Sound, Script, & Sawdust

Last month I wrote about how I had just committed to narrowing my focus down to three passions: music, writing, and woodwork - Sound, Script, & Sawdust. The thing that finally got me to dial in on what I wanted my life to look like going forward were not the words of some self-help guru or the latest life hack from a productivity coach. It was this poem. It was these simple lines by David Whyte that started me thinking on where and to who and to what I gave my time. I'm willing to bet his words will resonate with you too.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

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Dispatches From Wrigleyville

“I’m goin’ to Chicago.” I had just said these words to my wife with an almost giddy certainty as we watched history play out in the washed out images on the bar’s projector screen. We lived a thousand miles away and could not afford the time off work or the gas to get there. None of that mattered. The Cubs were five outs shy of winning the National League pennant and reaching the World Series for the first time in living memory of all but one member of my family. Their first since the invention of the microwave oven, their first since the integration of the game. Decades of loyalty to these lovable losers were about to pay off. It was going to happen. It was inevitable. Things, it seemed, would finally be made right at Wrigley. That was 13 years ago.

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These Matching Scars

I did not see the wreck. I only heard it— steel and skin on asphalt followed by a terror-stricken shriek. When I turned and hurried back up the path I found my daughter, my eight year old child, standing over her pink and white bicycle spitting mouthfuls of blood on the ground.

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Mind Over Mileage

It was right about the time I broke the third commandment that I heard the word of God in the distance. It came echoing through the pines on a misty Sunday morning in a soft South Carolina drawl. “Hunger not for the things of this world, for they are fleeting,” the voice said, “hunger instead after righteousness.”

Except I did hunger for the things of this world. Terribly. I hungered mostly for the granola bar pinched between my fingers and still sealed in a wrapper I could not tear. I was more than 40 miles into the bike leg of the Augusta Ironman 70.3 triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) when my stomach began to gnarl and moan. And now, my sweaty hands slipped uselessly on the cellophane, the only thing that stood between my lips and my lunch. I struggled to focus on the road ahead while wrestling with the wrapper and praying I wouldn’t drop the only food I brought with me onto the pavement. Sustenance so near; so absurdly far. Hunger can turn even the the most abstemious person into an irritable prick, but hunger when you’re holding the very thing you crave and yet cannot have, that invites a rare kind of rage.

“God. DAMMIT,” I barked.

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Mourning Reason

In the rising heat of an Orlando Sunday morning 49 bodies lay cold on a nightclub dancefloor. With every worried mother’s call, every desperate sister’s text, a cacophony of ringtones and notifications buzzed in the stillness. The calls just went to voicemail. The texts would go unanswered. And while the FBI and OPD sifted through the aftermath of a massacre the country awoke to chilling headlines.

We’ve been here before though, haven’t we? Surely this is old hat by now, a yellowed script so often read we no longer need the cues. First is the offering of thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones. Next, a show of solidarity in ceremonial moments of silence. And then, do exactly nothing.

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The Devil in the Magic Box

It wasn't until the livestock trailer was backed up to the open gate of the barn that I realized I didn't have the slightest clue how I might get a 1,300lb bull to climb inside. Tasty McGee was our grass-fed Holstein who, after a year of pasturing with the goats, had filled out and was bound for the slaughterhouse. Or, at least that was the hope. I tried coaxing him toward the trailer with a bucket of grain. He would follow obediently only to stop in his tracks just as suddenly. Tasty continued moving in fits and starts toward the trailer until he’d followed as far as the gate and would go no further. I pleaded with him. I damned his obstenence and told him great lies of the paradise that awaited if he would just get in the fucking trailer. I shook the bucket once more and cast a handful of feed across its steel floor. His nose twitched as he weighed his suspicion against his desire. Some thresholds were not worth crossing no matter the reward.

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What I Heard, What I Read: My 2015 Favorites

Generally “year end retrospective” and “best of” lists are published before the ball drops, and midnight choruses of Auld Lang Syne rise drunkenly in the streets, but, well, I wasn’t quite ready to look back during the final days of December. With that in mind I am going to leave the light on in 2015 a moment longer and share my 10 favorite discoveries from the year that was — 5 books, 5 albums in no particular order.

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Resolution Blues

Forget your resolution; set a goal. I know the temptation — we are turning the page to a new year, and the time feels right to resolve to change something about yourself and in turn your life. You know you should eat healthier, drink less, exercise more. Maybe now, maybe this time, your resolution will take. After all, you are a year older and more mature, better able to control your impulses. Maybe this year will be different. Except no, it won’t.

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12 Notes and 26 Letters

The field of a chessboard is divided evenly into 64 squares, and on that 8x8 grid the 32 pieces are mathematically capable of bearing out more unique games than there are atoms in the observable universe. The first time I heard this I scoffed at it. Considering that just one average grain of sand alone contains 50 quintillion atoms (that’s a 50 followed by 12 zeros) the idea that a handful of pawns and some miniature royalty are going to play through enough different sequences to outnumber the atomic totals strewn across 14 billion light years is unthinkable. On its surface it seems like a preposterous claim hardly worth serious consideration- that is until one seriously considers it.

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