Thursday, April 16, 2015


The cucumber trees are just beginning to bloom.  I remember Jim, and trying to get a photo of a cucumber tree in bloom for him.  I don't remember why, probably just because I wanted to.  He killed himself.  He may well have had good reason.  But still, that is hard.  And I will still think of him and still miss him.

And for reasons that I can't even fathom, cucumber trees are some of my favorites.  Maybe it is because my mother used to hand build ceramic bowls using the leaves as the relief on the clay.  Or maybe it was the one that grew more horizontal than perpendicular and I could walk out on its smooth bark trunk barefoot and sit rather hidden in a grove of wild trees in my grandparents' yard.  I only knew them as cucumber trees, and honestly had rarely if ever even noticed the flowers until the day I was thrilled to learn that cucumber trees were magnolias!!!  Deciduous magnolias!  Wow, imagine that.  And then, of course, steel magnolia.  My mother certainly was one.  My mamaw certainly was one -- I remember her telling me of her firstborn struggling to breathe for almost a month before she died and that memory still, all those many years later, broke her heart.  Lois.  That was the baby's name.  Her baby Betty died at 18, rheumatic fever.

People think they have it hard.  People should man up, woman up, deal.  So somehow cucumber trees are tied in with thoughts and wonderings about resilience for me.

Of course, life is hard (or as what's his face put it in the opening sentence of A Road Less Traveled:  "Life is difficult").  No sh*t Sherlock.  But I like the graphic that I've seen come across lately that, "A pessimist sees the glass as half empty; an optimist sees the glass as half full; a realist adds two shots of whiskey, two cubes of ice and says cheers."  Well, a realist who isn't otherwise an alcoholic anyway.   And I do not like water with my whiskey.  But other than that. 

So life is hard.  So life is blessed.  So comparisons are noxious.

When I think about resilience, it isn't being brittle, or useless, or quitting.  It is finding meaning, and purpose, and doing (sometimes doing anyway, doing in spite of not feeling it).  I don't think hallucinations are very useful but then again, I think by the time you get down below the hallucinations, you've really come a long way already.  Resilience is not about being numb or shut down but managing to feel it in full.  Anyway.  Confidence comes from competence, not esteem, so skills, problem solving, taking steps.  There are not insurmountable problems like boulders in your path, but, really, your path may change and it is not all that out there you control but only "in here".

As with so many things, I don't know.  I do know that the view that nothing bad should ever happen is stupid.  Life happens.  Life on the farm is good for that.  The road is alive.  Try to control the stream and it will laugh at you.  There will remain many mysteries.  Life will tell you not to be fat, not to be lazy, not to whine and complain.  The cucumber tree will listen, but it won't care.  The garden will listen to your hoe, and it will listen to the chicken manure you brought to it.  And the chickens, they will sing but if you die they will peck your dead body and this is not tragedy, and they will die also but if you manage to kill them all, that is tragedy.  And there is something useful for everyone to do.  And there are creative outlets galore.  And challenges.  And and. 

And there are failures.  And difficulties.  And sorrows.  And in these are the gift of resilience.

And here is a website to help you think differently instead of staying on the "hooray for our side" side of things:  Resilience.


jules said...

Gasp! I remember Jim as well, but had no idea that he killed himself. I remember he was up helping clean up his mom's place and then he was dead, suddenly. That is such a shame. He seemed like such a nice and pulled together guy. That is just too bad.

I have a picture on my desktop rotation of John Wayne and overlaid is "Life is hard; Life is harder if you're Stupid." Isn't that the truth? Intentionally stupid or not, it sure makes it harder. I like my whiskey on the rocks. When I drink whiskey.

And I like this: Confidence comes from competence. That is so true for me. I guess I'm a do it type person. When you don't know what else to do, do the next thing, cuz there is always something next to do, be it dishes, or laundry, or animals, always animals. I get through alot of my hard times by just keepin' on keepin' on. Then I struggle with the lack of joy, cuz trudging on kills it if you let it. I need to get back to that joyful state somehow. I remember it. I'll find it again, I'm certain. In the meantime, thanks for the website. Looks interesting.

CG said...

I think Jim was having serious health issues and chose his way out. Hate it but just might understand it. What I hate is when a kid does it with nothing more than a few "life is hard" issues and everyone makes a hero out of him/her. Just no. Life is hard. Get on with it. Do the next thing as you say. And when there is nothing to get on with, then maybe.