Sunday, April 10, 2011

Be Cool

Spring has sprung in Virginia. And with spring comes new life, baseball, and hope that springs eternal. The grape hyacinths on my sidewalk have emerged to challenge the wild violets for purple supremacy, soon to be rivaled by the lilac and redbud. But for now, the air fills again with adventures to be had.

I remember my Mom telling me at the age of 70 something, that she would look in the mirror and say "What the hell!?!?" (more or less). She still felt like a youthful 17-year old inside. And I knew all too well what she meant.

For there I was, playing the part of the responsible father, husband and provider on the outside, but just below the surface was the irreverent, irresponsible and largely selfish person of my youth. Tink was the first to figure it out, but she has always been amazingly quick on the uptake of important things. Given the chance, all I really wanted was a holiday from life. And once given the chance, there were a lot of data points indicating I didn't want to come back.

Tink remains quite possibly the best thing that I've come across in this life. She stuck with me in these times at her own peril and I am forever indebted. Because I burned from the inside with a seeminlgly unquenchable fire. I lived with an intensity that burned hot. I kept pushing the envelope, but I valued my marriage and the family we were building, and I relied on her to help keep me in check. Now I realize how uncool that was.

I never wanted to reach a core meltdown mind you, but for some reason I was certainly interested to see how many rods could be safely exposed. Work hard and play hard was my motto. Unfortunately the play hard part included a lot of destructive behaviors. When I reflected on this one day a long time ago with my friend Tony he quipped "Yes, she helped keep you under control, like putting a lid on a burning trash can." I recognized this to be a basic truism, complete with a poignant quality assessment that I never really knew how to address.

For I was stubborn and unwilling and I never wanted to admit there were things I couldn't do. Perhaps, I was afraid of losing my intensity. More probably, I was afraid of losing touch with my youth - after all, you can't fly once that happens, right?

Thankfully one day, I woke up and came to understand my limitations. I am no longer interested in throwing more gasoline on the fire. And I learned that the chains I forge in life are the only restraints to flight. I no longer need containment. The fuel is clean. It's sustainable. And the flame is just as bright, but now it'

"Be brave Michael!"..."I shall strive to Wendy"


  1. i'm always amazed every year i get older and yet i don't seem in my head to grow up. it's very strange i'll be 40 this year and yet i still feel 20 and what to do so much.

  2. Wow. That was a beautifully brave and honest post. Oddly, as I was reading this a cover of Linkin Park's "What I've Done," sung by some chick named Marie Digby started playing on the Pandora station I'm listening to... it was acoustic and haunting and beautiful (made more so because of what I was reading), and is one of those things I should probably keep to myself, but I just thought you should know that your post had a soundtrack for just a moment.

    I think a lot of us burn from the inside like that, and are spurred on by the fear of losing our fire. I, too, am learning how to walk slower, pay more attention to the consequences of my actions, and actually make *plans* instead of always flying by the seat of my pants. Because when you don't pay attention to the potential consequences, you don't pay attention to the ones you're taking for granted, either.

    The music has moved on to "Video Killed the Radio Star" (the original this time). Our youth lives on. :)

  3. @Becca: Bike riding helps! Hope you are still getting out on that awesome blue machine!

    @Firespark: Thanks. And I appreciate your reflection. I'll go check out the tunes, too. Rust never sleeps.

  4. this was such a great post rusk. peter pan lives on

  5. @Cullen: Hopefully you recognize your influence in the concept of a "sustainable" lifestyle. Live long, prosper and keep it evergreen.