Posts by J M Greff

I am the sole operator and writer for the blog A Caravan of One at acaravanofone.com.

Home is…

Andrew.Draper-home.is

 

Winter has tightened its grip, choking out the last work days of the season, and I am officially unemployed.

I wrote before how Alabama had come to feel like Home for me. I was looking forward to going back when the season ended but that’s not going to happen.

Instead, I will drive almost 1,900 miles to Mobile not to return home but to retrieve what I left behind. Then I will turn around and come straight back North to wait out winter and put in a full season come spring.

The upside is that I will have some time to write in solitude and after more than a year of having my belongings strewn across three states I will finally have most of it in one place.

I, however, will remain divided for as long as it takes to find that place I call Home.

But what is “Home?”

For me, the answer is simple: Home is where I want to be and it’s where I’m wanted to be.

I try to picture myself in the places I prefer. The places I want to be. Deep in a forest. On the side of a mountain by a stream. In the desert. They are isolated places. Secluded. Desolate. Lonely.

They are places I’ve been before and in many ways they are the places I most belong, but there isn’t anyone in those places that wants me there and being there first makes it difficult for that to ever happen. I’ve tried. It didn’t work. Those places require a joint decision. To go there alone is to remain alone.

My thoughts sometimes turn to places I haven’t been. Uruguay. Patagonia. Corfu. Iceland. Knowing that these are impossible places for me to live, at least in this moment, somehow makes it easier to accept that it will not happen.

I can’t help revisiting the past when I think about home. The places I’ve been. The people I’ve been with. Other than my son, who is now grown and with a son of his own, I can’t think of one person who really wanted me to be there. Me. Not an image of me. Not my income. Not my pain. Not a warm body to share a bed. Me.

I do have friends in Mobile who want me there, but they are going through changes in their lives that put me in the way. So I should add that Home is also a place where I belong.

Right now I belong where I am. It’s where I need to be. Working in the oilfield is my best option to reach my goals. But it’s not where I want to be and other than my employer there isn’t anyone here who wants me here. I’ve sacrificed those aspects of home to fulfill obligations and needs and desires and hopes.

Home. Such a simple concept and yet always seeming to be just out of reach.

I’ll find it yet. Or maybe it will find me. Or maybe I’ll just wake up one day and be there.

Until then, this place, here, where I share my heart and my soul with any who will read, is my home, and my family spans the globe.

I’m good with that.

Welcome home.

 


 

Image by Andrew Draper.

Patience, Old Man

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In a field at the edge of nowhere, where endless sky meets infinite horizon, a man troubled by indecision and doubt sits in a borrowed chair inside a borrowed home that is little more than shelter from the freezing wind.

Sometimes he cries. Other times he rages. Most often he berates himself for not reaching his potential all the while aware that judgment and anger are but symptoms and road markers, way signs on his path, that his brain recycles over and over, directing him to the questions that need answering.

He attempts to call up, intellectually, spiritually, mystically, the wisdom that exists all around him. Always there. Always just out of reach. He stretches to touch it, to grasp it as it flits by him, a leaf on the wind, a snowflake, smoke from the incense he burns, a sound from outside, and agonizes with its fleeting nature.

It is in the reach, in the stretch, in the agony that he exists.

It is where he finds his answers.

Sometimes those answers take time to discover, to uncover because, in truth, the answers are always there, waiting to be revealed.

Sometimes I get impatient about those revelations.

Sometimes they never come.

Sometimes.

Some time.

And just like that, there’s my answer: Patience, old man. As long as I continue looking, stretching myself, reaching for the ungraspable, all will be revealed in its own time.

Yes, it’s difficult to maintain balance between actively searching and patiently waiting, but that is the balance. Not to overreach nor to expect the answers to questions I haven’t even formed, but to continue moving forward knowing that all will be revealed in its own time as long as I continue searching.

So I sit in this borrowed chair, in this borrowed home, and reach.

 

 


 

Image by Photo by Thong Vo.

 

 

 

One Pearl Longer

On the eve of each new year I reluctantly don a necklace
of melancholic nostalgia
the significance of which envelops me.
Strung from pearls of wisdom gathered by my former selves.
One per year.
Each radiant globe a diamond of priceless memories
compressed by me into a diminuve crystal ball.
Offering up reflections of immense happiness
tempered by devastang tragedy.
Each precious gem a hard-worn, hard-won epiphany
of the ebbs and flows of life.

Midnight revelry trumpets
auditory triggers of inescapable images.
With each mind’s eye vision comes anew
the heartbreak of loved ones lost forever.
The chain grows heavier and heavier,
constraining tighter and tighter.
Joy and pain, light and dark
intermingle to murky fog.

Come dawn, a fresh new day’s light pierces the gray numb
clarifying each orb until only lightness remains.
The warm beads now comfort me with their familiarity.
Carefully I remove the gossamer strand.
No matter.
Once disturbed, the tenuous connection evaporates scattering mirrored circles of life to places unknown.
Hidden here. Tucked there.
Only to return in their circuitous configuration in 364 nights
to be worn hesitatingly, reluctantly once again,
yet with honor and thankfully
one pearl longer.

– Karen Brown

Image by Karen Brown

Find Me

Find me!
Find me where you left me
Where you found me before

On the side of a trail
Near a lake
Under the stars
In a field
On a mountain

In the sweet scent of spring
The blistering heat
Of endless summer
In the autumn mist
That that hides the shadows
The frozen plains
That bind and blind

In the pecan
And oak

In the evergreen
And cactus

In the stone
And sand
And rolling hill
And rain
And endless sky
And raging sun

Find me!

Find me!

Find me!

 

Find your Self!

 


Image by J M Greff

 

Viewpoint

I’m at a roadside park just off I-94 overlooking a part of the Badlands called Painted Canyon.

The sun is setting to my left. It highlights the layered colors of the sprawling valley below me in intense blues, fiery reds, bruised purpled, living greens and a hundred shades of grey and brown.

The clouds are lit from within on a background that slowly shifts from pale blue to a deep violet capturing all the colors of my imagination.

Just past the edge of this vantage is an ancient juniper with dark berries. Balancing on the edge of its sparse limbs a meadowlark sings. In the distance a red tailed hawk circles.

At my feet are perfect yellow flowers that iridescent green bees suckle at. Ants clamber in the deep grass, carrying supplies to stock their underground metropolis.

A child’s balloon floats by me. A red island drifting on a cool breeze. Dancing with the invisible.

In the distance a child cries. Another laughs. The incessant sounds of man, the murmuring chatterous monotony of high and low and hushed and shouted tones and nearby traffic and all their smells, sweet and masked and dirty, are all broken, drowned in a profound silence that has no name.

Standing at the fence that keeps humanity at bay, separate from the world we were born into, is a young couple, giddy with love, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, content, joyous. Their love shines so brightly that it adds to the glow of the setting sun. A stranger takes their picture, hands the camera back to them with a “You’re welcome” and with no more than a quick glance into eternity and a shrug, walks quickly back to their car. They have someplace to be. An itinerary. A plan. They will miss so much. Too much.

I take in the sight and am filled with a deep peace, with the miracle of this moment. It is captured within me and I am captured within it and it lives forever.

Not in the past. Not as a memory, now, because Now is all that ever exists.


Image by J M Greff

Seasons Gratings!

Christmas is over. Thank the gods!

I have something to admit: I have a problem with Christmas. Not an objection, I like the idea of families gathering and sharing, I just don’t have that, not for many years. and it’s become a problem. An issue.

I don’t know when it started, a long time ago, but every year now for a few weeks leading up to the day and building exponentially like a nuclear reactor going offline unexpectedly (except far more predictable), I deal with a pretty severe depression. By the time the day arrives I want to lock my doors, block the windows, turn off all the lights, and disappear silently into a bottle.

It’s a battle. One I usually lose. This year was no different. I tried. I really did. I meditated and read only optimistic news and reached out to family, but the meditations only made me aware of the underlying self pity, the good news made me feel left out, and family stayed out of reach.

How about that? Me. The Bohemian that spends his spare time learning, practicing, and writing about mindfulness and acceptance and gratitude and love. Depressed.

The thing about problems, problems like seasonal depression, or loneliness, or loss of self worth, or whatever, is that absolutely no one is immune. No one. The Christ faced his demons in the desert, Buddha constantly battled with Mara, and I deal with depression that lights up like a Roman candle with the first Christmas song played over crappy speakers in some back road gas station Santa will surely pass by and grows into a raging forest fire that chokes the life out of me and leaves me in ashes.

Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but also probably not so far from the truth of how it feels, but it’s also not my point.

My point is that everyone, absolutely everyone, deals with something and while I am neither the Christ or the Bhudda I have been given the very same tools to deal with those “somethings” that they were.

And one day I will learn how to use them.

Wait for it…

Today I’m grateful it’s passed and accept that I still have things to learn.

Depressed Bohemian, indeed.

There’s something funny about that image. I’ll throw it in the fodder file to use later. A gift to myself.

Long Nights Moon

Today I woke to this gorgeous nearly full moon illuminating the clouds from within and was reminded that even in the darkest days there is light.

I took some time to contemplate the shortness of our own days, the divine spark that resides in all of us which lights the darkness from within, and the eternal promise of life renewed, and I silently expressed my gratitude for every second of light and life I am given as well as for those inevitable periods of darkness that make the light so much easier to see and appreciate.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The sun will remain low on the horizon for three days before rising back into the heavens. The nights will be long and cold.

This solstice is quite rare because it is accompanied by a full moon that brings with it positive change and pleasant and welcome surprises. The next time we will witness a full moon on the solstice is 2094.

To make it even more special it will be followed by the Ursids meteor shower on the 22nd and 23rd. I have no idea when this triple crown will happen again but I don’t imagine it will be any time soon.

It is quite literally a once in a lifetime event so I hope you take the time to bear witness and celebrate in your own way.

Tonight I will celebrate publicly. I’ve been invited to a Christmas party hosted by one of the companies I drive for that also happens to be a company I have contracted with many times over the years and was an employee of until last year. It will be a comfortable gathering among friends.

Tomorrow night I will honor this time privately by writing down my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, and release them all in fire and an offering of the ashes to the wind in gratitude.

Sunday I will connect with friends, family, and Beloved to reaffirm my presence, my promise, my commitment, and to thank them for being in my life.

However you decide to celebrate or honor this sacred time I wish you a happy and blessed solstice!

My midnight muse

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You dance within the twilight of my dreams
Whimsical and lithe
Lingering here
Darting there
A firefly in the dark
A flickering spark
Playful
Alluring
Enticing
Enchanting
A shimmering vapor drifting through shadow
Your heart beating in pyrophoric frenzy
A strobing cannon
A beacon in the cavern of my soul
Inviting me
Drawing me
Beckoning
Further
Always further
Always closer
Always just out of reach
So I climb
 and scramble 
and hazard these frozen depths
Careless of rope or harness or blaze
Because where you go
Returns us to the surface
And once in the light of day
We
Will mock the sun
Together


Image by Jonatan Pie.

These small hopes I carry

hope
 
 
“The shortness of our lives prevents us from undertaking long hopes.”
– Horace
 
 

To make it through another day with a smile
To lay down with gratitude
To laugh as often as possible
To share whatever I have
With whoever I can
Are held aloft
Against the crushing weight of time
Against the relentless tide of life
That creeps like a hidden assassin
Just out of view
They are held up by faith
Learned in patience
They are the air I breath
The blood in my veins
The whisper I offer to the wind
The never fading kiss I press against your lips
I have no enduring hopes
But to love
and be loved
To hope for more than that
For more than I can experience in this moment
Is folly
To hope for more than this moment
Is vanity
To lose hope
Is to give in to the ceaseless tide
Is to be crushed by time
To live with hope
However small
Is what makes my short time here
A miracle

 

Be still

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Be still now
Let your breath slow
Listen to your heart
It knows you
Knows your needs
Fears
Desires
Listen closely
And you will hear it whisper
Be still now
Let the fire within you glow
Listen to your soul
It speaks to with love
Compassion
Tender care
It wants only the best for you
Only ever the best
Be still now
Let the world you know
Pass by without you
Just for now
Just for this moment
Here
Now
Be still
And let Love in