Showing posts with label Relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Relationships. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2019

Storage, Baggage, and Minimalism

I awoke just a bit ago feeling very chilly and I hate the cold.  It's still dark out and the temperature is hovering at freezing.  I'm living in a rolling home, a 22ft motorhome, and I lazily parked for the night without propane or water.  So there's no water for tea and even if there was, there's no propane with which to heat the water for tea.  So I guess I'll shiver in silence.  You would think that after going on two years of this kind of lifestyle I wouldn't let myself get into this kind of predicament but then you would be underestimating my laziness.  ;-)

If it's too cold to sleep and definitely too cold to get out of bed what else does one do but surf Facebook?    Come on, you know you do it!  So, when I looked at Facebook it threw up my most "liked" picture of 2017.

Now as anyone who knows me can tell you, I take a lot of pics!  I really expected a pic of some beautiful vista, flower, or bike trail - one of my usual pics that is.  Instead I was confronted with the picture above of an empty 10ft X 10ft storage unit I had just managed to gut.  I guess my embrace of minimalism attracted admirers or perhaps voyeurs who wished to accomplish something similar in their lives.  The caption of the pic is as follows:

For the first time in my adult life I no longer have a leased storage unit. Now it's true that I still have some work to do on my embrace of minimalism but it's all under one roof now and able to be better sorted, re-homed, dumped, or made into a burnt offering. Making progress...

It was true. I had storage all of my adult life up to that point and had probably spent, all said and done, around $40,000+ on storage over the years.  And for what?  To shuffle things from one pile to another because I was hanging on to things that no longer fit in my day to day life.  Oh to be sure, there were valuable piles, some valuable in sentimental attachment, others valuable in monetary attachment but the operative word there is attachment.

Whatever my reason, it was an unhealthy attachment to things that no longer fit into my life for one reason or another.  I had moved on but instead of letting those things go, I dragged them along with me.

I originally simply wanted to do away with the expense of warehousing all of this stuff I had managed to accumulate over the years.  It was pretty simple really, I didn't want the expense of caring for this added baggage any longer.  Little did I know that this purge would soon spill over into other areas of my life as well, such as my relationships with people, personal, professional, and spiritual but that's a story for another time.  My brain is too cold at the moment to even explore and or unpack the topic.

These are the things I was thinking in the wee hours of the morning as I snuggled under my blankets trying to keep warm in the frosty darkness just before twilight.  Living a life of minimalism in a rolling home is great for introspection and that's good because that's all I can do right now.  It's too cold to stick my nose out from under the covers!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Day 273 #VanLife: What Do I Do Now? or Chasing Seventy Degrees and Sunsets

When I started this #VanLife adventure I had a different life filled with family and friends, a house, and all the things that go with keeping a house.  It was a pretty standard life with all of the ups and downs I suppose and, for the most part, it suited me just fine.

Buying a van and doing a build-out to convert it into an RV was simply to allow me to set up at art and craft shows, selling my art glass across the country while avoiding the costs of hotel rooms. It also offered me the opportunity to see other parts of the country in the hope of relocating our household to a new community  in which I could more easily make a living as a glassblower and our little family could thrive.  #VanLife was a means to and end and not meant to be a way of life for me.

There's an old saying in relationships that "distance makes the heart grow fonder" and then, for some, there's a cynical addendum, "for someone else."  In a polyamorous or open relationship (a relationship based on consensual and ethical non-monogamy) which ours was, one would hope, and more accurately assume, that wouldn't spell the end of a primary relationship but it did for mine.

When I returned home from my maiden voyage in the van from exploring the Pacific Northwest, I came home to a world I no longer recognized and a relationship that had ended at some point while I was away.  Oh, there were several extenuating circumstances but because discretion is perhaps the better part of valor, let's just say that was the end of our twelve year relationship.

I left my home, family, and friends, heartbroken and feeling homeless and somewhat worthless.  Certainly, I felt less than and I felt very lost and completely alone.  That all happened this last October.

I naturally started doing a lot of introspection, soul searching, and otherwise trying to remake or discover what my new life was to be like.

Much of the time since then has been focused on my glassblowing.  I'm so very thankful that my career is as it is and that it afforded me the gift of distraction.  I've been able to focus, as much as one could with such a heartbreak, on something other than said heartbreak.  The roar of the torch is music to my ears and brightness of the flame helps illumine a very dark time for me.

In November and December I rolled into my Christmas show in a major mall in Kansas and poured all of my energy into making glass art and selling it to the Christmas shoppers. 

After Christmas I headed to the southwest for warmer weather and to meetup with the 2019 Rubber Tramp Roundup (#RTR) in Quartzsite Arizona.  Some five to six thousand of us camped out in the desert for fourteen days, sharing our lives and stories while making new friends.

Being out in the desert I had a lot of time on my hands to think and my thoughts seemed to follow a kind of horizontal spiral: How did everything go so wrong so fast? What did I do wrong? What do I do now? Where do I go? How do I live?What did I want the rest of my life to look like?  I had lots of questions with few answers.

After the roundup ended and we all went our separate ways I headed into Quartzsite proper to the annual RV gathering and setup on the main drag at a marketplace making and selling glass art to visitors, travelers, and snowbirds.

As a result of having been a glassblower, going on half of my life, being on the torch sculpting glass is very comforting and meditative for me.  Due in large part to familiarity and muscle memory, it allows my mind to wander and engage in a sort of free associative state.  If I'm not working out my problems on my bicycle, I'm working them out from behind the torch.

Currently I'm still setup in Quartzsite making glass and I still don't have many answers but I do have a few that seem certain: There seems to be no way to return to my former life. I am now, for better or worse, living full time in my van for the foreseeable future.  I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don't want to be cold anymore and I'm going to be chasing seventy degrees and sunsets around the country.  One more thing is just beginning to dawn on me, for perhaps the first time in my life, I am free.

If there is one bright spot in all of this, it's the reality that I've fallen more and more in love with my chosen career.  It has been the one thing that has brought me the most constant joy in my life and for that, I am deeply and humbly grateful.  Glassblowing for me is as a life preserver for a drowning man.

More than that, I really do not know.  At this moment, my most pressing question now is: do I get a dog? 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Betrayal: That Cold-Hearted Kiss

I had written this several years ago after Holy Week and Easter. And I thought it appropriate to post it here at this time. I hope you find it as illuminating reading it as I did writing it. Blessings upon your head, your heart, your home, and your own loved ones!

“Jesus was still speaking, when Judas the betrayer came up. He was one of the twelve disciples, and a large mob armed with swords and clubs was with him. They had been sent by the chief priests and the nation’s leaders. Judas had told them ahead of time, “Arrest the man I greet with a kiss.” Judas walked right up to Jesus and said, “Hello, teacher.” Then Judas kissed him.” -Matthew 26:47-49

Betrayal, ah that cold-hearted kiss.

This time of the year, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, always makes us take a look at our lives or at least it does with me. I usually get somewhat introspective and hopefully a little intuitive during Lent often bringing home the message during Holy Week and Easter.

I often ask myself, “what has God been trying to teach me or show me this last year?” Sometimes I can recognize his hand at work in my life and get it but as likely sometimes I simply get in the way of myself and of God and I miss the point all together. The good news is that God is patient, the bad news is that God is patient and, as it were, when I don’t get it, I get to experience the lesson all over again, sometimes from the very start.

Such has been the case with betrayal, one of the more darker lessons we’ll learn in our life. As I read the Passion narrative the other day on Palm Sunday I was slapped in the face with the betrayal Jesus experienced at the hand of one whom he loved dearly, no, at the hands of many he loved dearly. You see, while Judas was the one we think of most, there were more. The Passion Narrative is rift with betrayal, complete in heart break, and seemingly adrift in hopelessness, that is at least until the bitter-sweet end.

As I read aloud the story, the deeper I went into it the harder is was to continue. When the priest had asked me to please read it for the service I thought to myself, oh dear Father, you have no idea what you’re asking nor how hard I’ll sob before the task is finished. But he asked and dutifully I read…and sniffled…and wept…and snorted…and sobbed.

There are so many issues one could deal with in this passage, so much truth, beauty, and love which is echoed by pain, sadness, deceit, and betrayal but it’s betrayal, that bitter, bitter cup of tea that we all must sip from, that God has been working with me on. And so it was the utter betrayal of our Lord Jesus that struck me that morning. How his dearest and closest friends betrayed him and how we are still betraying him today with our actions or in-actions.

The thought that Jesus WILLINGLY allowed himself to be in that position, WILLINGLY loved enough to be betrayed, and was WILLINGLY faithful to his betrayers to the bitter end and beyond is what blows my mind. I’m sure there are better theological ways of explaining it but mind blowing is a phrase that fits what I felt, what I feel. What is even more mind blowing is what Jesus did after the whole crucifixion! What is even more mind blowing is how much Jesus still loved his betrayers and how much he still loves us in spite of our own betrayal of him and one another! Wow!

Here’s the question though… Here’s the hard part… He calls us to follow his example! He calls us to love enough to be betrayed and then he asks us, no he really commands us to LOVE AGAIN ANYWAY. How on earth?! Well exactly, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”

This is the lesson God has been working with me on over the last several years. Betrayal after betrayal and still I must love, and still I must forgive (and be forgiven I might add) and still I must risk it all again for Love’s sake, for Christ’s sake!

Overwhelmed by love once I sent an email to my mentor, the priest who first offered me Holy Communion and really taught me what it meant to be a Christian. I had been so moved by the love in my life at that time that I confessed to him in an email that I found myself waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” He told me then that if I spent all my time waiting for that other shoe to fall I would miss out on the gift that had been given in the present, the PRESENT OF LOVE if you will, and he reminded me that love always requires that we take the chance of getting hurt!

I think of the love in my life, my family, my friends, my church and many other fleeting instances of love too numerous to mention and I have to count myself loved abundantly, generously and overwhelmingly. It is precisely in these loving relationships, person to person, that we can begin to experience, get into touch with, and make real God’s love for us. It is in being open to and loving one another that God’s love becomes real to our understanding and we can run into this broken world safe in the knowledge and experience of true love.

You see, the betrayed loved enough to be betrayed and so it is the betrayer who is the ultimate victim, it is the betrayer who ultimately loses out, it is the betrayer who has rejected love to his or her own detriment. The betrayer has ultimately betrayed him or herself. It is their heart which is broken and it is they who must live with the loneliness and humility of what they have done. It is they who deserve our pity and our prayers.

I feel sorry for Judas. The very short amount of life he had left was no doubt spent in misery, loneliness and regret. He betrayed Jesus for his own agenda, not understanding or wishing to force change upon the Messiah’s ministry. It is Judas who went into that “dark night of the soul” and who may have never emerged from that self-consigned hell.

We pray for the lonely during the canon of our liturgy and so too we pray for those who have betrayed us, just like Jesus prayed for us and prays for us even still. Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.