Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections From A Beach I Love

(Warning: This is another rare “serious” Ake’s Pains. Normal programming will resume soon)

As soon as my feet hit the sand early Sunday morning, I immediately felt rejuvenated. The beach beckoned to me.  This is Treasure Island, Florida and it is my beach.  The sands may be whiter at Clearwater, the sunsets more awesome at Sarasota and the sunrise breathtaking at Sanibel, but I feel more at peace at Treasure Island than any other place on earth.  I literally love this beach. If this beach were a woman, I would …. okay, you get the idea.

But for a long time my affection for this place had been tainted.  Five years earlier I had returned home from a wonderful vacation at Treasure Island and the next day I was unexpectedly removed from my job of 16 years.  Except that it wasn’t unexpected.  During my last walk on this beach in 2009, my subconscious was able to explain to me in great detail why my job was in danger.  The last thought I had was: “Well that might be true, but I can’t do anything about it now, so I’m not going to worry about it.”

Thirty hours later I had much greater respect for my subconscious and for this beach where I can relax so thoroughly that my mind can reveal things previously unknown.  Unfortunately, I associated the job loss with that vacation because they both happened in the same week. 

But now I was back on that same beach, five years later, and felt that I had finally made it back, back to where I was before the personal chaos erupted.  It had taken a long time to get here, but now it felt oh so good.

My version of paradise 

Now here again at Treasure Island, it was time once again to shut the brain off. This is not an easy, nor pleasant thing for me to do. It is like powering down a large, complicated, overactive, machine for maintenance (no brag, just fact).  It doesn’t turn off easily or quietly.  My brain doesn’t like this. It reminds me that it may be needed if a problem suddenly arises that requires solving.  It also worries about how long it will take to restart when vacation ends.  My subconscious on the other hand is smoking a cigar and sipping a drink, knowing that it will be able to speak freely for a few days.

It wasn’t until the last day of vacation, and the last morning walk on the beach, that my subconscious was able to explain it all to me.   I wasn’t “back” to where I was five years ago, I was so much further ahead.  When you take a detour, you don’t end up where you started. You get to where you need to be, you just take a different road to get there.  When forced to endure, you develop survival skills and resources which remain long after the trauma has ended.

For so long I focused on what I had lost. But it’s not about what you lost; it’s ultimately about what you still have. Because what you still have is way more important than what you lost. What remains is what you have to rely on to move forward. At some point, the past has to really become the past.   And the past, in the long run, is insignificant.

So now I face a new challenge; an opportunity to accomplish something that would bring me great joy.  Five years ago I would have laughed hysterically at the notion that I would be at this point today.  And five years ago, I would not have taken this challenge on because I would have been afraid to fail.  But after you have been knocked down repeatedly, you don’t even think about getting back up, you do it instinctively.

Wasn't really impressed hearing my goal!
The last hundred yards on the beach walk this time were spent audibly (only the gulls were out this early) repeating the three-word goal that I want to accomplish. What a contrast to five years ago.

The road to success will be a tough one, but it looks strangely similar to the road I’ve just conquered. So you might say I’ve just spend the last five years preparing for this challenge.  But I notice that God has removed some of the barriers that have always tripped me up in the past.  Only one obstacle remains.  Time to turn the power back on.

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