Going Off The Deep End

 

I’m a little cheesed off. Ticked. My goat has been gotten. I’m hot under the collar. Something’s sticking in my craw.

Vexed.

With my experience of being alive on this planet for a half a hundred years, I should know that other people don’t operate on the same principles as I. We all have our own sense of right and wrong.

The problem is that sometimes your right is my wrong.

Case in point; we own a rental property.

When you rent a property, a normal part of business is that you sign a lease. This is a legal document that protects both parties – the tenant and the landlord.

For example, the tenant agrees that, for the length of the lease, he / she will not trash the place and will pay the monthly rent. This is the protection for the landlord.

The protection for the tenant is that the landlord, as long as the above conditions are met, can’t kick the tenant out on a whim. For example, if a friend suddenly needs a place to rent, the landlord can’t say to the tenant “Sorry. You’re out.”

Likewise, if rents suddenly skyrocket, the tenant is locked in at the agreed upon rate. If rents fall, the original rate is also locked in.

Protection for both parties. A good thing. Everyone knows upfront what the expense / income per month will be.

Our tenants just broke the lease. Moved out. Left a big mess.

Two months into a lease. Suddenly it is too expensive.

I try to allow the milk of human kindness to run through my veins. I feel like I’m a pretty empathetic person. I generally have compassion.

Not for stuff like this.

But Ron, you say, things happen. Perhaps the person lost his job. Maybe there was a huge emergency that came up. The stars may have gone out of alignment.

These things are true. If they happen, it is up to you to try and come up with a solution that benefits the other party. My heart is not made of stone. I can negotiate.

Leaving is not negotiation.

But Ron … you don’t know how you would react in a similar situation. You think you do, but you don’t.

Wrong. I once paid rent for 3 months on a place that I never lived in. Why? Because I said I would. Things changed for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t follow through with what I said I’d do.

Oh, so you think you’re some kind of hero? Nope. Not heroic in the least. Not a saint. Half the time not even a very nice person.

But it was the right thing to do. I had made an agreement.

When did the right thing to do become an option?

I know that personal responsibility is an anachronism. It wasn’t my fault seems to be the rallying cry of a generation.

I know that I live in a world that has many shades of grey. I am OK with that. I have screwed up so many times that I no longer have much inclination to judge anyone.

The grey areas are OK with me.

And yet … some things still tick me off. Try my patience. Take the biscuit.

I think I need an Tylenol.

On Doctors, Heating Pads, And Uncle Tom

I grew up in a small town with small United and Mennonite churches. In a small town with predominantly Caucasian people.

And by predominantly, I mean totally.

The first time I met a person of colour was at my doctor’s office. I was probably 4 or 5. Around there, somewhere.

I remember really liking the magazines and books that were in the waiting room. There were a bunch of National Geographics from the 60s, old medical journals, and an illustrated comic book called Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

In retrospect, there may be some irony there.

When I got called in to the doctor’s office, I saw him. White gleaming lab coat. Clipboard in his hands. Shiny silver stethoscope around his neck.

And the blackest skin I had ever seen.

I was probably staring, because mom gave me a nudge.

I don’t remember what I was there for. I was a bit of a sickly kid, so, as time went by, it wasn’t uncommon to end up in this office. Probably tonsillitis. That seemed to be a recurring theme.

I got the full work over.

He had the greatest accent I had ever heard. [I found out later that he was from some place called Jamaica] Likely, it was the only accent I’d ever heard, except for Low German.

“Ya, mon. I’m going to check your reflexes now. Try to keep your leg from moving.”

Tap. Leg jerk. Big laugh from the doctor.

“That seems to be working. Let’s check your lungs and heart.”

Freezing cold stethoscope on my back and chest. Random tapping. Slight humming from the doctor.

“Sounds OK. Let’s check your throat.”

I remember now. It was tonsillitis. When he rubbed my throat, it hurt like crazy.

“Now for the belly.”

A few more taps, which also felt bad. “Tsk. Tsk. A bit of infection.”

All in all, it was pretty cool.

Then it was time for the diagnosis. “Your son has tonsillitis and a low grade infection. Those tonsils should come out.”

My mom said, “No.”

“OK then. The best thing is to drink plenty of liquids. That will bring down the fever. Also, two Aspirin.”

“What about his stomach?”

He paused, deep in thought. Then he brightened. “Merely put a heating pad on it.”

Over the years that I saw him, the last part was part of every prescription: “Merely put a heating pad on it.”

He was a great doctor … as long as nothing was actually wrong with you. If there was something seriously wrong with you – something time couldn’t really heal on its own – you were in deep trouble.

As my visits became a bit more frequent, his prescription of “Merely put a heating pad on it” got less and less helpful. I still felt better when I left his office, simply, I think, because he was such a happy and upbeat guy.

Just not so much of a good doctor.

In spite of his lack of any concrete help for me, I was still reluctant to move on to a new doctor. Who knows what kind of crazy treatment some other doctor might come up with.

The heating pad had gotten me this far.

Still, I eventually moved on to another doctor. As I explained my symptoms and what was generally going on, he said, “Have you ever heard of Prednisone?”

I’ve been with him ever since. Even though he has never prescribed using a heating pad for my ailments.

By the way, I still have my tonsils … in a jar, beside my bed.*

*That just sounds creepy. They’re not beside my bed … they’re in a little box in the basement.

Defining Moments And Small Speeches

But in life we don’t usually get to choose the time of our defining moments. We just have to stand and face them when they come, no matter what sort of a state we’re in.
Darren Shan

I think we all have defining moments.

Maybe it was when you got married or had children. Maybe it was when it finally clicked as to what you wanted to be when you grew up. Maybe it was when you bought your first house. Or car.

Maybe when a loved one passed.

When I look at my life, I see big moments like that, full of … I don’t know. Importance. I also have some small defining moments. Which is probably an oxymoron.

Or some kind of moron.

A distinct one floated into my consciousness, today.

I’m not exactly sure what grade I was in. 9 or 10, I think. Around there, anyway.

The scene was English (9 or 10ish). The day I had been dreading was finally here: speech day. Not the big write a speech and deliver it that we were all subjected to; rather, it was a small, impromptu speech day.

We were each asked to write a simple premise on a piece of paper. When all the papers were collected, the teacher would pull one out of a hat and assign it to the first person on the list.

When you have a lastname like Schellenberg, your name is usually at the end of the list. This was both good and bad; I wouldn’t have to go on first, but the fear would also have time to gnaw away at my innards.

And fear is exactly what I felt. Cold sweat began pouring from my armpits and down my back. My breathing became a bit more shallow. My stomach was churning.

There were not many things that terrified me more than speaking in public. My natural shyness was not helpful. My introvertedness: ditto.

I didn’t know, then, some of the physical tricks I know now to calm myself.

I tried to psych myself up. I kept saying to myself it’s only two minutes. You can stand up there for two minutes. You won’t die.

Don’t wet yourself.

My friends were going up to the front and doing their thing. They all looked so cool! Probably they weren’t terrified like me, I thought at the time.

We were getting closer to the Ss.

Now the physical reaction was really setting in. My muscles were quivering. My breath was not right. I thought I might pass out.

“Ron, you’re next,” said the teacher.

I took a deep breath and stood up, praying that I wouldn’t fall over, wet myself, or have my zipper down.

I took the small piece of paper from the teacher. My friend Rick had written “Why does a bunny rabbit change from white to brown?”

Luckily, I was on my feet. You know that old saying think on your feet? It had always been true, for me. It always felt like I could handle things a little better if I was standing up. Moving a bit.

I looked at the paper, cursed my buddy in my mind, and took another deep breath.

The word metamorphosis popped into my mind.

I suddenly knew what to say and how to say it.

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I think it was pretty good. When I got my first laugh, I started to relax. The more relaxed I got, the better I spoke.

I finished and sat down. The teacher called up the next student, and I breathed again.

The world did not end. A friend who sat behind me said “That was good. Funny.” As the adrenaline slowly started to work its way out of my system, the inevitable sick-to-the-stomach feeling swept over me.

But I had done it. I realized that, from that moment on, I could get up and talk to a room full of people. Yes, I’d still be nervous. Yes, I’d feel like I was going to have a bodily function mishap.

But I could do it.

It’s funny how some things stick in your mind. Funerals. Marriage. Births. Learning to ride a bike. Climbing a tree.

That little moment – only two minutes long – changed my life.

When class was over, the teacher called me over. “Metamorphosis, eh?” he said with a sly smile. Then he got serious. “You were good because you were yourself.”

He looked me straight in the eye. “Always be yourself, and you will do fine.”

Good advice. Then and now.

Who Are You?

I went to church, this morning, and my old history professor was behind the pulpit.

It was late 1980 something when I first met him. He bounded into the lecture hall of the History of the Ancient World class and yelled “You are the most intelligent people on this campus! It’s here that you will study the very foundations upon which we live today!”

His enthusiasm for talking history never waned. While he may not have been the most exciting lecturer I had ever had, he was certainly one of the most passionate.

Until recently, he was still teaching at the University of Saskatchewan. In fact, my son had him for a history class as well.

His stories were still the same. Early on in a semester, he would – rather gleefully – state that he had done waaay too many drugs in the 70s, and he had pursued all sorts of religions and thoughts.

In short, he was a lot of fun.

A while ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. Terminal.

We had just been going to a new church for a while when I ran into him. Of course, he didn’t remember me. He has likely taught thousands of people, and I just wasn’t that memorable.

Our relationship has been interesting. With both of us being sick to the point that we can no longer currently work, we began to have a few short talks about living life with limits.

His thoughts are much deeper than mine. Of course, so are a Labrador’s, most of the time. He has spent considerable time and thought coming to grips with his impending demise.

This morning, he spoke about the unity of all things. For example, in order for there to be soil, minerals, and the various elements on our earth, stars and planets in other galaxies have decayed or exploded over time.

In effect, he said, we live on space dust and debris.

While he didn’t mention the large amounts of drugs he had consumed decades prior, he did indicate that his mind was now prone to wander somewhat.

His main gist, I think, was that we have, over the years, forgotten that we are spirits having a human experience, not the other way around. And if we are able to strip away the walls we have built around ourselves, we would rediscover our innate divinity.

He finished off with the profound words of a woman who works in palliative care ward. She said something to the effect of

Don’t just do something. Sit there.

An exhortation, I think, that she learned by working with the dying. The people who had stripped away all the unimportant things in their lives. The people who could no longer do.

The people who could only be.

I think there is something powerful about this. Healthy people often get their feelings of self worth by doing. What do you do for a living is one of the first things we ask of a person we have just met.

Imagine if we instead asked who are you instead.

It’s given me something to think about for the next while.

Thanks, professor Reese. You’re still teaching and fighting the good fight.

The Kids Are Alright

As parents, there are a lot of things we are required to do. Just by the nature of the job, we have agreed to feed, clothe and house our children. We have agreed to hold their hands when they are scared. We have agreed to live in a home that loses its value on a daily basis, as they kick through walls and break windows.

There are also some things that we are not required to do. We are not required to get them out of every tough spot. We are not required to make sure they never get hurt.

And we certainly are not required to live our own lives vicariously through theirs.

Each year, we hear about some crazed parent who forgets about the things we are not required to do. It often comes to the forefront through sports.

Little Johnny is playing hockey. Even though he is already in his teens, he skates a bit on his ankles, and his skating speed is slightly more than steam roller. He does, however, have a booming slapshot.

His parents are convinced that little Johnny is NHL material. Forget the fact that a kid has about a 1 in 4000 chance of making the NHL. Forget that he isn’t dominating at every age.

Little Johnny is the exception. It’s just that the coach, the fans, and – especially – the referee don’t seem to grasp the situation.

So the parents begin to pester the coach for more playing time. They glare and yell at any fan who dares boo their boy. And, of course, they react outrageously when the referee dares to call them offside.

Or sends them to the penalty box.

This is when all hell breaks loose. Screaming. Tantrums. Threats of bodily harm to the ref after the game.

All because the parents forgot that there are things that parents are not required to do.

I’ve always loved being a dad. People have asked me, now that my sons are both adults, what stage of their lives was my favourite.

I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed them all.

So … we raise our children to the best of our abilities. We make sure they have food, clothing, and a roof over their heads. We try to instill some basic values in them: the importance of hard work, of doing unto others, and of caring for someone other than themselves.

And then we let them go.

They were never really ours to begin with. They have always been themselves.

Will my sons make mistakes? Yes, although they both have very intelligent and caring significant others, so the chances of major screwups goes down.

Will they get hurt? As much as I’d like to hope that they wouldn’t, it’s almost a certainty that they will.

Will they be alright? I am certainly hopeful that they will be.

Does this “hands off” attitude mean that I won’t be there to help them out if they need it? Of course not. But … only if they ask.

They are smart and resourceful. They can figure things out on their own.

Tonight, my oldest son has a CD release concert with his band. I have seen – and heard – his dedication to learning to master the guitar. I have heard his singing voice improve with every practice and performance. I’ve seen him arrange venues, get cds printed, and the various other things that need to happen to give a band a shot at success. Whatever success means to them.

He’s alright.

My younger son is currently at university in Winnipeg. He is there because he loves music. More importantly, he is there because he has drive and determination to overcome obstacles.

I remember – painfully – getting him his first set of drums and listening to the awful racket. Those marathon, daily sessions still echo in my mind. Now, though, through hard work and dedication, he makes music with his hands.

He’s alright.

What was my part in their successes? Sure, I paid for lessons. Yes, I encouraged and supported them.

Their success, though, is because of their own hard work. Because they are their own people.

My job, as a dad, really boils down to one thing: let my kids know I love them.

If I’ve done that, then I think it’s a job well done, and that’s enough for me.

Belief vs Faith

I like working with my hands. I find that doing repetitive, physical tasks lets my mind wander and think its own thoughts.

When I was a kid, some of my favourite times were sitting on the lawnmower, cutting our 5 acres of grass. My mind would wander. I might be a famous Formula 1 driver. Or a pilot. Or any number of other stories.

My mind was wandering today, and I recalled a time from a few years back.

I had just come out of the hospital after a relatively short period of time. Although I was able to go back to work, my body was drained. My mind was fuzzy.

These conditions have hit me, over the years, and I knew that I could rely on one thing to see me through: my unbridled optimism for life.

Through all the things I’ve gone through, my spirit has always remained strong. I could rely on it to see me through.

And now it was gone, too.

I have never felt so low. Not when my business went under. Not even when I was in a hospital bed for 4 months at death’s door.

I had no energy to examine what I was thinking. I had no energy to seek answers to my predicament. I simply existed, wondering when it would all end.

I was lucky. I have family and friends who continued to love me and wish me well. But there was a question that kept nagging at me. In the back of my mind, the voice kept asking: where was God in all of this?

My life is intertwined with the church. I went from birth. Against my will, a lot of the time, but I went all the same.

There were a few things that I remember being taught: God is a just God, God loves you, pray to God and your prayers would be answered.

I had tried, in my way, to be faithful to these beliefs. This all came tumbling down.

If God was just, why was I sick? If God loves me, why was I sick? If God answers prayers, why was I sick?

At the time, I had no answers. I couldn’t do. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t feel.

I just existed.

It hit me today that I had mistaken belief and faith.

What’s the difference? I used to think none, but I was mistaken.

I think belief is some construct that your mind comes up with. I see the earth. It looks flat. I see a ball. If I tried to stand on the bottom side of a ball, I’d fall off. Therefore, the earth must be flat.

We snicker, now. People believed that the earth was flat for millenia, and that you could fall off the edge. This is not even an ancient belief. I remember an uncle of mine saying that the earth was flat. Also that no one had ever stood on the moon. It was so small, how could someone stand on it?

But this belief in a flat earth changed. I suppose seafarers had known it forever. They saw a ship go over the horizon. Oh, the earth must be curved.

Now, of course, we all know that the earth is round.

That’s a belief. A mind-made construct.

Faith, though … faith, I think, is something that comes from a different place. That intangible place we call soul or spirit.

As my mind chattered on about how all my beliefs were wrong and how I’d wasted my time believing them, my spirit started to say it’s OK.

All of my beliefs were crumbling before me. All the things I had thought about God and religion were passing away. All of my beliefs were up for review, but my faith, apparently, had remained intact.

It’s OK.

Even if my whole belief system was flawed or outright wrong. Even if I had wasted so much time and energy putting on a “good front”, trying to be perfect, or someone I wasn’t. Even if I didn’t know what to think anymore.

It’s OK.

Beliefs, I believe, come and go. The earth is flat. The earth is round. This race of people is good. This race of people is bad. The government is for the people. The government is for itself. God punishes the bad and rewards the good. God let’s the rain fall equally on the good and the bad.

Through all these belief changes – and they can be pretty traumatic – faith is what keeps you tethered. In electrical terms grounded.

Did God do this to me? Or was it just the circumstances of life? Belief needs to know the answer to this question.

Faith, on the other hand, says I don’t know, but it’s OK either way.

 

50 Shades Of Gray

“Do you know what I found yesterday? Hair in my ear. I’m losing hair where I want hair and getting hair where there shouldn’t be hair. I found four big fat ones on my back; I’m starting to look like the fly.”
Billy Crystal in City Slickers

There comes a time when you realize that it has happened; you have gotten old.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened for me, but I do know the warning signs. The first one? Hair.

I confess that I am lucky. I still have a good chunk of my hair. When I look back at my high school pictures, I don’t see too many differences between now and then.

And then I put on my glasses, and I can see all the differences.

I worried about my hair. Do you think that’s vain? Tough. Deal with it. I’m vain when it comes to my hair.

The reason I worried, though, was my brother. In his late 30s or so, he started going bald up top. It kept going, and soon he was rocking the popular Friar Tuck look: bald up top with the fringe around.

I believe this came from my mother’s side of the family. If the men start balding, it’s up top.

My dad’s side of the family has a receding hairline with a wicked widow’s peak. The men’s hair seems to recede back in line with their ears and then stops.

This seems to be the situation for me, and I prefer it to the up top look. I’ve got some nasty scars and flat spots and humps, up there. I wouldn’t look too good showing them to the world.

The grayness doesn’t really bother me. Anymore.

It bothered me when it started. What the heck? I thought. What have we here?

At first, they were easily pluckable. Pull a couple and you’re done. Time has increased the grayness, though, and I can’t keep up.

Not even close. I’m pretty sure that there is now officially more salt than pepper.

Actually, it wasn’t the gray hairs on my head that bothered me. No, it was the gray hairs, uh … elsewhere, that made me feel old. Real old.

I’m over it, now, but the first one was quite a shock.

The latest thing, though, really sucks: ear hair. Oh, I’ve had them for quite a while. Years, I suppose, but they were never that noticeable. Or maybe I was just wearing my hair longer and didn’t notice them.

I got my hair cut a few days ago. I got home, looked in the mirror, and nearly had a coronary. In addition to the usual “fuzzy peach” look of my ears, there were some monsters.

Huge. Like something out of Little Shop of Horrors.

I’m not saying they were a foot long, or anything, but I was able to braid them into a rope.

My hairdresser never let on, but it must have been a shock. A bit like hacking her way through an Amazonian hair jungle.

So I just finished plucking, tweezing, and buzzing my ears. They are much smoother and less ape-like.

And they don’t look a day over 40.

 

Electrozoid Monkey

I tried playing electrician, yesterday.

Normally, I’m quite averse to electrocuting myself, but I needed to keep our reno on schedule.

A good friend of mine is an electrician. I asked him to help me out, even though I know he’s busy. “A trained monkey can do electrical,” he said. “Put the circuits together, and I’ll come by and make sure everything is up to code and will pass the inspection.

I’ve done a few things, electrically speaking. Changing things here and there. Adding a plug or whatever. Never anything of this magnitude, though.

Well, I thought, I’m a smart guy. I’ll get a couple of books, talk to my friend, and all will be well. And if I really get stuck, Uncle Google is always around to take me to a Youtube video.

Piece of cake.

I don’t know what piece of cake means, but it was not cake. Or pie. Not even something a bit nasty, like meat that has turned.

It was a total disaster. My circuit wasn’t … circuiting. Flipping the breaker did nothing except give me exercise. And concerns that my house was about to burn.

So I called my friend and asked him to come over. He did. When he saw what I had attempted, he gave me a look of pity.

Apparently I was on a lower rung than a trained monkey.

I’m glad he came over. As we tried to see if what I wanted was going to work, we both realized that my panel was too small.

To be clear, I mean my electrical panel was too small. Too few whatchamicallits and too many thingamagigs. As soon as he can get Saskpower to come out and do whatever it is they do – cut the power is how I think of it, but I think it has a different name – he will install a new panel.

And, I hope, make sure I don’t burn down my house. Hopefully before it goes to -400 degrees.

It’s interesting, to me, how we don’t value the things we do. My friend has been a journeyman electrician for years. Electrical work, for him, is like breathing. Do this, do that, and everything works.

Even though he was a bit tongue-in-cheek with the trained monkey crack, I think that idea – that we don’t value what is easy for us – is pretty common.

Since something is easy for us, we assume it is easy for everyone. And therefore has no value.

I don’t know why we don’t value ourselves more. We put on a brave face and say to the world “I’m worth at least 5 bucks an hour … but I’ll work for 1.” Hmmm … those rates may have changed since 1976.

Is it humility? Is it humble to say that what we do – or who we are – isn’t worth much? I don’t know, but something smells about that one.

Maybe it’s some kind of self-delusion. Everyone else is doing it, so I will, too.

I don’t know what it is. Too be truthful, I don’t know much of anything, right now. In fact, my monitor is fading in and out.

I’m pretty sure it is working fine. Must be me. Maybe too much activity and not enough rest.

Maybe I’m not valuing myself enough.

Ha. Trained monkey.

Kids These Days

Oh … kids these days.

People of my parent’s generation used to say that about my generation. It was usually said with a slight sneer, and was often accompanied with something like this:

Back in my day, we knew how to work.

And it’s true. People of my parent’s or grandparent’s generations had a capacity for hard work that was astounding. My Dad, in his 80s, could outwork me every day of the week. Period.

Just because they could work us under the proverbial table, though, doesn’t mean that they were better at all things. Rock music and personal hygiene come to mind.

I believe that every generation has believed that they are better in some – well all – ways than the previous generation. We believe that we know more, know different, and know better.

I think we do this because we don’t really understand the next generation people. They have strange attitudes. They demand things that we never would have dreamed of, and they have an attitude of I deserve this.

In short, they are pains in the proverbial tuchus.

It’s very easy to paint them all with the same proverbial brush.

But, like any stereotype, these feelings are misleading.

Case in point, the young man who is working in our basement. Not right now, of course. Hopefully he is home in bed, getting ready to work again tomorrow.

He is a steady worker, friendly, and knowledgeable. While not working at a frenzied pace, he has managed to accomplish a lot in a short period of time. He is punctual, and there hasn’t been a problem that he hasn’t been able to overcome.

In short, he is a solid person. Oh, and he’s in his early 20s. Granted, anywhere in your 20s seems early to me, but there it is.

So here is a young man, successfully self-employed, a hard worker, not easily rattled, and young. He also has a young family.

This is unfortunate. You see, it is easier to lump people together when you don’t know any individuals in that group. When you meet someone of (fill in the blank) group, we make assumptions about them.

And we don’t like those assumptions to be wrong.

This reminds me of an old neighbour we had. He was from Iraq. When I discovered this, I lumped him in with a whole group of people labeled “Middle Eastern Types / Potential Terrorists”.

He drove a cab. As I got to know him – I know, I should have just kept to myself – it turns out that he was treated horribly by my fellow Canadians / Saskatoonians.

When I say horribly, I mean it.

The vandalism to his place and vehicle alone was so bad that he installed a motion sensitive spotlight. Unfortunately, he was overly zealous and turned it onto the most sensitive setting.

This meant that, at all hours, his spotlight was going off constantly. This isn’t a problem during the day; at night, however, with the spotlight aimed directly at our bedroom window, is a different story.

I put him into another category, but I can’t say it in public.

In the end, he suffered so much abuse that he packed his family up and headed back to his war-torn-country.

“Better to be killed with dignity than suffer these cursed Canadians.”

Yikes.

Today I realized that I still put people into categories. By and large, my judgments are wrong.

Maybe I’ll figure it out, one day. In some proverbial fashion.*

*I bet myself that I could use the word proverbial more than three times in a blog post.

I Thought I Was A Grownup

I guess I didn’t make it. Technically, I mean.

It’s past midnight, so technically I didn’t get my 500 words in on the 21st of November. I guess I could beat myself up about it, but I’m just too damn tired.

My day, though, in my own mind, is the time from when I get up to when I crawl into bed. So I think I’m alright.

This renovation is kicking my butt. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, I still think that I can do all the stuff I used to be able to do when I was healthier. So I take on more work than I can handle.

In this case, way more work.

And sometimes I stay up working so far past my cut off time that I am afraid I’ll ruin what health I do have.

I thought I would have gotten it by now, but no.

I still think I can work like I did when I was growing up on the farm. There were some sunup to sundown days, and, although I complained, I didn’t have any trouble getting it done.

Or at least in my 30s, when my health was starting a slow but steady decline. I could still get it done.

Not anymore.

And it sucks. In some way, it feels like my “manliness” drained out of me the way my health has.

Today, though, I realized where I am at. There are things that I thought I’d be able to do that I won’t be able to. So, I sat down (technically we were standing up) with one of the construction people I’m employing, and we went over what he could take off my plate.

While a part of me felt a huge relief when he said he could take quite a few things on, I am still feeling a bit useless.

And by a bit, I mean totally.

I’m not sure why I have such a hard time letting this stuff go. I’m sure it has something to do with my (step) dad. I still hear his voice, from time to time.

“Man was put on this earth to work. The worst thing in this world is to be willing to work and not have work to do.”

I always thought he was overstating things, and I kind of tended towards goofing off, anyway. And yet here I am: 50 years old and not able to let it go.

I do have a rational part of my brain. I think. There is a part of me that says well, your situation has changed, and it’s been like this for quite a few years already. You should get over it, already.

I can give myself all the talks I want about accepting reality for what it is. If I think about it enough, I can talk myself into – or out of – things.

And then I have a day like today, where I work way too hard for way too long. And I’ll be paying for it for a long time.

Somehow I thought I would have grown up by now.