The Recovering Farmer

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"this crazy little thing called love"

I have had some interesting conversations lately with friends, family and colleagues. The topic is about love and the difference in gender when it comes to expressing love. Not sure why and, trust me, I have not initiated these discussions. I have heard all kinds of opinions. So on the assumption that nothing can be held against me in a court of law, I will do my best to fill you in on some of the thoughts I have heard. These conversations have been initiated because of my son’s wedding this upcoming weekend. I have been asked to officiate at the wedding and so in preparation of that, the word love keeps arising to the surface. And no, I am not a minister as someone suggested today. I got myself a one day, one wedding license.

So the first thing I did is go online to check out the definition of love. The Webster’s dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”. Excuse me. No reference to weak knees, palpitating heart, cold sweats and dizziness. Okay, I can live with that. Allright then, what is the definition of affection? Webster’s defines it as “a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something”. Hey, that sounds doable. Not as ominous as I had expected it to be based on some thoughts and opinions I had heard.

So why is it that men have such a difficult time expressing this to their significant others? I am reminded of an episode of Two and a Half Men. Charlie is walking his girlfriend (don’t ask me which one) to the door. Just before she opens the door she turns to Charlie and says “I love you”. Charlie is flustered for a second and then says “Thank you”. Not good. It’s hilarious to hear him try to talk his way out of that one. I just had a colleague tell me her brother-in-law buys flowers for his wife once a week and has done so for the five years they have been married. Okay. That is somewhat outside of the norm. Another man told me that he had told his wife he loved her the day they got married and if that ever changed he would let her know. Okay. That is an extreme the other way. One person told me that if his wife would not say “I love you” on a daily basis he could not think of why he would stay in that relationship. Is that what it takes? A verbal confirmation? Or do we show our love through other ways?

I get the distinct feeling that as men age they have more difficulty with the L word. Are they feeling trapped? Will the mere utterance of “I love you” push them into some abyss that promises no return? Or are we overthinking it? Are we complicating an otherwise simple issue?

In preparation for my son’s wedding I am trying to focus on relationships. I refer to the quote ``Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships are a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process”. To be involved in a relationship requires open, honest communication and a real desire to understand the other person. It is not a matter of being right or wrong. When we communicate, when we show our partners the willingness to listen and understand, we are working positively on our relationship. That defines us. That gives us direction. That gives us purpose. Perhaps that is love. Perhaps it is that simple. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There is Hope

The death of Rick Rypien has garnered a tremendous amount of media coverage. Although I have yet to see or hear that it was a suicide, that certainly has been the assumption. What we do know is that Rick suffered from depression. Issues that forced him to withdraw from hockey, for periods of time, to deal with whatever these issues were. What has become evident is that, by all outward appearances, Rick seemed to be in a good place. He was going to be playing for the new Winnipeg Jets. He had talked about the excitement of this opportunity. He had arranged a golf game with a friend. The future looked promising. By all reports Rick was moving on.

I received a call from a radio station this week asking for an interview regarding depression and suicide. Obviously this renewed interest comes on the heels of the Rick Rypien situation. They called me because of my previous interviews, regarding men and depression. One of the first questions that was asked was how the news of Rypien’s untimely demise had impacted me. My response was quick. Every second day a person dies by suicide in Manitoba. Many of these tragic deaths are never reported on. The sadness of friends, families, and communities are kept quiet. The questions that so many people have are left unsaid and unanswered. Not to downplay or diminish, in any way, the tragedy of Rick Rypien, may he rest in peace, but each and every suicide is a tragedy.

I have also been asked how I relate this situation to my own. And frankly, it scared me. Why? As many of you may be aware, just by reading some of my blogs, I have been on somewhat of an emotional roller coaster over the last while. Although life is good there are some things that fill me with profound sadness. Things that are difficult to identify but there none the less. Rick Rypien’s life was moving forward. One article stated that “he appeared to have defeated his demons and was refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to revive his career”. So my natural instinct was to wonder whether I was headed down the same road. A colleague and I discussed this scenario and it was reassuring to hear her state that we should never assume that depression inevitably leads to suicide. Suicide is a complex issue and cannot be distilled into a simple cause and effect argument. It is important to remember that depression is a very treatable mental illness and that should be our focus.

I suppose that when individuals are in the public spot light, admissions of depression, admissions of chemical addictions or death by suicide, will always garner public attention. Perhaps this is unavoidable and simply the nature of the beast. What is unfortunate is how we seem to forget about depression and the tragedy of suicide till it hits home through the reality of life. Whether that is because it is someone we know or because it hits the news because it has happened to someone who is in the public eye. Our society needs to gain a better understanding of depression. A better understanding of the resources available for people suffering with this mental illness. An understanding that there is hope. There is relief.

Let me finish by quoting Jack Layton, “love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair”. Make it a good one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

And the Beat Goes On

What a relief. I have been able to replace my old car. Took some time but the right deal came along. Not new by any stretch. A 2004 SUV. A gas guzzler. I would prefer a car. My wife and I spent time discussing what would be most practical. A car or a truck. I wanted a car. She thought it would be handy to have a truck. We compromised. An SUV with a hitch. What I like about the SUV is how easy it is to get in and out. I know. This ages me. Just wait till I tell you about my music preferences. And it has all-wheel drive, so hopefully won’t get stuck this winter. Not that that was a problem. Probably take more chances knowing that I have the all-wheel drive.

I have put on a lot of miles over the last two weeks. During the vehicle buying experience I was told that I was in the top 1 – 2% of drivers based on miles I drive in a year. I found that just a little interesting and a little disturbing. Whether that in fact is factual or not is beside the point. I spend a lot of my life on the road. What I have known for a while is that when I drive I spend a lot of time thinking. Most often, far too much time thinking. I get tired of thinking about my thinking. I stew. I get angry. I feel resentful. I wallow in self-pity. Why is that? Had a chuckle this week when I read the following quote. “it's very strange when the life you never had flashes before your eyes”. That sounds so much like some of my thinking. Always wishing something could have been different. Always thinking, “what if”.

I know from past experience that listening to music helps me be in a better frame of mind. So why don’t I listen to more music? Not sure. I do occasionally listen to news. Generally that will be on CJOB. They have some good sports reporting as well. Particularly during football season. Invariably what happens is I end up listening to some right wing talk show that just adds to my frustration and anger. So I need to get back to listening to music.

And I am. When I first drove my “new to me” vehicle the radio was set to an FM station that plays hits of the 70 and 80’s. Awesome music. I can sing along with many of the songs. Spooks my passengers. On occasion it spooks me as well. I had forgotten about the awesome tunes we had back in the 80’s. Weird how I can sing along with the song but have no clue who the band is. Unfortunately I lose reception about half way home from Winnipeg so then have to find something else to listen to.

And so it goes. I keep traveling the highways and byways. Meet a lot of interesting people. Have lots of food for thought. But spend too much time lost in a world of negativity. So I will change that. Listen to more music. Get carried away in the rhythm and lyrics. It’s neat. It cheers me up. And the beat goes on. Make it a good one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Friday Rant

I feel the need to rant. Not sure why and not sure who or what to use as a target. I read stuff in the newspaper, on Facebook. I watch news on TV. And it gets to the point where the attitude, the seeming ineptitude, the sheer nerve of some people upset me. Why is that? So I need to pick a target and get it off my chest.

I have been shopping for a vehicle for the last few weeks. What a frustrating experience. Why can my car not last forever? I would rather go to a dentist. It takes about an hour. It hurts. It costs too much money. But a few, mere hours later all is forgotten. But not with a purchasing a car. The pain never goes away. Can it not be simple?

For a few months I have known that my car was in not going to last too much longer. I have reached the point in kilometers where, historically, cars have died on me. 300,000 kms. Not bad. I don’t really expect any more out of a vehicle. Yeah, I know. There are those that can milk 400 or even 500,000 kilometers out of a vehicle. Not me. But I am okay with that. I have to downshift going up hills or when I need to pass someone. Often when I start off at stop signs or traffic lights the transmission slips. The car over heats when I am in rush hour traffic. The air conditioner blows hot air when I stop. The windshield is cracked vertically and horizontally. There are certain vibrations and noises coming from my wheels. The body is in decent shape. That is till I experienced a hit and run incident a few weeks ago. That is enough to send my blood pressure soaring. The nerve. I feel violated. What can I do? If I get that repaired it will cost me my deductible. Add up all the repairs and it becomes prohibitive. Never mind that almost anything else could break down soon.

The next problem is we cannot decide what to buy. My wife thinks we need a truck. I would be quite satisfied with a car. Perhaps an SUV would be a good trade off.
So I have visited a few dealerships. I have tried to be patient. I find it difficult to negotiate. Just tell me what the best price is and I will decide. Stopped at a dealership in Swan River when I was up there for a meeting. They had a truck for sale that looked to be just what I wanted. The price was close to what I would spend on a truck. Two questions. What is the best price you can give me on the truck? What will you give me in trade for my car? Simple. Right? Well, the best price on the truck was the one I had been given. As far as a value for my car? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t want to insult me. I could not get a straight answer. So I said I would think about it and left. I lied. I didn’t think about it. I was frustrated. Two days later he phoned. Wanted to know whether I was interested in the truck. Wondering whether I would buy if they sweetened the deal. Excuse me? Sweeten the deal? What deal? I thought you gave me the best price.

So the saga continues. Visited a Ford dealer. Thought I should check out their SUVs. We told the salesman what we were looking for and what our price range was. He said he had a few of those and would be right back. He popped back in the office and told us how an elderly lady had traded off a car that we might want and said he would pull it around front for us. Before I had a chance to say anything he was gone. I looked at my wife with total confusion. A car? I wanted to see an SUV. I humoured him. Looked at the car. Nice car. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT I WAS THERE FOR. Never did get to see a SUV.

What next? Not sure. Wish this could be easier. Actually, if money grew on trees it would be. However, when you are limited on what you can spend it is not quite as easy. I will push onward. I will persevere. It will happen. Just not sure when. So if you happen to see an old, red Grand Prix sitting by the side of the road, please stop. I may need a ride. Until next time, make it a good one.