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  • Francis James

A Reflection on Doing

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

I tend to write when I’m sad, or very inspired. If the latter, it tends to be fiction, or some sort of memoir. I'm not sad today though. It’s a gorgeous day. In the shade it’s cool, almost cool enough for a sweatshirt, and breezy, like a Westerly breeze coming off the ocean, but not as damp. It’s the woods up here. I like the woods. I like to hear the breeze, with it’s waves of motion shaking the leaves on the trees. I feel like the trees are talking to each other, or singing a multi-part harmony for Mother Earth. Todd (my dog) likes to sit and bask in it. He’s a good boy.

In the sun, the breeze cools the skin momentarily while the sun’s rays beat down on it, scorching and reddening my arms and neck. A cloud passes over the sun for a quick respite. Not that the sun’s light is an unpleasant place to be but I can only take it on my fair skin for a while. I do tan - I tend to burn first usually, mostly my laziness to reapply and reapply sunscreen. Another thing my laziness affects. My skin condition.

I grew up kind of lazy. I grew up with my head in the clouds and daydreams mulled over daily. I wasn't really challenged a lot growing up, lots of things just came easy. So challenges in life make me want to run away. Go somewhere else, where there are no difficulties. But how? I’d feel so unfulfilled in life. As irony would have it, and irony being a major presence in my life, due to my multiple and sometimes completely contradictory lines of thought and personal philosophy, I feel the best when I am doing. Doing for good, doing for myself - still learning how to truly do for myself and not feel guilty though - and doing for others… Doing makes me feel more complete and more alive. Doing requires some challenge to be met and overcome. I do love to overcome and I do enjoy challenges, but for some reason my threshold for pain which derives from challenge can be extraordinarily high at some times, and depressingly low at others. This probably seems contradictory.

I wish I was more willing to take on hardship and overcome the odds. It seems so damn hard to do though sometimes. It seems almost impossible some of those times. I grew up with a “what if” attitude because I was fearful of a lot of things. Physical pain, mental discomfort, abandonment, uselessness, self-reflection. That attitude, in older age, turned into a ”why bother?” attitude. Problem! Huge problem. You see, when you start to ask “what if?”, you’re concerned for safety of self, whether your ego or body or whatever. But when you start asking “why bother?”... well that’s a whole other issue. That is lack of confidence, lack of efficacy, lack of autonomy, and lack of any sense of control, even control over one’s own life. “Why bother?” is a dangerous question to ask. It’s a dangerous path to go down. Don't ask “why bother?” because it will send you in a tailspin of self loathing and self doubt and it’ll be hard to dig yourself out of that hole. I have to dig everyday, all day. It sucks. It hurts. It makes me want to die sometimes. And I’m scared of the process of death, but dammit sometimes it seems better than the mental and spiritual anguish I put myself through. I dig. I dig hard. All while the old prospect says “well that’s too damn bad!”.

The woods are an interesting place to be in the early summertime. Cool shadows and hot sun spots. It can feel ten or fifteen degrees colder in the shade with a heavy breeze. Somewhat volatile. Like me. Volatile. Appropriate for different reasons and at different times. Useful and necessary. Late Spring and Summer make me lethargic and lazy and all it does is remind me of the man I've become and how far that is from the man I want to be.

But maybe I’ve grown wiser. Maybe I finally see all the progress I’ve made. I’ve made a ton of progress as a man. As a better man. As a better me. But once your eyes are opened just a little bit, you start to realize just how big the abyss is, and just how blissful ignorance can be. I see how far I’ve gone. And I see how much further I really need to go. I can’t see the end. I’ll probably never get there. But who cares? Fuck the end. It’s not the end that matters anymore. It’s the journey. My journey will be long and hard and it will be worth it. It will not be easy. But it will be worth it. Sainthood is a goal I should have, and will probably never reach. Good. I don’t need the validation of praise and sainthood. All I need to do is get as close as I can to the goal. That’ll be enough. And if it causes my body to burn up in the atmosphere as I fall back to earth, good. At least I got higher than I thought I would ever get in the first place.

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