My Simple Life (prequel)

The clock of industrial society is winding haltingly down to midnight. The truth of that statement isn’t difficult to see once you allow yourself to look beyond the heavily powdered and rouged façade of  “want to be” and into the unadorned countenance of “what is”.

There are a plethora of Doomsayers of every stripe imploring us to see that unlovely face as the Armageddon and prepare for the penultimate moment. Across the figurative way are the Soothsayers, insisting that everything is fine while they haul buckets of rouge.

Both groups can be unbelievably entertaining to watch, being equally clueless. They resemble nothing so much as travelling snake-oil salesmen, hawking the virtues of one useless paradigm or another.

If you’ll kindly pause breathlessly while I climb up on my soapbox I’ll offer an, err…… anti-climax. Friends and neighbors across the world, there is no need to panic. Nothing, not one thing, unprecedented is happening. We are simply hitting a few pot-holes on the descending side of societal arc. Every previous society has experienced it, as will every one that comes after. It is part of the natural order of our Cosmos.

Latecomers to the show, noticing that the doomsday clock stands at two minutes to midnight, have assumed imminent annihilation is upon us and reacted either with panic or utter denial. What they missed is the context in which that clock operates. It doesn’t tick off minutes and hours, but rather decades and centuries.

As I type this, mainstream media is busily expounding the “horrors” of the federal government shut down this morning. The vast majority of us dealt with this emergency by going about our day normally, which is the correct response. We’ll do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that. This shutdown is one of those pot-holes I mentioned. Further along on our descent they’ll increase in size and number while the effort needed to cope with them gradually increases.

We may well be far enough along to hit some frighteningly large ones in the short term. They will no doubt be upsetting, none however, will be apocalyptic.

It’s time, passed time in fact, to prepare ourselves and our children to function within a society in decline.

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MY SIMPLE LIFE (3)

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.

MY SIMPLE LIFE (2)

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.

 

MY SIMPLE LIFE (1)

This blog has been a wonderful outlet for the random musings and unanticipated thought fragments that seem to perpetually traverse my mind. Through poetry I’ve found a method of examining and coping with emotional turmoil, that kept bottled up, eventually becomes rancid and toxic.

Without prattling on endlessly, I’ll share with you that several years ago I experienced a series of traumatic events severe enough to make rebuilding the life I had impossible.

Much of what I’d thought of as absolutely essential was irredeemable. At 44 years old I was faced with the terrifying prospect of finding a completely different way to live, something I wasn’t even certain was possible.

Being so fundamentally hurt, the first eighteen months were little more than a process of slow healing. I didn’t think about what came next during this time, because I wasn’t convinced there would be a next.

When I finally tried to pull myself together it was quickly apparent that too many pieces couldn’t be made to fit anymore. That was very sad since I’d had some of them most of my life, and didn’t want to see them go.

So, I was left with the question, who was I?…………………………………………………… (to be con’t)

 

Authors note: While I have no intention of abandoning poetry, I think it’s time to bring this blog more in alignment with it’s original mission statement, which is simply to help, and to do that it’s important to understand the circumstances of it’s creation.

 

One

An ancient knowledge

a remnant truth

learned in the time

when Man was youth,

 

You are not, or ever were

alone

that feat, my friends

cannot be done,

 

Those tricks we use

to separate

are as dreams

and without weight,

 

These tricks

that cause us so much pain

are a vile poison

in our veins,

 

Leaving us lost, confused

depressed

souring our happiness,

 

We’ve told ourselves

they’re useful tools

but of what use

heart-broken fools?

 

There is not

an Us and Them

there never was

it’s never been,

 

There’s only We

and We are kin

to each and every

living thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember Gratitude

It sometimes slips my mind,

when I think of commands my body can no longer obey,

to give thanks that there was a time it could.

In those quiet moments,

when beloved voices long silent whisper in memory,

to be mindful that countless shared moments created them.

In contemplation it seems a grave disservice,

to mourn things lost,

without remembering and rejoicing that they once were.

 

 

 

Sunrise Prayer

I prayed a prayer for you today,

as the Sun rose over the pines,

and watched it float aloft,

on alabaster wings of love,

knowing not what vast expanses,

what cosmic abysses,

it must traverse,

while on It’s journey,

within my soul,

not the tiniest seed of doubt grew,

from the seamless faith,

that It reached It’s far destination,

even as the words left my mouth.