040 – There’s just so much…

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.

If you got this far, please “follow” (button on the lower right of the home screen) and you’ll get an email when I post a new blog. I’d like to stay in touch with you personally, also.

033 – And another thing

Written: 2 January 2021

I am really struggling. Big time. I want to post more on this blog – the really way down deep kind of want. But it clearly hasn’t happened as yet. And it’s me. – nothing but me – that gets in the way.

Fundamentally (I think) the desire to make WITWIA.COM something much better than it currently is comes from wanting to connect with people who read it – by and large my friends, past friends, and acquaintances. It is not only great whenever I do talk or write with you, but it avoids the pernicious guilt I feel by NOT doing it! I have emails that are months old and still highlighted for me to reply. I’m so sorry.

While there are no reliable statistics easily at hand, I’m pretty sure (that is sarcasm) I’m not the only one that doesn’t stay in touch as much as I’d like. It’s not very consoling to be part of a crowd, however.

Also, maybe I can make a few new friends from people that bump into this blog and feel like responding because they relate to something here and want to connect, themselves. That would be really nice, and consider yourself encouraged if you fall into that category.

Getting started as a “writer” is hard or I’d do it better. (Doh) And at this stage in my life I want to continue to gain new skills, to take on the unusual (to me). I want to decide to change and do something about it, not just talk about it. Having a tendency to be judgmental, I am especially adroit at turning that tendency against myself which makes this whole process more complicated and slows it down.

And – as I am doing right now (damn it!) – I get immersed in rabbit holes very easily. Having a facile mind makes life in general very interesting, and also creates real hurdles to being expressive AND succinct. I’ve never been great at reining it in.

My imagination says this is already boring, but I’m going to persist and edit this down – it remains to be seen whether or not this sentence makes it through the revisions. But I WILL get it out, today! I can’t improve unless there is something “out there” to improve!

Part of the block that shows up about writing is that I have so MUCH to say! It all gets jammed up and ends up getting in the way of letting anything through. But others do it, so I will too. HOW is the operative question.

When my daughter was about 10-12 years old, maybe younger – I took her to the local library in Venice California and attended a lecture from Ray Bradbury who lived nearby to our great fortune. One of the things I remember him saying was that writing doesn’t get easier, he just wanted it very much and basically got addicted to writing. And he was GOOD at it! There’s probably something to pay attention to there. (‘Ya think?”) He always claimed he wrote 1000 words a day since he was twelve. (point of reference, this blog posting is 1194 words – I counted just before I published it. Well, MS Word counted.) I thought that was a LOT – until I Googled “how many words per day to good writers write?” Sheesh! Yes, I have set a goal – but I’m not tellin’! Announcing it makes it about performance or promises and I just want to change my skills and interests.

A friend who is a writer (professional) recently told me to start by being clear on what I wanted to say. That seems to be very useful advice – we’ll see how well it works on this first blog since he mentioned it. (Thanks, Roger. Let me know.)

At any rate – here goes, again. At least I’m going to put this “out there” and worry about getting it right later. Please forgive my ineptitude and encourage me anyway!

The challenge of writing would come up anywhere – it’s not unique to my experiences of being in Africa. Living in this small town is a lot like living in a small town anywhere except with more sand, oryx, jackals, ostriches and hyenas in decreasing order of exposure. But they are all here – plus a lot more. While I could write years’ worth of daily blogs about living in Africa, my purpose at this point is to talk about who I’m becoming, what I’m planning, and how writing fits into it.

Of course one of the reasons I want to develop this blog, and my skills in writing, is to add interest and purpose to my proposed trip starting some time in 2021. Details (such as they are) in a future blog. But I plan/hope to take freighters, trains, and avoid aircraft whenever possible. Airliners go too fast and too high to see what’s going on around me. At 71 I’m hoping to depart on a “voyage of discovery”, and of celebration. I mean what the hell – I can, so why wouldn’t I?

Very few goals have been established for this proposed trip, but one of them is to spend a month or two in California and see a lot more of my daughter. (No worries kiddo, not every day and not for a solid two months!) But when I leave I want my boat off of my life’s plate. I lived aboard that 42 foot (13 meter) sailboat for the vast majority of 25 years, and it worked really well for me. But that life is behind me. All of my “stuff” (For some fun, google “George Carlin on stuff”.) is stored on the boat and is inconsequential except for memorabilia and heritage materials I want to give to my daughter. I have everything I need here at my two bedroom home in Oranjemund. Actually more than I need.

There is a practical interest in writing also. It is strangely not difficult for me to “admit” (state is more accurate) that I’m getting older and my body just won’t do what it used to do. Writing seems a logical choice for staying engaged and challenged, and is within my physical limitations – at least at this point! And I’m hardly the first one to think of this! Lots of precedents. If “they” can do it, so can I.

So – I’m off, and you’re invited to go with me as I plan, dream, think, possibly grieve at appropriate moments, and generally try to make sense of my place in the world as I live in it now. Don’t forget there are 30+ posts before this one with a bit of history (albeit poorly documented) of my almost six years in Namibia so far. I have hopes for the next six years, or more.

Please do “Follow” (button on the lower right) and you’ll get an email when I post a new blog – and ONLY when I post a new blog.

Final note: if there is a particular subject you want me to write about, please add it to the list on the IDEAS page (see the menu at the top). Or just comment on this page – I’d love to hear from you.