Chronicles in Ordinary Time 47: Black Care

scan0004Draft image for a book about a dying man

NARRATOR: Theodore Roosevelt embodied America at the turn of the century — the confidence, the exuberance, the aggressiveness. It was all there, all in him. ”Roosevelt,” someone said, ”was a steam engine in trousers.” Cowboy, soldier, explorer, scientist, a world authority on large mammals and small birds, the author of 36 books and more than 100,000 letters, he made himself president by the age of 42.
None of it was easy. Shadowed by illness, haunted by the deaths of those most dear to him, he learned early, he said, that ”Life was one long campaign where every victory merely leaves the ground free for another battle.” ”Black care,” he wrote, ”rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.”

My pace apparently isn’t fast enough. This has been a crummy week. Black Care at my back.
Why would I be telling anyone about this? It’s certainly nothing I want to brag about; and I don’t have any solutions. I also don’t really have any explanations as to why this week has been worse than others. Part of it is the pain; but the pain hasn’t been any worse than at other times. It hasn’t been any better, either.
I seem to be communicating with folks who are dealing with difficult stuff. A woman who has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s; a man who may be dying from a damaged liver; damaged by the doctors who were supposed to be treating him. So much grief…

I listen to music all day; much of which is what I’ve labeled, “songs for broken people.” Lyrics that I want feeding my brain, an alternative to the stuff that my brain wants to shove out into my thinking.
I have a small heater blowing hot air on my feet all day, and they feel painfully cold. They can’t be cold, but that’s what the damaged nerves are telling me. Having spent much of my life living on aspirin and barbiturates, and having toxicity/self-poisoning the only likely suspect that hasn’t been ruled out; I’m working at avoiding pills to deal with the pain. It’s possible to be addicted to ‘non-addictive’ meds. One merely has to hurt bad enough, often enough. I see the pain doc in a couple of weeks; not a lot of expectations.

People don’t talk much about pain; I suppose this is mostly because we all hate it; and people feel they should have answers. I don’t have answers. My belief is that this life is short compared to Eternity. While I would never have wished for 30+ years of pain, it’s the hand I’ve been dealt, and my Creator understands why. I believe that every one of my 61+ years has been known by my Creator since before my birth. And all of the days I have left. My Creator has known about the lost weekends in dark rooms, with my head packed in ice. All of the time I wasn’t able to give to my family; and if I’m honest, time I wouldn’t have spent with them, because of other stuff.

Why would the Creator allow pain in our lives? Wouldn’t a loving God want his children to live without pain and suffering? Most of the world’s pain is caused by Man. Where would He start in changing the way a person behaves? I spent a lot of the time I had, visiting as a kid in an Eastern Oregon town of 3 digits in population, killing ants. I was bored stiff and there were a lot of ants. Not really damaging anything as far as I could tell; they were mostly doing what ants do all day. It sort of bothered me, but they were only ants and it was something to do…just ants…
Created by my Creator.
To my Creator, I may not be that much more significant than an ant. Made in the image of my Creator, and I’m not really sure what that means. I doubt that it’s my mind; the image probably refers to my ability to choose how I live my life. What I do with what I have.
Americans waste so many of our choices.
I shot a bird once; I was aiming at it, but never imagined I’d actually hit the thing. Dead by one BB. I am aware that I have the capacity for violence; and I’ve avoided it as an adult.

Natural disaster. The Earth moves. We feel as though we have some sort of protection from natural disaster, but it happens. Thousands of people, every day, damaged in their bodies or their souls by stuff they couldn’t predict.

The only answer that makes any sense to me is that we are Eternal beings, and this lifetime however, long and painful it may be, is only an eyeblink in the span of Eternity. Watching my children growing up, comforting them in the everyday pains that children encounter, I realized I could not protect them from hurt; and that if I could, I wouldn’t be helping them. We learn through pain. It’s a really lousy answer, but it seems to be the one that makes the most sense.

So I rant at the Creator. Whine and grumble, more than rant. I was given a Gift this morning, during my mostly-daily walk through the cemetery up the hill from us [I live on an inactive volcano, one of several that surround Portland]. Three deer came out onto the road ahead of me, one at a time. Watching me as they came out of the creek bed, and continuing on their morning adventure. The one in front seemed to be the most daring, the most adventuresome…projection on my part. While I realized that seeing the deer was a Gift–it’s been close to a year since I’ve seen any deer at the cemetery–I was also aware that I was still bitching about how I felt; frustrated with the state of my business; frustrated that a large check I received from a potential client was fraudulent. I already had the check half-spent, in my mind. Frustrated that I can’t be everything I want to be; frustrated that my time for being that person is being cut short.

Time for another hero movie. Time for some more drawing, while I still can.

American Heroes


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One Response to “Chronicles in Ordinary Time 47: Black Care”

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