God is pitching a perfect game here in the late innings of October.
He's fanned every maverick cloud, whether cirrus ash gray or cumulo-nimbus off white, that has daringly shown its face long before the insomniac rooster's crow.
The first elongated doubloon of gold peers over the horizon--tentatively, at first, and then, as if emboldened by its sparkling kindred--streaks across the sky, turning velvet purple and violet into an orchestrated explosion of vanda orchids, carnations, bougainvilleas, and birds of paradise. Ribbons of fuchsia, late to arrive but making up for it in a hurry, add subtle highlights to the grand bouquet.
Disney's pyrotechnicians could never touch this. And admission to this theme park is always free.
Flirting with My Old Ways
I wipe the remnants of sleep from my eyes and put on a cheap pair of shades.
Ambivalence tickles at the edges, always playing me before I begin. Ten months into this walking program...and I'm still manufacturing self-resistance when it comes to challenging my senior body with exercise. I know that my proclivity towards stubbornness will prevail in this naggingly familiar civil war. But at some level, it's amusement for a tired old man still looking for distractions and excuses.
Enough of this prattle! Let's do this!
And with that first step, I enter a yet unwritten novel.
My Mind Comes Alive When I Walk
With a couple of outs in the inning, God calls a timeout and heads for the dugout.
What? Since when does God have to call a timeout?
Well, He is God, after all, and He can do anything He wants. It's His ball, and--come to think of it,--it's His ballgame.
Oh, He just wanted to turn the cosmic flat screen on and watch Marshawn Lynch run 33 amazing yards, with five defenders riding him for the last three yards, unable to stop the Beast Mode locomotive from invading the end zone.
God high fives Assistant Manager Gabriel and grabs a handful of Skittles (you gotta be a Pacific Northwest local to understand this candy reference, or you can Google Marshawn Lynch and Skittles). Almost to a fault, but definitely to a virtue, God has a soft spot for underdogs, and this football season, He's turned the perennial lowly Seahawks into Big Dogs!
Instead of popping the Skittles into His mouth, He winds up and pitches them at supersonic speed into the atmosphere.
Here on earth, I watch as the gradually amplified morning light turns the black and white TV show into peacock-proud living color! Sure enough, there on most of the trees are the melted remnants of Skittles, turning the drab autumnal green into a wondrous display of Kodachrome. The otherwise wallflower trees swell majestically, happy to have delightfully ornate pajamas, even if only for a season, before they go naked and dormant in the harsh onslaught of winter.
A Great Song to Listen to as You Read the Remainder of this Hub
Where I Trip Over My Philosophizing
The summers of my life sprint by faster and faster the older I get. I am definitely in conflict about that, experiencing the same kind of bittersweet reluctance in accepting that I've come to the end of a good book or am now reading the rolling credits of a movie that aided and abetted my escape for the last two hours.
I am thus grateful for both the concept and reality of Indian Summer. Whether one perceives it as a gracious extension of vacation season or a casual transition into the Fall (from grace?), it gives me pause to contemplate the possibility that my life can have that definitive mini-interlude between the final two stanzas.
You see, it's gone by so fast that I need this time. To catch my breath. To find my bearings. To determine what the hell (sorry, God!) it all meant and continues to mean. To think about it. To dream about it. To try, sadly, to recapture some of it. Perhaps. Even. To write about it.
You wouldn't know it from my real world activity, or lack thereof, regarding writing.
When I walk, I write volumes. It's at the point of transference that I stumble miserably.
Most of the time, it's silly rambling, much like the character of this personal essay.
Sometimes, it's all about talking to myself, creating new goals that I just know I'll never meet yet need to keep lying to myself because, well, that's how I stay motivated. If I can meet just one out of every twenty goals I set, I'm still further ahead than when I died to my former self decades ago.
The gorgeous turning of the leaves remind me that I'm still dying to former things. Otherwise, I fail to be born into new things. This fresh Eureka! moment brings both joy and sadness. I pass a huge lot where the trees have been especially graced with Joseph's coat of many colors, and I almost forget that it's a cemetery.
One of My All-Time Favorite Christian Songs
Of Weeds and eBay
It's no accident that I sell on eBay.
If we are indeed created in God's own image, then it follows that we do our best when we aspire to be more like our heavenly Dad.
This is the part where I used to kick myself for being fallible. It's a dangerous place to be because I remember all too well how dwelling on my imperfections fed my multiple addictions, energizing a vicious cycle that, once triggered, was intensely difficult to intervene upon.
Decades ago, with a lot of professional help and tough love, I cleaned up. But there were big holes to fill where darkness once resided.
One very cool way that some fellow strugglers and I encountered came during a recreational therapy class.
We learned how to tie flies...or, as we expressed in our early tongue-twisted attempts...fly ties!
I was never confident about my ability to do things with my hands. My youthful successes were in academics and cerebral performance. So the challenge of learning how to craft artificial insects was indeed daunting. I definitely wanted to skip out on those crafting classes.
But the stubbornness alluded to earlier in this article won the day, and I eventually not only got the hang of it but, in channeling my obsessive-compulsive drive towards a positive end, became a master fly tyer.
One day, while having coffee with the guys, I proposed that we form a consortium and sell our flies in bulk amounts and at wholesale prices. They all thought it was a great idea, and for weeks after that, I engaged in a blitz campaign of marketing. I called every fly shop that was listed in a toll-free directory. Out of a hundred calls, I scored a couple of potential customers. A manager at a gun shop in Tacoma bought our huge inventory of flies. That first success was a huge therapeutic demarcation for my buddies and me.
Later, while checking out a sporting goods store in Walla Walla, I met a fly dealer from Idaho who contracted with me on the spot to tie an unlimited amount of matuka flies (resembling baby perch). I was stoked. My friends were ecstatic about the voluminous order that would definitely keep us in the green for a good while.
Gradually, I branched out on my own and began selling my flies on eBay. From coast to coast, and to a few international customers, I must've sold about 10,000 flies.
Arthritis in my neck and lower back eventually prompted me to retire from fly tying. My eBay reputation was stellar by this time, so, at least on a part time basis, I kept reselling fly tying materials and supplies purchased from out of state vendors.
Today, I primarily salvage other people's castaway items, literally speak and write value into them, and resell them on eBay. By doing so, I emulate in the natural what God has done with my life in the supernatural.
When God casts His Skittles (grace) upon mankind, He is no respecter of persons. In other words, He wants people from all walks of life to be successful. My human bias and personal fantasy is that He has a special soft spot for people who have struggled or continue to struggle with various issues.
On my October morn walks, I never fail to notice and acknowledge the weeds along the trail. As fallible as I am, that's one thing I can do to be a man after His own heart.
I'm Headed Home
My walking program is going well, thank you. With a little over two months left, I am on pace to meet my goal of 1000 miles for the year.
I vividly recall how I literally gasped for air and was bent over at the waist as I climbed a short hill with a 25-degree incline on January 1st of this year. Ten months later, I'm rapidly striding or running up that same hill as I engage that last mile before returning home on this particular route.
On paper, on the bathroom scale, and in the recesses of my mind, I can see the significant differences between the couch potato and the walking spud. I have reveled in negotiating and thus knowing on a more intimate basis the Walla Walla Valley areas that are within a 7-mile radius from my home.
While each walk is a novel adventure, what I love most is the joy of that last half-mile or so when I know I've made it safely and that I'm returning home.
I rage each day against the dying light. But in the last minute of my life here on earth, the best parting gift I can give my beloved family and friends is to go out with a smile.
How's life treating me these days? As Dave Ramsey would say,
Better than I deserve.
Just Talkin' Story on the Ol' Front Porch...
© 2013 Hawaiian Odysseus