THANKS FOR THE MEMORY

Take time to create a memory today. It doesn’t have be anything outrageous or outlandish; no need to initiate a scandal, overindulge, or spend lavishly. Hell, it doesn’t even have to involve another person; feel free to do something private, something unknown to anybody other than you. It can be something quite banal. Take a moment today, stop and observe yourself, your surroundings, your place in those surroundings. I really don’t think it makes no never mind whether you stop and smell a rose, or just look down at a piece of gum on the pavement; maybe accidentally step in it even. Maybe intentionally step in it for that matter. Just be mindful of it, and in so doing, create a memory. At some point in the future, look back and think of the color of that flower, it’s delightful fragrance or lack thereof. Recall the frustrating inconvenience of accidentally stepping in that wad of gum, and laugh at the spectacle. Or, recall the absurdity of intentionally stepping in that gum, giving yourself permission to act out in a manner that’s illogical, inane, evening seemingly insane. Look back on that little instance where you not only allowed, but actually encouraged yourself to commit a random and pointless act. Provided that your actions don’t compromise the safety and feelings of another person, there’s really no harm done. It’s quite possible that this topic is on mind today as the result of a dream I had last night. Now, as a 1957 vintage gay man, who has been a relatively coherent and cognizant witness over the past 35+ years; it’s quite common that the denizen of my dreams, are many faces familiar, but long ago passed. I hardly think I’m unique in this. Such was my dream last night. I was at a smart little soiree at the home of a friend. As the length of the dream and number of occupants increased, so too did the size of my friend’s home. Soon groups were arriving in droves, four to six abreast, some looking quite fresh from their midnight ablutions, and others that had obviously had a cocktail or ten, or a couple bumps from Bogota, since performing their toilette earlier in the evening. Their indiscretions e revealed by their subtle stagger and slur. However, all were amicable, smiling, laughing, chatting both with and at one another. I first recognized Eduardo, and he was accompanied by, but a step ahead, of Roger, Carlos, Ernie, and Chris. It was obvious that Eduardo was the designated driver, or at least I hope he was. Maybe he was just a tad more sober and didn’t want to be too closely associated with his posse. As the room expanded in both size and attendees, I began to realize that I knew nearly everyone there. Some were close friends, some barely acquaintances. I ran into a couple of exes, and a few one-night stands, where it seems we both had obviously made an unspoken agreement to leave the encounter itself unspoken. It was so good to see them all, to have a giggle, trade a bit of dirt on a mutual friend. This is a nearly a decade before we’d have a kiki. They all looked so incredibly young, and their energy escaped me. Here they were, beginning to arrive at about the time I was ready to take my leave. But, I was so overjoyed to see them that I decided to muster my mettle and stay. I have to admit that I did feel a bit peculiar. I mean, I had known these people for years. We were all about the same age, give or take five years; yet I somehow felt a bit dowdy and worn alongside their youthful smoothness and exuberance. I was chatting with Rolando at the time that I awoke. As I left my dream world and became more aware, I realized that I had once again had one of those dreams where I’m one of the few, if not the only, person in attendance that is actually capable of waking up today. I’m here, I’m alive. I must make this day matter, I must create a memory. It’s my obligation. That being said, I have a little memory that I’d like to share with you. One day, must have been sometime back in the mid to late 1980’s, when Miami Beach was still being referred to as “God’s Waiting Room,” and SoBe was simply South Beach., if not just “the beach,” and was preferably avoided. Anyway, I was up in what we used to refer to as North Beach; not to be confused with North Miami Beach. North Beach was actually just north beach, an area up in the numbered streets, say from 70th-85th. I was coming around the corner from 71st St, making a left to walk north up Collins Ave. There was a McDonald’s on that corner. Seated right inside a corner window of the McDonald’s was an elderly woman, well into her eighties. Her shoulders hunched over with age and osteoporosis, her quad-cane standing in wait beside her chair. Her face was deeply etched with wrinkles. I’ve no doubt the sun may have played some small role, but am more inclined to believe that her lines were earned from experience, from the very act of living itself. What had she witnessed? What were she thinking? What were her memories? Had she lost her parents in the concentration camps? Perhaps been there herself? At that time, it was not uncommon to encounter Holocaust Survivors amongst the older folks on Miami Beach. But then again, I may be making assumptions here, as a means of embellishing my memory, bedazzling the moment. Seeking a poignant hook to tug the heartstrings of the reader. Hell, she may have been some old Presbyterian broad that had witnessed little more tragedy than a fallen angel food cake and fallen arches. Anyhow, it was obvious that she had just had her hair done; not unlike nearly all old ladies of every race, creed, and denomination were wont to do back then. A soft petal cut, wash, set, comb-out with a bit of light teasing to fill in a thin spot here and there. All being held in place by an inexpensive sheer chiffon scarf in a bold shade of blue; quite possibly purchased at the Woolworths just a block north. She had the requisite smear of orange-red lipstick in the general area of her mouth. Her hands were badly gnarled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but her nails were painted, and she was wearing a ring or two. In one painfully gnarled hand, she was holding an ice-cream cone, one of those soft-serve things that McDonalds used to sell, they may still. Just plain vanilla, nothing fancy. But, as I watched that old woman lick that ice-cream cone, there came over her a look so pure. A look of pleasure, of satisfaction, of bliss. Her eyes, long dulled by cataracts, seemed to light up and sparkled. Her wrinkles softened, the milky paleness of that vanilla ice-cream, in sharp contrast with her orange-red lipstick. Like a little girl playing dress up. She was transformed in front of my very eyes. This was not some old crone enjoying a cone. This was not the face of a woman that had quite possibly outlived her entire family, children included. What I saw before me, what I was fortunate enough to be presented with, to witness? I was gifted with the vision of a young girl, free of concerns, free of arthritis, physical aches and pains, her vision clear, her hearing keen. Erased were the lines of loss, the weariness of struggle, the furrows of grief, some acknowledged, much denied and left unprocessed, most likely denied for the comfort and convenience for those that had relied upon her to be strong. Yes, I realize this is sheer conjecture, assumption, presumptuous even. Pure projection. I have no idea what this lady experienced in life, what her memories held. But, she has provided me with a memory of my own. A memory that has sustained me for years. An experience that has allowed me to behold the child within those I love and care about, total strangers, even those that vex me. But, it has also allowed me to be kinder to the child that resides within, and to honor that child today, even if he was unable to honor himself at the time. Get out there and make a memory today.

U-turn permitted. Time to do a 180.

Uturn

There’s nothing that hits harder than the brutal realization that the only thing standing between you and the life you dream about is YOU! It’s the way you think, the way you act, the way you react, or your total lack of action at all.

Recently I posted the above message on Facebook. Later I was in the bedroom sorting through clothing. I’m attempting to “clean house” in every aspect of my life; physically, materially, emotionally, and spiritually. I have more clothes than I could ever wear in my remaining years. Nothing designer label or high-end. No, I’ve learned to shop frugally in very moderately priced stores. I’ve grown quite fond of Target, H&M, or Real Old Navy as I refer to it, places where the man of a certain age can make a fashion blunder and leaving the house looking foolish, yet for a relatively modest price. ROSS is an absolute goldmine and on Tuesdays I get a discount just for being over 55. There’s no good reason for a man my age to blow $300 bucks for a pair of skinny jeans when he can evoke ample ridicule in a pair that he got at ROSS for $17.99. In fact, the designer logo on the $300 pair would only add insult to injury. So, as I looked over this collection of clothing that I was going to donate to one of the many charities, I came to realize that it was all garments that I actually liked, they’ve simply ceased to fit. I had bought these items for a reason, in fact, were I financially prepared to do so, I go out and purchase the same items tomorrow, albeit in a larger and more flattering size. But, if I were to ever again weigh 175-180 lbs., these very items would be perfect. That’s when it struck me. 180… It’s not just about a goal weight, but the fact that I need to do a 180 in evert aspect of my life. Physically, materially, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.   There’s really nothing “wrong” with my life, or me for that matter. But, I am hardly living up to any standard even near my potential. First of all I need to shift gears, do a U-turn in the way I think, a 180 degree turnaround in my thought process and priorities. It’s like an alcoholic or addict entering a recovery program and being told that the only thing they have to change about themselves is EVERYTHING.   Well, that’s exactly where I’m at. I’ve been there with booze, been there with shopping, big time been there with cigarettes. But in the process I’ve rewarded myself by indulging in gluttony and sloth. I eat too much, and I move too little. But, it’s not just about the foods I consume or getting to the gym. It starts with my thoughts, my manner of thinking. The insidiously insane notion that because I’ve given up certain things that once brought me pleasure but proved be ruinous, somehow allows me to feel that I deserve to reward myself with other pleasurable but equally detrimental practices. That’s insanity! But, anytime we attempt to fill the hole in the sole with substances or outside influences, be it booze, food, sugar, shopping, sex.. Whatever! When we attempt to fill that hole in our soul with anything other than our own emotional and spiritual development, it’s only a matter of time before we end up back at Square One. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke. Yet, I eat way too damn much and put more effort into hooking up and getting laid than I do working on my physical health at the gym. So, once again in my life, it’s time to make some changes, and as always, the only thing I have to change is everything. I need to reboot my mind, start seeing things from a different perspective. To see food as fuel to achieve better health as opposed to seeing cake as a panacea for whatever didn’t go my way today. To get to the gym rather than look at the guy with the perfectly chiseled body and retreat to the sofa. I’m beginning to develop a clear picture of what I want and I’m beginning to make some sincere changes.   But, I know I can’t do it alone. So my hope in committing to this journey but creating this blog and sharing with others will aid me with developing the self-discipline to become the man I wish to be.

NOTE: I am going to make an attempt to eat more nutritionally and develop an exercise and fitness program that works for me. This is not about what diet or eating plan I’m on, nor is it about how much time I spend at the gym and details about a workout. I am not going to post Before & After photos of myself. Comparing ourselves to others and wishing to either avoid or achieve their results does noting towards nurturing better thinking, behavior, or practice within our own program. Comparison is but one more form of judgment.   My dentist, a lovely man, is a competitive body builder. He inspires me greatly as a man, and his body is a testimonial to extreme discipline and dedication to achieve a goal. Certainly there’s the cofactor of being genetically gifted. No matter my diet or diligence at the gym, I will never have this man’s body. I see his body as a stunning achievement, but what truly inspires me and what I wish to emulate is the manner of thinking that has compelled him to stick to a strict regimen of diet and exercise. We all have the equal opportunity to achieve greatness, but it’s absurd to think that we’ll achieve it in the same manner. So, this is about exploring my own potential, and finding my own path, along with the determination and discipline to display my own greatness.

 

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