Wasn’t always taken care of
Old as it is
It shows the scars
Of its rough history
Lacks the luster of its early days
Is cracked and stained and torn
Sometimes it requires repair
I have the tools
I do what I can
But some of the work
Is too little too late
And it breaks down
If I could do it again
Start from the beginning
With the skills and knowledge
I have today
I would take better care of it
So it would last longer
It would shine
It would have fewer dents and scars
A better life
But I’d keep the engine from this one
Because I run good
Image: “A Good Find” by J M Greff
It’s 3 am and I’m up with a case of heartburn so bad it feels like a heart attack. I’d blame the blackened red fish I ate for this wretched agony but it’s not that. Nor can I blame the Sazerac that complimented it. No, this is borne of frayed nerves and fear.
It is my last night here in The Mansion, an 1850’s monstrosity of a home in the heart of Mobile, and I am afraid. Afraid that I will always be scurrying to catch up. Afraid that I will never realize the person I am trying so hard to become. Afraid of the journey ahead of me.
Tomorrow, today, just a few hours from now, I will begin the long drive North. 1,800 miles back to the oilfield. Again. Stupid mouse to cheese trap. I have beaten the odds for a dozen years and managed to get the cheese before the trap clamped down on me. One day it will break my back and I’ll stare with glazed eyes at the molding cheese and wonder why I kept coming back for more.
I wish I could roll over and hold you close to soothe my nerves but the bed is empty. It is always empty. There has never been a woman in this bed.
That thought makes the heartburn worse so I throw the blankets back and scramble to the bathroom, sure that I’ll soon lose that excellent meal. The surge subsides before I get there but I’ve had enough nights like this in the last week to know it’s just a small reprieve so I down a handful of antacids to head off the inevitable follow up.
This is not the norm for me. I have been in situations that were far more stressful without suffering any kind of physiological effect.
So why now?
Writing, for me, has become a form of therapy. Visual meditation. A way to explore the thoughts that constantly ebb and flow with a life all their own. So I sit down and begin to write, casting my net with each stab at the keyboard until I snag that one random image that defines what it is I am feeling.
In this case it is the image of the empty bed and what I am feeling is lonely. No, not lonely. Alone.
Big surprise. You’d think I would have caught that as I wrote the cryptic poetry I posted earlier. I guess it was too obvious. So I read the poem again, something I really should do at least a few times before publishing. Write once, edit a hundred times. That, I’ve been told, is the set rule of writing. I should probably try it. The poem is horrid. It has potential, but it really is horrid. All over the map. I don’t recommend reading it. But it tells me what I need to know; I am never alone.
Right now there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people all over the planet feeling exactly the same thing I am feeling.
I close my eyes, slow my breath, and reach out to them. To assure them they are not alone, to let them know that they are loved, that I am here with them and in doing so I offer those same things to my Self and receive them from others and those thoughts, or the combination of those thoughts and the antacids (credit where credit is due), begin to slow the burn and the frayed edges of my nerves begin to mend.
Still, I wish I could get back into that bed and hold you close.
Photo by Josh Applegate
I’m feeling a little defeated right now. I’m bruised and bloody. But I’m not beaten.
I had a three day pity party with all the usual guests; disappointment, failure, rage, grief, depression. We all commiserated and growled and grumbled and shed tears in our rum and then I sent them packing. Each with a hug and a “Thank you for coming.”
Now it’s time for a victory.
That starts with me.
First, a long walking meditation to silence the remnants of that black balloon affair where I logged their complaints and handled them lovingly.
They are not me, just my thoughts, and they deserve my attention and compassion, but not my life.
Then I sent out feelers to a few companies up north. Yes, back in the oilfield. It’s not where I want to be but it’s the one place I know, without a doubt, that I can get a job pretty much on demand with pay that is considerably more than I can make here. Maybe I mentioned this before, Mobile has some of the lowest driver rates in the nation. Barely enough to live on. Not nearly enough to pursue my goals. Right now I’m looking for companies that just need someone to finish up the season because I don’t want to make a commitment and I really don’t want to starve through another season of frozen roads, frozen trucks, frozen flesh.
Get in. Get out. Get back to what I’m trying to accomplish.
I am working on two backups:
The first, converting all my adjuster training to work with FEMA, will take more time than I have right now but it’s a viable option down the road. I have started taking the training they provide but to get myself on top of the list of potential hires I want to have a long list of their certifications under my belt. So, for now, it’s something that I will take my time with.
The second is a lead I received less than an hour ago. A company that is looking for adjusters to work from home and pays extremely well.
This second option is a strong contender to replace driving, and I’ll talk with them before making the decision, but heading north for a couple months has a distinct benefit: I still have things in storage in ND that I can simply bring with when I return to Mobile.
Yes, I plan on coming back to Mobile. Fate brought me here for a reason and though I really don’t know what that reason is I have no intention of working against such a powerful force. So I’ve made arrangements to leave most of what I brought with me in storage while I’m gone.
I’ll know more within a couple days.
Here’s the thing:
Shit happens and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it but I am not defined by those things, I am defined by how I respond to them.
Yes, it sucks that I spent a year of my life working intensely to create change only to have it all implode but it’s only a failure if I allow it to be, and it’s not an end, it’s a beginning.
In a way, it’s a gift. I am being forced to start again.
I’ll get it right soon enough.
Life regularly spins out of control, beyond my ability to keep it in check. Road blocks appear from nowhere or I look around my self and realize that I have no idea where it is that I am going.
The truth is that I am so deep on my path that much of my future is already decided no matter what I do. Knowing that will not prevent me from continuing to alter that path by taking careful steps that improve life. Not just my life, yours, and truly, all life.
Maybe that’s expecting too much from myself but it is what I am working, and most often failing, at.
How easy it is for some people to do those things. Some seem born into it. Gifted from birth and then guided through life while I seem to always be restricted. Prevented. Partly because of decisions I’ve made in the past and partly because I was simply born into a world that lacked proper guidance. Most of the guidance I have received has been either internal, and therefore slow to process, or divine and therefore impossible to interpret.
But maybe that’s the plan. Maybe I’m supposed to learn slowly and to exert myself rather than have it made easy, to focus my efforts in the wrong places along the way in order to learn by mistake rather than by success.
I don’t know.
Honestly, I don’t care.
Why should I?
Life is a steady progression of difficult decisions for everyone. It would be delusional for me to think that I might be exempt from that fact and it would be a loss of faith to believe that I will ever be let down or led astray by the Divine. She has never done either, something I am always grateful for, so I have no loss of faith.
I’m human. So I am bound to doubt myself from time to time or feel completely unworthy of the goals I have set for myself or have fears. Human. Go figure.
In the end I know, despite the fact that I have very little control over what happens, everything will work out exactly as it should and I will guide positive change as much as I possibly can and accept whatever it is that is beyond my sphere of influence.
I may not control the ocean that heaves this ship with waves the size of mountains to force it in new directions, but I man the rudder.
I will always steer towards home.
The further along the difficult path of spirituality I started long ago the more clear it has become that the answers I seek are less likely to be found among religion or spiritual teachings or gurus and more readily obtained through careful consideration of the mundane.
A single line of poetry in a obscure work, something a co-worker says without being aware of the implications, the flight of a red-tailed hawk as it rises and falls with the wind. These things all hold a higher value than the books of a modern day self proclaimed messiah or the doctrines of any antiquated or recycled movement.
The truth, though transient and subject to the interpretation and experiences of the observer, reveals itself in its own way and is a personal experience.
The Universe is constantly calling for us to join her but our own voices are so loud that we seldom hear her. My job is to recognize those truths when they are presented and to be grateful for the gift that they are, to quiet myself and the voices of the egocentric prophets and listen when she speaks, to filter out the untruths and find divine perfection in the world around me.
Those are my truths.
Find your truth. Live it.
Image: “Universe Speaks, We Listen” by Laura “Pelick” Siadak
The Universe, though largely a mystery, is known to contain billions of galaxies just within our limited view of its vastness.
Each of those galaxies, like our own, contain billions of stars and each star is very likely to be at the center of its own planetary system.
That’s hundreds of billions of planets and each and every one of them has the potential to be home trillions of life forms.
Our galaxy alone could be home to trillions of trillions of life forms.
The numbers are beyond calculation or comprehension when we consider how many potential life forms there are in the universe, which may just be part of a larger system of billions of other universes bumping and squeezing into each other like cells in a body that make up something even larger.
We just don’t know.
What we do know, what we are absolutely certain about, is that among all those planets circling all those stars in all those galaxies there is only one you.
You are unique in all the universe.
And it is incomplete without you.
Image from just a tiny section of space observed by the Hubble telescope.
I often talk about “Now” as being the only time we ever have without really addressing the bigger question: How much time do we really have?
That question can be answered in two ways:
Our true Self, the consciousness that resides within these temporary vessels, comes from the Source and returns to it after our time in this form is complete and while whatever happens after that is open for debate it is seldom argued that the Source, The Universe, God, whatever name you choose to call it, is timeless. Infinite. So we too are also infinite.
At least for a time.
Yet, it can not be denied that we, here, now, in our physical form, live in a space of linear time. We are born. We exist for a while. We return to the infinite. Time exists only in that brief existence between birth and death and the time we have is incredibly short.
While in this form we experience a physical reality. We touch, taste, see, smell, think, feel. We age. We laugh. We cry. We love. We experience pain and joy and suffering and gain and loss and, eventually, ultimately, we experience death.
When I look at myself in the mirror I can see the passage of time. The laugh lines and crows feet. The greying. The scars that serve as reminders of who I have been and the things I have done. The man I am becoming day by day. Minute by minute. Second by second.
That man I see is no more “Me” than the boy I saw at ten exploring the world. Or the young man on his own in his teens and twenties finding his way, losing himself, struggling to become. Or the self critical man in his thirties hardened by experience. Or the finally awakened man in his forties.
When I close my eyes I can see that I am all of those previous versions of myself.
And none of them.
I am more, and I am made more by my experiences. All of them.
Like I said, however, this time is short. Too short. Too short to experience all the things I want to experience. Too short to “get over” the negative things that have happened. Too short to learn all the things I want to learn. To laugh as much as I want.
It is long enough to experience amazing things. To learn from all my experiences. To laugh joyfully. To love deeply.
But only if I keep my intentions alive and maintain a balance.
I will never laugh enough if I don’t seek out the company of those who bring me joy or do the things that make me happy. I will never learn enough if I am not constantly aware of how limited my time here is and how important it is to always be learning. I will never love deep enough if I keep the people I love at arms length or withdraw or set myself to fail or if I never truly love myself.
The balance is found in how I live and the best use of my time here, Now, is to live as fully and fearlessly as I can.
Life is for the Living. Live, Now.
You are truly extraordinary, a marvelous wonder to behold, a manifestation of the Divine, you are sacred and worthy and deserving and oh so unique.
So be the best You you can be and don’t judge yourself or allow others to judge you for being who you are.
You are perfect in your imperfections.
Image colored by me from the Recolor app
Every cell in your body, every muscle, bone, tendon, artery, vein, capillary, and the blood the flows through them, every neuron that fires thought both pleasant and unpleasant, every memory triggered, every emotion that accompany those memories whether they bring ecstatic joy or mind numbing, incapacitating, suffering, every breath and beat of your heart, has been written by the Divine who has designed your life specifically for you.
You are Sacred.
Image: “Omniscience” by Carlos Quevedo