Perhaps I Should Get a Dog….

I have stepped away from books on Spirituality for a bit – looking for some topical information that wasn’t Pagan in nature. So, I picked up “Ghost Rider” by Rush drummer Neil Peart. In his book he details his journey throughout Canada and the United States shortly after the deaths of his wife and daughter. As I am reading through his tales of trips both solo and earlier in his life with friends, he keeps detailing trips with his friend Brutus. Its fairly easy to tell that Brutus is one of those friends that traverses the space between family and friends. And as I read some of these passages, it dawned on me — there is no “Brutus” currently in my life.

In fact, I have to go back past a decade to find that particular facet in my life. Oh, surely there are a few folks that will point that I have Pam in my life. And while its true that she fills a very distinct and important role in my life…she’s not in that role that “Brutus” has for Neil.

Charles is the last person that fulfilled that role for me. That was a time now long into the rear-view mirror of my past. He was that friend that was ALWAYS there. Every spare moment we had, we spent doing something….anything. We were nearly inseparable. We are almost the same in nature – always up for fun, always willing to be as goofy and off-the-wall as we could, and yet we were different. He was a new-wave punk – with his multi-colored hair. I was the heavy metal retread. Very different types of people. But we were always there for one another. If I had money, I bought the meals for us both. If he did, then he bought. A typical pair.

We had always remained in contact with one another. Our paths eventually grew apart when I joined the military. But we were always friendly to one another when we finally made contact with one another. And then one day, he made a disparaging comment about one of his state politicians, and I pointed out that the choice that the politician made was something that they could not have avoided because of certain state laws. And then suddenly, I was not to be within his circle…. and its remained to this day.

I will admit it was a hurtful moment. It was even more hurtful when I reached out to him again six months later – joking that surely enough time had passed that we should likely not be mad at one another. That was met with A single word response: no. And then my being blocked by him (this exchange was on Facebook). Which, in turn, has led me to wonder a bit about whether or post-high school friendship had more to do about the Honda Civic I was driving…

But I really cannot question that. I am not Charles, not am I inclined to understand what he believes and thinks at any given time. I can, however, cherish the memories of the happier times we had together as friends. It may not have been as intimate a friendship as I had placed on it…but it was a friendship nonetheless.

All of which brings me to today. Where I am now. And to be perfectly frank, I don’t have a close friendship like the one I thought I had with Charles. There are a few friendships that I have that could eventually led down that Path…but most of those individuals live quite a distance from me, so I have to cherish the times I do get to spend with them. Most folks refer to this close, somewhat local friend as their “partner in crime”. That individual that you can go hang out with for a party, or be just as likely to spend time with them discussing the deeper intricacies of life.

I have a few local adventures planned. In the near time – I am looking at visiting a nearby cemetery, where I have been told members of both the US Calvary and the First Nations tribes of the local area are said to be buried. There is also a second cemetery further down the road that is considered to be a ghost town, since the town no longer exists around the cemetery. Most likely, I will be visiting these places alone…along with the subsequent towns I will drive through. But its an experience I am looking forward to undertaking, even if it is alone.

Do I really need a “sidekick”?  An “hombre”? Sure.  Would love to have one along for some of the fun. Then again…perhaps I should get a dog.  Just a thought….

Swinging for the Fences

The last two days have been complete days of suck. Every time I try to accomplish one thing, something else arrives to lay waste to those plans. And once I get life back on an even keel, I get bumped right back off. Its frustrating to the highest degree. After a while today (Saturday), I remembered — when life gives you lemons, order Chinese takeout. Or something like that.

This hasn’t been a new phenomenon for me.  Lately all my weekends have been like this. It is directly attributed to my current work schedule which is four days on, and three days off. Or in more appropriate terms – Monday through Thursday. Each of the days is ten hours, which for me – with a nearly hour long drive both ways – makes my days clock in at nearly twelve total hours. By Thursday, I am completely wiped out. This past Friday, I slept through the latter part of the afternoon and the early part of the evening….at my keyboard. That’s not something I do often. Thankfully, this schedule ends at the end of the month, and I can return to something that I remotely remember as a routine.

We all do our best to try and live lives as wrapped in magick and wonder as we possibly can. But what happens when the mundane world comes back and brushes you off the plate with a chin-high fastball? Where and how can one cope with that? Well, in baseball, you have two choices: you can charge the mound and start a fight, or you can brush yourself off, get back up to the plate, and smack the next pitch over the fence. It really depends on your perspective.

This year, I have seen my share of high and tight pitches from life. In March, during my time at East Coast Gathering, I found out that my father had passed away earlier in the week. My mother had passed six months prior after a lengthy illness. I just did not expect my father to pass that quickly behind her. From that point on, I have been struggling to regain my balance. Work has flooded me with more and more data requests, as my College’s President moves us into a data-centric environment. The shift to these longer hours during the summer months has left me wondering where my focus should be or should not be. In short, its like I have had a brush-back pitch thrown at my head every time I come up to bat.

So, what to do about it? Step one was a realization that it may be time to move closer to work. That will put me even further north from a lot of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. However, given the fact that I rarely travel below the northern edge of I-635 (the loop as it is sometimes known), this may not be a bad thing. Plus, I am beginning to realize that I can actually afford a place with some land, which I would dearly love. So there’s plenty of discussion to be had there, as well as some house hunting. Interestingly enough, I have found a monolithic dome on 5 acres of land…its an interesting thought to say the least.

Step two has been a bit more of an interesting thing. I am semi-organized. I have a calendar system that I use to put things in…and then I rarely consult it. This means that I need to integrate my tools a bit more into my daily routines. To that end, I am starting to use my iPad and iPhone a little more than I used to. Strange for a Pagan to be leaning more towards technology to get things organized, bit its there. I am also learning a bit more about over-extending myself on things as well. Its a harsh lesson to learn, but its definitely one that I am going through.

The last step will be the easiest by far. Providing time for me to be focused on who I am. My meditations, getting back to my walks, continuing my daily morning and evening greetings and farewells for the sun, maintaining the food and water for the birds and the squirrels in the backyard, and doing my daily journal entries. I have already discovered the best times for these all to take place, and have made calendar entries to block off these time frames. But with all that comes the most difficult part of this — staying on track. I know that there are going to be times that I don’t make this work properly. I just need to not beat myself up over those moments – and get back up again. I need to set my focus, and wacth the pitch to the bat, and swing for the fences….

Living versus Practicing….

There are few statements in the entire vocabulary of human languages that make me wince. Here is one of them.

I have not been an actively practicing Pagan for quite a few years.

When I hear this, I wince inwardly. Its almost as if the individual making the statement places this value on an individual “practicing” their faith as the be-all, end-all of determining whether you are a “true” member. But that has me thinking, do I need to practice my faith to be a member of that faith? Do I have to do a certain number of repetitions of certain ritual gestures and statements in order to be a proper member of a faith? Mayhaps, faith is really like an athletic sport. We practice our faith on the days when it doesn’t count, but when the umpires or the referees take the field, we actively participate because there’s a score to be kept.

Perhaps I am being a bit over-the-top here…but perhaps not. Words do have meaning – and thus, we should choose them with care. I hear people talk about practicing their spirituality and faith – and I see that as being different from living your spirituality and faith. Practice, for me, is something you do before the big game, to increase one’s muscle memory for certain moves. I;m not about practicing my spirituality or my faith – I strive to live it, each and every moment.