This is only my fourth attempt to put down in a coherent order the events and new feelings of the past three months.
And I can’t really complain of not having time or space to think it over:
Reactions were common:
“You went where? The south of France? I’d like to go to the south of France!
For how long – 10 Days?
I’ve never taken a 10 day vacation!”
Well maybe you should.
“And you won an award? From the Red Cross?”
I guess I did. A ‘real hero’ award – for my efforts of carrying on Dad’s Across California Trail. It was a great event and a very meaningful bookend to the past few years of tying up some of dads loose ends and hopefully better securing his legacy.
A video of each hero can be seen here:
And then my brother.
If you’ve been reading along you’ll recall how good it felt to see my brother working again and happy, and to feel that I was helping someone with a very real need, as well as rebuilding my own life too. The feeling was long coming, it was real and it was deeper than could be expressed in a few sentences.
That feeling lasted about one month.
It’s not as much a downer as it might sound, and maybe that’s why I hesitated to share, it was just a huge roller coaster – this overwhelming feeling of fulfillment and purpose and then in the space of a few weeks going back to just taking care of me. Actually it wasn’t a roller coaster at all, it was more like the mining cart chase in Indiana jones, and I felt like that one that hit the dead stop and the cart goes caterwauling end over end into the abyss.
And then came the sledgehammer.
March 17. I know it because I wrote it down. Yes on my hand but still.
I was hitting a few stops on my small business route, on a gorgeous green pre spring day in Sonoma and west west Marin counties. It should have been a great day, having a break from the day job, driving past rows of eucalyptus trees and over green hills, listening to music and feeling good about my business, and other things as well. Oops I said it.
What other things?
That’s when it hit me like the mike tyson punch from the hangover. There are no other things.
I walk into one of the retailers to refill products and they say hi but don’t even really talk to me anymore. I’ve gotten it established to the point where it seems silly and even pointless for the artist to continue driving around filling racks. Not beneath me, just not necessary. They know it as well as I do – anyone can do this part.
My day job is the same – grateful to have it but anyone can do it.
Understand, this is very unlike me. I’ve got a history of doing things only I could, or at least in a way that only I would.
And what “other things” you say? Well not to put too fine a point on it but when you’re not providing for a wife, or working so your kids can play little league, learn an instrument or go to college – heck maybe just so they’ll be able to eat every day and be clothed – when it’s just taking care of number one, it can be a pretty empty existence.
But still. France.
Our good friends Jeremiah and Betty had gotten married last year and like many new couples doubled down on the whole adventure part of a new life together. Jeremiah had gotten an engineering job in Toulouse, then a few months ago got transferred to another plant near Nice, between Cannes and the I-talian border. A rough spot indeed.
So we got ten days on the Coté d’ Azur. Ten days to roll out of bed around 9:30, to wake up with an espresso and a fresh croissant, maybe head down to the beach around 2 and look over the girls, hit up a nice dinner spot or have drinks with J when he got home from work.
And it was great. Really.
I even thought about staying longer. Like a month or even more. Maybe hike parts of the Cinque Terre and make it down to Sicily where I’ve got a friend who’s working with Syrian refugees and maybe…
I can’t even finish the sentence it’s so empty.
My favorite line from any movie in a long time is still the one from the shawshank redemption. You know what it is before I even say it.
I could amend it – as I’m wont to do – “get busy living [for something or someone], because living for yourself just ain’t gonna cut it.”
I can hear the attempts at encouragement – and I don’t begrudge anyone the effort – I’d probably say the same things to myself. “You’ve got a job, somewhere to live, you’ve been able to do some great work with state parks and your dad’s legacy and…”
And what? What else?
Maybe since dad’s legacy is better secured, maybe since my brother is over the hump, planning for his wife and daughter’s return, maybe I am feeling released – or at least more free than I’d expected.
Timing is way more important than I used to realize. So it was that just two weeks after this sinking, empty feeling a friend recommended the above book and I didn’t hesitate, I bought it and dove in – I’m trying to learn to think less and just answer the call.
I haven’t finished it but so far it’s working.
So in conclusion no – I’m not interested in a life of servicing myself, taking vacations and posting gorgeous pictures, fun as it may be in the short term.
It’s not time to meditate –
not time to hesitate –
not even time to educate.
It’s time to polinate.
It’s time to put the same effort I’ve put into having adventures as into finding someone to share them with. Hopefully she’s still out there.
I know Red, hope is a dangerous thing.
Well if hope were poker chips I’m going all in.
Buzz buzz buzz