A blind writer’s path to happiness – Which Mountain to Climb?

Happiness. What does that word mean to me? I’ve been thinking on this question of late. So far, I’ve decided that what happiness is for me is mostly what writing is not. Smiles, fun, good times shared with good people, feeling excited and grateful about life, looking forward to a new day, new adventures.

No, for me, writing, a solitary mentally taxing activity, is not much of any of these things.

Which tempts the obvious question, why do I choose to write if it doesn’t make me happy?

Because some things are simply work worth doing. Some things, like weeding a garden on a hot summer day, may not be pleasant or “happy” in the moment, but the results of the effort bring satisfaction later, sometimes days and weeks later, when the harvest finally comes in. Of course, you must like gardens to appreciate the value of weeding. I confess to liking stories and storytelling, which propels me to write in hopes of creating a good story someday.

Others have labelled such late returns as “delayed gratification.” I’m not sure it’s something to be proud of, but over the course of my life, I’ve become something of an expert in this area. As self-satisfying as this distinction has been at times, I’m now wondering why the hell I put off being “happy” so many times in hopes that my disciplined, focused, often martyr like work would later produce gratifying results. Such efforts included relationships that would have been more wisely abandoned in a matter of days instead of years.

This brings me to another “h” word that has shaped my life-

Hope.

yes, along with being a disciple of the “delayed gratification” mantra, I’ve also ben prone to the “hope for better” syndrome. the irrational belief that if I worked harder, longer, better at whatever, the clouds would part, the sun would shine, and life would be beyond wonderful.

Someone once told me, “there is no hope.” Please, let’s not get into a pedantic diatribe about this four letter word, perhaps we can agree that “Hope” means whatever you or I or anyone else wants it to mean. I think the afore mentioned person’s take on “hope” was that one just can’t sit on a rock “hoping” that it will start raining gold, life reality is that “hope” can inspire us but “Work” is what makes dreams happen. As usual, this is a rather simplistic statement, at least in my experience.

I’d “hoped” to be an Olympic volleyball player and I “worked” for years to achieve this goal. However, there was a fundamental flaw in my hoped for vision. I did not have the physical attributes required to be a world class volleyball player. For those not familiar with the sport, one of volleyball’s defining features is an eight foot net which divides the two opposing teams. In order to be successful at this sport, you must be able to jump high above this eight foot obstacle. As I barely stand over five and one half feet tall, I was at a distinct disadvantage compared to players towering over six feet. Sure, there are short guys who can nearly jump over tall buildings but I was not one of them. Hence, This life choice was not well grounded in reality.

Did this limit my happiness playing volleyball? Ultimately, yes, because I wanted to win as that seemed to be the measure of success and my lack of height often prevented me from winning. Still, and this is a further reflection on my tendency to hang on too long to things that aren’t working, I played for many years “hoping” to somehow defy reality and reach my goal. A wiser man described such acts of futility as insanity.

Which, finally, brings me to the ultimate subject of this post, which mountain to climb?

I’ve come to believe that if I can face a life challenge each day and create happiness in the process of working to achieve that goal, it’s a mountain worth climbing. Blindness has made such choices much simpler as I’ve had to accept that many things I used to do are not practical anymore. I don’t climb real mountains, sail oceans, or play any sort of sports involving balls which i cannot see. This void was depressing for awhile but eventually I followed my wife’s lead and began to simply enjoy the delights of our daily walks, the pleasure of biting into a tuna fish sandwich on toasted wheat bread, the enjoyment of conversation with neighbors. Then, there’s still writing and storytelling, work I do that is not often fun but eventually rewarding.

All said and done, this blind writer is finding his life path sprinkled more and more with bursts of happiness because I’m making smarter choices on which mountains to climb, and, most important, I’m simply enjoying climbing.

tio stib

Jul, 2017

You might also enjoy “Perfection,” “Fishing

A Season for Adventuring

ghosting through the morning mist
as day slips from gray to gold
my stomach growls
the road replies
with a small cafe
cradling coffee
I watch him devouring a mountain
of syrup dripping hotcakes
he turns
we smile
 nod
fellow travelers
men of the frontier
last night
rocketing into starry oblivion
riding Cat Stevens’ peace train
saluting the shadows
of cacti sentinels marching in the moonlight
roadtripping
on the loose
free again
all those blue highways
all those maps
all those little country stores
all those stops  to buy a soda
asking directions
where the heck is Boggan’s Oasis?
all those steps into the unknown
into the magic of surprise moments
wild horses splashing through a sea of purple sage
golden eagles spiraling from heaven in their mating dance
“Jeez! That’s a helluva rattlesnake.”
sweating
cresting  the final ridge
running
diving
plunging into
sparkling turquoise water
erupting into rainbows and sunshine 
screaming with frigid delight
lost in steaming holy water
alone on a desert ocean
swaddled in eternity
sky slowly slipping
from gold
to pink
to gone
so many Shangri-Las
I will not travel these roads again
but they will haunt my heart when
 once again
Fall calls the vagabond
to a season for adventuring

tio stib

You might also enjoy: A Wilderness Pill; Breaking Trail


Blind Man on a Bench

a surprise lover
the cool breeze kisses my cheek
my body delights
in sunshine’s warm embrace

wavelets lap softly on the sand
the scent of seashore drifts into my nose
a fly buzzes by

birds surround me
chirping behind
squawking above
honking across the water
laughter approaches

raucous conversation
“good morning!”
“Good morning to you”
the footsteps fade
a blast of male perfume persists

I bite an apple
crisp
juicy
sour
my lips pucker

smile

immersed in a beautiful day
mind swimming in memories

a blind man on a bench

tio stib

You might also enjoy: High on Gratitude, Hope

The Blindside Parables 22 – Life is Like a Broken Egg

Yesterday I dropped an egg. Actually, I didn’t drop it. Being blind, I surmised it rolled unseen off the counter. I heard a noise near the floor. In a microsecond, my brain flashed through the possible sources of such a noise. At the same instant, my brain reached another conclusion. The toes on my right foot were also sending signals to my sensory center. Something gooey was down there. 

A broken egg! 

As I groped about, cleaning the shattered shell and its slimy contents from between my toes, I pondered the symbolic relevance of this event.

Yes, I am easily drawn into metaphysical absurdities.

Perhaps, I wondered, my life is like a broken egg. Here I am, marching along unseen by most of the world and then, crash! I splat into eternity, possibly making a mess for someone else to clean up as I exit. 

That's one possibility. 

My mind drifted off in other directions. I remembered a structures class where we dropped eggs in specially designed containers from a third story balcony. The object, of course, was to preserve the integrity of the egg. The challenge was to do this with as little material as possible. It’s no problem to put an egg in a big box of bubble wrap and drop it unfazed onto the floor below. The trick is to drop the egg, mostly naked, with the same result.

 Similarly in life, I thought, there’d been times I’d insulated myself with such 
things as work and selfish interest so that the rest of the world couldn’t touch me, and I couldn’t touch the people who cared about me because I was too closed off from them. 
There have been naked opposite times when I was raw and open, times when I felt that life had run me over and left me for roadkill. Going bankrupt and watching friends die come to mind.

My lesson from these experiences: Sometimes it’s good to overprotect. Sometimes it’s good to hurt. The pain reminds me of happier times.

All this you may say, from simply having an egg hit the floor? Yes, and there’s more.

What if I’m like an egg? A hard, durable shell on the outside and a soft sticky mess inside. My outside, that part of me I show the world, is a lot like the shell of an egg. It’s quite resistant to general pressures, quite strong when grasped firmly. But, the shell has its weak points. It doesn’t do well with pressure applied to a single point.

Oh yes, I have my buttons. I hate cleaning up other people’s messes, such as wiping up their broken eggs. I have no tolerance for fools, which is why politics disgusts me. The egg shell is also brittle. It doesn’t do well when landing on sharp objects. I explode when subject to sharp noises, and am even more violent when subject to the sound of barking chihuahuas. 

Really, all this from a broken egg. 

My last thoughts on this surprisingly deep self-dialog.

How do you crack an egg? I use two hands. Even so, I often make a mess of this simple action, sometimes striking a nearby surface so hard that the shell cracks open and leaves a trail of egg goo from there to the frying pan. (This is a clue to what I usually do with eggs, hinting at my limited cooking repertoire). Sometimes, when my mind is somewhere else such as now, I fail to hit the egg hard enough, it doesn’t crack, waking me from my reverie to initiate another strike on the shell. This usually results in the previously mentioned egg goo trail. 

What does this say about my life? I tend to be overly cautious and conservative. Do I lack faith in my creative abilities to expand my egg cuisine? Maybe I’m just lazy.

One of my life goals is to learn how to crack an egg with one hand. I think this may take quite a few eggs. I’ve heard that gin fizzes are a good use for egg whites and an easy way to forget about life's deeper concerns. 

Time to get out the blender.


Moral: If you think too much making breakfast, you may find the yolk is on you.


tio stib

You might also enjoy: Where the Sidewalk ends; The Blindside Parables 17 - Superman



Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life 

Last night I dreamed I was paddling a canoe up a lake in the middle of the night. It was calm, I felt peaceful, yet there was one concern. The canoe was underwater. I was trying to paddle a submarine.

I’ve spent years listening to my dreams, paying attention to patterns, weighing the emotions of dreams with respect to my life at the moment. I believe larger forces speak to me in that unconscious world, forces that can guide me to awareness of deeper truths. This pushes me to wonder, why was I paddling a submarine?

I know there are many ways to interpret dreams, but ultimately, I tend to accept that my dreams are about me. Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I’m honest about how I feel in my dreams, they have given me clues to parts of me I needed to pay attention to.

Paddling a submarine. I feel this dream was about my need to live an authentic life. Paddling the canoe was me moving forward in life. My goal was to get to the end of the lake, to a state of inner peace, but I was struggling because I was keeping my emotions below the surface. If I would allow my feelings to express themselves above the water, I would have less resistance to life and my journey would be immensely easier.

I need to be genuine, original, true and trustworthy, and not be in fear of what the world may think of me in my many moments of  smallness.

Authenticity means to be honest, to be vulnerable, to take risks. Authenticity is built one day, one choice, at a time. It is a process of continually stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging the world from a place of worthiness vs. shame.

Authenticity is a daily journey into the wilderness of being fully alive.

What’s the greater risk I ask myself? Living life based on what other people think, or being vibrantly alive based on how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

This blog, “Travels with Tio, a blind writer’s path to happiness,” is my journey, my choice, to be all of me, fully alive. It is one way I will raise myself from paddling a submarine, to paddling a canoe, to perhaps even flying.

What does authenticity mean to you? How does it affect your life?

Please share your feelings on being the authentic “you”.

tio Stib

2013, 2017, 2018

Brene’ Brown recently gave a TED talk, “Listening to Shame,” in which she explores the challenges of authenticity. Brown believes authenticity is a process, a series of choices we make in our lives, choices made each day, in each moment, to be real…or not.

Here’s the link: http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/15/opinion/brown-authentic-self/index.html?hpt=op_bn2

 

Walking With My Lover’s Ghost

walk with me
I hear her softly plead
come
walk with me

and so I rise and go
take the hand that isn’t there
feel the joy in her smile
the smile only my heart can see
hear the memory of her gleeful calls
her waves to passing children
as she scampers to greet them

hugging close
faces glowing in the morning sun
a gentle breeze caresses us
sitting on our seaside bench

I kiss her tenderly
taste the love upon her lips
inhale the sweet scent of her soul
embrace the grace that made us one
blessed us

touching the emptiness beside me
tears slide down my cheeks

come
I plead
walk with me

and I rise again
move on

walking with my lover’s ghost

tio stib

You might also appreciate: You Will Always Be My Valentine; My Dementia Diary

Shape Shifting

the mirror of life stares back at me
a history of those times once free
the many men I’d tried to be
the many worlds I’d longed to see
so many new realities
I lived in hopes of finding me

some were good and some were bad
there were happy times and sad
joyful moments and some quite mad
questing for the dreams I had

some lasted days, some only hours
some grew from seeds to lovely flowers
but then the moment finally came
when each went up in spirit’s flame

was I born a vagabond
to never settle down for long
to never truly quite belong
heart pulled on by distant song

lovers, friends, and passersby
I’ve known them all
said my goodbyes
but now, as I face the end
I wonder if I’ll fly again

the caterpillar exists to eat
the pupa then goes off to sleep
and in its sacred, silky place
transforms into a different face

and so I build my new cocoon
as life within me starts to swoon
in hopes that with the coming moon
I will stretch my wings once more
and fly away to distant shores

so begins my every day
shape shifting in the cosmic play

tio stib
2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022

You might also enjoy: Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life, A Friend Passes

Sunday Sanctuary

it is quiet
blissfully calm
as I offer my thanks
for the bounty of blessings
that fill my life

a week of good people
good happenings
food on the table
money in the bank
health and wellness
hearts that care

yes
I think
I am truly blessed

and I wonder

does God care if I get out of bed today?

tio stib

You might also enjoy: High on Gratitude; Life Journey Poems & Prose