Surviving

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

2016 04 27 Poetry: Board Upon the Black April 27, 2016

Hello and good evening. This is April 27 and this is poem number 27. Holy crap, right?

Time sure does have a way of flying by when you’re having fun, and if you’re not having fun, don’t blame me.

Speaking of not having fun, have I told you how much I haven’t enjoyed using the college online classroom known as Black Board? I didn’t? Hmm.

This program is one of the hardest digital things I have ever done. It’s never the same two days in a row, and I’m beginning to think that’s got something to do with me. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Oh my Deon, how can that be?” Well, let me tell you, I don’t have a clue, so let’s continue.

I am in college, and I am on the verge of getting smarter. Notice I said, getting smarter, which means that for the most part, it ain’t happened yet. There’s plenty of time though, and time I got.

I just said basically the same thing in two different ways, didn’t I? Hmm.

Anyway, Black Board is a son of a program that doesn’t play favorites in any shape or form. It has everything you need, but it’s hid it all throughout the universe of digital dilemma. In other words, if it ain’t broke, log in and it soon will be.

Below you’ll find a poem I wrote that takes us on a journey through a day in the life of a goat trying to make heads or tails out of a program called; you guessed it, Black Board.

I hope this finds you all well, and if it doesn’t, it’s gotta be the shoes.

Take care, and I’ll see ya tomorrow.

dp

***

Board Upon the Black
A poem by DP Lyons

Oh great college Black Board in the sky,
I have brought you a single piece of chalk.
There are rumors that you haven’t any need of it though,
So I’ll inconspicuously save it for someone who’ll at least appreciate it.

Each day when I shuffle into your digital room,
I never know what my searching soul is going to find.
The accolades of higher education encircle your classroom walls,
But I can’t seem to find my way into the stupid building.

I have come, I have studied and I have tried to learn.
I have cursed my tab and arrow keys,
And I have pressed and held down my computer’s power button,
But you just don’t seem to give a flying freckle.

Your electronic phrases built upon zeroes and ones
Are some days like a riddled Gotham script.
I’ve asked your hall monitor for directions through your digital dream,
But by the glazed look in their eye, they must have been using an analog map.

I glance affectionately towards a far off distant plateau,
Where desires are quenched with a fountain of your knowledge.
I ask for strength to endure your mindful maze,
And hold high my praise to those who figured out this crap.

Oh Board upon the Black, ease my teachable soul.
Lend me your educating flame as a guiding torch.
Hear my questions, my curiosity, my plea,
To cool it a bit and cut me some frigging slack.

Thanks for nothing.

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2015 12 29 Gearing Up and Winding Down December 29, 2015

And here we are, gearing up for New Years, or are we winding down from Christmas? Six of one, and here’s your half dozen.

Looking back, I find that the year that was 2015 was a blinding blur. So much went on as we spun around the sun that it’s hard to believe we could stuff it all inside 365 glorious days on this big blue spinning marble we call home.

And here we are, T-Minus three days and counting. Or is it just two?

I haven’t written as much this past year or so, and I’m blaming it on too much school work. Actually though, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the whole reason. I lack a lot of ambition that I had a couple years ago. I know it’s probably due to my health, but that just seems like I’m making up an excuse for my laziness. I have been writing quite a bit for school assignments, but compared to a few years ago, I’m not writing anywhere near what I was. I have though been picking up my guitars more as of late, and even played a little personal rendition of a Christmas song at our last Sunday night’s writers meeting back on the 20th of December. I was a little nervous, but strummed my way through it. I even sang like only a goat can. I did up a version of Silent Night for the other members of my writer’s group, and actually had a good time doing it. I’d put it on YouTube, but I’m afraid with so many views, it might completely crash the internet

Hahahaha! grin.

I’m still listening to mp3 Christmas movies on my iTouch, and will until New Years day. It’s become a yearly ritual for me, and when you add in a few holiday music albums into the mix, how can a goat go wrong? I actually listened to quite a few movies this season without description. No narrator telling you what’s going on. Just your good old imagination filling in the empty slots of movie stuff. I find that if I’m able to get into the movie after five minutes, I’ll stay with it, even though it isn’t described. The first movie I ever listened to with description on my iTouch was War Horse back in spring 2014. I became instantly addicted to the format and fell back in love with movies. It’s fair to say that I painstakingly fell away from watching movies after 2010, except for a few that I watched with my wife.

By the way, she is a fabulous movie narrator, but with the excessive pausing and playing with the remote control, she could burn through a fresh pair of AA batteries in a couple weeks.

I think she misses not describing movies and other shows to me, but although I hate to say it, having a scripted movie narrator tell you what’s going on is a huge difference.

One thing I really seem to enjoy is being able to listen to a described movie that I previously watched back when my eyes worked. It’s actually almost like watching the movie for the first time, especially when it’s narrated by someone from Great Britain. They use so many different terms for describing things that it’s rather enjoyable to the point of being almost like a learning experience from across the pond.

And here we are again, this 29th day of December, 2015. Where on earth did the time go? How do the days move around us so fast? Didn’t the geese just come back north a few weeks ago, or was that those same gooses I just heard heading their tail feathers back south? I’m sure they got it right, no matter what we think, right?

As we head towards 2016, I’m reminded that I’m just about ¼ the way towards my associate’s degree, which means that I’m closing in on a 2032 graduation date. Give or take a decade or two. Grin
It’s a good thing I’m in no hurry. I’ll try to beat my grandson, as he makes his way towards his high school diploma.

He’s turning 10 this April.

I better get my goat hooves moving, ay?

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas and that the spirit of the season flickered its flame deep within your hearts. I’d also like to wish you all the best as we slide on into 2016. May this New Year give you every opportunity to grab hold of something good, whether it’s something you work towards, or an amazing surprise that just happens to fall into your lap. With a little effort, it usually works out, and with a lot of effort, there’s just no telling what can happen.

Thanks for stopping by my blog this past year. I appreciate all your comments and look forward to piling on even more goaticious tales of Surviving.

Take care and God bless you all.

dp

 

2015 12 19 Seasonal Finale December 19, 2015

It’s finals week in school, and I just submitted my research papers for my two online classes. I have learned a lot this semester, and am very happy it’s winding down. It doesn’t seem like that long ago I was looking at week 2 work, wondering how on earth I was ever going to maneuver my way to week 15. Man, what a blur it’s been!

As usual, Blackboard gave me a lot of struggle, but with the help of an amazing tutor named Nick, I worked through, learned what I needed to know and studied my caboose off. I had a hard time with the reading in my music class, as I have a difficult time retaining what I read. I did figure out though some good techniques for taking notes while I read, which seemed to help me with retaining tons of information. It’s funny just how lazy my brain has become over the years. Now I’m not saying that my mush melon was ever anxious to get to work. Nope. No way. But with a little coaxing this fall, it finally started kicking in and getting done what I needed it to do.

And here I am, a few hours past submitting the finished work.

I still can’t believe I’m taking college classes. It just doesn’t seem real sometimes. I mean, me? College? Me? You must have mistaken me for some other ridge goat.

On the other hand, it has been me. Little old me. No one else but me. And I’m here to tell you that for all those times when I was staring at a truck load of homework, thinking, “What was I thinking?”, for all those times I didn’t have a clue, or understand the work, for all those times I sat listening to my screen reader as it read this foreign language of learning to me, for all those times I bowed down to my keypad and shook my head, it has all been worth it, for it’s been a frigging huge step in the right direction, and with all that’s been going on in my life these past few months, I guess some inner strength showed up. Strength that I didn’t even know was there, or paid any attention to. I just did what was in front of me, and now, I’m looking towards the spring semester already, approaching the starting blocks, again, Before I know it, I’ll be anticipating the starting gun to, you guessed it, scare the crap outta me!

It’s Christmas time once again, and I have so much to be thankful for. I have the irreplaceable memories of a lifetime mentor, the smiling voice of a grand son, the wicked strong hugs of my only son and the caring touch of a loving wife at my side. I have been afforded a ton of inspiration, a ton of friendships, a half ton of chocolate, a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, a family that I would gladly give my right arm for, and a God that gives me the strength to keep moving forward each and every day.

For all of these, I am thankful, and I am blessed.

I just listened to the finale of my favorite singing competition show last night, and my favorite singer won. I just simply love good music, great singers and the ability to listen to all of it. I also have a couple Christmas movies cued up on my iTouch to listen to tonight. I think I’ll start it off with one of my favorite seasonal movies, The Family Stone. I’ll save Miracle on 34th Street for tomorrow night. It’s the older version of the two.

I do love my Christmas movies, and my holiday music. Can’t get in the holiday spirit without them, right?

So many things remind me of Christmas. The bells of the season, the energetic voice of a child, Silent Night being sung on the radio, and the ever present, spine tingling magic that flows through the world as we celebrate the birth of the Lord. With a flurry of spirited magic, I can’t help but think back to my childhood when all of that magic came swirling in on a bright eyed little boy. Scouring the Christmas Eve night for Santa’s sleigh, watching the tinsel dance along the colored lights of our Christmas tree, feeling the energy grab hold of an innocent heart, it all seemed almost too wonderful to be true, but oh how true it was.
I am a thankful, blessed and fortunate man. I’d also like to wish you all the very best this Christmas, and hope that your ticket into the New Year is filled with those special memories that stick to your ribs all through your 365.

Thanks for stopping by and God bless you all.

dp

 

2015 07 20 One Down, Fifty Something To Go July 20, 2015

Well I did it. One down and fifty something to go.

A couple days ago I finished up with my first online class at KVCC, and I’m here to tell you that although Blackboard was a nightmare, I did it. Grin

Back last April and early May, I was having fits. I never thought I would be able to figure out the Blackboard program. It just seemed so cumbersome to learn, and as the weeks winded down towards the first day of class, things started falling into place. A lot of hard work and determination ended up making the difference. My wife giving me rides to campus for some pre course tutoring didn’t hurt either. She never gets enough credit for how she has helped me these past few years, and hopefully if I can pull my head out of my butt for a while, I can appropriately show her my appreciation.

Well, there I was this past May, heading into week one of the course which was Sociology 101. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I felt as prepared as I could. The work load wasn’t that bad, some reading, some writing, some more reading and writing, and voila! Course complete!

I only had a couple incidents of incorrect posts and disappearing assignments, but the work load wasn’t as overwhelming as I had first anticipated. There was a ton of writing, but me and writing seem to get along fairly well. I sit down, I start to type and before I know it, three or four pages are staring back at me. Piece of cake. Piece of crumb cake.

So here I am, taking a break for a week or two, and then it’s time to gear up and head towards two more online classes for this fall. I already have one of my text books ready to go on my Learning Ally ap, but I have to get some help for the second book, which is available on a different platform that I’ve never used before. One more thing to learn.

I’m going to be taking English 101 and, get this, The History of Rock and Roll. Yup. You heard it right. As much as I love music, this is one class that feels like it fell down from the musical part of the heavens. Makes me wonder if all of heaven is under the influence of music. I suppose it depends on the person, right?

I’d like to thank my tutor and mentor at the college. His name is Nick, and he really has made the difference with being able to learn and work through some difficult items, like the Blackboard.

Thanks Nick.

Oh ya, I’ve been asked to be part of a mentor program for first year students this fall. I was humbled beyond belief when I was asked, and with much honor, I accepted the position. I’m not sure how much mentoring I’ll be able to do, but if I can pass along a little piece of what has been given to me then I’ll be one extremely humbled and happy goat.

I hope your summers are going well. The muggy weather is here for a couple days, but overall it hasn’t been that bad.

Thanks for stopping by, and please take care, or else!

dp

 

10 10 14 Seven Weeks October 10, 2014

Good Bye Week Seven

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in college for seven weeks now. Each week, from the time I climb up the staircase in Hinckley on Monday morning, to when my ride arrives to take me home on Thursday afternoon in Fairfield, it’s a blinding blur, brought on by a beautifully woven tapestry of campus activity. I don’t know where the time goes, but man oh man does it ever.

I’ve experienced many firsts in 45 days. I’ve soared through the highs, sidestepped along the lows, made a few friends, learned a few things, been reminded of a few more, and I have to keep telling myself that I’m just getting started.

I’ve had a few fits with my new laptop, or should I say, a few more than a few. I am gaining with Windows 8.1 though, and as far as Office 2013? Well, let’s just say I haven’t thought of anything nice to call a ribbon yet. I’m working on it though, and sooner or later, those pesky little buggers will pay!

I’ve had some days when my lack of vision hasn’t bothered me, and other days when it was all I could think of. What I’m able to see changes as quickly as the weather, and if it wasn’t for the hours and hours of mobility lessons I had this summer, I’d probably still be trying to find the staircase in the Averill building in Hinckley. Probably be trying to find the doorway into King 112 also. How much I can see through my fogged up, waxed paper view really determines how some of my days progress.

My health has been good though, which I should never take for granted.

I have some wonderful instructors who have bent over backwards to try and give me the materials in an accessible format. You have no idea how wonderful it is to know that you all have my best interest at heart. None of this would be possible without your accommodations and insight, and I thank you all.

There have been a few things that have sent me spiraling, but with each incident, I absorb, adapt and advance towards the next opportunity to experience and learn.

I have been offered help by a number of students in a number of different situations, and all of them have been met with a slice of humility that reminds me just how generous and compassionate the human heart is.

I have come a long way in seven weeks. I have learned a lot, but mostly I have discovered an unquenchable thirst to learn even more. I’ll never get back the years that have led me to this point, but without them, I probably would have ended up somewhere else, and I think I prefer being right where I am.

I’ve learned how to see things differently these past four years, these past seven weeks, and the gained insight can be measured only with my actions and abilities.

Accessibility has come a long, long ways over the years. I couldn’t have picked a better time to have lost my sight. With all the technological advances that the digital world has brought to the blind community, it’s exciting to think where it’s headed, and what will become the norm in probably just a few short years. I don’t take anything for granted any more. I can’t afford to.

It’s been seven short weeks of one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It’s been 45 days of highs and lows, surrounded by pure possibility.

I look forward to the next seven weeks with courage, faith and hope, thanks in part from the encouragement I continue to get from all around.

I am extremely blessed to have crossed paths with you all.

dp.

 

10 08 14 Blinding Speed October 8, 2014

I sat in the doctor’s office in Boston feeling absolutely sorry for myself. I hadn’t been blind long, but it seemed a thousand years of hell. I hadn’t been sightless long, but I couldn’t remember what it was like to see. I hadn’t been in the dark for very long, but it sure seemed long enough.

No matter how I approached my seemingly unavoidable demise, no matter how I tried to regroup, no matter how I tried to remain positive, the barrage of unanswerable questions kept pounding me down deeper into the mud. Every time I found the strength to slowly pick myself up, another unsuspecting question came along and threw me back down into the cold, wet, breathless mud. One minute I felt like I stood a small chance of figuring it all out, and the next minute I felt like a devastated beggar, standing in line for a zip loc baggie half full of stale bread crumbs. I hated where I was, and where I was was all that I had. My life was gone. My wife was talking to me, but it felt like she was a million lifetimes away. My job was over, my hobbies were lost, my house had disappeared, my garden had up and walked away, my ash tree out by the well cover, my two dogs, my work truck, my double row of spruce trees, my son, my grandson, everything that was what I called life was all taken from me in the blink of a sightless eye and hidden deep into the darkness. The same cold, endless darkness that swallowed the world that was spinning around me at blinding speed, laughing and poking and ridiculing me until I crawled into a corner and curled up into a surrendered ball of brutalized blindness. What I had was what I didn’t expect, and what I had to look forward to was what I could never want. The troubles of my past seemed laughable compared to the destruction that had broken into my house and devastated the foundations of my home.

It hurt when I tried to think. It hurt when I tried to smile. It hurt when I tried to breathe. It hurt when I tried to live. From time to time the surging tide of disaster would ease, but as quick as it lowered, it came rushing back in with twice the force, completely catching me by surprise every time and leaving me bruised and scarred. It resembled what I would only be able to describe as hell, and no matter how much I didn’t realize or agree with it, I was in complete control of it all.

Not until I realized this did my future seem possible without vision. Not until I figured out that life was a train, and I was the conductor did any of it make sense. Not until I remembered that this life we live is reflective of situations that present themselves, and the choices we make with them define our character and set in motion our futures. When I remembered that this precious thing that I had been experiencing for nearly fifty years was a gift, and that each day opened up a newly wrapped present to live and love, only then did my future start to whisper to me and tell me that just perhaps everything would be ok.

I had been through trials and tribulations throughout my life, and for the most part, I had always been able to shrug them off, learn from them and keep on chugging along. It’s who I had become and it’s what I became used to. We all go through our own ups and downs, and we all find ways to cope and live with and through it all. We always find a way to absorb, adapt and advance our way into tomorrow, and when tomorrow does finally come, there we are again, smack dab in the middle of another experience.

Four short years have gone by. Four trips around the calendar have grabbed me and pulled me into today. Four amazing years of first times, first tries, first firsts have grabbed hold of me and pulled me off to the side, just to show me something different about life.

Four years have shaped and molded me into something I never thought I would become. With all the new gray hairs and all of the broken white cane tips, I have come to realize that maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be ok. I won’t know until I try, that is, I won’t know until I grab my cane and head out the door to see what I can bump into, or trip over, or knock over. I’ve come a long way these past four years. I’ve felt a lot of things, heard a lot of things, learned a lot of things and even seen a lot of things. I always tell people that it’s as if I became blind so that I could finally see. I don’t know what I’m looking at half the time, but I always know what it is that I can see.

If you see me coming at you, it probably means I have some place to go, or I’m looking for more chocolate.

Life is so short. If we only knew just how short it actually is, perhaps our journey would look a little different. I think back on my own journey of the past 52 months. I think back and try to take it all in, but there’s just too much of it. If the last four years are any indication of what the next four will bring, I’m in for one hell of a ride.

 

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.