29 May 2021
Preface: This writing, and most of my posts nowadays, are pretty introspective and not focused. I warned you I am using this post as a way to get used to writing and staying in touch with friends. More skill in focusing, and focus, will evolve but this blog must serve my purposes primarily – and I’m honestly not looking to get thousands of followers and “monetize” the effort. More power to those who do that, and I learn a lot from what they have to say. But I’m marching to the beat of my own drummer, and this is the cadence that is driving me.
As usual, I woke up this morning and within the first 30 min was simultaneously energized and despondent. Going through my checklist of routines – trying to make the most of my life – I once again realized how much really cool stuff there is to be interested in! Riding along in the same coach with that thought, however, was the realization of how much I missed by not being aware of so many things until late in life. THAT, of course, is a road to nowhere good. It is a common morning response for me.
It was partly that recurring dichotomy that made me start meditating again, this time regularly. For at least a month now I meditate at least 10 minutes, sometimes more, and usually in the mornings, occasionally also for a longer time in the afternoon or evening. The first few minutes of which invariably involves me desperately wanting to write down the list of “stuff I want to look into or do” that goes through my mind, and has to be acknowledged and set aside. In the back of my mind is the knowledge that it will come up again when I’m not giving myself some quiet time to settle in.
After meditating I launch into the day which, also invariably, involves internet engagement. Damn, but “they” put some interesting links right next to where there is stuff I was originally looking for! No end of the encouragement for stimulation and distraction at the expense of actually getting something done.
Sometimes it seems my life is all about letting go. At this age, and position in life, I have to let go of the dream of … Interesting, I just hit a blank spot and almost fell asleep. Maybe some avoidance? Maybe too much naval gazing?
I am developing a real resistance to looking back because “there be dragons!” I notice the energy that comes up with looking forwards, towards the “really cool things” there are to do. I don’t know if I will end up doing something I’ve never managed to do yet, which is to get really, really good at something. I’d like to. Three things come to mind easily: (1) Writing, (2) Traveling (which I’ll define in a moment), and (3) playing the guitar, or at least some musical instrument.
The latter recurring dream needs some work to turn it into a reality. I bought the first guitar I didn’t learn to play in my 20s, in college. Replaced another planned guitar purchase with a keyboard setup to put in my boat when I planned to be part of the cruising community wandering around the world. Just before I came to Namibia six years ago with the Peace Corps, I had purchased a basic, inexpensive, guitar intending to take it with me and learn. By this time I’d learned to not spend so much until I actually had made some progress on playing! I had heard PCVs had a lot of time on their hands in often remote locations and it seems like the perfect thing to do. When I discovered that taking the guitar on the flight overseas would involve more extra cost than the guitar cost me, I decide to pursue getting one when I got to Namibia. I then gave the guitar to a person (referred by a friend) who loved to play but had financial hardships and new medical conditions that were challenging. He was an older guy, and I’m sure he got WAY better use, and enjoyment, out of the instrument than I would have had I sold it. And I feel good about it. So I arrived in Namibia guitarless. And, as it turns out, I have been much busier than I anticipated while here. but the work and my life here has been rewarding at times and never something I regretted. Devoting my time to learning an instrument just never took priority. As fate so often does, a friend in Windhoek (the capital city) told me in January he had an older guitar he would give me on my next trip! Now I’m going back to Windhoek, but only for a few days before departing to return to the USA and start a longer trip. No guitar (once again).
Now I’m embarking on the “travel” dream. I honestly don’t know how it will pan out. For three months I’m going to be on a pre-defined (by me) schedule with lots of time to enjoy friends and trips in a place I’m familiar with – the USA. I am starting the trip prepared to continue it indefinitely if it works out that way come the end of August.
Come to think of it, I came to Namibia saying I was prepared to stay here if it worked out – but I wasn’t planning on it. I was planning for the possibility of it, and I’ve ended up owning a home and getting permanent residence status here. I’m glad I left the gates open to that six years ago. Now, my travel is being approached in the same way. Mostly my hopes for the longer trip involve meeting people that are interesting, experience new ways of living, and being able to have lots of engaging conversations. Seeing places is of interest, but it’s not the draw for me. Plus, for decades, I’ve dreamed of travelling without an end point planned. Since I was about 30 I’ve felt I could live indefinitely out of a suitcase. That belief hasn’t been tested more than business travel that sometimes had me planted in one country or another for several months at a time, but it still felt, and feels, right. I do enjoy having my “nest” to come home to periodically – maybe that’s what Oranjemund will come to mean for me. We’ll see. I’m looking into preliminary plans for continued travel starting in September but won’t commit to something for at least a month or so. It is fun to be starting a whole new life experience at 72!
One of the things I am good at is meeting people easily. Yet I still feel anxious about being able to meet and engage with people on an extended trip. I must be careful of a fundamental hope/expectation that I’ll bump into new lifelong friends that I relate to closely, or even (deep, dark and very private hope) a relationship that works for me for a reasonably long period of time – something that has eluded me for decades largely due to my own obstacles. That, also, has eluded me.
Interestingly enough, however, one part of the journey, the trip on the California Zephyr train from Emeryville California to Chicago Illinois I’ll have a traveling companion: my ex-wife from 40+ years ago! Since we divorced (I was about 30 at the time), we have stayed in touch off and on, sometimes more than a decade went by with no contact. But we both always felt we had been friends. The last few years we’ve reconnected and become very good friends. She’s flying out to California to join me on that trip, and will meet my daughter and her mom (my other “ex”) there! Knowing all of the parties involved I expect it will be fun and interesting for all. I’ll let you know.
And thus, in this writing, I demonstrate the struggle of writing when there are so many “really cool” things going on, and to be anticipated, in my life. I’m going to leave in the detail and stories even though I digressed from the “Just So Much” theme. It exemplifies the problem. I am so fortunate, and grateful, to have a life at 71 that is so full of interesting things to do and look forward to.
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