Friday, April 20, 2012
so i heard the term 'goat rodeo' the other day. it was new to me so i looked it up. it means a chaotic, unmanageable situation.
of course this brought to mind people i know who always seem to be in the middle of a goat rodeo. how chaos reigns and unmanageable seems to be the order of the day. we hear about 'one more thing' and we cluck our tongues and make our judgments.
never stopping to remember each one of us is capable of getting to that point daily. or, we believe ourselves to be there. one misplaced hour of sleep, the cream curdled, a wretched commute, soul crushing cubicles that define the majority of our daily existence. boom. we're there. we're complaining and defining our lives by the randomness of the world.
and, sometimes we're just there. for real. divorce, foreclosure, diagnosis, prognosis, money money money and just sheer fucking dread and terror at what the next bit of life might bring. that's real life at its real hardest.
i'm always amazed what the human body will put up with and still keep on keepin' on.
but, real or imagined or situational or chronic, the goat rodeo ALWAYS sucks.
i was thinking about this yesterday when i heard wingman say 'of course that didn't work. why would it? because that would be too easy.' in my exact tone. because this is what i find myself saying. when the salsa jumps from the fridge and yawns open and cascades to the floor. when the grocery bag rips on the stairs on the way into the house. when something is twice what it should be. twice as much. twice as hard. twice as sucky. when i'm in a hurry and i can't find my keys. when i'm in a hurry. in a fit. in a mood. in my life.
it stopped me in my tracks. because not only is it what i say, it's what my father said. actually, that's not true. what my father said was 'shitfuckfire.' in the same exact tone that i use. the same tone i heard wingman using. and while our mantras were different, the message was the same. that life was just meant for being shitty. that things aren't easier and that they SHOULD be easier. for us. for me. and they're NOT EASIER. lather rinse repeat.
now. my father was nearly always like that. me? it comes and goes. not often. getting less often still as i grow older and understand more and learn that life is not for taking personally. it just is. i have my moments. but my father, my father could not catch a break. you know, like poor, mentally compromised, single parents seem to not be able to do.
he couldn't catch a break, nor did he chase one. i'm not going to suggest he didn't try. i'm not going to suggest he didn't do the best he could. the opposite. but what he also did was become *accustomed* to the goat rodeo. it wasn't just something that happened. it's something he chose. i'll stop now because he is gone and it isn't fair to talk about shoulds and should nots when someone's dead. none of us are perfect. or above reproach.
i went up to wingman and i said, 'dude. don't start that now. don't start believing it's meant to not work out. don't. you hear me say it. but it's not true. it just isn't. it's a crutch i no longer need. and i'll try harder to remember that. and try not to not say it.'
to which he responded
'when were you on crutches?'
so. that picture above is of my father. at the top of mount whitney. the highest summit in the contiguous united states. i knew he climbed it. but i have never seen this picture. i have never seen that look on his face. his arms raised in victory.
i have never seen him in such joyous, masterful control. that is unmitigated bliss you see on his face. we are all seeing that look together for the first time.
that is not a goat rodeo. that's taking the fucking bull by the horns. dammit. and yes, i'd like to go into the what ifs. as the what ifs of his life would have directly impacted my own. WHAT IF he chose THAT. always. what if. but, hindsight is only in the eye of the beholder. so.
we are all handed what we are handed. that is pretty much out of our control. and yes i get that poverty and mental illness and life are REAL. i understand. i've been in all three. reside in two still. but nowhere is it written that we have to choose the chaos. and if you find yourself in the middle of the chaos, surrounded by goats, extract yourself and just keep going. it seems simple and trite, 'duh' & 'yeah right.' but sometimes the simplest messages are the ones that get lost in the need to find the answer. the exit. and the excuse should the answer and the exit not work out.
you get to choose. always. i told this to myself when i was younger. in a different set of words and a different voice. but the message was the same. i tell this to myself now. daily. even as i forget and slip. i tell this to my children. i tell this to you.
so. what if indeed. WHAT IF we learned to count up our blessings *before* we count up our losses? like a baby who walks before she crawls. cut out the middle man. cut right to the good. WHAT IF we choose the summit FIRST. always.
and this is not about bootstraps and all that. it's about choice. it's about life being short.
life doesn't last forever.
you are living it today.
you get to choose.