August 01, 2010

The Qualm Before The Storm

It is the qualm before the storm and I have my game face on. Armed with a bad attitude, a cup of coffee and unrivaled ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory I prepare to go into battle. Not unlike those mentioned in Tennyson's The Charge of The Light Brigade I am not given the choice to ask why it must be so. All I know is that I must press on, forward ever forward.

"Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred."

Those who know me best know that I love this kind of stuff. Give me an impossible situation and I will tell you how I am going to beat it. I have a plan. What, you say you want to see me fight a Great White Shark? Ok, no problem. First step is to agree that he/she has to fight me on land. It is a small step in equalizing the playing field, but not as large as you might think.

What, you say that it is not fair- sharks can't breathe on land. Fine, I can't breathe underwater. Ok, let's pick a different animal. I'll fight a gorilla, lion, bear or tiger on land. Snakes, crocodiles, alligators and water buffaloes are eligible for the famous Jack beat down as well.

Blame it on an over developed ego or an imagination that views the world in technicolor- but I just believe that in the end I will win. And that my friends is how I overcome adversity.

It is no secret that 2009, the year of my 40th birthday ranks among the worst of my life. If ever there was a time where I felt like I was really walking through hell in a gasoline suit that was it. The proverbial shitstorm was in full effect and it was all I could do not to run naked through the hills covered in mud screaming like I had just escaped a life sentence in cleveland.

I swore that 2010 would be better, that it would be the year of Jack and for the most part it has been. But there have been more than a few moments where I have felt as if I was being punished. Moments in which I looked in the mirror and asked the universe to give me a list of which transgressions I was being spanked for.

See you have to understand, if I am going to be punished for something I want to make sure that I have earned it. No reason to go through hell for nothing. I interpreted the silence as license to go about my business and do what I have to do.

Although I should add that I recently had a long conversation with a friend about whether life is a series of predestined events, things that are meant to be or just random situations that we encounter. I want to believe that some things are meant to be. I want to believe that there is a reason, a purpose for some of the things that we experience because that would be comforting.

There have been many moments in which I have felt like I am being given signs/signals that I am to respond to but at the same time there are reasons to ignore them. The 17 long time readers know that I have lost more than a few friends to terminal illnesses. You can't tell me that they died for some mysterious reason that I can't understand.

Say that to me and expect me to glare at you respond with a STFU. Press the issue and I just might grab you and shake you for the sole purpose of listening to your head rattle. Because really, if you tell me that a 29 year old man died because there was a purpose I am going to consider having you hospitalized.

Anyhoo, the qualm before the storm is that feeling that I have now. I am on the verge of getting over the hump. I am almost at the top of the hill and if I can press on a little bit longer and a little bit farther I'll get to catch my breath while I coast down the hill.

But recent experience has made me wary and gun shy. I can't help but look around for hidden danger, for unseen land mines or some kind of booby trap. Too many times of being made to feel like Wiley Coyote and not enough as the Road Runner.

Still, that sense of success and inability to quit won't let me lie down. It is just not in my DNA. You can slow me down, frustrate and infuriate me- but I will be back. So let the qualm before the storm linger for a few. I acknowledge my fear and uncertainty. That is the strength of life experience speaking- I can say that I am afraid. I can admit to being scared of failure and frightened of finding out that maybe this time I won't find the strength to throw the ring into Mount Doom. I can say that I am worried that maybe this time I'll turn into Mighty Casey.

Or maybe not. Maybe I'll be Roy Hobbs.

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