Monthly Archives: December 2014

Music

fear

Somewhere in the garage he had a larger version of that picture. It was one of his favorites.

In his late thirties/early forties it had become a mantra that he used to push himself to take chances and step outside of his comfort zone.

Some of his oldest friends laughed at it because they said fear had never ruled him but he wasn’t so sure it could be applied as broadly as they wanted to.

Zip lines, cliff diving, sky diving and all sorts of adrenaline rush crap was easy for him to do and always had been. That kind of stuff never scared him, what frightened him had always been tied into his feelings.

Big tough guy was more worried about getting his heart broken than breaking his arm so he tended to focus on doing thing where he was certain it wouldn’t.

It was the root of why after she broke up with him and went silent he didn’t reach out. He remembered how some of those that knew them in the old days had pushed him to call or write her and how when he refused they told him his pride would make him sorry.

None of them recognized pride played a minor role or knew the real story behind his silence. He wasn’t the kind of guy who shared his real feelings easily and was reluctant to do so with those who asked let alone those who didn’t.

But those days were like so many other parts of his life, history and in spite of what some thought he lived in the present.

There was a difference between him and other people and that was a writer had to be able to look backwards and forwards. They had to look at what had been and remember what they had experienced. That ability to dip in the dark shadows and the light was crucial to their success.

The key was to allow yourself the freedom to move back and forth between the moments.

It made him think of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and how listening to it always made him think of her and how it made it think of them as being timeless. He didn’t have to close his eyes to see her face or to picture her eyes locked on his.

He made a note to mention it to her and to ask her when she thought of him who she saw because when he thought of her sometimes it was as the girl he knew and sometimes it was as she was now.

The thought made him make a second mental note to think about how to explain that to her in a way that didn’t make her feel like he was commenting upon her age because he wasn’t.

If she got upset he thought about pointing out how quickly her presence made him respond. It wasn’t the most elegant way to try to tell someone you think they are beautiful and he wondered if she would touch upon that.

The downside of being a writer people expect you to do a better job of expressing yourself. When you do so poorly they always reacted strongly to it.

So he grabbed a pen and started writing down possible ways to tell her. He had almost come up with perfection when he was startled by the phone ringing.

When he jumped his elbow hit the glass of water he had been drinking from and drenched the page. Quick thinking kept his cell from being drowned in the deluge too.

He was two steps towards the kitchen when he answered it and discovered she was the one who was calling.

“I hope you are on your way now because if you are not you are going to be late.”

“Of course I am. What is the best exit?”

“If you actually left on time I’d get off at Coventry but since I know you I’d suggest you change your shirt and put your pants on because I don’t believe you have left.”

“Ok, you got me. I am almost out the door. How did you know I hadn’t left yet?”

“The same way you claim to just know things. I know you and that is why I am calling you early enough to make sure you actually get here on time. Now hang up the phone and get moving.”

The smile in her voice made him smile too.

“I’ll see you sooner than you think.”

They said their respective goodbyes and he got a move on. It wasn’t until he was almost there that he realized he couldn’t remember what he written down.

Wasn’t worth turning around for. Better to be on time, he could wait to tell her. Of course if she could hear his thoughts she would have laughed and told him he wouldn’t but people never see themselves as clearly as their loved ones do.

 

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You Are Only Hurting Yourself

“I hope you told her about me. It is not smart to hide having female roommates. You need to put that out there immediately because if you don’t she is going to be suspicious.”

“How do you know what I was doing and if I was with a girl what makes you think you know enough about her to read her mind.”

She rolled her eyes at him.

“You are an idiot. I was at the party too. The two of you never left the corner. I hope you finally got the nerve to kiss her, she gave you every sign a girl can give.

And yes, I can read her mind. If the guy I found out the guy I spent all night with lived with two women I’d want proof they were gay or some sort of reassurance that he wasn’t trying to sleep with them.”

He shook his head, grabbed a beer from the fridge and spread out on the couch.

“I haven’t ever made a move on you or Sheri, that is practically incest. Why does she need to know everything about my life. We spent a night together and barely anything happened. She has no reason not to trust me.”

“No, she has no reason to trust you. You don’t look at it the way a woman would. When women are in love with a man they automatically assume every woman wants to sleep with their hot guy. And even when they aren’t in love if they really like a guy they are sure other women will be interested. Do you know how many times I have seen women hit on John right in front of me.

And let’s be honest you haven’t hit on me because you know damn well that I am the reason nothing will happen. It is not because you are so proper. Who likes to tell John about how there are naked pictures of us in the bath together which by the way is rude. I don’t care if we were babies. I ought to tell your mom about that, I am sure Aunt Kathy would love to hear that one.”

Aunt Kathy or in his case mom would chew on his ass about that one, especially because it was about her namesake Cathy. Sometimes he wondered if she loved Cathy more than she loved him.

He called Cathy’s mom Aunt Diane.

They weren’t actually related but Aunt Diane and his mother had been roommates in college, in bridesmaids at each other’s weddings and best friends forever.

They had been pregnant at the same time and Diane had shown her love by naming her first born after her best friend.

“One day you are going to make a great wife, you have the nagging part down pat. And I tell John about being naked with you because you aren’t smart enough to tell that guy to get lost. I promise you he is a douche bag and sooner or later you’ll see it.”

“This is classic, you can’t take criticism so you try to deflect it by coming up with something to criticize me about. Do what you want, but if you don’t tell her about Sheri and I you are only hurting yourself. Don’t bother responding, I hate talking to you when you act like an asshole.”

He smirked at her as she walked to her room and took a big swig.

Muttering to no one in particular he said if she really knew him well she’d recognize that last smirk as being the one he used on his sisters. It always pissed them off, that was the point.

****

Eighteen hours later he found himself on a date.

“Don’t tell me you don’t like coffee? You grew up in the snow belt, it is frigid there.”

“Coffee isn’t the only warm drink. I like tea or hot chocolate.”

“Yeah, hot chocolate is a creamy delight.”

When he saw the look he got in response he apologized for his tone.

“I wasn’t trying to be offensive, it came out the wrong way.”

She didn’t say anything and just kept drinking.

“Geez, I apologized. Doesn’t that count for anything.”

He caught the smile in her eyes before the laughter in her voice.

“I am just busting your chops, you are forgiven…for now.”

“For now? You think I am going to get in trouble again, do you.”

“The night we met you told me you are a trouble maker, I just pay attention to what you say.”

“I’d make a crack about only nice girls spending time with bad boys but I am not so sure about that.”

There was a loud and swift intake of air from across the table and a half smirk/glare.

“I am going to let that one go for now, but I am watching you.”

****

A flicker of blue caught his eye and he looked down at his phone. There were four texts from her.

The first let him know she was home, the second two were comments about how much fun she had and the fourth was her asking him why he hadn’t responded yet.

The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

Cellphones hadn’t existed when they were in college. They were both better about not being concerned about how much time passed between telephone calls because they hadn’t been integrated into the instant gratification world.

Back then if it took you a few hours to respond to a message there were a million legitimate reasons why you might not have responded, now an hour between texts and people went crazy.

“I turned off the volume on my phone. Sorry it took so long to respond.”

Two minutes later that flashing blue light was back.

They went back and forth for a few minutes and then she gave him instructions for the evening, signing off with “I love you, see I said it first.”

He laughed because for years they had debated who said it first.

The funny part was neither one really cared who did but somehow they had turned into something silly. He wasn’t entirely certain if it hadn’t been him but he remembered the night she told him that she never told someone she loved them first.

It was the same night she told him her mother had taught her never to cry in front of men.

That had all taken place in a different life time a million years before, back when they were talking about marriage, babies and a long life together.

There were no babies and no marriage to each other, just other people he thought of as placeholders.

It sounded awful to say it that way but he wasn’t quite sure how else to phrase it. Somewhere along the way their plans had gotten derailed and others had temporarily stepped in to fill those shoes.

That had been years ago.

Made him think of the lyrics to Carefree Highway and second chances.

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A Nice Surprise

When she asked him what day it was he smiled and laughed at her because he wasn’t entirely sure. “Probably Sunwedsday the 98th or something like that.”

She never told him if she had made plans for staying over and he never asked. If he had and she had told him she had packed a bag “just in case” she did he would have smiled but he wouldn’t have been surprised if she had put stuff together not because of him but because she was a planner.”

Some people traveled with a toothbrush and toiletries for work so that they were never caught unprepared for meetings, he didn’t know if that applied here or not and he didn’t care.

Truth was he was mildly curious to find out if any of the new clothes from the department store were purchased with him in mind but he didn’t ask because it didn’t really matter and he kind of liked thinking they were. No reason to burst that bubble if he didn’t have to.

When she joined him in the shower he was surprised but he didn’t say anything.

“Do you always shower in the dark?”

“Not always. See how the moonlight shines through the bathroom window? I like the mood and feeling it sets. There is an ethereal quality that feels magical to me. Relaxes me.”

Not long afterwards he told her she could use his towel and stepped out onto the mat and dripped his way down to a hall closet.

Made another quick stop to grab a spare robe and wandered back into the bathroom. She watched him stare at her as she got out of the shower but didn’t make an effort to cover herself.

“I don’t look like that girl you knew in college anymore. Having babies changes a woman’s body.”

“You look good to me. Looks to me like you are comfortable with yourself, not everyone is.”

Later on she asked him if he had meant what he said about how she looked.

“Some things don’t change. I answer those questions. If you ask me if I think clothes are flattering I will tell you yes or no. I don’t hem or haw. And yeah, you still look good to me. I know you are a mother. I am not stupid, I don’t expect your body to look the same. I don’t expect you to be exactly the same, life changes us.”

“I wouldn’t do that for everyone. I wouldn’t just get in the shower or walk out. I don’t just spend the night with men.”

“I don’t think you do and I don’t just spend the night with women.”

“Men are different, you guys can put it anywhere and not think twice about it.”

“Yeah, we can but not all of us do and I don’t. Been a long time since…”

****

Back on the porch she asked him a million more questions and he answered them as best he could. She asked him to take off of his sunglasses so she could see his eyes and he asked if she wanted more tea for the road.

“I don’t want to go. Come with me.”

He smiled and told her she could stay with him forever.

“Come with me.”

“Why? Are you afraid I am going to disappear?”

She made a face at him.

“No, I like spending time with you and I am not ready to let you go.”

“No, you love me and are in love with me and can’t stand the idea of being apart for more than two minutes. I call it animal magnetism.”

“Oy, that ego of yours is something else.”

“Yeah, it is yours. I have a few things I have to get done today before I can go anywhere. Do you want to wait for me to finish or should I meet you later?”

“Finish them first. I’ll call you later and we can figure out where we’ll meet. Why does our time together always go so quickly?”

“You have been asking me that for as long as we have known each other. I don’t know, I just know that this is how it has always been and probably always will be. That is a good thing.”

She kissed him goodbye, giggled and walked away. He pulled out his phone, dialed her number and laughed.

“I haven’t even started the car yet. Why are you calling?”

“A gentleman always calls the woman he spent the night with to tell her he had a nice time. Text me when you get home and let me know you got in ok.”

She laughed, said thank you and I will and pulled away.

For  a moment he watched her car grow smaller and then thought about all of the twists and turns life takes. There had been a time a life time ago when the people that called her mom now would have called him dad but people plan and god laughs.

****

On the way to his car he ran into a couple of the guys from the house. They wanted to know if he was going to be at the party tonight.

“Dude, I gave fliers to those girls from our English class.”

“Which girls?

“You know the one that has the scrunchy thing she wears, the one who always wears those shorts.”

“Man, you are an idiot. Every girl wears those scrunchy things and shorts. How about a name or something more specific?”

“Shut up. You remember the three who walked out of class just ahead of us last week? The tall one and her pal with the short top?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Well they are going to be there.”

“Ok.”

He was right about those girls showing but it almost didn’t matter because by the time they arrived he was three shots and two beers into the evening and getting ready for more.

“You look like you need a drink. You should take this.”

She looked at him and laughed.

“What makes you think you know what I need.”

“I know things about people.”

“Oh you do. What do you know?”

“I know you need a drink. Here, take this.”

“No thank you.”

“There is nothing wrong with this beer. I just poured it.”

“I would rather pour my own drinks.”

“Oh, an independent woman. I should know better than to mess with you.”

Two minutes of silly banter turned into a conversation that went all night. When they got to her apartment she told him he couldn’t come up with her because her roommate was home but made a point of saying it wasn’t an excuse not to spend time with him.

He nodded his head and smiled.

“I’ll call you later and we can make plans for later.”

She wrapped her arms around him and they kissed.

“This was such a nice surprise. I wish the time didn’t go so fast.”

“Me too. Pleasant dreams, I’ll talk to you soon.”

He waited until he was part way down the street to turn his head and smiled, she was still there watching him walk away.

Something about her standing there almost made him turn around. He didn’t know it then but life had just changed and it never would be the same.

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What Dylan Said

You can use this as a reference.

He woke up to a face full of hair and smiled, last night wasn’t a dream. She felt him stir, reached for his arm and pulled it around her.

“You never get close enough, I am cold. Come here.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Took you long enough to figure that out, didn’t it.”

He heard the smile in her voice and didn’t give his usual response about how clever he was to make her think she was in charge and just squeezed her tight.

Closed his eyes, nuzzled her neck and then heard Bob Dylan singing.

He thought about telling her about how every time they were together he heard music and decided to save that conversation for a later day. This was the first time in years that they had real time together and he had no desire to rush the time for talking.

Not because he feared conversation but because the silent one they were in the midst of held its own sway and there was no need to spoil that particular moment.

They had finally found a moment in time that wasn’t a true moment and this time around he wanted to savor it.

****

A short while later he felt her slip out from under his arm and heard her walk to the bathroom. He pulled the pillow her head been on and took a long sniff and smiled because it smelled just like her.

When she came back she didn’t climb into bed.

“I am hungry, what is for breakfast?”

She saw the look in his eyes and laughed, “I want real food.”

He smiled back at her and asked her what she wanted to eat.

A short time later they sat on the patio eating scrambled eggs and some toast and enjoyed each other’s company some more.

“Baby, how do we always pick up where we left off? And why do you always ignore me when I tell you to go away. It makes no sense.”

“I haven’t had my coffee yet and you are asking me to do higher math. Not exactly fair is it. Can I plead the fifth?”

“No, you can’t and don’t give me one of your screwball answers.”

“It is why Dylan said about the times changing and being tangled up. I can’t ever explain this in a way that will satisfy scientists or the clergy because what I have to say straddles faith and physics. It is like that Einstein quote about trying to explain music as sound waves.”

He asked her if she was still hungry and offered to cook some more eggs but she shook her head no and he continued.

“You are the one person I have always truly operated off of some sort of instinct or feel. Don’t know how or why I just do. I don’t know what else to say other than I guess it worked.”

“You guess? I spent the night in your bed. How can you say you guess.”

“It sounded better than the Magic 8 Ball told me in 1998 that you and I would be married in 2021.”

“The Magic 8 Ball doesn’t give those kind of long responses. It gives short ones.”

“Damn, I forgot. If I told you it was as simple as you love me and I love you would that work?”

He was surprised when she smiled at him, kissed and hugged him. The more he knew about women the less he knew.

“What should we do today?”

“Whatever makes you happy, I am ready for anything.”

She smiled at him again and…

 

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Writing, Ranches & Relationships

“I can’t believe you own a ranch and that you never told me about it.”

“It wasn’t something I tried to hide from you. When you went silent on me I figured you needed time to take care of your own stuff and I wasn’t about to just wait around for you.”

She waited for him to hand her a beer before she replied.

“What happened to the guy who told me he would wait for me forever? Guess he didn’t really mean it, did he.”

“There is a distinct difference between living my life and waiting for you.”

“Oh yeah, how are you going to spin that one.”

“There is no spin here at all. After the divorce I took my time to clear my head and get rid of all of the stuff I didn’t want or need. Part of reducing the clutter included figuring out if I could get some of the things I really wanted and not focusing solely on what I need.

I wanted a place to write. I wanted somewhere with a lot of space to roam around that wasn’t in the middle of the city but not so far away I couldn’t grab a good meal that some one else cooked for me and whomever I wanted to spend time with.

Finding the right place was something that filled want and need. I have to have a place for writing and I wanted something that met other needs. This one serves both purposes.”

She took a long sip and continued to walk around the house.

“Are you done with your inspection yet?”

“Who said I am inspecting it.”

“Me. The same guy that you told to go away more than once.”

“You don’t listen very well, do you. If you did you would have answered my question. What happened to the guy who said he wouldn’t wait?”

Dark eyes looked straight into his and he laughed. She was a good 12 feet away but it still felt like she was inches away.

“What is so funny? Don’t laugh at me.”

“I am not laughing at you. I am laughing with you. Trust me, this is a good thing. The guy who said he would wait for you was told by you not to. Took a while for me to take on that part but I did because I didn’t know if you would ever get your act together and decided I needed to take care of some stuff.”

“Yeah, you probably went around banging every chick you could find. Makes me feel so very special.”

“Woman, you jump to conclusions far too quickly. I didn’t go looking for someone to keep my bed warm. I needed time to myself and I didn’t have any interest in worrying about what anyone else wanted or needed.

So I did exactly as I said, I sold or gave away almost everything but books, music and a couple of pieces of furniture. If you haven’t noticed this place is in need of a few items.”

“Yeah, I was wondering if your idea of wide open spaces applied to the indoors as well as outdoors.”

“I sort of figured that one day you’d want to be able to go shopping and decided there wasn’t a reason to waste money on things you might not like.”

“You mean you didn’t furnish this place because you were convinced I would come running back to you and that we would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after together.”

He laughed.

“I am tempted to say I have pictured you riding, but it is never a horse.”

“Very funny.”

“I didn’t know for certain what would happen. I am not going to lie and say I didn’t think this was possible but if it didn’t happen I would have eventually gotten around to getting stuff.”

She shook her head and asked him again how long he had been living there.

“I have owned it for a good 16 months but until nine months or ago I hadn’t been living in it full time.”

“You have been here for nine months and you own what, a bed, some chairs, a desk and of course a big television. Where do the kids sleep? What do they do with their stuff?”

“I moved in during the school year so they haven’t really had much time to spend here. Mostly I have gone to see them, but there are six bedrooms here so if someone wanted to have lots of family here there is plenty of room for it.”

“Hadn’t gotten around to it, had you. You do a lousy job of pretending you hadn’t thought a lot of this out. You can fool your readers, but you can’t fool me.”

He shook his head again.

“I am not trying to fool anyone. If anyone fits the bill of trying to fool someone it is you and if I was you I wouldn’t buy what you are selling.”

She rolled her eyes at him and shook her head but when he pulled her close she didn’t push him away. And when he broke their embrace she was the one who made a comment about his not being allowed to leave before he kissed her.

They ate dinner on the porch and watched the sun go down. Several drinks later they were still on the porch sitting in silence and enjoying each other’s company.

“It is late. If you want to stay tonight you can have my bedroom.”

“Where are you going and why aren’t you going to be in it?”

“I didn’t want you to think I was being too forward.”

“I kissed you on the lips. Didn’t that tell you something.”

“I didn’t think that meant that anything more would happen.”

She shook her head again.

“For a smart guy you can be really dense. Sometimes you are such a man. Take me to bed.”

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Driving With No Particular Place To Go

Oasis of Mara NPS Photo by Robb Hannawacker

Oasis of Mara
NPS Photo by Robb Hannawacker

She asked him if he had driven past her house and he said no he never did. Her eyes narrowed and she asked him if he was certain and he laughed.

“You live on a Cul-de-sac so even if I had chosen to go by I wouldn’t have.”

“Why is that?

“Because I wouldn’t want to have bumped into you. I wasn’t entirely certain whether I wanted to talk to you or not and going by might have taken certain choices out of my hands.”

He knew from the look on her face she wasn’t certain whether to believe him or not but he didn’t respond because there was no reason to. He had been around the neighborhood but never by the house and every time he had been through the area had been for other reasons.

At best you could have suggested there were lots of other Targets to visit but then again it wasn’t ridiculous to hit one that was close to the airport and on your way home either.

When you are really tired and have to shop it sometimes makes sense to just do what you have to first so that you can home.

In this case it meant grabbing some toiletries and essentials at Target and a pizza at Double Dave’s because he knew that when he finished shlepping his stuff upstairs he’d be too tired to go out again and too hungry to just fall asleep.

Had she really pushed him he might have told her about how many times he had driven by on the freeway and mentioned how he never took the exit that would have put him in the neighborhood because most of the time there was no real reason for him to be over there.

It was kind of funny because for months he hoped he would magically run into her but at the same time he wanted to do it when he felt like he was established and not off center as he felt during the early days.

One time he thought he saw her in a grocery store down in his neck of the woods and had practically jumped out of his skin with surprise. He had intentionally doubled timed it around the corner and then slowly walked back where he could look down the aisle and discovered it wasn’t her.

Hell, it didn’t even really look like her. He remembered muttering “I am not going to miss you” and then shaking his head because the way his heart was pounding it was obvious he did.

*****

“Can you explain how this happened? I never believed it would or that we would be together.”

He laughed.

“Do you know that song “Wichita Lineman?”

“Of course. I don’t listen to horrible music like you do.”

“Actually you listen to some pretty awful shit, but I don’t mention it all the time like you do.”

He heard her suck in a mouthful of air and laughed.

“Air sucker, you kill me. Just hold that thought for a moment.”

“That is so rude, I can’t believe you just said that to me.”

“No what is rude is my saying I should stick something in your mouth so that I can speak uninterrupted.”

“You are so slow, get to the point.”

He laughed.

“You are lucky your eyes sparkle like that when you smile. Every time I drove anywhere close I always felt like I could hear you ‘singin in the wire.’ Hell, even when I wasn’t close half the time I just felt you. Nothing has ever changed that, I always feel you.”

“Aww, that is so sweet.”

“Actually there are moments where I don’t feel you, where it feels like the cord was cut and then your absence is palpable. Don’t know what that is about, but it never lasts. You always come back. That probably sounds weird or strange to you, but there is something to it. I always feel you.”

*****

Felt like it had been a thousand years and ten thousand miles since that conversation.

They had spent hours catching up on things they had missed and shared the few secrets they hadn’t shared and the canyon between them had disappeared.

Individually and collectively they had remarked upon the feelings of transformation and the sense that something had changed. What had been fantasy had turned to fact and the reality of it made them smile all the wider.

“You know if you left I would have coronary. You are mine forever now.”

He laughed again.

“You are nuts. I always was.”

“And always will be” she added.

*****

He had been driving for hours with no particular place to go and no time to be anywhere.

They hadn’t talked in forever and hadn’t see each other in longer. But though they didn’t have any verbal or physical contact some things never changed.

He could hear her ‘singing in the wires.’ Some days it was stronger than others and like always there were moments where it felt like that particular string was cut but it always came back.

It was like there was silence for a brief moment and then the singing announced her return and she was back.

That invisible telephone line between them always made him believe they’d see each other again. There wasn’t any logical or scientific reason behind it.

He just did and he always figured she did too, even if she said otherwise.

*****

For the moment none of it really mattered because she was there and he was here just driving with no particular place to go, no destination in mind.

Could end up at the beach, could end up at the desert or in the mountains. Didn’t matter to him where it was as long as it helped him clear his head so that he could fix all of the broken crap in his life or at least try to.

There were other ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, more interesting and more fun but for the moment this would do.

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A Favorite Moment

If you asked me to pick out a favorite memory/moment in time I could pick several but today one stands out in my head more than others.

It was a birthday celebration. We spent it having a very nice meal together followed by a quiet night at home.

We mulled over what movie to watch and picked one we hadn’t seen, putting an old favorite aside to watch a bit later.

Fingers intertwined together we held hands and watched a film that we both enjoyed but what really spoke to me was how peaceful and relaxed I felt.

It was one of those moments where you know you are with exactly who you are supposed to be sitting next to and together you create a window in time. A moment that is carved out from all other moments that will sometimes catch your eye because of how special it was.

Those are the moments where you look at all you have been through and say it was always worth it.

****

And sometimes because of the craziness and chaos of life those moments creep back up into your head to remind you to keep pushing forward because good things happen to those who work hard to make them happen just as they do for those who are crazy enough to chase their dreams.

People often say don’t wait because if you do you might miss your opportunity but they forget that sometimes you have to create an opportunity by working for it. Sometimes that involves waiting, it is not always a sprint, sometimes it is a marathon.

****

Today that memory is there because I need to rely upon the strength of the peace and contentment that is associated with it. Need to use that to recharge a battery and to remember it as both scientific proof and support. A moment where both heart and head can agree upon.

Sometimes life is hard and that is just the fact of the matter, but we don’t have to accept that it will always be such.

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