Running on Empty


                                    

                                                By Neal Lemery

            If I think I am empty, then I am also open.

            I often yearn to fill up the voids, the blank spaces in myself. In that emptiness there is often pain. What is absent is what I hunger for, be it love, contentment, or that elusive sense of wholeness that would make me complete, satisfied.

            I sometimes wonder if I am deeply flawed, defective for all the emptiness inside. I try to fill it up sometimes, overindulging myself with my cravings and addictions. I know those things are not the answer and I will be unsatisfied and hungry still. Yet I’ll ignore those wise observations and thought and look to emotional junk food in my search for satisfaction and fulfillment.

            When I quiet myself and truly listen to my soul, I know what I need, I know what will truly satisfy me and truly fill up all that emptiness, that openness deep inside of me. 

            If I give this work some time, give it some purposeful intention, then in that quietness, I will find what I need and be satisfied. I will become whole, satisfied, spiritually complete.

            This work is my journey, to search out my emptiness, and realize that it is a gift, that I am not empty, I am open. This is honest work. It is an opportunity to truly and genuinely fulfill myself with the inner goodness that I know is available to me. I can find my peace, and turn my emptiness into openness, and work towards my wholeness.

2/24/2021

Courage


                                                            

                                                                        By Neal Lemery 

I’ve been reading and thinking about courage lately, which seems to be in scarce supply lately, and much needed in these times.  I found some useful definitions.  

“Physical courage.  This is the courage most people think of first:  bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death.  It involves developing physical strength, resiliency, and awareness.  

“Social courage.  This type of courage is also very familiar to most of us as it involves the risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection.  It also involves leadership. 

“Intellectual courage.  This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to the risk of making mistakes.  It means discerning and telling the truth.  

“Moral courage.  This involves doing the right thing, particularly when risks involve shame, opposition, or the disapproval of others.  Here we enter into ethics and integrity, the resolution to match word and action with values and ideals.  It is not about who we claim to be to our children and to others, but who we reveal ourselves to be through our words and actions.  

“Emotional courage.  This type of courage opens us to feeling the full spectrum of positive emotions, at the risk of encountering the negative ones.  It is strongly correlated with happiness.  

“Spiritual courage.  This fortifies us when we grapple with questions about faith, purpose, and meaning, either in a religious or nonreligious framework.” Lion’s Whiskers http://www.lionswhiskers.com/p/six-types-of-courage.html

            Courage comes in many forms and expresses itself in numerous ways.  One’s act of courage may not seem courageous to others, but it remains a courageous act.  Each type of courage comes into use for different occasions, and different needs.

            I think the source of courage comes from deep inside of us.  It can spring into action often without any deep analytical thought, and instead, literally rises out of us when the occasion calls for us to be courageous. 

            Sometimes, when I worry about something, my mind will anticipate and I will analyze how I might respond.  I’m being thoughtful and analytical, my brain drawing on past experiences and past “learning”. Old habits and prior learning, and prior conversations with others come into play.  Sometimes, it is remembering a story someone told me, or that I read.  

            More common for me, though, is what I like to think is spontaneous courage.  It arises out of the moment, the circumstances, and seems to be impulsive.  But, after the crisis, looking back, I realize my courageous act was mostly the product of prior experiences, and the memory of stories I had heard.  I often realize that I am more courageous inside of myself than I give myself credit for, that I have some deep values and motivations that I am often not very conscious of.  But, that courage is there, inside of me, and is a strong and vital part of my inner self, and arguably, a big part of my soul.  

            I often look back on an experience and, it is only then that I can see the courage in action, that I did a good thing, and that I acted with courage and with strong moral values in play.  At the time of the situation, I wasn’t that insightful, that thoughtful, that aware that the moment required me to be courageous and to act in a morally appropriate manner.  

            I probably don’t give myself adequate credit for being courageous.  I am, I think, deep down, humble an unassuming, and modest about what I can and should do in a situation.

            This week, the Capitol guard who diverted the mob from the Senators was also discovered to be the hero in saving another Senator, his actions caught on video and shown to the Senate during the impeachment trial.  He didn’t mention his actions to others, and didn’t seek attention and accolades. But, the video spoke for itself, a demonstration of courage and swift action to save another person from harm.  

            His actions were courage in action, and serve to show him as a hero.  

            People are courageous in so many ways, and almost always are not recognized for their actions.  I think each of us often doesn’t see what we are doing as being courageous acts.  But, if we are aware of a person’s situation, the circumstances, the background, we can then take the time to realize that what they are doing is truly courageous.  We may not see that, at first.  But, if we take the time and are sensitive to a person’s situation, then the courage becomes visible to others.  

            We can do that with ourselves, seeing our conduct, our interactions, as being courageous acts, brave an often fearless in the moment.  

            I think it is important to recognize that courage, that bravery, is often alive in ourselves, that we often act with courage, facing our dragons, our self-doubts, our fears, and do great things in spite of our feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt and fear. And, I need to give myself some recognitions that I am often brave and fundamentally a good person.  

2/14/2021

Finding Courage in Myself to Move Ahead


                                    

                                                                                    –by Neal Lemery

            In this Pandemic, it has become too easy to simply put things off, to delay, to live a life filled with procrastination.  What was normal life is mostly on hold. Social obligations, work projects, and most everything that is considered community life is now on pause. And, if something is on the calendar, there’s an excellent chance it will be cancelled or postponed. 

The daily lesson is patience, seasoned with flexibility.

            Being with others is now a health risk, a public issue of great concern.  Gatherings without health precautions are seen as literally putting our lives at risk. I stay at home, and rarely go out in public, never without my mask and sanitizer, being a dutiful citizen, and a guardian of my family’s health, as well as saving my own life. 

            Community life continues, with virtual connections, personally distanced interactions, and being content to live our lives at home, avoiding the usual and expected social gatherings. 

            At the same time, I also need to move ahead, concentrating on the work that I need to do, advancing my projects and my commitments to improve myself and my community, being a nurturer, caregiver, and a catalyst for productive change. 

            It is easy to hide away, to be fearful of the world, and how it has changed and become more threatening. I could ignore all the strident political rhetoric, and the ragings of those fearful of being informed and logical analysts, but I’m a stubborn cuss.  

            I resist ignorance and lethargy.  I want life to be better, and I’m driven to change the world and make it better.  I believe action is better than being idle and letting life just pass me by. I’ve always been hungry for the truth, for the previously undiscovered reality and honesty of a situation.  As a kid, I would often tax my family by persistently asking “why?”  It remains one of my favorite words.  

            At a music camp, I was struck by the title of one of the camp teachers.  She was the Instigator.  She’d wander around, finding impromptu jam sessions, or a group of us gathering for lunch or refilling our coffees, and she’d start to instigate.  She’d add a few licks to a jam session, or stir up a conversation about some aspects of music, and get us revved up.  She’d sit in on classes, offering a lively riff or a fresh observation about our topic of the hour.  

            Every group needs an Instigator, a provocateur, the stirrer of the pot.  Challenging old thinking and set-in-the-ways traditional activities is a necessary role.  Too often, we become complacent. 

            The Pandemic has stirred us up, even though we are often required to be sedentary, or anti-social.  But those concepts, I submit, are illusionary.  Self-isolating just requires new approaches to how we engage with others, and how we still can be forces for change.  We have more time for reading, for making music, writing, and for engaging with others, albeit virtually or those old fashioned methods of making a phone call and writing a letter.  In those methodologies, I have found new paths to rich relationships, productive creativity and some deep discussions. Webinars and Zoom meetings bring me in touch with enlightening people from around the world, their voices a welcome addition to my home, which is now my classroom to the world.  

            I’m learning new skills, and finding new resources.  I ‘m connecting with new voices and new philosophies, new ways of problem solving.  When we are free to travel and to go to meetings and events, there will be times when I will choose to stay home and be a virtual attendee.  I’ll save on travel time and travel expenses, and still have the benefits of being “present” and engaged. Yet, some events will be even richer for those intimate, one-on-one conversations, the side bars that make a meeting all the more fruitful. 

            Life is, after all, all about relationships, and being in the same room, fully engaged with all of our senses, often makes our experiences deeper and more satisfying.  

            Today, I’m more appreciative of nature, no longer taking for granted those rich moments of being observant, engaged in the natural rhythm of daily life. I’m finding time for solitude, and for just “being”, to be intensely satisfying. This is a time of tending to my soul, of tapping into the deep well of personal creativity and originality.  Modern life has sidetracked me from such opportunities, and I’m grateful for this Pandemic time, to remind me of my own humanity and my own hunger to connect with the natural world, to be part of the world.  

            When I do engage with others, I’m more mindful, more thoughtful, and certainly more “present”, in mind, body, and in spirit.  I live more slowly, more intentionally.

            Like anything in life, we are changed by what we experience, what comes our way in our journey.  After the Pandemic, we won’t go “back to where we were”.  Humanity has never done that.  We’ve always been changed, and moved to a different place, requiring us to have a different mind-set, and a different attitude about the world around us. Rather than fight against these changes, I believe we are called to embrace the changes, to learn and to adapt, and to be the change that we want to see in the world.  I’ll have more choices on how I want to engage the world, to be an Instigator.

1/26/2021

Inspiring Quotes from 2020


PROMISE YOURSELF …

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something special in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but great deeds.

To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

–Christian D. Larson, “Your Forces and How to Use Them”

                                    Other Good Quotes

            “Get exposed to other people’s truths and attitudes change.”

                        –Barack Obama

            “People do what they want to do.”

                        –Dear Amy (advice columnist)

            “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

                        –Dolly Parton

            “A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other. You are such a light.”

            –Moshe Davis

“Writers write the books they need to read.”

            A modern proverb, repeated by Kathleen Parker

A Time for Commitment


By Neal Lemery

Today, wildfire smoke fills the sky, forest fires are fiercely rampaging my state and county, and the Covid virus remains unchecked. Businesses, students, and teachers are having to learn new ways, and our world often seems upside down. This time has its challenges, yet we are called to take charge and forge ahead. We have the gift of opportunity.
Our world is changing, but it always has. Obstacles and adaptations are part of our history and a part of daily living.
The only constant in life is change. That phrase is a cliché, but it speaks great truth now and is our call to action.
These times are really no different than any other era in humanity’s existence on the planet. We have survived much worse crises and disasters than what the current times have presented to us.
We humans are survivors, adaptors to life-threatening and life-altering circumstances. Natural forces of every kind, plagues, famines, wars, and tribal conflicts have always been in our lives.
Often, we don’t do well at coping and our selfishness and emotional outrages result in misery and devastation. We can truly be our worst enemy. Most changes seem out of our hands. We can think this state of being out of control makes us helpless.
We can adapt, we change, and we move forward. We can be instruments of change today. We are, after all, in charge of our attitudes, our intentions, and our actions. How and what we think, what we plan and the steps we take, even the direction, lie within us. We can be determined and focused. We can become educated. We are able to do our research, and inventory and manage our resources. We can plot our way forward.
That work is the heritage we’ve gained from our ancestors, who were masters at adversity and adaptation. If they weren’t successful at that work, we wouldn’t be here, and our DNA wouldn’t have the “software” that empowers us to successfully solve problems. We wouldn’t have all the asserts and the benefits of a strong and vibrant civilization.
This year has its own seemingly insurmountable list of challenges. At times, there seems no end to new problems and often bizarre situations. Yet, such challenges are our history. How humankind has dealt with and often overcome these challenges is truly our heritage. We have literally built our culture and our civilization upon the ashes of daunting challenges.
Such work can also be our own legacy. Certainly what we can do today, this moment, are our marching orders, our map out of the wilderness of seemingly insurmountable problems.
This is our moment, our opportunity to rise to the challenges we face.
Make your list. Label the challenges, our collective to-do list. This list can be daunting, but the work is nothing new in the eyes of our ancestors and the lessons of history.
A journey begins with one step, and continues forward, one step at a time. Our history shows us that the work of just a few leads to significant life-altering results.
Your patience, your experience, knowledge, talent, and intestinal fortitude can be a significant contribution to some fundamental work and progress. One person can advance civilization and inspire others to accomplish great deeds. Our collaboration, our energy, our passion to live our values and take action are what is needed now.
Let’s get to work, together, united, and committed to moving ahead.

9/11/2020

Connecting and Creating


 

 

This time of quarantine, social distancing, staying home is a new order in society. Our social connections can become frayed, even severed.  The many events of daily life have changed, our calendars cleared.  Routines are disrupted, and we find ourselves adrift.

Staying home and apart from others is the new social expectation, a necessity to reduce the impact of this pandemic, “flattening the curve”. Staying home is seen as a medical necessity essential to health and wellbeing, a fundamental obligation to our society.

Instead of isolating, these times are times of great connectivity. Our technological lives now grow connections. We message each other more frequently, communicate more deeply, and find new ways to meet and interact. We access more books, movies, and “off-site” encounters and conversations.  Our now rare trips to the grocery store and running other essential errands take on a new heightened satisfaction of interacting with others. We are important to each other, something we may have overlooked in the busyness of the pre-pandemic world.

I connect deeper with myself and my world. Tending to my garden and the young seedlings in the greenhouse takes on new importance as I witness the miracles of sprouting and growing, of new life as we move into spring.  Filling up my birdfeeder gives me time to celebrate the migrations of birds and to notice their lives in this quieter, more meditative and spiritually reflective time.

The morning cup of tea takes on new meaning, giving me a welcome ritual and a time of contemplation. I am finding time to breathe and connect with my soul.

This is also a time of great creativity. Times of plagues and quarantine, while socially threatening, have led to great creations.  Shakespeare wrote several of his most famous plays while in quarantine.  Newton developed his theories of gravity and motion, and invented calculus.

Now the world is taking a retreat from normal routines. We have time to pause, to re-energize our creative juices, and find our quiet space to express ourselves. This is a time of renewal and re-creation of so much of what is truly human and soul-nourishing.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”  — Stephen Jobs

This is that time to connect.  Go and create.

Neal Lemery 3/31/2020

The Gift of Sobriety


“I know my limit,” one young man kept saying, his bloodshot eyes and pale complexion seemingly at odds with his statement, as he held his energy drink, hands trembling. We were both in line at a store, he and his friends rehashing last night’s alcohol-soaked party.  They boasted to each other about last night’s consumption, getting through hangovers, and the drunk friend who “overdid it”.

 

Addiction doesn’t care.

 

“It reverberates through the whole family, affecting entire generations for years,” a friend recently told me. “Our kids saw that, and it affected each of them. Some were drawn to drinking like a moth to the flame; others were repulsed, and became angry and bitter about their childhood.  The devastation was so widespread, and we are still dealing with it.”

 

Give the gift of sobriety this season.

 

This gift is not a gift to someone else.  It is a gift to you, from you.  Others won’t respond to your preaching and your nagging, except to become even more entrenched in their behavior.

 

Give sobriety to yourself.  Put some distance between you and the behavior, the “stinking thinking”.  Enjoy the quiet when that clutter has been moved to a safe distance away from your corner of the world.

 

Take care of yourself.  Nurture yourself.  Spend some quality time with the real you.  Surround yourself with the things you truly enjoy.  Indulge in the simple pleasures that you hold dear and treasure. Know your limits for addictive thinking and action.

 

Find acceptance in the silence, away from the chaos and noise.  Find the genuine you; that person is an old friend. Honor the innate, fundamental goodness that is your very essence.  Love yourself, for you are worthy of that love.

 

Being sober isn’t just about one’s consumption of alcohol and other drugs.  It is about clear thinking, about avoiding the pitfalls of untruths, propaganda, and self-aggrandizement. When we adopt falsehoods and fashion our lives around deceptions and lies, we lose our direction in life, our ability to fashion a life based on reality and honesty.  Being honest with ourselves is perhaps our most challenging task, but, in the end, coming to grips with what is really true truly serves our selves and our souls.

 

At its heart, sobriety is clear thinking and the pursuit of being honest with yourself.  Recognize the agendas and intentions of others to trick you, manipulate you and tempt you to serve the ulterior and selfish motives of others. Addiction enjoys the company, but it really doesn’t care about you.

 

Be true to yourself.  Search for the truth, as brutal and loud as it may be.  Ignoring truth chips away at our souls, and keeps us from finding and loving our true selves.  Seeing one’s own truth is the path to freedom.

—-Neal Lemery 12/24/2018

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

 

 

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

The Young Prisoner’s Rage


The Young Prisoner’s Rage

 

 

 

It boils out of me, this rage against you, this struggle I have on how to feel about me being the son, and you the father. The bruised knuckles from hitting the wall, again, with the full force of the rage, aching, yet all I want is to be numb, and not feel the ache in my heart.

I stuff it down, push it deep, wanting to turn my heart into stone.

Betrayed. Abandoned. Neglected. I just want to be numb, and not feel all that.

I’m trying to grow up, to be healthy, mature, manly. But without a father, a healthy, good father, I am empty, hollow.

My soul is hungry for connection, yet the absence of my dad, the silence, even worse, the indifference, tells me I am unworthy, I have failed.

I’m here in prison, doing time, labeled, categorized, marked. Wanting to be a healthy man, yet I have stumbled, fallen, and became a criminal.

I hear my dad’s voice saying, again, of course you’re worthless, you are trash, you are a criminal, and not worthy of my love, or even my name. You are not my son. I denounce you. I reject you, my heir, my seed, my son. You are not of my image, my spawn, my child.

Be my dad, I had said, I had begged. Love me, embrace me, take me by the hand and show me. Show me how to be the son, the man-child, a good man.

But, no. Rejection. Shame, guilty, abandonment. I am the throw away son.

Of course I am worthless. I am the criminal, the felon, the prisoner. Like you expected of me, I have proven how worthless I am. I guess you were right when you said I was worthless. You told me I was trash and so here I am, a sack of garbage, the criminal unworthy of you even acknowledging me.

I am not your son. I am trash. You have no son.

But, father, did you just try to love me, to guide me, to hold me close, to be the parent, the father I needed?

I didn’t need much, just for you to love me, to accept me, just to be your son.

I got lost, but you didn’t come find me, didn’t guide me, didn’t hug me, didn’t parent me. You threw me away, and I just want to go numb, and slam my fist into the wall, and not feel it.

You loved the bottle, the pipe, the pill, the denial of my existence much more than what I needed from you.

Undeserving, of no value, that’s the message you gave me, again and again, until it sounded like the truth. Repeated, and repeated, so it must be true.

What else can I do, but rage. I scream into the night, punch my fist into the wall, look into the mirror and see only a worthless soul, unworthy of love, unable to forgive, to honor myself, to see any good in myself.

I rage, so therefore I am worthless, trash. A tight circle, self-fulfilling prophesy of emptiness, garbage.

Is it too much to ask, that I can hear I am valued, that I have purpose, that I am a man, a good man, capable of and deserving of love?

Is it too much to ask that I hear you are proud of me?

You reject me, over and over again. I get it. I am nothing in your eyes. I can never be the man I dare to dream of being; I can never be the son worthy of your name, your love.

No, I am trash, garbage, a worthless sack of s**t. My destiny must be to sit in my prison cell and mean nothing to anyone else, is that what you think? Is that what you want? Is that what you desire your son to be?

Slam, goes the fist into the wall, the pain somehow justified, earned, because of who you think I am, how worthless I must really be. If only I could be loved, to hear you say that word, to hold me tight and let me feel your love for me.

But, no. Rejection, shame, abandonment. Is that what you want for me? Is that why you brought me into the world, to throw me away?

All I want is to be loved, to be seen as a son, as a soul seeking his dream, wanting to have value, to be a beloved child of God.

Yet, I am rejected, unloved, unworthy, undeserving of the name of son, of being beloved and embraced.

And when I have a son, how will I treat him, what will I say to him? What will I show him how I have learned to treat a son?

And, so I rage.

And , so I rage.

 

 

—-Neal Lemery 3/20/2017