Well…Here We Go…

by Rich on August 15, 2018

Fifteen weeks. It’s been fifteen weeks since my last update here on A Ride In A Jeep.

A lot can happen in fifteen weeks, and a lot has.

But first, I’ll try to explain why it’s been so long.

I love my little blog. It’s been a great outlet for me, both personally and professionally. For the last couple of years or so, it’s been a weekly column that ran in our local newspaper’s sports section. The paper hired a new sports editor, and he wanted to do something different with that 600 word column, so we parted ways. Many of you may have wondered why so many of these blogs were sort of about sports, and that’s why. It wasn’t always easy to write about sports, but the discipline of turning in a weekly column was good for me, and I miss it. But it was also nice to take a break.

There are probably some well recognized psychological reasons for why I want so badly to be liked by everyone, but really, they don’t matter. The reality is that I do, and it’s something that I have been struggling to overcome for awhile, now. I mean, sure, we all want to be liked, but I have a fear of not being liked; of not having everyone’s approval. Even people I don’t care for or don’t respect. I still want them to like me. So writing, while a tremendous outlet for me creatively, is also very constraining. I’m constantly worried that something I type here will gain someone’s disapproval. And that’s hard. Especially when I look around and realize that the writers for whom I have the most admiration, seem to craft their trade with reckless abandon. They seem to throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may. That’s gutsy. It’s also not me.

Anyway, back to why I haven’t been writing.

Those who know me know that over the past couple of years I’ve been dealing with a lot, personally. And hey, I’m no different than anyone else. We’re all fighting our battles, slaying our monsters, climbing our mountains with weights on our backs. It’s the human condition. But we also go through seasons, and this one has been a pretty challenging one for me. Relationships have ended, finances have been strained, a car blew up.

Seriously.

So that right there is a thing that happened. Bought a used Jeep and the thing caught on fire while I was driving down the road. Total loss. But you know what? It’s just a thing. And things, while they can be important, are just things. I wasn’t hurt, my son wasn’t driving, no one else was involved… it was just a scary inconvenience. And here’s the cool thing: I met some incredible people that reached out and helped me in my time of need (too many to list here, but you know who you are.)

But in the midst of all of the changes and turmoil, there have been some truly wonderful times of discovery and revelation. I’m more focused now on the things that matter (I mean, at least I’m trying to focus on the things that matter), and working on having healthy relationships with those in my life, both personally and professionally. It’s humbling to come to grips with so much baggage that I’ve been running from for so long. Feels kind of stupid, to be frank.

So… my mom asked why I haven’t been writing and my answer was simple: all the stuff that’s been on my heart and in my mind lately aren’t the kinds of things that I thought I should be writing about, or things that I thought you might have an interest in reading.

I’ve decided to change that, because, well, I like writing. And while I may not have anything worth writing or being read, I’m going to do it because I need to. This little blog may change a bit in the future. Or maybe it won’t. I really don’t know. But I’m going to try to be more honest and transparent in what I write. I’ll go ahead and apologize now for anyone that I offend or anger in the future. I promise that’s not my intent. But you know what? I’m not responsible for you. You are. Be offended or angry or indifferent or whatever. That’s your choice.

My choice is to write.

 

God Bless

 

 

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It’s The People, Dummy

by Rich on May 3, 2018

For the last few weeks, I’ve made an effort to keep things lighthearted, because, truth be told, I’ve been a bit, well, introspective. I suppose that’s the correct word. Not melancholy or sad, per se (although those emotions have stopped in from time to time, like uninvited in-laws), just…pensive. And there have been reasons for that, but I didn’t think it was the right time or place to talk about them. But sometimes the columns write themselves.

I have a son who is graduating from high school. That alone is enough to stop a grown man in his tracks. I’m super proud of him. The guy is wicked smart, in good health, kind, generous and has an amazing sense of humor. I love him unconditionally. So this transition from childhood to adulthood is a challenge for both of us and it’s made me do a lot of looking back. I also lost a good friend from high school recently. He was my age and in decent health. He had a severe stroke and didn’t recover. His loss hit me hard. So, those two things, along with a lot of smaller ones have made me think a lot about the past and how I have spent my time and the decisions I have made in my life. Those thoughts lead, of course, to thoughts about how I want to spend my time now, and what decisions I make for the future. And I discovered an interesting fact that probably shouldn’t surprise me, but it kind of did.

The things that I value, the things that I take the most importance from in life all fall into three or four basic categories. For the most part they involve my faith, the people around me, food, and sports. And a lot of the time, all of those things converge in single experiences.

I love to watch games, but take very little pleasure out of watching them alone. I love to cook (and eat) but a meal alone is, well, lonely. Even my faith, which is the ultimate in personal identity, is meant to be communal. So what is the common thread? People.

I’m not breaking ground, here, folks. You know this as well as I do. But sometimes in life you have circumstances that refocus you onto what is truly important. If there’s one thing that make all the other things in our lives real and enjoyable, it’s the relationships.

All this came to mind in minute clarity recently when I visited Chicago for the first time. It’s been a bucket list item for years, but had I traveled alone, or not met and shared meals with so many great people, it would have been unremarkable. That game at Wrigley would have been downright miserable without someone close to bundle up next to. And what good is a beer at the legendary Harry Caray’s if there is no one to share it with? Is a Chicago Dog even real if consumed alone?

On my way back from Chicago, I had one overriding thought: I need to take more trips, go to more games, and eat more amazing food. And I need to do it with the people I love. I can’t wait to take my son to a day game at Wrigley (in June this time!) and the Army/Navy game this fall with him is going to be epic.

So watch the games, whichever you choose, and eat great food. But find someone to do it with. Share those experiences. It’s what makes life worth living.

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Bit By The Bug Again

April 30, 2018

While I don’t recommend it, I must admit that I learned something this past week while suffering with the flu. I don’t recommend the flu, that is. I do recommend learning things, although that whole “ignorance is bliss” thing can be pretty attractive at times, but I digress. For the better part of three days, […]

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Six Simple Rules

April 23, 2018

The NCAA recently released some new rules for college football, and while some of them appear to be beneficial and some head scratchers, none of them address some of the key areas and problems that I keep hoping will be fixed. Sure, it’s probably a good idea to not allow schools to have former stars […]

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Late From Chi-Town

April 16, 2018

I’m late filing this column, but it’s not my fault. I blame the people of Chicago. That’s where I am right now, Chicago. I came for a couple of reasons, but mainly for the weather (that’s a joke). Actually, I came to Chicago because I needed a breather and it’s been on my bucket list […]

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Par For Most Courses

April 9, 2018

In honor of Masters Week, I decided to end my three year abstinence from the game and grabbed my clubs to hit the links. Since I need to write off the incurred expenses from my round, I am obligated to write about it. My apologies. Having shunned the sticks for such a long period of […]

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Batter Up! Action!

April 2, 2018

Baseball season is here, and of course that makes me think of movies. To be fair, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that there is little in this life that doesn’t remind me of movies. What can I say? I fawn over flicks. I feast on film. I’m mesmerized by movies. […]

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To Brian, A Confession

March 29, 2018

The quiet noises of mundane life For that which by other days would be unheard, Are now obscene obtrussions upon my grief So well deserved.   The playful laugh of child and youth Of barking dogs, of radios and motorcycles Of those that any other day be the norm Are this day the screech of […]

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Who Are You?

March 26, 2018

The text said, “You are not defined by what you do, but by who you are.” It was from a friend and former coworker. I stared at it for a minute, processing. The text surprised me because I had been thinking along those very lines lately, and call it coincidence, kismet, chance, or divine happenstance, […]

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Perfect Imperfection

March 19, 2018

Two and a half weeks. That’s how long March Madness lasts. That’s 13 work days (if you include Friday as a work day, which personally I do not). Two and a half weeks. Sixty-four teams, four regions. One Champion. It’s insane. It’s clinical. It’s controversial. It’s traditional. It’s beautiful. It’s ugly. It’s perfect. The NCAA […]

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