Around here the moods can change as quickly as the climate. Living in Cleveland most my life, the response used among northeast Ohio residents to those visiting has always been, “if you don’t like the weather, stay awhile”, because it will undoubtedly change, at times one extreme to another all in the same day. The season changes Mother Nature throws upon the region resemble, and is quite symbolic to, our own life cycle – The (re)birth of nature that rolls out spring, the blazing summer sun that re-energizes the city to feel alive, followed by the beautiful transformation of colors autumn paints between overcast and rainy fall days, before succumbing to the blistery cold dead of winter. Additionally, the inclement elements of weather and variable temperature ranges can be metaphorically compared to the emotional imbalances we internally meet during any given calendar year. The climatic ups, devastating lows, and the dramatic calm before the storm. When it does start to finally rain…, it pours.
I write for many reasons, but most essential to me is I use this blog to articulate my thoughts after I’ve had time to reflect. It’s my way to come to terms with issues or matters important to me. I initially named it Preston’s Perch after seeing my boy, Preston, laying on the top cushion of the couch to have a better view looking outside the window – like a perch. After some thought, I added the tagline “The View From Here Is Clear” because a perch is generally used to give a better vantage point, but also the views and opinions expressed will never be prematurely released to the public, therefore, will be clear, concise and well thought out in an effort to maintain the integrity of the story’s lesson. I’m not one to subject myself to potential negative opinions by airing out my dirty laundry simply for the sake of attention, so it does become difficult to put myself in a state of vulnerability about personal and internal conflicts I face as a human being. But, I’ve also found through both public and private feedback that my entries have helped others who have found themselves in similar positions before, and inspired them to continue on even when their will and faith is bruised or shattered. I never claim to know everything, most of my observations are simply that – observations from someone attempting to understand what makes this life tick. And maybe then I can learn from mistakes so my history doesn’t repeat itself, while helping others not give up their own hope.
My previous post, “A Love Story: Life In Review“, discussed the topic of love, more specifically the kind you would share with a significant other. There I wrote about my failed attempts at love, and even through the loss and pain, I emphatically shouted to never give up expressing it to those you find worthy. Because that is the one thing we all should have in common…To love and to be loved. Just imagine a world like that! I’ve always been a creative person who has experimented in most forms of art, but for me, writing was by far the hardest and, simultaneously, most rewarding of them all. It’s difficult describing an intangible thought or feeling, and form them into compelling words and sentences that impact readers in a way they can relate. It only became easier when I realized I wasn’t being completely truthful with myself, and it showed in my final drafts. Speaking freely from the heart should be natural to all of humanity, but motivated mostly by apprehension it seems to be the anomaly instead. Because of that epiphany, I now write as if nobody is watching. The fact is, we all have our personal demons we keep padlocked in the basement and swallow the key to protect us from ourselves. Every last one of us. What we do in those challenging times where adversity is present is what counts the most. Identifying the opportunity, instead of the doom. Easier said than done, but necessary nevertheless.
I admit to having a bleeding heart to both animals and people. I do enjoy seeing people happy, especially those I care about, and believe it’s addictive and contagious. It’s like the sun shining bright on you, it provides food for the soul. I’m extremely attentive and mindful to other’s pain, even if I am uncomfortable consoling them in their greatest time of need, but I do care. We all have our own way to mask hurt. Some are more open about it, and others attempt to cover it up by verbally reinforcing they are tough. But it would appear they say this because they need to encourage themselves to be or act tough, like what a trainer would do for his client. Say it enough times, you’re bound to believe. We’ve all seen these people… It’s those screaming for help, but unable to speak. You may have been one of them too at one point in your life. I know this because I was as well. In all honesty, it’s odd that I have such a hard time discussing other areas in my world that are collectively crumbling, but can talk so candidly about love and the disappointment of those pursuits. But I now believe hurt isn’t an indication of the weak, it’s a sign you’re alive. As the Lumineers sang “It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all. The opposite of love’s indifference.” I don’t want to be indifferent.
I’m not a religious man, for several reasons, but that’s an entirely different post for possibly another day. I am spiritually connected though, and believe in things like karma and fate. Too many weird coincidences have happened in my life for me not to be a believer. For example, I had this magnetic connection to Preston the moment I saw him walking around with the other rescued dogs in the home who was fostering him. I won’t get into the finer details about my nearly six month struggle to finally bring him home, you can watch the documentary I directed and produced titled, “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent“, if you care to know more about that. A few years after I adopted him, I found out some important details of his survival in the shelter system leading up to his release on Friday, July 28, 2006. On that day I was signing the paperwork for my first brand new car, the same car he rode shotgun in for many years (up until last year)…and I purchased it on my 28th birthday. Therefore, Preston’s new life started the day we celebrate mine. And it wasn’t until two years later when I found my soul-dog. I still get chills up and down my arm every time I think about that.
Naturally, being born and raised in Cleveland, I am a rabid Browns fan, which means I am somewhat impervious to losing since we’ve done so much of it, especially as of late (yes, I can joke about it…you cannot). In some ways, it can explain why I have an ambitious and dreamer attitude, I’ve been told no most of my life that rejection usually bounces right off me. Don’t get me wrong, there have been periods of prosperity too – both my personal and Cleveland sports victories, but that also depends on your definition of what constitutes a success. I’ve only experienced two championship seasons – professionally or collegiately, from any of the sports teams I root for in my life. The modern day sport of football was developed about an hour south of Cleveland in Massillon and Canton, Ohio. Football is embedded in our DNA. If you were born in the great state of Ohio like I was, you are a Buckeye.
Last August, the Buckeyes were ranked #6 in the 2014 preseason rankings, led by Heisman contending quarterback, Braxton Miller. Miller sustained a season ending injury in practice about two weeks prior to the season opener. Injuries are a part of the game, but replacing someone of the caliber player Braxton is, seemed to deflate hope for this year before it ever began. Redshirt freshman, JT Barrett, steps in the starting role, and guides the team from a rocky start losing to Virginia Tech in the second game, to Heisman finalist before fracturing his ankle in the finale against our rival *ichigan (we don’t say that word ’round here). Winning that game put us into the Big Ten Championship, pitted against Wisconsin. Next man up…third string backup, out of Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, Cardale “12 Gauge” Jones, is now at the helm, and dismantles the Badgers 59-0. Ohio State then continues on by gaining the support of the College Football Playoff voters and wins the final spot of the four team inaugural playoff. Not many outside of Ohio expected the Buckeyes to have a chance against #1 ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but it seemed the Cinderella season would continue as they shocked the world by beating the Crimson Tide 42-35. The final stage was set, the National Championship would be decided between two teams: Ohio State Buckeyes versus Oregon Ducks.
This improbable matchup was one of special interest. The importance of it was further proof of the perfect storm of destiny, brewed in my head at least. In the previously referenced blog post, “A Love Story“, I wrote about an amazing woman I’ve grown close to who lives in the PNW, and her favorite team is the Ducks. This was one more sign that disguised itself and acted as fate to me, and I ‘half-jokingly’ replied that to her congratulatory message to me. A team that loses two Heisman candidate quarterbacks, a crucial home loss to an inferior team, the tragic loss of a Buckeye player due to suicide, then beating the once unbeatable ‘Bama in the Sugar Bowl to get to the national title game playing against her team. The impossible made possible. I mean, what’s the odds of that even happening?!? After the game came to a conclusion and Ohio State was victorious, it didn’t feel like the other championship I experienced in my life, when the Buckeyes defeated the Miami Hurricanes at the end of the 2002 season. After a few minutes of joy, I sat on the couch staring in space and felt…empty. Perhaps it was because realizing the season was over…and now what? You see, I was a sports fanatic before I got involved in animal welfare with my documentary film, and remember my life being happier then. Over the last couple of years I made a conscious effort to watch more sports again to get back to the way things once were. Besides being competitive and enjoying the games, I used sports much in the same way as I use art – a tool to get away and forget all that is wrong. Actually, I created my documentary during a time in my life where I was unstable – professionally and personally. It gave me an outlet to take my mind off things, all the while do something productive. The film allowed me to stay busy so I didn’t have to confront the things that scared me. That night I held Preston close to me in his usual spot resting his head on my pillow, and repeatedly whispered in his ear “I love you so much.”
When someone tells you to not waste your time, listen to them. I’ve been told that chase might kill you: “You lose yourself trying to hold on to someone who doesn’t care about losing you.” Lyrics from the song “Tornado” by Jonsi of Sigur Ros, depict this sentiment well – “You grow, your grow like tornado…Destroy from the inside”. When you build relationships of any kind – family, friend, professional, or love interest, I don’t believe you proceed thinking it has an expiration date. Every time we meet someone, we take a chance that the risk is worth the reward. I hate to sound so cynical, but in the end nothing lasts forever, anyway. When people move on, it’s not only because love is lost, rather the realist tells us it’s for the better. Losing important people in your life isn’t always due to disagreement, either. Sometimes you just lose touch and people go their way in their own pursuit of happiness. There’s times you know the end is approaching, like the smell the air has when the storm is passing. And then you know that sunny days are close, because “it can’t rain all the time.“