Break for Freedom – Day 7 (Measured fury)

Day 7 – August 17, 2017 (Measured fury)

8:01 a.m. – Back home after my walk.

I have mixed feelings about allowing myself much credit for completing this morning’s walk. It was easier than the others because it was fueled by a measured fury, a fury that was part of every stride, every movement.

Where does the fury come from? My father and uncle and many of my friend’s fathers and uncles fought in World War II against the Nazis. My father was in the 20th Armored Division, one of three divisions that liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp. The president of my country is the Nazi’s ally. He an ally of White Nationalists, and he is an ally of the KKK. When I hear some talking heads ask each other why the president is behaving like this. I want to snatch them up by the nape of the neck and, in a loud voice, say: “You guys just graduate the Rhetorical Questions Workshop? Because he is a racist! Because he is a Nazi! Wake the fuck up!”

I did the uphill walk again today. It was no match for me. Let me right-size that. It was no match for fury.

Advertisements

Break for Freedom – Day 6 (My Dad’s day)

Day 6 – August 16, 2017 (My Dad’s day)

Back home 8:22 a.m. – A different day, in large part because today marks 48 years since my father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann, died. My father was and is the greatest gift my life has given me. Today’s walk, a truly sweet-morning mist in the air, was kind of magical. I reversed the walk starting yesterday so there is a nice uphill stretch, the soft-pain in my thighs from pushing the pace a welcome event.

As I was getting close to home, I remembered that 48 years ago, my father was alive in the morning. He was pronounced dead at 1:43 p.m. in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. Peritonitis took his life. The day he died, the world, for me, became a dangerous place to be. He was only 55. He was also my best friend.

I love you, Dad, my whole wide world. As Bob Dylan wrote: “And if there is eternity, I’ll love you there again.”

No power on earth could have stopped me from walking today.

*********************

For my father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann, (Feb. 20, 1914 – Aug. 16, 1969).

Break for Freedom – Day 5 (Puddle jumping)

Day 5 – August 15, 2017 (Puddle jumping)

6:20 a.m. – It is raining. A steady rain. When I was a boy I couldn’t wait to go outside and play in the rain. Jump-stomping into the biggest puddle I could find was as much fun as a roller coaster. While my hands tremble a bit while I tap away here, I am smiling. Puddle jumping was a blast.

About hands trembling. It’s fear. Free floating anxiety some call it. Right. Fear.  Like some of you, I have a relationship with the fear, with the PTSD, with the agoraphobia, with, in my case, a brain injury. The bad news is, these things are present. The good news  is — and I’m dead serious — the good news is, you have a say in your relationship with them. The challenge is relieving these demons of their decision-making power.

Consider this for a moment. The rain is beautiful. It’s sound, the angle of its fall. Why should any demon gets much decision-making power it stops me from walking in the rain? Important to remember. On the days you can’t get out, it does not mean you’re weak, nor does it mean, you failed. It means these demons are no-nonsense tough opponents. Nothing more, nothing less.

7:10 a.m. – I’m out the door.

9:24 a.m. – The walk, followed by a trip to the store, is over. I am glad I am alive. Yes, another drenched shirt, but that’s okay; I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee.

 

Walking through the fear; making a break for freedom

Day One – Friday, August 11, 2017

Maybe this is a kind of Break for Freedom journal. I am 63. There is no time to lose. Destroying my fear of going outside can never begin on a fear-free day. The fear will be there, like some kind of emotional fungus, and fungus is a bitch to get rid of.  I live with a brain injury and an ample dose of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of being held up and shot in the head in 1984. The bullet remains lodged in the brain.

I like to think of Nelson Mandela’s words about courage That courage a triumph over fear, not the absence of it. The exact quote is, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

I love Mandela. My guiding lights? Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Geronimo, Beethoven, Helen Keller. They all dealt with fear, and they all triumphed over it. I’m good on the role-model front.

But, here I am at 7:23 in the morning, preparing to go for a walk at eight. It makes me angry that this is terrifying for me. They use the word anxiety. Fine. But fuck that word. I’m afraid. I’m scared. I’m frightened. There’s no mystery to this. I long ago learned it is not weak to admit you’re scared. Were admitting it an act of weakness, why is it so hard to do?  I need to shower and go. I know I will shower again when I get back, but I don’t care. I feels better entering the fray, fresh and ready — sharp.

8:48 a.m. — I walked about half a mile: no dog, no music, no walking stick, no pepper spray. Just me. I came back my shirt soaked through with sweat, immediately drove to the store, picked up typing paper and a 64GB SanDisk. Now I am safe at home with Charley (my 10-year-old Black Lab mix).

Early in the walk I pressed the index, middle and ring fingers of each hand against the front of my thighs and kept them there. Feeling the muscles move and harden with every stride was comforting. I kept my fingers their most of the walk. It had not been a conscious choice. I just knew to do it; it happened; and it helped. Instinct. Perhaps the most precious gift life has to offer. It humbles me, this uncanny skill our species has for surviving, for keeping life, rather than relinquishing it, especially to a monster called fear.

Day one, under my belt. That this all occurred in under an hour blows my mind. It felt like hours. Now, Peter, breathe.

A couple of close-ups if you will. At one point, there was an inner dialogue, someone asking me, “So what are you so afraid is going to happen if you got out?”

“I’m afraid someone is going to kill me.”

“In Adams?”

To which, my unedited reply would be: “Listen, you stupid fuck. I wasn’t expecting someone to put a gun to the side of my head and blow my brains out when I was walking to work on a so-called nice block in Brooklyn. You let me know when you find a violence-free zone, you stupid shit, and I’ll move there. You think that’s strange? I met a woman who was sitting in a parked car in a nice community upstate, holding her baby, when a drunk driver crashed into her side of the car and her baby’s head was crushed right before her eyes. Like I said, you find me a violence-free zone and I’m in. In the meantime, shut the fuck up.”

I can tell you, this dialogue helped me cover a solid half block in distance. Imagination well spent. Tomorrow’s Day 2. I’ll see when it gets here.

**************** 

For Chris Albee