A Varmint Marmot

It was a frantic emergency stop at the auto parts store that Saturday mid-morning. I was at decent elevation in Montrose, Colorado, so  my options were limited. I found a well-stocked NAPA and the mission included only one thing. I had to get some wire! And NOW!

Hmm… just today I was digging around in the toolbox that lives in the back of my trusty Toyota 4Runner, and I saw those two spools of black and white wire. They are still marked with their almost insanely high ‘mountain-region’ pricing tags.  Ironically, I’ve never used an inch of that wire.

What was my calamity? Why was I so worked up and hell-bent on getting that wire bought, while on my roadtrip last summer?

Earlier that morning, I awoke next to sky high pines, perched above a mountain lake, on the west side of the Continental Divide. My screen-ceilinged tent was pitched just behind my parked car. I had set it up in the dark, slept a little, froze a lot, but enjoyed the proximity to the stars that night before.

The area was Telluride, but I wasn’t heading there. Nope, I was returning to the Land of Oz, and heading east. Ophir Pass sounded like a fine way to get there from here.

It was very early when I quietly crunched the gravel on the road through Ophir. This tiny town sits the in the crook of a mountain valley. There are no businesses or services and the residents don’t like visitors. In fact, there isn’t a sign at the highway that even indicates their presence. I missed the turnoff previously and had to ask a local for directions.

Once I passed through town, the trail was only headed one way. UP that mountain.  It is a single lane road that begins in the trees, but goes well above their line. I hadn’t been driving for maybe 5 minutes up the pass, when I came to a small clearing. Off to my left was a newer, modified and slick-looking 4-Runner, with the drivers legs sticking out from behind the rear tires.

I stopped and yelled over to him, ‘Everything Ok?’

He indicated that he was stuck. His car wouldn’t start. Basically he was stranded.

I pulled my truck up near his and out of the way of the trail. I told him that I had a bunch of tools and was willing to try to help, but I’m no mechanic.

His problem was caused by a varmint he said. Overnight, he had camped at this spot. After dark he heard some rustling around. He said that while he was sleeping on the folded-down rear seats, when heard something climbing around the undercarriage.

It was a marmot, he was sure. He showed me an electric solenoid type unit on his rear axle. The wires had been chewed through. That little bugger had nibbled the pretty green wire in two and didn’t leave enough to reconnect them with.

Hmmm… Now’s the time you’re probably thinking that I ran to the store to get this guy some wire, right? Well, remember that I haven’t ever used any of it. So that’s not exactly the case.

I searched my toolkit. I grabbed wire strippers, electrical tape and side cutting pliers. I had small pinch-together connectors too.  Wire though, was one thing I was missing.  I needed just a couple inches of some type of automotive wire and I had none. He didn’t have any either.

After searching around some more, I came across my camping headlamp. It had a lens on the front and battery pack on the back, connected by a small wiggly wire. I told him I was willing to cut it up, if it might help him get his car started. It was really the only option we had.

A tiny almost threadlike wisp of copper did exist inside the black plastic insulation on this cheap imported headlamp unit.  I cut a length and carefully stripped both ends. The gauge of the ‘wire’ was comedically small, but he went to work on wrapping it around as best he could. We then taped it all up tight and held our breath at the moment of truth.  He headed to the cab and turned his key in the ignition.

It cranked just once and fired to life! It was great to see our MacGuyver fix actually do the job!  He used some more tape to secure everything together and then we parted ways. He headed down the mountain and I headed up it.

On roadtrips I enjoy carrying along the tools I could need to handle things just like this. I topped over the mountain that morning and was enjoying the views, but kicking myself for not being more prepared. I thought I had everything. Of course, it was the one little piece of the puzzle that I lacked.

I was determined to stock up and be ready for the next instance with plenty of heavy duty wire in my toolbox! That’s why I was on a mission later that morning, when I arrived in the town of Montrose.

Funny though, I spent that morning worrying that I should’ve been better prepared. I was kicking myself. I could have had this guy’s car fixed in 10 minutes instead of 30. I was self-conscious even. Silly, huh?

In truth, I did have the means to fix things. I did offer my help. I had to make a small sacrifice, but it all worked out okay. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the outcome, when the process has had its challenges along the way.

In the end, I was helpful, and that feels good.  It was really nothing more than a memorable moment caused by a Marmot on the side of a mountain…

So I guess the point of this blog today, is that if you need some wire, call me. I’ve got it now.  It’s imported from Colorado, high quality stuff.  I’d be glad to lend you a hand.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

A Fix for Impossible

There was a normal-day moment back in the early 80’s. It was just like lots of other days, I assume.  As it is for me now, there was household of two little kiddos, there was a beautiful young wife. There was this seemingly ordinary-day, in May, when my Dad didn’t know it was the last time he’d see his family.

Today is that anniversary, and yet it’s just another day for us, here, now. It’s a reminder on the calendar, but the headlines aren’t new news. 1983 was a long time ago. The shock has faded, life has been lived on, joys and sorrows of many kinds have passed since then.

On some of these yearly anniversaries, I’ve wondered what I’m supposed to be doing… At different points in my life, I handled it different ways. I might have visited the cemetery. I probably had a drink in his honor. I certainly spent some upset about everything… This one though feels different.

I once heard a quote about how problems are really never solved. The original one escapes me, but it sounded similar to this sample:

“Problems aren’t solved; The dissolve as you evolve.” – Derek Rydall

The idea that somebody could solve the ‘problems’ of losing their father at a young age, is a little preposterous. Nonetheless, I know I spent many years in that pursuit; trying in vain to somehow restore a percieved inner broken universe to imaginary perfection. This endeavor exasperated and exhausted the tender emotional filaments coursing through every dimension of my being…

And again, today is May 21st, the chronological recurrence cycling through, whether it’s welcomed or not.

What if though, that quote had merit. What if these so-called problems couldn’t truly be solved. How does one evolve, in order to make them dissolve?

I don’t know about the exact how. There isn’t any step by step template. I do find it true, just the same.

An anniversary can be a reminder, but it doesn’t have to be negative. I don’t have to just wallow in the pit. I could enjoy the day with a simple choice, to relax into the good things around me. Blessings have always been there, and they continue to arrive. I admit that the three ladies of my life, make it easier than ever to notice. However, if we look for them, gifts are all around at all times.

Could a ‘bad-day’ anniversary from the past, be just a normal-day now? Could it even be a ‘good-day’ or dare I say great? Part of me still holds on to a belief that re-creating some misery, is paying homage to this person I lost… I wonder though, if Dad’s bright spirit, would rather I enjoy it somehow, some way, even on the annivesary of his bad day?

Safe to say, that yes, the evolution of life, through its problems in-spite of them and with microscopic but constant growth toward the light, beats the impossible games of fixing the past.  I write this note to myself, as a reminder, to reflect on. Believe me, there are still plenty of anniversaries where I forget to smile.

Until next week my friends, remember that: “It’s okay to really enjoy life, right now, under these exact circumstances” (a quote by a 31 year old) – Aaron Nichols

Sincerely,

(38 year old) Aaron Nichols

Thinking too Freely

I’ve been accused, plenty of times and well deserved too. There is proof right here. This blog itself is an expression of it. Recently while telling the tales naming our new baby it was brought up again.

I over-analyze. I think too much.

It’s not quite an insult, right?

Let’s look at the spectrum: I don’t see how never thinking at all could be a good thing. I don’t believe that I’m the most accomplished expert over-thinker on the planet. However, it’s probably true that I land somewhere beyond a healthy and balanced brain-operator. Over-revving the overdrive is my usual mental transmission gear of choice.

To stand back and ponder on the results of this character flaw, I can see why it causes issues. Laid-back and go-with-the-flow I ain’t .

When someone wants to hold onto their unhealthy habits and rationalize away any thoughts of painful changes, the mind offers excuses easily!

I analyze in order to improve! I dissect to avoid future issues. I chew and grind on a thought for hours or days so that I find it’s innermost kernel of conceptual value. With my unending pursuit of scrutiny and evaluation, I really know where the issues lie. I can’t be hoodwinked with delusions and false impressions!

Ha! What a delusion it is to believe my own excuses!

My mind doesn’t just come up with justifications for my excessive over-thinking, no it doesn’t stop there. I can pile up page after page of reasons that I am just the exact way that I am about everything in my life. The good, the bad and yes the very truly ugly!

In a nutshell, it’s as ifmy ego has trained my brain to constantly curate an exact personality that allows my flaws to continue unobstructed! With this perfect system, the uncomfortable pressure of expansion and growth is traded for the tension and aggravation of stagnation!

But don’t worry about me. I eventually have come to terms with the name of our new baby. It didn’t kill me to get there, but it was a little difficult. If you have an extra 20 minutes to listen to my story sometime, ask me about it. Then you can be the judge and decide if my over analyzations are fatal or not.

As a sober person, I miss that sweet mental release that occurs with the crack of a cold beer can. Now it’s just me and ma’ brain, without substances to scrub it free of extraneous thoughts. Oh well, when I look at those two sweet daughters of mine, and my amazing wife, that have all come since sobriety, I know without any doubts what is working better for me.

Until next week my friends, ponder and think deeply, but not too deeply. These mental rabbit holes don’t have room for us all 🙂

God Bless,

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

Ha! In Awe!

What’s the point again? Of putting these words on this page?

Oh Yeah! I like to make things, I’m crafty.  Designing, writing and cooking are ways that I can express my creativity.

Ha! Creativity! Ha! Creation! Ha! Me, making something!?!?!?

Folks, get real.  I just witnessed again the amazing delivery of my second child! That is creation!

I am still in awe. The radiance of the miracle is nuclear!

I really don’t have words. They won’t arrive through my fingers.

It’s my wife! Her moment of absolute creativity is now. Her artistry and divinity are on display in our home. Two shining little countenances, so sweet, our love produced. I’m too in love with her, and our daughters, to be much good in this space, right now.

Later, when the invigoration has settled and the miraculous almost seems like normal life again, I’ll try for you and for me, to make a blog post worthy to read.

Take care my friends. Notice the miraculous, there’s nowhere it’s not. Thank God for it All!

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

A Big Little Boy Lives Here

That sweet little angel of ours threw something this morning. She threw it right in my face! It was big and loud, it was a three-alarm Hissy Fit! My precious daughter let loose, with a red-faced screecher!

Yeah, yeah, it was warranted. She had every right to be upset. I had obviously been waaay in the wrong, when I didn’t let her take her breakfast to eat in front of the television. She had a perfect spot picked out on her pink kiddy couch. It was obviously going to be an awesome way to enjoy her oatmeal until I ruined her great idea. How dare I!

Something occurred inside my mind while it was trying to batten down the hatches and shut out the volume roaring from her mad little face. I noticed a familiarity to her tone. I didn’t like hearing her sounds at that time, but yet I had to look inward and realize a truth…

She sounded just like me!

Ha! I know you’re probably thinking that it would be a little strange to watch me throwing myself around on the floor, crying and gasping and pausing in between wails of frustration. I will admit that not getting to eat in front of the TV probably wouldn’t set off a major temper tantrum for me, but there are other seemingly silly things that can.

The reason her outrageous crying seemed to resemble dear ol’ dad, is that sometimes I fear that I haven’t really found better ways of dealing with problems than throwing a fit about them. Sad I know, but true. Now my 38 year-old fits are a little different from a toddlers’. I have a deeper voice and I use actual words instead of shrieking and bawling… usually.

Truly though, I find that when tensions are rising and irritations are mounting, I can snap. I’ll sink knee deep into an emotional outburst in a flash. There are some people reading these lines right now probably shaking their heads like, ‘Uh Huh, That’s For Sure!”

Anyway, I did laugh at myself today watching her go off. She has already found a mechanism by which she can try to force her way. It’s a VERY persuasive tactic! I didn’t give in though, and eventually we had a nice breakfast up at the bar-top, where we always do, with only the radio on, like we always do. It turned out fine.

The moral to me, is that when you really break it down, there isn’t a lot of difference between how I tend toward outbursts and how she did today. I’d like to think that I have higher levels of maturity, I can navigate treacherous situations with sound compassionate reason and detachment from outcome. Ha, really that’s a load of gar-bage!

Actually, I think the truth is that I’ve been quite blessed. I have been fortunate that people around me, must’ve seen that same infancy and ridiculousness in my tantrums that I saw in hers. I felt sorry that she was so upset, but I didn’t take on her outrage over the situation. For all my chest beating and primate howling, the people around me probably saw a little boy, a brat, in a big ol’ body, throwing a fit.

I have been the antagonist in a bunch of conflicts. Even in the last few years. I’ve seen though, that the best versions of those conversations happened without any yelling, without high heart-rates, they have been fewer than I’m proud of, but usually they end with a hug. So it must be possible, even with me.

I hug my little girl a lot. She’s teaching me so much every day. I found out this morning, that I’m too much like her sometimes, and I’d like her to be less like me in certain ways too.

Until next week, count your blessings for they outnumber the curses by far.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

A flaw in the practice of Easter Worship

It’s the practice of this thing, this writing thing, that matters. It’s the returning to, and the stepping again forward on this continued path, that seems worthy. I doubt it’s the concepts or the drilled-down specific points that I’ve typed out over the years that hold real weight. I want to keep open a channel for expression, in case something important or profound arrives through me.

It’s these moments, late at night, of simple contemplation, that nourish me. It’s the resting steady focus for a few fleeting minutes per week that I must enjoy. On this Good Friday, at this Easter moment, I ponder in these early morning hours, the act of Worship.

See, I am really really REALLY good at worship!

It’s true. I can pretty much worship in the morning, or while I’m at work and before bed too. I probably worship in my sleep sometimes.

On a weekend like Easter, worshiping revolves around the crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus. For all dedicated worshipers this is the Big One!

The only slight problem for me, is that my skillz at worship, don’t always have to do with the Father, the Son or the Holy Ghost… Oops.

I know, I know, somebody in the last few years, probably said something behind my back, like I’ve become some kind of a Jesus-Freak! Just because I’m not a raging party animal every weekend, I’m probably stuck nose deep in the Bible from dawn to dusk, or as much as possible… right?

Well, TBH (to be honest) I’m probably so much less freaky about Jesus, that it’s embarrassing. My behavior and vocabulary can be so not church appropriate, yet I maintain my previous statement.

I’m awesome at worshiping!!!

The only little issue, is that my worship is too often pointed in the wrong direction. I am so quick to idolize and be fascinated by the shiny trinkets of the world around me. A new thread of YouTube videos can suck me in for weeks on end. I become almost instantly devoted and throw myself completely into new distractions all the time.

This truth relates to my relationship with a simple practice like a glass of inky-dark room-temp Malbec blooming in my hand at the end of a long work day. I could become entranced and dedicated to the vino itself. I would want to identify myself with it. I’d find it at the center of my discussions. I might throw myself, mind, body and soul into an idolatry of alcohol. I could sincerely mean words like LOVE in relation to a rotten grape…

In that worldly kind of worship, I’m masterful!

To this day, even through a few years of sobriety, focusing on creating a church life for myself and my family, I struggle to love Jesus, like I do the tangible things of the world.

So broken spiritually, I sit here in the middle of the night. Playing again the keys of this mental piano, sounding thoughts onto the lcd screen. I maintain that somewhere on the journey, the meaning of this act will be revealed.

I will attempt this weekend for split seconds, longer moments, then maybe minutes on end, to worship the one true God. I remind myself right now, that in the Resurrection, my many sins have been redeemed. The detestable idolatry I commit daily, in worship of almost everything but God, has miraculously been wiped away. In this event, things that cannot be done, were done, through love.

Until next week my friends, in small ways practice a contemplative worship . If you dare, ask yourself what it is that really deserves your worship and what doesn’t.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

The mouth to mind ratio

Surely you’ve heard this quote. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I find it convicting and confounding within this certain context. (Basically, what I think it means)

  1. The discussion of ideas to me refers to universal truths, the nature of spirituality, principals of philosophy and consciousness or existence itself. THE eternal questions humans have always wrestled with.
  2. The discussion of events would be like the evening news, or the local news. It’s the actions of individuals or nations or the weather. The range could also include physical things, and materialism.
  3. The discussion of people would be gossip; judgmental conversations about third parties…

Well, maybe these are the meanings behind this quote, or maybe they’re not. I can’t be sure, not my quote. In fact, the quote itself is attributed to a couple different people including Eleanor Roosevelt and Hyman Rickover.

Whoever said it, they might agree with my breakdown. If they did, and if they followed me around in my day to day life, they would probably describe my mind as small with flashes of average. It’s strange though because I fancy myself, not as a great mind, but as someone deeply fascinated by ideas, and uninterested, even detested by so much else.

It’s my personal time, spent on Youtube or podcasts, where I consume my philosophy. My headphones are never tuned to popular music or radio, but often to the voice of a wise Rabbi. I love learning about the spiritual fabric of this thing we call the world around us. A debate on consciousness or ethics can captivate me for hours without any boredom. Yet I talk to almost no one about these things.

It’s just the stuff, it’s a ballgame on, and it’s an easy stab at someone’s obvious shortcomings… That’s what I choose to talk to others about. How small minded that is… how true this quote looks through my own eyes.

I wonder if or when it will be that I might mature? I wonder if growth and mental expansion will transfer this secret love of mine, from my inner world, or these few words online, to an actual conversation with a real human being?

Talking about wider concepts, questioning the reality of existence or where our thoughts come from, is so intriguing. But I hardly ever say that aloud.

I must thank my wife though, for entertaining me and my haywire ideas. She will go there, she will listen, she hears me out and challenges me too. One best friend, the best kind of best friend, my spouse, is open to my meandering mind. For that, I’m greatly appreciative.

For everyone else, I’m sorry. I’m not really giving you my whole self when we talk. I’ll keep it simple, and shallow and small-minded, but not because I like it that way. I’m just too afraid to try and go deeper. I apologize for that.

Until next week, let your great mindedness blossom, step away from the average, drop the small stuff like a bad habit, and thank God, for the breath within you speak from your heart.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

How dare they! Those church people!

It was almost exactly 20 years ago tonight when I remember anguish and gut-ache over a seemingly simple task. I was reminded of it recently, as I was asked to write letters of recommendation for some of my high-school seniors that staff our restaurant.

Right now a few of them are scrambling to fill out forms and apply for local scholarships that are due tomorrow. I have emphasized to them that they would be smart to sign those forms. I told them somebody’s going to get the money, it might as well be them! It’s easy to say for me now. I know the benefits of saving on school tuition from my ‘old-man’ point of view.

It wasn’t quite the same though back when I was their age. I had a hesitant approach to the whole idea of writing down my merits in a letter and submitting it to a group of unknown people. I’m sure I was a self-defeatist, claiming within that there were tons of other more qualified candidates than me. Why waste my time filling out forms and including references when everybody else was more involved, more active and more scholarly than me!

There was one application for scholarship that I remember above all others. It actually bothered me to the core. I know that my mother asked over and over, for me to check into it. She was urging me to do it, and I didn’t want to. She probably even told me that almost anything I turned in would be accepted and I would receive some money for my freshman college year.

She wanted me to apply for the Westminster Presbyterian Church Scholarship opportunity. The premise of the application was simple. I think I had to fill out my name, and maybe some basics about school, but not much more than that. It wasn’t a competition for the highest GPA or the most enthusiastically extra-curricularly engaged.

I only really remember that the form required a response to a simple question. “What does God mean to You.”….

WHAT!!! WHOA!! HOW DARE YOU!!! HOW SCARY!! HOW PERSONAL!! How could I possibly answer a question like THAT!! And write it down for other people to read??? AND THOSE JUDGEMENTAL CHURCH PEOPLE!?!?! NO Way!

That about sums up my recollection of the response to that essay question. Really!

Back then, and for so many years of my teenage and young adult life, any conversation or thought experiment that circled close to the idea of God, and especially to church, was jarring emotionally to me. I immediately would exhume loads of past hurts and mental wounds. I was insecure and held onto regrets and inadequacies that I had experienced in relation to church. As a teenager,  I thought that I didn’t understand God at all and didn’t really want to. God was a tough subject for me altogether.

Because of all this inner turmoil, I felt guilty and wrong about my relationship with this ‘God’ character. At that moment in life, honestly answering that scholarship form question was terrifying.

Even now, to write my current answer for ‘What does God mean to You?’ could occupy this blog for weeks, for months, probably years of weekly posts. And in fact I’m sure it has. My stories in response to this question have been typed out over and over in many different ways, right onto these digital pages. Beyond typing, I would have to say that my personal actions and also inactions reveal my true soulful answer to this question. The shape and substance of my being itself is a literal and figurative response, as I go about my life, day-by-day.

I really cannot remember if I did write out an essay of application for that scholarship. I probably didn’t. I likely shirked it and avoided it until the deadline had passed, thus eliminating the chance of this terrible pain I imagined it would cause me.

I know now, as a member of the session of that very same church, that anything written with sincerity would have been accepted with Christian love. Even if the letter I crafted was nothing more than a rant on the injustices I’d felt toward God, as a typical awkward teenager, going thru a critical growing-up moment of life, they would have understood. If I did nothing more than list my questions and confusions about God, they would have understood. If I only had the guts to say that I wasn’t sure I actually believed in God, they would have understood. And they would have loved me for it anyway.

The people of my church would have been happy that I shared. They would have been willing to pray for me. They would have been part of the process of supporting a young person struggling with his beliefs.

This is what I know now, because I eventually did reach out and ask Jesus Christ to come into my life. These truths are now obvious to me, where they were confusing and unnerving before. This is part of what happens when God’s grace begins to work on you from within.

All that said, I have such a looooooong way to go, on this journey. Instead of a high school senior, it’s like I’m an infant newborn, when it comes to my relationship with Almighty God. I am crying in the darkness so often, so unsure that I’m being nurtured always. I wail whenever I’m slightly uncomfortable. I forget to calmly rely on God. I don’t tend and nuture even the tiniest ember of faith that could warm me through a cold winter’s night. I know though, that if I did, it would be so worth it.

Until next week my friends, reflect on these words that I learned from our Pastor Ron. “The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

Sincerely,

Mr. Sinner Extraordinaire

Aaron Nichols

Plugged in, or Plugged Up?

 

I’m becoming more and more dependent on electronic gadgetry all the time. It seems that a constant part of my day now, is concerned with the battery levels of my various devices. I am usually trying to recharge my android phone, or my Bluetooth headphones or the portable battery that I use to restore either one of them. Now I have a Smart watch too, that will need juiced every couple days.

I will admit that I’m addicted to these gadgets!

The content though, is what I’m really after. I inform and entertain myself with several podcasts and YouTube Channels. I am a paid subscriber for a Motorsports website and a Political one. I am all the time catching up on their latest video installments.

I don’t watch TV, or do much socializing outside of work and family. My wife and kiddo are asleep when I get home late, so I unwind with some Flat Earth Theory before bed. Without the internet, I would have a major shift in the places I give my attention every day.

I saw a friend this week that is using a flip-phone instead of a smart one. He is possibly the only freshman on the Kansas State University campus with one. He is realizing the simplicity that comes with the lack of connection to the online world in his pocket.

I can remember when those phones were the new thing and yes, we probably didn’t imagine in those days of the flip phone, what was yet to come with the internet in the palm of our hands.

So now is the point of the blog where I’m supposed to condemn this technology and talk about the good ole days. I should preach on the values we’ve lost, and the upcoming generation’s lack of interpersonal connective skills… Well I won’t.

What good does that do? Again we miss the point when we blame the smartphone or the internet or even guns or democrats for everything. All these things exist and can be used inappropriately or for extreme harm, and that is a truth about the world. It won’t change with legislation or attempts to revive our past.

I remember being a kid when computers were new, and some said they were a waste of time, or the ruin of everything. Even if partially true, the wave has come, and it’s here to stay for awhile. No ‘thing’ it seems is permanent. Change is relentlessly cyclical.

Spiritual truths though, are rooted too deeply in the construct, to be moved by the winds of change. This is the realm where we have room to improve, always. As a culture our material fetish and pointing fingers of blame could pass someday, hopefully. Seeing beyond the stuff and tearing each down, we could introspect deeply into the calm embrace of God’s Love. That would bring the heaven we want to experience.

Sure we need action. We need to know where we stand and when to fight. I won’t though apologize for being both in this world, but not completely of this world. I think God has us positioned to benefit from both and be a benefit to both, the material and the spiritual.

I have to admit that internet is an amazing connector. Just this week I had a couple hundred people wish me Happy Birthday through Facebook, Snapchat and Text. Wow that felt really nice, and loving! Thanks everyone for taking the time to say hi!

Until next week, take a minute here and there to reflect. Ask those deeper questions, and make sure your batteries are charged, in case you need to post something profound!

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

My Danged Double Life

It’s the hoo-rah and the ya-hoo of St. Patrick’s Day that proved to me, the value of Gridlock.

Working hour after hour at our bar, on the day when everyone seemed to be letting loose, I was tightening up. All the party people were dressed in green with big smiles and if I had one, it was most likely fake.

A Friday of St. Patty’s is surely the most annoying day ever, to be Sober.

I’ve heard it said that the Framers of our nation’s Constitution, designed Gridlock into the structure of the Republic. They wanted to make it difficult and arduous to make big changes. They saw value in standoffs between ideas. Immobility allows for security even. I felt the pain of that truth while sipping Sierra Mist instead of Scotch yesterday afternoon.

If Gridlock isn’t the default position of our nation’s leadership, then what would be the alternative? I guess it would mean that whatever idea had currently taken hold, could enact vast sweeping change. Any current administration could radically alter and reinvent our country however they saw fit. Without checks and balances, the core construct of the system couldn’t survive.

How could a peaceful transfer of power occur, say from Republican to Democrat, if the probability was that it would never be returned again. We have to hold hope, as a divided nation, that our ideas will have a chance again to be heard, no matter who holds the office today. Otherwise we’d have civil wars, instead of elections.

In my early thirties, I experienced an internal shift of power within my own being. My priorities changed, I wanted to try a new way of living. As part of the new internal personal regime, I began to attempt sobriety from alcohol.

That was 5 and a half years ago, but it seems like just yesterday. Before that moment, I was a much different person. I whole heartedly belonged to the Party of Parties! I was committed and engaged and a die-hard. I loved to drink and socialize and laugh too loud.

The changes I’ve made have been strong enough to keep me dry up until today. However, there is still a democracy battling for power within. The proverbial angel on one shoulder and devil on the other, are at war in the space between. They are both tough. They both fight hard. Their blows and punches at each other can wear me out.

St. Patrick’s Day left them both bloodied and bruised, neither seeming to gain ground on the other.

This Gridlock must then somehow be healthy. Without the vote and voice of my better self and my baser self, I surely wouldn’t be here today. I couldn’t have tried out sobriety, as a life sentence. The way I approach it is that I just skip drinking for today. And that method invites temptation to bark at the door, to scratch and paw, to break in, and attack in beastly ways.

Work is involved. Daaaaaaaammit.

The battle isn’t on my shoulders and out of my control. It’s all within my own jurisdiction. It’s up to me, to feel disdain for this jolly holiday, or to join it, and let go of my personal achievement.

I have to thank God for the help, but God isn’t pardoning me from any responsibility. That’s not real help. He didn’t give me this fish. I have to get my freakin’ pole out every day and cast a line.

So there. I truly hope you had a great St. Patty’s day. Whether you imbibed or abstained, I hope it was fun. Luckily for me, even though it didn’t feel fun, I was supported by my loving wife. She could tell I fought hard to stay straight. I appreciate her so much.

So, the Gridlock paid off again. Any amendments to my personal constitution are going to take more of a challenge than green beer.

Until next week my friends; be well. I wish You the very best.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

These moments remind me of this poem I learned from my Uncle Steve.

The Double Life

How very simple life would be
If only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrills
While sane and homely things are done

By the domestic Other One.
And that’s just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell
But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.

~ by Don Blanding