3 Day Quote Challenge: Day 3: “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”

I’m going to do it.  I’m going to succeed.  Or I’m going to suck, I suppose it’s best left for the reader to decide.  But I’m finishing the challenge issued by the curvaceous and delicious La Sabrosona, apparently her husband feels like he’s at least as lucky a bastard as I am for marrying so well.  Marriage is a good thing, at least for straight guys.  The Bible doesn’t address any other “‘marital’ arrangements,” so I haven’t got a clue about whether those are good or not.  The song title in my title isn’t the quote of the day; this isn’t the quote of the day, but it says,

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.”~ Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)

Nowhere in there does it say anything about “she who finds a husband.”  This makes me a little unhappy.  It’s unbalanced, it’s not fair, because I want to be a blessing for my wife and I’m not written in as a “good thing.”  What the hell?  Nor is my presence in the relationship listed as a “favor from the Lord.”  Nope.  She’s the only good thing in the relationship.  Shit!  And then in the New Testament Paul says husbands ought to love their wives like Jesus loved the church and died for her!!! (Ephesians 5)  Shades of “The Princess Bride” there, it is one of my favorite movies.  The prince died and came back for “true love.”  Jesus did too but that’s a subject for another blog. I’m sorry, I’m not interested in loving my wife to death.  Until death, sure, but to (my) death?

“It’s killing me, but I love you, honey!”  Yup.

Ain’t no such thing as “God’s gift to women,” guys.  Hang that up.  But apparently a wife is God’s gift to a man.  The writers seem to agree on this, from Genesis on.  See Genesis 2, God made the lady and presented her to the shmuck, and it was love at first sight.

Who’s the fool for falling in love?  Looks like a toss-up.  I’m the fool for loving her to (my) death, she’s the fool for not realizing she’s there to be a blessing to me; I’m just supposed to die trying to bless her back.  People, especially women, hate that Ephesians 5 shit.  Because people, especially men, love to misinterpret and leave stuff out of that Ephesians 5 shit.  But they love that whole “Love Chapter,” I Corinthians 13.   If they read it right, and did it right, whether it was Ephesians or I Corinthians, there’d be a whole lot fewer divorces.  I’ll bet $42,000,000,000 I’m right, and I volunteer to arbitrate any marital disputes according to the text.  Any takers?  I’m ready for your “Dear Deon” cards and letters.  But to be fair, each person in the relationship has to write their own letter, I need at least two per couple, to be able to call whomever needs to be called, out.

But love seems to be a great thing for us humans, no matter that it turns us into raving lunatics. We men write love poems and letters, we create, we go to war, we work our whole lives to earn money to buy nice things to give, and some of you lovely ladies do the same thing, all for love. I think it’s a chemical imbalance, but if not for love, ‘twixt a man and a woman, I suppose I wouldn’t be here.  Unless it was done in a test tube.  One of my favorite authors reflected upon this, between pulp fiction novels:

“I loved her. I still love her, though I curse her in my sleep, so nearly one are love and hate, the two most powerful and devastating emotions that control man, nations, life.”~ Edgar Rice Burroughs

If love is a bitch, hate must be worse.  Or maybe they’re equal.  And they are indeed devastating upon life itself.  In the more modern vernacular, I “feel” you, Edgar.  In the less modern, I understand.  And you’re right, Edgar.  Love and hate must be close as lover to lover.  Or murderer to victim.

And Mr. Burroughs wrote so tenderly, so powerfully, so emotionally, but also wrote the Tarzan series, among others.

3 Day Quote Challenge: Day 2: Deconstructing “Feminine Mystique” (and still not making sense of it)

******Warning:  Potentially-High-Potential-for-Sarcasm Alert******

Thus begins my second 3 Day Quote Challenge:  Day 2:  Deconstructing “Feminine Mystique” (and still not making sense of it)  You have been warned.  If you continue reading you may encounter symptoms which may include logic (or not), sarcasm, hilarity or mild amusement, nervousness, and irritability.

”Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say No when they mean Yes, and drive a man out of his wits for the fun of it.”  Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), U.S. author. Laurie, in Little Women, pt. 2, ch. 12 (1869).

Louisa was the daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail May Alcott.  I’ve read rumors of a “troubled marriage.”  I suspect Louisa May have been reflecting on her parents when she wrote the above quote.  But it reflects upon something I once heard described as “feminine mystique.”  I looked that up on Answers.com and the answer frankly shocked me in this modern era of feminism:

feminine mystique

Apparently feminine mystique has to do with coconut cream pie, or, somewhat mildly amusing, the ingredients of a coconut cream pie, which include milk, eggs, and a shredded coconut.

I had to go back to 1834 for this one:

Slang definitions & phrases for coconutExpand



  1. The head (1834+)

So, according to Answers.com, feminine mystique has to do with ovulation (eggs), nursing (milk), and having a shredded head (coconut, brain).  Sorry, ladies, I didn’t define it, Answers.com did.  And, well, that makes total sense (not really).

Louisa may have been onto something with her quote for today, which is that women communicate very differently from men.  Men generally say what they mean, mean what they say, hate excess drama, and don’t pull any punches.  If I’m mad at you, I’ll tell you I’m mad, fuck you, go away until I’m ready to deal with you again.  If a woman is mad at you, she’ll tell you nothing is wrong, she’ll isolate herself or express that she doesn’t feel like going along with whatever is planned, and she’ll treat you with cool detachment until you realize something is wrong, and you’re ready to admit (whether true or not) that it’s you.  Yes means no, and no means no, so just stay the hell away from a woman if you know what’s good for you.

This communication difference, which is not something I enjoy, among other differences I can only celebrate, give rise to male confusion.  As a man, I’m going to tell you what I want.  Sex and Steaks.  If you’re not going to tell me what you want, I have to guess and you’ll have to accept whatever my guess is, not tell me how awful I am because I can’t read your fucking mind.

What I’m suggesting is Louisa May understood why her dad was in a troubled relationship.  Mom didn’t make sense, and he couldn’t understand it.  Mum had a shredded coconut.  But I bet she made a wicked good pie.  My wife does.  So sure, I don’t always want steak.  Sometimes I want sex and pie, not at the same time as that would be very messy.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?  Sometimes.  Sometimes a bit lower.  It’s crude, but keep me satisfied, say yes fairly often to my simple requests, if you want me to put up with the emotional shit storm and the mixed messages.  My emotional shit storm is enough for me to put up with; adding yours makes my life unbearable.  You said yes and you meant no?  I’m going to be frustrated by that because it’s illogical.  You said no and meant no?  Fine.  Come back when you’re ready to say yes.  I’ll be here, because as confusing as my own emotions are, I love you.

I don’t even want to address the whole “girls are so queer,” in the modern context.  Except to say I find that mildly amusing too.  I love you all in spite of yourselves.  And I love you all in spite of myself, too.  I just don’t want to get too close if your coconut is shredded, unless you’re making me a pie.

3 Day Quote Challenge: Day 1: Where Does Self- Entitlement Come From?

I was nominated to post 3 quotes over 3 days, some time ago, and I’ve just been reminded to do it, today seems a good day to start.  My challenger is the lovely and talented La Sabrosona, see her first quote here.  Her blog is excellent, I recommend a follow, or at least a thorough examination.  I couldn’t find a translation for Sabrosona but she says it’s something about being curvy.  I’m supposed to challenge other writers, we’ll get to that.

What to quote, though?  I’ve got nothing good going on emotionally, so perhaps something that flips my trigger:  Self Entitlement.  It pisses me off, and my society is full of people who are this kind of full of themselves.  Ass Holes!  But, something amusing and light hearted I think.

Our quote today is from Roald Dahl, one of my favorite children’s authors.  As I grew up my parents with their wicked little senses of humor read me not just fairy tales, but Grimm fairy tales, and they were grim.  They included topics like cutting off one’s own heel to fit a glass slipper three sizes too small.  They also had books of rhyme, including darkly humorous poems that, read today would certainly make the banned-book list, subjects including things like parents drowning children when they disobey, beating them, etc., but intended to be taken humorously and as cautionary tales.  Thus, I rooted for the dragon a bit in The Hobbit, the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk, and still laugh when I read the following excerpt from Dahl:

http://allpoetry.com/Excerpt–Goldilocks-and-the-Three-Bears tells more of the tale than I do here.

‘Oh daddy!’ cried the Baby Bear,
‘My porridge gone! It isn’t fair!’
‘Then go upstairs,’ the Big Bear said,
‘Your porridge is upon the bed.
‘But as it’s inside mademoiselle,
‘You’ll have to eat her up as well.”

I can’t help to speculate it’s stories like these (The original, not the story as redacted by the brilliant Dahl) in nursery rhymes and fairy tales that give rise to people having strong senses of self-entitlement.

I live in America.  Land of opportunity, if you’re lucky or tenacious or smart enough to get yours.  But I also live in America, land of selfish ass holes who feed my rage every time they do something selfish and stupid and potentially dangerous, especially when their selfishness robs me of fair treatment.  When you take cuts ahead of me in the line.  When you cut me off in traffic.  When you run the red light because it just turned red and make the people whose turn it is wait for you.  A fucking 18-wheel semi truck with trailer did that to me and my fellow commuters this morning.  When you over charge me for a meal, by insisting that a soft drink isn’t part of a “meal.”  I don’t mind being charged for a refill, but if I bought a “meal,” it should come with a drink.  Or maybe the business owners don’t have a drink with their meals.  They go around dehydrated and thirsty. When you cheat me of overtime by calling it straight time because there’s a holiday that week and I didn’t actually work a full forty.

We’ve read Goldilocks and thought almost nothing of naughty little blondie going in and stealing the porridge or taking a nap in little bear’s bed.  We might have been offended because she broke his chair.  But we all breathed a sigh of relief when the cautionary tale ended with her escaping the bears’ wrath and getting safely back home to mummy and daddy.  Unless the bad things she did are given proper weight and conscience, we only learn, if you do a bad thing it’s ok, as long as you don’t get caught and never do it again.

Someone’s dog is shitting on my lawn.  It’s not my responsibility to pick the shit up, but I have to do it because the damned owner feels a sense of entitlement for his or her dog to use my yard as its’ personal toilet.  Shit and run.  Bastard.  Bitch, whatever.  Bitch, please, stop it.  I don’t want me or my wife or my kids to step in that.  Nothing gives you the right to do it, so where the hell do you get the entitlement to do it?  It’s not your damned yard and I shouldn’t have to defend it.  I’ll fix it.  I  put medium-hot chili powder all over the “easement” the dog was using.  Fucker.  And by that I mean the owner.  It only gets hotter from here.

I don’t get self-entitlement lessons from the Bible.  When Amnon raped Tamar, she got justice.  It took a while, but Amnon didn’t get to be king, as heir apparent to David’s throne.  Instead, he got dead.  David’s sense of self-entitlement brought a curse down on his whole family, and allowed the second son of Bathsheba, Solomon, to take the throne.  What?  You thought God should punish Bathsheba and both of her kids?  I can hardly judge her, here.  He was the king.  She lost the firstborn son.  The second gets to be king.  In the New Testament, the woman “caught in adultery,” which was stupid because you can’t commit adultery by yourself, it takes two, and the polyandrous Samaritan woman, who represented strong racist tendencies for Jewish people who thought they were “holier than thou” about them, both were blessed and loved by Jesus in spite of their actions.  Even in the Old Testament laws, if someone does something bad they are instructed to make it right, by paying money sometimes for what was done.

I’m saying that our fairy tale stories give false securities to our kids, who grow up to think they deserve whatever they can take, or they can grow up to be the princess or the noble knight, even if they do a little theft or money laundering or cheating on the side to get there, as long as they don’t get caught and as long as they only do it once.  The bankers a few years back who rewarded themselves for getting away with their scams and got paid off by the US Government are case in point.

We shouldn’t have a sense of self-entitlement, on the contrary we’re not really entitled to anything unless we put in the honest work for it.  We should have a sense of responsibility for our actions, a conscience that bothers us when we’ve done something wrong, and a sense of fairness that demands we take personal efforts to make whatever we’ve done wrong, right.

Dahl got it right, and that’s why I chose him for quote #1.  Someone eats your porridge, they should buy you more porridge, or you should eat them.

Thank you, La Sabrosona!
I’m supposed to nominate 3 Nominees, who are supposed to nominate 3 nominees…  Hmm.  A pyramid scheme…  It’s a pity I’m not figuring out, in a sense of my own personal entitlement, how to make some money out of this kind of thing.

How about
https://robynchristi.wordpress.com/ Robyn,
https://suzannepurewal.wordpress.com/ Suzanne, and
https://storyshucker.wordpress.com/ Stuart.

I’ve noticed you and enjoyed your writing.  This should be interesting.

Crash and Burn

We had company in and out all weekend, which had a nice, temporary blurring effect on my emotions, but I was aware in the back of my head that I was angry, depressed, and not processing things logically.  I should be an actor, I could have won an Academy Award for my brilliant performances this weekend.  Deon Mumple, nominated for his performance as a normal, happy-go-lucky guy for whom everything is emotionally fine, part of a happy couple and a beautiful family life everyone should be jealous of.  Fuck.  Smile and hate every moment of this torture.  Assure your guests everything is fine.  Lies, lies, and thank God, no videotape.  It doesn’t matter if it makes sense, because it rarely makes sense.  I can logically process my emotions, but sometimes it makes too much sense and I don’t like the logical conclusions.  Does that make sense?

I’m in the emotional down turn of this swing thing, and it predictably sucks dirt.

I love my wife but it’s by choice and requires effort, much more effort at some times than at others. I love my readers and commentators, and I think that’s pretty easy, but I don’t have to live with you, now, do I?  If I lived with you I’d probably love/hate you too.  She is so good at hitting buttons that piss me off, and she doesn’t just hit them and back off, she leans on them until she hurts me. Especially when I’m feeling shitty myself.

I love my kids and do my best to mask what I’m going through.  When I have the daily stress attack in the morning before I leave for work, my son asks me if I’m all right.  I wish I could tell him that I’m not all right, life sucks for me right now, and it’s not just allergies, it’s stress and depression and inner rage and I hate everything except my family, until they do or say something that pisses me off.

I swear, “she fucking hates me.”  (La, La, La, La)

Crash and burn. It’s OK, I’ll be fine in three months, give or take. It does scare me a little (every time), since it’s just started for me again.  Can we just skip forward to September?

I already feel less energy, less motivation, less everything, except worthlessness and helplessness and hopelessness, which I feel more.  So far, I know it’s not true because I am logical.  But I can expect, logically, that I might believe it is true in a month or so.  That’ll be right on time for another fucking family event.  How entertaining.  Watch Deon reprise his role as a contented husband. ::Inside:: Anger, loneliness, rage,  Fuck.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.  Fuck. ::Outside:: Fakes a smile.

Not like that’s happening.  I asked my wife for some favorable treatment this weekend, and predictably she shut completely down, to enhance and frost the cake of my emotional downturn.  When I need something, it’s “buh bye,” emotionally.  When she wants something, I give it because I’m desperate.  The next day she asked me to turn off a show I was watching because she doesn’t like it, so I shut it off. Then she scolded me for watching the show in the first place and went on a rant about how she doesn’t like it, it’s inapropriate, blah, blah, blah, blah blah (goes on a while), at which I told her to shut up because I had already complied with her demands.  Without swearing. Mum would be… proud?  Well, she should be.  I was a model of restraint, and at the time she started digging into my sensitive heart, there wasn’t anyone around to hear me if I had sworn.

She wouldn’t approve of my play list today.

Tsk. I can see her shaking her head, irritated but grateful that I’ve got on my headphones. Nope. Not approving at all.

There’s something satisfying to me that these songs are available for my listening, and emotional venting, pleasure.

Is it too much to ask for some encouragement when I could really use the emotional support? Apparently so, since that’s the trigger for more, or worse, shitty treatment. Can September get here quick, please? Or better still, just “Wake me up when September Ends.”

You Say You Love Me

You say you love me, but instead of being my biggest fan and supporter you’re my harshest critic, and you’re just mean spirited about winning an argument.  I know I’m not perfect, but every time you say mean things to me I feel like you’re slicing a piece of my heart out, and I’m running out of heart to cut.

You say you love me but instead of thanking me for the way I do anything you’re the one person who takes me and everything I do for granted, as if anyone you met would just naturally do whatever it is.  I feel used and tired and my heart is dying.

You say you love me, but when I ask you to show me in the simplest ways you almost always push me away, move away, or act horrified out like I’m asking you to murder someone, or hack off your own finger, or grossed out like I disgust you.  I’m not a bug or a snake or a pile of green slime or rotten trash, but sometimes you treat me like I am.

You say you love me, but you don’t even know me any more.  I’ve changed and become different and you act like I should feel guilty about what I’m becoming.  You seem like you’re regressing to someone I never  knew, instead of blossoming and growing with me like I wanted you to when we first started getting to know one another.  You’ve changed in physical ways I’ve continued to admire, but also changed emotionally in ways I frequently really hate.  It proves that love and hate aren’t diametrically opposed, they are adjacent facets of a relationship, like rolling a dice.  Six, you love me, five, you want me to work for you but since we’re in a relationship I’m supposed to act like a slave and just do it, four you criticize me, three, you hate me but you’re afraid to tell me, two, you push me away.

I hate the brick wall you throw between us whenever you feel slighted or offended. I hate feeling like you are a kind of armchair psychologist with behavior modification ideals to tailor me into something I don’t want to become, and I hate the bitter, bitchy way you act whenever I refuse to be whatever that is.  I hate feeling like an old appliance that you’ve kept around- you want to replace it because it doesn’t work exactly like you want it to, but it’s convenient because you don’t want to go to the store to shop for a new one.  I hate being pushed away.  I hate being criticized whenever I don’t do exactly what you want.

The more you hate the things about me that you hate, the more I think even though you say you love me, you really don’t.  You love a concept of me that you wish was me, and until I measure up to that, you’re going to continue to hate me.  I’m not going to become that concept, and I’m tired of trying.

If I Loved Me

If I loved me I’d find friends I loved, who loved me back.  Most often I hear empty words and platitudes from people I’ve made connection with.  They are more needy than I am, and I am desperately empty.  If I could meet those needs I would, because I would accept “love” even if “love” was because I was being used.  When I can, and do, meet a need, I feel that my act of love is not returned, and I feel used and more empty inside.

Maybe if I loved me as much as I try to love others, I’d be a little more selfish and demanding, and maybe I’d have real friends instead of people I fear are made of plastic.  Sadly, no one is following my example and reciprocating.

If I loved me, I’d have married the one who brought love to the table, instead of empty promises.  She can present all the evidence she wants as “proof” of love, but if it’s not spoken in the language I need to hear, is it really love?  The language I need to hear might be difficult to speak, but if she loved me wouldn’t she at least try to learn?  I’m still trying after all this time.  But even if I spoke her love language fluently, if she won’t respond in kind, I feel my soul slowly drained of life.  for alll my trying, I only feel taken for granted.

Maybe if I loved me as much as I love her, I’d expect my needs to be fulfilled, and in return, I’d feel energized to insure that hers are met as well.  Sadly, she’s just like everyone else, and not reciprocating either.

If I loved me maybe I’d think higher of my self.  But often I feel worthless, useless, and pointless, except as a tool to be used by others for their own purposes without receiving personal reward or recompense.  If I loved me I might expect to be treated better by those I serve- employer, family, church, “friends.”  But I’ve lived a lifetime trusting that things would work out, and the older I get the more I see that things don’t work out, and my labor is unappreciated and undervalued, and things that I need break and I’m unable to replace them.  I’ve been told I’m intelligent, but so far– and I’m halfway into this– I’m not smart enough to figure life out.  A famous line from Auntie Mame is “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”  That’s me.  And if she’s right, most everyone else too.

Maybe if I loved me as much as I should love me, I’d be able to figure out how to live it better.
It’s really a sad circumstance.  I think I’m a loveable guy.  But I haven’t figured out how to love myself correctly.  If other people loved me, maybe I could learn to follow their examples.

Your Beast of Burden

Your Beast of Burden, 07/24/2015, Deon Mumple

The ponderous load restricts in every way,
I am forced to carry my burden, march,
I fall and try to drag myself, my chain,
Inertia wages war, breath ragged, parched,

There is no purpose other than to wound,
There is no progress, no diminishing,
I sleep, restless, in my makeshift cocoon,
And wake, pained, weighted, begin laboring,

Some days I dream of freedom from it all,
If death should come and could bring me the key,
I force myself to rise, and again, fall,
Slave to a Master whom I cannot see,

Given a sense of some empowerment…
But no, brute beast, I’m not intelligent.


Primal, Deon Mumple, 07/22/2015

I watched her move;
my locked eyes
drinking in her every line
And curve, and motion,
Already intoxicated,
Craving the next sips.

I felt the walls
Closing in
Crushing my soul, dreams
She pushed me away
Left me crying and enraged,
Wanting nothing more.

Waiting. She calls.
Where’ve you been?
My heart, tortured, screams.
What should I say?
I’m hurt, wishing escape, caged,
Her key opens the door.

I felt our breath,
Her fingers laced in mine,
Rocking like an ocean
Each movement anticipated,
Touching tender lips.

My Week “Off”: Personal Lessons and Reflections From Camp

Nobody asked, but I’ve been away for a week…

“…not that anyone cares.” (Sarah Goth, Big Bang Theory)

I took a week off, which means today I’ll pay extra in catch-up at work, catch up on emails, catch up on house work, and this week I’ll need to cut the grass in between rainstorms.  I have a hate-hate relationship with routine.  I hate breaking the routine, but I hate being trapped in this routine.  “Not that anyone cares…”

I have just spent the past week, from Sunday through Saturday, voluntarily sleeping outdoors in a tent, and I paid for the experience.  I’m an introvert but I was surrounded by around 200 other campers, also in tents.  My smelly, fellow campers (say that 10 times fast, I dare you to try) were considerate for the most part, keeping their distance almost everywhere except at meal time.  I went to Boy Scout camp, and I’m not even a Boy Scout.  I avoided the poison ivy and the spiders.  A few mosquitoes did make it through to have a snack, but that was minor for me.  Others seemed to have it much worse with the mosquitoes.  Bug spray was not always effective.

I feel the slow slump of the downward spiral of emotions creeping up behind me, damn it to hell, but I didn’t let on and I tried not to let it affect my week.  I focused on learning opportunities for myself.  And I did learn.  I’ve reflected on many things, including personal potential, circumstances outside of my control, inclusivity and exclusivity, friendships, encouragements, and an acute awareness of haves and have-nots .  And my mum did not send a care package while I was away at camp.  Because I’m almost 50 and I should be able to care for myself.

I spent time in the sunshine, working alongside the scouts and leaders.  My wife read that we’re almost all deficient in vitamin D, and need more sunshine.  She read that a side-effect of the deficiency is depression, so I’ve got that going for me now I guess.  The rest is, I guess, all in my screwed-up head.

I missed my family, except my scout, who wasn’t supposed to come up to me for anything but did several times.  Poor thing, he wanted his dad’s attention against the staff policy that I’m just another adult leader, not his dad, just for the week.  And I gave it, expecting to be reprimanded for breaking the rules a few times.  The reprimand only happened once, and I broke a few rules a few times.  I missed my music, so I was encouraged when one of the older scouts had his music on his phone, which is another thing- no electronics- which older scouts can be exempted from for some reason.  And his music was great, mostly, for a 17 year old guy.  I missed my bug-free, indoor-type house, my refrigerator, my alcohol. In the rain, and in the steamy humidity, I missed my comfy, dry bed.  I missed my bathroom, and my shower, but I did make use of the facilities at camp.  Yuck.  I did not miss work, or cooking, or laundry.  I missed my electronics, which, if I owned something portable enough, I, as an adult leader, could have used the whole week.  I really need a laptop.  This year, perhaps, I’ll muster the requisite funds from my CFO (here read, “wife.”  “And I Love Her,” regardless.  (I know, it was a cover he did of the Beatles song)  I love her so much I’ll even put up with any “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me.” (nice mullet, J.D.)).

I enjoyed a few extended moments of peace and solitude.  I enjoyed birds singing.  I enjoyed seeing stars without so much light pollution.   And introverted me, I enjoyed some of the camaraderie around the campfire, jokes around the dinner table, including some guy-humour involving puns and jokes about air-shows and references to John Denver’s ill-fated experimental aircraft.  It should still be too soon to joke about it, but in the moment, it was funny.  Sorry, Denver fans.  I like John Denver too, and I know more of his songs than you’d think.  I enjoyed starting in on a few books I brought along to read. I finally learned how to make my tent zipper work with a minimum of difficulty.  On prior trips my zipper kept getting stuck on an elastic outer guard.  In the hot weather I hated walking and carrying my backpack and my gear.  Sometimes “Sunshine On My Shoulder” isn’t a good thing.  In the cooler weather that followed the rain, it wasn’t so bad.

My Potential:  I am being stifled by a lack of motivation, which really sucks because now that I’m back I realize that I do have potential, but I already feel the creeping vines of lack of motivation growing around me.  I’m being stifled by a lack of personal time.  Ironically, I had a lot of time and motivation on camp-out but no electronics to work on what I need to finish.  I am being stifled by a lack of personal funds, but we’re crawling out of that shit-hole, slowly but surely.  I hope we don’t slip.  Backsliding into shit is no fun.  There were shades of “Shawshank Redemption,” there, in my flashback.  But speaking of shit, the restrooms, outside of the campsite itself, were fully functional and not latrines, thank God.  While they did in fact smell like shit, it was not an overly dramatic shitty smell like a latrine normally has.  My lack of motivation comes from not knowing what my potential is, and also from trying and failing or trying and being pushed back into the shit by someone in control.  The motivation issues, the hell-is-other-people, my misgivings about my own personal potential, these are the stuck zippers on the tent of my life.  I need to figure out how this works, and soon.  Other people make the process look so easy.

My tent is one of those little one-person numbers.  Without any gear, there might be room for two short people who don’t move about while sleeping.  The tent ceiling felt about 3 and a half feet off the ground, maybe 4 feet, tops. I may be speaking in hyperbole, but you get the idea.  It was cramped, even though it was six feet by four feet on the ground.  I wasn’t able to stand up in there without hunkering down, and had to sleep at an odd angle to fit my six foot two frame lying down. And after the rain, the water started to pool in the back corner of my tent.  The tent is an almost perfect metaphor for life:  The size of my tent is too small.  Like Jabez in the Bible, faddish though it was a few years ago in Christ-follower circles, I need a bigger “tent.”  The current one doesn’t let me stretch to my full potential.  In life, I’m cramped and uncomfortable.  Sometimes I really, really wish I could “Fly Away.”

Also, I need some higher ground to put my tent on, because it’s letting the rain inside and ruining what I do have because it’s getting wet.  The ground was hard too, but I had a sort of poorly cushioning “camp pad” to raise me about two inches, which was almost enough to keep my left foot out of the puddle.  Let’s call the puddles and mud a metaphor for “sin,” just so you all know how clingy those damned habits can be.  I know the right things to do sometimes, and even if I know them it doesn’t mean I’m going to choose them.  As sure as there is mud, sometimes my foot is going to stray into it.  It’s seeping right into my tent and if I’m sleeping or not paying attention…

Circumstances Outside of My Control:  Sometimes life is going to hand you rain, mud, or worse, shit. At camp I learned sometimes I have to wait until an opportune time, seize it, wash it off, and move on.  Sometimes I might get hurt, as a few of my fellow campers did this week.  I was spared anything personal other than “stiffness in my bones,” and “no beauty queens in this locality.” (Yup, Queen lyrics)  In that case, I learned to tell someone there is a problem, not to do anything drastic, and to do my best with what I have until help comes along.  In the case of a few campers, it was medical intervention, which worked out very well for them.

Inclusivity and Exclusivity:  At camp, there were many team-building exercises and demonstrations.  I’ve reinforced that it’s a bad idea to shut out anyone because of personal quirks, mine or theirs.  We all need each other.  And, because I showed up and was willing to encourage others when they failed, or hadn’t yet succeeded, and cheer on others when they did succeed, make personal sacrifices, carry a share of the weight of various projects and responsibilities, whether they were actually mine or not, I was welcomed and included, and even made a new friend or two. Hundred.  Little, introverted me.  I’ve reinforced it’s a good idea to include others, to encourage others, to work hard for myself and for my team, and my team is everybody around me.  If I encourage and demonstrate that I care, it’s a whole lot easier to make a friend by offering a friendship.  Sure, some people will take advantage of you and let you carry them, but only if you let it go that far.  It’s like we’re dancing a “Calypso” and learning together.  Nobody should be shut out and left as a wall flower.

Acute Awareness of Haves and Have-Nots:  This one woke me up.  I like to bitch and moan sometimes and have big pity-parties for myself about whatever I don’t have that I want or think I need.  But at camp I was a “have” in a lot of circumstances, and I abruptly woke up to the reality that everyone is either a have or a have-not, and on the team the haves need to help the have-nots in order for the whole team to succeed.  I offered my fellow campers whatever I had that they needed, and that was another friendship exercise.  In non-camping life, I hope I continue to carry that awareness, so I can help people to share in what I have.  And maybe the haves for my have-nots will be willing to share with me.  We can all slip into selfishness and entitlements, or we can realize others have needs that we can help meet.  My son had his dad with him, even if sometimes I was on the other side of the campground.  Other scouts weren’t so fortunate.  Maybe they needed an encouraging word, from me.  If I saw and felt they needed something I had, I volunteered.  A high-five.  An “atta-boy.”  A “you can do it!”  A cheer for their success.  A demonstration to pass on a skill, as if I were the scout’s own dad.  I’ll bet that 17 year-old scout didn’t have a single damn John Denver song on his playlist.  But that’s OK.

Now, if someone can demonstrate how to get the sunscreen out of my backpack and one of my books, that would be helpful.  Something I stuffed in there hit the spray valve and it all sprayed out on my shit  gear.  And maybe I’m asking too much, hoping too high, but if someone would buy me a laptop…

It’s almost my birthday.  “And hey, it’s good to be back home again.”