During this period of working backward I stumbled onto a concept that helped more than you’d think, minimalism.
No, I didn’t try to live with only a hundred possessions, or anything equally extreme, but although some parts of my life were gone, I still had all the accoutrements and still spent time cleaning and maintaining those things. Things I no longer had any use for.
As you may have guessed, when life suddenly and fundamentally takes an unexpected turn, confusion follows. This confusion is different from the ordinary confusion of being temporarily befuddled by a task or idea not immediately understood. It’s a howling beast with sharp claws constantly tearing apart concentration and sending trains of coherent thought into the abyss.
While wrestling with the ugly brute added distraction is the last thing you need. This is where minimalism shines. By disposing of possessions that had lost their purpose and value, I not only made space in my house, but space in my head as well.
That mental space was essential. It allowed me to view the beast from different angles and slowly begin finding ways to tame it.
The take away for me was the insight that owning something, regardless of what it is, is a commitment. I was committing time, energy, and resources to every single thing I owned at some level. When I looked at things from this perspective I found many that, rather than add value or joy to my life, did the exact opposite. They weren’t things I needed, but things I needed to be rid of.
Earlier I intentionally glossed over a great many details. The mechanics of how I came to be a broken, incomplete person are relevant only to myself. Sharing them would only serve to make this one more sad story in an endless compilation of them, and that is not the point. My hope is that some part of this will strike a chord with someone at the right moment to be useful.
So then, who was I? As painful as the reassembly was, it paled compared to the empty space remaining and the bitter realization that I had no answer. Looking back, I’m not sure I ever had an answer. At least not one that meant anything.
I was just a guy going to work everyday, paying the bills, and raising my Son. No different from anyone else. I liked my job, but had no passion for it. Paid for the same things everybody else did, mindlessly never considering whether I needed those things or how they benefitted me. Raised my Son as I was raised, not once wondering if it could be done better.
So much of what I did everyday was “normal” that almost no room was left for individuality. A perfect example of this came when I had to tell my employer that I wouldn’t be able to return. On a personal level this was emotionally crushing. Adding insult to injury, my position was immediately, seamlessly filled by someone else. No muss, no fuss, thanks for your years of service.
I can hardly imagine a more thoroughly devaluing experience.
At a time when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I discovered I couldn’t even start formulating an answer to my question until I first worked backward to learn who I was not.
The origins of the antiquated art of fermenting honey are lost in deep time. Where the first batch made it’s appearance, reported to be between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, is a mystery buried in eons. Little chance exists that it will ever again be part of our living knowledge.
What remains to us, the process and practice of it’s making, forms a more direct connection to our history than any found among ancient texts. Consider that a brewer today may mistakenly ruin a batch in precisely the manner of a batch ruined 400 centuries ago. Difficult as it is for each to conceive the other’s existence, they are bound together by unbroken tradition.
With a history that can be measured in geologic time, it is right too that mead should derive from honey, the only food uncorrupted by passing years.
May Mabon bless the mead-makers of every age in turn, until the Cosmic day draws finally to it’s close.
When more days lie behind you
than those that wait ahead,
each one on it’s passing
leaves behind a weight,
It presses not upon the muscles
nor upon the bones,
This weight of days I write of
is borne upon the soul,
Moments grow to hours
hours become days,
No earthly scale I know of
tells the measure of their weight,
It equals not to bricks
cannot be matched in stone,
It’s value may be that of lead
or surpassing even gold,
It’s worth I cannot tell you
it is you who must decide,
it’s total sum reflected
in the wrinkle, scar, and line
As the scales begin to tilt
and more days lie behind me
than those ahead
My thoughts wander
as they more often do
to those I’ve known and loved
whose names can no longer
be found in the book of life
I mourn the empty spaces they left
knowing those places will remain
dark and silent within me
I mourn my loss
Should I mourn theirs?
Their lost worry?
Their lost fear?
Their lost suffering?
Rather I rejoice
in their loss
in their release
To the lost Children of science,
sequestered in sterile labs,
untouched by solar rays,
toiling to decode the nature of life,
Beyond Your high walls,
each tree, each flower,
intone pheromone answers,
to all Your many questions,
in their silent language,
offering truths deeper,
than any that can be contained,
within a spoken word.
A Man, unified within Himself,
existing in harmony with all living things.
This is the true, yet seldom claimed, birthright of Humanity.