Looking over my past few blog entries, it looks like I’ve been dealing with the megrims. I even wrote a mid-week entry to deal with how I was feeling about stuff. I don’t like being a crybaby. I used to be one, not a just a little boy prone to weeping, but an adult who tried to get attention by playing up what was wrong in his life to others. I don’t regret my past few posts that had a theme of loss, but enough is enough. I found my glove and a week later found my knife. The hen is still dead but we’ve got seven new chicks that will be laying eggs this time next year. As to my broken truck, I have to deal with that.
Sometimes everything around me gets me down and I get stuck there. Over the past few years I have discovered that what I tend to get stuck in the most is denial. Denial isn’t just ignoring something. It may sound like someone walking along with a pebble in their shoe, not bothering to remove it and denying that it’s hindering them.
I was standing about a quarter mile from the finish line of the Surf City Marathon last year watching the runners. Most of them looked exhausted, but happy at the sight of the finish line. Some looked less happy than others. Then I saw a kid in his late teens. He was barely running, but still moving forward. He was crying, not bawling, but there were tears and his face was pinched in agony. He was about to complete the marathon, in sight if the finish line. But he was hurt. How did he get through the pain of it? Was it denial? No, that was perseverance. Denial is different. He may have been trying to deny he was hurting, but his face showed that the pain overrode any thought like that.
Denial is a state that I have lived in where I have felt safe. It’s easy to get stuck there. When I’m there, there is little pain. Denial means that while my truck is sitting, broken probably never to be fixed again, I plan my next road trip in it. Is that perseverance or positive thinking? Or am I just in denial? What about when I go to the Carmax website and browse their 4WD pickups? That isn’t positive thinking. That’s not doing anything productive.
Each evening at work I drive the little electric golf cart through the church parking lot just for a security sweep. Some nights I get a good look at some nice little trucks that I could wish were mine. My thoughts get clouded. I think that if other people have nice rides like this then I can too. The five digit price tag on these vehicles doesn’t seem to come into play for me. If other people can afford it, I can to.
But I don’t think about the fact that I am not those people. And I am only looking at a few people. Not everyone can afford even a reasonably priced used vehicle. Some people don’t earn a whole lot of money and have to live within their means.
Back when Prajna and I got married we made a conscious decision to be a one-income family. We saw other families like that and saw good kids and we wanted to be the ones home with ours. It hasn’t always worked out that way. Prajna has had a few jobs. But we are getting by now on my salary. We live comfortably within our means. We get along alright, but that means that if we don’t need a vehicle just for my use then we should not be putting money into it.
Prajna reminds me that I can take the family minivan on a lone excursion sometime. Sure I can. There is nothing wrong with driving out to the desert in an air-conditioned vehicle that’s comfortable and easy to drive. Why do I want my little pickup with its manual transmission, broken air-conditioning and four-wheel drive? When it broke I was on my way to Mahogany Flats in the middle of Death Valley National Park. The campground can only be reached with four-wheel drive. I was on my way there. I had planned my getaway for weeks, maybe months, and it disappeared in a groan of gears and smoke off a broken rear-end.
And I need to get out of this comfortable denial and face the fact that I may never see Mahogany Flats again. Because here is the thing: Skirting around that fact makes everything else seem miserable too. It gives me the megrims. If I step out of denial about this, then I can’t deny the blessings I am surrounded with either. I am surrounded by a wonderful family and I have a job I love. My writing is going well. There is little more I can ask for and want.
So I am going to try to stop being a crybaby and at the same time make an effort to look at things as they really are. Instead of looking forward to camping alone in Death Valley, I think a lot about the novel I want to write this November for NaNoWriMo. I think about the responsibility I am stepping up to in ministry and hoping it makes me a better person.
And when I get to feeling sorry for myself I might write it here and share it. But I will do the best I can to keep it balanced. I had a funny story I was going to write about today, but it was 29 years ago that it happened and I’m trying to focus this blog more on what I’m thinking about now. But the story was about loss, kind of. Maybe next week. And maybe next week I will have brought my truck back from the mechanic and arranged to have it towed away to a wrecking yard. I can’t deny that will still make me sad. Denial, you are so comfortable.