"Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in" - Blame it on the Tetons, Modest Mouse
I am an investigative reporter and the story I’ve been working on is the story of my life. The trail has run cold so I’ve decided I need to take the investigation in a new direction. After all - you can only go down a dead-end street so many times.
Why must I take this story in a new direction, you ask? I guess one could argue that the decision started when I woke up on July 17th, 2010, to what one friend said was “my first official day of middle-age.” On this lovely summer morning I awoke full of anxiety, jobless, without a committed relationship, or any of the other things that it seemed most of my friends had—or for that matter of fact—what I “was supposed to have,” at this point in my life.
It didn’t make matters much better that I had spent the previous two weeks in New Jersey dealing with my mother’s death, as well as all the other facets of family and emotions that go with that singular life event. You see, I’ve spent the better part of the last decade dealing with sick parents and worrying about them from the other side of the country; my father, who succumbed to a fairly short bout with lung cancer seven years ago, and my mother, a long, protracted, mental and physical decay from Parkinsons and dementia.
During the two weeks I was home for the funeral, I spent a lot of time at a family friend’s house. Aileen, a friend of my sister’s, planted the seed in my head that I should just take off—that now was the time to do it since I had no real responsibilities to anyone or anything.
“If you want to write, then you’ve got to find a way to do it. Find a cheap place to live while you work and take out a personal loan if you have to,” she suggested. “Like India.”
It rang a bell because going back a year prior, another friend planted the seed in my mind that Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, was a great place for artists, creatives, and expats doing their own thing. It sounded interesting. I decided that whatever I needed to do, I was going to travel. Even if I needed to take out a loan, I’d look at it as getting a graduate degree in life.
It dawned on me on July 17th, 2010, that my life—this ship I had been attempting to steer and control—was more “ship” than I could handle. I noticed in particular that the more I fought to control it, the more my navigational skills were rendered useless by elements beyond me, and the greater this push and pull became, the more painful the course-correction was. Whether or not I liked it, this ship seemed to have a mind of its own. But the funny is, whenever I was standing on safe shores and looking back at the narrow channels and rocky shores I had traversed, my course-corrections were always better and more creative than what I had plotted, thus finding me in greater adventures than I ever could have imagined. So on my 36th birthday, since I no longer had the strength to fight, I decided with an acute awareness and implicit faith to let go of the helmsmen, to hold on, and to surrender to the wind and the tides.
And to be honest, things have been working out pretty well ever since.
If you’ll be my guest, I’d like to invite you aboard this ship where we’ll embark on a journey to Asia to write a collective story. I have the basic framework, but we’ll have to fill in the details as we go along. Roughly speaking, the story is about a kid from suburban New Jersey who’s learning to be a man in the shadow of his parents deaths. It’s a written record of a time and place. It’s also about the wanderings of an artist, his experiments in voice, and his lust for greater connection to the earth and all of humanity.
The narrative of this apologue is about the expansion and contraction of life, about love and relationships, the beautiful and the ugly, the ecstasy of joy and the crippling effect of despair. It weaves through the drama and comfort that is family, through the joy of birth and the sorrow of death, and the gradual decay of all things through which life cycles.
This chronicle is about learning how to slow down to the pace and rhythm of our own lives, and about having the faith to surrender to our life's design, thus coming in line with the vibrations of our own tuning fork. It’s about the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional maintenance that is required of all of us to live successful lives. It’s about learning how to be human and how to love and forgive others—and perhaps most importantly, oneself. It’s about our thoughts and how they can either serve us or deter us—and about owning those thoughts and using them as fertile soil for seeds of creation.
This yarn we’ll spin is about losing oneself in the chaos of disorder, and thus finding stillness in the order of the chaos. It’s about the friendships that are the moons and the stars of our lives; those seemingly earmarked individuals we’ve been blessed with who help us see when we’re walking through the darkness.
This epic is about all the elements of existence that when viewed through the kaleidoscope of life can seem overwhelming and splintered—yet despite it all—you still manage to retain a flame within you, a flicker of possibility that is just waiting for the right conditions to grow from a flame to a conflagration.
Above all, this adventure is about overcoming the fears that tether us to the earth and the courage it takes to rise above those limitations, no matter what our station in life.
If you’d care to come on this journey, I’d be honored to have you come along. There’s plenty of room for everyone. Come on. Follow me.
March 3, 2011