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Saturday, December 18, 2010

DRIFTING TOO FAR FROM THE SHORE


467 in the snow
Yesterday listening to NPR talk shows in the background, something one man said stuck with me. I don't remember the context. Only remembered he was talking about himself at a certain age where he realized he was not moving in the direction he saw for himself in his early years. When he saw it, he changed his direction to get more in line with how he saw himself as he wanted to be grown up. It resonated powerfully in me. It recalled a similar circumstance in myself at a certain age when I realized this was not how I saw myself going. I changed tracks and a year later turned up in the mountains with no idea where I was except on a map. I've wondered for many years where I got the notion of what I saw for myself through life.
It was an early age when I saw myself living alone all the way along as the best way to live. Parents didn't give me a very good example to go by for a happy marriage. I lived through an unhappy one living in their house, enough that I knew their example wasn't how I wanted to live. I also learned along the way that their example was the only training I had. I figured all parents were like mine, not that they were "bad." I was born with immense curiosity and grew up in a house where no one else had any curiosity about anything. Do what you're supposed to do and don't question it. A good soldier doesn't question orders. I never bought that way of thinking, never wanted to be a soldier, good or bad.
In the entire extended family, I was known as "the reader." Many a time I was told if I have time to read a book, I have time to cut the grass, time to wash the car. So I read at school and in parking lots when I was able to have a car. I got quite a lot read my senior year of high school with them not knowing I was reading anything. Then one day reading a paperback of Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn, I thought nothing of leaving the book lying about the house, as no one ever touched a book or was curious what was inside one. Busted. Daddy picked it up and it fell open to the page with the scene I opened it to every time I picked it up to read. "Is this what they're teaching at school?" "No." "Why you reading it?" "Borrowed it from a friend." "Give it back to him." "OK." From then on I kept it in the glove box in the car and finished reading it in parking lots. Many years later I wrote to Henry Miller and told him the experience.
By the time I pushed the ejection button and got out away from parents and on my own, I didn't know where to turn, what to do. All I knew was what I didn't want. And that was about everything. Starting very early, I can't remember how early, I determined I'd never work for a corporation. Daddy worked for GM in the 50s during repub recession after repub recession, getting laid off, letting a car go back, driving a milk truck, driving a cab. GM give a shit? I reckon not. It was a cold enough world in their house, I sure didn't want to spend the rest of my life after I get on my own giving my time and labor to a hierarchy that doesn't give the least little fart about my minimum wage ass. I couldn't live depersonalized. It was all I could do to hang on to who I am through all the assaults on self-esteem at home. It had to come to disregarding everything he said, and aiming myself to be his opposite in every way.
That was easy, until the day came when I realized the head is opposite the tail on a coin, but they're 2 halves of the same coin. I freaked. I went along avoiding everything I didn't like or want to be like. I gave myself no direction in the world around me. My primary concern once on my own was to become sane. Couldn't afford psychoanalysis, so I worked with myself along the way, blindly in the dark, without discipline, seeing first I needed some education. And managed my way through that without self-discipline. The view of myself in the future from childhood was a life of not chasing money, just living on enough to get by. Didn't have any ambition, except that of a kid growing up watching television---money. How to get it was another deal. The book, Think And Grow Rich was popular in paperback about the time I was getting out of high school. I read it with limited comprehension and eventually saw I couldn't do it. One had to make it a mantra in the mind, to psych oneself to wealth by obsessing on being rich. I couldn't get interested in having such nonsense in my mind all the time.
By age 33 I realized I had never gone in any direction, had been on drift all the way along, not making constructive decisions for myself. At about that time, drift ran aground. I was nowhere and saw no way out. Didn't believe in God by then, so couldn't honestly pray about it. Perhaps it could be best called a Dead End, or as it's known in Florida, No Outlet. There y'are. Back up, turn around and find my way back to the road. It turns out I couldn't take much interest in "the world" because it had been preached to me repeatedly throughout childhood by the all-knowing preacher who made a big issue of not getting caught up in the world. How you going to make a living? He did it passing the plate. The rest of us had to work.
One day curious occurrences began to occur, one a day over a period of 10 days, each one a mystery pointing I knew not where, until I reached the 10th one, and it was face to face with God saying, If you want a good life, come with me. Once I saw for certainty that God Is, I realized I could only live my life thereafter by what I know. It changed everything. A year later my parachute landed me in the mountains where I have never forgotten for a moment what I saw that day, not with eyes, but with understanding. That made all the difference. I never really foresaw anything for myself but a longing to live a life at peace, peace in my head and peace with the people I live among. It's been a meandering trail, but I do have that peace I'd spent my younger life wanting as the most important thing I could want, not even knowing what it was.

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