jimowenswrites

Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

Month: August, 2015

Ghosts

I cannot rhyme

Each and every time

These words in lyric verse.

 

For in this noisy brain

Once again familiar strain

The pages glow hot and white.

 

Nor haunting meter find

In my damp and marshy mind

Words hide themselves away.

 

Still searching for the treasure

Finding some elusive pleasure

In digging out the ore.

 

 

And in these trying days

With my thoughts all ablaze

I can only persevere.

 

I chase them down

Like a baying hound

And put them on the page.

 

And through this ache and toil

My thoughts no longer boil.

Now finally finding rest.

 

The ghosts no longer taunt

And the words they do not haunt.

For how long I must wonder?

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Where Dreams Begin

In deep uncharted water

It rises from the deep;

Far from safest harbor,

I’m restless in my sleep.

 

Its shapeless form I fear

Be still this pounding chest

But as it draws so near

It keeps me from my rest.

 

Now bursting into light,

At last I now can see.

This strange mysterious sight;

There is no need to flee.

 

Welcome now kind stranger

From the dark within

Though there may be danger

‘tis where all dream begin.

 

So lurching o’er the rails

I swim through surf and tide

To live and tell the tales

On fearful dreams I ride.

 

I will not rest nor weep

With just one life to live

How can I not just leap?

To see what dreams may give.

My Brother’s Keeper: Chapter One

“Com’on, Sis,” he pleaded. “Quit it.”

His fingers, aching and pink, strained at the two gallon galvanized pail he carried. Each step was a debate between child and man. The pup kept dropping the remnant of a baseball, now dark with dirt and saliva, at Benji’s feet. She kept dropping it at the boy’s feet, eyes hopeful, tempting him back to childhood.

“No Sis. I said no!” He tried to use his best grownup voice.

The sound of mules and men working nearby fields in the desperate heat of an Alabama July drew him down the trail. He assured himself he would not relent all the while sloshing water from the pail as he moved it from right hand to left. His father and brothers were waiting to slake their thirst and it was Benji’s first time to deliver their relief.

“We can play later. We have work to do, Sis.”

Somehow the young Pointer understood and picked up the ball and raced toward the same sounds that drove Benji to the fields now opening before him. He was greeted with pride and relief as he approached his father and brothers. His walk into the fields was same a walk into manhood his brothers had taken before him.

As they dipped their cups into the water Benji dropped to one knee trying to look more man than boy. He clenched and unclenched his fingers, sore and stiff, trying to regain feeling in his hands. He sucked in the hot moist air, pushing Sis away who had come to plead with him once again.

“Benji,” said his Father said gently.

“Yes sir?”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Daddy–Dad,” he corrected himself

“Yeah, Benji. Thank you,” added Luke.

With their approval and gratitude Benji felt his strength returning, as his middle brother Lon added “Thanks, Benj.”

For a moment Benji, barely nine years old, was a man in the company of other men. Today, they were all baptized in the same dirt and sweat and smells and the hope for rain and a good harvest. Brothers and Father. Men. Each one the keeper of the others in a time and place where boys grew up too fast and good men often died too young.

The Spider’s Tale

I watched a strange spider,

as she wove her great web.

And I strained just to listen

to all the words that she said.

 

Though in silence she spins

much softer her voice.

Imparting kind wisdom,

in the quiet forest noise.

 

Unaware of distraction

nor sensing some danger.

She seems not to worry

at this onlooking stranger

 

She tells me this truth,

for I stopped to listen.

As sunshine passed through

her web it made glisten.

 

Stay on the path

that’s just meant for you.

It’s really quite simple,

though not easy to do.

 

For in your design

there’s something unique.

It’s inside now I tell you,

this thing that you seek.

 

When strong winds blow

and the rain crashes down;

Hear your own song

and its singular sound.

 

For be you a spider

frog, bird or a tree,

Listen now man-thing

perhaps you will see.

 

Be as you’re meant

to weave your own life.

And be not distraught

Over struggle or strife.

 

And so did I leave

hearing whitewater roar;

I wrote these few words

felt my own spirit soar.

 

Thank you dear lady.

Keep spinning this tale;

I hope in your wisdom,

others will now avail.

 

I long to remember

As I’ve written these lines

In all of creation

There’s something  truly divine

 

 

No Service

As I sit in Room 10 of the Bates, um, I mean the Lake Ocoee Motel on Highway 64 in Benton, Tennessee, I find myself reflecting on what has been a remarkable and strange day.   Go ahead. Ask me why? Thanks.   I was going to tell you anyway but I was raised to be a gentleman.

For the better part of the day I was schlepping a 50-pound backpack through South Cumberland State Park on a desperately hot August day. In the middle of thousands of acres, across seven or eight miles of the Fiery Gizzard Trail, I encountered only a half dozen people or so. Which, frankly was about five more than I would like to have encountered. You see, I have a penchant for solitude and reflection on some of these outings and today was one of them. Like any good backpacker or hiker, I make sure someone knows when I’m hitting the trailhead and when I should be back. But I enjoy the solitude. (Can you say “only child?”) Normally, I’m out of cell phone range on such sojourns so I find no reason to power it off since I use it take photos of wildlife, waterfalls, and the requisite “selfie” or two to share with my friends on Facebook. Today, however, I should have turned off the power because throughout my trip not only did I have “three bars,” I also got four phone calls in the course of about two hours. Of course, I “declined” them. (Sorry, Mr. President. You’re on your own when I’m in the woods. And please, Miranda, I’ve asked you to stop calling.)

Too say that I was annoyed would be to strong a choice of words. I was a little irritated. But I reminded myself that I choose how I respond to such petty irritations, concentrated on my breathing, as well as on the narrow ledge above the water I was traversing much of the day. During my hike, I found my cell phone an intrusion into my time and space, though I confess I did post more than a few pictures on Facebook. But now as I sit in a hotel room with a television that looks like it was built when Johnny Carson was still the King of Late Night, I look at my cell phone and see ATT has rudely chosen to tell me there is No Service. I’m not really aggravated by the message. (Well, maybe a little.) But the truth is I’m mostly surprised at the ability to be a little irked when there is No Service and when there is Service.

While tonight I have wondered what I will do if I have to make an urgent call or if someone really needs to reach me, I’m mostly just reflecting on how odd it feels to be out of touch. And how wonderful it is. While it feels a bit like I’m living in the 1970s for the night it is actually a profound relief. Tonight, I sat at the Ocoee Dam Deli and Diner and ate my Country Fried Steak, Turnip Greens and Fried Okra and realized nobody was looking at a phone. No one. People were actually talking to one another, including a group of six college girls who came in together. What the? A young boy of about nine or ten sat and talked to his parents. A grandfather and his daughters were laughing at a booth in the corner.   For a moment I thought I might be in an episode of The Twilight Zone. But the taste of the best meal I’ve had in a while made it clear to me I wasn’t.

The truth is I don’t know if I was just ravenous from my outdoor adventure today (two frogs, a snake, four waterfalls, and a bear that turned out to be a large boulder staring at me) or if the food was just that good. But I suspect it was actually more of a Zen thing when I was actually mindful of every bite I put in my mouth since I was undistracted by my iThing. Tonight, I’m just enjoying No Service. If I need to make a call I will wander across the parking lot to the tall rectangular glass box and attempt to use something that we once called a Telephone Booth and hope someone will accept a collect call if its me on the line.