Think / Able

Think / Able

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nearly Lost You - 185 things I am thankful for.... (REVISED)


             There are times in life where we forget all of the things that once mattered to us, and this slight of our interests and joys leaves us caught up with all of the oppressive feelings that stem from things that we have to do. When every day is just wake up, shower, go to work, come home, unwind, and sleep with time for meals and bathroom breaks, life feels routine and repetitive, and that's never a good thing, especially when you feel yourself saying, "Wasn't I just doing this same thing yesterday?" 
             I think about this conundrum that is adulting / getting older and realize how much the combination of work, have to accomplish, and Parkinson's concerns eat into my life, and like the Chipmunks movie that my sister told me was actually enjoyable when she watched it with her kids, I'd like some time back in my life to do the kind of things that I want to do instead of the things that I was stuck doing. 
             So here we are, and it was July 9th before my wife and I were finally finding time to get out in the yard to open up our Siesta and Fiesta Zones. Mind you, the pond with waterfalls (directly in front of it) still isn't up and running, but at least we got to sit in the backyard for a relaxing night with a roaring fire and some lightning bugs popping on and off in the darkness. While I'm not a marshmallow guy, my wife likes them, so she got that in. 
             Reflecting on that now, it's easy to say that hings like that make me happy, and I need more relaxing times like that. It also helps to have a fire poker!



             This is the same way that I feel when I'm contemplating going out hiking. There is the rusty way that I get when I'm trying to get myself moving (and the object at rest doesn't move), and then there's the conundrum of whether to drive somewhere interesting, which inevitably is at least an hour to Duncannon or Port Clinton to hit the Appalachian Trail for views, or to decide if I'd just rather walk the paved rails to trails close to home (also, the only option if I need to be somewhere at a certain time). Then I can just walk out my front door and put 6 miles in over about 2 hours. However, if I want the really good views, that's a 2-3 hour drive. then I have to think about how I'm going to feel driving home, but since this is calling me sooner than later, I'm already getting myself jazzed to go for another walk in the woods. I guess I'll just need some serious metal / rawk music for the way home!



             When I think about those views at the good places, I realize I live in the wrong town since all the scenic vistas in Pennsylvania tend to be north, northeast, or northwest from me. 




             We do have some beautiful farm fields and country in Amish Paradise, Pennsylvania, but we aren't up in Mountain Amish Land. Now that's some big sweeping views (which is why it's called Big Valley!).



              There's a lot of really great places up there. One of them is my favorite view in all of Pennsylvania, which is called the Throne Room. I definitely want to go up there before summer's end. There's something about that mostly untouched vision that makes me truly feel at peace in the world. That's why I announced my Parkinson's on video from there. 




              Another place that I want to go that it's been a while since I walked out on is Spruce Knob, which is an amazing view on the Mid-State Trail (just past Huntingdon, Pennsylvania). There's a little bird watch rock sitting area that kind of camouflages people who sit up there from the elements. Oh, to be back in the cat bird's seat, if I do remember to remind myself how much I missed it.


              There's still a feeling in being able to push up mountains, however slowly, and through the trees to arrive at something spectacular, which makes me feel just as alive as I was before my diagnosis (September 27th 2016 was the 90% certain day, and November 1st was 100% certain, barring different autopsy results) and my wife's ACL tear (which started on the other side of those rocks, which was a serious climb and descent before re-stabilizing the makeshift splint). 


               Those days were a few years ago (her accident was April 11th 2015 - a day after her birthday), but they're not that far away that I don't remember them. Even now, with all of the time that is "scheduled," there is still ability and opportunities to get out and to do and to be, but I just have to make sure I do that. In the days where it all seems so "today is a repeat of yesterday," it feels like it's a million years ago, and we (I, you, us, our friends, our families, our neighbors, our associates, the kid who works in the drive thru window at McDonald's, and my local weather person) can't let it set in or we lose the part of us that is us. 
              Because when we let it feel like this, it's like we forget to do the things we like because we're so caught up in the "get through it" that we forget to "enjoy the ride." From what the experts in the Happiness Reader that we use for my writing class say, that's the key to happiness. I'll let you know for sure when I figure it out, but I believe it's true, and you can confirm if it is.
              Simply put, it's never a bad day to get between the trees somewhere. Sitting here now, waiting for the first few weeks of August to take advantage of this when I have more unlimited "me" time... that's a lot of what keeps me going. They always say that if you know what you want out of it, you can work to achieve things, and I believe that's true of life in general. And it's for the good things and people that I push forward. Whether it's goofing with my godson Dylan (AKA Big D) or having fun weekend getaways with my wife, it's all good. In a forest or a city, all things are possible with the right mindset. 
Choose to live life.



         I think about this today because I found out that one of my friends, an older guy who just had surgery, is having problems with the healing process, particularly with regard to sleep and medications. It makes me sad because nobody should have to suffer, and I see how much it's cramping his style and making him serious about the complications (older men don't emote their problems enough, so when they do, you know it's something for realsies).
         I often hear people talk about health problems and issues with getting used to medicines (isn't that a lot of what we PD people do as well when we support and inform one another), and I can relate because I do, too, but I want to not do that for a second. Instead I'll say something else:
You're awesome and I appreciate you for both
 the fact that you're a great person and you're
taking the time to read my story
           With this, for whatever we don't have going for us, we do have a fair bit of good things that  we should be thankful for. To illustrate that, I list what I am thankful for.
           A note on this, I give this assignment to adult students to spur writing out ideas. I find that it's a very positive experience, if nothing else, for the fact people who do it comment favorably regarding the exercise and they don't groan about it like the larger 6-10 page essays (a walk in the park - my MED thesis was 61!). I don't have any problems getting it in on time either, so that's something.
           
So if I were to list all of the things I am thankful for, this would be it. What's your top 100?

1.      The chance to overcome the obstacles / disabilities in my life and to be a role model / activist for others.
2.      My faith / philosophy in the universe / God
3.      My faith / philosophy in myself
4.      My marriage to Heather
5.      A warm, safe, comfortable and homey house with Heather
6.      True love and all the good things it brings
7.      My health
8.      Hearing (being able to)
9.      Seeing (being able to)
10.  Smelling (being able to)
11.  Touching (being able to)
12.  Tasting (being able to)
13.   Nature to breathe in and rejoice for life in
14.  My parents
15.  My nephew / godson Big D
16.  My sister
17.  My extended family to include Heather’s family
18.  Long-term friends like Will and Heidi + Pete + Dale + Alina + Steph+Ken+Rhett+Abel
19.  Everyday friends
20.  Workplace colleagues
21.  My students who work hard to teach me
22.  Sharing learning with students
23.  Being able to write letters of references.
24.  Being the author of multiple books
25.  Being literate
27.  Creativity in general
28.  Discipline and drive to finish my autobiography Eureka, Nevada, which is too personal to publish
29.  Real life inspiration chronicled in said book that convinced me to be a teacher
30.  Discipline and drive to write the rest of Intersections and the bravery to print it and the other books I’m currently working on when the time comes
31.  Inspiration to write my first non-ghost story for publishing
32.  Photography – both pictures I’ve taken and had shared with me.
33.  Hiking experiences that I’ve had
34.  Bears that I’ve seen – even if only for 10 seconds.
35.  Getting rid of my fear of heights long enough to climb over rocks or to descend down over rock piles
36.  Being intelligent enough to teach others how to be researchers who can better understand things.
37.  A job to pay the bills and do the things I want to do.
38.  Teaching opportunities, wherever they may be
39.  Being able to donate $ to charities like Make a Wish, United Way, Ronald McDonald House, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and Water Street Ministries
40.  The people of the various trail groups who keep paths open
41.  Being able to volunteer for organizations like the Standing Stone Trail and Keystone Trails Association
42.  Having my aunt Toot in my life, who thinks about me enough to do the church raffle ticket and to bake cookies for me
43.  Winning the church raffle and being able to help Heather with bills
44.  Food to eat.
45.  Clothes to wear.
46.  A calm mind that allows me to “purr like a cat” – most of the time
47.  My time in the Air Force (with organization and people) because it made me who I am.
48.  Being made chowrunner in basic training to learn to speak confidently in front of other people without fear of their reaction
49.  Time spent in England for the experiences and travels it allowed me to participate in
50.  All of my road trips across America
51.  The national parks of America
52.  Watching television shows about the canyon descents of Squamish, British Columbia. I may never be able to do that, but I like the vicarious experience, too.
53.  The opportunity to be forgiven and to forgive others
54.  Christmas get togethers
55.  Thanksgiving get togethers
56.  The music of Neutral Milk Hotel
57.  The music of Polyphonic Spree
58.  Other songs to inspire me, mellow me out, or let me rock out
59.  Star Wars in all of its many forms
60.  Movies in IMAX 3D
61.  The Macho Dude (my Yaris)
62.  Letchworth State Park
63.  Ludlowville Falls and the icicles / hoarfrost that are suspended from the roof of its cave
64.  Millions of stars and the Milky Way up in the sky with no light pollution
65.  The thought that someday I will go to Bora Bora with Heather
66.  The thought that someday I will go to the Native American sites of the Colorado Plateau with Heather – the Great American Petroglyph tour
67.  The thought that someday I will go to the Pacific Coast with Heather
68.  Waterfalls that I’ve seen and experienced.
69.  Waterfalls that I dream of experiencing
70.  Frozen waterfalls
71.  Being able to safely hike through the water at Sullivan Run to see waterfalls via the stream trail that requires climbing waterfalls
72.  The taste of cinnamon
73.  The smell of pine forests
74.  Warm showers
75.  Historical places like the petroglyphs of the Great Gallery and the San Rafael Swell existing in the world.
76.  Art is a good thing – if people put their heart and soul into it.
77.  Adventures in slot canyons that I have taken and watched
78.  0° sleeping bags and getting to camp outdoors over Halloween weekend as an annual event.
79.  My Roger Maris rookie card.
80.  My cool prescription sunglasses
81.  The Internet
82.  Microsoft Office
83.  Facebook to keep in touch with people
84.  MLBTV
85.  Pepperoni pizza
86.  Chicken
87.  Chocolate iced donuts
88.  Brownies
89.  The elusive chocolate iced donuts with brownie batter inside of them.
90.  Jackie Robinson
91.  Baseball
92.  Sabrmetrics
93.  Ghost, cryptid, and alien shows.
94.  Raspberry iced tea
95.  Red lobster cheddar bay biscuits
96.  Great blue herons
97.  Mark McGwire’s 55th home run in 1998.
98.  Pedro Martinez
99.  Ken Burns baseball
100.                      Bull Durham
101.                      The fact that I can make a shirt and tie look good (just like Will Smith) – or at least I believe I can
102.                      A sense of humor and funny television shows to make me laugh.
103.                      Classic rock music to feel a sense of summer even when it’s still cold out
104.                      Autumn leaves
105.                      Spring leaves
106.                      Humongous mushrooms in weird shapes appearing out of nowhere in the forest
107.                      Warm summer days that aren’t too hot.
108.                      Autumn days that are nice and warm enough for wearing a t-shirt.
109.                      Concerts to feel the musical vibe in person
110.                      The dental work I’ve recently had done
111.                      Neurologists who get it right and who give us the tools to move on.
112.                      The Stockdale Paradox
113.                      Logotherapy and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning
114.                      Squirrels playing in the yard except when they’re taking out cushions
115.                      The Siesta Zone
116.                      Decorating for Christmas
117.                      Being able to do math in my head
118.                      A sense of wonder
119.                      The ability to daydream
120.                      Sam and the opportunity to have “another dad.”
121.                      Being able to play with dogs at the mall
122.                      Being able to look at a map and dream of vacations I’ll probably never take.
123.                      Youtube to live vicariously through other people’s vacations.
124.                      Scott Brown’s waterfall books.
125.                      Michael Kelsey’s slot canyon books.
126.                      The town of Ithaca and all its waterfalls.
127.                      Being able to marvel at the amazing ability of athletes
128.                      The motivation of people with obstacles telling us to THINK / ABLE
129.                      Maturity to deal with real life.
130.                      A sense of hope and understanding when things get tough.
131.                      Cheeseburgers with and without bacon
132.                      The Standing Stone Trail and all its sights and sites
133.                      Credit cards (for what they were intended)
134.                      The miracle of airplanes
135.                      Microwave ovens
136.                      Refrigeration / cold water / ice
137.                      My Kindle and the joy of digital readers
138.                      People who are willing to protect us (cops + military)
139.                      Firemen
140.                      Medical type people
141.                      Teachers
142.                      People who work hard to make a difference for others in little ways
143.                      People who tell us what we need to hear – not just what we want to hear.
144.                      Whales that jump out of the water at Cape May
145.                      Our 2012 vacation to Sandals in Jamaica
146.                      Dreams of a vacation to the Dominican Treehouse Place
147.                      Sleeping in.
148.                      Simple freedoms
149.                      The chance to make a difference for other people
150.                      Hot dogs
151.                      My grilled pork chops
152.                      Warm sweaters
153.                      My wife’s DIY talents
154.                      People who believe in me
155.                      Wifi / 4g for cellphones
156.                      Indoor plumbing
157.                      Old school Corvettes
158.                      Real Jeeps (Wranglers)
159.                      The movie Contact and the ideas of Carl Sagan
160.                      The Grateful Dead’s “Box of Rain”
161.                      Sugar’s “The Act We Act”
162.                      Tim Delaughter letting me use the Polyphonic Spree’s lyrics in my book
163.                      Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”
164.                      Prince’s “Purple Rain (live)”
165.                      Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird (live)”
166.                      Cheese Steaks from V+S
167.                      The interstate transportation system
168.                      Being able to get up and do whatever today.
169.                      The chance to help other people
170.                      The goofy and joyful laughter of kids
171.                      The choice to live life
172.                      Outback’s Alice Springs’ Chicken
173.                      Aron Ralston’s story
174.                      Laurence Gonzales’ Deep Survival and Surviving Survival Books
175.                      My wife’s giant tulip painting
176.                      Bald eagles in flight at places like Conowingo Dam
177.                      Migrating snow geese at Middle Creek
178.                      Movies and books about the triumph of the human soul
179.                      www.values.com
180.                      The writings of Thomas Friedman
181.                      The writings of Malcolm Gladwell
182.                      The writings and work of Paul Offit
183.                      Air travel
184.                      The chance to be a part of history
185.                      The view from the Throne Room


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