In the wake of the recent shootings read this – Angry Young Men: 10 Good Reasons to be Angry

10 good reasons for young men to be angry young men:

1. Nobody can tell them about their Soul

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2. They can’t get traction on responding to the stages in life.

3. He has been cut off from Nature.

4. They don’t understand women.

Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

5. The proverbial ‘man cave’ does an injustice to their abilities and needs.

6. They have no real rite of passage into manhood.

7. Satisfaction and Fulfillment have been usurped by blame and guilt.

8. They can’t find an elder.

9. Their youth and future have been tarnished by lack of vision by weak elders who know fear and lack of resistance.

10. The female instinct is not respected.

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Short Story: Toad – Part 1 of 3


It was Diego’s first day on the job and he was excited.  Not so much that he found a job.  That was good too.  It was the first day he had driven his car to work.  Sunday night he texted Paco offering to pick him up even though it was 20 minutes out of his way.  Paco said he was good taking the bus.  Diego parked close enough so he could keep an eye on his car but not too close so it didn’t get splashed with mud.  At 7:30 in the site office he showed them his certifications, took his orientation and then tied up his work boots while Paco waited for him outside the trailer.  Through the open door he could see Paco outside talking with Gus the site supervisor.

Qué dijo, el jefe?” asked pudgy Diego.

Que eres un sapo,” said skinny Paco.

Raro tu jefe.” 

Mira, como ellos me pagan entonces ‘no complaints bro’.”

At 10 am the coffee truck driver honked his augmented air horn so they dropped their tool belts and Diego took off to check on his car. It’s like taking your headphones off when D leaves. The guy talks nonsense  nonstop, mostly about his car and rarely about work.

The house they are working on today backs onto an established neighbourhood with mature trees.  Standing with his tool belt dangling in his hands he breathes in and holds his breath to maximize the impact of the autumn morning fragrances of wet leaves and mineral mud.  Since they cut down the majority of the trees there are only two little pockets of trees on the site.  He is on the second floor and looks right into the back yards flaming red maple leaves and the tragic yellow from the aspen. 

You could say its not worth it walking all the way to the gate, lining up for coffee and then walking all the way back.  There is no time to even drink your coffee.  The point is to get coffee and everything that goes with it.  Giving your shoulders a break, stretching your legs and shootin the shit with Dimitri the coffee guy.  He should teach marketing classes or something because he makes the whole experience uplifting.  He wears an apron over his heavy sweater today but it’s funny to see when he wears it under his winter jacket.  He has a personaized brown baseball cap that says DC Coffee whe nthe ‘DC’ actually means dimitri’s coffee. Somehow he remembers how you like your coffee out of the probably thousands of guys he sees each week and he knows when to up sell you a sticky danish with an extra coating of heartburn.  He talks hockey with the Canadian guys but Paco doesn’t really care about hockey. 

Paco walked alone for ‘a block’ along the muddy/gravelly road towards the gate.  The smell of the mud transports Paco to when he was six and seven years old.  Swimming with his brother and cousins in the Motagua river thet squeezed the silty mud between their toes, brought it to their hand and threw it at each other.  He misses the emotional logic of being with his family, part of his land and living his culture.  If he can’t get them to come here in the next two years then that’s it – he will go back to El Porton and start a business.  Some kind of tourism because he sees there is so much money here that people have no idea what to do with it.  Just look at D and his stupid car he doesn’t even have money.  

Gus fell in step with Paco as they turned the corner and got in the short line for coffee.  Gus was great until he wasn’t.  He was cool 80% of the time and red faced maniacal when he felt he could lose his job because of some dumbass sub-contractor. 

Gus’s first ex-wife divorced him exactly because of that explosivity.  His second ex-wife would have said the same thing but she up and left him right before their second anniversary.  She didn’t need or want anything from him.  Ex-2 wasn’t going to let herself get impregnated by this guy like Ex-1 did.  Then she would be divorced from the guy but still get infuriated dealing with him about things like who is going to pick up the children from daycare.   

Ex-1 and Ex-2 knew each other because of the weekend visits with Gus Jr. so it was funny but the second person Ex-2 called after walking away from Gus was actually Ex-1.  They got together for coffee to commiserate and so Ex-2 could dish the truth about Gus.  Before he tried to micromanage the weekend visits now that he was single with no maternal figure in his home for Gus Jr.

Gus’s construction management skills had not helped him express his desire to make his wife-of-the-moment happy.  The honeymoon with Ex-2 was over before the wedding reception finished.  Six months later Gus drove solo the six hours up north to attend his grandfather’’s funeral. Gus was named after his grandfather Angus.  His grandfather was a hardass from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec who worked the copper mines and didn’t seem to say much to his wife in French or English.  Maybe that had something to do with Rene, Gus’s dad wanting to work on the railroad – to get out of town and get a fresh start.

Manon, Gus’s sister, had already driven home because she lived close by.  Gus was staying the night and driving back in the morning.  He sat in his funeral suit on the living room couch where he watched Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday’s he opened up.

“Hey dad… How do I even say this?”  Gus moved his bum to sit on the edge of the blue velvet couch.  “How did you cross that threshold from wanting her to be happy, to making her happy?

Rene held Gus’s eyes as long as he could with a look of love that needed to be listened to.

“Son, I don’t know if the X-factor to our marriage was that I needed your mother more than I loved her or the other way around. Or maybe we were just a good match as a man and woman.”

“But there was, is an ingredient, that in the moment,”  Gus searched for the right word.  “Secretes understanding into your brain so you understand.  Or at least do the right thing.”

“Things have gotten that bad?” asked Rene.

“Ya.” Gus fidgeted.

“So this marriage is based on love… not like the last one,” the locomotive engineer drove his train straight ahead. 

“That hurts but I can’t really …” then Gus interrupts himself, “I am lost.  On the job site I tell guys what to do based on the blueprints and they do it.  If they don’t, they get a tongue lashing.  They know it, I know it – no need to argue.  No grey area.  Only blue.”

“Well, that’s useful,” said Rene, hearing his wife’s voice in his head, ‘Help Angus honey, talk to him – he’s doing it again.’ 

“I just focused on work when it was time to work and on family when it was the priority.  Maybe it skipped a generation but you turned out more explosive –  like grandpa.”

“This is the kind of stuff I need to hear, I need to know this.”

“Maybe my work gave me the kind of satisfaction that allowed me to be the man I needed to be.  I know you like getting stuff done, but does your construction management, in the city, bring you satisfaction?” 

“It’s a little late to be asking that.  I mean I bought into the whole industry, the training, the contacts I’ve made.”

“You can pivot.  Picture it – you’ve got the puck in the slot but you don’t have a clear shot so you send a quick pass off to your winger down low, pivot on your back heel to get around the defenceman and he passes the puck right back to you and boom it’s in the net – top cheddar.”

Gus was reliving the rush of his hockey days from his dad’s analogy and losing the whole point.

“Have you ever tried skating in figure skates?” Gus figured that his dad knew that the answer was no.  Gus had been a good hockey player growing up in New Liskeard and his parents would drive literally hours in northern Ontario from town to town through crazy snow squalls at all hours.  Because his dad was away for work a fair amount his mom did the bulk of the driving.  Sometimes other parents would give Gus a lift so his mom could stay home with his sister instead of dragging her along on school nights because she wasn’t staying home alone.  

Rene continued,

“Figure skates have a coupe of sharp points in their pick you can use to do graceful twirling jumps.  Manon wasn’t a poster child for graceful figure skating but she did quite well.  My point is you can use the pick to fly up, or if you catch the pick on the ice you fall flat on your face.  Or you can kick someone in the shins if you really get angry at them.”  Rene paused again, waited for the light to go and then he spelled it out.

“It depends what you want.  What kind of man you want to offer those in your life”

Gus nodded his head as he was impressed at the clarity and poetry of his railway engineer dad. 

Rene felt guilty that he didn’t know his son and that his son had no inkling of how emotional scrabble worked.

“I don’t know if you ever met Mark, he drove train too.  Way back in the early days we would go where they sent us and sometimes have a layover at the same time.  Well, he said the funniest thing to me, and this was some 30 years ago now.  He liked games n actually brought a mini scrabble board with him.  If you didn’t keep yourself busy on those layovers it just became a booze fest and that was not a good mix with having to drive a train the next morning.  So we were playing Scrabble which he would always win n so he is gatherin all the letters, those littlewood tiles, n he says, ‘but I think you are better at emotional Scrabble’.  Obviously I asked him what the hell is that.  So he says,

‘Emotional Scrabble is when you want to communicate something of value in the moment so you access the resources available to you.  In emotionally Scrabbling, you share your resources and it helps others as well as generating fresh ones for you.  If you don’t use your emotional energy creatively and sincerely,’  He paused as he sorted through the tiles, turned a few over as he searched for the letters he wanted, and then put them on the two wooden tile benches and showed me, ‘then you get random letters like: n,o,l,o,s,t,w and u,b,i,t,t,e,r.  ‘I have seen it happen’ he says.

So when it came to dealing with Gus, Paco just kept his head down, his mouth shut and did his work.  His dark green hard hat has his name on the back was his security system so no newbie can show up hungover and steal it.

Gus fakes remembering Paco’s name but actually just reads it on his hard hat.

“Hey Paco, how was the weekend?” 

“Love this weather bro, not too hot, not too cold,” said Paco.

“It’s the bugs man, hardly any.  That’s why I moved to the city.

“Where you from?”

“New Liskeard.”

“New What?”

“New 6-hours-north-of-here.  Hey, how’s the new guy workin out?” asked Gus.

“He knows his way around a job site.”

“Cuz if he is any good you can bring four more guys like him tomorrow.”  Then Gus lowered his voice a bit as if he was privedeging Paco with the inside scoop, “We gotta fuckin knock this one out fast and dirty if you know what I mean.”

Paco and Diego met last year at the Plaza Latina when they both went to get their haircut Saturday morning.  

“Que tal.”

Diego stepped into the barbershop with his untied work boots and unzipped orange winter jacket with its hi-viz reflective stripes.  Even though he wasn’t working he wore his work clothes.  Diego did it as a signal to his girlfriend Maritza, that he was serious about getting a good job.  It didn’t fool her.

The basement barber shop was a tiny 10’ x 20’ space with two red barbershop chairs. The two plastic chairs for the people waiting were squished together in the corner so it was easy to see what the person next to you was looking at on their phone.  Paco was watching videos of high speed trains in China going 400 km/h.  Diego was watching the construction bloopers of building materials falling off of a forklift.  How do people catch that stuff on video?

“Nada más se están filmando los forkleaf con la esperanza que algo se cae o que?” Asked Paco peeking at what Diego was watching.

“Si guey.  No trabajan – se quedan con el pinche celular en la mano todo el día para hacerse un famoso Youtuber.” 
The Carpenters’ and Allied Workers Local 16 strike had just ended.  Neither of them had been allowed to work as a framer for almost two months.  Paco wasn’t never going to risk it and take on any non-union jobs. So in the meantime his buddy squeezed him onto a crew working commercial demolition.  He liked the change of scenery and it gave his wrists a rest from swinging a hammer.  But he needed more money and wanted less dust so he was happy when he got the call to go back to work. Diego picked up work here and there, mostly painting.   Paco was back at work the day after the strike was called off but Diego was still looking.  Which was strange considering the need for framers.  Paco should have taken it as a sign.

_____

from the Short Story Series Tool by Kevin McNamara

Alan: Short Story

Ron Lach on Pixels.com


The rain was neither here nor there.  The thing was, which was becoming irritating, Gerry.  How is he going to react?

“D’you check how long the rain is supposed to last?” asked Oddie

“All fuckin morning,” said Gerry.

“Gerry, we’ll be in there,” said Oddie over his shoulder as he ran to the trailer.  “Let us know if you go on a coffee run,” said Oddie from the top step. 

“I’m gonna leave the door open cuz otherwise it gets too steamy,” said Oddie.

“Bro, that guy sucks the energy right outta the room,” said Manuel.

“What room?”

“Jou know what I mean, moron.”

“How do you say moron in Spanish?”

“Imbecil,” said Manuel motioning to Octavo to take a seat in the trailer, “Sientate guey.”

“Imbecil.  I was expecting something with more, you know, meat, less English.  More insulting.”

“Sorry pendejo.”

“That’s more like it,” said Oddie smiling.

They took off their wet hard hats and shook off their jackets putting them over the back of the plastic chair.

“Si nos pagan por estas horas verdad?” asked Octavo.

“He’s asking if they pay us to sit on our asses?”

“For an hour.  Any longer than that and Gerry will panic and send us home.”

“Que tiene en contra del Herry?” asked Octavo.

“He’s asking what you have against Gerry.”

“Nothing really.  It’s just ya know.  Nothing wrong with therapy but the construction site isn’t the place.  He panics, usually for no reason and we always deliver results regardless of what he fears or thinks.”

They broke out their lunches even though it was only 9:30 am and ate to the sound of crinkling aluminum foil and slurping coffee.  

Oddie’s phone pinged on the dirty, white folding table so he picked it up and disappeared into the screen. 

To Manuel rain meant mud which smelled of the minerals of home which transported him fast and far.  He leaned forward in his chair as he picked at the dry skin around his fingernails.

Octavo leaned back in his plastic chair, joined his hands on his belly and closed his eyes, soaking up the peace he got from being on a good team and the satisfaction of working with his hands.  

Octavo was sliding into snooze mode and Manuel was staring out the open door when he heard Oddie talking to himself.

“Yashmal kula shay,” said Oddie.

“What’s that bro,” said Manuel.

“Nothing bro.”

“I’m no exper but was that English?”

“No.”

“So?”

“Arabic, bro.”

“Are you doin an hechizo on me?

“What?”

“Hechizo, you know, like magic n all that.”

“No, no no.  I’m learning Arabic.

“Cool. Are you going to Arahbia?”

“No, bro.”

“Is Arahbia coming here?”

“No, Arabia! Is not coming here. Stop being stupid.”

“But is so easy for me.”

“I’m…  Listen,” said Oddie and he paused as he breathed in deeply.

“Listening …”

“My uncle got me into studying the Quran.”

“What’s that like?”

“Cool.  But ….  I am lost.  It’s so .. big and ..”

“What jou say?  A minute ago in Arabic”

“Oh.  Yashmal kula shay. It means ‘encompasses all things’.”

“What does encompass means?”

“Like include.”

“Does that bring jou closer to God?

“Allah?”

“Less call him,” said Manuel, spreading his hands apart above his shoulders like it was a banner, “‘The big guy, in the sky.”

“Well I want something more than this shit,” Oddie kicked some mud off his boots.  

“I’m with you bro.”

Octavo yawned and stood up, stretched as he put on his jacket and went out to the port a potty.  The rain had let up a bit.

“So, tell me abou the Quran.”

“I don’t know.  Its ancient, is huge it’s mystical and its confusing.”

“Sounds like Gerry,” said Manuel laughing.

“Ya! Minus the mystical,” said Oddie smiling.

“No really.”

“I listen to a couple of these guys talk about their experience and they reference the Quran.  It helps to guide them in some kind of higher purpose they say.  I don’t know if those are my kind of words.  But, anyway, I can feel something.”

“Un impulso…?”

“Impulse. Ya, I guess.  It’s an urge but it’s not mine.”

“Who is it?”

“I don’t know – who else could it be?”

“Is annoying no bro?”

“It’s annoying but, annoying like when you’re in high school there is a cute girl but she is really stuck up, but you still are attracted to her, you want her. Why do that?”

“What is stuck up?”

“Arrogant.”

“Your God is arrogant?”

“No bro, not at all.  It’s the feeling I have that annoys me.  Like I need to do something that takes me beyond. But what?”

“Beyond, that sounds far out.”

“Ya .  Beyond the daily grind.”

“Was daily grime?”

“Trabajo bro,” said Oddie.  “That’s why Gerry is so annoying.  Not him. But the feel of the cloud that is always over his head. That there is nothing more to life than a shitty job bro.”

“Bro you need a anger management session at the pub.”

“That’s the thing.  It’s not anger at anyone.  It’s, it’s frustration that I, there isn’t a person I can talk to, you know, someone to…”

“The church has priests.”

“The church also has lawsuits because those priests can’t keep their hands off little boys.”

“True.”

Octavo stomped back into the trailer, shook the rain off his jacket and took his seat.  His entrance broke the flow of the conversation so they just sat there in the musty yet gritty trailer air.  After scrolling for a bit Manuel spoke,

“I read the bible.”

“You read the bible now or you used to,” Oddie sought clarification.

“When I was jung.”

“What did you get out of it?”

“Well it was the bes way to talk with girls because the mamas approved of bible class.”

“Smart.” 

“Honestly, is like I remember nothing.  But I have this residuo of believe.”

“Resi what?”

“Residuo.”

“Like residue?”

“I guess.”

“Residue of belief.  I like that.  And how does that impact you?  My point is do you have, do you feel an impulse, impulso?”

“For …?”

“For answering the call.  It’s like I can hear my cell phone ringing,” said Oddie, putting his hands in and out of all of his pants and jacket pockets.  “But I don’t know which pocket it’s in,” said Oddie, hunching his shoulders.

Octavo understood very little but the conversation caught him.   He listened to them with his eyes closed as if it was the World Cup finals on the radio.  Manuel pulled on the various hairs in what passed as a beard and sat up straight. He hadn’t thought about this stuff in a long time so it was really clearing away cobwebs in his mind. 

“Bro, is like the daily grime is analog and belief is dihital,” said Manuel. 

Oddie sat there a while with his elbow on the table and his chin on his fist digesting Manuel’s pronunciation and then the concept.

“No.  Is like Defi.” continued Manuel with his next analogy.

“You mean like crypto?”

“Ya bro.”

“What does Defi mean again?”

“Decentralize finance.  And that iss what I think you are talkin about.  Taking control of your shit, your destiny.  That way bro, jou discover what has value for jou, here,” said Manuel as he sent his right hand into the air imitating lift off.  “ And for jour beyon.” 

 Autumn rain fell on the trailer roof as the soundtrack to this episode of connection.  Their phones forgotten, they could hear their own breath as they picked at dirt on their boots for a while, sipped coffee.  

Oddie walked to the trailer door and looked at the lumber skeleton of the house they were framing.   He associated with the wood and the precision and instinct it called him to use.  He hadn’t realized that before.  That was why he liked his job.  Not so much his job but the work: the feeling of building something – and working on a team – and needing vision to complete a project.  

Octavo looked at Manuel.  From behind Manuel looking at Oddie framed in the doorway.  Manuel could tell Oddie was engaged by something. 

The rain had let up.  The air was clean as Andre the project manager pulled his SUV up to the curb.  Gerry jumped out of his pick up where he had been this whole time and said,

“Quit playin with yourselves and get to work,” as he walked to greet Andre.  Nobody in the trailer moved.  Gerry shook hands with Andre.

“Now,” Gerry yelled at the trailer.

“Alan,” said Oddie standing in the doorway as his mind landed back in his reality.

“Who is Alan?” asked Manuel.

“Alan?  I dunno.”

“But jou just said his name.”

“Oh, Alan.  Wow.  I said that outloud?  Alan means now in Arabic.”  

____

Alan – From the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara

Burn after seeding and other Black Spruce stuff — bridgesburning

I spent a couple of delicious hours yesterday at my library, soaking up the ambiance as well as a cranberry scone and black coffee, perusing the newspaper and a copy of Canadian Geographic, and came across this article:From Canadian Geographic I did not succeed in taking a ‘readable photo, but the article says that the […]

Burn after seeding and other Black Spruce stuff — bridgesburning

Short Story – Rootball

Photo by Gigi on Unsplash

Root ball

The boss explained to Roger it was the pandemic.  His manager told him it was Artificial Intelligence.  

‘Buddy,’ Rick, his colleague, relished saying, ‘ You just don’t fit in with the company vision.’  

‘Vision for what?’ Wanted to know Roger even though it really didn’t matter as he was on his way out the door.

‘A vision, you imbecile, of making money off of paying clients.’  Rick the dick chuckled as he rubbed Roger’s face in it.

‘That was.’  Roger shook his head as his shoulders sagged, ‘Harsh.’

‘Yeah. Who cares?’  Rick stared into Roger with his legs astride as if he was on the podium having won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. 

‘So, you spineless piece of shit, how do you fit into their money making vision?’  Roger needed to know.

‘Me?  I just count the stuff as it comes in.  I transferred to accounting.  I don’t want to be in the field anymore.  I don’t want to be made obsolete.’

‘Like me.  Right’

‘You said it, not me.’

Leann, Roger’s wife, made her younger brother Ryan give Roger a job.  She has been working from home for almost a year and for 4 months of that Roger had been out of work and driving her crazy.  

‘It’s like I didn’t even know my own husband until I spent time with him.’  Confides Leann.

‘That doesn’t bode well.’   

‘It turns out the more time you spend with him the more Roger he becomes.’  Lets slip Leann.

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’  Her mom needs to know.

Realizing she said that out loud Leann now has to reconcile it with reality.

 It’s not really a bad thing.’  She tells her mom by Zoom. 

‘Darling,  meaning what exactly?  That he gets all creepy and …?’  investigates her mom.

‘No, no no. Nothing like that.  It’s just that, after a while, he lands on the annoying side of bizarre.’  

‘How long is a while?’  Mom gets right to the point.

Leann sighs.  Looks into the Zoom version of her mother’s eyes, drops her eyes to her computer keyboard and returns to meet her mom’s eyes again.

‘Half an hour.’

When Leann and Roger married they had an understanding there weren’t going to be any children.  Leann would have been open to adopting if he was but Roger who didn’t want to spin the roulette wheel on someone else’s DNA.  Over time Leann saw what he meant first hand.  Twenty-nine going on thirty years old was not yet the prime age for a mid-life crisis.  Leann would need to find another excuse to assimilate Roger’s lack of traction with daily life.

~~~

Straight outta calculus Ryan jokes when asked about when he started his company.   In his final year of high school, 3 months before final exams, he slammed his textbooks closed, ignored his mother’s pleadings and walked out the door.  With his rusting pickup truck, his best friend Mark and the family electric lawn mower he started a landscaping company.

In his first summer landscaping, he and Mark, with a bout of the munchies, were waiting in McDonald’s drive-thru aching to scarf down a few Big Macs.  Back in the day you could drive high.  

‘The company needs a name bro!’  Says Mark in the wait between placing their order and the pick up window.

‘Why?’

‘To meet girls.’

‘What do you have in mind?’ An interested Ryan asks. 

‘Nothin’’

‘No shit!’

‘Except visions of Big Macs dancing in my head.’ Mark says grinning like an idiot. 

Ryan turned down the radio and leaned forward looking at the big McDonald’s logo: those famous Golden Arches; ‘Golden Branches …?’

What?

Golden Branches Landscaping bro!  Whaddaya think?

Dude …! 

I know right …?

Golden Branches Landscaping baby!

Ten years later, sitting in the driver seat of his warm white 4 x 4 pickup with the engine running, Ryan pulled at his scruffy beard as he mentally digested his odd brother-in-law. 

My Roger doesn’t need dope – he can go interplanetary under his own steam – thought Ryan

On a podcast Ryan had heard that if you want to work things out try talking to yourself.

My Roger …’  Ryan started, which self-startled him causing him to stall.  

‘Why the fuck is he My Roger?’  Ryan shook his head at himself. 

He gazed into his blue and white Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player bobblehead glued to the dashboard that subtly wiggled and jiggled to the purr of the diesel engine. 

Having slid into a pensive moment Mark startled Ryan by jumping into the passenger seat of the cab.

‘Dude we have to talk.  We are falling way behind on this fucking project.  Did you see the forecast?  We are getting more frost 3 days in a row.  We need to…’

‘I know genius!!  I know what we need.’    

‘Whoa!  Bro oo… What the …?  Let’s go for coffee. I’m buying.’

‘Fuck coffees.’

‘Ya know that small alien creature that crawled up your ass and took a shit must have been some ugly?’

‘Let’s go.  Let’s show these guys this isn’t a babysitting service.’ Ryan jumps out of the truck.

No one on the team knew Roger was the boss’s brother-in-law.  They just thought he was one of those flakes who finds work with them each season.  The flotsam of society. Men that know what they don’t want.  Guys who are connected to reality by gravity, government checks and little else.  They want to be paid cash daily,  they call everyone by a nickname after meeting them 5 minutes ago and you hardly ever see them eat.  One day they never show up again and their work boots will stay behind the back seat of the work truck until the end of the season and then get donated.  

Roger’s previous job as an insurance assessor was less than a year ago but felt like a lifetime away.  The money was steady and the questions were few, the rules were clear and the creativity was zero.  There should have been little chance for him to alienate himself yet they still found a way to push him out the door.  Roger wasn’t sad or surprised because he easily could have told you he wasn’t living and working in the here and now

In the bowels of spring are frigid February nights with minutes colder than hours. Roger needed to tell someone how, in the fathoms of darkness, cut loose by the leylines of sleep, he lay awake as sewer rats and hoary bats were gnawing at the sinews of his soul.  And then he would quickly submit a disclaimer to whoever would listen that while all this was achingly paralyzing there was, available, an undercurrent of light that was freeing.

Sleepless and alone in the basement pull-out bed with his blue eyes wide open he had a 3 am epiphany about what gave him satisfaction: Delivering results while doing work that congealed in him a real here and now feeling.  Unaware that he was picking at the earth under his fingernails he loved what he just learned he wanted.

Along a client’s side and front lawn they were planting a row of cedar trees.  As he plants and rakes, weeds and waters Roger is fascinated by the potential of that root ball that the trees come with from the nursery.   On his knees with his bare hands in the moist and fervent soil, Roger inhaled the poignant autumn air.  It was like he was being paid to do downward facing dog.  

Like roots drawing minerals into the plant – Roger spoke under his breath as he helped to guide Jose driving the Bobcat as it dropped one of the cedars gently inside the hole where it would be planted – parents draw minerals into their child’s life. 

Roger’s insight continued –  the challenge in the progression of a man is to mineralize his own life – with what he wants.

That is exactly what is happening to Roger.  Whether he knows it or not. 

To them Roger seemed to talk more with the trees then he did with them so the guys nicknamed him Rootball Roger.  They needed to pigeonhole him in order to accept him as one of their own.  They want to accept him as part of the tribal urge to work together.  Then there is what goes unmentioned, and poorly understood; the importance of accepting a guy so he doesn’t feel the loneliness of no tribe.  

‘Rootball.  Mrs Crowsworth always asks us to knock on her door just so she knows we are working around her place.’   Robbie, the lead hand, told Roger.  ‘Plus she likes meeting the rookies.’

The truth Robbie knew was Mrs Crowsworth hates when anyone knocks on her door.  She patented peering out from behind her living room curtain at the people working on her yard.  The guys pretended to be busy oiling the clipper and gassing up the leaf blowers in anticipation of the show.  Mrs. Crowsworth did not disappoint.  

‘Did your office not tell you to not bother me?!

‘I’ Stammered Roger taking a step back having rung the doorbell.

‘Are you new or dumb or both?!  I‘ve never seen you before.’

‘If no one can knock on your door how do you see them?’  Roger got suckered in.

‘How dare you?  I keep tabs on you people you know!  I am going to call Ryan and cancel your crazy company.’

‘Crazy…?’  It slipped out.  ‘What the hell?!  No, no please don’t call Ryan!’ Pleaded Roger.  ‘It won’t happen again, I promise.’

‘That’s what the last guy said.’  Scowled Mrs Crowsworth while sizing up Roger having sensed his sincerity.

Back at the work truck Robbie and Jose were almost pissing themselves with laughter.  They couldn’t have had a better victim to offer Mrs Crowsworth.

‘Hook, line and fuckin’ sinker baby!’ Howled Jose watching from the truck and high fiving Robbie.

When Roger left at 6:30 am each morning Leann sent him off with a hot coffee and what was once a lukewarm kiss was now an air kiss.  Once he was gone Leann breathed easier and could send off a few emails so her colleagues and clients would see she was working really early.   The plan was to work a few focused hours then live her life while Roger was at work.  Leann had found a great online yoga teacher that went at her speed.  Her friend Rita recommended a great online cooking show with a spontaneous cook who made dishes based on a Mediterranean diet.  She alternated days between yoga and cooking or watching travel videos.

Then around 4:30 pm he would open the back door, drop his backpack and say ‘Hey babe, how was your day?’ as he reached into the fridge for his first beer.  Leann would make sure she was back at her work desk with her headset on to ask, 

‘How’d it go today hun?’

‘Good, just working late with the west coast office.’  Leann would lie so they wouldn’t have to sit down to dinner across the table from each other.  Which made a lot of sense as they were no longer sleeping in the same bed.  Or the same room.  Nothing wrong with separate beds but these two were on different tectonic plates going in opposite directions.   

‘It just feels like I am losing money. Even though I know he paid the down payment.’  Leann confides in Rita.

‘Leann, honey.  We all know that was $30 thousand from his parents.’  Rita reminded them.  ‘And you have been basically bringing home the bacon for the last year while Roger does his pre mid-life crisis soul searching.’

Ya, I know.’

‘How’s that going?’

‘Well if his soul is in the basement then he may be on to something.’  Leann offered.

‘What – he moved down to the basement.  I knew you weren’t sleeping in the same bed but this is new.’

‘Ya.  He kind of lives down there.’

‘What the hell?!  How long has this been going on?’  

‘It’s been a few months.’

‘Leann?  Rita was lost for words which she didn’t like.  Have you talked to your mom?’

‘She knows but she doesn’t know the details.’

‘Do you know the details?  Wake the fuck you stupid woman!!  This is your life.  And for what it’s worth, it’s Roger’s life too.  He doesn’t have the capacity to give you what you want.  And you have the capacity for love, young lady.’

Except for when Ryan called asking him to help clean up a whole bunch of broken branches after that violent windstorm in the middle of December Roger hadn’t worked since the beginning of November.  Landscaping season leads to snow shovelling for guys with nothing better.  Roger’s weakening back can’t handle shovelling snow for a living.  It was now almost February and Roger could only think of having to contribute to the mortgage payments.  

‘If I didn’t have the mortgage pressure hanging over me then I would be hating thinking about being 30 and living in my own basement.’  Roger admits to Dean.  Dean and Roger were neighbours growing up.  They bumped into each other at Canadian Tire so Roger invited him out for a beer. 

‘So, how would you say Laura is dealing with your whole situation?’ Asked Dean, gradually embracing that he was being pulled into some guy’s uncomfortable marriage drama. 

‘Work or relationship?’ Deflected Roger not correcting Dean when he got his wife’s name right.

‘The whole enchilada.’  Frowned Dean as a way to distance himself from participation in Roger’s reality.

‘Well out of some sense of weird self respect I can’t make my wife have to put up with me while I am like this.’ 

Roger lifts his hands to then point his fingers back at himself.  ‘This. This is being lost.  But.’  He raises his index finger as he lowers his gaze. ‘The good news is I know I am lost.’

‘How does that make you feel?’  Dean asks having gone full-on therapist.

‘I don’t like it.’  

‘And I doubt your wife likes it either.’

‘She doesn’t.’ Admits Roger.

‘She doesn’t?!  Then leave.’  You moron Dean says with his eyebrows.’

‘What…?’

‘Leave.  Pack your bags.  Move out.’  

‘Hey man, what the hell.  I am looking for a little man to man compassion here.’

‘What you seek is compassion and what you need is a kick in the ass.’  Proclaimed Dean before  taking a long sip of his crisp second pint.

‘Shit and fuck!  Man you know I am just at the end of my no good Goddamn rope here!’

‘Dude, wake the fuck up!!’  Dean was sensing the best thing he could do for Roger was to rattle his cage.  ‘From what I am hearing you don’t have a relationship.  You’ve got a rental agreement.’  

‘No relationship is perfect.’  Justifies Roger.

‘Exactly.  That’s my point, numb nuts!!  Yours has crossed the line from, what I imagine was a living connection with your wife to a business deal where your client is actually disinterested in your services.’ 

‘Did you fucking rehearse this shit before you came here?’

‘Dude.  You invited me for a beer.   You know man talking with you, it is frustrating. Infuriating. You’re such a …’  Dean doesn’t complete his thought.

‘Say it’  Begs Roger.

‘Such …. I mean from 20 minutes of swilling beers with you all I can say is you feel like a lost cause of a man.’  Dean gives what Roger asked for.

‘A lost cause’ repeated Roger.  Both guys drank long from their pints.

‘How ya feeling now?’

‘Like I’m drowning.’

‘Good’

‘Good?!’

‘If you’re drowning then you swim straight to the surface, like a mad man.  You become the fucking solution.’

‘Fucking solution.’  Repeated Roger unconsciously. 

‘You.’  Dean aims the word as he tips his pint at Roger.

Roger downed the rest of his beer staring Dean in the eyes.

In a matter of days Roger pivoted.  He cashed in his RRSP, gave Leann 6 months of his part of the mortgage payment during which he said she could sell the house or buy him out.  He bought a 4×4 pickup like Ryan’s and got on Instagram promoting Trent Urban Farming.  Or as Roger liked to think of it by its initials: TUF

Pivot was one of those buzz words like unprecedented and quarantine that hogged the vocabulary of the Global Covid Republic 2020 +.  

Roger had pivoted out of insurance, paused in landscaping and set his sights on urban farming.  About which he knew nothing (except 3 months with Golden Branches Landscaping) but he really thought having a lawn with grass in front of your house was stupid.  Including his own suburban piece of paradise.

In The Meantime

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Yesterday walking up the moist front steps Tammy sniffed some mineral earthy air that her memory associated with the white quartz.  

‘Let’s rent a car.  Take the day off.’ Tammy offers Malik to agree with her fresh idea as she walks in the front door.

Malik stands up straight from his work desk, takes in a big breath and looks her dead in the eyes.

‘Tammy ..?’ His voice, simply saying her name, went through a 2 – part process of getting her attention with a strong ’T’ and dipping at the end trying to bring her back to earth.  Her spontaneous whims always threw him for a loop.  What’s wrong with planning? He says with his eyes.

‘Malik ..?’A It’s-all-part-of-the-package look was how she responded to his need for a plan.

After a two hour drive out of town the next morning they set off on a five km hike into the forest following the curving river lined with attentive cedar and spruce.  On the riverbank the cedars’ gnarly roots suction themselves to the iron infused sedimentary rock that frames the river.  On the forest side of the river bank tree roots delve quickly into the forest floor littered with spongy, green rock cap moss.

It’s a good 5 degrees cooler under all the verdant trees where the river quickly narrows and drops four feet through the effervescent rapids.  Just past the brief rapids as the river widens again slightly is a massive white quartz.   Although radiant and striking, it is so ensconced in the place it can be confusingly easy to miss. Tammy can’t remember how they found out about it.  Malik remembers and relishes holding the mystery. 

A mystery that the quartz holds is its size.  The carpet of bright green moss acts like a receding hairline on the top and also grows on one side hiding where the quartz meets the riverbank rock.  The outlines of the massive white boulder hinted that the beautiful crystal extended some metres beyond what was visible.   In his enthusiasm to find out how far it reached Malik confused it with the pockets of snow clinging to winter under the tree skirts; playing hide and seek with the invigorating rays of the spring sun.  

They came to dwell with the quartz, to remain in its presence, seeking to be transported deeper within and higher up.  The quartz made you wonder. Wonder with confidence. Wonder up.   The massive cool fresh quartz engages you as if you were on time and up to speed on your life trajectory.  It draws your truth out of you.

They agreed to eat lunch in an hour and served themselves some steaming tea.  They sat cross-legged on their yoga mats 10 metres apart on the river bank.  Once settled in, breathing and clear of mind Malik found his faculties subtly intrigued.  He was being pulled to grasp what was going on:  it was the rapids.  As the rapids bounced the water all over the place, they were challenging the river, asking the river how important the flow of water was to it.  The river, regaining its composure a few metres downriver, always answered the same:  I may bend but I will never break.   

Tammy didn’t like a sudden burst of her bubble of connection when they were in nature.  Malik knew that.  But the words just popped out.

‘I don’t think nature…,’ Proposed Malik, impacted by the electrical wash of the huge quartz. ‘… knows the concept of: in the meantime.’  Hearing himself speak he realised he had broken the connection bubble but for him this was a pretty deep thought so he just kept going. ‘Nature is always in the here and now…never waiting… endlessly passionate.’  Malik liked how his poetic kites floated into the early afternoon cool air.  Soaking up the moment with his sense of transcendence he sought, Malik breathed in deeply.  

Tammy, chill, aware and reflective in the robust, rewarding afternoon was shaken by Malik’s declarations.  Hearing him utter in the meantime jolted her out of her cozy emotional vacation and dropped her into an unsettling mental state.  Tammy went from cupping the thermos cup of green tea to strangling it.

In six year old Tammy’s mind meantime was what she called the episodes of her parents arguing.  She instinctively recoiled under her bed in her and Shelly (her half-sister’s) room. Her bookshelf was empty.  Her story books were in piles under her bed.  Tammy lay among the dust bunnies and socks turning pages until the yelling and screaming stopped.   She found a corporeal focus that completely blocked out life in the meantime.   Fifteen  year old Shelly wasn’t around so much so Tammy ended up being the flag bearer of her own safety.  It seemed her parents first had to be mean to each other before they could approach her smiling saying:‘Don’t worry sweetie, come out from under there. Everything is going to be ok. Mommy is happy.’  Nine months and two police visits later there was no more meantime.

Update Yourself With The Significance Of Your Name

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Before the butterfly can fly it was first born as something very different: a leaf munching caterpillar. Although they are the same creature they show very different natures. The caterpillar is pedestrian and the butterfly graceful. The caterpillar cocooned itself with the genetic knowing it will be reborn into a colourful butterfly. The beautiful butterfly is reliant upon the survival of the slow caterpillar. All three stages (caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly) are equally and uniquely valid.

As we grow our lives are layered with the residue of our experiences.  Each of the three names can accrue a greater potency as we learn which of those experiences direct us in the direction we want to go.  As we grow we discover how best to work in the world, refine what we want and how to live accordingly.

When you seem to have an unclarity of what you want or how to get it, that is a good time to reflect on your resources.  Or if  there is a feeling of having lost direction or connection it is time to pause.   It is very useful to review the role of each life within you that each of the three names represent.  As you grow so does the pertinence of your history.  As a child life decisions were made for you.  Now as an adult you make them.  This updating process  highlights the value of your attitude and vision to extract meaning from your past and apply it to your development.

This process of updating helps to find purpose in the daily striving and the life long journey.  It can take a load off of you in the moment to see the continuity of your life and harvest the life lessons and crystalize emotion of your experiences.  There is healing available in case we need to reframe a difficult childhood.   With a view to update your youth that now supports a development journey we can convert that difficult childhood from a wound into a strength. It can become the forging of a knowing that no matter the situation you find yourself in you bring unique value to the moment.  

In the wake of peace from 15 minutes of meditation or walking in nature consider the following:

Foundation Name – The function of your family growing up, companionship in school and playing/sports/trips, learning new skills. – Breathe in the reality that those experiences support your growth now.

Synthesis Name – The importance of your unique way of upholding the human experience including: your style, sense of humour, attention to detail.  Know that this is your fingerprint on the energy of life that you attract by the fact of your initiative and your human pedigree.

Mystery Name – Being creative with ways to stay curious about the pathways of energy: in the mind, of your high emotions, of the planet Earth and beyond.  This elevates into clarity of what is happening in the moment as it is unto itself (as opposed to things are happening to you).  This means you can load your elder life with your desire to be of service to your communities

In the updating process we will likely have many memories that make us happy, sad, angry and long for days gone by.  We can take advantage of the awesome attribute of the mind called memory.  It causes us to picture and feel our life history.  We can generate appreciation for those times and make them into the strength of our foundation for what we as an adult and elder want to do and be.  We can be grateful for the functioning of the body and its faculties for their accuracy of functioning in constant support of our life. 

The Evolution of Your Name

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

I think my parents were going to name me Catherine if I was a girl.  If their child had been born a girl or had been given a different name, the same fundamental process of life still awaited the baby.  The name we use to identify ourselves is a label more for the other people in life than for oneself.  

Your name might resonate with you, as it fits your personality.  Your name might be the same as your dad and implying you are the junior version of him.  This is looking at names from a management or cultural view point.

Thinking about names from a viewpoint that humans are on a development journey that requires us to respond to many influences from the planet, people and unseen sources of energy.  These unseen sources include the energetic changes that are associated with each new stage in life.  We are quite possibly a very different person within a few years of having passed the threshold of youth into adulthood.  

Some cultures have their elders provide a ‘sacred name’ to the child to be a reminder and guide throughout their life.  Along those lines below are ideas for taking charge of your own name and thus your life.

The name you are given

Child – What you are called – the name your parents gave you.  Recognize and appreciate the foundation that resides in that name that provides the leverage for your growth as a man.  This is your Foundation Name.  It encapsulates your birth, your hunger for learning, your child’s love of life and the awkwardness of growing into your body and identity.  This name stays with you through all of life’s stages.  It is like a fresh mountain stream that is the clean source of your memories.  It is the holding name for your initial connection with your life’s trajectory and your authenticity with that signal.  

The name you choose

Adult – What you want – the name that you decide reflects your synthesis of the inner and outer experiences, feelings and sensations.  This is your Synthesis Name.  You are a nexus of so many currents and threads, stages and lives, directions and levels, needs and wants.  All of this is happening while you are tasked with being an integral member of many communities that include your marriage, family, neighbourhood, manhood, soulhood and a passenger on planet earth.  Synthesising is you thriving in the moment of the current life stage you are living so that you derive satisfaction from how you live everyday life.  That way your wife does not become responsible for your lack of satisfaction you feel because you were too busy with paternal/family/professional responsibilities.  Then, as an elder you have a sense of accomplishment and of having contributed to the learning, growth and development of your communities. 

The name that chooses you

Elder – What you represent – to the continuance of the human story, to your communities, to the planet, to your soul accompanying your spirit into the universe.  Your significance to the planet may be difficult to know while you are in the middle of striving in daily life to make a living and find meaning.  So that name can be elusive.  And that is why it is called the Mystery Name.  Even if we don’t know what is always happening it is important to highlight the ideas and qualities that you feel resonate with your Mystery Name.  This sensitivity to recognize what fits with this next stage of life is a real challenge that can be frustrating and seemingly have no progress.  As you encounter success, challenges and failures in all stages of life you are in an ongoing process of consciously sowing the seeds of your eldership.

A Poor Excuse for Real Initiation

To highlight the reality of the ongoing stupidity of hazings that still occur in university fraternities and sororities there is a new TV program just released.

https://www.oxygen.com/true-crime-buzz/from-timothy-piazza-to-jordan-hankins-real-hazing-deaths

Dying to Belong is the name of the program. And it hits the nail on the head. We all want to belong but humiliating people and endangering their lives to generate a sense of exclusivity is juvenile.

Hazing is defined as the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation. So the greater the humiliation then the club you are being initiated into should be that much more exclusive. Or provide a transcendent feeling of belonging. I am not sure that university frats get to that level of, well fraternity. Basically it is supposed to earn you a loyalty towards you when you need it. And your loyalty to your fraternity will be asked for when it is needed. In the meantime you have the status of saying you belong to this or that frat.

The thing is people die in these hazings that new recruits or pledges are submitted to. Why? Why does it have to dip to a level of life threatening humiliation?

To belong to the Jeep driver’s club all you need is to make a down payment of a few thousand dollars to buy your Jeep Wrangler and then keep up with your monthly payments. And as a result every time another Jeep drives in the opposite direction you get a cool and subtle wave as you drive by each other in your Jeeps. It’s silly. But it provides a sense of inclusion/acceptance/belonging in and among all the random traffic. And it is warming not demoralizing. It is simple not nefarious.

Initiation is the process of crossing the threshold into the next stage of life. And in some cultures they can be extremely demanding rite of passage like a vision quest. Or it can be a celebration like a bar mitzvah.

The idea of initiation is to create a mark that a person is entering into a new possibility in their life. Witness it. Make the ceremony and the person being initiated important. Generate in them the concept of upholding their dignity as they pass from child to young adult; or from adult to elder. So when we cross the threshold of death, from elder to ether, we have had practice knowing how to cross into the next realm and what is of value there.

While initiation helps the same person elevate in their development trajectory a distinct aspect of their life is being accessed in this new platform for life that encourages curiosity and perception.

If you are not religious then recognition of the next life stage might not be so ceremonious. It can be conversations to show appreciation of the person for what they have become up to now based on their challenges and opportunities. Appreciation coupled with respect for their version of responsibility as they grow. Reminding them to harvest from their past the milestones won by the vigour of their youth. Merging these lessons with the awareness being petitioned of each person to grow into the unknown.

The New You Series – Advice – Guidance and Wisdom

There is a well known adage that perhaps was coined by Confucoius or is alluded to in the Bible.  Either way it goes like this:

‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’

It would appear to hold true. This is very much the Rich Dad/Poor Dad juxtaposition.

Perhaps, in hindsight, there is a line missing:

Forget to demand respect for the planet from the man and he will destroy fish stocks and end up giving his children farmed fish full of chemicals. 

Let’s look at the adage through the lens of: Advice, Guidance and Wisdom.

At the level of advice is ‘give a man a fish’

At the level of guidance is ‘teach him to fish’

At the level of wisdom is ‘demand respect, from yourself and others, on behalf of the planet’  

Advice

Is for guys

Application is to work life, guy life, ego buoyancy, for not looking stupid, to the now

Forms of Advice – tips, sayings, phrases, guyisms, answers, encouragement

Advice provides timely ideas for someone to make decisions to get results.

Advice for any person, at any age in any stage in life.  It is useful to daily life and can stand the test of time. 

Provenance – brain

Relevance – bridging the moment with what you want

Photo by Anaya Katlego on Unsplash


Guidance 

Guidance is for men.

Application – Guidance is a resource for learning to deal with fear, for growing awareness, for understanding others, for facing the future.

Forms of Guidance – story, map, the legend on a map, questions, challenges

Guidance hints at the man you become if you listen to it and let it impact your life

Provenance – heart

Relevance – love, the need to love and be loved

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Wisdom

Is for The New You,

Application is for participation in service to something bigger than you, curiosity and reflection

Forms of Wisdom – crystalized, dense yet light in its transmission, mysterious and confusing and settling

Wisdom is the language of the instinct talking about finding meaning and integrating it into life

Provenance – soul

Relevance – magnetizing to the truth and electrifying to action

Practice all 3 (Advice – Guidance – Wisdom): Know the difference so advice doesn’t get passed off as guidance; and wisdom doesn’t get reduced to guidance.

Demand advice from your peers, guidance from your parents and wisdom from your elders.

TOWARDS THE SEASON OF HARVESTS: 2021 — contemplativeinquiry

In the northern hemisphere we will soon be entering a quarter of harvests and waning light, starting with Lughnasadh/Lammas. In the south there will be the energy of rising light and growth. In the manner of the yin/yang symbol. a taste of that energy is present here too. As I approach Lughnasadh/Lammas this year, I […]

TOWARDS THE SEASON OF HARVESTS: 2021 — contemplativeinquiry