Stop the World — I Want to Get Off (Just Keep Digging).


Buried. I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that I think I may have hit my breaking point.  Chagrined about it, really.  A nice little dollop of shame in there, too. Because I know damned well that many people have it way worse.  They have been wallowing in the vicinity of their own breaking point — feeling buried — for days, weeks, months, years, maybe even generations.  And only now I have the nerve to hop on the bus to Overwhelmed City? The bus is jammed already.  Standing room only.  So let’s say that I’m shoulder to shoulder with gaggles of fellow suffering travelers, being jostled about by one pothole after another. Fighting back nausea.  I am not at all prone to motion sickness, so this feeling is new.  

I want off.

There’s just too much going on.  All at once.  And it isn’t letting up. So my personal water table simply cannot return to some semblance of equilibrium. I’m full up.  Emotionally flooded.  This blog helps, though cataloguing my own parade of horribles seems both self-defeating and self-centered.  Still, I write.  

Let’s start with the macro — world affairs.  I’m getting pummeled by a nonstop barrage of the ridiculous and irrational words and actions of our new President.  It’s like a mad, insane sprint in tight circles spiraling around and down the toilet bowl.  I can’t handle the accelerating g-forces. I can’t stay on top of the latest nonsense, so that I might formulate intelligent opinions and competently explain things to my inquisitive kids. Try to help them makes sense of this new world order. I am reduced to cranky grunts and curse words, particularly if my morning coffee hasn’t yet taken root. I am at a loss.  

As for the micro: Our little neighborhood bubble of safety suddenly feels not so safe.  My outdoor Nest camera footage suggests that maybe the bubble never was safe:  Seemingly  upstanding citizens walking briskly down my block, then veering towards my flat’s stoop. Then rifling through my short stack of mail in the middle of the day. Presumably hoping for something good to steal. Post-midnight sketchy visitors, peering into my parked family car’s interior, aided in their search by the throw of my my so-called security spotlights.  And the hyperlocal criminal goings on reported to me daily by the NextDoor app — it feels like I’m suddenly raising my family in a war zone. 

My kids’ school situations are less-than-ideal.  Maybe that’s the new norm, and just the way it is.  But I only have the two sons, so “ideal” is what I’m shooting for.  Not in a helicopter parent way, mind you.  The opposite.  I want to trust that my kids are in safe, nurturing environments when out of my sight. Let the enlightened and ambitious educators and administrators do their thing. This is my default setting.  But alas, that is not always how things have worked out.  And it’s not always the schools’ fault.  I fear that mean or unkind kids are begotten of mean or unkind or long-ago-gave-up parents are begotten of a world that is moving too fast and rattling loose too many moral compasses. “True North” may actually be scattershot.  Imaginary.  Mythical. We’re all pointing in different directions.  I’d like to think I know where True North is, but with so many others’ fingers extended, jabbing all over the place, how can I be sure?

And then there’s the getting older thing.  I’m pushing towards 50, and honestly, way more serious about taking care of myself than my 21 year-old self would ever have anticipated.  I exercise a ton, eat right.  Sleep for 8 or 9 hours every night. I meditate.  I meditate about exercising, eating and sleeping.  I meditate about meditating. Yet now I find out that my LDL cholesterol is high enough to warrant artery scraping drugs.  Pills of Drano, more or less. Really? Maybe I should have been gorging on deep fried Twinkies all those years. Why not?

More broadly, all families, it seems, face the ugliness of things like cancer.  Our extended family is no different, though it feels like a singular experience.  And just recently, some of my oldest and dearest friends and their families have suddenly been forced to grapple with the fleeting nature of their own health and mortality. Given all this, who the hell am I to gripe about the prospect of taking a pill to lower my cholesterol? What the hell is wrong with me that I have been taking for granted my own family, as well as my friends and their families, for so long? How dare I obsess so much about my own situation in the face of others’ who are climbing mountains far steeper than mine?

So what’s the answer?  What to do?  What can I do in the face of all this?

I am uncertain.  I can’t seem to conjure up any of the usual guiding principles that can be counted on to lift my spirits as I typically approach this concluding section of my blog posts. Having a bit of a hard time finding the bright side, quite honestly.  

But I suspect there may be something to the iPhone photo at the top, captured quickly in Lake Tahoe a couple days back:  I think I’m just gonna pick up this here shovel and dig.  It feels like something I can control, though I recognize no actual progress may be made.  And hopefully I will be strong enough to push through the back aches and heart aches. (No guarantees with these awesome LDL numbers of mine, by the way.)  But I’m just gonna keep digging. 

Thanks for reading. 


  1. Empathy can feel like those “in-case-of-emergency” instructions during human flight, but it is still empathy.

    I genuinely enjoyed your writing voice. Ever consider a novel? Nothing more altruistic on this planet than novelists 😉

  2. i really feel your pain through your written words and i am sorry. i think that blogging is a great idea, i feel like it helps with negative feelings like anxiety. your words are written so professionally, i appreciate all you had to say, thank you for your time. keep going and i know its hard sometimes, but keep your head up!

    1. The snow is worse of course. Most Aussies stay home and only come out when the sun is shining. Except when it is hot, but they have cricket and tennis to watch. I have been perspiring at night, two showers a day, grateful for the cooler air until after lunch when it starts again.

  3. I so hear you feeling self-indulgent when so many have felt this way for much longer. I’m right there with you. And I’m very so very sorry for your family’s health problems. Mine went through something similar last year. It’s an arbitrary, hateful disease. Thinking of you and your family. ❤

  4. I’m sorry about your struggles. Although there may be people with harder struggles, it doesn’t make yours any easier. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. I enjoyed your writing and your voice. You have a unique style that made me want to keep reading.

  5. I had a laugh at your expense, I loved the buried car as well, memories of the past. I know my life is not easy, and I want to thank you for writing about your issues. I have only 50 or so posts, but your writing style is showing me the way I want to go. Keep up your efforts, and good luck on the big dig 🙂

  6. Meditate with love and peace in your heart and for all! Everything will be fine, sometimes we have to feel the sorrow to experience the joy. Good things are to come dear loved one.
    Peace and blessings to all

  7. Some would say they know true north is with Jesus, and all the rest is shape shifting, adjusting over time. Once you get to your 50th birthday you will be used to the idea, also you won’t think of the 53s etc. being old anymore. Not many places are safe to leave things out overnight. I stopped watching the news ages ago, and some channels are worse than others, at least here in Australia. In Australia it is double trouble, our government has done all that Trump has done and worse, and yet because of the news people are speaking out about it now, ignoring what their own country is doing and talking about Trump. At least yesterday one government minister admitted Trump was copying them or something to that affect. I think Trump is nice taking our Manus island prisoners away stopping our embarrassment, he is better than our government.

  8. If it makes you feel any better about your cholesterol, I’m thirty and have had high cholesterol for the past five years. If I try REALLY REALLY HARD and cut out dairy completely I can get it to normal range… but where’s the fun in that?

    Blogging does help. We can use our words to connect and support and make people laugh or feel less alone. I really believe that. Great post. Keep digging!

  9. follow your inner voice. do not get distracted by unnecessary objects. you have to be impartial in order to get yourself to the right direction. just hold on to the positivity and channel your inner strength in every direction. you will be alone first but as you venture on this journey , you will find peace and solace along the way

  10. I feel you on almost every level. If you read my blog, you will get that I’m overwhelmed with minutiae myself. However, I’m sorry about your cholesterol – while I’m 53 and I do exercise a LOT, I’ve been eating fried garbage most of my life and my LDL is actually low. Sorry to add to your sad.

  11. Really great piece of writing and resonated with me. A big theme of trust runs through your piece, and values. Life is exhausting when we can’t trust a political system and our communities. Just read a year of living Danishly – perhaps the antithesis of the situation you are experiencing at the moment.

  12. Loved this post! Keep digging! I’m 52, just started writing about 52 people who I’m grateful for. Digging deep into my memories. I really like your style of writing. It’s inspiring me to keep going! We’ve got this. Life is rough and crazy at times. Keep writing. Keep digging.

  13. Hello! I truly do hope that all goes well for you. I know that your kids will find their way in this world despite everything, knowing that they have somebody who worries for them and loves them so much. I hope you find it in you that, it’s a million ways okay to feel overwhelmed or hurt about things–even if it does seem as though others have it worse. I learned something like this a while back, but comparing pain pushes down the emotions of the other side; I believe the same goes to yours versus the pains of others, the magnitude of emotion on your side is felt deeper than with another looking in. I’m rambling at this point, but I hope you find what you’re looking for, and I hope that the world is kinder to you (in spite of our new very upsetting ((understatement)) President).

  14. Hello sir .. as per m still a kid of 20. I really loved it writing and the way u described that your kids are living in a war zone, I completely agree with that. But every one has got to do something in life. Your routine inspires me.
    Keep digging and be happy cause you almost lived 50 years of life.

  15. Yes, you could keep digging, or maybe go sledding… surrender to the what is (I practice saying yes to everything, usually that starts with saying yes to my resistance to what is). Then, I look for the simplest, nearest form of beauty and take that for a short ride.

  16. I hear you brother, i’m about 20 years younger than you and my generation is supposed to be used to the pace of how things work in the real world. Some would even claim that we are setting the pace, but it seems like there’s never time to breathe. Having had the benefit of actually growing up before the explosion of the technology age I realize that it doesn’t have to work this way. I at least think that you’re right that the best thing most of us can do is actually focus on what is near us and actually matters in our lives. I wish you all the luck in the world figuring out what your priorities are, or at least more luck than I have had. 😉

  17. i wish u all the best i feel like it helps with negative feelings like anxiety. your words are written so professionally, i appreciate all you had to say, thank you for your time. keep going and i know its hard sometimes, but keep your head up

  18. I am glad you and many people have the same experiences. It’s sad how the world is shifting and turning out to be. Many people understand and many people go through these experiences but why doesn’t everyone come together and do something about it. By now we should realize that everyone goes through the these troubles however they pretend that everything is alright and make it through the day.

    Where is North? North is the direction you feel comfortable to follow.

    I want you to be happy. Be grateful and thankful.. As difficult as this may seem, your children have a father, yesterday may not have been easy but you survived. And that snow that you are digging off the car is one of the best things that could happen to you… As you said, you’re near 50.. You meditate about alot.. the snow is allowing you to exercise your muscles and joints, it teaches you to practice patience and it shows that the world is a cold place but after all the digging is done.. Life continues.

  19. Excellent post, I feel for you its so difficult shaking off the overwhelming tidal waves of horrible events, personal situations and media while not knowing what to do. Just remember a whole lot of people who whole heartedly agree with you and will dig with you. Hope to read more of your posts, the way you write is captivating.

  20. Powerful. I come with no offering for advice, as I’m too young & dumb to compare wisdoms. However, I do understand that pain suffered is strength gained. We can all get through it. As a motivational speech said, “we can climb out of hell, one inch at a time..” I send you nothing, but blessings to your family and yourself. Don’t forget to have fun!

  21. Such familiar feelings and sentiments! Wanting to do good in the world and looking for the elusive chord to strike. That’s how I often feel, anyway.

    Think about the seven-year cycles of life if that helps. Every seven years or so you take on a new direction or focus. At 49, you’ve completed seven cycles, and you start going in reverse, that is, you recapitulate the previous ones (but with all the benefits of wisdom and age, dubious as those benefits may sometimes seem). So maybe you’re standing in a doorway, getting ready to take a new trip. Maybe some things from your past will be coming around again to receive those benefits.

  22. That’s sounds terrible. I feel for you. You have a great writing technique by the way!
    From http:/

  23. I understand your plight, I wish I was as prolific as a writer as you are, there may be help for you and your children (the future generation or after life) at the web site if you can conquer the 7 deadly sins

  24. Felt like I wrote the entire first part of this post on my own.
    With a perpetually positive outlook, it’s been getting harder and harder.
    How many more things will go wrong? How much more pain? How do we know the truly, REALLY good days still lay ahead?

    For those of us that don’t talk a lot about those things, this post really resonates.

  25. Too often I think we feel how we think we should feel, actually we are very happy except for the unknown lurking end which we allow to push us into grasping onto strange & pointless lines of discontent … great article.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoyed you’re writing. My friend, please remember this always; Life is not fair. We are living in a world of sin and evil. I am thirty seven years old and I assure you life can be very disheartening. I have seen the worst of the worst. I just moved from Orange County,California, where I can vow to the brutality and evil that’s taking place due to Mexican gangs infiltrating and taking over our nation. Starting in California and Arizona. I know what it’s like to hear girls screaming as they are abducted by these individuals… Yet this is the first time I’ve ever even spoke of it. I know fear like most will never know. All I can say is that this world is only going to get worse. We must find our happiness inside ourselves. We must be the love and carry the love to those around us. That is all we can do. We have a voice and by all means, use your voice. Stand up for what your heart says is true and right. One day we will stand before our maker and that is the day I want to hear “well done my good and faithfully servant”.
    My life for many years was not one I’m proud of . Yet here I am, still alive by the grace of God. I don’t know why he has persevered me through all the close calls with death I’ve endured. I do know that there is more for me to do on this earth. Even if it’s just to express love and remind others that LOVE is the answer. I wish you the best. Breathe my friend.

  27. Other people have worded their support so well, I can’t think of how to say anything other than your writing and content moved me. Just keep digging, digging digging (to be sung to the finding nemo tune)

  28. Keep digging! Unless one keeps working, nothing gets done. Strive on and in time the sun will come out and the snow will melt. But why wait? Don’t give up, just do what you can. One snowflake at a time, the future will unwind and your destiny can be found.

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  30. Great post! I don’t want my crystal ball reality to crumble down either which is why I haven’t invested in the stoop camera. As safe and great as I feel my community it would take one instance to sent my wold into a tailspin!! Hang in there!!

  31. I love your opening with the idea of an overcrowded bus heading nowhere fast with everyone being jostled and tossed about —I totally understand the feeling and love love love your post. I won’t hope everything turns out okay because I am sure it will 🙂

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