Thursday, March 04, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough...

[[switching to first person]] I was looking over my posts for the last two days and noticed a bit of petulance and negativity in there. So I sat down tonight determined to write an upbeat post. After all, they actually played games today! There were box scores and everything. Today in northern Maine, the sun came out after eight straight days of clouds and it felt good. But despite all of that, there is too much pensiveness inside to quite pull off the genuine cheer.

We've all heard it before that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I feel like I'm a pretty tough guy. Nothing has come easy in this life. My dad died when I was ten. We lost our home and then my mom married this drunken lout with five kids of his own who absolutely detested that we invaded their home. In retrospect, it's hard to blame them. They were kids after all, but it was definitely not the Brady Bunch. I've worked hard my whole life. And there were times when that hard work paid off. But those times never seem to last. I've had this weird thirteen year cycle where every thirteen years or so, the wheels fall off, I lose everything I've gained and have to start from scratch.

Do the tough always get going? I think sometimes they do. But what you can most say about the tough is that they don't give up. Working hard is what I do. From the moment my son was born thirty years ago, I have put in sixty to seventy hours a week at whatever I've been doing. Sometimes, being that tough means you crash and burn and there are no guarantees in life. In our not too distant past, farmers worked from dawn to dusk year round and at times still lost their farms if prices fell or the weather didn't cooperate.

So life has felt sort of bipolar. There have been successful times at least twice in my life where I had the means to do pretty much whatever I pleased. There have been just as many times when I've been just as low as I was high. This is one of them. This is probably the worst of them. We have our health and we eat and so far (thank God), the mortgage is getting paid. But everything else is a crap shoot.

My new business doubled in size last year but expenses were just as high. But it's enough growth that lends itself to keep trying. It's like golf, you hit just enough good shots that you keep going despite the nine you might have carded on that last par five. It really helps that I have all the support I need from my wife. She believes in what I am doing and believes it will be successful. Me? Well, let's just say that I am equally as optimistic as I am scared to death.

The one key problem I have at the moment is that I need new equipment to get this to the next level. The problem is that I haven't worked in a year and a half and no one is going to fork over the kind of money needed for that equipment. And so I look to the heavens for wisdom and keep stumbling along with what I have and despite it's weak nature, I make really nice stuff.

My first reaction so far to what this post is shaping up to be is to apologize. This probably isn't what you came here to read. But the heck with apologizing. Sometimes you just have to write what is on the heart and in the mind and leave it at that. It's all a bit indulgent, to use a Simon Cowell term, but it's my indulgent and it's my blog, so there it is.

So where am I now in the scheme of things? Well, despite the loss of my former career, the budget cuts that just eliminated my wife's teaching position and the battles with drug addiction by a family member, let's just say that I'm tough. There are some days where it is hard to concentrate and keep working. There are other days where the work keeps my mind off of other things. But the bottom line is that I believe I was put on this earth for a purpose. And that purpose is still a work in progress. I don't mean to offend any of my atheistic friends, but if I truly believed this life was a random and fluke event, then why bother? Why keep trying. It's just too hard and it would be far easier to just curl up in a fetal position and stay there. So, yeah, I think this is just a valley. A real deep one.

I really hate some of what's on the radio now. All of that electronic music where the voice is obscured by the computer is a cheap circus trick and shows no art whatsoever. And let's face it, Miley Cyrus isn't exactly art inspiring. But her song about climbing that mountain came on the radio recently and I cried like a baby. Yeah, that's what I'm doing. I'm going to climb that mountain. I'm going to get on the other side. I do care how fast I get there though.

Two people really dear to me are having a tough time right now. He is 93 and his wife is 90. She has gone through enough to kill twenty people in the last five years. But she still smiles whenever I see her. She's still here. It hurts to watch people that worked hard all their lives not being able to care for themselves, though he still gets on his tractor occasionally. I've talked to him quite a bit over the years and he remembers some really tough times. He went through the Depression and took over his father's potato farm as a teenager because his father couldn't handle it. He almost lost everything until by some stroke of genius, he converted the farm to egg producing. It worked and at his peak he had 20,000 hens.

His story encourages me because he climbed that mountain despite how low the valleys were. But they also had this incredible secret to being happy. They enjoyed each and every day and appreciated such simple things. Strawberries and taking the van to sleep overnight in the woods were things they just adored. So they worked hard and they were content with things that didn't cost a lot of money to enjoy.

So I'm in a bit of a hole. Heck, I'm at the bottom of Crater Lake. But I'm going to climb that mountain. I'm going to work until I can't anymore and I will have faith that it will work out and I'll get to the other side. But I'm also going to try to be thankful for a good hamburger and a round of golf (the one indulgence from the tax refund) and a good book. And yeah, I'm going to be thankful for baseball. Through everything, there has always been baseball. And other writers may want to dwell forever on a Canadian doctor who treated Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez in some strange ways. Other writers may want to dwell on how the game isn't what it used to be. But the poetry and the passion of every day box scores and new stars and new years will never grow old for me. Life is too hard right now to look for new demons around trees. I choose to look for angels in the outfield.

Thanks for being here for me and after this, I promise to get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

My dad is going through a tough time right now as well. Money is tight, so he's trying to get his Masters to look for a teaching job at a university. But he's facing an uphill battle; he's nearly 60 and facing ageism at every turn.