Post by: Jason Barks
As random as it is, I was just thinking this morning how life would make an incredible amusement ride. I've heard so many times the shitty expression that life "has its ups and downs." Really? That's all your life has? Because I feel like my life has come complete with ups and downs, corkscrews, figure-eights, twists, turns, and I'm sure a complete stop somewhere in there, not for amusement purposes mind you, but just to be completely freaking unpredictable. In fact, the very act of me writing this is a complete loopty loop. In short, I have never been one to sit down and write anything. Not because I didn't have opinions, not because I couldn't think of anything to say, but because I simply couldn't bring myself to sit down and do the physical act of writing (or typing, technically). Once or twice at my wife's behest, I have produced the random blog, usually about something where a guys perspective might be nice. This typically happens after a great deal of coaxing, poking, prodding (and none of those within a sexual context). She typically has a way of getting me to do things that I don't want to do (which, to be honest, is usually in my best interest.) Simply put, for as far back as I can remember, I have just never been able to make myself sit down and do any task that requires the least bit of mental focus. I mean, I'm a smart guy, or at least I think so. But then again, I also think I'm ruggedly handsome and have the back muscles of Vin Diesel . . . so perhaps I'm not the best to judge. Either way, I have at least had the mental wherewithal to do most of the tasks that I have spent my life trying to avoid. My problem has always just been struggling to get myself to do them. I can poignantly remember the feeling of watching everyone turn in their homework and knowing that, once again, I don't have mine. At that moment, I would feel like such a failure and I would resolve not to feel that way again. Apparently, making futile promises to myself was one of the latent talents I would later continue to develop, along with procrastination and "pseudo-apathy."
I got by just fine in elementary school because most of the work was required in class and there was very little choice in the matter when it came to completing it. The higher the grade level, the more things like homework actually counted towards my final grade. By this time, of course, I had adopted the "class clown" persona and it became "my thing" to continually get either thrown out of class or at least made to sit by myself. I think I ate lunch standing up with the rest of the delinquents most of my seventh and eighth grade year. I got pretty adept at eating my triangular pizza in one hand while holding my lunch tray in the other. Taking a couple of bites of pizza, gently placing the slice back on the tray freeing my hand for a sip or two of milk, and then repeating. Needless to say, it was a delicate balance (but I got plenty of practice.) I also, became really good at cleaning the cafeteria, which was also a task for troublemakers like myself. I didn't mind because I was usually pretty well-rested after having slept through forty-five minutes of Geometry. By the time I had gotten into high school they were already trying to demote me to "tech prep" classes which was the unsaid track for hooligans, dumbasses, "retards"(not the literal handicapped), and the rest of us who had little expectation to succeed. It is a sickening, sobering feeling to know that those around you expect less than what you know you are capable of. Apparently, it was no red flag to anyone that assessment tests continued to place me at the higher percentages of my class but my academic record was pathetic.
Anyways, of course this trend continued into my college years, where I enjoyed every class, excitedly soaked up every bit of in-class information and continued to bomb the shit out of most of my classes. I realize this probably reads like a crappy Lifetime, "made for tv" biography about some person you've never heard of. Also, I'm not sure exactly how I derailed by delving in to all of this needless background information about how I barely graduated high school. I apologize for that. My intent was to show how quickly things can change in a year, and how too often that change is brought about by some of the most unpredictable events. Here I sit, in 2012, writing a blog (completely on my own accord), having just finished the final book of a trilogy last night (after reading for over four hours). This might be common practice for some, but for me, this is unimaginable. It is no understatement to say that 2011 was not a good year for the Barks'. 2011 came complete with, unplanned pregnancies, moral failures, mental breakdowns, and tons of resulting depression fed anxiety for the both of us. Needless to say, in our personal "life-coaster", 2011 was a crazy ass, unexpected, cluster of emotional curly Q's that left us reeling, dizzily searching for anything to hold onto for stability.
Today, I'm happy to announce that we have been all but destroyed. In fact, after this year, our family has sustained some of the most difficult situations that it has faced yet . . . but we are here, still a bit shakey, but standing nonetheless, hands clinched, knuckles white, fiercely holding on for dear life. In the wake of the aftermath, I love my family today, more than I ever have. I look at my two boys and my heart burns. I know the love only a father can feel. The feeling that it is my job to love them, provide for them, to protect them, and put their needs above my own. And my wife, holy hell. The shit I have put that woman through. She has stood beside me through everything. Multiple failures to finish my degree, failed entrepreneurial attempts, moodiness, and every mistake (including ones big enough to destroy our marriage). Without her I would be the most miserable of men. I have more respect and love for her today than the day we were married. We were so young and naive then. Our love so fresh and green. Now we have been battle hardened, tested, tried and sure... a little worse for wear maybe, but now we know the true nature of love. The former may be the kind of love that makes for good romance novels, but the latter is what truly makes it valuable. Because now, there is no confusing "love" with an emotional response. Sure emotions are still there, but real love is the fortitude to push through even when its absent. It is truly choosing to experience life together despite . . . whatever. And even though the "whatevers" can most definitely suck at times, they are the main ingredient for a love worth having. Anyways, so out of the shittiest of years, I have had a chance to address and confront buried issues from the past, had a second baby boy who has completely stolen daddy's heart, found out many of my scholastic failures could be attributed to my recently diagnosed ADHD and I am walking away with an unprecedented appreciation for my wife and family. While I would still give my right eye to forget this past year, with all of its' mind-bending twists and turns, there is a distinct sense of closure that comes from being thankful for the good that can come despite . . . "whatever."
PS: I love the song below and I thought it went nicely with this post. Its not an "official" music video. Its just one where somebody thought in a moment of genius: "I'll upload a cool song and then drag and drop a ton of pictures that quasi-coordinate with a single phrase in the song and maybe I'll be cool too." As you may have noticed, I'm typically not a fan of these, but it was the best I could find. So, thank you, "MaylaCocka" (uploader of this video) for the five minutes extra you took to add the wonderful tree scenery from the assortment you found on Google images. Enjoy.
PPS: In case you missed it, Jaime wrote a little disclaimer about the blog (found here).