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.
“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.
Surrender isn’t the same as giving up but it sure can feel like it.
The insurance adjusting never paid off. Thousands of dollars, 6 licenses, 32 certifications, over 600 hours of training, and I never worked a single job. Some things just aren’t meant to be.
I’ll take what I learned there and try to apply it somewhere else but in order for me to do it right and to continue pursuing my goals to turn to writing full time I need to be able to support myself and can’t do that alone on the substandard wages I made in Mobile.
So I came back North to finish out the season hoping I could make enough before freeze to at least pay off the debt I created trying to change careers and bank some to see me through winter, but it’s not happening. Freeze came early. The season is pretty much over.
Unless something unexpected happens I have no choice but to commit to driving truck for the full season next year. The man I am working for in Montana is providing a comfortable trailer rent-free as part of my pay so saving money will be easier.
I’ll head back to Mobile for a few months when I know for sure the work season is over and return in the spring.
I was optimistic and hopeful when I moved to Mobile last year and while I’m not giving up on my goals I can’t help feeling like I failed even if it is just a temporary setback.
But that’s just a feeling and I am neither defined nor controlled by it.
I will make the best of what I am given and keep moving forward no matter what.
I left Mobile with a smile late in the afternoon yesterday after a last reshuffling of plans and unpacking/repacking of the car.
The original plan, based entirely on cautious habits acquired over the years, was to bring everything with me in case things didn’t work out.
I’ve gotten very good at eliminating all but the essentials. When I left ND to come here I left a fully furnished, down to silverware, toilet paper, and made bed house behind.
This time something had changed. I found myself wanting to load up everything and that wasn’t going to happen because it seems that when the wiring harness in my SUV melted down a few months ago it took out my trailer lights and I wasn’t about to risk another meltdown by attempting to repair them, which meant I couldn’t rent a U-Haul.
There was no way I was going to take everything with and that bothered me.
It wasn’t until a friend stopped by to send me off with a hug and a smoothie (Thank you, Professor!) and began pointing out things that I shouldn’t bother bringing with that it all began to make sense.
I was attempting to pack up something that is impossible to get into a box or a bag and I could spend the rest of my life trying to squeeze it into every available space I could find and never get it all in because its is larger than a $20 blanket or a rug I picked up from the curb:
I’ve spent so many years without a home that I forgot what it felt like. I even developed this inner philosophy that said wherever I go I’m always going home because the only sense of home I had for so long was the one I carried with me.
Over the last dozen years every time I’ve headed off to a job in the oilfield it eventually lead to another. Then another. And another. Until I ended up alone and isolated.
These things I’ve felt over the last week, the things that have kept me up at night, that frustrated and irritated, aren’t there because I feel alone.
I am not alone.
I have made strong friendships and have the support of people who love me as much as I love them.
The feeling isn’t that of being alone but of becoming alone, again, which is something that scares the crap out of me and keeps me up at night.
I had forgotten what it feels like to belong somewhere. I never would have guessed that place would be Mobile, Alabama and maybe it won’t be forever, but there it is, home.
So I unpacked everything and moved it all to the attic of the mansion I rent rooms in, much to the delight of the owners who were so honestly relieved and happy to know I would be coming back that they hurried to help me.
I left later in the day than I wanted but made it to Missouri around midnight.
When I looked in the back of my little Rodeo I saw that I brought so few things I had room to arrange a makeshift bed. I walked Brown Dog, the best traveling partner I could ever ask for, offered gratitude to the powers that be, shifted a few things to make enough room to stretch out in, then lay down and slept better than I have in days.
The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle my life looks like most of the time are falling gently, and hurriedly, into place.
My trip North was cancelled at the last minute when the Universe stepped in and loudly said “NO!” in the form or local opportunities I could not pass on and while this caused (and still is causing) some financial strain it was the right thing to do.
At this moment I am boiling in my air conditioner free farm truck at a blazing 60 miles per hour with two of four windows open on my way to Atlanta. I’d open all four but two of them don’t respond to my wishes. I may have a talk with them later.
I will be attending a State Farm certification class and taking the exam on Friday. This alone was worth staying for but when I get back I have a day off before going to a FEMA flood certification class. With these two major certifications along with the score of other training, certifications, and licenses I have picked up over the last several months, I place myself a head above the very large crowd of people vying for positions as claims adjusters.
Maybe I haven’t mentioned my plan 🙂
I am done driving truck. Period. My goal is to turn to writing full time but trucking ties up too much of my time. So will adjusting when I’m in the field. But I’m only going to do catastroph work. Helping people rebuild their homes and their lives doesn’t disagree with me at all and the pay is good enough that I won’t need to work all year. The rest of the time I will devote to furthering my writing with the end goal of this stage as becoming a full time writer.
This stage. I don’t know what comes after this but I’m looking forward to finding out.
So here’s me, boiling in my car with 2/60 AC (2 windows down/60mph) and staticky music playing through ancient speakers and instead of wondering if my car will actually make the trip or if I’ll have money to cover rent or food or being worried that none of this will pay off or about the loose ends and things I have in storage in North Dakota, I am grateful simply for the opportunity and the fact that the Divine speaks so clearly to me and has never once let me down or led me astray.
The rest is just life.
Note: Please don’t be James, don’t blog and drive.
I often hear the voice of the Divine and find wisdom in unexpected sources. An overheard conversation between a couple in passing. A single line of something I’m reading or a song I’m listening to. The way someone might shoo a mosquito off the shoulder of a complete stranger without their knowing.
Or the old black man with the foul mouth and the fixed smile who writes my load tickets on the dock where I load my truck. He is a lifetime docker, worn and broken. His hard life shows on his face.
We are talking about the long haul I am about to make. The rate I make on this haul is minimal. I am enthusiastic about neither prospect.
Okay, I’m bitching about it.
He just laughs, stops what he is doing, looks me in the eyes and says “Take your time, enjoy the scenery, look at those azaleas, watch the birds and the trees, it pays the same either way, you might as well enjoy it.”
That’s my advice. Those are my words coming from his mouth. I am stopped cold. My frustration dissipates. The Universe has spoken directly to me through this man and I am grateful.
The message received, I take a deep breath and smile with this gift and continue on my way. Taking my time. Enjoying the scenery. The day passes peacefully.
The Universe is always talking to us. Telling us to be patient. To breathe. Telling us it cares. That we are loved.
Days when the lightness in our heart can lift us to the skies
Days when it’s so heavy that the weight threatens to sink us to the core of the earth where we’d gladly lose ourselves in that molten hell
Days when the sun shines and lights our way
Days when the sunshine hurts our eyes and makes us wish we were invisible
Days of love and joy
Days of suffering and pain
We have very little control over the events of our days and sometimes simple things can trigger either incredible happiness or intense sorrow.
What we can control is how we deal with those events. The more aware I am of this and the more I practice mindfulness and meditation the more awake I become and the more better my days are. But its not a cure, it’s a practice. A practice that never ends.
I hope you have a more better day too but if this turns out to be one of “those” days then remember; we all have them. They pass.
When we are born we discover the most amazing things: the world develops before our very eyes and as we grow it expands as if we, ourselves, are the gods that create it moment by moment.
In our teens we discover complex emotions that threaten our very existence: rage, pain, immense joy and sadness, and, for the very first time, even though we may not recognize it for what it is, Love.
We go through school being taught pointless rhetoric: math, science, history. All the while being taught none of those things that could lead us to deeper paths; mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion. Those are supposed to be taught by our parents. Parents who never learned those things either.
Learn them. They will lead you farther than you imagine.
Later still, we discover that we wished we had learned more of those worthless ideas. Paid closer attention. What was that formula for finding the volume of a circle again? That will come in handy later. I promise you that. So pay attention if you can. But there’s more.
We discover the value of money. Of friendship and of hard work and of possession. We go into the world discovering fine food, good company, bright lights.
Too often people don’t make it past those last discoveries. They base their lives on the hedonistic values of life: a big house, a nice car, good clothes, physical pleasure. Discovery ends. Life has been explored and all that it offers has been found.
Those discoveries become empty. Meaningless. Superficial. Life becomes meaningless. Emotions become an intolerable consequence. A side effect of life.
If we are insightful, or have a fortunate predilection for it, or have a loved one willing to force our awareness, or we are just plain lucky, or unlucky, we push deeper. Struggle harder to find meaning.
Our path of discovery narrows to two distinct paths: inward or outward.
The outward path leads us to medical discovery. To miracle cures. To pills that end our suffering. To gurus and healers and shaman. The path can branch over and over from here but it always leads us to the discovery of the inward path though very very few can make that transition.
If you find yourself at that transitional fork in your path I hope, I truly hope, you find your way to the inward path. Reach into that place and you will find a hand willing to lead you farther than you ever imagined. I promise you that.
The inward path leads us to ever deeper discovery: understanding, self love, honesty, acceptance, awareness, unity, Love. True Love.
Discoveries that lead us to higher planes of existence. Planes where loss and suffering are accepted as simply a part of life and where the value of a single breath, drawn long and slow while listening to and feeling the beat of our own miraculous heart connect us to the very soul of the Universe, is beyond measure.
What we discover there can never be fully expressed in words but in that place are experiences outside the realm of comprehension and yet understood as if we were once again children creating, moment by moment, the very fabric of our own distinct, yet combined, reality.
My wish for you is this:
Continue your journey. Never cease in your struggle of discovery, because even further beyond that point lay infinity: a point of chaotic generation and regeneration of life where the distance between infancy and eons are but fractions of moments of the life of a single drop of moisture on a spiders web and all that we have discovered between birth and true life, the life that always awaits, that bekons and welcomes all, are a single reflection on the surface of that dew that shimmers a while before dropping into an endless ocean that rises as mist to condense on the web over and over again.
In that chaos of constant re-creation resides the Divine where She rests on this, the Seventh Day, with arms wide and welcome, to bring us into Her embrace.
It is a place of constant discovery and awe and wonder where a word as simple and complex as “Love” or “Gratitude” can define our very existence.
Though I tend to speak of it in terms of enlightenment and higher planes of consciousness it is not some mythical place reached only through lifetimes of deep meditation and study. It does not require the use of psychoactive compounds or healers or teachers.