Return to Mobile Redux

I’ve really let myself go. I haven’t meditated regularly since before I went to Montana, or practiced yoga or worked out or hiked or even walked much.

In fact, for the last three months all I did is drink too much, smoke too much, and watch movies.

I was giving up. In self destruct mode. I just didn’t know it. Funny how that happens.

Why would nature give us a self destruct mode anyway? Is it a part of the evolutionary process? Perhaps it’s a way to filter out those less willing to succeed regardless of their genetic traits. A way of leveling the playing field.

Whatever the reason I need to terminate it because two days ago, just a week after arriving back in Mobile, I loaded up my car and started driving back north in blind obedience of that instinct.

I had a list of “valid” reasons for leaving, like being in a place I felt like I didn’t belong while struggling with a strong need to belong somewhere, feeling stagnant and nonproductive and wanting to do something about it, and the deep emotional pain of loss, loss of love, loss of dreams, loss of hope, loss of Self.

Wah.

The entire list is made up of excuses that justify the urge to self destruct.

I have a home. It doesn’t matter that I live 2,000 miles away in NE Montana, Mobile is my home. The job in Montana is just a means to an end.

I belong in the world. Not in a little trailer far away from anything that can hurt me in front of a big screen with a drink in my hand while I binge watch Game of Thrones and give up on my dreams.

I feel stagnant and unproductive because I’m not doing the things I should be doing and I can do those things anywhere.

Okay, the pain is real but it’s not fatal unless I allow it to be. So I’ll keep reminding myself that pain is where the light gets in and offers the lessons I need to learn. I have so much to learn yet so I’m grateful I’m getting the opportunities.

It took a whole day of driving, 1,100 miles, to begin to understand these things. To admit to myself what I was doing and to apologize to the people I hurt by running away, because that’s all I was really doing.

I reprimanded myself, cried, forgave myself.

Then I turned around and began the long drive back home.

When the weather changes and the work season begins again I will drive back to Montana to follow through on the goals I’ve set, but not until then.

The first things I will do when I get there are throw out the TV and the ashtray and find my yoga mat.

So many walls

Bucketosoldiers

Every time I think
I’ve smashed them all
I find another fortress
Occupied by some juvenile
Version of myself
In eternal battle
With who I was
The dark child trapped in battle
Green plastic army men
Hand painted Vikings
Urethane dinosaurs
Lining the walls
Of stone basements
Bound in blankets
Piled on boxes
Pillows on all sides
Of the shared fulcrum
A house of cards
Carefully built
By those who would command it
The brothers battling
To occupy as much space as possible
Before inevitable annihilation
With thoughtless tactics
Careless violence
Unrewarded surrender
Fights ensue
Trust fades
Time divides
Brothers break
Three
Then two
Then one
Dancing at prom
In a hand me down flesh suit
Driving hand me down cars
Dating hand me down girlfriends
Who become second time wives
Who spite
Or rage
Or just don’t give a damn
Jobs that lead nowhere
An attitude that leads to despair
A life that leads to solitude
Until I set the men myself
Upon walls that remain
Strong
and well guarded
And the house of cards
Never falls

 

Return to Mobile

live.fearlessly

 

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”
– Kevyn Aucoin
I’m back in Mobile after driving 2,000 miles in 2 days. I’m not sure what the hurry was, except to get it over with, and now that I’m here I can’t decide if it’s better to stay a while or get my things and head back to the wastelands. I guess I’ll take a few days to figure it out.

It’s hard not to think about the last year in terms of time lost. Effort and emotion and money that all seem to have been spent pointlessly because I find myself back where I began this journey, working in the oilfields, alone.

While I can’t argue that I gave up a lot in the last year I also can’t argue that I gained much and this situation, however intolerable, is temporary.

Seeing that isn’t easy. I have to look beyond the furnished home I simply gave away to be here. Beyond the debt I created attempting to enter a life I wasn’t born into. Beyond the personal and emotional goals that evaporated like a mist. Beyond the pain.

Beyond all that are the amazing experiences I had along the way. Experiences that opened my eyes to possibilities. Experiences that led me to new friends. Experiences that taught me about love and allowed me to experience it like I never have before. Beyond that is a future I haven’t even imagined yet.

I lost nothing.

Okay, so I’m rebuilding a life from nothing again. I’ve done that before. Experience tells me I’ll be fine. I am lacking direction and goals but I’ll find them or create them. I’m in a sort of free fall and reaching out in a hundred directions but that’s what you do when you fall. That’s how you land on your feet. Leave it to luck and you will almost certainly crash and burn.

But I’ve crashed and burned before and came out just fine. It’s not so bad. Nothing like Hollywood would want you to believe, where the car speeds uncontrolled off the road and invariably explodes.

In real life you never really go up in flames and you don’t “lose” control so much as give it away. Giving up control is a choice. Sometimes it’s even the right choice. Not this time. The crash happens in slow motion in real life. I have time to make decisions. To control the damage. It plays out for weeks, months, even years, but soon enough it will come to an end, I will eject and tumble and roll onto my feet and dust myself off and continue on my way.

Having been here before makes me fearless. It’s scary. It sucks. It’s difficult and time consuming and a real concern at any age but there is nothing for me to fear.

Life is for the living. Not for the worrying about living or the cost of living or the pain of living. Those things just come along for the ride. Life is there to live. For those who live.

Live fearlessly. But wear your seatbelt.

Loved

ravi-pinisetti-loved

Happiness
That divine right
Borne at the moment of conception
Ravaged by experience and suffering
Lost through too many moments of anger
Masked by pain and fear
Found again in a moment of acceptance
Shining like light from a tower
Beyond the broken rock and roaring waves
Beyond this self imposed solitude
Guiding me
To the lush green fields
On an island of One
One life
Joined with All
One Soul
Shared across the endless miles of unknown
One heart
Loved

 


 

Image by Ravi Pinisetti

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

patience.persevere

 

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

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.

Be still

5708D388-4CD4-4B08-AB4B-883C7AB04DC2

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

 


Past Present

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

How bright these lights that shine now. Here. In this moment. Blinding us between staccato strikes of darkness that seem to last forever.

Each flash highlighting a simple frame, like a silent movie lit with the phosphorescence of an atomic blast, melting the film it is remembered on and leaving only hallucinogenic traces in the impenetrable darkness that follows, relaying an entire history in the nuclear ashes of our memories over a cup of coffee shared in lament.

Each flash an anchor to any given moment that we revisit again and again until it defines us. Until we use it to define ourselves to others.

A moment of passion. Of fury. Of compassion. Of hunger. Each playing out in fractional tales that seldom, if ever, follow the lines of the acts laid out in steady progression, to ultimately mythologize the story of our lives.

And we, faithful fanatics of Life, believe the tale that plays, act after act, each read after played, and believed as if written by the hand of god itself.

But they are lies.

It is our adherence to these false memories, these golden calf we cow-tow to with learned and obedient humility, that rob the true essence of their meaning.

We are not the sum of our experiences, the memories of which we redirect to fit the image we carry of ourselves, we are the sacred being that stands now at the burning edge of reality, creating life as we wish it to be, or living, true to form, blindly, those maligned memories meant only to keep us beating on the shores of yesterday.

It is always a choice.

We can choose to live in “almost now”, that sleight of mind, the mirage of now we allow to be influenced by the past, as Observer, or we can choose to live on that burning edge of Now, here, mindfully, in each moment, created second by second with an understanding that what we believe to be true is most often contaminated by who we believe ourselves to have been and, instead, to see our Self through the eyes of the Divine as Creators because this, whatever “this” is, has never happened before, whether it be that moment of passion or of fury or of love or simply opening the refrigerator door.

None of it could have happened in any version of the story without you.

I choose Now.


Image by Jana.