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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.

Super moon eclipse – January 20

Here we are at another full moon. It’s also a super moon which means it’s closer to our planet than usual. And tonight there will be a lunar eclipse.

Very cool. Worth watching.

This one is actually the second half of a full moon I described last year. If you made it this far, yay you! If you made it this far with your partner, yay both of you!

Here comes the fun part!

It’s likely that you’ll be fidgety and short tempered and completely lacking patience for anything. Yay!

What’s so damn good about that? Well, not much. But it does get worse so hold on a second.

Remember how last year I talked about the possibility of seeking relationships outside the one you’re currently in? Yup, it’s gonna happen again. And if your relationship lasted through it last time and you think it will again, don’t. It won’t survive a second round. Woo!

So where the hell is the good news I’m so excited about?

If you listened to me when I explained all this last year then I know you took my advice and that means you are waay ahead of the curve on this one. All you need to do now is hold on for the sweet ride, try not to get distracted, and be there for your friends who didn’t head the warning.

My advice this time around: Be aware that impatience and emotional stress and frustration are all impermanent. They stop by for a visit, we say hello, swap tales, and then they go away.

This is a great time to show your friends and family what you’ve learned; patience, understanding, compassion, gratitude, love.

Heavy on the love. It will take you and your loved ones far.

There it is, part two of a season in hell.

It will pass soon and when it does it will feel very much like waking up.

Get outside if you can and take a look. It will be worth seeing. Here’s a good website with times and locations:

https://earthsky.org/tonight/supermoon-lunar-eclipse-january-20-21

Be well!

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

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.

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.

Silence

There is a silence here. A silence in the air. In the ground I walk upon broken with heavy boots leaving the slightest crackle of lightest snow snuffed little by little with each step as my path hardens into firmest ice.

Above me a sky of photograph blue spreads so far I can see the curve of this incredible planet I call home.

Big Sky. Yes. No denying that moniker. I’ve seen many skies and Montana has the biggest skies I’ve ever seen.

Early winters are the norm here. I guess I forgot that having lived so many years just east of the natural weather break the Badlands provide. Here, there is nothing to stop the winds amplified by unimaginable miles of rolling hills meeting high plains.

So here I am. At the edge of what I knew facing the experience of what I will know.

Sounds familiar. Sounds like Life.

Unless we live under the warm blankets of comfort, never venturing out to explore what we may yet know, we fortify ourselves. Build walls.

We in-experience.

To never step into the cold, the blizzard winds that tear at us, each frozen tear of the Universe itself falling from heights we really can not imagine like an infantry of icy pebbles, or grains of purest sand that burn our feet with impressions of the memories of worlds that left them, is to never experience the gift that life is.

How fortunate I am that the Divine, both furious ice and flame, has put me here to see with eyes and feel with hands what those with only the machinations or extrapolations of minds may express or experience through words.

I hope my words suffice.