Thoughts: Friday the 13th

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At some point when I was in Junior High (We didn’t have Middle School in those most ancient of days), I adopted Friday the 13th as my lucky day.

It was a contrarian thing to do, the kind of thing a young teenager does just to be different. I proudly hailed the day as a day where good things would happen. While the people around me were doing the stereotypical “ooooooo, it’s Friday the 13th” jokey worry thing, I was laughing, dancing, walking under ladders, walking circles around black cats, anything I could do to visibly defy the demons of the day.

I was that kind of kid.

Looking back though, I see that I’ve always had a little contrarian streak, a tendency to insist I could do things I really wasn’t qualified to do, to beating the odds on things, to trying what my kids have heard me call for a generation, my “wild-haired ideas.”

I am not flagrant about it. I don’t (as I did as a teenager) make a big deal about it. I just tend to wander into situations that interest me or challenge me or intrigue me and despite an utter lack of real qualifications, I dive in.

Mostly, I’ve made a success of them. A time or few, I’ve failed. All in all, I suspect my win-lose ratio is about the same as it would have been if I had held back, if I had acted in fear, or rather, not acted in fear.

And I’ve had a whole lot more fun.

As a teenager, declaring Friday the 13th as my lucky day was like challenging the demons of the world. A very stupid teenagery thing to do. I was pretty stupid then. I had no idea what the demons were, and how strong they could be.

Mostly, I lived in that wild-haired, laugh at the demons place for much of my life. And then, somewhere in my late 40’s, the depression hit. It was black. It was dark. The demons, far stronger than I imagined them, or perhaps in revenge for decades of my mocking them, wreaked their revenge.

Of course, the truth is, the demons were me. Or my mind, my chemically, perhaps slow trauma induced demons. For years, every day was Friday the 13th, and I wasn’t laughing anymore.

Regular readers here, or readers of my book, Dancing with Depression, know my path out. It’s slowness. The work of it. The day to day war I still fight.

Every day is still Friday the 13th, but it’s taken on a whole new meaning to me. It is no longer a thing I mock or a thing that mocks and humbles me. No, it is a day of defiant celebration. As I got out of bed this morning, against what my mind told me, I did a mental “Take that!”.  As I read Galatian 5 in my bible, I mentally thrust a rusty sword into my demon and shouted my beserker cry. As I wrote poetry, I did a victory dance in my head. (Hey, I am in a diner. They like me here, but if I were to dance around my table they might not let me back in.)

I don’t think about this change in attitude much during the year, but when the real Friday the 13th shows up, I smile. Mostly beating the demons is a good feeling. Work and all. All the black cats, broken mirrors, and crazy things attributed to the day make me smile. They ain’t got nothin’ on my personal demons.

Dancing a jig,

Tom

Poem: Far From Empty

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Far From Empty

Early in the morning, it is gray.
There is work to be done,
much of it, but for now,
it is still.

You need it, this stillness,
more than most.
You need the time to wake your broken brain
from its madness, its peripatetic dance of the night,

to move from strange dreams to stranger reality
without breaking.

And so you stand.
You stare into space.
Your eyes far from empty,
full, so full, too much there to even speak

for fear the madness, so carefully contained,
will refuse to leave,
refuse to go back to its dark cave for the day
like so many bats.

sleeping until night
when they fly wild and free,
just out of sight in the dark.

About this poem

I spend a lot of time thinking. Staring into space. Waiting for thoughts to settle so I can find the jewels worth saving. I wonder sometimes what people watching must think.

Tom

Poem: The Hard Work

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The Hard Work

Years
of work,
of peering inside myself like a stranger,
like a mystery,
peeling the onion,
shedding the tears,
ranting, oh my yes, ranting
and discovering
the light and the dark,
the connections hard-wired,
the ones that needed cutting,
the tangles that come
from trying to be what evidently, I was not,
the hard work of knowing myself,
after years of being locked in a trunk, afraid
of everyone else,
when what I needed to be afraid of
was my own fears.
Years of it,
of digging through the dirt of a life
well lived, but not mine entirely,
a slave to cause and effect
instead
of simply allowing myself
to be myself
and letting friends fall away or gather close
as they will.

Hard
work.

Not in discovery,
but in release,
allowing myself to dance and mourn
no matter who is in the room.