Define #Home.

homeI stayed my first night in a place that I actually own and pondered what ‘home’ is. I’ve worked decades toward this end.

‘Home’ is an ethereal concept for me. In college, in the military, at work, people often ‘went home’ for holidays.  I was already, I thought, ‘home’, because where else would I be?

Sitting in the new place, I wondered why I did not yet feel comfortable. There was a feeling of incompleteness, a void yet not an emptiness.

It was quiet and still and new. ‘New’ has never been a problem for me, my life has been about ‘new’ – change has been a constant as I wandered from place to place, living out of bags,  adjusting here and there. I always knew where my towel was.

Yet in that first night I could not understand why it felt so different. I slept well, and when I awoke it still seemed un-home.

Weeks later, having almost completely settled in, I know what it is – because it is home now.

It isn’t the things I moved in, it isn’t the furniture. It isn’t the people who come over because no one has and very few will. It’s because I did not have a writing nook, a place where I could sit and feel right enough about the universe to write what was on my mind. It was also the quiet, and the lack of intrusion on my thoughts by some incessant noise, and more importantly, the worry of it happening.

It was an anxiety of sorts, a feeling that the other shoe had not yet dropped – and the last place I rented on the ground floor certainly had a lot of shoes dropping above.

Home.Home is where I can write, where I can read in peace, and where I am comfortable – and the latter has taken me time because there’s no disruption. There is privacy, an air of security that I’ve never had, and a feeling of standing on solid earth where before life required sea legs. I worry a bit of this last thing, but venturing out in the world allows my sea legs to maintain themselves.

Home is where I don’t need the metaphorical sea legs, where the noise created is my own…

And where I finally finished this post I had begun writing 2 weeks ago.

You Never Know Enough

New Smyrna Beach Dawn (09/05/2016)It’s easy to simply stop, to ride things out, and stay at the level that you’re at. It’s the most common of mistakes and also one that so many embrace; it’s embraced because there is more to life than growth; there is more to life than growth otherwise we would be no more than cancer cells – and likely as damaging.

Yet, life requires growth.

Being unready and ill-equipped is what you have to expect in life. It is the universal predicament. It is your lot as a human being to lack what it takes. Circumstances are seldom right. You never have the capacities, the strength, the wisdom, the virtue you ought to have. You must always do with less than you need in a situation vastly different from what you would have chosen as appropriate for your special endowments.   – Charlton Ogburn, The Maurauders (1959)

To stay alive, growth means moving forward. To be alive, one has to grow.

At any point in time, where we are is determined by who we have become.

Where we will be is determined by who we become.

Who we become is determined on by how willing to grow beyond where we are.

How bad do you want it?

Reboot Stages

ReBoot SpriteIt’s happening again.

At times in life, things change so much that a re-evaluation happens – or should. I suppose for people considered normal in society, such times might be when they are getting married, or when they’re having a child. For me, it almost always  seems to have to do with supporting myself or some new knowledge that requires a re-evaluation of everything that has happened since.

References

It’s a minefield. We remember things sometimes not as they happened but as we want to remember how they happened – a fact that keeps lawyers and psychologists gainfully employed, where objectivity is as subjective as our memory. This is where objective notes can be of worth, disciplined writing that requires one to report to a piece of paper or other medium what happened in sometimes annoying detail. Writing logs in the Navy and with the Marine Corps prepared me for that, from security logs to SOAP notes in medical records.

Writing notes is important. Recently, someone griped to me about how their manager required full reports from them and, 2 days later, would ask them again. This has been happening for years, and he reported to me a conversation where the manager said, “I don’t remember 90% of what you tell me.” My thought was – think it with me, don’t say it out loud – “Write that shit down!“.

I have found in writing things down I do remember things in detail without referring to my notes; though admittedly if I write things for other people they read through a filter of their own reading comprehension if they cross the threshold of their willingness to read. You can’t document for people who don’t RTFM. Or, on the internet, follow hyperlinks or actually read the posts you share. Fair notice: I mock people who don’t do the latter 2 things openly, viciously, and with a great deal of annoyance.

So I have notes, scribbled into Moleskine notebooks, documents in manila folders, documents on computer systems (no cloud; it’s insecure, silly)… and I find myself perusing  these things and looking not at the way I wanted my life to go but how it actually went, from the sources of meals to friendships that lasted to those that did not, from ideas that are now rejected to ideas that have survived decades. I’ll gratuitously link Moleskine notebooks I use on Amazon.com because they have survived decades. 

Well written notes from other people can be awesome. Poorly written notes from other people should be printed on toilet paper and used appropriately. Must I draw it for you? 

Re-evaluation

Meditation in the Deer-ParkIf you have good notes, the hardest part is re-evaluating… everything,

Everything that happened. Everything affected. How it affected you. How it affected others. How everything was affected between then and the now. Everything.

This requires the hardest thing of all: Honest reflection. Being hard on one’s self, being realistic about results, and being able top hold multiple conflicting ideas in one’s head at the same time. It is, by no stretch, easy. It takes time, energy, time, introspection, time, questioning the introspection, time and… did I mention time?

Growing is hard, painful and has no patience for ego or dishonesty to one’s self. Being dishonest means atrophy or stasis – really one and the same – and dooming one’s self to the failures of one’s own history. Doors will remain disguised as walls, walls may be disguised as doors like a cartoon.

This part gets harder every time, I’ve found. The volume of what you have to process increases with time, and, if you have learned anything from previous re-evaluations, means a more assiduous process every time. Worse, as we get older our opinions can become more hardened and more difficult to change, making the introspection more difficult. Sure, someone out there might write a book about how it gets easier – maybe they know something I don’t – but it’s harder and harder every time for me, but more and more necessary as I grow.

Paths open, paths close, plans are experimented with… some make it through this process, some don’t. Which leads us to…

Decisions, Decisions

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.

– Laurence J. Peter

“Whee do I want to be next? What do I want to do? What’s the next set of goals?”

Such questions were easier when I was a child, even as a teenager when I knew everything and felt the confidence people seek in politicians. More experienced, having put my hands on the stove burners of life a few times, it’s harder every time – and easier at the same time. As we grow older, we’re supposed to have more questions than answers but we’re supposed to be better at asking the right questions.

Or, at the least, we think so. In talking with people who seem to have their lives together, I’ve found that when they are honest they don’t feel that way. Life is a floor of banana peels, plans are order we try to push onto a canvas of uncertainty – misunderstood order we learn about as we grow, or we break. There are skeletons against the walls of Life, broken bones apparent – we see them in life as those that we somehow outgrew.

The rare ones we know are like us, figuring stuff out, maybe even leaning on each other. Statistically, I think that it’s fair to say that as we progress there are fewer and fewer people in these Halls of Life still navigating their way – some ahead, some off to the side.

We don’t really know what we’re doing. We just know what we’ve done and tried to learn from it – some better than others. Some have been afraid to get bruised and fall, they stand in place or even dare sit down in life as we trundle by. Some even grab our feet, drowning in their stagnation they try to hold us. The angry kick them, the strong pull away easily, the fearful slap at them and attempt to run away. Some might spend the time to convince them to get back up and face life.

Yet we must move on, and even undecided, we make our decisions with the best of intentions and hopefully with the best information and sincere re-evaluation, or as close to them as possible.

Slide.

In time, you will realized that’s all anyone is doing, no matter how far ahead or behind you think they are.

Grief

GuiltWhen we lose someone, we feel varying degrees of sorrow. There’s no real scale; it’s the common wisdom of counseling that there are varying scales of sorrow and that some who have a mental illness feel things more… but that’s all based on how we react to emotion and is hardly an empirical measure across different people.

We all feel things differently.

Here’s my thought: When we lose someone, we lose everything that person meant to us – consciously and unconsciously. We grieve this loss, sometimes without even understanding the losses involved, and now and then we are reminded of the loss. It’s only when we come to terms with what was lost that we can move beyond grieving. The things that remind us are the things we need to address – not necessarily to forget, but to understand what exactly was lost.

As they say, you do not know what you have until it is gone – but the depth of that is lost in a two dimensional expression, and is impossible to communicate to others without the context of that loss. The more complicated the relationship, the harder to communicate – the more commonality, the easier.

In a way it’s very strange to me that it took me all this time to figure that out, and in a way it makes sense that it did.

And it was a great lesson from a candle that burned fast and bright in my own life, and one I shall not forget – and shall cherish.

It’s only when we learn the lessons we need to that we evolve beyond grief.

What Dost Thou Do; What Hast Thy Done?

Attempts at Self Portrait (6)Invariably, people who have reconnected or just connected with me have gone through the Q&A with me that I used to find painful.

Whether I’m married (no), how many children I have (looks around), what I’ve been doing with myself (where do I even start?), what I’m doing…

These questions have never made sense to me, particularly the last two. Whether I’m married or not is no gauge of completeness or even content – I have empirical evidence on both ends of the spectrum. Whether I have children assumes that I would want to try to explain the mess of humanity to a little human without having to apologize all the time – and nevermind the biological requirement of said little human having a mother who I would have to put up with, and more importantly, she would have to put up with me… I’m sure I don’t know. Absolutely sure.

The last two, though. Now, all of these questions are related to how people view the world, their lives, and what a life is. In that, the last two are bothersome.

So here’s how I’ve come up with my new answers.

What have I been doing with myself?

How many times have I thought to say, “that’s a rather personal question… what have you been doing with yourself?”, but opted not to?

I’ve been living. I’ve been growing.

No, really, I’ve been living. I’ve been growing.

See, as a kid, when everyone was being asked what they wanted to do, and the answers ranged from policeman to fireman to doctor to lawyer… I wanted to be an oceanographer. And then life happened.

I ended up working with electrical motors, then offset printing, then computer programming, then software engineering (there is a difference, kids)… In college, I started as a EET, then went to CIS, then dropped out. then I joined the Navy as a Sonar Technician, switched over to Naval Nuclear Propulsion, then switched again to Hospital Corpsman.

Then life happened again; I worked at a blood bank where I trained phlebotomists and made custom furniture for mobile blood drives – then went to Honeywell, where I got to play with Inertial Navigation and GPS stuff, then went to…. well, I did a lot of things. And then somewhere along the way, someone started paying me to write, and I picked up photography and people paid me for that, too. Then I inherited some land, and I applied a lot of what I know about learning to learn more about agriculture, land management, and generally, how to get results without confrontation.

Just a few days ago, a lawyer sat across from me and said, “You don’t need me, you do all of this stuff by yourself.” No, no, of course I need her. I just think her talents are wasted on the mundane things I can solve myself by simply not being a jerk and working with people. It’s a novel concept that most religions were centered around at some point – we see how that went. But I digress.

And all this time I’ve been reading, thinking, exploring the world as much as I can in all ways that I can – not just physically. So what have I been doing?

The answer is looking for something. It’s looking for some sort of answer to gauge where I am in society. Am I someone who wields influence? No, not really, I wouldn’t like to think so. Am I rich? No, my bank account is something that I have a detached relationship with. What sort of car do I drive? How big is my house? How much tax do I pay?

So yeah, I’ve been living and growing. I might as well tell people I’m a nomad.

“I’ve been nomadic.” Leave that right there. Give them the hand wave with it and look at them as if they should know what that means. It should be fun.

And…

What am I doing?

Well, to be honest, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing. No one wants to hear that. The truth is that no one knows what they are doing. We’re all winging it. Some are on the beaten paths, though, so that’s what’s really being asked: “Which beaten path are you on?”

Well, I’m not. Truth be told, I never really have been – a few times I tried them, but they just didn’t suit me. They smell wrong, they make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and the authoritarianism within them fills me with dread. Beaten paths are boring, too.

Meanwhile, I’m the sort of person who just pops up out of the brush now and then to see where everyone is.

Clearly I need a better answer than that. Clearly people want me to impress them somehow, tell them how awesome what I’m doing is, but they won’t see the value in not knowing and figuring it out as I go along.

One of my initial thoughts to answer this question was, “Avoiding answering this question”, but that just seems a bit too… jerkish.

I don’t have an answer to this other than moving stones, and I think that’s the answer I’ll go with.

Silent Tiers of Sea Ghosts

six years of imprisonmentWe are all

Doing things we do not like,
Holding ourselves from those around us,
Living within the bounds we have chosen,
Chasing things we do not need.

We are all
Castaways from our own lives,
Derelicts from those around us,
Captives within the prisons of our own choosing,
Wandering hungry ghosts within those prisons.

We are all

Choosing how we are castaways,
Who we are separate from and by how much,
Architects of our own views,
Engineers of our own hunger…

And we all
Make our own keys and
Steer our destinies.

Arrested but not Convicted Development

34/365 Feb 3, 2011You knock on the shell.

You know it’s there, you can feel it restricting you, but you don’t know what it is.

It frustrates you.

You know you have to be free of it, you know that you have to grow and that you’re being held back. Not the feeling of frustration from bouncing around in it as you move, but that restrictive pressure even as you try to breathe – a key difference lost on the young. You can’t see, everything is hazy, and your hearing, feeling… diminish.

It’s crushing despair. It’s unbearable.

You have to breathe. Have to. There is no question. You draw in that breath and push outward, feeling the restrictions fall away. Feeling space to… breathe. To move around freely. To bounce against the new outer wall in time.

Time served.