Archive for October, 2009

My Boxed Life

This is gonna be a one-off blog. No draft, no revisions, just post it as it is. I have been complicating things lately. My thought process has been a bit cloudy and I really need to just move forward. In that spirit, I am going to discuss what I will label as my boxed life; boxes of time, boxes of things old and new, boxes of food, and boxes of boxes.

Time is money. Yes, I deal in time. Appointments are sold in chunks of time, no matter what modality I am using. Into my Fall mix I have thrown in working with the high school Cross Country Team. I have to cut things close in order to fit in appointments that pay bills as well as getting to meets, practice, and the boat for off-island events. This is where I have had the most success lately. The juggling act has gone better than I could have anticipated. I would grade myself an A-/B+ in this area. In another few weeks the season will be over, leaving me more time to deal with other “boxes”.

I have mentioned time and again how I am trying to get my life back in order after the house fire in January of 2006. Well, I have plenty left to do and every time I pull into my garage I am reminded. I have boxes of things old and new; old papers that need to be sorted, new household items that need to be unpacked and put in their proper place(s), and things like paint, stain, and varnish that need to be applied to the house that remains in a state of limbo. The tough part about this grouping is how to tackle it efficiently. I have too many projects that take more than a couple of hours to complete and I hate leaving so many things half-done. I end up just “getting-by” and sifting through an odd box every now and again, but the progress seems so slow. The worst is the paint and stain, as they require full days to be allotted in order to be done properly. My grade here is not too good, C/C-

Now, I do not spend much money on food, even when I do have money. Years ago, when I lived in Gainesville, FL, I spend about $25/month on groceries. Now I spend that every week, but I supplement with trips to BJ’s when I get off island. The problem begins when I get back with all of those HUGE boxes of food. Not only do I tend to just feed off them from where they land on the counter, (I have loads of counter space) but I also have a habit of eating until the box is empty. Feast or famine mentality permeates my life these days. Additionally, I have continued to live off four basic foods: rice, yerbe mate tea, rice, and rice. This is not the best of diets, yet I seem to thrive on it. The grade here is a B-/C+

Finally, I have boxes of boxes. With all of the stuff that I had to buy in order to rebuild my life after the fire, there were a plethora of boxes that had to be dismantled. Added to cereal boxes, and other post-consumer product, there are mounds of boxes that are non-recyclable. I try to think of different things to do with it all, but until I decide, it all sits in my garage. I feel like a pack-rat, and I despise pack-ratting (is that a term?). I am going to give myself a near fail for this: D-

Well, that is my mentality at this point, a boxed life. How are you feeling?

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Rising Sun, Falling Snow

There are moments in life that you just never expect. The moments that hold you, embrace you and keep you still while they remind you that there are things beyond all that you take for granted. I find those moments more often when I need them most; times of stress, times of sorrow, times of need.

Some people would find religion in these moments, crediting whatever faith they follow with showing them the way and giving them guidance. Others would find these moments to be inspirational, using them as a catalyst for an idea of the academic or artistic persuasion. I tend to use these moments to find myself, taking note as to how far off from center I have strayed while living my life.

We all need a bit of “pause” to offset the kinetic, frenetic lives we tend to lead these days. So, while you continue checking off your “things to do” in your everyday, never fail to notice the things you seldom do. Stop. Breathe. Look. See.

I get into a seasonal groove that turns into a grind. I work, eat and sleep, barely doing much more than that. It is as if I can never truly get beyond those basic movements until the busy season ends. I get run down and exhausted, clinging to the knowledge that it will all be over in a few short weeks, only then I can breathe again. This past season had a few more challenges in store for me, what with the recession, mounting debt, and an uncertain future. I lost my center sooner, and drifted further from it, than I ever had.

It was only when I was able to resume the activities that I enjoy so much that I realized I had gone so far, so fast. The other morning I watched the sunrise over the harbor. I had timed it so I could be there at that moment to witness the birth of a new day. Two people I had not seen all summer were also there, on the side of the road, waiting for that that same moment.

None of us had planned to be there at that time together, but still, there we were. We were all there for that same reason, hoping to catch the first rays breaking the horizon of the water. Yet, while we knew the sun would most assuredly rise, it was only a hope that we could be there to witness it. So, at that moment, it was not the sunrise that was the moment for pause, but rather the meeting of three individuals, gathering to partake of one moment, only to find another… and we all knew it.

While there are other numerous times that people gather to celebrate a moment; a sunrise, the first snowfall of the season. Most of those moments are planned, with refreshments, music, and guests. There are other moments that just seem to happen, like when you bump into an old friend while shopping at the grocery store. The unexpected moments are the ones that tend to have more of an impact, usually because they happen without the burden of expectation or pretense. It is also in these moments that I understand this is how I should live my life, moment by moment, without the burden of expectation or pretense.

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A Crowded Solitude

I enjoy a certain level of solitude; a level greater than most would be comfortable with for any appreciable amount of time. There are so many things that I would like to do without interruption, yet I must earn a living. So I often steal what time I can and revel in the solitude that I can manage before I must deal with the outside world.

Even the time I do manage to find to be alone has the intrusions of thoughts; bills, savings, work, past, future, friends and family. The days that I find myself tackling a project that I have been looking forward to working on for weeks or months, I may be physically setting stones or organizing tools, but my mind is racing with how I will manage to pay the bills, find extra money to sock away, generate more business, forget the past, look forward to the future, and remain in contact with my friends and family.

The difference with the solitude I find in my personal endeavors as opposed to my obligations is that I am doing something that I CHOOSE to do and rather enjoy it because I can go about it on my own schedule at my own pace. The thoughts that encroach upon my mind during these activities might be numerous, but I find them less offensive at these times, so I am better able to deal with them. The thoughts can be sorted and mulled either to a point of resolution, or more often moved to a place beyond my conscious thought, because they are deemed to not actually be important enough to be a burden on my mind.

There are other thoughts that often take on a life of their own. Those thoughts involve other people and my interactions with them, either professional or personal. These thoughts are more difficult to resolve due to the fact that they involve too many variables. Unlike numbers and money, which can be calculated and figured to finite beginnings and endings, interpersonal relations involve irrational humans that are, more often than not, unpredictable and without sound reasoning. These are the thoughts that make even my most solitary moments feel crowded and frustrated.

The professional interactions are less troubling, for the most part because they are limited by scheduled amounts of time. Each appointment is for a fixed and predetermined amount of time, so I know when the interaction begins and ends. Aside from the occasional “difficult” client, there is a mutual understanding of expectations and all pretty much goes according to plan, the way a successful business should be run.

On the other hand, the personal interactions have blurry boundaries and expectations, seldom have any clear and concise beginning or ending, and are more often strewn with misunderstandings and miscommunications, a dramatic trauma in the making. While the personal connection is often wondrous when it is shiny and new, once the reality of life sets in, the potential that things will go as both parties hope is slim, at best.

So, I rather enjoy my solitude. Do not get me wrong, I think some people thrive only in the company of others. I am simply not one of those people. As for being lonely or bored, I have plenty going on in my head at any given moment; enough to keep me entertained, if not occupied. In fact, there are times I feel as if I am living in a crowded solitude. Yet, that is one crowd that I am not uneasy to be around.

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