Break for freedom – Day 16 (A writing pause)

Day 16  – Saturday August 26, 2017 (A writing pause)

9:26 a.m. – I home from my walk about two hours ago. It was a peaceful affair, sweatshirt weather, it was 45 degrees this morning early. I completed the entire walk in comfort. I am going to, for now, pause the daily briefs about the walks. No doubt I will be back reporting on how they are going, or how a specific one stands out, and why.

I will, you have my word, report if I take a single day off from walking, and what led me to do so. No doubt I will at some point, but all of me knows, now is not the time.

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For Charley

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Break for freedom – Day 14 (the One Shot Club)

Day 14 – Thursday, August 24, 2017 (The One Shot Club)

6:23 a.m. – 33 years ago today I was held-up and shot in the head. Like it or not, it’s been something of a banner over my life ever since. I remember Jim Brady, the White House press secretary for President Ronald Reagan who was shot in the head during a 1981 assassination attempt on the president, drawing my attention to the fact both of us lived with injuries that, by their very nature (We both lived with bullet fragments lodged in our brain.), would get us attention, and we should use the attention to help others understand the reality of brain injury, and the merciless reality of gun violence.

Jim left this life three years ago this month. He was a good, loving, and courageous man. There are people alive today because of the Brady Bill.

Jim is not the only person I’ve known who has survived being headshot. Or, as my late friend William would say, “The One Shot Club.” William was a member, so too were Kevin, Tyrone, Donald. We all really and truly loved and cared about each other. One day, William, me, Tyrone, and Donald were standing outside in a small circle talking. Suddenly a big smile burst onto Tyrone’s face. “Hey, we’re all standing?”

This observation was followed immediately by all of us of us putting our arms around the shoulders of man on either side of us. We were all smiling, no one said a word. The reality Tyrone’s question brought to the fore didn’t require words. Had any of us said a word in those next moments, the spiritual beauty of the experience would have vanished. In short, we loved each other, our respect for each other was bullet proof.

8:01 a.m. – Home after cool, crisp, enjoyable walk. The walks are becoming easier. Anxiety down a good 80 percent. This means I’ll soon change the route again, and add distance. When you’ve reduced your opponents’ punches to weak jabs, go to the next level, challenge its harder punches, and punch back.

Here’s to every member of the One Shot Club, I love each of you with all my heart.

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For Donald, Jim, Kevin, Tyrone, & William

Day 8 – August 18, 2017 (Moxie Man)

Day 8 – Friday, August 18, 2017 (Moxie Man)

5:24 a.m. – Charley’s early walk was lovely. More so than usual, there is a very light rain falling, and the scent of rain in the air reaches the center my heart. I’ve loved the scent since I was a  boy. Had the scent somehow washed over me when I was a baby, then my love for it started then. I kissed Charley on the top of his velvety head, and then let him make his morning contributions.

I treasure moments like this morning’s early walk with Charley, in August more than any other month. August has not been much of a friend. My Dad died on the 16th, my mother committed suicide on the 12th, and I was held-up and shot in the head on the 24th. That said, an enchanting woman called me Moxie Man this month, and that’s just about as lovely as the scent of rain, and embeds a beautiful moment in August.

It just started pouring rain outside! This could me my first real rain walk. I am smiling. I want as much of my life back as I can get. Remember, because you feel hopeless doesn’t mean there’s no hope; it simply means you’ve lost contact with it; it’s still there; promise.

8:44 a.m. – Back home. A walk in a soft rain, the earlier downpour had calmed by the time I entered the morning. I hope it rains the same way tomorrow morning. When I was a boy we lived in an area filled with woods and a nice wide stream me and my friends viewed as our own private river. Walking in the rain reminded me of all the beauty and peace I found in the woods. I think it is still there.

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For Anne Marie

 

Break for Freedom – Day 3 (Spaghetti Squash)

Day 3 – Sunday, August 13, 2017

7:26 a.m. – Ugly morning. First awake moments loaded with all kinds of discomfort, emotional, physical antsiness.  You don’t plan a day’s first moments; you live them.

In the shower, a few minutes ago, I realized the isolation has separated me from my body. This new awareness, I am pleased to report, riles me up, makes it far more likely I’m getting out the door this morning. I cannot shake the images of violence from the White Nationalist/KKK/Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday. I’m sure Donald Trump’s response-statement further secured his white-racist voting bloc.  If the man ever walks in front of my car I am not going to let my dislike for him have so much decision-making power it makes me to forget the brake-pedal is on the right.

8:47 a.m. – Home. God, what a beautiful word. I walked the same distance, again, without the armor of dog, walking stick, music, pepper spray.

It felt cool out. Three minutes in, I am soaked through and unable to tell if I am actually cold or not. A mishap of sorts from yesterday has me burst into laughter a few times, and that helped. I recently got on Instant Pot, a kind of pressure cooker. My friend, Annie, had suggested it as a help for someone like me whose patience mirrors the size of a gnat when it comes to preparing meals. I thought I’d begin with Spaghetti Squash.

I cut the squash in half, put some water in my new pressure cooker, saw it was set for 10 minutes, and on it went. I suppose the best way to let you know the outcome is to give you a paraphrasing of the conversation I had with Annie afterwards. I called her in Hawaii.

  • Hey, Annie. I just wanted to thank you for the Instant Pot idea. It’s great.
  • I’m so glad.
  • I had spaghetti squash!
  • Wonderful! How was it?
  • Drank it through a straw.
  • You drank – How much water did you use?
  • About three and a half cups.
  • Oh my God!
  • Too much?
  • (Laughing) Peter, maybe three-quarters of a cup.
  • I drank both halves.

Anyway, Day 3s’ walk is under my belt, next to the spaghetti squash.

Break for Freedom: Day 2 (Ha!)

Day 2 – Saturday, August 12, 2017

I’m going to have to get out of my own way if I am getting out the door again at eight today. They say, Keep it simple for a reason. As my friends, Maria and Annie like to say, Ha! They say this to me in a text or email from time to time, and at the best moments too. Maria lives in Florida and Annie lives in Hawaii. Recently, I suggested to Maria that we either have a baby boy, or adopt one, and name it Mueller, after Robert Mueller III, the man heading up the investigation in Russia-Trump and a man who, by any measure, represents all that much of our country needs to wake up and remember our country stands for.  Maria responded with a glorious, “Ha!”

The, Ha!, is loaded with humor, love for life, and the radiant, healthy defiance (playful in these instances) found in the face of one who is not about to have their love for life and equality tampered with.  Every time one of them fires off a Ha!,  I want to hug them. My life is far better off for the presence of Annie and Maria. For those who think men and women can’t be just friends, Annie’s been a friend of mine for 30 years at least, and Maria’s been a friend of mine for 40 years.

So, it is now 6:48 a.m. in the opinion of a digital clock that sits on the cluttered top of a two-tier filing cabinet. Oops! Changed its mind, it’s 6:49. Eight a.m. is coming into view. I need music and movement and a shower.

I suppose, too, if there is going to be any benefit to either of us, I’d be wise to offer a glimpse of my emotional state, which, of course, is physical and, spiritual too. I’m packed with fear and the sweat has started. Emotional, spiritual and physical equal one because they are one

7:42 a.m. – I’m out the door. (No dog, no music, no walking stick, no pepper spray.)

9:04 a.m. and I am finally home, another soaked shirt under my belt. Same distance walk as yesterday, followed by a trip to the store. Walking outside is something like being in another world. It’s overcast today, damp out. There is a street I walk on near here with large beautiful houses. I like looking at the care and love and creativity people bestow on their property is great fun.

There are gifts to going into the world you don’t expect. I walked past a tall, older woman with a Scotty on a leash. I said, “FDR would be proud.” She laughed and we talked for a few minutes. Here face had some serious scars and skin discolorations. It gave me great joy to continue looking right at her, smiling, listening, keeping our eyes connected. The discomfort you might feel when looking at an appearance influenced by scars, discolorations or whatever has nothing to do with the person you are seeing.

I told her I used to say dogs are people too until it occurred to me I was insulting the dogs. She burst out laughing and said, “That’s a good one!” We parted smiling.

Day 3 of this effort awaits. The good news is, it ain’t here yet. I’m going to have a cup of coffee now.

Ha!

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For Annie & Maria