Renewal


 

 

Before me stood only a few–

Second step up, paint can and brush,

High above the entry way, up where no one would look,

Except we few painters, every generation or two.

 

I am a chosen one, honored to stand in this place, the air still, dusty with time —

adding a new color to the layers of time.

Those who came here before me  —

Their paint splattered fingers on mine, gripping the brush,

whisper bits of history to me in the hot afternoon air.

 

Some sixty years ago, the painter before me dreamed with turquoise,

Covering up the brown of the Depression, and the

Burnt orange of origin, back in 1912.

My turn now, renewal, out of new dreams, an old building.

 

He, too, thought of this place, its stories, as he dipped his brush.

How it came to be, out of the dreams of farmers and loggers.

A place to dance on a Saturday night,

Seeing friends, and sharing a meal,

Simply being together, maybe falling in love,

Building lives.

 

Since then, only spiders and a few flies, and dust,

The still air and silence of the old hall, broken by the rumbling of log trucks,

Milk trucks, and cars on the road nearby —

Daily lives, generations lived, driving by the Grange.

 

The first one, a carpenter, and his helpers —

Farmers, loggers, maybe a store clerk  —

Built this place with calloused hands.

Then the painters, each standing where I am, brush in hand.

Their voices now, in the stillness:

My turn now, to be its steward.

 

Standing on the second step, history in the layers,

I am number five,

Each one writing the same poem,

Hoping I’d show up

With fresh paint.

 

—Neal Lemery, August 6, 2018

 

Celebrating Fathers’ Day


 

 

Tomorrow is Fathers’ Day, and I know we are all expected to celebrate it. Fathers are special and should be honored on their special day.  It is supposed to be a day of wholesomeness, warm feelings, sentimentality, and unbounded familial love. That’s what all the Fathers’ Day cards say, anyway.

But, there’s a lot of mixed emotions, and turmoil under the surface of having the barbeque, giving a card, and a nice present.  Or, to be on the receiving end, and be thanked as a father in someone’s life.

There are so many strings attached, so many thoughts and memories that come to the surface, so many conflicting and unsettling experiences to sort through and try to make sense of. All the sentimentality and idealism can be a trap for the emotionally wounded, those of us who have other emotions and memories about fathers, the ones you can’t find in a Hallmark card.

And if Dad has passed away, or is otherwise absent in one’s life, there’s grief and the psychological jungle of things left unsaid, words that we regret, or words that we are desperate to hear or speak.  Those children have no place and no role to play in a day of a sentimental card, a barbeque, or a gift of golf balls.

We don’t talk about that emptiness, that pain, but we should.

What is a good father?  Even our cultural heroes and role models aren’t really what we had imagined, or thought of as solid, stable figures in our lives.  When my wife and I were raising my stepson, we watched Bill Cosby’s show, and I thought he was the good dad — sensitive, kind, compassionate, the kind of dad I wanted my son to emulate in his life.  Yet, that image of wholesomeness and stability has been dashed on the rocks of reality, and a conviction for predatory abuse and exploitation.

In my own life, I have seen stories and accepted history and experiences being altered by unsettling revelations, confessions, and recovered memories.  The charming and comfortable portrayals of healthy and good parents have shifted, from the fall of Dr. Huxtable as the all wise and kind father figure to the realization that real life isn’t always the story of Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best.

 

 

One thing that is absent in our society’s Fathers’ Day celebrations is a conversation about what is good fathering, and how we can strive to be better fathers, and better sons and daughters.  We need to look at new gifts to give on dad’s special day, other than a new tie, tools for the barbeque, or golf balls.

Good parenting is a skill, and we need a day to ponder that, and have a real conversation about being the great dad, and how we can build healthier families.

In reality, living in the world of truth really is better for me than fiction, the fantasized and idealized “perfect world” created by Hollywood and our society’s desire to sugarcoat our historical reality.

Though, part of me longs for the dream world of the idealized childhood, and the warm and fuzzy images of the ideal Fathers’ Day experience. Part of me wants the nice sweetness of Dr. Huxtable, Ward Cleaver, and Sheriff Andy Griffith to be part of my Fathers’ Day party.  But, those icons of healthy fathering aren’t in my reality, and I’ve hopefully learned how to separate the television fantasies from truth.

If fatherhood had a god, it would probably be Janus, looking both forward and back, showing us how those two perspectives can often be contradictory.  Life is messy.

My experiences as a father always involves looking back as my experience as the son, and realizing that much of my fathering work is shaped by how I saw my father parented me. I’ve had other men who parented me, too, sometimes in momentary blips of insight, compassion, and correction.  And, I’ve become increasingly grateful for those fathers who took it upon themselves to get my attention and offer some kindly, and often needed, direction and counsel.

Like Janus, I’ve looked back on that work and hopefully used that wisdom in my own work as a father.

I’ve mentored a number of young men who have needed some fathering and attention to the tough business of growing up in this world.  I’ve drawn upon my own experiences as a son, and as a father, and helped guide them through their own storms and battles.

The reward in that is to hopefully give them a better experience that I’ve had as a son, giving direction and guidance, without a lot of the harsh judgment and anger that can easily derail a young man in his journey.

I’m not the perfect father.  And, I certainly wasn’t the perfect son.  I’m content with that, but I also know that this work of fathering is really never completed, that there are always going to be opportunities to be fatherly, and to give to others what I have needed in my past.

If we are mindful of that work, and those challenges, perhaps that is what we should be thinking about on Fathers’ Day.

6/20/2018

Getting Distracted


 

 

Some of the best conversations I’ve had occur in the aisles of the local grocery store. There, in those spontaneous and seemingly random encounters, I find the greatest wisdom, coming from longtime friends who speak profound wisdom and solid Truth.

We nearly ran into each other, grocery lists in hand, and quickly caught up on the successes of a mutual friend.  Our similar political views led us to some hand wringing about one of the current scandals on what I’ve been calling our collective national news feed.

“But, it’s really all a distraction,” my friend says.  “Keeping us from talking about and taking action on the really important stuff.”

My friend is right. I am distracted, feeling like I’m jumping from one outrageous story to another, never having the time to be fully morally outraged about an event or a trend, when another absurd or unsettling story blips on my radar screen, stirring up my indignation, and leading me down another rabbit hole in the political and cultural scene.

Some of my angst comes from not feeling I’m taking action myself, righting some injustice through my own actions, or simply not speaking out at all, because I’m distracted.

I’ve been finding some direction and camaraderie with a wise person from the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Politics and culture in his time weren’t tranquil and serene, and, in his writing, he spoke out against injustice, hypocrisy, and what one of my social worker friends calls “stinking thinking”.

 

“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say,—’Come out unto us.’ But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act.”  —Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

I’ve been distracted from being purposeful, intentional, and acting against the intolerance and injustice of our times.

 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.”

 

_Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Am I living well, am I living to be useful and compassionate, and making a difference? Like all of us, I suspect, I want to be living in the here and now, to be productive.

My grocery store conversation stirred me up, and I’m motivated to keep at it, keep doing my life work, and making a difference.

 

I’ve long believed that social ills and “stinking thinking” are best addressed by a good public airing, so people can truly see a thought or an attitude for what it really is.  One of my missions in life has been to seek the truth, and bring it to light.

My friends in the medical community often talk about the curative properties of sunlight and fresh air, and how infections often respond to a change in the environment, and the need for a thorough examination under a bright light, bringing in fresh air, and creating a place where healing can begin.

I’ve long enjoyed the idea of clearly identifying the elephant in the living room, so people can begin to talk about the real problem, take ownership and responsibility, and move towards finding solutions. Such clarity and directness gets us “down to brass tacks”, as my grandmother used to say.

Then, another news story, and a flurry of unreasoned opinions, rants, and personal attacks. Distractions, again.

Uncivil discourse, a sign of the times.

Blindsiding and personal attacks; not having meaningful, purposeful conversation about the issue at hand  — it all reminded me of what our national political conversations have turned into, a lot of noise taking away our need to focus on productive discussions and the elephant in the living room. We are being distracted from expressing and sharing, not having well thought out and articulated debates on issues vital to our national health and direction, and respecting people’s views, even if we might disagree with them.

My grocery store encounter with my good friend reminded me that distractions are simply that. They get in the way, and keep me from my purpose in life and in my community.  I need to keep focused on the task at hand, the issues we are facing, and carry on, “to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.”

 

–Neal Lemery, 6/1/2018

 

 

Letter to a Graduate


May 22, 2018

 

It is almost that time, so Congratulations on Graduation!!!!

 

Earning a bachelor’s degree is a very big deal and a huge accomplishment.  There is a great deal of work involved, and persistence and determination.

 

I believe that you have truly applied yourself and gained much from this experience.  I hope that you have learned how to learn, and how to think analytically, and that you have been exposed to a great amount of ideas, viewpoints, and opinions, and have had to develop your own thinking and analysis to issues and situations.

 

I also hope that you are an avid “lifelong learner” and this is only a step in your continuing education and development.

 

In my experience, college and being devoted to learning and education and development of the mind is one of the most worthwhile activities in one’s life.

 

Which leads me to the topic of “patience”, and change making.  I have had a lifetime of struggle with being patient.  My mentors continually counseled me about being patient.  My grandmother and mother taught me a lot about gardening, with the ever present message of being patient.  Time can be on my side and can be an asset, very useful tool.

 

And, over time, one can observe and see patterns and trends that otherwise would not be observable or discernable.

 

I see the benefit of patience in my art and music, too.  Time is actually a very good teacher, and it takes the passage of time for the body and brain to fully learn and develop.  And, probably why I am attracted to Zen Buddhism, as a spiritual practice and source of wisdom, letting time move and being in the moment.

 

Yet, the tension for me is that I know I am often ready to move on, that I have learned my life lessons in a place and the experience, and enough is enough.  Let’s get it on! I’m really a “get it done, now, already” kind of guy.  I don’t suffer fools well, and when the lessons are learned, why wait around?

 

Yet, when I have to wait, I observe more, and I think more, and I probably learn the lessons of the experience better, and then able to teach those lessons better to others. And, to remember and “do” something with the experience in a better way.  My “product” is better because it has more time to ripen, to come into its true form.  And, I guess, to confirm my hypotheses and conclusions.  A period of testing, refining, perfecting.

 

Intellectually, I have come to peace about that waiting process.  I’m not sure if I have come to peace about that spiritually, though.  I’ve concluded that karma is real and comes about over time, sometimes a really long time.  But, if I can wait it out, then karma is sweet and is to be savored.  I try not to be a revengeful person, but there is a proverb that says that revenge is a dish best served cold.

 

Perhaps the better, more Zenlike approach, is to be the actor for positive action and change, going around the roadblock and the evil, and building a better road for others.  And, if good actions are stymied, then being satisfied with being the example, the exception that proves the rule, and thereby the force for change and new thinking.

 

There’s another saying about good people doing what others are saying can’t be done. I’ll look that up, because that is probably a good motto for my life.  Over time, I’ve noticed that what I thought has been revolutionary is seen by others new to the scene as an existing, functioning phenomenon that is accepted as “always being there”.  Truly a successful revolution.

 

Often, what I’ve found, is that real change occurs in seemingly random, spontaneous conversations. The grocery store, at a gathering, maybe lunch with a friend.  Those little conversations are really the gems, the gold to be mined, to engage and enliven people and give them permission to have the good, the deep conversations and searches.  Other tools, other works, such as writing and music and art, are more the examples, the stimulators of those conversations and experiences.  They provide the metaphors, so one can talk about scary things in a safe way.

 

Can I suggest that this time is gold for you?  You have climbed the mountaintop, and you see things now for what they really are.  And, in not too long of a time, you will leave the undergraduate world and not have the current struggle, the current experience. That impending end can be liberating in its own way.  You see the truth and know it.  Others may find the truth to be too scary, too real, and thus avoid it.

 

Thus, a teaching moment for you, space and time to plant some seeds of thought and ideas, and of encouragement to others in their work.

 

The revolution for you has already begun, and you are planting those seeds of change right now, where you are at.  Not flashy or noisy.   Education takes many forms. Others find that scary, something that needs to be limited, constrained, and yes, imprisoned.

 

It will be exciting to see how your journey unfolds.  I hope you are open to what will come your way, and that you will take risks, and opportunities, and plunge into the unknown and uncertain.  And, anything you attempt in good faith will not be a dead end or a “wasted” opportunity.  Gold is where you find it.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Neal C. Lemery

 

Resilience


 

 

I live in resilient times.  Examples of being tough, flexible, and determined to move on with one’s life are all around me, and I am heartened by their courage, their stubbornness, and their ability to realize their dreams.

I’ve only known one man through a mutual friend, and we’ve exchanged letters for several years now, talking about books and sharing our writing, and our lives.  He’s been in prison for 21 years in another state, so we’ve never met face to face. Yet, we’ve connected and I’ve been a cheerleader for him, as he’s been preparing himself for a challenging parole hearing.

It was an uphill battle for him, and he’s had to work through feelings of worthlessness and lack of confidence in his talents and how he’s grown in prison, that he’s not the enraged, frustrated teenager living on city streets, acting out, in a drug induced haze.  Others have supported him, too, yet the real work was his to do.  Meeting the parole board, it came down to what he had to say for himself. It was about how he presented the work that he’s done to change his thinking and to demonstrate that he’s ready for life on the “outside”, ready to make some contributions to society.

And, at the end of the day, he was found “worthy of parole”.  After all that time, he can now move on, into a first-class drug rehab facility, where he will also learn the skills to be a drug and alcohol counselor.  He’s overcome his fears, or at least has been able to use that energy to fuel his rehabilitation and self-actualization of who he really is, inside. He’s open to learn more about himself and the demons that have shaped his life, and to build himself into an even healthier, balanced man.

He’s changed, and it’s not because of those who have supported him, but because of his own work, and his own determination and self-esteem.

Another friend gets out of prison this summer, nearly finishing his graduate degree on line.  He’s done his undergrad and grad school work on line from a cubicle in prison, diligently studying, writing, and even doing group projects with other students. Prison isn’t the ideal college campus, yet he has persisted. Already, the college has employed him to improve the program and help other students.

Even more astonishing, he has grown and matured into a well-adjusted socially delightful young man, who knows the importance of a well-rounded and balanced life with others.  His attitude and his intentions are the total opposite of his childhood life, and he has made the transition with a great deal of grit and determination.

Yet another man has navigated a tough childhood and several years of incarceration, to getting off parole and moving into the work force.  No job was beneath him, and he worked hard, always moving ahead, improving his skills and not being afraid of hard work, long hours, and changing himself into a healthy, cheerful young man with solid values and meaningful dreams.

Today, he’s transitioning into yet another job, with more responsibility, better pay, and stability.  He knows where he is going and knows who he is and wants to be.

Some of what I’ve gained in these friendships is to experience their honesty and forthrightness.  They are open to who they are, where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced, and the mistakes they’ve made.  They freely share their lessons and their wisdom.  They have taught me that one’s intentions and one’s determination makes all the difference in the world.  And, with that drive in their gut, there is no stopping them in what they want to accomplish.

They’ve made mistakes, but then, haven’t we all? Regrets, even shame and guilt are there, but when one decides to learn from that experience, and to change what needs to be changed, and focus on where one needs to go, the past becomes a teacher, and not a label.

They remind me to examine my own life, the experiences I have had, the choices I’ve made, and the directions I have taken in my life.  They have taught me to accept the lessons to be taught, and to move forward, gathering my skills and my ambition, and to move ahead.  It is hard work, and challenging.  Yet, if one wants to change and to realize one’s dreams, you have to step forward and do the hard work.

In that process, you have to also love yourself, and to respect yourself for who you are, and who you are becoming.  Labels don’t really matter, and one’s past is simply that.  It doesn’t compel you to repeat poor choices, or to accept the situation you are in, and simply feel that you are doomed to a certain direction or destiny.

What others may think of you doesn’t really matter, unless you think it does.

These men are speakers of Truth, an increasingly scarce commodity in our society.  They don’t dance around the facts, the reality of life.  Instead, they focus themselves, grab onto their dreams and the direction they have decided to take, and then put their heart and soul into working towards their goals and dreams. They are honest, and don’t pull any punches when it comes to being real and direct.

They get real, and they keep me real, and focused on doing something meaningful and productive in my life.

Our conversations are deep and purposeful. And, I wish I had more friends like them, and more conversations with substance and depth.

Game playing, lying, manipulating others, and not dealing with the elephant in the living room aren’t who they are about.  They know what they want and they know how to get there.  They are brutally honest with themselves, and can spot the old “stinking thinking” a mile away.

They don’t suffer fools easily, and steer away from the naysayers and the idlers they come across in their lives.  Their BS meters are finely tuned and always powered up.  Their respect is not easily earned, yet they are fiercely loyal to their own dreams, and to those in their lives who have become their close friends and family.

Others in our lives can easily dance around the truth, and are prone to manipulate us with propaganda, half-truths, fake news, and false thinking. They waste my time and clutter up my thinking with their blather.  I find myself repulsed by their disrespect for the truth and for their own warped values. I resent how they waste my time, and detract all of us from improving our world and enriching lives.

The better society is being built by the likes of these men who are self-actualized truth seekers. They are constructing decent, purposeful lives, and are worthy role models for the rest of us.

I’d rather hang out with the likes of these men, who are straightforward and focused. I have much to learn from them, the resilient ones.

 

–Neal Lemery 5/9/2018

Making The Rounds


 

 

 

 

I was making the rounds on a quiet Sunday morning.  A heavy mist was falling, almost floating down.  A Scotsman would call it a smirr, heavier than a fret.  My raincoat soon failed at its task and my shirt turned as cold and clammy as the grass I was stepping through.

 

A cold front was moving in from Alaska, promising to bring snow to the hills tonight, and yesterday’s warm, still day with filtered sunshine was just a memory. The calendar says that it is spring, yet, the mornings come with either bits of hail on the sidewalk, or frost on the lawn.  The daffodils, brave as they were, are fading away in this cold weather. Every other spring flower is still hunkered down in the ground, waiting.

 

I check out the greenhouse, where I am the eternal optimist.  Cuttings of geraniums and other summer delights are doing well, even sending out new growth, and an occasional flower.  I’ve potted them up, urging them to grow strong, as May is coming, and I promise to put them outside where they can flourish.  Yet, my words ring hollow, as the stiff wind from the north and the scattering of hail on the greenhouse roof contradicts my sermon on the coming of spring.

 

I plant some seeds in my seed flats, hoping it is warm and bright enough for them to start making their way in this world. I promise them sunny days and warm dirt, if they can just get started and join me in waiting for the coming good days.  I marvel at the variety of all the different seeds, and how they can quickly spring to life and change the world.

 

I’m drawn to magic and witchcraft, though, or at least alchemy.  Turning lead into gold, or planting seeds, it seems like the same kind of idea.  Planting seeds is a sign of eternal optimism and miracle making, I think.  Seeds look pathetic, dry, hard, looking nothing like something that contains life.  Yet, put them in some dirt and add some water, and sunlight, and they turn into green plants growing leaps and bounds, is nothing short of miraculous, or alchemy.  Gardeners might want to think they are biologists, or at least practitioners of good husbandry, yet I really think we are alchemists and magicians at heart.

 

Outside, I take census of the land and what is going on.  A small flock of geese flies overhead, the leader calling to the others, as they make their morning rounds to the river and then back.  Soon, they will be nesting and raising the next generation of what has become a small flock of geese who have taken up permanent residence here.  Perhaps they have tired of the annual commute to California and Alaska, preferring to endure our wet winter and mild summer in return for not having to deal with all that travel.

 

The calls of the small flock are a welcome sound in my day.  The flock has grown over the years, from a pair, to four, and now to about a dozen.  I’ve always called a group of geese either a flock, or a gaggle.  Yet, the other day, reading an English author, I learned that true Brits call a group of geese an argument.  The steady, persistent “honk, honk”, is, perhaps, best described as an argument.  It certainly sounds more poetic than the boring “flock” or even the melodic “gaggle”.

 

The neighborhood crows jump in, their raspy, throaty “caws”, grate against my nerves, as they give their own commentary on the day’s activities.  A group of crows is a “murder” and that seems to match their persistent and annoying conversations.

.

The morning task is to stake and fertilize the young trees I’ve planted. My neighbor, the forester, gave me several dozen year old seedlings a few weeks ago, and I found room for them on the far end of our property.  They will be good windbreaks, and also a good buffer against the other neighbor, the one whose kid can ride his dirt bike around and around, revving the motor and overcoming the call of the neighborhood band of geese making their rounds.  Even the red-tailed hawks soar away to more peaceful hunting grounds when the kid decides to get out his dirt bike and go for a spin.

 

I’ve always enjoyed planting young trees, helping my dad out as we replanted a hill above our cabin, part of the Tillamook Burn. A few years later, the trees were growing well, and I could see that we had recreated a forest.  It seemed magical, and ever since, I’ve taken delight in helping Mother Nature growing a forest.

 

The recent cold rains have helped settle the young trees into the ground, and the fertilizer I’m adding is giving them a healthy start in their first year in their new home.  The neighborhood deer and elk aren’t much interested in my little corner of the neighborhood, so I’ve dispensed with putting up the wire and plastic cages to protect young trees from their appetites for young and tasty evergreens.

 

I add a bamboo stake next to each seedling, so I don’t lose track of it as the grass and blackberries grow this spring and summer, and they don’t get shaded out or suffocated by everything else that wants to grow here.

 

I’ve planted cedars, Western Red to be precise.  Native Americans called it a medicine tree, using bark for making cloth, the trunks for canoes and elaborate enormous lodges, even totem poles.  The leaves were used as tonics and poultices to heal.   Now, we know that the essences of the cedar roots are good for salmon in the rivers, and help to restore the ancient qualities of the water, helping salmon to find their way home and purify the rivers.

 

It is doing my small part to heal and restore the watershed where I live and make this small part of the planet just a little bit healthier.

 

Now, chilled to the bone, my sweatshirt cold and damp in the morning mist turning to rain, I finish my tasks and pull off my now cold gloves, and slip off my boots.  I close the garage door to the morning chill, and head inside, eager for my cup of tea and a good book.

 

 

—Neal Lemery, 4/21/2018

 

 

On Healing


 

 

This week, I’m focused on healing.  Hernia surgery does that to you.

Tests, doctors, being driven to and from the surgery clinic and getting an IV, all the procedures that are so routine to the wonderful healers attending to you, but new and different to me.  The daily routine has changed, and I am now focused on self care, and have time to heal.

In the past week, my life has focused on pill taking regimens, taking care with painful areas of the body, and the seemingly everpresent need to close my eyes and zone out.  Basic bodily care procedures take on a new importance and challenges, as I sense all the healing that my body is engaged in.

Time and patience, yet also pushing myself a little, me testing and experimenting.  And, listening to my body.

While occupying myself on the couch with books, laptop, and just watching the birds outside setting up their spring housekeeping and discovering the new blossoms on the wild currants, I came across an essay in the April 16 New Yorker, by Junot Diaz. He’s a noteworthy writer, who writes about serious issues.  Yet, “The Silence” reveals a story he has not shared before.

He takes me on his journey, into his wounds, exposing his pain and anguish, and the challenges he has faced in his own personal healing journey.  Uncomfortable, disquieting, yet so brave of him to take on pain from his childhood, and sharing his journey, and his healing experiences.

His courage and his honesty refreshes me, and helps me in my own journey of exploration and discovery.  I invite you to read what he has to share with us. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/16/the-silence-the-legacy-of-childhood-trauma

 

Healing starts from experiencing many wounds; healing comes from many sources.

Old wounds, scars nearly faded, remind me of good times, good friends, how I have changed and grown, evolving into who I am.

There are other wounds and stories, too.  Nightmares, tragedies, events I have buried deep and kept away from my conscious self, yet they are present in the own dark ways. As acts of self-preservation, I have buried them deep, yet they continue to shape and form who I am today, an integral part of my self.

Sometimes, I go there, deep and occasionally brave, digging and probing, rediscovering, exploring dark corners and hearing again stories that need to be told. And, sometimes, I am ready to hear their meaning.

I am not alone on such a journey.  Others do this work too, this self-discovery, this journey inward, downward, this course of study on themselves.

Others have led the way, and still others are following me, opening old pain to the light, part of our learning and growing.

The pursuit of who I am is a life long journey.  I need to be brave. It is when I fear what I might discovery, and don’t pursue these self-discoveries, then I am not practicing self care and self love, but only when the time is right, and this exploration is truly for the good of me.

I must be brave and ask the hard questions I am called to answer.  I must open the rusty lock and oil the squeaky hinges, and bring the light to see into the darkness.

Then and only then can I see the open wounds and the thorns that must be removed before the pain can begin to end and the healing begin. When the time is right, I must act and take charge of this part of the journey, and the healing.

I find strength in the courage of others in their journeys.  There are many teachers and guides in this journey.  From them, I have much to learn about courage and focus, that I am not alone, and that just taking a step can offer great rewards.

When the darkness becomes the light, and the shadows reveal their secrets, the weight falls off my shoulders and I can move ahead, becoming freer, less burdened, and lighter in spirit.

Mr. Diaz is one of my new heroes, one of those people who carries the lantern of truth into the darkness, and brings light to difficult conversations.

 

—-Neal Lemery, April 13, 2017