DEFIANCE

Defiance Arch

 

Here’s how Life works.

See if any of this sounds familiar.

You work hard at relearning to trust again and Life comes along, seemingly going out of her way to trick us back into thinking we were wrong to think we could ever do any differently than we have in the past.  What is with that?

In the same vein, one of my Life’s ironies of late has been wishing I could be as wise or aware in the waking moments as I am when all the work is done, and I get to sit down and write.

My third epiphany? Have you ever heard someone in a position of power or wealth being defiant? Smug or pompous, maybe. But defiant? I don’t think so. But live as a poor person; as someone facing a catastrophic illness or life tragedy and one of the first casualties is your pride. Not the braggadocios kind of pride mind you, but rather the self-worth kind. Yes, Virginia. Defiance is often expensive (and dangerous).

Fast Food Workers Job Action

In early April, I watched hundreds of food workers walk off their jobs in NYC, protesting for a raise in the minimum wage. The Huffington Post reports: The state Legislature last month voted to raise New York’s hourly minimum wage of $7.25 to $9 by 2016”. These fast-food-anistas took a huge risk in protesting. They had very little and what they did have, they were willing to put it all on the line. Not surprisingly, I’m reading that similar protests are being organized here in Chicago and other cities around the Country.

Grateful to be working on a good assignment, I can empathize with the protesters in that I want nothing more than to have my gig go ‘perm’. The thought is so fleeting when I think about what it’ll feel like to know I’ve found a forever home when it comes to working a full-time job with benefits. But in the meantime, the somber reality feasting on my insides is knowing until I get insurance, I can’t go to a doctor or get my smile fixed. Land of the free? Not exactly. But for now, that’s the ebb and flow of my walking around reality.

office-workers

So what do I do? I work hard every day. I pay attention to fitting in with my environment. I make the moves to have my co-workers like having me around. I learn every day how to be good at what I’m doing. Like I said, I want this gig to be my forever job. As a consequence of that wish, I am always on-time. I treat every day like an audition and I do the work. No room for defiance. Being able to feed us and keep a roof over our heads doesn’t leave much room for much else. What’s curious is what has been happening in the meantime – inside me and my Soul. Having lived through my fair share of tough times, I’ve seen what happens to me when things are tight. I can feel myself getting small because the net reality is we don’t have the luxury of taking a big hit. There is no margin for making mistakes or getting hurt. When you’re thinking ‘survival’, it makes sense that little targets are less likely to get hit. trenchesIt’s the same reason soldiers keep their heads down on the battlefield. And so it has gone for the past couple of months. I’ve been getting smaller and smaller, excited to find what we need on sale. And in the same breath, needing to pull over on the way home the other night, having been reduced to tears after being treated with amazing respect by pantry volunteers who put an extra bag of potatoes and an apple pie on top of the other groceries they helped load into the back seat of the car. I’d never been in a position when I needed a food pantry before, but Life happens and you get faced with decisions. Like I said…pride gets sacrificed in the name of the greater good (?).

So what happened to ignite all this scribbling? Nothing less than the most recent episode of my own personalized telenovella starring our landlord. Let’s call him Larry.

Landlord Frustration

As far as landlords go, I’d always thought Larry was better than average. Granted, he’s not a rocket scientist and tends to be a little more gossipy than is professional or cool. But when we needed something or something was going on, we have formed a good working relationship with him over the past several years.

As I indicated earlier, we have just been coming back into financial stability. And like Dorothy and her band of travelers, just when we were coming out of the woods into the daylight, Wham! I’m not complaining or whining so the details aren’t nearly as important as it is you know ‘it’ all happened the day after we’d written our rent check. So being ever creative in facing the disaster coming down on our heads, I went to Larry and asked him if we could write another rent check for a lesser amount and then, catch up on the rest 2-weeks later. I’d like to think it was because of our past dealings, but Larry knew we weren’t trying to be slick and so he agreed. Whew! I breathed a collective sigh of relief…yes, things were going to be tight, but we had dodged a bullet. We were going to be fine. That was on a Friday.

Sunday morning came and the subject of homemade pancakes had me getting dressed so I could get to the grocery for some of the missing elements that would complete our breakfast palooza. Still not entirely sure why, but I thought to go online and check the bank before I left…just to be sure.

Boom

I kept rubbing my eyes to work the sleep out of them. I couldn’t be seeing what I was seeing. But the negative numbers on the screen had nothing to do with having just woke up and they certainly weren’t in the mood to magically be a changin! We were overdrawn…and not by a little. We were bounced by a lot, with miles to go before my next paycheck. That never happens! What the…

You kind reader, being of ever so quicker mind than I, have already deduced what happened. Even though he knew different and had agreed to his part in our battle plan, Larry had deposited both checks. To add insult to injury, we learned that “because you’re good customers”, the bank was honoring them both while slapping us with a hefty tag for the privilege. Thanks for nuthin. Poverty_shutterstock_119884378

As my mind tried to wrap itself around the reality of what this meant to our cash flow for the next several weeks, I also had to contend with my other Half. In tones tinged with panic and disbelief, he got louder as he wound up, saying things like: “You didn’t get the 1st check back?”. “You didn’t at least stop payment on one of them?” And on and on it went. While suppressing the urge to stuff a sponge down his throat in order to silence the scolding, eating my own humble pie while knowing it was my hand holding the smoking gun was even worse. I could feel myself swirling down the drain towards any one of the psychological hells I’d colonized in my past – all dark, angry and self-imposed. Who better to punish me for my trust in Larry than me, right?

boy_making_face_as_he_gets_scolded

Those rushes of memories reminded me of the chill running through my spine as a child when one of my parents would inform me they had decided that I was to choose my own punishment for some violation of the cultic code governing our herded genome. I hated that! And to add insult to injury, I was usually far more effective in conceiving a tailored path of penance more painful than anything anyone else could have ever divined.

But I digress.

It is widely known that good dinner etiquette prescribes never talking about politics, religion or money at the table. But when landlordegeddon went down, money came up – over and over again.

And in that same week? We both agreed that each of us quitting smoking would not only help us to tighten what little belt was left in our dire cash strapped straits, but it’d be good for our health too.

Nice thought, but wrong.

We nearly killed each other (figuratively) when every other hour or so found one of us ‘inadvertantly’ picking a fight with the other – usually over nothing. And always, money was at the core of the spat.

arguement

No matter what I say, you always disagree with me.” Stinging from the charge, what sterling response did I offer? “No I don’t.” Defiance.

But in that same moment, I caught just a nanosecond of clarity and it hit me. I am defiant. In one form or another, it has always been so. So here’s a thought: Why not flip ‘defiance’ on its head and unleash its power on the damaging stuff; the bad behaviors; not the good ones. The simplicity of it was gob-smacking. Why not put my defiance to work on the inside? Case in point, now, when I want to light up, I go all defiant. “No, I don’t NEED one right now…let’s wait 10-minutes and see if the urge is still as strong.” And usually, it passes. I am gaining influence over my own rote behaviors! As a consequence, my consumption is dropping daily and we haven’t had to fill out any police reports! Who knew?

What hit me was that my fights are not really with some slick landlord or some other impostor posing as a figure of authority or power – real or imagined. Rather my fights are on the inside. It can be tough to choose to begin looking up again as things begin to improve in our lives – and they are. And why are they improving? Because I am defiant. I didn’t give up looking for work. I refused to stop believing in anything else that really mattered, even when all the external evidences said I should. And now, that determination not to starve or be homeless is paying off. My defiant urges are again being used in service of what is good in my Life rather than succumbing to the easy urge to destroy it. Remarkable.

aha-moment

What’s cool is the indisputable evidence of knowing I’ve stumbled onto something real here. Case-in-point was the other other night when Rick said something that would have set me off just a few weeks ago. This time, I got defiant with myself. Rather than slipping into a hand-to-hand episode of point-counterpoint, I acknowledged what he had to say as being valid. “You know, you’re right.” And then, I got even more inwardly defiant in the face of my old well worn neuro-pathways, adding my own better thoughts to my response. We had a real conversation. It was good. It felt right to be talking again like it had so many other times in our past. But the difference was not my innate talent for defiance, but rather it was having my defiant streak being aimed at targets meriting the full bore of my blasts.

I have standing in the eyes of my Creator. The only person who was forgetting that this was so, was me. In the last week or so since, I’ve been speaking so much more like I do when I write. And doing so, on-the-fly and in the moment.

noah-hathaway-as-atreyu-in-the-neverending

Why? I am defying Fear’s ability to keep my shoulders hunched over for very long. We are not born to fear. I am defying my well developed sense of false pride by accepting the generosity of others. And yes, lesson-learned. I will never be so trusting in the managing of our affairs when it comes to being at the mercy of others and their motives when our backs are up against the wall. It isn’t worth it. They do not have the right (unless I surrender it to them). In an odd kind of way, our financial disaster is proving to be more of a tuition payment than a reason to descend into familiar bunkers, kicking myself as I sank into old and familiar darknesses. I wouldn’t have learned the valuable gifts hidden within defiance if I hadn’t been thrown off the cliff only to find myself able to glide on the updrafts climbing its’ face.

My Life is begging me to be live bigger, not smaller. As Atreyu learned, it’s essential to our survival that we say ‘No’ to the Nothingness. I get it. What our intrepid hero was really demonstrating to all of us wasn’t that he said ‘no’ as much as he said ‘Yes’ to something better.

Life looks good from up here and we’ve both got things to do. Climb atop your own dragon and fly. Me? I’ll be seeing you on the other side.

UntilThenDan

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FernFive

PASSAGES

George Jones

GEORGE JONES

September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013

(CNN) — “George Jones, the country music legend whose graceful, evocative voice gave depth to some of the greatest songs in country music — including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Grand Tour” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” — has died, according to his public relations firm.

Jones, 81, died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, the public relations firm said. He had been hospitalized since April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.

Jones’ career was marked by a tumultuous marriage to Tammy Wynette and bouts with alcoholism that led to occasional concert cancellations. (One of his nicknames was “No-Show Jones”; after he got clean, he puckishly used “No-Show” on his license plates.)

But there was no denying his talent. Waylon Jennings once wrote a song that said, “George might show up flyin’ high, if George shows up at all/But he may be, unconsciously, the greatest of them all.”

Famous friends chimed in after learning of his death.

“My friend, the greatest singer of all time, has passed,” Brad Paisley wrote on Twitter. “To those who knew him, our lives were full. To those of you who don’t: discover him now.”

In a statement, Merle Haggard said,

“The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time. Amen.”

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/showbiz/music/obit-george-jones/index.html

More Source material at: http://www.cmt.com/news/country-music/1706448/george-jones-10-prime-hits.jhtml

Single Fern

richie_havens

RICHIE HAVENS

January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013

(NPR) “Richie Havens, a Brooklyn-born singer who sang gospel as a teenager, began playing folk music in Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s and was the opening act at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, N.J., according to his agent. He was 72 years old.

Havens had a long career as a musician, but if he had done nothing else, his performance at Woodstock would secure his place in American music history. Havens was the first performer to walk onto the stage at the festival; he sat on a stool and performed for nearly two hours — including an improvisation that incorporated the spiritual “Motherless Child,” later called “Freedom.” It became a highlight of the documentary about the festival and introduced him to audiences around the world.

As a black performer, he was a rarity in the folk-dominated Greenwich Village scene. His sandpaper soft voice and percussive guitar playing caught the ear of folk impresario Albert Grossman, who first signed Bob Dylan and helped create Peter, Paul and Mary. Havens released his breakout album, Mixed Bag, in 1967.

Havens went on to act in films and on television, and he continued recording for more than 40 years. He had a Top 20 hit in 1971 with a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” and released his last album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. But it was onstage — with his guitar — that Havens was in his element. He toured constantly and in 2008 told NPR that he never planned his shows beyond the opening and closing songs.

“Many times people have come up to me after and they’d, they’d say, ‘Richie, do you know what you did?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ They’d go, ‘I wrote these songs down for you to sing and you sang ’em all in a row.’ That’s the kind of communication happens, you know,” Havens said. “It’s like if you let the audience lead, then you are the audience.”

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2013/04/23/178470389/richie-havens-folk-singer-who-opened-woodstock-has-died and more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_Havens

FernFive

 

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PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:

Defiance Arch from Defiance (SyFy Channel): http://www.syfy.com/videos/Defiance/What’s%20Hot/vid:2634361

 READ MORE ABOUT IT – NYC fast food workers protesting for a raise in the minimum wage (AP Photo by Mary Altaffer) : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/04/fast-food-workers-protest-nyc_n_3018123.html

office-workers: http://old-photos.blogspot.com/2009_11_01_archive.html; Landlord and Frustration: http://rentpost.com/blog/keywords/landlord/; Poverty_shutterstock_119884378 (Credit: Shutterstock/ makler0008): http://www.salon.com/2013/01/30/nearly_half_of_americans_on_edge_of_financial_disaster/; boy making face as he gets scolded: http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/parenting_hardest_job_in_world_coping_strategies_parents_when_going_gets_rough; Two Guys Arguing: http://garyfurr.org/2012/09/ (a WordPress blogger); aha-moment: http://www.amyvolk.com/an-aha-moment-about-organizing/; Noah Hathaway as Atreyu in the Never Ending Story: http://cinema.theiapolis.com/movie-2T7Y/the-neverending-story/gallery/noah-hathaway-as-atreyu-in-the-neverending-1080603.html and The Never Ending Storyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_NeverEnding_Story_(film) ; Falkor and Bastian flying: http://www.tumblr.com/hello_lightbox/spitt/43297645573?follow_source=FOLLOW_SOURCE_BLOG_LIGHTBOX#; George Jones: http://www.georgejones.com/; richie_havens: http://www.soundspike.com/story/5239/richie_havens_news_the_roundup_richie_havens/; The AURYN (closing inset) by Tropican – The original prop of which is now kept in Steven Spielberg’s office: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AURYN_72.JPG

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 AURYN_72 Inset
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About dan4kent

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dan lives in the Chicagoland area. With a grown son from a previous marriage, he has since built a committed relationship of 32 years with his partner Rick, the Love of his Life. Having written his whole life, he blogged the past 6-years because he has to write…he can’t help it. Know the feeling? There’s ‘good‘ to be found in all of it. “If all I do is leave someone (or something) better than I found them, then I’ve done my part. Thanks for letting me grace your screen, if only for a little while.”
This entry was posted in Hope, Inspiration, Life, Life Lessons, Love and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to DEFIANCE

  1. Dan,
    I can really identify with the rollercoaster of getting caught up, just to fall behind again, then have that compounded by the choices other makes. It can be draining, wearing, and quite disheartening. Until I look back on ALL the other times I’ve been in the same boat and realize that, one way or another, it always manages to work out – sometimes better than I expected, sometimes much different or less than I’d hoped, but it always manages to work itself out. Then I have to take a deep breath (sometimes one that includes toxic smoke) and exhale and find a happy thought: a recent memory of something good, the giggling laughter of my youngest, or look to my fb news feed to find a friend to celebrate or commiserate with and get out of my egocentric mindset.

    Ultimately, the changes we’ve been working so hard, so defiantly to make inside of ourselves takes time to show on the outside. When we lament that we can’t see or aren’t able to force the change from the outside, it’s because we’re still under construction on the inside. I’ve been under construction for a while now and know the changes are true and real – and have been getting stronger and happening faster. Those changes are just now manifesting in the externals and as Sara Groves sings in her song, Less Like Scars:

    “It’s been a hard year • But I’m climbing out of the rubble • These lessons are hard • Healing changes are subtle • But every day it’s… • Less like tearing more like building • Less like captive more like willing • Less like breakdown more like surrender • Less like haunting more like remember • And I feel you here • And you’re picking up the pieces • Forever faithful • It seemed out of my hands a bad situation • But you are able • And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars and more like character …”

    Blessings,
    Kina

    • dan4kent says:

      Gorgeous. Ditto your read on things. Climbing, building, willing and picking up the pieces. I’m smiling…you’ve done it again. Thanks. Dan

  2. wisejourney says:

    There is that dragon again…first in the clouds and then in someone else’s blog post taking me back 2 decades when my kids were little and never ending story was a favourite…. Still teaching us all it seems.
    I believe we have something to gain from each experience be it good or not so good… That’s exactly what you always do Dan. Good for you and Larry is an ass!

  3. purplemary54 says:

    I’m sorry your life has been a little topsy turvy lately, but I’m really pleased to know about how you’ve decided to deal with it. Defiance is empowering; I saw a bumper sticker that said “They only call it class warfare when we fight back.” And I’m really, really pleased you and Rick have decided to quit smoking. 🙂 I need to take more control over my own thoughts and feelings, so I found this post particularly inspiring. (There I go, outsourcing my epiphanies again.)

    • dan4kent says:

      Wow! You are the empowering one. Like I just wrote to Kate, this week proved to be a really tough slog in cutting through my defenses and just put it out there. You’re reassuring me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and know it, then not be afraid to show it. It took me awhile, but it’s heartening to hear it resonated with you. Thank you. Dan
      PS: Rick says ‘hi’.

      • purplemary54 says:

        Just about everything you post resonates with me. I find it equally heartening to share your perspective. It really helps me to know that others out there are struggling with the same kind of emotions and thoughts, and that it is possible to untangle the mess.

        And “Hi” right back to Rick. If he’s even half the man you make him sound like, you found a real gem. (I think he found one in you, too.)

      • dan4kent says:

        Wow. Here’s to ‘sharing’. Wouldn’t have it any other way. And another toast to untangling. As for your gems bit. Thank you. It pleases me when I get to relay a shout-out from the blogosphere. From my House to Yours, travel well this week. Dan

    • dan4kent says:

      Kate – I appreciate the affirmation. Reminds me of what someone wise once told me, “If it’s all good, all the time, someone’s either lying or pretending”. It was tough to show myself this week. Thank you. Dan

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