A few weeks back I tried to use telepathy to throw teenagers into a camp fire.
What have you been up to lately?
Seriously though, meditation is going great. I’m being more mindful of my own emotions and those of the people around me. I think I’ve tapped into some sort of unspoken force that most of the world misses out on.
And I was trying to use that force to lift a loud, meth-addled teenager out of his chair and into a raging fire, just so he and his buddies would shut up and let me sleep.
Sleep is going well also. I’ve developed a nice pre-bed routine for school nights. I write out my gratitude journal, put my phone away, and read a book. A fiction book, so I won’t get my productive brain fired up. In one of those books, a man develops the ability to bend spoons and lift cars with his mind.
I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’ve seen it in pop culture enough to know it’s feasible. Like that book. Think Darth Vader choking some lackey from across the room. Or the girl with the buzzed head on Stranger Things.
It was two in the morning when the guitar came out. I hadn’t slept a wink yet, so I trained my mind on trying to place that thing into the fire. If I could get the guitar to burn, then yes, one of the kids would be possible.
Lori and the kids seemed to sleep just fine. Which is great, I’ve been trying to focus more of my energy on them recently. Stay in the moment with them, show interest in their interests, even when I’d rather be off in my own world, doing my own thing.
My thing on this particular night, when I figured out that telepathy wasn’t going to happen, was slashing the tires on the giant trucks this huge group of teens had driven to the campground. Or maybe the RV they had borrowed (or maybe stolen?) from someone’s grandparents.
I’ve recently started trying to cut spending, or at least mindless, unplanned spending. Kind of like dropping weight by logging every bite I eat, I’ve been writing down every penny I spend. I don’t have a great system yet, and it’s painful, but working.
On that Saturday night, about 4am, I was thinking about slipping over to their campsite, their RV, pulling out the wedges holding the tires in place, and sliding the giant machine into neutral.
The 15 or so kids who had taken it over were well into a raucous acoustic version of “Hey Jude.” It would’ve been great to see them hit the “Nah nah nah NAH NAH NAH NAH…” portion right as their meth palace on wheels rolled backwards deep into the woods and eventually into Trial Lake.
But no, there were campsites behind them. Innocent people who were also being kept up all night by crack-fueled kids. And slashing the tires on the kids’ cars would only keep them around longer.
So I threw rocks from my campfire at theirs. I think I hit their RV once, around 11pm.
And camping, we had a great summer full of camping trips, swimming, Pokemoning, fireworks, traveling, and hopefully everything else a family could want. It’s strange, but I still feel sadness when I see the back to school ads show up.
Not for myself, but for my kids. They only get so many summers. Then one day, there is no summer. Just work.
I had worked my brain into a tizzy on this Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Oklahoma had lost a football game that afternoon, which put me in a sour state of mind. But I thought a weekend with friends in the woods would be the perfect salve.
Being greeted by a bunch of college crackheads ust gave me an outlet to vent.
Speaking of venting, any writers out there should strongly consider picking up “The Artists’ Way” by Julie Cameron. The book has a lot of goofiness to it, but her concept of morning pages taps into something unbelievable.
You just write, preferably by hand, non-stop until you’ve filled three pages. Whatever’s on your mind, just put it out there. It gets the creative juices flowing, and makes any focused writing afterwards so much easier.
It would’ve been easy for me to walk over to these kids’ campsite, which was two spaces down from mine. I could’ve been the hero, and politely asked them to calm down. When I had girded my loins for just such a task, around midnight, they were just smoking pot and drinking.
I decided to stay put and seethe when I saw a handful of them slipping off to the side to light a pipe that clearly wasn’t weed. There’s no way I was going to wrestle with an enraged crackhead. Some of them develop superhuman strength. Or they’ll eat your flesh.
You know what’s eating my flesh right now? Marathon training. When people say your toes will swell on long runs, so buy shoes a half size larger than you usual, they’re not bullshitting. I’ve lost my big toenail, and two more are on their way. I’ve had to shelve my beloved Brooks Ghost (which are still wonderful for less than 10 miles) in favor of a brand new pair of Altras. They have extra space in the toes, like clown shoes.
I felt like a clown that Saturday night when some gentle hero had the tenacity to walk over to the cracked up kids’ RV party and ask them to quiet down. He did everything I wanted to – asked politely, tried to act like he was “cool dad,” didn’t offend or try to judge. The little brats just got louder, and asked him what he thought about that. This was a little after midnight.
It turns out, meditation won’t help you sleep when 15 crackheads are yelling over each other about who would play the bongos in a Caribbean band at 1am. And no matter how hard you concentrate and block out all external thoughts, you can’t make a kid fall in the fire so there’ll be blessed silence (after a lengthy period of painful screaming, admittedly). I just wanted to sleep.
I’m trying to make a habit of consistent wake up times. Early, but not too early. Eventually I want to eliminate an alarm clock altogether, but in the meantime, it’s really helping to build a pattern that matches my optimal sleep cycles.
These kids never slept. Their party kept right on through seven in the morning. Then, they got quiet, and settled on passing around a liter of vodka. I still hadn’t slept, and wasn’t in much better shape than they.
I spent the next day – Sunday, the day of the Lord, Sabbath in many belief systems – bathing in rage.
And like any grownup, I told on the mean kids. The camp host said my group was one of many to complain, but no one bothered to tell him while it was actually happening. The police were a 40-minute drive away (there was zero phone coverage at this site, deep in the Uinta Mountains), and he’d make the drive at the first sign of Sunday shitheadery.
And that was that. We didn’t hear a peep from them the next day. My wife and the rest of the group moved on from it.
I soaked in the rage bath for a while, though. And, I won’t lie, it felt good.
What I’ve learned recently – the meditation thing, ya know – meant I could walk away from my anger at any given moment. But I didn’t.
And for a while it felt good. A life well-lived isn’t one where you just push away all negative thoughts, or strong emotions in general. I’ve definitely become a stoic, but sometimes even stoics get to be giant, poo-flinging apes.
Then I let it go. In the long run I was worse off than the hungover scallywags next door. And when I finally let it go, somewhere around 6pm, it felt great.
They were quiet. I had fun. I drank and laughed well past 10pm.
I slept like a baby.