The Charlie Bravo Story

I lift mine eyes unto the hills

Things have been a bit strained at the Casa del Whackos lately. It is said that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, but when there are more than two forces involved, the instability is exponentially compounded. In these unsettled times, it seems like there are so many unreasonable requirements pulling us in so many opposing directions that sometimes it seems that the only option is to stand in the midst of the maelstrom and shiver like a dog passing peach pits.

Corporate America is especially good at milking this condition for their benefit; they seem to believe that by keeping their employees off-balance with ridiculous demands, they can better cow and control them. Now that I think of it, organized religion and politics seem to follow this method as well, but that’s a blog for another day.

It even affects Charlie; the temporary addition of Pete and Delmar to the cadre of inmates at the Casa del Whackos, on top of Claire, Ajax, Marco and Mia, had affected a change in the big girl over the last month; too many forces vying for attention had left her uncharacteristically subdued, and neither of us approved of the change.

And myself as well; my grandfather had a saying: if you have a dog that you pet everyday, you’re going to have a good dog. If you have a dog that you kick every day, you will have a mean dog. But the worst you can do is kick a dog on odd days and pet him on even days, for you will produce an unbalanced, anxiety-ridden dog that never knows what to expect from you, and hence you will never know what to expect from him. This is indicative of the corporate world that many of us must navigate daily, and it takes its toll, physically and mentally.

In Charlie’s case, she needed to reconnect with her dad, without the cacophony of distractions, and to be honest, I needed to connect with mine. My natural dad is gone, but we were never that tight anyway; no major issues, just diametrically opposed personalities, and we communicated very differently. No, if I needed to recharge and reconnect, I would have to look elsewhere to plug in.

I must look to the hills, both spiritually, physically, and mentally, as that’s where my Dad resides.

So, even though the slate-grey skies were halfheartedly spitting a mix of icy precipitation from the low-hanging clouds, we decided to head up into the Ozark mountains. A cold front pushing through the state the night before had dropped a significant amount of rainfall, and I knew the waterfalls would be rolling, and that was all the excuse we needed.

As the miles rolled away and disappeared in the rear-view mirrors, so did the feelings of anxiety. What we gained in altitude we lost in temperature, until the fog began to freeze, coating the trees in a thin sheet of ice. But physical cold can be endured, and it didn’t seem to be a factor anyway; Charles and I were on the scent again. And to add the icing to the cake, my son, his wife, and their doghter Lola showed up at the trailhead as well, and all was well with the world.

I could go on and describe the wild waterfalls of the Ozarks, but you need to discover them for yourself; the remote locations and sometimes treacherous approaches must personally be experienced. The danger and hardship is part of the total package; this is Arkansas, not Disneyland, and who needs a Mickey when you have a Charlie.

And how did the Charles fare? She immediately reverted to her goofy self, charging up and down the muddy trails with wild abandon, once again flouncing about to a mountain song that only she could hear…

…although, if I remained quiet, I caught a few strains of it myself; and sometimes, just a taste is all you need.

See you on the trail.

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