Training With Tigers

In yesterday’s post about winter in the Catskills, I neglected to mention something important. I’m scared about how it might be when there’s lots of ice and snow here. Will I be cold in this home with radiant heating? Will the people who are supposed to plow the driveway come on time so that we can travel to our jobs? Will I feel isolated and regret our decision to leave the RV life?

In other words, I’m worried about what I don’t know and what might occur on my watch.

When I was a little fellow, the snow was a delight. A snow day meant we could go sledding, build snow forts and enjoy neighborhood-wide snowball fights.

As I got older, a snowy day meant shoveling the driveway because my father left us. I was the oldest boy and capable of helping my mom with the outdoor chores. I didn’t mind the snow, though. I accepted it as part of the place where we lived and my father’s job as my responsibility as “number one son.” Yeah – my dad called me that.

In our early marriage, Beth and I owned a co-op for ten years in Yonkers. In that location, all of the snow removal was handled by a great group of handymen employed by the co-op. That changed when we moved to Yorktown Heights. The winters were a bit colder there and the snow piled up a little higher. Our first snowblower was woefully under-powered and I struggled to clear our long driveway. Thankfully, my wife is no shrinking violet and she and I knew how to shovel. And, eventually, we got a better blower!

As I think about it, there were always times when I worried about the winter (and lots of other stuff), but I rarely spoke about it to anyone. I didn’t know how!

As a boy and then a man, it wasn’t normal to say things like, “I’m worried about this or that.” It was more acceptable for us to say, “I can do this.” Such was the beginning of my life as a human-doing, a person who rates himself almost exclusively by how much he gets done.

This is not all-bad. I’m programmed to achieve and survive, to assess all situations as a householder (or RV owner), and to ask myself, “what could possibly hurt me or my family here?” As a guy, I’m on the hunt for the wooly mamouth (food) and worried about the tiger on the rock (safety). So, thinking about the ferocity of the coming winter is primary and smart. Also, to achieve I need to work and I can’t make money if I’m stuck in the driveway!

Beth just reminded me, “Don’t forget you came from a family of worriers and you married one.” So, there’s that, too. I’m always looking for something to be worried about because of ancient and not-so-ancient trauma role models in my legacy. Tigers didn’t appear on our doorstep, but life was dicey when dad took off and left a worried, under-prepared woman in charge and a 12-year-old boy to “man” the property.

I rose to the occasion and I always do. That’s how I endure a sometimes-shaky financial situation as an artist. My survival abilities are part of the reason I was able to raise two difficult (and wonderful) kids, maintain a close connection with my wife and extended family and never, ever stop learning. In other words, I’ve been worrying and working for a long time.

It’s just another winter, just another storm – but we can be – Bierko Strong!

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