Dowell, Illinois, US
July 15
born in Illinois. 5 year Navy veteran. Married for 26 years (not counting the first five when we just cohabited. 4 kids, 6 grandkids, 3 brothers 2 living, 2 sisters 1 living, a mother living, a father not living. 1 dog a labradoodle, and a current cat population of 2/6 (If you count feral kittens ) I've done a lot of jobs in my life, from shill at a carnival burlesque show to making medium caliber ammunition. I built inkjet printers, embedded computer boards, restored and repaired both cars, motorcycles and electronics. I read, write, and do arithmetic (albeit poorly) My wife claims that I have more useless knowledge than anyone on earth and resultingly no one will play trivial pursuit with me anymore. I do play pinohcle but due to my inability to cheat I don't win very often. Recently disabled I turned to Open Salon to re-engage my writing bug. Update add one cocker spaniel to the list and maybe just shoot me.


Bobbot's Links
MAY 11, 2012 10:57AM

My World is Winding Down

Rate: 26 Flag




Passing through the world is the basis of all lives lived. We travel our own paths as we go. We cross the paths of others as well as our own. As I begin to explore the details of my life I find that I often am found wanting. I am alone so there is no way for me to know if it is a peculiarity of my own or if it is the general condition of humanity in general.

I walk the streets alone at night, in silence and dark. I pass the roads not taken and gaze into the blackness and wonder, what lies at the end? What could I encounter as I pass along that hidden way? Would I find a wondrous place full of things to see and experience? Would I find only more of the pitch black night that I find myself hiding behind more and more each day? Would there be a friend, a fellow traveler to join with me and ease the pain of being so alone in a crowded world?

I think perhaps that alone is the way of the universe. Alone is the way of all things sentient. Passing from one reality to another that we can't know or understand. Pain too, is the way of the universe. We feel it when we are happy and when we are sad. We experience life as pain sometimes life affirming and often as a crippling experience that hobbles our interactions not just with others but ourselves.

I can gaze at the stars and be awestruck, knowing that the light I see is not there, it is just a shadow from the past yet it confirms a sense of eternity in the fact that it will travel on as it is for infinity. Infinity is a concept that exceeds our existence, we are finite beings, not wondering if life will end, only when that end will come.

All life ends. When it wants and we may not change that. My life will end as will yours and every other life. I do not fear death, I only wish that it were predictable. That I could know that time was short and take care of those things that I want to assure a better world for. That I could give some comfort to the few who will notice my passing in the mass of billions of other people that are so much more important than I am.

We fight death every day, either consciously or unconsciously. We struggle to remain a vital part of the world we live in and still we can know with great certainty that it will all survive long past ourselves. The struggle makes us tired too. We get tired of facing another day when there seems to be no hope for us at all. We lie to ourselves, we lie to make us forget that we cannot win the game only play as long as we are able and our exit will be a shock to us even when we are aware of its approach.

I just wish it would end before I have to face the reality of my total failure as a human being.

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So much to think about here. I don't know how you've arrived at the conclusion that you're a failure. If it's about being small, oh we are all so small. Even someone famous or someone who's saved lives really is so tiny compared to the universe. But does that make us a failure? You're a father, a loving husband, a talented writer. You've provided - and continue to provide - insight, thoughtfulness, compassion, and reflection, here on this very blog, and that's just what I know about you in the limited way we're acquainted.

I think "failure" is such a strange word. It shrinks or grows enormous depending on our own impressions and expectations. The only kind of person I could think of as a failure is someone who's let their entire life go by without doing anything at all. And there are few of us like that, thankfully. We get this life, and despite ourselves, we live it, and I'm convinced that every single one of us has done or will do something worthwhile with that time.
I really feel such a love for you and what you write and live. You have given me so much to think about deeply. Peace. I wish us both peace in this fragile existence. Just passing thru. Just passing by. Finding some little thing to smile about like that baby picture you have up there. Thank you for being just who you are. hugs.
i just dont know how you can say your total failure as a human being. i just dont. you have offered comfort to people and to animals, bobbot. you served your country - with some glitches that to me show nothing more than being very aware of what that meant. you have been a kind and dear friend to me, and to others on here. you have raised children and pets and loved with all your heart. none of that describes a failed human being. none of it. sorry, but you failed to fail. sending you love and hugs.
Total failure? You weren't guilty of genocide, torture or kiddy porn. Perhaps just a flawed human like the rest of us?
Dude, NO ONE with those thoughts is a failure as a human being. Life is the dream that hurts. We are all alone together. Brine shrimp broadcasting to each other.
I laughed at the "courage" of your Avatar, giving the universe the baby finger!
Stay among us. Please. Re-read Alysa's comment, please.

Oh wow Bob, you've captured what so very many men think about but never dare utter because we'll either be misunderstood or be the recipient of some banal platitudes about hanging in there.
I could say that life sucks. Yeah it does. But why does it have to suck for me and not for others?
Or I could quote the old saying about how most men lead quiet lives of quiet desperation.
But none of that helps.
We just go on. Day by day. Unfulfilled. Afraid. Numb. Filled with self-loathing. Filled with regret. Hoping life will get better. Afraid that it won't. Afraid that it will.
Folks, I truly appreciate the support but, I'm just writing feeling and not desires. I wasn't looking for this kind of sympathy either. II thank you all for it and wish you all well but, I am what I am and that's all that I am. I threw away so many opportunities and that is what drives the talk of failure. The only thing truly wasted in this life is talent and I am guilty.
ok look, i'll disagree with that - the only thing wasted is talent? i daresay there isnt much thats LESS important than wasted talent. sure, be nice to not waste it, but shit, compared to wasting love? compared to condeming others all day long, cause its the only way you can feel better about yourself? i can think of several examples of men in my own life who did both of those things, forever. who lived in a walled community that no one cracked, cause they didnt have the balls to let people be people, or to let themselves be themselves.

i dont think you are guilty of that, bob.

i mean, there are lots of shitty ways to spend a day that add up to a shitty way to spend a life, but wasting some talent isnt one of them. no offense.
Failure by whose expectations, Bob? I just read Alysa's comment and it's full of wisdom. I think too often we overlook the power of gratitude. Being grateful for what we have without worrying about what we might or could or should have. Not always easy, but if I have to I can always think of something I'm grateful for. Having found OS and the people here, like you, is one of them.
Not to be too schmalzy, but in the words of George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life," "no man is a failure who has friends." I don't mean to gloss over what you expressed in this blog. Believe me, I have felt like a failure more often than I care to express. But you have value and worth. Being generous of yourself (and I don't mean financial here, but that can be part of it) makes you a success. It appears to me that you are a generous soul.
You know, Bob to be perfectly honest, when I was nearing sixty I had many of these same thoughts and emotions. Then, after I passed the big Six-O I reevaluated my conclussions. Now, here is my attitude: I'm sixty-three years old and, by the standards set by society, I could be called a complete failure, but who gives a big rat's ass.
I have spent sixty-three years getting where I am today and this is who I am and I will never be anything esle so I can either hate it or love it....I chose to love it. I am ME and if that doesn't fit someone eles's idea of a success, tough shit. Personally I chose to embrace my successes and my mistakes equally and put them behind me while I try to live whatever time I have left on this mud ball to the fullest of my ability. I hope you hang around and do the same my friend.
I don't think being a failure or not is for you to say Bob. Your seed may one day produce a child who changes the world for good, or bad. It's a long road my man and who's a failure and who isn't takes an eternity to figure out.
What Alyssa said.. . . .
I read your comment about squandering talent and it made me think of some talented writers either squandered much of it or simply wrote a lot of mediocre stuff until they hit it just right, either thru luck or by gradually developing to the point they finally got all their cylinders synchronized.

Ernest Dowson comes to mind. British writer who gave us two memorable line and one poem that gives me shivers every time I read it. The first memorable line is found in the 3rd stanza of a poem he called Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae. Here's the stanza:

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

The last line of each stanza also lives as inspiration for the song Always True to You in My Fashion from Kiss Me Kate by Cole Porter.

The other immortal line is contained in one of the most beautifully haunting poems I know. It has only two stanzas. It's called Vitae Summa Brevis.

Here it is:

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

So far as I know nothing else Dowson wrote is memorable, and might be considered wasted talent. Doesn't matter to me. He died of alcoholism at age 32, but left behind two pieces of writing that will live forever. To my thinking, his was not a wasted life.
It is a danger to value yourself as others see you. In general I find much to question generally accepted values. We are each granted a rather limited span of time and each day, each moment is an opportunity to succeed or fail. Animals know this without thinking. I have spent my rather short span of 86 years attempting to attain the eagerness and delight of being an animal and sometimes succeeded. I am still trying.
Well, I could compare failed lives with you, but I haven't hidden the fact that my life is no where that it was supposed to be right now.

And that's not why you wrote this. I hope your next post, though, lists a few of the things you've done right. The therapists say you should make both lists.

I remember my Dad going through this, too. I think we all do, at some point; an assessment, as it were. Take care.
i agree somewhat with old jan sand....

"each moment=a moment to succeed or fail"

and who the f. is the ultimate judge of that shit?
not you or me or God.

"I could know that time was short and take care of those things that I want to assure a better world for. That I could give some comfort to the few who will notice my passing in the mass of billions of other people that are so much more important than I am."

comfort is where the action is at. why? cuz even jan sand
would agree it is what brings creativity.
ever make anyone ashamed of just being.
in fact, inculcate em. inspire em. they matter more than we,
you say? perhaps. later in the timestream, they might.
but now they aint got a clue.
give em a clue.
that's all
a guy
Awfully, awfully hard on yourself here, Bob. Wish I had words of wisdom, but what do I say to convince you you're not a failure? I've felt that way before. I daresay we all have. I will just try to pass on a kindness to you - as you have to so many here, so often. You are not a failure. You are a good, sensitive man.
The kindness of strangers - sometimes it's all we've got.
I feel like I have failed every single day but I have done my best..
You give your best and that is all we can do.
No one is perfect, and we are all the same.
Each one of us.
As Brassawe (Steve) said, "Eloquent".
I want to share with you one of my favorite poems by Harold Monroe, my friend.


Slow bleak awakening from the morning dream
Brings me in contact with the sudden day.
I am alive – this I.
I let my fingers move along my body.
Realization warns them, and my nerves
Prepare their rapid messages and signals.
While Memory begins recording, coding,
Repeating; all the time Imagination
Mutters: You'll only die.

Here's a new day. O Pendulum move slowly!
My usual clothes are waiting on their peg.
I am alive – this I.
And in a moment Habit, like a crane,
Will bow its neck and dip its pulleyed cable,
Gathering me, my body, and our garment,
And swing me forth, oblivious of my question,
Into the daylight – why?

I think of all the others who awaken,
And wonder if they go to meet the morning
More valiantly than I;
Nor asking of this Day they will be living:
What have I done that I should be alive?
O, can I not forget that I am living?
How shall I reconcile the two conditions:
Living, and yet – to die?

Between the curtains the autumnal sunlight
With lean and yellow finger points me out;
The clock moans: Why? Why? Why?
But suddenly, as if without a reason,
Heart, Brain, and Body, and Imagination
All gather in tumultuous joy together,
Running like children down the path of morning
To fields where they can play without a quarrel:
A country I'd forgotten, but remember,
And welcome with a cry.

O cool glad pasture; living tree, tall corn,
Great cliff, or languid sloping sand, cold sea,
Waves; rivers curving; you, eternal flowers,
Give me content, while I can think of you:
Give me your living breath!
Back to your rampart, Death.
Bob, your words move me so. My heart goes out to you. It is when we look inside ourselves that we are most alone. I have no advice except to say you that have the ability to change your saddened heart. You have that power! Be blessed - Duke
I have an acquaitance...not yet a friend, who would take what you've written and make it his own. Feels much the same.
And of course, there is no failure there, but I had to ask him what was stopping him from making something good out of where he is right now? It is not like life is over.

In so much of life, it is not the destination, but the journey that matters.
You are still on a journey.
Make of it what you will.
After all...really...what could you NOT do if you poured yourself into it?
There are no limits. Truly
You are not total failure, I AM TOTAL FAILURE!! ~RATES AND WANDERS OFF~
I will be thinking of you this long evening Bob.
and sending as much strong positive karma as I can muster your way dear.
Chin up.
I know you well enough to know that you are NOT a total failure as a human being. You served your country. You had a marriage and family. You worked at several jobs. Even though you were very ill, you became a great blogger and developed fans.
Your opinion is as good as any one's. If you say you are a success why is your opinion less than any one elses? I say you are a success. Why is my opnion less valuable than anyone else's?

You are not alone. Many others here have encountered you on this lonely journey of life. And we now recognize you as a valued friend. We love you always.