Constructive or Destructive

There is a choice
That I have to make
Every single day.
A choice to be
Constructive or destructive
In the things I do.
And the way that I respond
To what life
Confronts me with.

So I looked up the definitions
Of those two words.
On the Meriam-Webster Dictionary
On the Internet.
And this
Is what I found.

Definition of CONSTRUCTIVE
1 : declared such by judicial construction or interpretation <constructive fraud>
2 : of or relating to construction or creation
3 : promoting improvement or development <constructive criticism>

Definition of DESTRUCTIVE
1 : causing destruction : ruinous <destructive storm>
2 : designed or tending to hurt or destroy <destructive criticism>

When I look at the
Definitions
Of those two words.
It becomes pretty obvious
Which choice I should make
When I have to make a choice
To be constructive
Or destructive
On any given day.
Or in any given situation
That confronts me.

It’s this choice I make
Every day.
Including today.
And sometimes,
Though it’s obvious
What choice I should make
It’s very hard indeed
To do what I believe,
And be constructive.

Sometimes
It would be so very easy
To be destructive.

Today is such a day.
When my body aches.
And I’m tired.
And feeling broken
And defeated.
And all alone.

It would be so easy for me
To be angry.
And upset.
And say nasty things
To everyone.
And write words
Meant to hurt.
And to strike out
At anyone.
And everyone.
Indiscrimately.

But that would not make me
Feel any better
Than I do right now.
It would not cure my body aches.
And I would still be tired.
Feeling broken.
And defeated.
And all alone.

Just like I do now.

All that being destructive would do
Is get everyone angry with me.
And you have no idea
How many years it’s taken me
To figure that fact out.

And I need to say right now
That I’d have never learned this
On my own.
That I had to be helped
To learn this simple fact.
And it didn’t take a little help
For a little while.

It took a lot of help,
From the friends I have.
And it taxed their patience
Very much
To work with me
And help me figure out
What happens
When I’m destructive.

It’s because of them.
The friends that I have now.
That have talked with me,
And patiently
Waited for me to learn
And slowly understand
The things that they have said
That have helped me learn
That I should always try
To be constructive
Every day.

Because if I am constructive
Even when my body aches,
And when I am tired,
And feel broken.
And defeated.
And even all alone.

If I am constructive
Then I may end my day
Feeling like I did
The best that I could.

And I have learned
It’s amazing
How people react
When you smile at them,
And wave your hand.
When you take the time
To remind them
That you appreciate the fact
That they are alive.

So now you know
How I wish to be
Even on the worst days
Of my life.

I wish to be constructive.

Oh, I know that I’m just human.
And that I just might fail
To do what I want
Very much to do.

But that doesn’t mean
I should not try.

So I’ll try to be constructive
Every day I am alive.
Because I like the way I feel
When I get someone to smile.
Or when I help someone
That was hurt
To feel better
About life.

I wish to be constructive.

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Sawing Down Tree Branches

It was a Wednesday morning.
Around 1030 hours.
And it was scorching hot.
Pushing 100 degrees.
With a heat index
Near 110.

And there I was
In my front yard.
With a crosscut saw.
Cutting down the low branches
Of the trees
In my front yard.

I had this objective.
To cut down the branches
Of the crepe myrtles
Out by the street.
So we could park cars there
With out running into
The branches of the trees.

When I got that done,
I went to the oak trees
In the middle of the yard.
And decided it was time
To cut down the branches
That were low to the ground
So I could walk
Under those damn things.

I did this all by hand
With my crosscut saw.
And that’s when something
That I’ve never understood
In all my days
Just clicked into place
In my mind.

For as I was standing there,
In the scorching heat.
Sweat dripping off of me.
Sawing down branches
Off of trees.
It occurred to me
That none of the people
That I used to work with
Would even try to do
What I was doing.
Especially not in such heat.

And there I was.
Cutting down those branches
Like it was an every day thing
For me.

The nasty little voice
That lives inside of me
Kept telling me
What wimps so many people
Really are.
But it used some really nasty words
That I just can’t repeat.
One of those times
When you think to yourself,
“When the heck
Did I learn to use
Such language?”

And as I was standing there
Thinking those nasty thought,
And actually having fun
Sawing down those branches
Of those trees.
I remembered something
That I’d said
In the last few days
That I had worked
With them.

I’d told them I could tell
That they were nervous
Around me.
That they knew
If I went violent,
It would be very hard
For any of them
To stop me.

And I told them
That I never would
Go violent.
That going violent
Just wasn’t me.

And standing there
In my front yard.
10 months later.
I realized
That they had truly been
Scared of me,
Physically.
At least to some extent.

I watched the saw
As I cut through
Another branch
Of an Oak tree.
And I thought
How most people that I know
And all of those
That I used to work with
Would have used
A power saw
To do what I was doing.

And there I was,
In the scorching heat.
And the high humidity.
Cutting down those branches,
Some of them 3 or 4 inches
In diameter.
With a hand held
Crosscut
Saw.

Better yet.
Doing so
Was absolutely normal
To me.

Now, I’ve been told
For very many years
That when people first meet me
They are scared of me.

And I’ve been told
That all I have to do
Is walk into a room
And people there
Can tell when I do.
That I have this presence
Physically.
That is so very easy
To notice.

Until that Wednesday,
Cutting down those branches
Out there in the heat.
I had never understood
Why anyone at all
Would be scared of me.

I’d always laughed
When I had been told
That someone was afraid
Of me.

I noticed that the saw had stopped.
Cutting through a branch.
And I was standing there.
In my front yard.
Dumbstruck.

“They’re right.”
I thought to myself
Standing there.
“They’re right.
‘Cause damn.
I’m strong.”

And I damn near cried.
In my front yard.
Because I finally understood
Why people sometimes are
Scared of me.

That my physical size.
And strength.
And weight.
And the way I move.
When combined together.
Could almost certainly
Scare some people
Rather badly.

I remembered this image
That a friend had shown to me.
One night
Nearly 30 years ago.
As we were walking
To the library
At the university.

She’d stopped.
And pointed to the windows
Of the Library.
At the reflection
Of the two of us
As we walked along.

“That’s why people
Just leave me alone
When I walk with you.”

There in that image
In the window
Stood a porcelain doll.
Just over 5 feet tall.
She was this work of art.
So graceful.
And so pretty.

And next to her
There stood a bear
Of a human being.
Over 6 feet tall.
With a beard
And a mustache.
And every single inch
Of the image of that guy
That I saw that night
Screamed, quite literally,
“Mess with me and my friend,
And I’ll rip your arms off
And make you eat them.”

It took me nearly 30 years.
But there I was.
Standing in my own front yard.
With a saw in my left hand.
Looking at the ground.
And not seeing
Anything.
As I realized
For the first time
I my whole life.
That even at my age
I’m physical enough,
And strong enough,
And have enough
Presence.

That it’s quite possible
That I scared the hell right out
Of damn near everyone
That I once worked with.

And I never once
Had understood
That simple fact.
Until right then.

But I’m still left wondering
Why the people that I worked with
For all of those years
Could ever think,
Ever believe,
That I’d ever
Hurt a single one
Of them.

That they even could
Think such an awful thing
Of me.
Leaves me wondering
To this very day.
If anyone I worked with
In that place
Ever knew anything at all
About me.

How could anyone believe
That I’d hurt someone
That way?

That,
I just don’t understand.
At all.

Finding My Wings: No More Self Destruction

It would be so very easy
To simply leave.
To just get up one day
And walk away.
And never return.

So that no one
Would have to hear from me
Again.

So that no one
Would have to be afraid
That I’ll do what I always do.
And disturb them.
Or disrupt their lives.
Or flat upset them
Once again.

It would be the thing to do
To keep everyone happy.
Everyone safe.
From me.
For if I wasn’t here at all,
I couldn’t make mistakes.

And I make so very many mistakes
In my life.

I could move.
Find a job somewhere.
And move there.
And in a few years,
I could move again.
Become a nomad.
A stranger.
Someone no one knows.
Someone no one
Gets close to.
Someone no one
Is friends with.

I could go tape my feet up.
Then get my socks and shoes.
And put my weights
Around my wrists.
And walk.
At least 7 miles.
And maybe more.
In all the heat.
And the humidity.

I could get in my back yard.
And trim the weeds
From around the fence.
And the house.
And then take out
The cipper/shredder
And get rid of
A whole bunch
Of tree branches
That are piled in my back yard.
In all the heat.
And the humidity.

I could do so many things
That would hurt me.
For the things that I have said.
And the things that I have done.
That have disturbed
Damn near everyone.

But inflicting such destruction
On myself
Is yet another choice
That I get to make.

I can choose to be destructive.
I can choose not to.

A few short months ago,
I’d have hammered myself
Into the ground
For the mistakes I’ve made
In this past week.

But that was then.
And this is now.
And now I know
That I’m going
To always make mistakes.
And that I have to learn
From the mistakes I make.

So I won’t leave.
I won’t hide.
I won’t hurt myself.

Somehow I just know
That doing so
Would be one more mistake.
And hurt so very many people
That I know.

And I don’t want to do that
Any more.

It’s time that I stopped running,
And stopped hiding
From the mistakes I make.
It’s time I accepted them.

As for how people react to me
When I make the next mistake.
I can’t control that
Can I?
They’ll do what they do.
Whatever that may be.

And if they choose to leave.
To no longer be friends with me.
There’s nothing I can do
About it.
Nothing at all.

Except to let them go.

I won’t hurt myself
Like I used to
Any more.

Finding My Wings: Sometimes This Learning Thing Just Flat Sucks

OK, God.
I’m sitting here on my sofa
All by my little self
Again.
And it’s not like
I don’t have anything to do.
I have plenty to do.

Just one problem.
I can’t seem to get myself in gear.
I can’t seem to move.
It seems to me
That all I’m able to do
Is just sit here.
On the sofa.

I keep hearing the words
Of this stupid song.
“I’m so blue.”
I keep hearing that one part
Over,
And over,
And over,
Again.
It never seems to end.

I find myself wishing
I had someone to talk to.
Someone to keep me company.
Someone I could see.
Someone here with me.
But I don’t.
I’m here.
Like I’ve been
For more months
That I care to even think about.

Alone.
And there’s that other stupid song.
“Alone again,
Naturally.”

I find it very hard,
Today,
For me to do anything.
I find I want to sit here.
And be miserable.
And maybe even cry.
And just let the hurt
That I know I feel
Consume me.

It’s so very hard
To get up
Every single day.
Knowing that I’ll have to face
Another day
Just like the one I faced
The day before.

An endless stream
Of Saturdays.
Some people I know
Would love to live
Like I’m having to live now.
Where every day’s a Saturday.

And I have to admit,
When this whole thing started,
I liked that very much.
But, you know.
If you get too much
Of anything,
It just gets old.

And I’m tired of having Saturdays
Seven days a week.
For weeks on end.

I have plenty
I could do.
Dishes.
Laundry.
And housework too.
I could work on the kitchen.
Or on the master bathroom.
I still haven’t finished
Replacing the dry wall,
You know.

But every time I think
About the things
That I could do
I end up feeling awful.
Because I know
I have to do those things
All alone.
All on my own.

And no one cares.
It’s not their problem.
It’s my problem.
Mine.
And mine alone.

I’m trying, God.
You know that,
Don’t you?
Trying to learn
That the feeling that I have
Of being all alone
Is just that.
Just another feeling.
And like any other feeling
I know I shouldn’t let
Feeling all alone
Hurt me.
And stop me from doing
All the things my family
Would like for me to do.

But the struggle that I have
With being all alone
Never seems to end.
It just goes on,
And on,
And on.

I’ve tried doing things.
Just to pass the time.
Just to help me through
Another day
Of being here alone.
All on my own.
With no one to talk to.

But that always makes me feel
Like I’m running away.
And hiding.
From myself.

And every time I stop,
And sit down once again
I end up feeling
More alone
That I was before.

It’s times like this
That I find I wish
I didn’t feel anything at all
Any more.

I know that you know that.

I asked you last night
To not give up
On the people I used to
Work with.

Now it seems to me
That I have to find the strength
Within my heart and soul
To not give up on me.

Perhaps this is just your way
Of showing me
That you haven’t given up
On me.
And helping me to learn
To have a little trust
In myself.
And a lot more trust
In you.

Sometimes,
God.
This learning thing
Just flat sucks.

I guess it’s time
For me to get up
And do what I can
To find a way
To live with me
Again…

Finding My Wings: Please Don’t Give Up On Them

I’m not good at these starting things,
You know.
I never know how to start.
Do I start with, “Oh, God above?”
Or with something else.
Maybe, “Yo! God!”
I don’t know.
I suppose…
I guess…
I’ll just start this way

Ummm…
God?

There’s something I find
I want to ask tonight.
And it’s hard for me to ask
What I want to.

It’s about the people
That I used to work with.
You see.
I’m concerned for them.
Can you believe that?
I’m concerned for them?
But it’s true.

I’m very much concerned
That they have become
So very set
In their ways
That they are afraid
Of anything at all
That does not fit
Inside their own
Little-bitty worlds.

Worlds they limited themselves to
Just so they could be safe.
And secure.
And never have to worry
About anything again.

That they don’t even know
How much fear they live in
Every single day.
Fear of change.
Fear of other people.
Fear of almost anything
That they don’t already know.
That they don’t understand.

That they have become
So set in their  ways
That they miss the glory
And the beauty
Of this world
That you have given us.

That they don’t even hear
The words their hearts
Speak to them.

It’s them
That I’m concerned for.
For I know
I was once
Like they are now.

Until you used one of them
To touch my heart.
That was frozen
Cold as ice.
And hard as stone.

But with that touch
My heart came back to life.
And this is what I wish
For them.
What I ask of you.

That you don’t give up on them.
That you keep trying,
Like you did with me,
To find a way
To touch their hearts.
And bring each of them
Back to life again.

I don’t know at all
If you can do that
Without them having to go through
The same kind of pain
That I’ve been through.

But I find
I have to ask of you,
That you don’t give up
On them.
That you keep trying
To touch their hearts.
So that they can learn
What I have learned.
So that they can know
What it really is
To be alive.
And to no longer be afraid
Of the hurt
And of the pain
That are simply
Part of life.

Will you do that
For me God?

That’s what I wish
To ask of you
Tonight.

Finding My Wings: Playing With The Sun

I went out today.
To the Norfolk Botanical Garden.
Where I took a nice long walk
Among the trees,
The plants,
And the flowers.

I burned through
Two whole camera batteries.
Taking pictures
Of the flowers
And the scenery
That I saw
While I was there.

And then I decided
I was ready
To come home.
So I got in my car,
And started that drive
Back to my house.

And that’s when something happened
That I did not expect.
And it was something wonderful.
Something I do all the time.
But I’m just now realizing
What I do,
And what it really means.

As I was sitting there,
At a stoplight.
Waiting for it to turn green.
I looked around.
And noticed all the pretty
Shades of green
On all the trees.

I noticed all the different grasses
On peoples lawns.
I noticed texture in the leaves.
And in the grasses.
And on the sidewalk,
And the road.

I noticed the dirt
On the cars
That were on the road
At the same time.

And I saw the other drives
In those cars.
It still amazes me
How many of those drivers
Just flat look ticked off.

And then
I started playing games
With sunlight
In my car.
I put my hand up
On the window.
And positioned it just right
So that there was a real bright line
Of sunlight
Running down the side of it.

And as I drove along
I also watched
How the shadows in the car
Moved about.
Changing as I moved the car.

I had a lot of fun
Letting my eyes drink in
Tons and tons of colors
That are visible
In the light
Of the sun.
You can’t see them all
At night.
In the dark,
Most of them are gone.

It was a lot of fun
To play games with the sun.
And the light it brings.

But suddenly
I felt an aching
In my heart.
And a sadness
In my soul.
For I knew
As I drove along
This afternoon.
On my way home.

That it was likely
No one else
Out there on the road
Even noticed
The sunlight.
And the colors
That it brings to life.
And the way that shadows move
As you drive along.

It was likely
That I was the only one
That saw the colors
Of the trees.
And the texture
Of the road.

And my heart ached,
And my soul grew sad,
At the thought of that.
And I found myself wondering
As I drove home
When it was
That everyone
Became so lost.

And wishing
They would all just stop
And take the time
To remember
What it means
To be alive.
And what a gift
We’ve all been given
That we live
In such a world as ours.

Then I went right back
To having fun
Playing with the sun.

It’s My Choice To Make

I could let my anger burn.
I could remember
Everything that happened
In the past year.

I could be bitter.
And remember for all time
The way that I was hurt
By people that I thought
Were my friends.

I could hold a grudge
Against those that taught me
What it is
To hate someone.

I don’t know
That anyone
Would blame me
If I did.

But I’ve learned so very much
In this life that I’ve been given.

I know that
If I hold a grudge
It will color
Everything I do.
And destroy
My ability to trust
Anyone.

If I were to be bitter,
That bitterness
Would be visible
To everyone.
And why would anyone
Want to be a friend
To someone who lived
To remember
All the bad things
That happened to him?

If I were to be angry,
I know everyone
Would avoid me.
Just like I would avoid
Any angry person
That I see.

I could pretend
That I never knew
Any of them,
After how they treated me.
Who would blame me
If I did?

I could spend my time
Wishing each of them
Would have to walk
Through the same kind of hell
That I’ve been through.

There are so many things
That I could do.
But I know,
For my heart tells me so,
That any nasty thing
That I could do,
Or say,
Or feel
Toward any of them.

Would eat away
At me.
At my very
Heart and soul.

It would be just like
An open cut.
Ignored,
And left untreated.
That becomes infected.
And when it does
That infection spreads.

And eventually,
You loose an arm.
Or a leg.
Where it had to be cut off
To save what’s left
Of you.

There are so many things
That I could do.
So many things
That are not good.
And would
In the long term
Hurt me.
Maybe even more
That it would ever
Hurt them.

But if I was injured,
With an open cut.
I’d take care of it.
I’d clean
And bandage it.
And help it heal.
So that it would
Not hurt me.

And that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to clean,
And bandage.
The wounded parts of me.
And I know exactly
How to do that
In this case.

I have to remember
The name of each person
That I could be angry with.
Each name.
And each face.

And then
I have to let go of
Any anger that I feel
With each one of them.

It’s a choice
You know.
To be unforgiving.
To be cold.
And angry.
And let my anger
Consume me.

Or to be forgiving.
To listen to my heart.
And what it says to me.
So that everything
Can just come to
A peaceful,
Healing,
End.

So that
All of them
And me too.
Can heal.
And move on.
Like we’re supposed to.

So you know
The choice that I have made.

I’ve chosen
To forgive.
And to forget.
So that everyone
Can just move on.
And we can all be free
From any hurt
And any pain
That what happened to me
May have caused.

And now you can begin
To understand
What it is
That I wish to be.

I choose to forgive.
And let all the wounds heal.
For I know
That I’m not hurting them.
I’m only hurting me.

And I choose not to do that
Any more.