Tag Archives: serenity

War Inside My Head

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” — Allen Ginsberg

Do you follow Ginsberg’s advice — in your writing and/or in your everyday life?

When I read this morning’s Daily Prompt, the VERY first thing that came into my head was the song “War Inside My Head” by Dream Theater. As anyone that knows me at all, Dream Theater and their music is a very big part of me, their lyrics can touch my soul more often than not, possibly because one of their members is in recovery and I can relate to his lyrics. But they are also classically trained musicians that just ROCK and have done so for more than 25 years, which would seem to be the meaning of them following their inner moonlight. They are also family men that treat their career just as it is, a career. They love what they do so they do it a lot. They don’t take breaks like many bands do, they write and perform music and in my opinion just keep getting better. Here is that song (along with a second song) performed live in Tokyo back in 2004.

The song is about someone that went through the horrors of Vietnam, so I cannot relate to that, but the war inside my head has been going on for quite a while. My problem was always that the war raged inside, but I hid it well. Always tried to maintain outer calmness even when my insides were getting torn up. That is no way to live. I guess that is part of the reason that I love writing. I can use some of that inner madness in the stories I make up, check out Green River Road   which I have been working on and need to get back to. It just keeps growing in my mind and is now a 9 part series with at least 4 more parts already thought out in my head.

Inner calmness is what I desire. It is what I need. It is what I work on every day now, I have to. I will.

So what exactly is my point? Hmm…..not sure to be honest. Let’s summarize

  1. Dream Theater is freaking awesome
  2. There is, and always will be a war raging inside my head
  3. There is a way to channel that madness positively
  4. Inner Calmness (aka Serenity) is my ultimate goal

There you have my Friday rambling. Hope y’all have a great day and an even better weekend

Love

Mark


Too Much? Nah

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber

When is enough enough?

When does it cross over into too much?

Can you ever really have too much money? I honestly don’t think so. Money is not the root of all evil, it is THE LOVE OF MONEY that is. I hear all the time how it is not fair that athletes make so much money or that actors are too overpaid. The way I see it is that they have a skill set that can command a HUGE paycheck, that is their right.

If you don’t like the fact that the cast members on “Big Bang Theory” are now making $1 million per show, then DON’T WATCH THE DANG SHOW. Don’t complain about it and then tune in every Monday night at 8!

Same thing goes with athletes, if it bothers you that much that they are able to make tens of millions of dollars per year playing a game, then don’t watch the games or go to the games or let your kids play the games. But don’t complain about it and then order your favorite players jersey!

Can you ever get too much love? Is there such a thing as too much kindness? Too much giving?

Of course there are things that are negative when you have too much. Too much sugar in your diet is not good for you. Too much sitting on your ass with little or no exercise is not good for you. Excessive selfishness is not good.

The way I see it is that we all have different wants and needs. It is usually envy or jealously that make us hate people that have “too much”. Some of us don’t need that much and after years of chasing too much have come to the realization that we really only need certain things to live. A roof over our heads, love of family and friends, and a little bit of serenity.

Now if along the way I am able to acquire some things that are nice, just don’t hate me for it.

Peace

Mark


Thank you…No

You’ve been granted the power to predict the future! The catch — each time you use your power, it costs you one day (as in, you’ll live one day less). How would you use this power, it at all?

Yesterday is a memory

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift, which is why they call it the present.

Predicting the future would not be a wise move for me at this point in my life. And I do not want to give up ANY today’s.

So just gonna keep it short and sweet, you can keep the power to predict the future, I’ll just live for today

.

Mark


No Pain, No Change

No pain, no gain? That is the question of the day, do I believe it?

I believe that when it comes to making a change in your life, then yes, there is going to be pain involved. More than likely the pain comes before the change more so than during or after, but why else would you be changing something? If something is working, why change?

Some of us had to feel a lot of pain before we could make any gains, had to hit a bottom of some sort before we realized that our way just wasn’t working. Had to feel complete defeat before we were willing to admit that we needed help, and were willing to accept it.

There is no need for everyone to have to hit rock bottom before they make a change, I understand that and am glad of it. But change has to come from within, changing because someone else wants you to, a partner, a boss, a friend, usually doesn’t work and can lead to resentments. Changing for yourself, not necessarily by yourself, but for yourself is important. We all know what changes we need to make in our lives, most of us look at the change and make the decision on whether to change based on how much pain it is causing us at that moment. If there is pain, there is a chance of change. More pain, more chance of change and more chance of gain. So based on this, I say yes that the phrase “No Pain, No Gain” is absolutely true.

Below are lyrics that I keep coming back to because they just apply so much to my life.

To really feel the joy in life
You must suffer through the pain
When you surrender to the light 
You can face the darkest days

If you open up your eyes
And you put your trust in love
On those cold and endless nights 
You will never be alone

Passion glows within your heart
Like a furnace burning bright 
Until you struggle through the dark
You’ll never know that you’re alive

That’s all I got on change for now, hope everyone has a blessed day

Mark

 

promote my book


My Personal Cause

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

This was the question for the day. For me, there is really only one cause that I am passionate about. . . .Recovery. I am not ashamed that I am in recovery from an addiction. It was bound to happen. Either recover or die is how I look at it. I am not going to go into horror stories of my addiction or preach that there is only one way to recover, all I can really tell you is that I am very passionate about recovery and willing to go to any lengths to recover and to help others to recover.

To me, the only reason that addiction is a touchy subject is that most people do not understand, or even want to understand about it. That used to bother me, but there really is nothing I can do about those people, except pray for them. Pray for them that they get everything out of life that I want out of life. After all, don’t we ALL want the same thing? To find happiness in our lives? To wake up every day knowing that we serve a purpose? Knowing that there are people out there that do understand us and are willing to help us, with the only caveat being that we be willing to help those that come after us. “Passing it on” is what they call it I believe.

As I write, a lot of my thoughts are directed by what I have learned, and what I am learning every day in recovery and hope to learn the rest of my life. I am not any different than you or anyone else, am no longer terminally unique in thinking that no one else understands. Give them a chance to understand, eventually you will find people that do and that will love you with no strings attached. They ARE out there, just have to be willing to let them help. Sounds easy, harder than hell!

That’s all I got today.

See Ya

Mark


The Serenity Tunnel

He was fuming when he got home.

“Don’t talk to me!” he yelled at his wife as he brushed past her in the kitchen.

“Rough day?” she smiled, knowing what was about to happen. “I unlocked the tunnel for you” she said as she turned back to go check on the kids. This was a regular occurrence at night after work, Tom would come home from work and either something happened on the job, or someone in traffic pissed him off, or he was back to being the leader of his self-proclaimed “Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee” and needed to unload. It had gotten better, at least now he knew that he needed to find his tunnel and go wherever it is that he went. She never went in the tunnel, he had asked her not to and as long as it was working, she respected his wishes.

He would go in the tunnel, mad at the world and would come out relieved and relaxed and ready to be part of the family again, a wonderful part of it. She had asked about where the tunnel had led to several times, but he just told her that it was personal and he wasn’t ready to share it with her, but that some day he would. Maybe today was the day. She would wait for him and ask.

Sure enough, 30 minutes later he came out and was a different man, the one that she fell in love with and loved with all her heart. He came out, apologized to her as usual, hugged and kissed her and asked how her day was. He always wanted to know about her day before he would tell her about his, something he said that he had to do.

“Did you learn that in the tunnel?” she said, somewhat sarcastically.

“Learn what?”

“That you always need to hear about my day before you talk about yours”

“Yup” he said grinning

“Really?”

“Yup. I think it is time.”

“For what?”

“For you to know about my tunnel.”

“You don’t have to do that, I know it is a personal thing that, for whatever reason, helps you.”

“Come on” he said, taking her hand in his and leading her to the door

For some reason she felt nervous, apprehensive, wondering what she was going to see in this tunnel of his. He led her into the door, into complete and total darkness. It was the kind of darkness that one does not know whether their eyes are open or closed. She walked along, holding on tightly to his arm.

“When am I going to be able to see. . .umm. . . .it?”

“You won’t”

“Won’t what?”

“See it”

“What?”

“You’ll feel it. Come on, hold on to my arm, just a little bit further. Don’t be so nervous, you will love it”

“But Tom, how can I love it if I can’t see. . . . “

At that moment, a feeling came over her like none she had ever felt. A warmth growing from her belly, spreading throughout her entire body, arms and feet tingling, mind no longer worrying or caring about. . . .well, anything. She closed her eyes purposefully and a bright light filled her mind, as if no other thoughts could exist inside her. She realized that she had let go of Tom’s hand and now felt like she was floating in liquid, warm and inviting. She could stay here forever she thought.

What seemed like hours passed, suddenly she realized that she was standing in a dark room

“Tom!!” she yelled

“I’m right here. You OK? Ready to go back?”

“What just happened? That was. . . unreal!” she exclaimed.

“I know, it is what I need to get through most days.” he responded.

“Well, why didn’t you tell me about this before?” she said, feeling a bit of anger and resentment building up against her husband for keeping this to himself.

“He told me that it was not time.” Tom replied.

“He? Who the hell is he?” She demanded.

Suddenly the feeling came back over her, putting her mind at ease and allowing her to float again, or so it seemed. She smiled as she came back to Tom, “I’m sorry, I just don’t understand.”

“I know you don’t, neither did I. I needed to come here every day for a long time to understand that I will never fully understand how this room works. All I know is that it works, and now I can share it with you.”

“Thank you” was all that she could think to say.

As they walked back the way that they came, she put her head on his shoulder and felt more loved than she had ever felt. Felt like no matter what happened the rest of the day, everything would be OK.

“Tom?”

“Yes”

“How did you find that place?”

“I don’t know to be honest, something just told me to go through the door and I did. Guess I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired, all the anger in the world, the rat race, not feeling like I was being a good husband to you or a good father to the kids, and something told me to go there and that it would be OK.”

“Who is he?”

“What?”

“You said that he told you that I wasn’t ready.”

“I never said that you weren’t ready, just that it wasn’t time. Wasn’t time for me to be able to share this with someone else, no matter who they were. That I had been so self-centered and ego driven for so long, that I had to work on me before I could even contemplate helping someone else.”

“Oh. I don’t know what to say. Thank you I guess for picking me” she said.

“There is no one else that I would want to share it with first.” he said and kissed her on the cheek.

“Aww” she started to tear up. “So, are you going to tell me who he is?”

Tom smiled and opened the door so that they could exit the tunnel.

“Sure. . . .He is God.”


My Thoughts

I have been reading a lot and hearing many comments about Robin Williams over the past few days. It has put me through a range of emotions from sadness to anger, pity to condemnation, confusion to understanding.

I enjoyed watching Robin Williams perform, always have. Going back to when his character Mork from Ork showed up on Happy Days (remember?). He made me laugh, he made me cry, he made me think. My anger and condemnation is not directed at him, it is at the people making comments based on ignorance of depression and addiction. It is at people that at this time of sadness and grief for his family and true friends, who are making ignorant comments and, in my opinion, are verbally harassing his family. How could people be that cold and unfeeling?

Now everyone wants to know whether he had drugs in his system, it doesn’t matter. It really does not matter. He just couldn’t take it anymore. We put people on such pedestals that when they fall, because after all they are ONLY human, that we all feel like they let us down. Well, maybe we all let him down. Maybe if people stopped  the mentality of “Just get over it” or “Just deal with it” and made an effort to understand that he had a debilitating disease, two of them. Depression and Addiction, and the sole desire of these diseases is to want the person that has them dead. That is the sole objective of the disease.

Yes, I am taking this personally. I fight my own battle, millions of us do, but we have to do it anonymously because it is not “the norm”. But there is a solution if someone wants it bad enough. But these diseases trick us into thinking that we don’t want it bad enough, and I know most of you will never understand that and believe me, I am happy for you. But please do not condemn those that do have to struggle with these feelings.

I just read this paragraph on a blog called Between Fear and Love that, again in my opinion, really touches on how people with suicidal tendencies feel, I hope she will not be upset that I used it

My favorite priest once gave us an analogy. He said to us that someone once told him that people who are depressed with suicidal tendencies feel like they are standing in a burning building with flames all around and the flames are growing bigger and bigger, closer and closer. They can’t run through the fire, the flames will engulf them. They stand on the edge, waiting for the moment the flames die down, but sometimes the flames move so close that they cannot escape them any longer and the only way out is to jump. The jump isn’t designed to hurt anyone else or even themselves. The jump is designed to escape the fire that is all consuming. People jump from burning buildings. We instinctively search for an escape from the pain that we know has the potential to destroy our lives. Sometimes the pain is physical. Sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes it’s both.

Below are lyrics to a part of a song called “Illumination Theory” by Dream Theater that have always helped me to remember what I need to do to keep moving in the right direction.

To really feel the joy in life
You must suffer through the pain
When you surrender to the light 
You can face the darkest days

If you open up your eyes
And you put your trust in love
On those cold and endless nights 
You will never be alone

Passion glows within your heart
Like a furnace burning bright 
Until you struggle through the dark
You’ll never know that you’re alive


Joatmon’s Opus

This is Opus.

I bought a stuffed animal of Opus over 30 years ago and still have him, and do not plan on letting him go.

You see, Me and Opus have been through a lot together. Opus was there in my darkest hours and never left. He’d listen for as long as I needed to talk and still will. Now that is an amazing friend, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, he originally is from the comic strip “Bloom County”, but I found him in one of those thrift shops connected to one of those old time gas stations somewhere in Central Illinois along I-57. Not sure what made me buy him, just saw him on the shelf looking at me and figured that I had to have him.

After I bought him I went back to my car, having just revisited some people at college that I knew from the previous year. See, I had to drop out of college for personal reasons, which at the time I did not understand at all. Was not feeling too good about myself at the time and I guess I needed someone or something, and Opus was there for me.

We went out behind the gas station and watched the sun set over a farmer’s fields, no noises other than birds chirping or squawking or whatever they were doing, just a golden field that stretched out forever it seemed, sun sinking into the horizon leaving such magnificent shades of yellow and orange below a darkening blue sky, I just sat. And sat.

Little did I know that the peaceful feeling that I was feeling at the time was known as Serenity, and just how hard that feeling would be to find again for a long time. I have had glimpses of it over the past 30 years, on my wedding day, the days that my children were born, but it never lasted, through no fault of Opus or anyone else might I add.

I know now that serenity is not “out there”, it is in here (I am pointing at my chest). And it is achievable. I know that now, as long as I keep my way of thinking pointed in the right direction, as long as I am doing the next right indicated thing, as long as I am relying on My Higher Power who I choose to call God, it is achievable.

And I think Opus knew that and was there on the shelf just waiting for me to pick him up.


So Be It

Why do I like to write? Good question.

I feel energized when I write, I almost just wrote that it is a feeling that I can’t describe, but then that would make me a terrible writer and I would be wasting my time here, wouldn’t I?

My audience is not staring back at me when I write, no expectations on their faces or expressions of confusion, boredom or condemnation. I am alone, but in a good way. I know what it is like to feel alone and it is one of the worst feelings, I know what it feels like to feel alone in a stadium full of people. I know what it feels like to feel alone even knowing that people love and care about me.

When I am writing, I do not feel that way. I am physically alone, but I do not feel alone. The thoughts that create the words I write are running around in my head, just wanting to come out. I have a head full of them and sometimes this is one of the best ways I have found to get them to come out. I am not a babbling idiot when I write, or at least do not feel like one. I can write from the heart or from the mind and not worry about what people are thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of getting that little star at the top of the page telling me that someone likes what I wrote, I especially love getting comments from people (hint hint), but that is not why I write. I write for me. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but that is how I feel.

The question posed this morning was “you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?” My initial thought, believe it or not, was to be the author admired and studied by a select few. I think of music bands that have been together for 20+ years that have such a faithful following that they have been able to hold on to their ideals and continue to create wonderful music, even though they get zero radio play and are not all that well known to the general public. (I posted a song below as an example from my favorite band) They get it. It IS about the music. I would love to just be about the word.

But then my next thought is that being so popular to so many would sure make my bank account look a lot healthier, so it would be hard to pass that up as well, but is that a good reason to write? Some would say yes, some would say no.

OK, here is my offer. Let’s split the difference. Let me be an author who gives pleasure to, I don’t know, maybe half a million folks, but let me be able to write so that my work can be studied and admired by a select few for decades.

That seems more than fair to me…..

See Ya

As promised above, below is The Bigger Picture by Dream Theater, along with the lyrics below it in case you don’t want to listen, at least enjoy the poetry that is music lyrics

Long before the colors start to bleed
I can see the painting come alive
Clever like an angel in disguise
Moving in and out of reach

If the candle lights this crooked path
Like a lighthouse peering through the haze
I will find the river through the rain
And I’ll reach the water’s edge

[Chorus]
Shed your light on me
Be my eyes when I can’t see
Shed your light on me
Be my guide so I can see
The bigger picture

Like a moth burned by the fire
And driven to the flame
(Prophecies’ a blessing and a curse)
I must bare this cross alone
There’s no one else to blame
With each treasure found
Another shipwreck’s washed ashore
I am carried by the current
On a slow and steady course

[Chorus]
Shed your light on me
Be my eyes when I can’t see
Shed your light on me
Be my guide so I can see
The bigger picture

What If caught in a moment
I get lost and can’t find my way
What if all along I was wrong
In every turn, In every way

Would you talk me off the ledge
Or let me take the fall
Better to try and fail
Then to never try at all

You look but cannot see
Talk but never speak
You live but cannot breathe
See but don’t believe

Wounds that never heal
A heart that cannot feel
A dream that’s all too real
A stare as cold as steel

I’ve listened to the stories of resentment and disdain
I’ve looked into the empty eyes of anger, fear, and shame
I’ve taken blood from every stone
And traveled every road

When I see the distant lights illuminate the night
Then I will know I am home


2 views

If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?

At first glance, the painting is calm and serene. Sun shining on a lake, water as smooth as glass. Small cabin offset from the lake a short ways, light plume of smoke rising from the chimney. Cabin appears to be well kept, a porch stretches along the entirety of the cabin, with a freshly painted railing. Small porch swing sits next to a evenly cut pile of fire wood stacked neatly for easy access.

A long pier reaching into the lake, small row boat tied off at the end. Trees rising up all around the cabin in every shade of green imaginable. The reflection off of the water mirrors the magnificent view perfectly.

But as you turn the canvas slightly, the picture changes. The calm water is now choppy and threatens to break apart the now dilapidating pier. The small boat has broken free from the dock and now wanders aimlessly in the lake, with no apparent direction to go.

The cabin is in disarray, dried out wood now surrounds it where the porch used to be. Porch swing hangs limp on one side as chain has rusted through on the other. Fire wood is old and useless, scattered across the front door. Cabin looks as though no one has been there for years and just left it to rot. Trees are ominous looking with bare branches sticking out in every direction, no sign of leaves or of any kind of life.

Quickly the canvas is turned back to the view of serenity. I’ve learned that there is a way to keep the picture hanging this certain way so that this can always be the view, but I also know that if I do not follow those instructions on how to hang it, that the other view can quickly come into sight again