struggle

•May 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I found myself waking up more frequently from intense dreams, dreams where I’d run until my legs gave out, seizing and spasming uncontrollably. The overwhelming sense of death lingered close behind, gaining fast. From the pit of my gut, I struggled to avoid defeat but instinctively knew for me it was inevitable. My psyche had adapted to accept constant struggle, and defeat yet at some level I felt this time had to be different. Defeat may be, at times, inevitable; the will to survive is not….it’s a choice.

absence

•May 21, 2010 • 5 Comments


Been ridiculously absent from this project. Lacking in both time and inspiration, two essential elements for my writing. It doesn’t help, I suppose, that this blog has no real purpose which drives me to make time for it. There are a few of you friends who lovingly encourage me to write, and who tell me you enjoy my writing.

Well, thanks.

Really.

A big part of what motivates me in this life is bringing a little joy, love, and inspiration to others. I suppose that should be sufficient to motivate me, but at the end of the day here we are…what, a month or so since I’ve written. Stick around, be patient.

The oppressive force of depression has limited my creativity lately. I’m actively working on myself, trusting in my inner strength and the able assistance of a good therapist to facilitate my journey back to unencumbered thought and emotion.

And, as always, there’s tennis which has been consistently in my life for the past 36 years. What would I have done/been without that powerful influence? I’ve met celebrities, had the thrill of playing with world-class touring pros, and enjoyed lifelong relationships which began with tennis, and have sustained those friendships to this day.

So, for now I work on my heart and head through therapy, work on my body through tennis and other exercise modalities, and keep the faith that my willingness to love and be loved will sustain me. I suppose there’s really nothing more I can ask.

Back soon…….
Peace.

Mixed messages

•February 27, 2010 • 7 Comments

First things first: This morning, as most of us north Americans were waking up safely and comfortably in our homes, our south American neighbors in Chile were suffering the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. My sincere and heartfelt thoughts and prayers are sent their way this morning.


I knew it! Just minutes after watching the exciting 500 meter short track final last night, one in which there was a controversial finish, and one in which we may have watched one of the truly great short-track skaters of all time, Apolo Anton Ohno compete for the final time I cringed as Chris Collinsworth interviewed Apolo backstage. Why, you wonder, did I cringe? Well, for the life of me I cannot understand, other than the obvious reasons, why the media always seem to take the low road. Obviously Apolo was disappointed in his loss, which was a direct result of his disqualification. I cannot be sure, but I truly do not believe that Apolo would have addressed the Canadian judge DQ ruling had Chris not asked. Way to go Chris. So, this morning on Yahoo news I get to see a little something like this:

“By lashing out at the judges who disqualified him from the 500-meter final, Ohno ended his Olympic career much as it began in 2002: with controversy” (as submitted by Martin Rogers, a Yahoo staff sports writer).

Did anyone else see the interview? Was Apolo not directly and deliberately asked about the judges disqualification decision by Collinsworth? He didn’t “lash out.” He almost matter-of-factly stated that he felt the ruling may have been a result of it being a Canadian judge in a huge race involving two of his countrymen. We all acknowledge that while judges are generally impartial, and expert, they are human. Based on how he answered the question I think that’s what Apolo was intimating. I give Apolo the benefit of doubt. Bad choice of a response by Apolo? Probably. “Lash out?” Strictly a matter of interpretation as far as I’m concerned.

“Ohno, who could have skated into the sunset simply thankful to be adorned with yet another medal-gaining Olympic Games, instead offered remarks that were unfair and unfounded, that came across as an attempt to take some sheen off a truly golden night for Canada. “Friday was Canada‚Äôs night. Apolo Anton Ohno turned his swan song into a disappointing afterthought.” (Martin Rogers, Yahoo Sports)

I think it’s safe to say that Apolo truly was, overall a “gracious loser.” Did you not see him offer congratulatory handshakes to each of the medalists immediately after the race, and the disqualification decision? In fact, in the same interview with Collinsworth he acknowledged and gave credit to his competitors. Instead, we’ll focus on an almost off-handed, throw-away remark he made to Collinsworth, when deliberately asked? Come on, people. We’re better than that. From what I witnessed, Apolo’s post-race behavior did not indicate any disrespect, nor actively attempt to detract from Canada’s well-deserved and glorious moment. I think we do owe Apolo, a classy gentleman, a chance to “skate into the sunset” after all he’s done for the sport throughout his career.

Spirit recycled?

•February 24, 2010 • 7 Comments

Those of you who know me, know of my love for blues music. There is no doubt that I could be suspended in a perpetual state of bliss while listening to SRV, BB King, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Santana, and on and on. Blues music cleanses my soul and my psyche. I love all music, all genres. Music is a pure expression of life’s energy manifested melodically. But, give me blues or give me death (OK, please forgive me Mr. Patrick Henry for bastardizing your famous patriotic quote). Recently, while traveling between my patients on a day much the same as any other, I had a little time to spare and decided to stop by Stevie Ray Vaughn’s final resting place right here in Dallas. I’d been once before, alone, and witnessed what was for me an understated memorial to, in my opinion, one of the greatest blues musicians of all time. There we were, me and Stevie Ray. Obviously all that existed on that plot of ground was the memory, and spirit of SRV. I sat, listened to “Lenny” on my ipod and wept openly. I tried to sing along, feeling a little self-conscious that Stevie could be rolling over in there wishing for this poser to “get the hell off his property” and shut the hell up. But, trusting in the sanctity of the moment and Stevie’s understanding of my exquisite fanhood, I sang and wept, sang and wept. The cruelty of life sometimes seems unbearable. Here was one of our most prolific and accomplished artists resting as a young man in the earth, instead of walking amongst us, inspiring us to feel joy, inspiration and mostly hope. However, the law of conservation of energy proposes that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just modifies or “recycles” its manifestation. I want to believe that Stevie Ray’s energy has been transposed to either another artist or the aggregate talents of so many contemporary musicians. I want to believe because still, twenty years later, I find Stevie Ray’s passing difficult to accept, perhaps I still have issues with “letting go” or I just plain haven’t found another contemporary artist whose music strikes me so deeply.

blogesphere fluff

•February 18, 2010 • 3 Comments

January 10, 2010 the Liamania blog was born. Here it is, five weeks later amidst the blog wasteland. I don’t post current events. If you’ve got a pulse, eyes, ears and at least a semi-functioning cerebrum, you’re getting the current events real time…..who gives a damn about my thoughts on current events? Now, for grins let’s say I’m Taylor Lauter, Matthew Fox, or George Clooney you’d be all over this. What kind of @#$* is that people? But I digress. This blog won’t be where you come to learn new technology tips and tricks, read reviews on newfangled gadgets you’ve overspent on, or who’s wearing who/what at the Academy Awards. It’s not newsy, necessarily functionally intellectual, nor politically or socially relevant. But get in here and get some of this, people! You don’t yet know this, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: this blog has mystical powers. Yep. Read it often, subscribe, follow me. Your skin becomes flawless and smooth, your hair thicker and silkier, your abs ripped! Think I’m joking? Read this blog for a month, and if you’re not completely satisfied with your striking physical transformation, I’ll refund your money. All of it.

Disclaimer: This blog has no mystical powers, actually. And, it may in fact make you uglier. Lastly, if you actually did pay for it I wanna know how so I can charge you more.

Wings

•February 16, 2010 • 15 Comments


As a child, I dreamed of being three things: a train engineer; a pilot; and an astronaut. The most precious aspects of young dreams are the innocence with which we develop our initial abilities to believe, and the boundless possibilities therein. I fantasized about flight, became fascinated with airplanes and aerodynamics. I could lose hours pretending that my comb, toothbrush, pencil, spoon were magical instruments of flight. I’d glide and buzz around the house enjoying a whimsical flight of fancy aboard my craft. As I grew, at some point those sessions faded as the early dreams melded into kernels of subconscious thought.

Mid-twenties, as a young college graduate starting my career I’d drive along the moonlit lake shore at night. The routine, background phenomenon of a jet on final approach over the lake to its landing at the regional airport at some point became a haunting awakening of my earlier dreams. Mostly content in my new career, I’d contemplate many times what the lives of those pilots must be. I imagined a life of adventure and excitement as they ferried passengers on their own flights of fancy toward exotic destinations. I recall feeling as if there was something I’d missed out on. Feelings of sadness and almost regret began to bubble up inside as I longed to experience the magic that once seemed so real but now belonged to someone else. Many a subsequent moonlit night, as I drove that beautiful lake shore and noted those jets on their final approach path did I endure an overwhelming thought of, “There’s something I’ll never do.”

I sat, alone, nervously clutching the yoke of my Cessna 150. Engine idling, gentle cross wind blowing, pre-takeoff checklist completed, impatiently awaiting take-off clearance from runway 14 of Shreveport Downtown Municipal Airport……….there I sat. I sat…focused, poised, ready, remembering all the training I’d completed in preparation for this day. There is only one first solo as a pilot. This moment would never again be lived. And today, this was mine.

All previous flight hours, including take-offs, landings, emergency maneuvers such as take-off and landing stalls, spins (now those were really fun!), engine failure had been carefully and patiently supervised by my flight instructor. He was always there. Sitting in the right-hand seat of the plane, a position of “assistant” or “second in command” he was always there. Granted, as I progressed through training he rarely intervened in any way other than to gently verbally suggest, “You may want to lower your flight speed going into that stall recovery” or, “More right rudder!” Still, he was there. On this day, October 4, 1987 the seat was empty.

I heard it, “Cessna 49G, cleared for departure runway 14, do you copy?” Skillfully handling the radio mic as I prepared for take-off roll with my right hand on the throttle, I quickly, confidently repeated my instructions, “Downtown tower, Cessna 49G cleared for take-off runway 14.” This was it. My moment was here. Free to go. Free to “spread my wings” for the first time. Free to do what I had diligently prepared for, and what I knew was the necessary next step in becoming a licensed pilot.

As I eased the throttle slowly forward, feeding the bird its power, I steadied the yet earthbound machine straight down the paint: a little right rudder, no more left, ok now more right. Gaining speed, engine howling with delight, my heart pounded as my hands skillfully feathered the yoke backward, coaxing the plane upward into flight. Repetitive, meticulous training etched into my brain took over as I maneuvered the plane through the prescribed student first solo routine: circle the airfield at 1500 ft.; precisely follow the instructions of the local air traffic control tower as they authorize clearance for landing; land, and repeat the sequence three times. My heart now returned to normal rate and rhythm, my head clear, my spirit still soaring, I taxied the plane safely back to home base. I see my instructor proudly standing on the tarmac as I slowly guide the craft to its port.

Plane safely stowed, I return my steady feet to mother earth. My instructor approaches wielding scissors, and a smirk. He reaches out, issues a firm handshake and speaks congratulatory words. I’ve passed the initiation, joined the fraternity. One final detail of an unforgettable morning remained on the agenda: the time-honored tradition of “clipping my tail feathers.” (see photo below: on the day of the solo, which is always a secret, the instructor cuts off the shirt tail of whatever shirt the student pilot has worn that day). Many hours of training followed. There were cross-country solo flights, night flights, more emergency procedure training, more honing of skills. At the conclusion of the journey, I earned my ASEL rating as a new private pilot: airplane, single-engine, land designation. Free to fly where and when I wanted. Tail feathers clipped, mission accomplished.

As I guided my Cessna on final approach one serene, beautiful moonlit evening over the lake, I wondered if there was a young man driving that lake shore looking up, noticing my plane, and dreaming of one day fulfilling his fantasy of flight.

Bridge over troubled waters

•February 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

Rolling Stone magazine ran a feature story this month on one of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges. He’s starring in Crazy Heart which began in limited release late last year, and now gaining momentum heading into awards season. This is not “Bill’s review of Crazy Heart” since I’ve not yet seen it, nor am I a movie reviewer. There are a plethora of blogs for that. No, in “typical over-thinker and ultra-analytical Bill mode” a few quotes from the interview caused me pause, reflect deeply, then move immediately into reassurance that I’m not insane. These are excerpts which at any given moment in life could, and have come from the minds of you and I. But today, I am sharing them from the mind of one of my favorites, Jeff Bridges.

Bridges: “The movies that I’m attracted to are the stories that resonate with me most. The downside of that is, are you going to be able to pull it off? You can say that about anything you care about. So right along with caring comes loss. The thing is to be able to have those feelings and do it anyway.”

What have you done in life of which you are proudest? What have you done of consequence? What have you done of lasting significance? What have you done that initially scared you shitless, but your forged ahead and handled anyway (that’s my personal favorite by the way)? And, finally what have you cherished most and lost? How did you find the inner strength to move forward, or was it strength from another, or both?

Bridges:“So, you’re 60, you have all these wonderful things. Now what are you going to do?” “If my impulse is to do this, that I love – now’s the time. Are you going to be able? ‘Cause you’re a lazy fuck too. All of those self doubts.”

Right on, Jeff. You read my mind. Well, actually I read yours. At this point in life, I continue to embrace my youthful spirit, dream big dreams, and set big goals. I am aware of my human condition. A condition which mandates at some point physical and potentially mental frailty as the calendar goes deep. And, for me personally being a “lazy fuck.” But today I am strong. That’s what I have, that’s what I know. Today, I’m going to “have those feelings and do it anyway“! Tomorrow?

References: Rolling Stone magazine, issue 1098, Feb. 18, 2010, pp. 40, 41;
IMDb;
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