Something About Apples

My dad and I have never really had the best relationship.  It’s always been tough for me (and I’m guessing him as well) to find common ground between the two of us.  I’m 35 and he’s 61.

I suppose you could say I grew up in a pretty traditional family.  Mom stayed home and took care of us kids while dad was away earning the bread.  It was this set up that lead me to become closer to my mother.  She was always there with us – guiding, nurturing, and disciplining.  She made meals and helped us with our homework.  That had to have been hard raising five children.  I have so much respect for that woman.

Throughout my juvenile years the relationship between my mom and I strengthened like a piece of wood.  Like every relationship we’ve had our disagreements and rough spells, but we always got through them.  Nothing hung us up.  In the meantime, as I aged, I was feeling more and more alienated from my father.  I’m sure my rebelliousness and lack of experience had a lot to do with our headbutts.  And, knowing myself, confrontation pushes me away from people.  However, it’s not pushed me away from him entirely.  We still talk here and there and its usually pretty good when we do.

Fast forward to present day and even as a 35-year-old I still find it tricky to connect with that 61-year-old man.  Since starting therapy again I’ve presented with the idea that my dad may not have been available as much as he should have been when I was younger.  I’m still working on discovering how this may have effected me as a young boy and teen.

But just this week something happened.  I had missed him on Fathers’ Day.  I tried calling home a couple of times to reach him, but never got through.  He sent me a text the next day saying he was sorry for missing my calls and wanted me to call him back when I got the chance.  So I did.

We spoke for a good hour.  I chatted him up on my struggles and challenges; through therapy and medication; my realizations, uncertainties and self discovery.  I’ve often heard stories of how my dad struggles with his own problems.  He’s struggled with social anxiety and depression too most of his life.  Every year we have a big family reunion in the summer.  My father will normally not make an appearance.  Its been that way for years.

Group settings have and probably will always be tough for him.  And after I opened up to my dad on the phone I was able to fully get why he is the way he is.  I’m that way too.  It became so clear to me in that instance.  We connected on a personal level.  I dare say it had been awhile.  From there the conversation took flight.

Friday night I spoke with my mom.  But, this time I was on the phone with her for two hours.  We tend to do that.  I mentioned how my talk with dad had went so well and that I realized that I was a lot like him in so many ways.  I never thought I’d say that, but it happened.  For years prior I would reject the idea.  There was no way I was going to end up like him or be him or whatever!  Perish the thought!  Yet, it’s as they say, the apple doesn’t fall so far from the tree.

My mom filled me in on other things my dad experienced when they were first together.  Turns out we both struggle with same stuff: depression and anxiety.  My dad, like me, would get down for no apparent reason and sometimes it would last for a week or so. She told me how it used to make her feel like she had done something wrong, but she soon realized that it wasn’t her fault.  Now she just deals with it knowing along the way that it’s just how he is.  The conversation continued.

Within a few short days I’ve learned something very valuable.  My dad may not have been available as often as he could’ve been, but now I understand why.  When I get depressed or riddled with anxiety its difficult to be available for anyone let alone myself.  It’s a constant trip between being okay and not.  And when I’m “okay” I’m trying to pick up where I left off and remember where I was at before I fell.  This dance can be taxing.  And through the thick of it you’re trying to keep together the one dynamic that matters most: you.  Family and friends may get the raw end of the deal.  For me, a good even balance is hard to come by.

There’s no denying our roots.  We are our parents’ children and whether we like it or not we’re going to inherit something from them.  No matter how hard we try to resist becoming like them there’s no escaping genetics.  And instead of fighting it, embrace it.  Learn from it.  Read the manual.  Be curious.  It took me a long time to realize this, but I’m happy to report that I’m feeling some relief because I allowed myself to open up and let my guard down… judgement free.

 

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Let’s See Some I.D.

Since April this year I’ve been writing in a journal.  I never saw myself doing this until I had a momentary lapse of insanity back in March.  Creating music has always been a good outlet for me to express difficult feelings since I find it challenging to just open up sometimes.  I would play guitar or dibble dabble with beats on my laptop.  I did that for years.  It was always my “go to.”  But, early this year that changed.  I found myself not enjoying it.  My interest was starting to fade and it scared me.

I’ve always been critical on myself.  I’ve spent years believing that I had to reach for some standard that would somehow insert me into the music biz.  Sure, I’ve had lots of enjoyment just playing and writing over the years, but nowadays it feels like I’m playing music for the wrong reasons.  The role it once portrayed in my life has appeared to have up and vanished.  These days it feels more like work and that’s not good.

As I get older I notice that I’m setting a slower pace for myself.  With guitar as an example, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus on what my fingers are doing.  My fingers start to blur and I get easily overwhelmed by too much movement.  I start losing focus and coordination.  It sucks.  I didn’t see that one coming.

I grew up on metal and it was this style of music that inadvertently made a huge impact on me and my musical life.  I still love listening to it though.  Blast beats and lightning fast riffing; chunky grooves and brutal vocals are still very entertaining to me.  I used to strive to be that.  But, now I don’t want to be that.  Not right now, at least.  The same feelings arose when I fell in love with EDM.  I still dig it and love that sound.  I thought I wanted to be a DJ.  And now?  Nope.

And that’s really hard for me to come to terms with too.  Something that I identified with for so long is taking a backseat in my life.  Heck, more like not even in the vehicle!  It’s so unreal.  It’s like watching a strong marriage of twenty years suddenly end.  Why?  How could this happen?  The same goes for electronic music composition.  I’ve got nothing.

Since I’ve been writing, these changes have become more prevalent.  Switching gears from music to prose has been a big change – a good change I think to be perfectly honestly.  My intentions and expectations perhaps poisoned my ability to enjoy writing music and playing.  I don’t know.  It’s hard to explain.  But, since I’ve been breaking out the journal weekly and blogging I’ve been learning a lot about myself and realizing some things along the way.  I am not who I thought I was.

Not only that, but I’ve seen that writing is something that I’ve been enjoying just for myself.  I don’t feel this urge or need to hurry up and share what I’ve done with the online community.  No expectations.  No limits.  Just pure freedom in my words.  I don’t care how many followers I have and I don’t care about how many people read this.  It doesn’t matter.

I used to draw a lot when I was younger.  About a month ago I picked up a sketch book and some fine point pens.  I started drawing again.  AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!  I don’t feel compelled to snap photos of sketches and plaster them all over Facebook.  Like writing I’m more focused on the present moment of creating rather than jazzing myself up for what the end result is going to look like only just to be disappointed with the finished product.  That’s just insanity.  I’m through looking for validation and acceptance.  I’m sick of seeking that spotlight like so many others are.

You know, I told myself that I wanted to learn how to play piano.  But, maybe I should wait it out.  Maybe music isn’t the answer right now.  Maybe I’m just destined to go down a different path this time around.  I don’t have to let one thing, like music, define who I am.  I’m a human being fully capable of trying anything: pass or fail; hit or miss.  The world has so much to offer and I’ll only be on this planet for so long.  Make the most of it.

Sticks

I saw the word ‘imaginary’ scrolling through the Daily Prompts looking for inspiration.  I’ve not written much recently and I’ve noticed that my fingers haven’t met keys in some time.  I’ve realized that I’m not always going to talk about my problems on here.  I’ll keep it light and jovial when I feel the need to crack a smile or two.  SO IMAGINARY it is.

When I saw this word a memory came to life in me.  I envisioned a time when I was quite young, perhaps eleven or twelve.  I used to be obsessed with sticks I’d find out in the woods.  What boy wasn’t?  I would pretend they were futuristic laser blasters and while alone in the forest on my parents’ property I would pretend I’d be running head first into battle – plunging myself into a great war where the odds were always against me.

Cartoons have always been a big part of my life.  I can say that I probably watch more cartoons than I do live action shows.  I’m a 35 year old kid and not ashamed of it.  Among some of my favorite cartoon shows was X-MEN.  You know, the original from 90’s.  It was on every weekday after school at 3 or 3:30 PM.  I loved that show.   After watching an episode I’d promptly head outside.  Mostly because I had to.  My mother would say to my siblings and I, “Your father doesn’t want to see you sitting on your dead assess.”  Colorful, but as an adult now, especially with the increase of media, I get it.  So, again, I’d head for the treeline.

Once outside my imagination would ignite.  At times I’d find a good sized stick.  More like a branch.  One that was slightly taller than I, preferably with no bark.  If I had to make alterations it was no bother.  All part of my master plan.  This was my staff.  A staff of great power and majesty.  I could summon anything with it.  I could devastate anything with it.  I was almighty with this staff.  I’d rapidly blink my eyes to create special lighting effects for explosions I’d cause with my staff.  My mouth would attempt to conjure the sounds in sync.  I’d venture deeper into the woods.

Sometimes I’d test my strength.  Often I’d just grab a stick off the ground and swing it like a baseball bat squarely at the side of large solid tree.  My goal was to snap the stick in half and, if I did so, feel good about it.  I’d jeer and brag like I was taunting an opponent or a crowd.  Maybe even flex a little if no one was watching. Occasionally one of my sticks would outsmart me. The result of me whacking said deceiving branch against a tree would result in a rattling vibration that would travel through my hands and arms causing some funny discomfort.  That’s usually when I’d stop proving my might and just accept being second best.  Resorting to pushing over dead trees would prove a better (and safer) altenative.

I grew up on 26 acres of land seated in the Swan Creek Region of Swanton, Ohio.  My parents’ property is made up of mostly thick forest that my dad mowed a good long trail around with his Kubota.  I have good memories of growing up and part of that was being able to spend time in the trees.  One day the imagination faded and my trips into the woods became less and less.  Fighting battles and ruling the world gradually turned into sneaking out to smoke with friends.  Funny how things change.

 via Daily Prompt: Imaginary