Worry can ruin your day. It can make your nights sleepless. It can rob you of joy. I had a pretty joyless evening yesterday because of worry. I'm doing better today.
Four years ago, my worries were fairly limited. In two months' time, my brother would be dead. In a little over a year, my sister would be dead. At the time I wrote this post, however, my biggest worry was finding a new job and going on a weekend trip.
Sort of puts things into perspective. You can have a great job, beautiful house, fantastic car, and all the money in the world, but if you don't do anything good with all those blessings, God isn't going to be too impressed. The richest person in the world makes the richest corpse in the world.
I think I prefer to live a George Bailey existence. I may not have a lot of money or the best house or a great car. However, I hope that, when I'm gone, the world will be a better place because I was here.
March 19, 2014: Under the Stars, Unafraid, Letting Go
...Elwyn crept through the dark and aromatic marsh, past croaking frogs and unexplained scurries, to the boulders, beyond which distant lights shone on the water. There this short and slight boy, who would run blocks to avoid a bully but who felt safe in the natural world where no other people were around, would shed his clothes and slip into the black water. Quietly, so as not to attract attention, he swam in the darkness, floating under the stars, unafraid.
There's a great deal of beauty in the above passage from the E. B. White biography The Story of Charlotte's Web. White, as a boy, was small and scrawny. A target at school for all kinds of negative attention. Yet, he had an escape. A place where he could shed the troubles of the world and just be happy and worry-free.
When I first read this description of White skinny-dipping in the night, I envied the sheer freedom of it. Letting go of life's problems is not easy for me. They float above me, like the stars above Elwyn as he swims in the darkness. When I climb into bed at the end of a day, they follow me, make it difficult for me to fall asleep.
I'm going on a trip to Wisconsin this weekend. My daughter has a dance competition. It's going to be a quick little sojourn. We leave Friday morning, and she competes that night at 10 p.m. Saturday is free. We'll probably swim in the hotel pool. Shop (without buying anything--we don't have the cash). Maybe go out to eat (we may splurge and buy KFC). Then we come home on Sunday and dive right back into life.
I'm looking forward to the trip, but it certainly will not be without its share of stress. We will not be skinny dipping or stargazing. It's not that kind of hotel. However, it will be a different kind of stress. Not I'm-losing-my-job stress. More do-I-take-this-off-ramp stress.
I don't think I will ever find a place where I can let go of worries. When I'm in a new place, I simply find new worries. Or I pack the old worries in my suitcase with my toothbrush. But I do have moments of bliss. Reading my son a story at night. Listening to a Roger Miller song. Sitting next to my wife at night, not talking, just being together.
That's Saint Marty's idea of floating under carefree stars. Unafraid. Happy.
|Just take Exit I Don't Give a Shit...|
A poem I wrote a few years ago, mourning the loss of my daughter's childhood . . .
by: Martin Achatz
My daughter wants to call me “dad”
Instead of “daddy,” slips it into talk
The way I first used “fuck” as a teen,
As if the word is purge in her mouth,
Putrefaction of the pig-tail girl who sat
On my lap, rested her cheek against
My chest, listened to my heart ebb,
Flow with need for her young needs.
Her legs, tan and scabbed from summer,
Stretch like a catafalque beneath her,
As tall now as her three-year-old
Self, a vigil of womanhood,
Watched over, waked by a father
Unwilling to let algor mortis take hold,
Infant blood replaced by antimony salts,
Blush into lividity, the pale of time.
I know there’s nothing to do, no
Spiritual banquets to recite, bolstering
The levees against puberty, the cortege
Of her body into the bruising world of adults.
I see the badge on her bedroom door,
Pink, soft petals, so much like the palms
Of her baby hands, delicate as breath,
A ribbon with gold letters: “Beloved Child.”
In this almost teen, this in-between
Creature, I mourn for myself, sit
Beneath the canopy, admire her
Monument, all limb and blossom,
Full of promise, the pull for boys, body,
Sweat, want. I stand in this columbarium,
Think I hear my daughter’s cry, a small,
Urgent sound for milk, for bottle,
For my solid, stupid arms.