Posts by J M Greff

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

Waving the White Flag

white-flag

 

Well, I’m back. Though I’m not sure what that means.

First, let me say that I am extremely relieved and thankful that hurricane Florence did not land as the expected Cat 4 even though it means I have no work because I would not wish that sort of devastation on anyone.

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to write about surrender many times now. It is a subject I have a difficult time with because as strong as my faith is and accepting as I can be I still have a hard time separating “surrender” from “giving up”

I don’t want to give up but I do need to surrender.

I have done my best in this last year to change my life and while I have been undeniably successful in many ways I feel I have utterly failed in others. I knew that changing my life would not be easy, but I did believe it was possible.

Now I’m not so sure.

I made just enough money in the week I was deployed to either hold on for another month or to move on. Moving on, in this case, actually means moving backwards, which is something else I have a difficult time with.

At this moment I am seriously considering taking the little money I made and heading back to the oilfield. Trucking has always been a sure bet for me. I can literally go anywhere and find a job driving. The problem is that I honestly despise that life.

My other option is to stay put, dig in, use what I earned to get me to the next storm. The problem is that there may not be a next storm and when the money is gone I will be left without an option. It will be too late in the year to expect to find work in ND and I won’t have the finances to make the move anyway. I will be left finding a driving job in Mobile, AL, home of the lowest driver rates in the nation. Barely above minimum wage.

So I have a choice between a known that I have been trying to escape for most of my adult life, a known that will pay the bills but likely make me want to withdraw again. Maybe for the last time. Or I can choose the unknown. Continue to place my faith in a desire for something better. Accept the possibility of it all falling apart at the last minute and leaving me without any options at all.

For now, in this moment, the best I can do is wave the white flag, retreat from the battle, accept that there are things beyond my control and maybe tomorrow I will begin to make new plans.

But I will not give up.

 

Stormbound

deployed

As most of you know, I have spent the last year of my life focusing on my training as an insurance adjuster in order to secure a position doing field claims as a way to escape truck driving and buy me the time I need to focus on my goals.

I am a writer. It’s where I belong.

Tonight I received a deployment confirmation and need to be in Atlanta on Friday morning for staging. I’m not sure how I’ll make that happen yet but I know I will.

If all goes as expected I will be able to begin focusing on my writing 100% within the next 8 months.

First comes phase two of the plan: Work my ass off to generate at least a years income on my first deployment.

If I can do that then I will spend the next year improving my writing skills and recreating the Caravan. I’ve already put parts of that plan in motion. I’ve began designing mini-courses, built a community site that I can integrate here, and that operates quite well as a mobile app, I established an email server using my domain and started the process of creating member only content (not as a paid subscription and not spam:), and more. A lot more. Some of it technical. All of it designed with a simple theme in mind: Sharing.

I want to build a community of people that support and encourage each other. A place where we can share our journeys, our stories, our talents, gifts, abilities, our hopes, and our fears.

Life is a journey best shared.

Change is often slow and always requires faith and effort. I have to admit that while my faith was challenged some over the last 12 months I never stopped believing and I never gave up. I’m glad I didn’t.

I won’t now even though I know the task I’ve set for myself is, well, it’s grasping. Far reaching.

I am not afraid to reach or to push myself to attain something, better.

For the next several months my posts may become even more infrequent or erratic, or I may find myself needing the outlet as a way to disconnect from the work I will be doing, helping people rebuild their lives after serious losses.

So I want to thank you, all of you, for sticking it out with me over this last year and I hope that you will continue to share in my journey over the next.

Be well!

Storm


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There was I time I thought of myself as “Stormchaser”. It was a label I assigned to offset the difficult times that seemed to follow me as a way of reversing the odds.

I saw myself as not only actively engaging those hard times but as pursuing them in a “if life is suffering and suffering brings enlightenment then, for fucks sack, bring it on” mentality.

I was wrong.

Man, was I wrong.

The hard times pursued like a predator on blood scent and I, tough as the wind, really was bleeding, profusely.

I’ve said before how I’m only now rubbing the sleep from my eyes, but I look back with these blurry eyes and see that young man and rather than think “whaddadouche”, my favorite quote when it comes to ignorance, I can say “good start.”

It really was.

Since then I’ve learned that Life is more often concerned with giving lessons than with leading me to them and that the path of life is much more flexible than I thought.

She is the train
I am the rail
Or more like the spike
Or the ground it’s driven into
Or maybe just a house it passes by
Sleeping

That’s my attempt at Zen poetry, which I’m okay with, in a Zen sort of way.

My point is this:

I have felt the storm.
I feel it now inside me.
I’m not sure it ever goes away.
I’m okay with that.

That, by the way, has nothing at all to do with either Zen philosophy or poetry, it’s who I am.

So right about now you’re probably asking yourself what the hell this post is about so I’ll sum it up in six words …

 

We find what we are looking for.

 

… okay, seven words.

 


 

Audio: “Stormchaser” by J M Greff

 

so close i can taste

be.wild.png

a light rain
more a mist
a wet veil
cools the humid air
that clutches
and claws
suffocating
like some silent
assailant that cant be escaped
it swirls
in slight eddies
like cool water
in a warm pool
sweat runs off me
in a stream
still it feels like spring
life constantly flows here
something always in bloom
mushrooms sprout and die
sprout and die
the resurrection fern
mostly green
sleeping only hours at a time
the rain seems to never stop
yet does nothing
to subdue the humidity
giving life
to all this glorious green
even I
suffocating in the heavy air
grow


Image by Johannes Hofmann

Something Lost

Something Lost

With one foot
Mostly
In front of the other
He shuffles
Back and forth
Left to right
Trying to follow
A boulevard
That keeps moving
Disappearing
One
Retracted
Step
At a time
His eyes
His mind
Blinded
By whatever poison
He has chosen
To end his life
I watch him a while
As he stumbles
Up the stairs
Of a nearby school
To empty his bladder
Then into traffic
Horns wailing
Cautioning
Cursing
He is seeking
Something
Something he has lost
I think
You won’t find it there
You won’t find it there
But I hope you do

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Image: “Anywhere you lay your head” by Bill S. 99

Captured

misty.veil

Arms out touching phantom limbs and ephemeral vine.
Closed eyes focused on aery chimera that plays like
faded film, enshrouding me in palpable memory like a mist.
August oaks and resurrection fern and aged buildings
replaced by towering cypress, snow wreath,
rhododendron tall as the homes lining these neglected streets
broken by root allowing the very least of natures
determination to reclaim, one minuscule stem, one straggling stalk,
one unnoticed flower at a time, its verdant refuge,
once sanctuary to boundless existence long since
consumed by distressed homes, distressed economies,
distressed people.

Not now. Not in this moment. In this moment I am alone in
ancient woods making my way along a secret trail
winding through prehistoric marsh fed by countless miles of
free flowing rivers giving life to this lush alluvium filled with
musky smells of decayed wood and stale water and something
sweetly familiar I can’t put a name to.

If you saw me there, on that canted sidewalk, you might think
I was mad or lost or wandering under the influence of
something other than my imagination. If you looked
closer you would see a smile. If you noticed me at all.

More likely you would pass by without second glance
accelerating to whatever urgent appointment or function or task you
scurry to. “Nevermind the crazy man”, mother says to
daughter, ears stopped with buds to obstruct the uninvited,
eyes adjusted to the screen of the tiny world she holds in her
hands while thumbs impulsively tap out affirmations or declarations or
insinuations with inherent indifference to a faceless complicant
selected as benefant, marginally amused at mother’s dumb
mouth, assigning words consistent with expectations in place
of those overridden by disapproved music. “Are you listening to me?”

Mother chatters voicelessly. A silent movie. A mime.
Daughter sneers. Fires a message of discontent into the void.
Co-conspirators.

You have missed far too much.
Where are you going
that you have no time to look?
To see.
What horizon are you fixed upon
that blinds you to miracles?
To live.
How can you occupy the same space
without sharing it?
To love.

I see you drive by as in a dream, intruder, trespasser to my vision.
Out of place and time. The vision is disrupted.
The winding path is replaced by
fractured concrete.
Smells of sacred land replaced by
exhaust fumes and humanity.
Rhododendron to azalea.
Snow wreath to palm.
Cypress to oak.
Marsh to asphalt.
The veil lifts.

The image remains.

Captured.


Image: “Misty Veil” by JMGreff

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Life

Almost a year ago I chose to move to Mobile to pursue the possibility of a committed relationship.

I learned quite a bit about love from that relationship and from the bond that remains.

Almost three months ago I made a decision to stay in Mobile to accelerate my training as an independent insurance adjuster instead of heading back North to earn enough money to carry me through until I get deployed.

In those three months I have learned ten times as much as I’ve learned in the last year and I have gained numerous certifications, but I have not worked a single day.

As I write this I lay alone in bed in the rooms I pay for through barter. I don’t know when, or even if, I will get deployed. I don’t know if my car, which I repaired with tape and a prayer after it started on fire due to faulty wiring, will last another month, or a week, or even through tomorrow. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep gas in it. I don’t know if I will ever reach my next goal of turning of writing full time.

While these things and more can and certainly do cause me some stress they do not represent my future nor do they rule how I feel today.

Those decisions I made, to move here and to stay, were based on hope and faith and love and a strong desire and the will to create positive change in my life and because of this they were the right choices regardless of how they turn out.

So all those things I don’t know are really no different than not knowing if I will get struck by a meteor tomorrow, and I don’t see any reason to worry about it.

If I could share just one thing I’ve learned in life it would be this:

I am not defined by the things that happen to me but by how I respond to them.

Am I stressed? Yes.

Will I get through this? Absolutely.

Is this my life? Well, yes. It is.

Am I grateful? Always.

 

 

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