Saturday, August 31, 2019

When I Grow Up or Expectations Run Amuk

Dreams, hopes, expectations...  We all got 'em...

A friend of mine wrote me a note and she started it out with, "when I grow up..."  She went on to outline what she might picture her life to be like as she grows older or perhaps what she might like it to be.  Her note made me dive deeper into my own desires I held as child and through much of my adult life; comparing and contrasting those dreams with the progression of my life and the trajectory it has since taken on. 

I always pictured myself owning a two story home in a downtown area of an artsy college town; some place with brick streets, architecturally pleasing homes, and delightful gardens.  To some extent that happened but it didn't last...

I almost bought a beautiful Victorian home in Eureka Springs Arkansas, an artsy town nestled in the Ozark Mountains.  I was also looking at that time for a home in my hometown of Springfield Missouri, just a few miles away from Eureka Springs.  I ended up purchasing the home in Springfield.  It was twice the home for half the price. It was sold five years later.

I always wanted to find a place where I could develop experiential continuity over the years.  The kind of continuity that wears down stone steps and makes well worn paths; ones used day after day, year after year.  I wanted a staircase bannister that would show the wear it had endured from a well placed hand as I descended in the mornings to spring forth on a new day.  I wanted a home that shared a deep and abiding commonality of life with me, my family, and my friends. I pictured myself growing old in such a place, planting flowers, giving dinner parties, sitting on the porch, loving people, pets, and a life well lived.

Instead of realizing this dream, I spent much of my adult life moving almost every three to five years, always with good reason, forethought, and hope on the horizon. In fairness, most of my moves have been vertical moves instead of horizontal moves, often bettering my life or living conditions in some way, shape, or form.

I have never found the continuity or commonality I have been seeking...

From my earliest memories I wanted to have a little shop where every morning I would unlock my door, sweep off my stoop, turn my open sign around and go to work.  As a child I didn't know what this shop might sell or entail, I just knew that it was to be.  As an young adult I soon realized it would most likely be an art gallery/studio of some sort.  To my credit, I've had several such places and have had a good career as a lampwork glassblower.  However, like my living conditions, I've never kept a single location open longer than five years.  Again, my moves were almost always vertical with better opportunities for the growth of the business and or my personal growth as a glassblower.  Interestingly enough, one of them, my last gallery in Eureka Springs, really fit the daydreams I had as a child, almost exactly.  I kept it for only one short year.

In the note my friend sent, she said she could picture her life with a partner or not but suggested she would like to have someone to sit on the porch with watching the sunrises and sunsets as they grew old together.  I have had much the same kind of dream as does most every younger person I suppose, but to my surprise, that too has eluded me for the most part.

As much of my life has transitioned from place to place in living spaces and gallery/studios, so has my personal life.  Interestingly enough, while most of my deep friendships have endured throughout my life, most of my more personal and intimate relationships have not experienced such longevity.  Many of my more personal relationships, one that evolved beyond more than just friends, have lasted a few years and no more, with two exceptions, one of eighteen years and one for twelve.

Unlike my living and working environments, I wouldn't want to categorize my personal relationships in hierarchical descriptive terms such as vertical or horizontal.  They have all been special, endearing, and important to me in their own ways, the ending of which,  also offered unique angst, despair, and no small amount of turmoil.

I've been thinking about my reality for some time and wondering, what has prevented me from accomplishing that which I have desired so very much.

Am I fundamentally flawed?

Did I not try hard enough?  Did I try too hard?  Am I just never happy because of some mental deficiency, or emotional immaturity?  Am I lacking in some fundamental ability or skill to obtain continuity and interpersonal longevity in my life?  Am I so damaged by an abusive childhood that it is beyond my ability to stay in long term relationships with places and or lovers even though that's what I have mostly desired?  Do I really self-sabotage in some sort of weird masochistic self-fulfilling prophetical way?

Or is it something entirely different?

Does some part of me instinctively know when things just aren't right for me and subconsciously rebels against my status quo dream of going along to get along?  Does some part of me seek freedom at all cost, just to be free in and of itself?  Like the birds I have always admired and identified with, does my yearning to fly free override my desire to gather a permanent nest?  Or am I an experience junky looking for my next fix, hopping from one experience to the next collecting experiential data, sensation, and feeling: looking for the ultimately elusive nirvanic high?

Do I really think the grass is greener on the other side?

I don't think I have the answers to any of these questions but I continue to ask them of myself.  I continue to try to grow in awareness of those things which have made me who I am and how they still invisibly and visibly continue to play out their own realities in my life, creating a future which all at once eludes me, surprises me, delights me, wounds me, rebuilds me, encourages me, and sustains me all at the same time.

I don't know what my future holds.  I've given up trying to control it, manipulate it, and mold it, and instead I'm going along for the ride good or bad, quite literally since I've moved into a home on wheels.  Maybe this has been the secret all along.  Who knows?!

I do know, though, that unrealistic expectations can rob the joy from the now and so I'm trying to keep my expectations in check and enjoy that which is, instead of focusing on that which was or that which could be.  I'm trying to enjoy the now.  I hope you are too. Time is short.  Do what you love and love what you do!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sensual Longing

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Find Your Way Again

"And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart...where your hope lives. You'll find your way again." -Julia Brown, Everwood

Friday, August 23, 2019

Day #472 #VanLife: Minimalism and Freedom or VanLife vs. RVLife

Living in a Class C Motorhome is anything but simple at times and though I have many, many fewer possessions than I had when I began this journey, I feel less like a minimalist living in larger rolling house.

There's an old saying, less is more and there's so much truth to that.  As I've been continuing to downsize and minimalize, I'm coming to appreciate that truth as it translates within my reality.  Nothing could illustrate the point better than my recent adventure in moving from a full size van into a Class C mini-motorhome.

I started out this adventure in a 1995 Ford Econoline Chateau Club Wagon, the Kraken.  I spent a good deal of time working on a build-out in the van in which I could live when I did craft shows.  I meticulously engineered my build to meet my specific needs which was heavy on storage in order to store my tools, raw materials, displays, and inventory for being a traveling glassblower.

Now it's important to note than when I was getting ready for this adventure it was only going to be a part time gig while I was traveling doing craft shows.  It beat paying for hotel rooms and insured maximum profitability for me.  However after 6 months I returned home to a failed relationship and a completely new reality for my life going forward.  That's when I started evaluating #VanLife and what my needs going forward were or might be.

I spent another 6 months in the Kraken living in it as a home.  It worked in very many ways but there were a few things that were troubling.  I couldn't sit straight up unless I were sitting in one of the front seats, I absolutely couldn't make glass in side the van, and my climate control was fine for cool to cold weather but during hot weather I didn't have air conditioning or even screened windows to open.  It was also hard to entertain in the van.  It was a cramped space really only built for one. Now, it's not like I have an exciting social life but one always hopes for the possibilities and I do like to cook dinner for friends et cetera.

Years ago, when I was married I traveled in a Class C motorhome with a wife and three cats.  We traveled doing much the same thing I have been doing this last year, making and selling glass.  It was a 24ft older motorhome and lacked some of the creatures comforts of other similar RVs in better condition but I really enjoyed it.  My wife did not.  We eventually returned to living in a stationary house with all the bills and all the responsibilities that come with.  One year later my wife lamented leaving the road because "life was so much easier and sweeter in the motorhome."  Too soon we get old and too late we get smart.

Having had that early experience of traveling and living in a Class C motorhome I always thought in my mind that that was the perfect situation for me as a traveling glassblower.  I could work in one, live in one, sell from one, travel in one, and even entertain in one and all in reasonable comfort.  (Wow!  While typing this I keep thinking to myself, this sounds good and the option I should focus on!)

I was in Quartzsite Arizona when I first saw the RV of my dreams, a 1985 Chevrolet MRV Mini-Motorhome.  So when the opportunity arose to turn seven hundred glass hummingbirds into a 22ft Class C motorhome I jumped at the chance.  "Milton" became mine.

Everything worked in him and the roof didn't leak.  The refrigerator was new, to the tune of over a thousand dollars.  The generator was practically unused and Milton had been obviously cared for all of his life.  He also had half the miles my van had on it.  His awning was great and he had a new mattress in the full size bed.  Even his tires were pretty new.  All in all, he was a great vehicle and home.

I danced back and forth on whether to keep him or not.  I didn't go into this change of lifestyle blindly. Because of my former travels in in a Class C, I knew of the added expense in gas, oil, and fluids for travel; I knew of the greater cost of repairs not only in regards to the "house" part of the vehicle but also in regards to the mechanics of the aging van part of the vehicle; I knew of the parking challenges and I knew of the driving challenges.  I understood how greater luxury would mean less freedom because I would need more money for this new living arrangement and to make more money I'd have to work more, making and selling more glass.  Being more of a slave to money meant less freedom.  I knew all this and still I chose the new RV. I tearfully sold the Kraken and embraced my new life.

My gas mileage has been predictably bad but then I am comparing it to sixteen to nineteen miles a gallon in the van and so four to eight miles a gallon in the RV is terrible.  So far, my repairs have exceeded the amount I spent on the van the entire time I owned it and when I sold it the van was in pretty good condition.  I am even now at this writing struggling with an engine repair that may be more serious than I thought at first.

There's no doubt about it, moving into Milton and selling the Kraken has slowed my journey to a standstill.  If it's not the cost of repairs then it's the cost of fuel.  I'm not sure I continue to want to trade my freedom for some creature comforts or conveniences that aren't critical to my enjoyment of life on the road.

Embracing minimalism has taught me how little I need to be comfortable, content, and indeed happy and how needing so very little gives one a greater sense and reality of freedom.  I've also realized that I crave freedom much more than I do excessive comfort or material things.  This has been a lesson well learned.

I may or may not move back into a van but I know now what its critical to my comfort and what is needed for my space.  Time will tell the story...