When I was growing up I played with dolls. I guess, technically speaking, they were called dolls, but the manly side of me would like for them to be “action figures”. Anyways, I had a bunch of He-Man dolls, as well as WWF Wrestler dolls. I would pit them against one another and have Battle Royals. I would even stage “loser-leave-town”, and “tar-and-feather matches” similar to what me, my brother, my dad, and my grandpa watched on Saturday morning wrestling. There was one doll in particular that I played with for years, probably much longer than I care to admit. The doll was Hillbilly Jim, and for some reason, he was just my “go-to” guy. I would play him out in all kinds of different imaginary scenes, from defeating the Hulkster for the title, to tearing down the Castle of Greyskull, to taking out Godzilla, and saving our planet from certain doom. I had tons of toys growing up, and every one that I got was the “last thing that I will ever ask for. Please, just buy me this, and I will never ask you for another thing, as long as I live.” I would often get whatever toy I so desperately needed, only to play with it for a few hours and chunk it in the dark abyss that was the toybox.
Most toys never got a second glance, but Hillbilly Jim always got picked back up. One hundred times over, Hillbilly Jim was resurrected from the dark death that was the toybox. I loved Hillbilly Jim. He kinda came and went, and came and went…but he always came back. I would play with him for a couple of weeks, get off on something else, and come back and be interested again. I don’t know what would cause me to gain interest, or lose interest, for that matter, but me and ole Hillbilly kinda ebbed and flowed. The older I get, the more I think about my Hillbilly Jim doll, and the more our relationship sorta acts as a metaphor for life. My life is my Hillbilly Jim doll.
Last night, as Amanda and I were laying down for bed, we had an exchange of words that went like this,
Me: I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.
Amanda: What’s tomorrow?
Me: It’s tomorrow.
I’m really excited about life. I’m excited about my big, universe sized Hillbilly Jim doll. I don’t always feel that life is a toy, but today I do. I feel like I have a world-sized playground in which I am free to do just about whatever I would like. Right now, I have most things in check. My nutrition, exercise, health, spirituality, and family are all in order, and when these things are in check, the rest is all fun and failure…and I can handle both of these when my head is right. I have a whole week of things to be excited about. My children are off on Fall Break, we have sign language class tonight, date night with Amanda, good week of work, i get to play with LHRL, and maybe do a video/podcast. We get to see Amanda’s folks on Friday, 10mile trail race on Saturday, endless possibilities. I’m really excited about my toy. It is interesting to inventory my last two Mondays compared to this one, they seem like they are lifetimes away from each other. Equal parts Nutrition and sunshine are probably the two biggest factors. I think gratitude plays a large part, but i am not sure if I feel grateful because I feel good, or feel good because I am grateful. Either way, I don’t guess it really makes any difference, so long as it’s working.
Sunday night, I ran into an old high school friend and it really got me thinking. Amanda and I were eating at a restaurant, and I saw him sitting at the bar. Ironically, the last time I saw him, he was sitting at the same bar, in the same seat. Only that was on a Saturday night, this was Sunday afternoon. I spoke to him, but almost wish that I had not. My friend looked terrible. In the twenty years between high school and now, sure, we all are gonna change, but this was not the change that comes with the gravitational pull, which exempts no one. This was the bloat, the puffiness, the thick tongue, and the lifelessness that people like myself can, and will, recognize 100% of the time.
My old friend was at one time probably the most energetic and charismatic person that I knew. He was loud, and funny, and hyper, and happy. Clearly, he was none of these things anymore. His eyes resembled that of a shark’s, as it casually peruses the open sea. He was almost in a daydream like state, while focusing on nothing. His, once strong, physique was big, soft, and puffy. The athleticism that he once possessed was buried far, far below, and there seemed no desire to wake it up. It hurt me to see him like this, because in so many ways I AM him. I have been him, and I will be him again, if I don’t continue doing the things that have helped me in recovery. I have his memory etched in my head and it disturbed me for a period, until it became something I accepted, and I processed the gratitude that it contained. It gave me life, and the desire to play with life.
My Hillbilly Jim was awakened because of a snapshot that contained everything that I am, but also everything which I am not, and it gave me a sense of freedom. I was able to see myself through the glassy, lifeless waters, which were my old friend’s eyes, and see that where I am today is the gift of freedom which allows me to play, and laugh, and try new things, and fail at them, and try them again, and enjoy, and appreciate all of the good that I can feel and experience today. Even if only for today, I am not that person, and as long as I am not that person, I am like a kid. A kid with a Hillbilly Jim doll, who is free to imagine whatever scenario that I would like to imagine, and I can play out those daydreams. I can live, in real time, whatever it is that I imagine. Assuming that whatever I want to do is legal and will not hurt anyone, there is nothing that I cannot be, providing that I am willing to put in the time and effort, and be willing to face the ridicule and speculation that comes with trying anything worthwhile.
As I was reflecting on my old high school friend and writing this blog, I saw a post on Facebook from another friend of mine. This had equally as much impact, only she was on the other side of the coin. My friend had lost 30lbs. She had gone from a size 20 to size 16 and no longer was shopping in the plus size section of the store. I was so happy for her because she deserves happiness, and for people to be happy for her. She is the type of person who shakes her fist with excitement when she hears of others doing well, as opposed to rolling her eyes with envious disdain. I know how hard she struggled to get off that 30lbs because I know the struggle. Only people who know what it is like to struggle with a particular thing, know what it is like to struggle with that particular thing. I was so happy for my friend as I have known her since the fourth grade and wish only good things for her. It made me smile and gave me energy in the knowledge that, most likely, today the world is her playground as well.
Her Hillbilly Jim is out of the darkness of the toybox, and she is back to enjoying all of the things that come with a world of freedom, imagination, and endless possibility. Today, I encourage you to take your world out of your abandoned toybox, and play with it. Throw it, flip it upside-down, shake it, believe in it, and imagine good things with it. Tell yourself that whatever you want to do is as good as done, provided that you are willing to put in the work. Don’t put everything in black and white, in an effort to avoid moving forward. Plenty of people have been happy and successful while living life in a completely unorthodox fashion. I don’t know if there is a guidebook to happiness or success, but I wouldn’t read it if there was, and I sure as hell wouldn’t listen. Believe that your results are on the way, and if you hit a bump in the road, get over it, imagine there is a smoother road beside it. The best, and most simple advice I ever received was this:
1. Start praying
2. Don’t stop
3. Expect it to work.
Now, I don’t know much about how you feel about prayer, and certainly don’t want to, but I do believe that imagining and praying can be used in much the same way as it pertains to developing reality from imagination. I hope that you will imagine the life that you and Hillbilly Jim want, and not the one that your parents or spouse tell you that you should want. Go ahead. Get after it. Imagine what you want, work a little bit for it, watch it happen, and imagine some more. This IS all fun and games, I don’t give a damn what anyone tries to tell me.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,