A Week in the Wood and a Lake

I spent the week in one of my favorite places, along the shores of Lake Superior. I camped in the Temperance river, and fished, hiked, and took a bike ride. But the most telling moments of the week were reaching the summit of Eagle Mountain, and sitting on a rock next to the shoreline watching the sunrise every morning. I don’t know if I could better reach the peace of mind available to us all in these natural surroundings. I know today, hands on how difficult it may be on the psych and the body to return to the concrete of the cities.

A goal of mine has always been to hike up Eagle Mountain. I have heard it to be challenging and especially the last half a mile before you find the summit is quite rock laden, so as they say, wear your hiking boots. I think one of the spectacular pieces of the hike are watching the tops of the trees lower as you further yourself up the mountain. Soon the overlooks begin to occur and they are everywhere with a few steps any direction from the highest point. There is a plaque speaks to the history of the summit, and it was so refreshing to sit there for a minute or two and be grateful to the nature around me. I realize these are soft mountain hikes and there are potentially higher and more challenging ones down the road, God willing.

On my hikes I have begun carrying one small rock in each hand, weight enough to balance my stride when walking. I found a couple at the start of the hike and set them down next to me as I had some trail mix before my adventure back. Once I began I realized I had left them where I was sitting, so I picked up a couple more, as they still belonged to the nature around me. I was told of this idea by a friend years ago, and I have mentioned the practice before, but recently it has had a profound effect on my connection to the environment around me. The walk allows the rocks to maintained that balanced cadence that carries me home, and now they are on a shelf in my home, where I do hope to gather many sets over the next couple of decades. Hiking has become a passion with me that I struggled with for many years. I cannot suggest why it is more relaxing, just that it is compelling and has become freeing.

On Lake Superior I found a rock where I sat each morning and watched the sunrise and observed a different flow of waves hitting the shoreline each time. The first day the water was calm and the second pleasant waves graced the rocks and boulders around the shoreline. On the third day there were quite stunning waves, the sort that imagined there would be surfers somewhere on the lake today, assuredly wearing wet suits given the temperature of this lake.

The fourth brought a calm again, but the waves still indicated a new presence. On that day, the same rock, same time of morning, no one else on the shoreline, I felt tears come and I let them go. There are so many reasons in my life to have tears, and yet so often we don’t allow them to flow. We hold them back. On this morning, I let them go, and I sobbed, and I didn’t wipe the tears, I wanted the feel them on my cheeks, my skin, my body. The moment was truly cleansing and brought by my expressing a gratefulness for the serenity of the lake. I provided apologies, and hopes, and dreams, and a desire to remain present in my life. I thanked the water in a manner of speaking to God, and the moment felt incredibly peaceful. My coffee finished, I got in my packed vehicle and started out my return to the cities.

There is something rather unusual about my time alone lately, camping travels, bike rides, attending events. It feels good, and thus far it feels right. It helps to balance the pain. I am learning how to ‘be’ as a dear friend plead me to do in the early days of the dissolution of my marriage. I am learning how to be ok. But it does take time. I would like to believe I am there, I have arrived, and for the moments I experienced this week on the summit and near the lake, I am confident I met those goals.

I look forward to the next adventure ahead.


© Thom Amundsen 7/2021

Grad Party Moments

After a year of Covid the grad parties have returned. There have been years past where I haven’t attended any of the celebrations of our senior graduates. Last year I made no excuses, we all stayed home. But there have been occasion where I took an all or nothing approach. This year has been different. Perhaps having retired from my school holds precedent. Today I felt tears at a party for the first time in nearly a decade.

For every teacher there is always that student and this afternoon I said a farewell to one of mine. She holds that special place in my heart. One particular display taunted everyone’s heartstrings. She had created, or perhaps mom or dad, a display of her class picture from 1st grade to graduation. My eyes well as I write these words. I think knowing she would be the last person I work with directly on this stage had a tremendous emotional impact on me today.

I looked at all the students and families that I was given the opportunity to spend my life with over the last two decades and I am only grateful. The celebration of a graduate is real and profound. In my own life I didn’t have that luxury when I left high school, so now as a teacher for most of my life I have discovered a certain respect for the life of the students that when I was a teenager I took for granted. To be the adult teacher that comes to celebrate their successes is rather humbling for me.

For all the teachers out there that this summer question whether or not it makes any difference for them to say goodbye to their students one last time as they leave the high school hallways, take a moment to give yourself a break. Though there were many times when you felt like you had no impact on their lives, it is clear they wouldn’t be where they are this summer without your love, compassion and guidance. But we didn’t do it alone we all did it together hand-in-hand because that’s what we cared about more than anything else – the success of our children, our students, our families, our community.

To be a teacher has been probably one of the rewarding gifts of my life and I am forever thankful for the opportunity. Seeing the smiles and celebration of my students this summer has been a highlight and offers assurance as I choose another chapter in my life. I only hope I can have as receptive an audience as I did the kids I worked with on stage throughout my career.

Graduates I wish you only the greatest success in all of your future endeavors and I will be right there to watch you achieve so much in your profound lives.

Thanks for letting me know you – celebrate!


©️ Thom Amundsen 6/2021

Humility on a mountaintop

I sat on this peak the other day after a healthy climb of just over a few miles. What you see is quite a satisfying result of the hike. I sat looking over the horizon for about 30 minutes before returning from where I started. I had done this hike several times over the years, but never alone. I was even sharp enough to keep my license in my camel-pack in the event of an injury along the way. Aging I suppose contributes to making smarter decisions, but that’s not really that important right now.

What I do wish to focus upon is the impact this trip had upon my state of mind. To go the miles it took and the strenuous nature of the landscape I encountered was an accomplishment fills me with satisfaction. Living a healthy lifestyle is important to me these days, and the rewards are immeasurable. I could easily have remained at my campground and stewed about my life and the hardships I have to endure, ignoring someone much like me lost in their own world of poverty and sickness without near the capacity I have to take an invigorating hike on a beautiful afternoon in the north-woods. Can anyone relate? I hope so. We can easily find reasons to discount the opportunities that lay before us and rather than ignore them we must put the effort forth to experience life as we know it in the moment.

What I experienced on this hike was the beauty of nature around me. Certainly the vista at the top was the reward, but the walk to get there was as special making the whole a complete adventure. A long time ago a friend of mine suggested I pick up two rocks and carry them with equal weight in each of my hands and let them carry me up the mountain. I remember trying this years ago and it didn’t work. I was too preoccupied with holding the rocks than I was with letting them carry me. I let their weight move my wrists and my arms in such a motion that I naturally felt like I was gliding up the mountainside. I held onto them afterwards, a gift from the nature around me. I decided I will find a set of rocks upon every landscape I walk in the future and recognize the blessing they provide my journey.

The humility I felt when surveying the world before my eyes let me imagine how fortunate my life is what lays ahead of my future. These are the things important to our lives to appreciate life around us. There is beauty and elegance surrounds us all everywhere. Take a moment, breathe in and out, and rest our weary soul. Life has a certain reward.


© Thom Amundsen 6/2021

A World of Measures

We are a measured society. Our actions fall under values we would wish to believe manifest in our background, cultural mores, the manner we were raised, the people by which we surround ourselves. In order to feel a certain sense of security, I want to believe in doing the right thing, living a life of compassion, respect and understanding. I often fall back upon the only attribute I can always count on to help me move forward – the concept of love. We all have a penchant for understanding what kindness might do to enhance our own personal confidence in who we are and how we go about our lives.

What I just described is how I live my life. I might go through my day with concern of other’s perception of me, but nowhere in my day have I ever felt a concern for my welfare beyond evaluating my own actions and making the right decisions to maintain a moral and dignified life. I have never felt my reality to be threatened by violence of any sort. Even those bullying moments in my childhood didn’t amount to anything as traumatic as senseless loss of life over and over again. I lost my cousin when I was 12 years old – he and I were six months apart in age, and that tragedy changed the course of my young life. What is important to recognize about that moment is that I didn’t have to get used to loss being right around the corner of all my actions throughout every living moment of my existence.

I am a White man living a privileged life.

When George Floyd lost his life last May during the Memorial Day holiday, I struggled to understand his loss. I tried to imagine the pain his world endured and I could not wrap my head around it at all. I couldn’t go and visit the memorial. I felt like I didn’t belong there. I felt pain and compassion for his loss and the impact on the community, including the horrific repetition of a systemic assault upon the welfare and safety of people of color in our society. I realized the Black community lived in a measured life far different than my own.

Daunte Wright lived a measured life. His every action has been based upon and judged by the color of his skin. His safety was when he was surrounded by his friends, his family, the people he counted upon to always be there for him, to not judge him, to never ostracize his position in their lives.

I once sat in a roundtable discussion of an equity based forum, a group whereby I was one of only a couple of white participants in a mix of a dozen contributors. The end discussion was a share of how we all felt about the last hour of a courageous conversation. I spoke out and suggested this was a fascinating hour and that I needed to process this and probably write about my feelings later in the week. I felt confident I was speaking accurately from my heart. A woman on my right said to me, “I’m glad you are going to do that, to process this day – good luck with that.” She then suggested she will get up from the table and be immediately immersed with a need to survive as she goes about her afternoon. She said “I have to be aware of myself in my every move the moment I walk out my door in the morning until evening when I can return to the security of my own home.”

I was actually a bit shocked, perhaps mortified at my naive approach to the measure of someone else’s life far more impacted by the nature of racism in our society. A woman on the right of me after listening to me rationalize my ignorance then plead, “when are white people going to let go of their white guilt and just acknowledge their role in privilege in our society.” Stunned again I thanked everyone at the table for letting me share in the discussion and allow me to have my takeaways. I was humbled. I was measured in the moment, but that feeling paled to the measure I realized people of color will experience every moment of their lives.

Daunte Wright’s life was certainly measured and he suffered a tragic end to living his life in goodness and flaw. The paramount misperception without question the color of his skin. The evidence would suggest a travesty has occurred, one that repeats itself so frequently there are protesters today walking the streets wearing t-shirts with a dozen names printed in a list of losses our Black society has experienced at the hands of ignorance. The world around Breonna and George and Michael and Philando and now Daunte are rampant with a confusing measure of importance in a country where the color of our skin is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. It is important to understand how measures play a role in perception.

There will be push-back. There always is. I have a good friend whose husband, also a friend is a police officer in the twin cities. She once described to me the fear she has every time her husband has to walk up to a parked vehicle he has pulled over for a traffic violation. I wish that analogy could be as simple and educational as it sounds, but there is a greater argument to be had about discrimination, fear, confusion in a hurting society. We are all being measured, however there is a much greater consequence for people of color in a world that still after decades beyond the civil rights movement of the 60’s continues to perpetuate a thinking of ill-met measure and judgment that has nothing to do with the whole of our humanity.

We are all products of the same nature of human beings relying upon eating, sleeping and communicating with each other to live our lives in a kind, forgiving, loving manner. We all do live measured lives some with greater extremes than others. The truth is we need to be measured the same – we need to leave privilege behind and begin loving one another for whom we are rather than forcing our neighbor to adjust their lives based upon the color of their skin.

We need our measuring stick to endure the confusion and misperception of years of trauma and perpetual ignorance and begin to love one another with kindness and acceptance. We need to be measured by a universal humanity and not one of misguided and horrific judgment.


© Thom Amundsen 4/2021

A response to the tragic death of Daunte Wright, of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of Philando Castile and the countless names that preceded death based upon fear.

Certain Days of the Year

I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and thirty two years will have gone by in a flash. I’ll try to remember different events that occurred on this day and they will be one distant fog. Oh, there will be the dinners, maybe a movie, occasionally a live show, maybe a concert wrapped around the date of the year. Tomorrow I will celebrate alone, and though I am told we shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad, it is rather difficult not to feel rather sad.

Someone if I gave them a chance would say to me with discern ‘it’s just another day, get over it.’ That’s all a person is really left with when nothing else is allowed to interfere with the reality of this manner of grief. Always a week before Christmas, always time to set up some kind of a holiday treat. One year it was Handel’s Messiah at Orchestra Hall, another it was the New Standards at the State Theater – lots of visits to the Guthrie, Broadway on Tour, U2 on the floor, live music – Davina and the Vagabonds. One year a surprise birthday party and we woke to a blizzard reducing our numbers from around a few dozen to less than ten. Every time was meant though, to be a celebration, as will tomorrow be as well. We are meant to celebrate our lives and not criticize a person’s happiness.

This year my friend has experienced loss, the sort of which none of us wish to go through, hard decisions, the loss of a social life and finally the departure of her mentor, the woman that taught her everything there is to know about being a woman in the society she was raised. There will be angels circling her aura throughout the day to offer her peace of mind and good will. I pray for the same as much as I wonder in my own mind how all of this time has gone by and suddenly here we are, sending out incorrect addresses to friends and walking past single family homes knowing those days are behind us. Now we simply go forward, just another day, a low temperature winter morning without any snow. Just another day.

I’m listening to my favorite Dire Straits album right now and my favorite song is about to play. ‘Why Worry Now’ is a song that makes me want to cry. It gives me the opportunity to do so, therefore I will take advantage of the moment and have a good cry. There was a time when the artistry of the eccentric was an attractive attribute to carry around in my life and somehow I just forgot to allow that part of me might manifest itself in a positive manner. Instead there are more days than not that I allow myself to be a shell of my true inner being, and I just cannot seem to find a way to change the course of the river that flows right through me.

I was married to the same woman for a very long time. Thirty years is half of my life, half of our lives, and suddenly tonight all it is is a reflection of who we once were culminating in who we are now today. I was just walking outside with my dog and I had an epiphany that if one day I was penniless I would still care about a woman I knew for three decades of my life, a woman whose day I would celebrate tomorrow every year for the last thirty years, for the remainder of my own years. That is a tradition, not an expectation.

That’s what makes birthdays special – really – another day in our lives. Happy birthday ‘twelve seventeeners.’


© Thom Amundsen 12/2020

A Stirring Conversation

So, I have been feeling poorly recently – what an exciting start right? A real grabber. My point is though I was feeling bad for myself because any type of illness I immediately imagine Covid, and I go through the motions of the test and it comes back negative – well that is my assumption this time around. Chest cold, flu, earache, swollen glands, sore throat – every ugly combination. So I complained about that to my friend.

She asked me to take a minute and think about it. Imagine being homeless with no shelter knowing the cold winds are ahead with winter looming, little to eat, no fresh water. Go a step further and live the life of a displaced refugee stranded without food and medical care and essential living needs. Think about anyone that feels their lives are in jeopardy due to a chronic illness, terminal diagnosis, and then reflect back upon my common cold. Please do not imagine I diminish the tragedy of Covid in people’s lives in any manner. The words were just rather humbling, and did make me step back and feel a pang of embarrassment, guilt, remorse. I’m turning those toward more reflective ways to ponder upon our lives. Someone out there will say quickly, life is relative, don’t try to measure it.

I do live a fortunate life. I think I will step out briefly today and pick up some Tylenol and tissues.

I’m sorry.

This Sunday Morning

We are starting to contemplate what it is we have done this year, one so very unique to our world, our lives, our state of mind. I think we all began the year in much the same way, dealing only with our personal needs and always aware of the world around us. Some of us championed resolutions, a few of us cleaned out chapters of our lives, and many woke up and believed it was just another day in succession of many. Why wouldn’t each of those directions make complete sense as we imagine our day today.

It is Sunday, a day that at the start of the year I had begun returning to Mass after many decades of sporadic holiday attendance, I was liking the opportunity and its meditative balance on my life. Then a few weeks later, I was not. I was not alone. This time it wasn’t because of lack of interest, none of us could. On top of everything else in our lives, we were now asked, suggested, mandated to isolate ourselves for the safety of others. I remember in the early weeks of shelter at home, I would run off to the grocery store, a limited activity, and as the sun was setting in the west, I would look at the horizon and imagine zombies beginning to line the hills. Everything was so quiet, no one except for people like me getting groceries or essentials milled about. The moment was eery and unsettling.

Eight months later, I have become a rather good cook. I seldom would make meals in years past, except for the occasional breakfast, or an intriguing recipe, or holiday foods. In the last year though, I used to want to emphasize I hadn’t gone out to eat for weeks, turned into months. But then I had to come to terms with the fact that no one had. When I get out of rehearsals for high school theater, I would often stop for a bite to eat. Now those little moments were part of my grocery run. I’ll call it a win, because the food is better and the advantage is a healthier body.

This summer I needed to go outside. Thankfully we have the woods, the hiking trails and just the open country for walks and bicycle rides. I remember thinking in the early days of Covid19 what if someone a quarter of mile in front of me sneezed while I was bicycling into a head wind? That really went through my mind, much like taking my dog to the dog park and worrying about other people wanting to pet him, and thereby bringing their germs into my home. Nobody knew, some of us cared, some thought it was and still do believe it a hoax. I’ve seen the numbers of people who have died, not by choice. I have been a believer from the beginning.

Our lives are all unique and yet we live them quite similarly to one another. We need a good sleep, a warm meal, a favorite book or piece of music, a companion nearby. All of this sounds rather normal right? The thing to recognize is there are many that do not have all or any of the opportunities or lifestyle habits I just mentioned. There are people who are alone and haven’t sometimes the strength to endure this rather unprecedented and certainly sad and frightening time in our lives. This is a time of year when often we are suggested to raise our awareness of those less fortunate than ourselves. Now more than ever.

We do come upon that time of year in America where we will celebrate the holiday, the essence of family being together to share the love we all have created in our lives. Many question our ability to have feast in that manner of tradition and we find ourselves quietly confused, making different plans. We do come upon that time of year in the world where we celebrate the truth of universal love in however manner our cultural strengths bring us together. What is important is we do remain focused on what will alleviate some of the anxiety and disorientating nature of this temporary period of our lives. Acts of kindness and a simple element exist.

There really isn’t anything traditional about this year moving into the holidays except for perhaps one common denominator: Love. We all know kindness and the smile it puts on our face, the safe remedy an emotion provides our need to feel.

This is a Sunday morning, and I am in my comfortable chair with a favorite music playing, my dog wandering about checking on me thinking of his next walk in the coming hour. I’m sipping my coffee and looking forward to watching a ball game this afternoon. Tonight I will plan the week ahead. Life remains normal as long as we can allow ourselves to realize there is goodness during this temporary period of our lives. Though we must be conscious of the reality being we are not alone, all of us in our circumstance hold an energy lets us know we are together miles away or nearby.

When we can, as long as we are able, reach out, for there is something substantial being passed upon one another than simply memory not realized. We all exist together, kindness and love being symbolic of that grateful nature of our humanity. We can this year celebrate with an even stronger recognition than during a normalcy we haven’t known yet taken for granted for quite some time.

Love. Be Kind.


© Thom Amundsen  11/2020

Friends Will Reach

I have had a few tough days. It is funny how quickly I can sometimes fall into what my mother would often call a low when her diabetes was out of balance. My lows aren’t the result of diabetes, not by any stretch. But I do have them, and I sometimes wish they didn’t exist at all. Of late, I’ve written about these moments directly rather than dancing around with a solemn poem, or a telling sonnet, or some way of making life seem more tenable with selective word choice.

Tonight I got a call from a friend. She said she’d read my stuff lately and she felt like she might want to check in on me. She’s pretty sharp, she knows patterns, she knows me very well. I was grateful on a number of accounts. One I was in a state of mind to take her call. We talked for some time, shared our stories of isolation with Covid, and the need to recognize that everyone is dealing with a similar energy, though as well, everyone handles it differently.

There are people I miss in my life. Dear friends I am no longer in touch with for a variety of reasons, none of which I can even explain to myself. That said, I have to understand that I need to look at these moments as an opportunity rather than a reason for tragedy. I worry about things far more than I would wish to admit.

Recently, my cousin’s husband was in a near death accident. He didn’t want to place himself in that position when he woke that morning. It just happened, and God let him live. I think about that sometimes, how we have a choice, and yet we don’t have a choice. I think the latter is far more healthy to live by rather than believing we are in control of our own destiny. I think as long as we continue to understand how certain truths work in our lives, life can become easier.

People we care about are getting sick and testing positive with Covid. We have questions about whether the increased testing is causing the alarming numbers to rise, but then at the same time, the illness that occurs with those afflicted is real and not overstated. So many circumstances in life today are filled with confusion, and there is only one thing we can do about it, act upon every measure we can to maintain our safety and that of all of those around us.

A friend showed me an act of kindness tonight that really did mean the world to me. My life is good, I cannot argue that – the last ten months have been filled with so much change and so much need for growth, I can’t help be grateful for the people I do know that without seeing directly still carry the same compassionate energy we all do when we are next to each other rather than spaced by social distancing. We can still be kind. We can still love no matter the distance in our hearts, in our world.

I think the essence of love is truly knowing there is a spiritual basis to how we live our lives. The more we hide behind the demons and the fear of own woe, the less chance we have to appreciate a soft snow that exists outside my window as I finish my words here.

I have Pachelbel playing in the background, and it is soothing to imagine where and when that song came into my life. I was just 20 years old and in a scene from ‘Ordinary People’ Timothy Hutton is humming it as he walks through a cemetery on his way home from school. He is exploring a new life, and has fallen in love. It was a poignant moment that is always with me, a sort of I can overcome this vulnerability if I just listen and think about that which I love.

I personally love when I feel there is a kind word for everyone in our lives.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020

The Next Day

That’s really how it feels sometimes. One day, I’m on top of the world, and the next just scratching the surface, feeling the grit inside my frame of mind, unable to process what was once like hang gliding in the atmosphere one beautiful fall afternoon. Then something happens in our world that cannot be denied.

I often yearn for that balance in my life, rather than the peaks and valleys. Living with the rush of exhilaration that comes with a high and then trying to accept the low a few days later can be very wearing on anyone. The hardest part though is when people don’t understand or that me myself doesn’t want to, wishes not to fix the flaw. I’d rather stay inside the mire of a sadness that I just will not ever be able to escape. Though moments of hope do always exist in our lives.

Today, something historic happened. We elected our next president of the United States. Four years of hell just ended and a weak man spent the day on a golf course building his own case of denial. A gracious man accepted the nation’s choice to have him – Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris – to be our next leaders of this country.

I remember when I first saw the announcement, I was stunned. It felt finally there would be some normalcy in our country. We didn’t have to struggle with being fractured any longer. We had a chance to be loving again.

My only regret is that I am alone with this celebration. Today, I spent the day watching the news, and it was so uplifting so beautiful so hopeful that I couldn’t imagine anything else in my life for just that moment.

But then the fear came back, this seething manner that my mind just trails off to where nothing really matters, and I become caught up in my own woe. The interesting thing is that being able to write it now is so revealing and yet at the same time freeing. I know I will always struggle this way, but there are beautiful things out there in our world that will always continue to offer my satisfaction and confidence.

I’m riding a wave of happiness tonight, the right person was elected to office, and now as he said we begin to hear as a country. Will he or she both be perfect. NO. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are as human as any one of us, though they have fought all their lives with principled ideals to finally stand where they do today.

So how do I measure my own life. I look at a man whom has lost his family and gained another over time whom he speaks of with love. His predecessor really does not have a clue, and will be carried out of the Whitehouse kicking and screaming, and i cannot wait to watch that day evolve before our eyes. That’s reality, that is our humanity.

For me, I have to continue to fight for this happiness I so yearn, a model of our society has the potential to help move my state of mind forward.


˙˙© Thom Amundsen 11/7/2020

There Are These Days

A couple of weeks ago my world went dark. I made horrific plans, mapped out the day, my valuables, important tokens of my life. I say this because it does happen to people, and now I feel a better grasp and that is more valuable than any guilt or shame over previous moments in my life.

I call it these days because they really come and go. The weather outside is beautiful, and during the summer I spent most of my time on my bicycle, and tonight I couldn’t get myself to move. It is funny how our lives become wrapped up in ourselves, and we forget about those around us. Now with Covid, we are more often than not forced to live only with ourselves. I have a dog now, he is a beautiful animal, and just comes and lays by me most of the time, or if he hears or senses anything emotional from me, he’ll come and check me out. A couple of weeks ago when I hit that low, he was someone I couldn’t leave behind without somebody to be there to care for him immediately.

I think when I get lost inside myself, I forget the world around me. I feel pretty valueless when I let this trapping take over my state of mind. I fortunately have a lot of people I can reach out to, but sometimes one or two might be far more important than everyone else. It doesn’t mean that everyone doesn’t carry the same value, there are just easier words found with the few.

I began writing to an old friend recently. I wrote her a letter out of the blue, and it was overwhelming for her to hear my words 40 years later. I felt this certain energy when I wrote her, it just let my mind go and took off and I could see and hear my words as they were hitting the paper, and I just let them go. I’ve only been able to do that with one other person in my life and now she has disappeared much like my old friend, so I resort back to these pages. I hope someday I can put them together in some manner that lets at least me believe the words hold value.

Tonight I found myself watching TV, letting the hours slip by. I have a morning obligation that I have to contribute to rather than just show up. Sometimes it is easier to do that – show up – without really taking value in the effort or what others are receiving from me. What is the energy I bring to a room. I want my students to have fun, so we have a lot of laughs, but what if it means nothing to me anymore. Isn’t that really just hurting the kids? Oh, see how easy that was? I found another way to beat myself up.

The weirdest thing happened to me the night I was feeling my low. I was beside myself and I wrote a letter to a dear friend whom I cannot get a response, and I talked about some dark moments. I think deep in my mind, I was begging for a wellness check, and so shortly after I went to bed around midnight and my code for the entrance to my village gate rang on my phone. I couldn’t figure out why. I thought there might be a connection and so I stood out on my deck expecting the cops to pull up for a welfare check on my state of mind. But no one ever did. So now I guess somebody hit the wrong number. I really haven’t any idea, but I think God was sending me a message.

I think about where my state of mind goes so quickly when I am feeling down. It goes as deep as my fresh optimism goes high. I can never seem to find that common ground, that even keel, that ability to balance on the fence.

I think in the time of Covid, it really is difficult to feel hope without despair. I don’t like my job right now, it is not because of the kids, I love my students, I just don’t like having an administration that has their own struggles but doesn’t reveal with anyone because of their role. I think we are all struggling right now, and to add to it, a remarkably historic election week, and we are all on the edge.

I guess I have rambled here a bit tonight, but I really wanted to just talk about how easy it is to fall into a mania that gives suicide a platform when loneliness and sadness overtake our lives. It happened to me, and it does more often than not, I just am better hiding it than I used to. There are really only a couple of people in my life who know I walk around like this all the time. A couple of weekends ago, nothing mattered, and then I scared myself, so now tonight as I finish this up, I guess I am just recognizing another vulnerability in my own human condition that I cannot let become triggered – rather I need to accept it and move on.

I always find a way to come to terms ever so briefly with understanding mood. I just wish it could be consistent and forever.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020