Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2014 08 20 The Bell Rings August 20, 2014

And away I go, down through the hall. The lights overhead help guide me along the echoing path as I step towards my future. A door to the right, a door to the left, a dull light starts to show itself ahead of me. I smack my white cane against the walls of the corridor. The crack of the stick upon brick rings down along the narrow hall as I pass under another ceiling light.

Where am I going? Who is that I hear? Am I walking towards something significant? Is there a purpose or an ingredient cleverly hidden somewhere inside this never ending tunnel? I sense someone, then someone else, walking towards and past me. I feel the strangely familiar energy all around me. I smell an awareness that has somehow eluded me until now. I reach out and try to touch the energy that is coming at me from every angle.

A light appears from the corner of my eye. It’s another dull, murky reminder of those visions that remain just out of reach. I stop my sweeping. I stop my stepping. I stop my breathing. I stop, I turn and I listen. My senses switch on. The light is coming from a room and I am drawn to it as though it was meant just for me.

I brush my forearms against a doorway as I head towards the light. The light is brighter now, and a different echo takes control of my perception. A hollow echo. A beckoning echo. A welcoming echo that hugs me tight and welcomes me into its faintly familiar feel.

Slowly I sweep and move through the hollowed room. Carefully I make my way towards the light ahead of me. My cane smacks something to the right, then cracks against something to the left. A force pulls me to the left as I methodically make my way towards yet another unknown.

The feeling begins to grow. The past sings softly at my side as I reach out and down. My fingers slide across a smooth, flat surface with rounded edges. I shuffle my feet and slide around the smooth surface, and there it is. As I reach down, I feel the welcoming whisper of a rolling chair. As I slide the chair carefully away from the smooth, flat surface, I position myself in front of it and then, I sit.

The room swirls around me with a hundred memories from decades before. I hear the sounds of chair legs dragging across the floor. I hear the laughter as it races past the outside in the hallway. I feel the chalk as it drags across the freshly cleaned board. I feel the electricity of the gathered young as they wait, patiently for the lessons to be learned. I taste the sweet flavor as life’s nectar fills my soul with the yearning’s of a young boy.

I take a deep breath and ready myself for another taste of a higher plateau.

Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I as ready as I could be? Am I aware of how grateful I should be? Am I able to grab hold of the day and seize control of my own personal destiny?

The room begins to fill with footsteps, voices, promise and hope.

The bell rings as a quieting hush hugs the room.

School has begun.

 

2014 08 10 Two Weeks To Go August 10, 2014

Two weeks to go and here I am, typing away. I haven’t been posting much this past month and for those of you who take the time to come in and read what I have to say, I apologize. My mind has been a swirling torrent of distraction lately, and this time, I have an excuse.

I am supposed to get a new laptop tomorrow, along with a fresh copy of Office 2013 and some much needed tutoring with the accessibility of these new items. Like I said, I have two weeks to go before I embark on my new adventure on a college campus, and I can hardly believe what’s happening.

Am I ready for this new chapter in a billy goat’s life? I would like to think that I am, but the old me, the old ways of thinking pull me off to the side and whisper in my ear, “Dude. What are you, crazy?”. Fact is, I am crazy, and I am partially confused, but I am continuing to move my feet forward, one step at a time, one sweep of the cane at a time. It’s all I know and it’s becoming who I am, so here I go.

I have two weeks to learn the new laptop, which is Windows 8.1. I have two weeks to learn Office 2013, which is infested with those pesky ribbons. I have two weeks to figure out where all my clothes are. You see, my wife spent a whole day sorting and arranging and cleaning and hanging my clothes so that I can know where everything is and have no worries when it comes to, “How do I look?”. The worst thing I could do is to show up on the first day of classes wearing a plaid dress shirt over a striped t.

I have two weeks to try and figure out Blackboard, my new KVCC email account, Learning Ally digital book portal, Firefly, my new digital recorder, and the hits just keep coming.

I also have two weeks, followed by the rest of my life to try and thank all of you for your continued support, love and inspiration. I have been humbled by it all and would care not to think where I would be without it. This amazing bombardment of “Wow!” has come at me from all angles, most recently by the folks at the KVCC campus. Their infectious attitude and overall eagerness has helped me in so many different ways. I feel as though they have welcomed me to their family of learning in a most unique way, and with my efforts to show my appreciation, I truly feel as though I am heading into an amazing time in my life.

I used to drive around Central Maine in my work truck wondering how my life might have been if I had done things differently. I wondered what it would have been like if I had of applied myself accordingly. I wondered how things might have been different if I had gone on to college, or chosen a different profession, or taken a right on red, instead of just waiting for the light to turn green so I could drive straight ahead. I wondered, and I pondered, and I contemplated and scratched my head and tapped my feet and checked my rear view mirror, then I stepped on the gas and continued on with the way things were.

I have two weeks to go before I end up right where I’m supposed to be. This is sort of scary. This is kind of unbelievable. This is rather unexpected. This is the next step of this crazy, wild, amazing roller coaster ride. This is something I should have done about thirty years ago. This is something my wife told me I should do. This is something I never thought I’d do.

This sure is something.

 

2014 08 03 Short Story August 3, 2014

What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel things the way that I do? Why do these emotions overtake me sometimes, to the point where I can’t breathe or swallow? Are these emotions a cumulative experience brought on by fifty three years of living a life that was meant for me, and only me?

I was writing a short story yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing spectacular, or unusual, or anything like that. This writing was a fiction story about a man who had taken his poor, pathetic struggle with life and turned it around. He had tasted the errors of his ways and did a complete 180, giving himself a few of the joys that every person should have in their life. This pounding of the keys was a pretty good little story, full of hope and faith and life’s lessons and it also included one of the most important ingredients of all. This tale included a dose of family that made the whole thing come to life, and as this effervescence of existence started to ooze out of my computer monitor, it also started to flow from me. Every detail of the story, the car being driven, the way the wind was coming in through the driver’s window and blowing his hair, the way his wife leaned back in her seat and glanced over at her husband with a gleam in her eye, it was all right there, as vivid and full of life as anything I have ever seen, lived, or tasted.

As I continued to write the story, I became part of it, and as I tried to keep pace with the event that was playing out in my mind, the events that unfolded slowly worked their way down deep in my heart and soul. I can’t explain what or how what happened, happened. I can’t for the life of me fully depict what went on inside me. I can only tell you that the experience was incredibly uplifting and extremely memorable.

The first time I can remember experiencing an unexpected swell of wonderful emotion was when my son was born. As I looked into his eyes, he looked into my soul. It was as if he was born to complete my life, and I thanked God for putting me on this earth to experience it all. I have written a few times of the bond that was instantly created with he and I, and although I’m pretty sure that a mother’s bond may be even stronger, there is no other union in the solar system that holds the same characteristics that the father, son union does.

I guess that with each passing year, I gain more perspective and move closer to being able to cut loose and let my emotions rise to the surface. I can tell you that more and more I seem to enjoy the fact that some days I can gather up a good cry at the drop of a Hallmark commercial. A few years back I would have thought that such emotions coming from a man like me would mean only one thing, weakness. Yes, I’m afraid so. Perhaps growing up and watching my father, and how strong his persona was, made it harder for me to lay claim to my emotions, my feelings, my sudden experiences of the deeply embedded interior. He was such a strong man, is such a strong man, and subconsciously I needed to emulate the traits I saw in him.

I have grown to see the changes that have taken place in him. I have witnessed how this pure rising tide of emotion can capture the strength in a strong man and wash down over him with a taste of goodness. I have seen him change, and while I watched, I, myself was also changing.

There’s so many words that I can’t find to explain what I am trying to say. The adjectives don’t do it any justice at all. I know that when these moments happen, it feels exactly right, and I feel as if I am part of something a hell of a lot bigger than me.

Anyway, as I was approaching the end of this short story I was writing, the scene played out in my head. The reunion of the family spirit was at hand, and for me, there is nothing more pure.

My older sister said that perhaps I was writing about myself. Perhaps I was digging up a life experience that held the same attributes as this story did. Perhaps the emotions I was feeling were part of something that was going to happen to me in the future. Perhaps something that is going to happen to me will hold these same emotions and feelings? I know that if I’m able to bare witness to a similar experience as this, well, I’m going to feel pretty good.

Whatever I think is wrong with me, whatever I think is going on inside this billy goat brain, whatever it is that is behind this driving force of feelings, I’m gonna try to just get out of the way and see what happens.

You always hear that the best things in life are free. Right? Well, this short story didn’t cost anything to write, and the experience? One word describes it to a T.

Priceless.

 

2014 07 08 Pop Quiz July 8, 2014

So, like, now I’m all set, right? Everything’s in order, right? All my little quacky ducks are in a row, right? Have I thought of everything? Have I left anything out? Is there something that I’ll come across and then say, “I can’t believe I forgot that!”?

Some days, as I gather up my stuff to head into my day, I am met with a never ending barrage of feelings like I have left out something of major importance. You know that feeling, like perhaps you left the stove on, or left the front door open, or forgot to shut off a switch or maybe you didn’t change the dog’s water?

I used to get these doubtful thoughts quite often when I could see, and now that the old billy goat eyes ain’t working too well, well, well, well, let me tell you, it’s a never ending rummage sale through the old noggin, trying to find clues that lead me towards things that have been left undone. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” really is true. It’s not just a saying. It’s pure, it’s true, and it holds more factual crap than you could ever imagine.

I’m getting better at it though. I’m learning to sort things a little better as time goes by. I’ve learned how to categorize and columnize and group together and list and shuffle things a little differently. Matter of fact, a lot differently. Back when this big, beautiful blue marble darkened on me, I had a hard time remembering a phone number for more than five seconds. Now, I’ve learned how to turn the number into a rhythmic melody that somehow makes sense and stays with me a little longer. As I move through my day, I picture things in my head and build a never ending and constantly changing map of my day. From the rug on the living room floor, to the rug on the floor at the bottom of the ramp in the garage, to where the recliner in the living room has been recently moved to, it’s a world of adaptation, and like I’ve said a few times before, you can’t advance until you absorb and adapt. Oh, it’s possible to trudge on ahead, but believe me, if you’re not prepared, you’ll eventually pay the piper, and these days, he’s a greedy son of a flute playing biscuit.

We all have to make adjustments. We all have to learn how to manipulate. We all have to learn how to study our surroundings and put it all in perspective. We’re all constantly changing, evolving, noticing, learning, anticipating, reacting, gaining knowledge and recognizing the better choice of the two.

I’ve always liked mind bending puzzles. I’ve enjoyed a mental challenge from time to time. Having limited vision is the mind bending, brain twisting puzzle of all puzzles. The challenge is there, some days more than others. The tests, the pop quizzes, the unannounced Friday exams are all lined up, ready to challenge you, challenge me, and it’s up to me, up to us, to make the most of them. I’ve learned how to make the best of mine. Some days I don’t do too well with what’s been put in front of me. I’ve got the broken toes, bruised shins, knees, hips, forearms, busted fingers, scraped wrists, bent nose and dents on the noggin to prove it. I guess you could call them the outcomes of the tests, the performance rankings, the grades handed down from the instructor on high. When you look at me, you’re getting a pretty good look at my report card.

Back in the day, when report card day was at hand, man oh man, was I ever filled with anxiety. Usually though, my grades reflected on how well I studied and how hard I worked.

With all the bumps and bruises these days, you’d think I’d be getting an A, or at least a B+.

Ya, ya, I know. Some of you out there are shouting, “The bumps and bruises are cuz you didn’t apply yourself enough!”

Here’s a little hint. The tutoring never stops.

No matter where you go, there you are, so, take advantage of it.

Thanks for stopping by, have a wicked good day, and please, don’t ever think you’ve studied enough.

Now then, let’s go see if we can find the corner of the couch, or the cupboard door that I left open, or the computer desk drawer that’s pulled out, or the corner of the freezer in the garage, or maybe, if I’m lucky, the back of the text book where all the answers are.

dp

 

2014 07 03 High Tide July 3, 2014

I guess I’ve always liked the sea. No matter where its amazing force could be found, I felt the same about it. It doesn’t matter where I am, DownEast, Belfast, Rockland, Old Orchard Beach, Reid State Park, Popham Beach, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Stockton Springs, Tampa or wherever I have been where the rippled waves of an incoming tide rolled up onto the shore, it all felt wonderfully comfortable and incredibly right.

There’s something about the sounds of a wave rolling in along a sandy shore, or the unforgettable excitement coming from a group of kids digging in the sand and writing their names along the smooth sands of a long, inviting beach. Some things are made to go hand in hand, and the union that’s born lives on forever in the winds of time. All I have to do is stop, take a second to listen, and I can almost hear the bellowing boom of a high tide wave pounding in through the caverns of a rugged, rocky shore.

I remember one summer, back when they seemed like they never ended, I was sitting in a little hollowed out cave of rock on the shore of an island. The island was off the coast of Maine and I was with my father. I think I was about ten or eleven years old. I loved climbing on the huge rock formations along the shore, and this island had a multitude of amazing formations that kept me climbing and jumping and exploring for an incredible week. The waves were getting fairly close to where we were sitting. The spray from the crashing onto the rocks in front of us was cooling, as it had been a hot summer’s day. We were both sitting silently, as one usually does when the ocean has taken advantage of it’s hypnotic grip on you. The setting was perfect, the sea was showing off the only way a sea knows how, and its audience was completely captivated. With the crashing and the booming of the white foam spray, if I had of been alone, I probably would have been petrified. I don’t think I had ever been witness to such an amazing display by the ocean, and as the waves kept getting closer and closer, my heart and soul soared along the winds of high tide.

All of a sudden, the ocean unleashed its marvel upon us. An enormous wave swelled towards us and came crashing down on the layers of huge rocks in front of us. The next several seconds was like something out of a movie. The white foam came tumbling in on us, and we were completely covered by its biting grip. I tried to catch my breath as I screamed out loud and I could hear my father hollering as he reached over and grabbed hold of me. The fury of the moment swept me up and carried me to places I never knew existed. My mind was a surge of electricity, swirling me back through time and straight ahead into the amazement of the moment.

It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever been involved in, and although it scared the crap out of me, it lifted my spirit to a new height that I didn’t come down from for a day or two.

As the water slowly subsided away from us, I heard my father laughing out loud. He held me close as the crashing wave moved back away from us, and I almost thought I could hear the sea laughing at us, as if it had been toying with our emotions. Well, if it had been, it did a fairly good job at it.

My father looked me over to make sure I was ok, and when I looked up and saw him smiling, I started to laugh, because I knew everything was alright.

As the water subsided down the huge rock faces and back into the sea, we quickly got up and headed back to safer grounds. With my soggy sneakers, drenched shorts, soaked shirt and water logged mind, I couldn’t get the experience out of my head the whole night. I don’t think my eyes closed until the next night.

I had always loved to climb and bounce along a rugged coast line, and after this incident, I loved it even more. It was as if I was darting in and out of the rocks, nearing the water, then darting quickly away as though I was daring the ocean to give me her best again. I had seen, felt and tasted the enormous strength that mother nature can unleash upon us at any time, and there’s no feeling in the world quite like it.

I’ve always loved the ocean. I’ve gained so much perspective from just sitting and listening to what it has to say. The view is incredible, the tales that it tells are unforgettable, the experience is incomparable in so many ways, and wherever I go, I can always feel a piece of it rolling up onto shore, right in front of me.

Do you like the sea? Do you have an amazing tale of your own about the sea? Can you sometimes smell the salt in the air, no matter where you go or where you are?

Thanks for stopping by and leave a comment if you wish.

Have a great Fourth and I’ll catch up to ya later.

dp

 

2014 06 24 Conformistificational June 24, 2014

Well hi there, and how the hell am I anyway? It’s been a while since I posted a regular entry in my blog, well, that is, I don’t think any of them have been regular, right? I mean, look at me! I’m rather irregular looking and full of things that are far from conformistificational. I don’t look like others, I don’t act like others, and you can ask my wife about that. I don’t sound like others, and my feet got longer when I turned forty. Yep. That’s me. An unnatural, rare oddity that eludes all logical explanations that have anything to do with whatever the hell it is that I’m writing, because I don’t have a frigging clue.

I suppose that a lot of us wander around our lives, trying to act like this person, or look like that person. We want to purchase things that this guy has, or that woman uses, or what those folks are listening to. With all the input and expectations and gimmicks and billboards pointing you in this direction and tugging you in that direction, how the hell can we ever figure out what it is that we really like? How do we ever know what makes us tick when we’re paying attention to someone else’s clock? When the sun comes up, do we get up because we want to, or because they tell us we need to hurry the hell up and get our lazy cabooses down to McDonalds and grab a dollar coffee? Is my mini van maroon because I love maroon, or because the dealer told me it looks good on me?

I suppose, once again, that I have never been really comfortable in my skin. Is it because of who was staring back at me in the mirror, or is it because the mirror was tuned into channel thirteen and they were discussing how fat to not get or how ugly I wouldn’t be if I bought this or used that?

It’s maddening to try and figure out who to be if we just don’t stop for a moment or three and figure it out ourselves. Why do we need someone else to tell us or show us or explain to us or persuade us or conceal from us or elude to us or condemn us or someone please stop me or I’ll probably never find the end of this stoopid sentence!

Phew. Ok, then.

Back to reality, or whatever that thing for sale was on that last commercial.

I have been searching for myself, for who I am, for what’s inside me these past four years. I suppose it’s been probably longer than that, but who’s counting.

I have always wondered what others see in me, but I think I have always paid more attention to how they express themselves around me, because of me. How I am interpreted by outside influenced dudes and dudettes has played such a vital role in my own perceptions of me, myself and I. If I was able to resemble a smart person, I would have figured out a long time ago that what matters most is how we feel about ourselves, because of what is inside us, and not what is fed to us by external sources.

I never liked who was staring back at me, and it was due mostly to visual persuasions. I didn’t like what I saw, so I became exactly what it was that I was only able to see. I was never that same person in the mirror. I never felt like him or wanted to pretend to be him. Who I felt like on the inside was always ass backwards from what the reflection held.

Hey everybody! Listen up! You are who you are, no matter what we think, or what we say, or how we act! I am who ai am, she is who she is, he be who he be, and they better get the hell out of my way, because these canes are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days this cane is gonna walk all over, umm, walk all over, err, umm, walk all over, huh?

Where was I?

Non conformistic, pre-determined conditionary maneuver number 433.952 complete. Please return your trays to their upright positions before landing, and thank you for flying feet first.

Well, there I go again with another irregular post.

It’s pretty safe to say that I’m lost, so, I’m gonna go out to look for myself. If you should see me return before I get back, please ask me to wait, ok?

 

014 06 22 Blog Tour: Bruce Atchison June 22, 2014

Bruce Atchison 25jan06Hello Readers and Happy Summer.

Last week, I posted some informations and answers that promoted a Blog Tour which described my writing process. I promoted a couple links to a few other writer’s blogs that I know. The following post is a re-post from a friend of mine’s blog. His name is Bruce Atchison, and he has also given a brief bio, plus answers to the writing process questions.

Thanks for dropping by, and thanks to Bruce for taking part in the writer’s process, and the Blog Tour 2014. Have a great day, and here we go!

***

Bio:

Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind Canadian freelance writer with articles published in a variety of magazines. He has also authored these three paperbacks:
“When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies” is a memoir of the surprising facts he discovered about house rabbits.
“Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School” is his
recollection of being sent five hundred miles from home for months at a stretch.
“How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity” shows how God led Atchison out of a legalistic house church.

You can contact Bruce at batchison@mcsnet.ca
Also via Facebook or Twitter.
Bruce also posts regularly on his blog sites at the following addresses:

http://www.bruceatchison.blogspot.com and:
http://www.bruceatchison.wordpress.com

Atchison lives in a tiny Alberta hamlet with his house rabbit, Deborah.

***

Bruce Atchison WRITING PROCESS – BLOG TOUR

Thanks to Traci Macdonald for letting me be a part of this blog tour. It’s my first time at this so please be lenient with me if I mess up. Thanks.

1) What am I working on?

At the moment, I’m promoting my most recent book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. As the subtitle suggests, it’s my testimony of being in a toxic house church and how God led me providentially to the correct understanding of himself as well as the Bible. Because nobody mentored me, I knew nothing about dangerous false gospels. No one invited me to church either. I found my spiritual nourishment through radio shows, particularly The World Tomorrow. When a friend finally did invite me to a Bible study, it was led by a self-proclaimed prophet with decidedly unorthodox views of Scripture. Now I want to warn naive believers away from the false gospels which the apostle Paul spoke of in Galatians 1:6-9.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Instead of a didactic exposition of the wrong doctrines I learned and the correct ones biblically-literate teachers taught me, I believed that showing how I was deceived and then corrected would be a better way to instruct people. Unfortunately, various apologetics radio hosts and teachers didn’t help me promote my testimony. Neither have many Christians expressed interest in my story.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always liked telling stories. As a boy, I couldn’t play sports with the others due to my poor vision. So I ended up telling funny stories to the girls at recess. I love the process of converting ideas into articles, reviews, and stories. Fiction is particularly exciting for me since I can let my imagination loose. It saves a lot of research work.

4) How does your writing process work?

I usually get an idea and let it ferment in my mind. If it seems exciting enough to write about, I type a rough draft on my PC. Then I listen to my screen reader speak what I’ve written aloud and make corrections as needed. Once I’ve used the spell check function and made it as cohesive as I can, I submit it to a publisher or upload it to my blog. I also query editors before I write articles so I won’t have a great bit of prose with nowhere to send it.

On June 30, I hope to have Ruth Snider, a member of the InScribe Writers Group, with her replies to the questions for this blog tour. Ruth L. Snyder was privileged to spend the first 10 years of her life in southern Africa where her parents served as missionaries. From there her family moved to Canada, settling in Three Hills, Alberta. Ruth enjoyed her years as a “staff kid” at Prairie and is grateful for the biblical grounding she received there. She now resides close to Glendon (the pyrogy capital of Alberta, Canada) with her husband and five young children. Ruth enjoys writing articles, devotionals, short stories, and Christian fiction. She is a member of The Word Guild and The Christian PEN. Ruth currently serves as the President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

On July 6th, I hope to have Michael B. Birtchet’s answers here. Mike is a musician living in Portland Oregon. He also is the author of Slow Time, a science fiction novel. I don’t have the link for his book at this time but I’ll be sure to put it here next week.

***

 

 
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