Clear as Mud

When the tough gets going, it’s gonna get thicker.

clear as mud
Images courtesy Pixabay and edited by the Author

I’m forty now.

My latest challenge has been sent out to an old friend of mine to see who can perform a proper pike-to-handstand first.
Assuming we live that long.

Man, the going has got to be the toughest I’ve been through yet!

I was just lying on my back doing single leg lifts. There’s an open air park with an incline bench. You know, the ones with a bar at top so you can hold on above your head?
It’s close enough for me on lunch break.

I can’t do a split.
But I lie down on my back anyhow.
I stretch my arms up above my head and straighten them, then try kicking my hands, twenty-times with one straight leg and then the other.

My foot makes it right about to where I can see it before it tries taking the other leg in tow.

So, instead of a beautiful ballet-like front kick, I end up throwing more of what looks like the K you make in sign language, from my hips.
Then, I struggle to force my foot into touching my hands overhead.

I do it ten times, not twenty. Each one uglier and slower than the last.
That’s all I can manage.
Despite the embarrassment — the shit is hard!

It would be really easy if I just say, settled to kick waist high.

But that’s the thing that gets you. Stopping short. Not following through.

The truth about this exercise is —

If you don’t touch your foot to your out-stretched hands in whatever ugly way you can…

you will never do it beautifully.

Ever heard the story of the ugly duckling?

Yeah. Re-read that shit.

Muhammad Ali said,

“I don’t count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.”

Man, what a poet!

My seven-year-old-daughter can do three pull-ups all by herself.
She’s gonna pass me up eventually.

She started just like everyone — hanging there, bending her arms the best she could. Then I came along and lifted her just a little bit past the toughest part for her.

Her remark every time is,

“Did I do it myself?”

“Almost,” I say, “I just helped a tiny bit.”

I only help her when she is at that point of struggle where she may just give up.
I’m not being cruel, I’m just strengthening her hope.
Well, I hope that’s what I am doing.

The harder you try, the more you’ll grow. The more time you spend in that resistance zone, the more your body and even soul will be pressing out to their new larger shells.

I say shells instead of selves for a reason.

I’ve been reading a lot of literature and listening to a lot of study on symbiotic relationships and it has piqued my interest.

I love how cicadas and snakes shed their skins.
It would always grab me, when I was just a kid, to find a stiff exoskeleton hanging under a dock or from a branch.
A whole body of some being just left behind in the name of growth.

I can’t fully envision it, but I can imagine that our soul may be similar.

Like, once you run from the shore into knee high water, and that water becomes muck, and then mud, and then it just turns into straight dirt that you have to dig your legs out of —

but once you step up onto the fresh packed clay and dust off, you’ve emerged at least a layer thicker in this universe.

You’re taking up more space. You’re a little more of the original light of the creator that always was.
I don’t know…

I sometimes feel like the light of the creator has weight to it.

The brighter the heavier.

Kinda like God is just this big ole foot — pressing down on us from above.

Here we are under the ball or heel like a spider trying to decide whether to bite this threat with all of our venom or just take the pressure.
Maybe a little, venom-less bite, just to remind him we’re here and not to crush us, please?

But that’s just behaving like a child right?

I had just finished running six-miles on the beach. I was feeling good. Actually surprised that God had given me the energy to do it, as I had just worked night shift the night before.

I was crossing back over the bridge and having a hell-of-a-time trying to drive and simultaneously find a lighter in my backpack.
All I wanted was a damn cigarette, as I had been abstaining for days.

I think I may have used the lord’s name in vain a handful of times before actually getting my hands on it.

Of course, the whole time I had been subconsciously telling myself that I didn’t need a cigarette and that it was just stupid, but that I also deserved it because I just ran like forever!

But when the drawbridge went up and traffic stopped I just let the cigarette hang from my lip.

The filter would probably stick there and rip the shit off my skin in a minute, but I sat there and thought,

“Who are you cursing and for what?”

Then I thought of a battle I had with my four-year-old son not too long ago when I was trying to get him to calm down and listen.

“Listen,” God and I say, “you’re not listening to the voice of reason and I’m not gonna sit here and fight with you, but don’t come to me when you’re Mom comes back here and whips you with a belt —

Cigarette’s just hanging there. Mentally, I’m two places at once.

“I’m just trying to help you for your own good, Son.”

In my mind’s eye, I remember my son kicking me, slapping me, yelling, “No!”

I look at the lighter… Imagine myself kicking and slapping God…

I hear a father say, “Okay, but don’t come to me when you can’t breathe!”

I throw the fucking cigarette out the window and say,


Point is:

God’s telling me that the cigarette is just killing me, and I’m cussing at him the whole time while he’s trying to keep me from getting my lighter. Then finally, he shows me that he won’t hurt me…

He’ll do just like I do my son.

He’ll back off and let me learn my lesson…

God’s a good God.
An asshole. But a good God.

Someone once told me that the first part of the fetus that forms is the anus.
Something about everything needs a way out that goes in…
Which would mean that technically, we’re all a-holes.

So, what is the Universe?

A conglomeration of Assholes and idiots?

Does every parent think that they didn’t start their children right?

What will our children become?

What will they do?

Who will they be?

Does it really speak to how they were raised? Does how they turn out really speak to how good or bad we are as people?

I think it’s symbiotic.
The horrible orphanages in Romania were a testament to what happens to children when there is no one to love them as they grow.

Overcrowded orphanages around the world prove that we can’t grow without Love

So, we know that parenting is a must in the equation.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that a child will exponentially grow depending on their access to available resources of connection.

I think if a child were raised one-on-one by a single stern adult, that child would turn out to be their polar opposite.

If the same one-on-one individual were to be only suggestive and demonstrative, perhaps the child would turn-out alike.

Ultimately however, if a child were raised in a community of elder peers with differing values, expressions, and levels of consternation, I believe the child would most likely thrive.

Maybe I’m just trying to talk myself out of being a hermit and joining a community of elder peers myself?

I’m definitely an idiot and I’ve grown accustomed to the smell of assholes, so perhaps I’m a good candidate…

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Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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