Monday, August 21, 2006

One day/stroke at a time
on the big waters

When I sat down to write this morning I felt only sadness. In spite of several consecutive days on the water, dozens of succesful rolls and the arrival of my new tuilik, I cannot focus on kayaking today.

A young neighbor boy/man was recently released after doing 6 months in a jail-drug program. I have never saw him looking so good. He had cleaned up, done exercises and worked the program. His demeanor had changed, and he even indicated that he wanted to talk to me about the men's work I do and some of the programs in which I am involved.

Having had someone in my family with a similar problem (and, thank you, doing extemely well), I took heart in his metamorphosis. I needed to because I needed to believe that my loved one is also safe.

Yesterday, my young friend went to the Packer game in Green Bay. Since part of his probation is the loss of his driver's license, he rode with a buddy. At the game, his friend had several beers and my reborn neighbor had one or two. No big deal, except that he is expected to be 100% sobber. No drugs, no alcohol. Shortly after starting their drive home, his friend decided that he was too drunk to drive, so my young neighbor drove instead. You can guess the rest. They were stopped, the police ran his name, and he was jailed somewhere near Sheboygan for parole violation. There is a good chance that he will have to finish his 7 months doing hard time.

As I sit here, I am not clear whether I feel worse for him or his mother (father long ago out of the picture). Certainly, I ache for him. After all, that could be my own loved one. Yet, having worked my own program, I know that no one, save for the person them self, can control any of this. So, I ache--and fear--as if I were the mother.

It is a bit like the post traumatic stress syndrome in which the ringing of the phone causes a reflex knot in the gut. Is this the call with the bad news? Well, yesteday it was...for a family near by.

If I am to release the sadness of this event--and even tie it into paddling--I can only point out that we are each responsible for ourselves, that, in a very real way, we are at the mercy of a higher power out there and, finally, that I can care about you and try to rescue you, but in the end I cannot control your bad decisions...for which you must pay the consequences...along with all those who care about you. It's a big world out there...the waters are deep and vast.

Paddle safe


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