11/6/20 I wrote this one year ago and interestingly enough I spoke of Stan just yesterday. There is a lesson here and it is meant to be shared. There is a blessing also; I have achieved the level of discipline that Stanley had after years of trying to attain that, and wish I had done so sooner. His example was no small part of my success! If I am growing old I am slowing the process and doing so as gracefully as I can. Thanks Stan!
November 6, 2019
Indian Divide, New Mexico
Do This or Grow Old Cathie
Ten years ago I wrote about a man named Stan, a Native man I had met and spent a few challenging months with. He was a powerful spirit, as well as an angry one, which was our demise in the end. I could no more tolerate his threats than he could my choices, and there was no resolution for that but to go our separate ways. I knew when he finally left that I was fortunate that he had, and it could have been worse. As it was, he never dealt me any harm, but the fear of the same was well justified. I was spared, and he shared many lessons with me before he left.
Stan had a routine which kept him sober and focused. He carried a scrap of paper with a list of the repeats he did with his weights every other day. Interestingly enough, my last partner had a similar routine that he followed when he was sober, but he failed to see it through. Stan adhered to his and it served him well, perhaps because of the meaning of the words on the bottom of the page. They said, “Do this or grow old Stan”. He was not a young man even then, but his body was solid rock, as was his mind and his convictions. He was unswaying, and his judgements were harsh. Such determination makes life difficult. There are so few people who have strong values these days, and even less who practice them. It made Stan an angry man.
But this isn’t about Stan, or even anger, though frustration weaves into the picture. I shared a lot of Stan’s values and convictions and even some of his struggles. I loved him for his strength and determination, and admired his discipline. I learned to apply much of that to myself, in addition to what I already practiced. I came away from that alliance with a clearer picture of what it would take for people such as us to survive, in mind, body, and spirit. I have done all that I could to practice and preserve that. It has not been easy and I am still not fully assured of success. I can hear his voice even now, and he would tell me, “Never doubt yourself”. He was right, and we can so easily be our own worst enemy if we allow that uncertainty to control us.
I would have it that I had a man such as Stan in my life right now. I would appreciate the reminders and the lessons he had to offer, less the anger and the threats. If I do well to maintain my discipline and direction I am not always my best critic either. If I peruse my life on a daily basis and work to maintain the best direction, I have nobody there to tell me I am cutting the corners, and sometimes I do just that. I want to stay focused and on task, and to do my very best. I want to maintain a practice of exercising my mind and my body routinely. I try to do the same. I do not want to weaken and certainly don’t care to fail, but remain fearful of that. I am not at all certain that Stan survived but I know that I am still here. I will have to live with myself for the remainder of my life.
I look out my window at the grey and cloudy sky. The ground is damp with the brief rain that blessed the hills this morning. The thunder echoed across those canyons where Stan and I once walked. The lightning slashed the sky and I was briefly soaked as I grabbed another armload of wood for the fire. The rain stopped soon after, as I knew it would. I have no regrets for staying out in it, or my willingness to do so. I watch even now as the sun brightens the hills, brightening the golden grasses with its light. The transition is amazing after the near darkness just minutes ago. It is almost like watching the sunrise twice in one day. I watched the storm approach and had prepared for the worst. Now it is laughable that it has already passed, leaving a broad rainbow in its wake. I will take it as a warning of things to come as the season begs to change. It seems we ran the gamut this morning, a balmy dawn, a quick and violent storm, and now a spring like day, though the clouds are already returning. Perhaps the brief respite is a lesson in itself that we should not be deceived into believing that the storm has passed. We can rest assured there are also more to come.
Do this or grow old Cathie. Create a routine and adhere to it. I have some of that already, and it serves to keep me strong. I considered that last night as I carried in my stores. I am still cutting and burning wood and hauling my water, and ice to cool my food. I don’t have to live this way, I want to live this way. It keeps me strong, focused, and humble. Humble because I know that at any moment I may lose the ability to be able to perform those basic tasks and that I need to be mindful of the same. What I lack at the moment is a solid foundation to maintain this existence just as it stands. I have no job, or even a specific plan that assures a steady income, even if I am working on one. The uncertainty is unsettling, and my routine nonexistent beyond the requirements of my daily existence. This needs to change. Having made a choice of my personal values over a steady income, without any preparation to do so, I am now faced with the consequences. If my immediate needs are satisfied, there are others which are not, and I need to address those. My life depends on that.
Yesterday I came to the realization that it was time for me to make some decisions, and to act on them. Today I was reminded of that, by my reflection on years past and an untimely storm. I wasn’t caught completely off guard, and the rain created no crisis, but I wasn’t wholly prepared either. Now, going forward, I will be. My wood will be covered today, as will the kindling. Everything else is in reasonable order. The only real worries I have are financial, but everything else is keyed to that for the moment. I would appreciate a strong presence in my life, a good partner and a shared goal. It seems I have chosen not to have that, as I believe it is a choice, even though I somehow cannot find that either. For the most part it seems I am better off alone? I certainly am for the moment as I take full ownership for my dilemma, and will benefit from that. Having nobody else to blame for any perceived failings on my part strengthens the accompanying lessons I am so eager to learn.
I will watch the clouds and peruse my memories today. I will take a moment to send a prayer and a blessing towards Stanley, wherever he may be. I will also carry his memory, and the lessons he offered me close to my heart today, as I should. We are all brought together for a reason and the things this man taught me were well received and appreciated. I can still feel his presence, and it was a good one in many ways, and I am stronger and wiser for having known him. I wish him well. I wish myself well also, and will go forward with that understanding, that I need to do the best for myself, as nobody else will. I want to remain strong, and focused, and it is for me to maintain a routine which honors that. Do this or grow old Cathie. This is your life to live, as you choose.