True Colors in Black & White

The sun is blasting bright through my bedroom window reflecting against the mirror in front of me.  I can see more than I usually do.  It’s not good.  I’m standing in front of my bathroom sink with a pair of scissors.  In the sink there’s more than a handful of stray gray hairs from my beard.  I lean forward and look for a few more.

Yep, there’s another.  And another.  Damn it.

I suppose I could use some “Just for Men: Beards and Mustaches” but for some reason I can’t bring myself to do it.  Not yet anyway.  My dad had jet black hair his whole life up until the last few years of his life when streaks of silver started to appear.  My grandfather John, who I’m named after, had silver/white hair for as long as I knew him and in most of the pictures I’ve seen of him it was white.  I’m probably more like him in that regard.

My head aches just about everyday.  I don’t know if it’s from the changing weather, the sinus thing I’m too stubborn to go get looked at or just from putting off so many things I should be doing but don’t.  Stress.  Mainly self-induced.  Long days and even longer nights.

How did I get here?  That’s the tag line on my page here.  It seems more and more these days I find myself asking that same question.  I have so much to say, so much on my mind and so many things I want to share but I don’t.  I have 5 different blogs written and none of them posted.  I reread them the next day and I feel differently.  The heat of the moment rant – mental diarrhea of the keyboard.  I’ve held back from hitting the “Publish” button so many times.

Why?  I guess I’m afraid of continuing to hurt people I’ve already hurt in the past.  I’m afraid of hurting people in my life currently, even those who are hurtful to me.  I’m tired of hurting.  I’m just tired.  So the question is – will I share again?  Well I’m writing this so I guess the answer is yes, I will share.  I’m not sure how much or how deeply I’ll go.  It would not be fair to me to have started this journey of self-rediscovery and personal rehabilitation to then start being guarded and vague.

So much has happened in the last few months.  Moments of clarity.  Moments of acceptance.  Moments of disappointment.  Moments of pure joy.  Moments of the heaviest heartbreak.  A moment of direction and forward momentum.  The full range of human emotion… in a few short weeks.

I know a lot of people who are so very even keel for what seemingly seems like all the time.  Maybe they really are unaffected by life.   Maybe they’re just good at hiding it or have the ability to deny any foreign or ill feeling from gaining any traction.  The first part of that is something I was pretty good at.  The second part is next to impossible for me to do.  The third option is reserved for those people who are totally oblivious to the world around so they maintain a certain level of happiness in their bubble.

I do think there is a balance.  There’s having a game face and trying to smile through adversity.  That doesn’t deny yourself of feelings but it keeps you from dragging yourself around in a big pile of mope and tears that no one can stand to be around.  While you may not talk about things openly, you’re not hiding things from yourself or from those you choose to share with.  I don’t consider that hiding your feelings – I consider that not putting your business out there for the world to see.  Emotional vomit.  It’s all about personal choice.

I know why the second part, the part I’m terrible at, denying any foreign or ill feelings from gaining any traction -is so hard for me.  Let me explain what that means to me.  There are those who see things in black and white in every situation.  They know what is acceptable to them, what is unacceptable and they stick to their guns when it comes down to their defined self-principles.  For example:  If you do X to me, I can forgive you; however, if you do Y to me, you’ve broken that trust or hurt me and I will move on.  I struggle with that.  I’m in a weird Z phase.

I’m very gray here lately when it comes to certain things.  I wouldn’t say I’m indifferent or indecisive.  When it comes to certain things I’m very opinionated and vocal but as this life unravels around me I’m finding it very hard to be as black and white as I used to be.  Life is complicated and the road can and does, in fact, get rocky.  I’ve heard others say things are as complicated as you want them to be.  There is truth in that I suppose.  Some people can pick up and walk away from things:  people, relationships, jobs, locations, homes while I can’t.  I feel too much.  I remember everything and put a value on everything.  Right or wrong.

This weekend a thought came across my mind that made me pause.  I even stopped what I was doing to write it down.  It may not seem profound to you but it resonated with me:

When a person shows you their true colors – then can you see things in black and white.

How many people show you their true colors?  I’m not sure.  You’d like to think that most people do.  I want to believe that’s true.  I’m not sure if that’s where the term “shady” comes from but often times I feel like I’ve gotten hints of color without seeing the true colors.  Tinted windows.  Rose colored glasses.  While true colors can give you a black and white answer, that doesn’t take away from the shock, disappointment or hurt if what you see is not what you expected or wanted to see.  It can go the opposite way too and enlighten and endear you to someone.  More often than not however, it’s usually  the opposite.

One thing I want to be clear on here is I’m not casting judgments.  I too, am a deeply flawed person who’s made more mistakes than I care to remember.  I fully admit to and accept responsibilities for my actions.  We all have our weaknesses and I have given in when I know I shouldn’t have.  Not running even when I’d been warned to.  Stayed when I should have left.  Left when I should have stayed.  Giving in to expectations – either real or perceived – and sacrificing your own self-worth to please others.  Haven’t we all at some point?  Not that any of those things makes us bad people but it just proves that we’re all broken to some degree and we all share the same human feelings.

Deep down, we all know the right thing to do.  It’s how we define “the right thing” is what makes us all different and how you respond to it.  This is a fact:  When you’ve wronged someone and your actions have hurt a loved one – STOP doing whatever you did.  Don’t go there anymore.  Don’t have that drink.  Unfriend, delete or block people if social media is part of the problem.  Think about others – IF they mean anything to you.  If not, then continue on and do whatever you want.  It’s your world anyway.  You can fill it with whatever or whomever brings darkness or light into it.  It’ll come out in the end either way.

I believe this is a chief reason why people turn to drink or drugs, abuse food, bully or buy too many guitars – to try to mask the fact that they are flawed.  They try to paint over their true colors into what they think others want them to be or how they think they’re supposed to look.  For some people, this is the seed or core of depression.  It can also be the root of being fake and trying to fit in with other broken & fake people who are good at hiding it.  It’d be so much easier to be one of those people who are excellent at denying any foreign or ill feelings from getting any traction.

It just sad when those you love let you down and break your heart so carelessly and carefree.  It’s sad when you let yourself down.  That’s all.  I will not beg for your attention anymore.  Should I really have to?

I’m rambling.  I do that a lot here lately.  My mind wanders off from one topic to the next.  There’s times I don’t even recognize myself anymore or who I’ve become.  I look in the mirror and my eyes still look the same to me.  My hands still look the same to me.  But I’m not the same.  I don’t listen to much music anymore.  Strange times indeed.  How did I get here?  Good question.

My house is a time capsule – a cocoon full of memories and years of stuff.  It’s about to split open and I need to be ready when it does.  I’ve been holding on to the walls trying to keep it together but it’s getting harder and harder to keep it together.  Walls can be either extremely thick and heavy or paper thin and fragile.

My days are numbered here.  The appraiser will be here in one month from the city to value my house.  So many things to sort out and prepare for.  What to keep, what to sell, what to give away, what to throw away, how to get things back to Mary.  Resumes, jobs, house hunting, VA appointments, moving 2.8 million guitars, amps and various musical equipment…. it’s overwhelming when I start to think about it.  I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a hard way and an easy (easier) way.  The easy way is to just find a place here in town, keep my job and stay here.  But I know I can’t do that.  That would be suicide.  I wouldn’t last two more months.  My only option is the hard way.  A new zip code.  New location.  New job.  New faces.  New colors.  Better vision.

That doesn’t make the here and now any easier.  I’ve got a lot to go through in a short period of time.  I’d be kidding myself if I said I’m ready and prepared for it.  I’m not.  There’s only a few things I’m ready for but I think just getting mentally ready will be a big step in the right direction.  I’m working on it.  I really am.   One thing I am really prepared to do is to choke the next person who tells me how exciting of a time this is supposed to be and how lucky I am.  Perspective.

I went to my storage unit to look for a few things yesterday.  Her handwriting is on each box and the boxes haven’t been opened since they were sealed last March.  One year ago.  So much has changed from then to now.  So much care went into the packing and labeling of each box.  I opened three then stopped.  Too much work went into packing them, I’m not going to wreck it now by unboxing them for something that doesn’t really matter.  It was too much.  I closed the boxes, rolled the door closed and left.  I wasn’t ready to see a box labeled “John’s Christmas Decorations” and each item neatly wrapped in bubble wrap.

It was warm out yesterday.  I opened the windows in the house.  I could hear birds chirping again.  I saw the first fat robin across the street hopping in the yard.  I seen and heard the honking of the Canadian Geese coming back to Oak Park in the center of town.  The sounds of burping motorcycles out for the first time since last fall.  The sounds of young, short, reverse-hat-wearing assholes with their big trucks slamming down on the gas pedal between each stop light.  Still not impressed.  My neighbor is grilling and it smells amazing.  Then I remember.  I gave our grill away last fall.  Damn it.

Everything changes and nothing changes at all.  Except colors.  Some brighter and some fade with time.

I can see them.

More clearly now than ever.

True colors in black and white.




5 thoughts on “True Colors in Black & White

  1. Hey Buddy,

    You hit a lot of points that I myself have and still am dealing with. I myself have learned to start seeing thing with a hue of grey. I think I like options in life. Loved your blog this week and am always here to talk music and how to make country music great again.

    Liked by 1 person

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