Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Unbearable Existence of Optimism

I woke up this year with the overwhelming urge to do something different with my life, to move forward from what had become a comfortable and secure rut. I didn't know what manifestation this desire would take, but my experience is that important changes happen without too much thinking because our brain is a brake on the kind of things we need to do but don't. So I haven't thought about the important things in my life too much. I've just done them and saved the nitpicking and endless analysis for the intellectual mindfucks of my existence.

But I've been noticing this leaves many of my friends feeling unsettled as if my foundation was holding up their houses. It never was; I'm just really good at letting people use some of the blocks until they can get by on their own. It's only natural they would assume, after a long period of time living on my blocks, that they were somehow THEIR blocks.

So it's understandable that they come over to my house and see boxes piled to the ceiling, but not that many boxes considering how much stuff we had and how much we gave way, recycled, donated. It's about half of what we least. Part of the change is getting rid of a whole lot of stuff. I was horrified to find we'd been hauling stuff around for twenty years that wasn't even ours. I shredded a whole folder of someone's term papers for a Psychology class. I don't remember them. I'm not even sure I knew them or how I came to have a box of their decades old discarded and forgotten crap.

But I digress over the horrors of packing and pruning. Back to my friends. The conversation goes this way: "Are you guys moving?"   Yes.  "Where?"  Don't know yet.

It disturbs them because neither of us seem overly concerned about this uncertainty. Of course we have days when we wonder what we're doing and yeah I feel stressed out and wanting a place to land, but it's more of method rather than reason. What others don't see is the process of dealing with yourself that goes on in both mine and Jeff's lives. We get comfortable too easily so we have to sneak up on ourselves and say boo! Time to do something different. How about moving?

So, we move. It's how we ended up in Bellingham. I wanted out of Las Vegas. I hate hot weather and I was living in a place where summer meant 115 degree days of lung-searing heat for the summer months. I wanted seaons. I wanted to not sneeze and miss Spring. I wanted wildflowers that didn't die within hours of birth from the arid and harsh environment. I wanted gentleness of wind and sky and the smell of saltwater.

The easiest way was to graduate from college, send out some apps to grad school and see who bit. I was okay with any bite and didn't care which one got dragged up on the shore and into my cookpot of change.

It turned out they all bit so I got a map and picked the one farthest away from Las Vegas. I'd fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest on a month-long camping trip to Canada and Jeff was born in Seattle. I remember him coming home from class and showing him the letter of acceptance and the teaching assistantship. It was a guaranteed job for a year and it was motivation enough to move. His response was he didn't have anything else going on in his life so sure, he'd go check out his birthplace for a while.

So we moved. And moved again. And then again. And then yet again. And finally again to the present. We never left town, but we did live in every part of it. Total immersion is the only way to truly know where and what you are sometimes.

One day we found ourselves owning a house together and the restlessness started to build. I'd spent a lifetime being anti-thing, anti-ownership, anti-materialism. I wanted simplicity in living and in those I lived with and around. I'm too complex to want that complexity all around me. I prefer to keep it chained for my own amusement.

So the restlessness won. We sold the house. We decided it was time to explore the outer environs of where we live. We're still trying to decide. We've looked at a lot of places. Some days we think we want saltwater. Other days we think we want to wake up smelling the trees. We will decide this week. We have to as we know how we are and how easy it is to become comfortable, so we set a deadline of August first as the day we'd be ready to hand over the house. If we didn't, we'd still be packing and trying to decide where to live. Dates are our cattle prods.

We will leave Bellingham the same way we arrived, on impulse but with just the barest amount of money to live on and a whole lot of hope that the universe will provide more. But since we're both the oldest child with several siblings from poor working class families,  we know nothing is given to us and so we're prepared to work as hard as we do now to help the universe in its providing. Sure, we fantasize about waking up one day and finding out we have some rich uncle who leaves us something instead of crazed relations who go out leaving us nothing but a pile of debts, but the reality is the only wealth we have is this never-ending source of optimism that life will turn out just fine, even if you have to struggle to get there. Struggling has never been a problem for us, but complacency has been a killer and now we recognize it when it tries to sneak up on us. This time we're going to be a step ahead of it.

Click on shirt to purchase of visit the Crazy Old Lady of Peace's shop.  for many other designs like this.

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