Nice (the dog) and I have been walking the right-of-way along the train track the past couple days through the small New Jersey boroughs. Occasionally along the river in southern New Jersey a train would pass as we were at a crossing. The bells would ring and the gates would lower, the train would sound its horn, and Nice would bark at the evil gate arm, rising up on his hind legs to lightly nip at the bar. I can only shake my head at my dog's new obsession.
Can we talk?
The rain has been constant all morning from a drizzle to a cold rain. I am glad to take this day to let Nice rest. The down-time is good for me also. I am a carpenter and have racked my body for decades., so the rain is causing me to remember every injury, ache, and pain from years of hard work. I am grateful to be allowed to stay here at the fire station in Burlington, Relief #3 while this rain fall drums on the roof of the van.
While I walk --and on days like this-- I have time to reflect about things. The choices I have made, both good and bad, during my life, and how they have influenced my health and state of mind. I notice the things I hold onto negatively cause me to loose sleep, over-indulge, and distract me in my work and at times have caused me to make mistakes or injure myself. On cold, rainy days like today those old mistakes are amplified with aches and stiffness. When I let those things go I am able to work better, sleep more restfully, indulge less, and enjoy life now - not berating the past. I forgive myself, simply.
I am also a painter. When I paint, like when I am walking on long stretches of open road, it is a time to meditate on my life. One benefit from forgiving I want to share is something I held onto for years after high school. The first girl I shared an apartment with moved out and traveled around Europe. We never got back together or talked about that time even when my ex-wife and her were friends over the years. I know we were kids but I held onto this. I see now how it hurt my relationships and caused me other hardships until I let it go, that teenage hurt that kept giving. No break up, just her taking the opportunity to see the world.
To wrap up this sentimental journey I'll try to end it quickly. An old friend and his wife came to town and invited her and I both to dinner, we had all been friends back in the day. Talking about the past days, I saw it was all just young hurt that amounted to one bean in a hill of beans. A few weeks later she called to ask a favor. To help her store the contents of her coffee shop that had failed. In return she would give me a van she used as the coffee and smoothie mobile. $95, a week's work, forgiving my imagined hurt, and I am now sheltered from this blowing rain - not hold-up in a pup tent shivering with my wet dog. The benefits of forgiving. A purple van that sticks out like a sore thumb.
When this storm blows over I'll get back to the business of being a spectacle with people wondering why some guy is walking his dog wearing a weathered fedora and swinging the World by its tail. It's to raise awareness for diabetes, of course.
Smile New Jersey! It lowers your stress.