A Difficult Month

I have experienced loss this month, not simply grief of losing a loved one to the natural course of life. More presence and banishment. Not hostile as much as confusing. Many aspects of life have been exposed, many others kept in their dark holes of quiet solace from revealing my greatest fears. And yet there is the heartbreak of our lives that we always keep close to ourselves in order to find some sanity in our day to day.

I have known love on so many levels, and now I am being asked to love alone, without any recourse beyond knowing in my own seeming understanding of God or some spiritual entity that love does exist and continues beyond the mechanical or physicality of the human condition.

My belief is in God. I have kept that tucked away for many years because parts of our society do not accept the reality of some of our own ways to find personal strength in ourselves, in our lives. I remember a time over a decade ago when I was struggling and when finally coming to terms with whom I was in the moment, I sat in a chapel, looked at an altar and began to feel the tears stream down my cheeks. I didn’t hold back, I just let them fall, and the memories began to flood my mind. I thought immediately of my cousin Billy, who I miss so much, and my parents, and my childhood, and like a film reel my life ran its course of recall and redemption. I realized that morning that I could be okay with whatever decision I make in life because it is my own. I believed that day, that God was looking over me, and offering forgiveness. It felt unique in contrast to the many times I would on my knees or in a fetal position pray that God might take me out of this miserable life. That day God held my hand.

Recently I have returned to the church and it has offered me a unique peace. Though I still walk through my days with questionable motives. I have very good friends, a support system that is just short of phenomenal, but are we ever completely satisfied? There is a void in my life that I created on my own, that I find troubling because I fall into patterns of neediness that won’t allow that to be fixed. I have made a choice in my life that I could not possibly regret because moments do teach happiness and truth.

Today, my words gradually become more revealing. I hope they might speak the truth in what I feel, not simply words to fill the page and find reader’s eyes, but words that would somehow tell a story that when other’s hear, they have their own quiet ‘yeah’ moments. My mother always called them ‘aha’ moments, so I save her mantra for myself because I do love her and miss her dearly. With my dad the two taught us as a family how to live with one another no matter the struggle. We used to spend hours in debates with all of our family around the old oak table – freedom of thought without judgment. Something I miss dearly, but in writing we can find and use that venue to our own advantage to help define our thoughts.

So it has been a difficult month. I have returned to work in a capacity and the students are clearly my life blood. I see them throughout the day and their smiling faces is all a person needs in the moment. It is the hours afterwards that I will continue to struggle to find my own space, my own identity, my own truths.


© Thom Amundsen 2/2020

Moments in a Blizzard

Windswept sky designs landmark,

the world is being blanketed by that force

greater than our own,

a magical parade of Nature’s wrath,

in the simplest manner of beauty.

 

Oh her strength apparent

inside the wonder of it all,

the winter storm,

a blizzard upon our discontent,

perhaps we might fly away.

 

Lost inside this forever cycle

our lives are equally drawn

by a static probability

of scant survival in the throes

of a woeful condition.

 

Step inside the winds,

that bury this frozen memory,

covering up our sorrows

so there might be a new desire,

a passion to understand.

 

A realization,

recognizing there is an after-life

to the sparkle – once

no longer remains

inside a youthful dream.

 

There inside the wealth of our

humanity

exists a welcome change,

that ever resilient testimony,

suggests we are all ready,

 

already walking again,

this might provocative winds allow.

 


© Thom Amundsen 1/2020

Having A Cry

Just now,

in the quiet atmosphere,

where no one

might hear my sigh.

A silent recall

today a different time,

conversation and laughs,

and then a glance, a pause

when eyes purposely

met one another

again.

Quite evident is the changing focus,

something

exciting to us both.

 

I will remember you

a saying just out of the blue.

I will remember you

a vision, a different view.

 

Sometime we wonder,

what if,

when did,

no answers coming yet.

There will be those moments

when our lives

do recall the humor

held our lives together,

and then today in the sweet

reckoning of our reality,

we did glance,

we did look for

some solace

in a spectacular time.

 

I will remember you

a saying just out of the blue.

I will remember you

a vision, a different view.

 

Look at love said the obscure seer

who believed in harmony

look before a discord shook the enemy.

So it looks the way

we might imagine,

some purpose,

a reliance

on know

we will live upon our dreams,

share our fortunes

without any monetary

illusion.

 

I will remember you

a saying just out of the blue.

I will remember you

a vision, a different view.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

The Urge To Move

Felt it?

feel it on occasion,

stuck in traffic seems plausible

in comparison to standing still

unable to navigate the next decision,

next choice,

perhaps a cathartic moment

awaits the imagination,

yet,

for the moment,

the urgency begins to build,

suggesting something has to break …

or are we always in a constant state of projection.

On Racism, Schools & Awareness

Whenever an act of racism occurs in my community, or in the world around me, I never know quite how to respond. My natural reaction is to be appalled and disappointed, then fear settles in, then uneasiness, followed by confusion. My gut tells me I want to figure out who to blame first, and then I want to understand how this impacts the people around me, specifically the students in my classroom.

1

Being a high school teacher has its perks. We see immediately what is on a young child’s mind, whether positive or negative. When something so blatant happens that shakes the community, it is sometimes difficult to get a read on how the message is interpreted. What rolls off one’s back as minor might plant a seed of contention in another’s. There certainly always seems to be a level of response to the ignorance of the action, specifically in this case, the desecrating of school walls with epitaphs and racial hatred. The important message to recognize is that it is out there for people to respond to, whether consciously driven or designed by unintentional circumstances. It is difficult to imagine racial epitaphs to be accidental; however, the motivation is unique in this situation.

The initial reports of this most recent incident are that the student was not fully aware of their actions. One could argue this is an attempt to save credibility as an organization, or the truth of the matter might be as simple and basic as it is being described. Whatever the answer to the action, the bottom line is that this unfortunate moment exposes a frightening part of our society that we would sometimes rather quiet than provide a voice of reaction.  As it is, this should be handled as a teaching moment for students, wherever and however involved.

Ironically, we are living in a present society that is increasingly accepting the notion of ‘alternative’ or fake news. Such terms are being bandied about with such frequency that the phrases, ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ and ‘Last night’s terrorism in Sweden’ have become household maxims, and the terrifying truth is they are believed statements by many, despite the originators coming out with statements otherwise.

The reality is that words of hatred have appeared on walls that our youth will see with frequency and then naturally react to afterward. So how do we go about repairing thescreen-shot-2017-02-28-at-5-11-55-pm damage? I think the real solution lies in what are the reasons these events occur, and how can we raise the consciousness of our young people to such a degree they begin to recognize the dangerous precedent of accepting racism rather than fighting to overcome its venomous impact on our society.

Accepting racism is the failure of our society to identify it as problematic to our youths’ value system. What this means is that rather than confront the issue, if we can quietly just pretend it away and not put dramatic focus upon a real issue, maybe it will simply go away. That is about as relevant as imagining that inane rhetoric is more reasonable than the truth from the leaders of our country. There is a saying that suggests, if it said enough times, then people begin to believe it as true. In the case of racism on the bathroom walls of our schools, there is a percentage of students that will certainly ‘buy into’ the hatred rather than recognize it is damaging to our society’s value system. This is where open discussion needs to begin.

When we speak of teaching moments, we have to clarify when and how these opportunities are going to happen. Rather than using band-aids on a segment of our society, we need to rally around the bigger picture. Our youth are the most impressionable people in our world, and their actions will be the foundation of the future of this country, one that is chock full of immediate change and adjustment as that mosaic of assimilation continues to take hold. Rather than rely upon hope without dialogue, we need to begin the conversations and continue to encourage them in meaningful and thoughtful ways. Perhaps then, words on a wall, or rhetoric meant to sway our society will become less and less powerful and the truth will begin to matter.

When Pain Is Real

No longer is a possibility an afterthought

No deeper can our hearts be further fraught

No more, no more,

We cannot circumvent our cursory passion.

~

When pain is real, oft consequence the lesser

Paralytic feature while truths shield the confessor

The breathing banter

Escapes with certainty, a frightening fashion.

~

While judgment acts svelte in universal cloak,

The mind, that human anxiety will love evoke

Takes over with a rigor

Unmatched by an innocence lost in decision.

~

What really happens when a heart is left broken,

Who might define the brevity of such misfortune.