New Life New Me
Sunset on a life of ( name your sin)
the little old man
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do you know me?
I am an old cowboy, a new housewife
This Hub describes how I finally accepted that life as it was, had come to an end. I died in 2010. I have been dead for almost five years. In many ways, I am still dead. You only need to look inside me to see the truth.
As I walk the street these days, people ask me “How are you?” and I inevitably reply in a lilting, sing songy voice, “I am a happy man.” That was a lie until last night.
Somewhere between the hours after church and the closing of my eyes at the end of another day in self inflicted hell, I realized that the life I thought I deserved, the life I fought to fail at, the ‘who I amness’ of a long past epoch, was really a cruel joke played by the universe on my egomaniacal self. In a very real sense, that life was a mask I wore in order to hide the shame I felt at having quit the thing that completed me.
I retired from teaching in 2010. I came to appreciate what Hemingway meant in writing “When a man can no longer do that which makes him a man….” My problem was that I was still doing that which I thought defined my manliness. I pulled the plug because I was afraid. I was afraid of losing 34 years of retirement saving. I was afraid that my family would be harmed because the crook that broke the back of my company would break my back as well. Thus, I did what I needed to do in order to ensure a quality of life that my family deserved. I retired from my vocation. My back or more accurately, my spirit, got broken anyway.
Struggling to find a new purpose for my life has been a real challenge. I have gone through varying stages of torment. Each stage has its own theme; frustration, anger, helplessness and hopelessness. I was convinced that the sun revolved around me. When God had a question, he asked me first.
Have you ever met someone like me? The kind of guy who knows that the building will fall down on the day he leaves it? Guess what? Can you relate? The building is still there; I need a visitor’s pass to enter and my desk has been painted beige.
I thought I needed to be busy so I went to school to learn about starting a business. Busy equals business equals good, right? I began providing lectures and training sessions about problem solving and life coaching. This all worked great until I asked for a paycheck. Suddenly, the magic letters, PH and D came back to bite me in the you know where. I felt that I could only contribute if I worked, if I achieved, if I made lots of moo laa.
Guess what, folks…. defining myself by a job left me with no identity at all- not to mention a job. I discovered that it's not good enough to be a nice old guy. Being a happy man was not who I was. I spent roughly five years as a sad, malcontent who angered at not having the balls to stand up to the fear demon haunting his soul.
That changed overnight, even though I could feel it coming. Kind of like a kidney stone on its way down the chute. For one reason or another, I morphed into a housewife. No, I am not a beautiful butterfly. I am a sarcastic so and so who knows way too much and appreciates way too little. The three Ds have taken over my spirit, at least until I publish this hub. D # 1. I Delight in the goodness of the Lord, or whoever you want to call him/her. D # 2. I Decontaminate my mind of the toxic waste that I gluttonously ingest each day. For me that’s prayer and Transcendental Meditation. My minister would say that TM is a religion unto itself, and he should know because he has the corner on all truth. I have accepted the reality of what is. I am old. I am a housewife. D # 3. I Deny that I am omnipotent, prescient and if you must know, all that!
I am my wife’s support. I am my son’s example. I am the driver, the cook, the shopper, the cleaner. Until I became grateful for gray hair and wrinkles, I washed dishes and made stew. Now I show compassion and drink serenity. And Beer.
I never thought keeping a peaceful house was worthwhile work. I thought big plans, big futures, big BS. Funny, how things turn out. I thought I was important. I thought that I had something to contribute to the world. Turns out, the contributions I make are having clean clothes on my son’s bed in the morning and a warm meal on the table each night.
Over the last five years, I have spent more time than not in hatred of the Wisconsin Governor. I have spent countless hours shaming myself about my new life. If anyone is reading this, they have to be thinking “self pity”, “stupid souse”. You’re right on! I really don’t care. You see, I have come to the acceptance of knowing that who you are has nothing to do with how you make a living. I have finally realized that who you are is more about how you are, not what you are.
I am a child of God. I exist so that people I encounter might see that it is possible to embrace circumstances that involve letting go of ego rather than strangling that ego. I am saved, not in the heaven sense, but in the knowledge that for me, success is more about a tail wagging beagle than it is about a polished professional portfolio.
My new life is flute music and deer fawns looking for something to eat. It knows that the supper is ready. It’s about laughing at a foolish old man. It's about more than a paycheck.
Do I worry about paying the bills? Damn straight I do! I also know that when I die, and I’m sure it will be soon, the bill collectors won’t jump in the oven with me. I’ll have the last laugh because I stopped wasting life and started living it.
Thanks Dennis. Thanks Spouse of mine. Oops….the dog is barking, the stew is burning and I haven’t yet done a spell check.
Tell me I’m full of beans- I am.
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