sense? Maybe.  I’ve had the luxury of standing on a soap box passing judgment based on no factual evidence. No first hand experience. No time tested beliefs. Well, now that I have spent some time on the mental front lines, my position has changed on certain said topics. I’m down from my soapbox. Ready to wear the self-imposed mantle of hypocrite, while living in the land of Hypocra City.

Hypocra City is a place equipped with only one working stoplight, a Radio Shack, a Subway (because every town has them), and one gas station that’s only open until 9pm. And if you want to find some late night drinks, you’ll have to go to the local watering hole on the corner. It’s home to the best martinis in town. I’ll be the guy sitting alone at the bar listening to Chris Issak on the jukebox. Come over and say, “Hi“. And since I am the only resident, I will pour you a drink as bartender, and offer the stool next to me for some company and a song as citizen.

Then maybe I can change the city sign on Main Street to Population 2.

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The Last Time.

My anxiety filled heart often has me thinking of the strangest of things at the most randomness of times.  Lately I have pondered this thought centered around this premise: “When is the very last time I will hear any one particular song.” A song that I love. A song I have heard, say 500 times. Yet maybe the 501st time would be my last and I wouldn’t realize it.  There will come a day when that song will no longer be a part of my life for no other reason than just because.   For instance, when was the last time you heard a live Oh’ Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding,  The Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry) by Etta James or When I Come Around by Green Day? Have one of these left your listening ears permanently without you realizing it?

What if I’m in the presence of a great song for the last time and don’t realize it? Would I go upon my daily routine unaware? What if I knew it was to be my last listen of the song. Would I, after hearing said song, appreciated it’s complexity, or energy more? Would I stop my busy calendar filled days and listen to all the words that song was speaking to me and be happy to recognize the last time?  Or would I be sad knowing that a great song I once loved to hear is now no longer going to be around.  Would I have been more attentive to the song?  Not taken the song for granted?

Moving forward, my anxiety filled heart and I will make a better effort to always appreciate the music of a song whether heard on the speaks of the bluetooth car, on the ear buds, or live, and treat every listen as my last. This way there are never any regrets.

I know you’ll agree with me.

…….

Now go back to the start of this post, and replace the word “song” for “person” and reread.

 

 

10 Things Michael Taught Me

Joe_Michael 1

I have come to realize many things over the last year. One of which is the value of friendship. People tweet, read each other’s blogs, like pictures on Facebook, e-mail, and yet in this age of technological explosion nothing comes close to hearing someone’s voice, looking them in the eye or reading words they scribed on a hand written note received in the mail. The latter I am trying to put into practice more and more.

I know that certain lives bless our own for reasons unbeknownst to us. Some people are meant to be in our lives for a long time. Others only a few short moments, sent by God to enter our lives fleetingly. To serve a purpose, and fill a hole in our soul that it needs. Whether it’s negative or positive. These are forever friends, and I know you have some too. But sometimes the realities of life, and how frail it can be, force us apart. I make a point to try to hold on to these friends the best I can. Life is too short not to be with the ones who make me happy. Michael was one such individual.

My friend and brother died three months ago from complications of Cancer.

IMG_7514Even now it’s hard to write these words.  It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Michael was one of the most positive people I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming in contact with. I cherished the time we had together, We sang, played golf, cards and debated major life questions together.  When I think back at all the time we spent in each others company, I’m filled with so much love and great sadness.  At his memorial service at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, I sang with the choir. I was the cantor for the mass while his older sister Peggy played piano. I sang God’s Own Fool, a song we used to sing in harmony together, during the Offertory.

Nothing really prepares you for that moment. Nothing.

Michael was positive to the very end.  He was surrounded with family and love.  The day before his memorial service we spent some time at my older brother Daniel’s home and reminisced about Michael and how he touched our lives.  Michael and I also sang at Daniel and Linda’s wedding in 1995.  We watched their wedding video, of which we were both singing, and we marveled at younger days. That video made us all smile, chuckle, and tear up with happiness. The consensus was clear: We all missed Michael, and 46 is way to young to die.

Friends grow apart by distances of geography, different viewpoints, or life stages. Sometimes they pass on to a higher place. In any case, I try to treasure the moments I spend with them, because I never know when that hole in my soul will be filled, and then the ones I love will move on, whether I want them too or not.

10 things my relationship with Michael taught me.

  1. Walk up and say hello. You just might make a friend.
  2. Use your voice.
  3. Stand up for yourself.
  4. Faith is important.
  5. Service is necessary.
  6. Golf only gets better with practice.
  7. Some country music is worth listening too.
  8. There are no guarantees, even if life gives you a second chance.
  9. Fatherhood is everything.
  10. Your time is the most valuable gift you can give someone you love.

 

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A Complete 180 Degree Shift

What should a person do when they realize that someone they looked up to for decades made a choice to give up?

That their hero was not strong enough.

When all this time you thought that events transpired was merely God’s will, when in fact it was not, stripping you of memories and moments that could never be replaced?

Would you blame them?

Forgive them?

Would the legacy of this person be forever tarnished?

Would the false memories consume you?

Would the anxiety become to much to bear?

Please tell me,

What’s the right thing to do?

“I Lived”

I seem to gravitate to songs with the common theme of getting the most out of life. They’re like Pinterest self help quotes for the ears. Although, I wish I was able to deliver on them as easy as the artist convey their message. Lately I’ve been at war with my own thoughts, expectations of myself and from others, anxieties, responsibilities and generally everything else that I know as a result of the choices I make in the attempt to chase this ideal of getting the most out of life. The weight of this war is dragging me down, and I fear I’m getting lost while running on faith fumes that everything will work out.

Some songs with this theme of getting the most out of life are: I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack, Like You’ll Never See Me Again by Alicia Keys and My Wish by Rascal Flats. Now these are artists that aren’t normally on the speaks but these songs I like. Another song is by the group OneRepublic. In general, I’m not a huge OneRepublic fan but their song I Lived fits the mold and it’s one song that lately and I have been listening to a lot. The lyrics and a link to the song are below.

“I Lived”

Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises
You build a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stay
Hope that you fall in love
And it hurts so bad
The only way you can know
Is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain
Hope when the moment comes
You’ll say…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

Hope that you spend your days
But they all add up
And when that sun goes down
Hope you raise your cup

I wish that I could witness
All your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes
I’ll say…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Oh, Oh
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Oh, Oh

When Words Stop Us Cold

“You’ll be shocked kids when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever. That’s why when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it”

Image courtesy of fanpop.com and Entertainment Weekly

Image courtesy of fanpop.com and Entertainment Weekly

The above quote is one of my favorite lines from the television sitcom How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM). The concept of the show is simple: Stories are told by the main character, Ted Mosby, to his children about how he met their mother.  It’s chalk full of quotable lines and pop culture references that make this one of the best sit-coms in recent memory. HIMYM is down to the final episodes and I’ll miss the show when it’s gone.  Here’s to reruns and Netflix.

I’ve been blessed to have some remarkable friendships in my life and I have to say I’ve thought about the essence of the above quote for a long time. Much anxiety has been created as a result.  In fact, my first post on this blog was about this very topic. The title was Exit 1.

Crazy huh?

The post was about how easy it is for friends to come in and out of our lives. I wrote this particular blog post in 2007, and when I heard the HIMYM quote on Monday it stopped me right in my tracks. If you have a chance, read the post from 2007, then re-read this one again.  You’ll see what I mean.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Ted Mosby and HIMYM:

“You never know when you’re about to meet someone very important. It’s not like life gives you a warning. You just look up and there they are.”

“That’s the funny thing about destiny. It happens whether you plan it or not.”

“You can ask the universe for signs all you want but ultimately we’ll only see what we want to see…when we’re ready to see it.”

“Here’s the thing about mistakes: Sometimes, even when you know something’s a mistake, you gotta make it anyway.”

“Sometimes love means taking a step back. If you care about somebody, you should want them to be happy even if you wind up being left out.”

“Actually, there is a word for that. It’s love. I’m in love with her, okay? If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it’s love. And when you love someone you just, you…you don’t stop, ever. Even when people roll their eyes, and call you crazy. Even then. Especially then. You just– you don’t give up. Because if I could just give up…if I could just, you know, take the whole world’s advice and– and move on and find someone else, that wouldn’t be love. That would be… that would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for. But I– that is not what this is.”

“You can’t cling to the past because no matter how tightly you hold on, it’s already gone.”

“Because in the end, the only thing that can heal a broken heart is time…”

Some of these quotes I am guilty of in spades. Congrats HIMYM for a great series filled with memorable quotes and well crafted comedy. Your presence on prime-time was: “…legend-… wait for it… and I hope you’re not lactose intolerant because the second half of that word is DAIRY!”

Damn I am.

14 Things I Love and Hate v3.0

LoveFest ImageThis year is the third installment of the Valentine’s Day Love/Hate list.
(Here are links to version 1 and version 2)

I thought I’d switch up and focus on 14 individuals in my life. For each of these 14, I will chose one thing I love, and one thing I hate.

Yes, about them.

They are in no particular order… well except for the first five. Let’s begin:

14 Things I Love and Hate v3.0

I love that despite all my faults Julie loves me.
I hate that Julie is usually right.

I love that Joey made me a father.
I hate that real soon Joey will not be living in our home.

I love that Rebekah is my only daughter.
I hate that at times Rebekah struggles.

I love that Aaron completes our family.
I hate that Aaron misses out on experiences due to his size. Even though he’s willing.

I love that Max brings more joy to my children than I ever thought possible.
I hate that Max doesn’t sleep in his crate at night.

I love that T.C. forces me to laugh.
I hate that T.C. and I were not playground friends since Kindergarten.

I love that Jennifer keeps me motivated to run.
I hate that Jennifer was not my sister from birth.

I love that Mike pushes me outside my comfort zone.
I hate that Mike still has yet to finish that pantry.

I love that Lisa is way more grounded than me.
I hate that Lisa doesn’t blog about how wonderful it is to own a fish tank anymore.

I love that Chuck (and sometimes his daughter Lily) and I Skype Thursday nights at WBER.
I hate that Chuck and I are so far apart.

I love that Courtney is my work wife.
I hate that Courtney, like Julie, is usually right.

I love that Adell cherishes her Sunday afternoons.
I hate that Adell and I have not been in a show together since Steel Pier.

I love that Katelin is fearless.
I hate that Katelin has very good aim with a mustard bottle for it cuts into our Karaoke chances.

I love that Matt takes the road less traveled.
I hate that Matt takes way better Instagram pictures than me.

Happy Valentine’s Day.