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Good Is Good: Dreams in the Dead of August

Saturday, August 18, 2012

 

Tom Matlack is the former CFO of the Providence Journal and is the founder of The Good Men Project, a non-profit charitable corporation based in Rhode Island and dedicated to helping organizations that provide educational, social, financial, and legal support to men and boys at risk.

The dead of August has always been a time when the world slows down to a crawl and crystallized before my very eyes so I can see it for what it really is, not the day-in-day-out drudgery that it can seem the rest of the year. It’s like Ted Williams watching the pitch just before smacking a home run or the Dali Lama sitting for mediation. The whole world is still and clear and good.

I think of wandering around lower Manhattan at dusk, the whole city empty except for the sky scrapers and the rats and me. The warm pavement below my feet as I conjured up a life for myself, a 22 year old college graduate with more interest in partying and girls than work. But the power of those statues a hundred or more stories high sucked me in to asking more of myself.

Even further back I see myself on a boulder at the edge of a Maine lake casting hour after hour for perch and sunnies and the occasional land locked Salmon.  I didn’t catch many fish, but even at twelve I was introspective. Thinking and trying not to think. I made a plan for myself on that rock. To get out of the house. To graduate high school a year early. To go to college and leave my family problems and tendency towards self-induced isolation behind.

In the darkest days of my late 20s I remember collapsing on a couch during dinner, unable to get up from exhaustion. It was supposed to be a summer holiday with my family but it turned out to be a chance to sleep after too many all-nighters in front of a computer.

A few years later, August meant extended time with my two baby children, trying to make my single fatherhood through sheer force of will.  During those times the stillness was in my kids’ eyes and the feel of their footsy PJs, and the bedtime books about lobstering along with the realization that within the blink of an eye these unmerited gifts in my life with the smooth skin and uncontrollable giggles would grow up and leave me.

This summer as August has rolled around with record heat I have been dreaming again. It’s still. A moment in time. I am holding onto my hopes for my wife, my kids and myself.

My daughter starts college in two weeks. My eldest son will be a high school junior with his heart set on West Point.  My younger son starts second grade as his world explodes with reading, math, and Ninjago. My wife is trying to remake our son’s school while working to change health care for children worldwide.

I am dreaming of a book and a radio program and about a dozen new businesses. And finally riding a century. And glowing in the love of my family and surrounded by dear friends.

The world is still now. The earth has stopped rotating, just for an instant, so you too can see what is important, see the thing in front of you for what it really is. Can you see it? What is your dream this sultry August day?

For more of Tom's works, as well as other pieces on related topics, go to The Good Men Project Magazine online, here.

 

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