Conclusion

The other night it occurred to me that I had just let this story go unfinished. I had stopped writing for a while because I had nothing interesting to say. I had fallen into a decent routine in Montana and was becoming rather content with my life there. I didn’t quite know how long I’d stay but the adventure part was mostly concluded and regular part had begun. Though all things that begin have an ending, this adventure included.

Quickly glossing over the major points since the last update. My dog had gotten better as suddenly as he had started showing issues. One day he just suddenly was fine. I don’t really know what the issue there was, perhaps he ate something bad, or had a spell of doggie depression, or something scared him bad. I really don’t know. Regardless I was thankful that he recovered and seemed to be back to his old weird self.

The job situation has been getting better as well. I’ve been tasked with some challenging projects and have managed to deliver rather well on all of them. I’ve released several new reusable software packages for our company, began learning a new technology that few people are versed with which will become increasingly useful, and in general have just been doing better. I’m hoping that others will see the same and that the fog of my previous lackluster performance may eventually evaporate. I’m always a tad nervous about such things, but the stress levels are at an acceptable minimum for the time being.

So then, that brings us to what happened since that post. I joined a gym in town and found that it was home to a couple of other martial artists, literally two. I had my gym bag on the floor and the instructor happened to notice my gloves and shin pads while I was lifting. It was a small place and me being the only other male of fighting age in the room he asked if I was a fighter. I stumbled for a moment because I really didn’t know how to answer. Sure I’ve trained, and am interested but I’ve never competed, and I certainly don’t think of myself as being terribly competent. Still a managed to choke out

‘I like to think I used to be. It’s been a while though’.

‘Ah well Lance and myself train here a couple nights of week if you’d be interesting in practicing with us.’

It was both a shock and a blessing to find two other people in this tiny town both training a style of martial arts I was familiar with. I couldn’t believe my luck. He gave me the details and I started with them the next day. Of course after my year of slacking my cardio was lacking badly, but thankfully my form remain in decent shape and I didn’t make a total fool of myself, well until sparing that is.

Lance, the other fella who was training there was basically a direct student of the main trainer. Lance is working toward actually becoming a professional fighter and has put in quite a bit of time toward this goal. The fact that he had a fight coming up in two days certainly bolstered his energy levels as well. Now I having been out of the game for a while obviously am a bit rusty, but I was still more than happy to move around again when our trainer asked if I’d be comfortable doing some sparring. The round began smoothly enough, trading some leg kicks, moderate speed punch combinations and blocks. I was able to defend against and attempted take down and turn it into a guillotine choke (one of my favorites) which to Lance’s credit he was able to undo rapidly. This continued for a little longer until as these kinds of things have a habit of doing, started moving a little faster. I was able to keep up mostly on the defensive as he upped his offense and kept him at bay where I could with teap and sidekicks. Eventually he found an opening after I dropped my left hand guard a little too low after throwing a right cross and I paid for it. If you’ve never been punched in the face, especially by a glove it’s an interesting feeling. The world kind of just, ceases for a moment as your brain recalibrates. It’s almost like hitting the degauss button on an old TV or monitor. I stumbled back put my hands up until I was sure the onslaught was over and took a moment to assess the damage. Thankfully nothing major just a black eye with a slight cut around the eye. Still it was enough to decide to be done for the evening. No hard feelings of course, he’s an energetic young fighter who had a bout coming up and full of nervous energy. It wasn’t malicious so all’s forgiven. This kind of training kept up for the next couple weeks (with less black eyes). We started all lifting together as well as training and had a nice little dynamic going. I could have seen myself with that group for a long while to come. Alas it was not to be.

It’s hard to say exactly how things came crumbling down. I really to this day do not know exactly what happened, only a rough outline of the shape of the events that unfolded and ultimately drove me away. As I had written about previously I had become good friends with the gal living in the cabin next to mine. We hung out frequently, went to bars together and had movie nights in my cabin. We both knew were damaged goods and would not be long term compatible due to differences in direction we wanted our lives to take. Still we enjoyed each other’s company and made the best of the little chunk of time the universe had decided to grant us. Then, she turned from me in a most spectacular fashion. I don’t recall exactly what transpired but one evening she asked me if I had told anyone the things she had told me. Her family life and past were littered with deeply scaring stories, obviously things told in confidence. We also spoke of many things which one would consider public knowledge. I think in the end my inability to tell the two apart for some of the grey area matters are what became my undoing.

You see, when you live in a remote area, have very few people to talk with, gossip is the entertainment de jour and the bar is the primary convention center for the town, well people tend to talk. The next part here is pure speculation of me attempting to piece together what I think may have happened. I do not remember for sure, honestly my memory of the night in question is foggy at best but it seems likely that I may have shared some details about her life that I should not have with a person at the bar. The person I beleive I was talking to was a mutual aquaintance and he had asked a couple questions, which I must have thought were harmless enough. Apparantly I was mistaken.

A few days after, she confronted me. Obviously upset she asked if I had told anyone about the things she had told me. I scanned my memory and couldn’t find anything that seemed noteworthy. I said I had not and asked what had happened. She spoke on vaugly about someone knowing something they shouldn’t. Since I was the only one she seemed to confide in obviously the blame rested on me for this leak. I apologized for my supposed transgression and queried for further details which were not forthcoming. She left the conversation still quite angry. I stood dumbfounded not entirly sure what had just happened, only that I was up shit creek, and she wasn’t going to be calmed.

More days passed, probably half a week or so. She had decided to go on another adventure and wasn’t responding to my texts. I didn’t quite know what else to do, so I simply figured I’d again try to resolve the situation and figure out what had happened when she returned. Friday rolled around and it was time for my weekly D&D game where I’d use my webcam to remote into the game at the house back in Minnesota. Jim had been curiouis about how the game was played and I invited him over to come watch. After venturing into town for booze and supplies I returned and the game began. It went well, I beleive ending with us taking over a city of some kind. Finally at probably 2:00am her car’s headlights lights illuminated the side of my cabin. Shit, meet fan.

I had recently taken to practicing calligraphy (the art of pretty writting) and decided that perhaps a hand written apology letter for whatever misdeed I had done would perhaps have some effect. Jim offered to give it to her for me, since he knew her and myself were not on great terms and he was a neutral party. I agreed and he went to deliver the note. They talked for a few minutes, I sat inside half watching whatever the hell was coming out of the TV. After probably five minutes had passed Jim returned and said she was still rather upset and likely wouldn’t really want to have anything to do with my anymore. My heart sank but I realized the battle was over. I had lost a friend over an allegation of a nebelous crime. Saddened we continued to placate ourselves with drink and netflix. Maybe a half hour later came a knock on my door. I got up an answered. She stood in the doorway staring daggers and thrust her own written note into my chest and left. Now, again we had been drinking some at this point and I didn’t have any desire to hang onto this note so obviously I’ll be paraphrasing here. The basic gist is that I am a vile human being with no respect for others. An alcoholic man-child, who never grew up. The insults and vitriolic hate spanned most of a page, I stood in shock reading her venomous rage. I still didn’t know what I had done, but whatever it was, apparently it was well beyond repair. I walked outside and stared at the sky. Suddenly something clicked.

‘Jim! Get your ass out here.’

I bellowed. He came out a moment later looking sheepish. Now I’m not proud of this next interaction, but it did happen and this is an honest of an account as I can give. I grabbed him his collar and threw him against the cabin wall. I showed him note and demanded to know what he knew about it. He stammered

‘Nothing, I don’t know anything! What’s wrong?!’

‘Read it…’

The words practically acid as they fell from my mouth. I let go of his collar and handed him the scrawled words. He read it and had little to say.

‘What did you tell her when you gave her my apology?’

‘Nothing really, just that you were sorry and didn’t mean to upset her.’

‘You were out there talking for a while for not saying much.’

‘I was asking her how her trip was, and such.’

‘You had better hope that I don’t find out that you double crossed me somehow.’

‘I didn’t I swear.’

I shot him one last menacing look and went back inside. To me it all made perfect sense. Here is Jim, a guy who here is here on probation for crimes caused by lack of impulse control. He also made it know when I had first arrived that he also fancied the girl in question. At one point her cabin seems to have been broken into as well while she was away, the intruder was not caught. Using information he found in her cabin he started a rumor or told someone something he shouldn’t have known about her. This comes full circle and Jim claims ignorance because how could he know something if she never told him right? Then when he gives her the apology on my behalf he says some further disparaging things about me. He thinks that if I’m no longer a viable options perhaps he could get closer to her. She responds with rage toward me and Jim looking like an innocent bystander. Today I don’t know if that’s how it went down and honestly I’m not sure if Jim has the mental faculties to devise such a plan but the pieces do seem to fit. Or perhaps it’s just as simple as I got drunk and said something I shouldn’t have. I don’t know, and I probably never will. Could be I’m just trying to subconciously shift blame. Hell if I know.

After a moment passed to calm down, I invited Jim back in. Obviously he was hesitant but feeling defeated and remorseful my anger had most vanished. I waved him in and we shared drink. I announced that I would be leaving the next day so we should probably have some fun before I take off. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and we partied until the late hours. The next morning I quickly packed my things. I decided to bite the bullet and knock on her door one more time before I left, I thought I heard to her stirring but she did not answer. I hung my head and let out a heavy sigh. With a heavy heart I departed, leaving Eureka in my rearview.

 

 

Afterward

That day I left I managed to make it back to Jordan Montana, the same little town I had stopped in at the night before I arrived in Eureka. I even went to the same little bar. I ordered a beer and some nachos, and reflected on what had transpired. Thankfully an outgoing bartender and a few lively patrons proved to be an enjoyable distraction from my melancholy. A few hours in I received a text from the girl from Eureka. More anger, more insults. I calmly replied asking simply what she hoped to gain from this. I was already gone, out of her life forever. What more could she want? She replied saying she didn’t know but was angry and wanted to vent. I again queried what she was angry about, and yet again she ignored my question and continued on her rant. Her final message said she was blocking and that I should never try to contact her again, a request which at this point I am only too happy to oblige. I silence my phone and slide it back into my pocket returning to the conversation at hand. We shoot some pool and the guy who I’ve been chatting with says I can park in his driveway and sleep in my car there if I’m afraid of the cops hassling me about parking my car on the street overnight (though they said that was quite unlikely). I took the offer and at bar close, he, the bartender and myself all went to his place and had some drinks. I slept in my car and when I awoke everyone was already gone. I walked Hiei around for a bit and continued my journey. I spend much of the drive across the barrens processing what had happened, trying to make some sense of it. I glace over at Hiei sleeping peacfully in the passenger seat. I decide I could learn a lot from him and try to stop worrying about it. I arrived back home in Minnesota late evening on Sunday, friends and food waiting. It had been quite a journey and I’m still mulling over some of the lessons. Despite the less than ideal ending I’m glad I did it. If you should ever get the chance I’d recommend spending some time out in Montana, you never know what you might find.

Thanks for reading.

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Anxiety

Something is wrong. I think I might be having something like an anxiety or panic attack. Attempting to sleep tonight I found myself nowhere even close as horrible thoughts continued to force their way through my consciousness. For some reason I can’t shake this overall sense of dread. Not totally unfounded, but still normally I can cope with such things but tonight I feel helpless. The stress keeps me from sleep and once again I find myself attempting to self medicate with anything handy. I’m hoping perhaps by writing my concerns it may quell them since of course nobody is around to talk to at 4:00am, and I think I’ve probably exasperated the patience of many of my friends and family though my rude and callous attitude as of late. Last night I couldn’t sleep just due to some sort of primal fear, like monsters under the bed, manifested mostly as odd scratching noises near my window I couldn’t identify. Tonight I cannot sleep due to a very real feeling that my world may be taking a turn for the worse in the very immediate future.

First and foremost, something is wrong with Hiei. I wasn’t convinced until late this evening (hence he was not brought to a vet already), but something is most certainly amiss. It started Tuesday. It seemed like something hurt his left front paw as he was favoring it for a while, not wanting to put weight on it. I checked it out and didn’t see any marks or disfigurements. I figured he had just pawed at a wasp or maybe some other annoying insect as I couldn’t see any reason for the limp. Later in the day he seemed to be better running around as normal so I dismissed it assuming it was just an small sting and the pain had worn off. I later left for a couple hours wherein he was kept inside the cabin. When I came back he seemed fearful and nervous. vacillating between huddling next to my legs while at the computer and retreating under the bed. I figured it was just him being kind of weird perhaps moody about me leaving since, he has been known to exhibit rather curious behavior before. During the evening he actually decided to wander off and go hang out in Jim’s cabin for the night which I was fine with since he has always been kindly towards the dog and watched him for me from time to time. This morning Hiei turned up at my door looking to be let in. I groggily opened the door but he did not want to enter. Cautiously he slunk across the doorway, only stopping in briefly to get some water but then decided to spend the rest of the day dozing outside. He would not respond to my commands or temptations of treats (though he has started to learn I usually only tempt him with treats when I want to leash him so I can leave, so he is getting a bit wary these days). Again while becoming a bit concerned I just decided it’s Hiei being Hiei, he’s always been a little strange, maybe something had just spooked him and he was being a little jumpy.

Several times through the course of the day he sat outside whining, attempting to get my attention it seemed. I dutifully went to him when he asked but he always ran away. I decided to follow him and he attempted to lead me to Jim’s cabin who was not home. At this point I was able to scoop him up and bring him back to my place where he seemed quite nervous. He spent several minutes cautiously sniffing around and again retreated under the bed. I did make some hard boiled eggs (one of his favorite things) and he did eat one so he still seems to have some appetite but I have not seem him this lethargic since he was very young and I’ve never seen him act so nervously and defensive. He currently is huddled under the bed and won’t respond to my commands though I can tell he is conscious. I did haul him out and hung out on the bed with him a while just to try and relax him and see if I could detect anything physically wrong. I checked all the vitals I know how to and he isn’t exhibiting any other signs so while I’m concerned I’m hoping  whatever it is can wait until tomorrow as emergency vets aren’t really a thing around here. Regardless unless I sense some kind of ‘full recovery’ he is going to the vet as early as possible. I ran through everything I can think off, venomous insect bite, injury, abuse, accidental poisoning, but nothing quite seems to fit the symptoms I’m seeing. Please keep him in your thoughts until this is resolved.

Beyond that I’m concerned about my job. Ever since my depression caused me to perform… in a less than stellar capacity early this year I feel as though I am on thin ice. I’ve done my best to bounce back, reclaim a normal schedule, be responsive and efficient but still I detect this wary fog that seems to surround interactions. A concern that was given a bit of gravity when I was informed that I would not be receiving any adjustments to salary this year and the company changing hands in ownership was used as an answer to my not receiving my contractual bonus for the last 20 months. Another programmer of my level was recently revealed to have left, seemingly of his own volition so I’m not sure if that helps or hurts my stress levels. This morning I nearly had a panic attack when I was asked for all the details about some software I had written and am responsible for (a reusable asset that is sort of my domain). Usually when a company starts asking in depth questions about your responsibilities that’s a sign the chopping block is near. Thankfully (I think) it was just another team of ours who was looking to implement the software and wanted to know a bit more about how it works. Still I’m cautious and this feeling of imminent doom is proving difficult to abolish. If I lose this job, I’ll be in pretty bad shape. My finances are proving difficult to get back under control after over extending myself on a few loans and I’m unlikely to find anything that pays higher. I’ve certainly got some savings but based on the amount of bills and payments I have they could easily be exhausted within half a year. As a side note, buying a house was probably the biggest financial mistake I’ve ever made. A complete money sink that does nothing but induce more stress and responsibility and probably won’t sell for shit since my neighborhood is complete garbage.

Of course the fact that these things are keeping me up adds to the anxiety because already feeling like I’m constantly being evaluated at work. If I neglect to respond to an instant message, or answer an email promptly that will add more credence to the case that ‘Dan isn’t reliable/available’, a  criticism that has been made clear in no uncertain terms is an issue under much scrutiny. So I’ll just keep my computer volume on high with my email client and instant messenger open. I tend to do most of my actual coding in the evening but of course correspondence happens during the day. If I do manage to get some sleep, hopefully it will wake me up so I can respond quickly enough to avoid getting any more knocks on my proverbial scorecard. It feels a bit what I imagine being a convicted criminal feels like. Although you may do everything right after the offense, the cloud still hangs and everyone still thinks ‘yeah, but he’s a criminal’. It’s difficult, if not impossible to prove a negative, at least directly. In this case it’s just going to take a long sustained track record of not screwing up which is going to be hard in a business that has entire departments dedicated to finding screw ups in your work.

Finally, I’m detecting in myself more than I have in the past a lack of patience. I find myself becoming quick to anger and annoyed by small things. I ended up disabling my Facebook account for a few days because it seemed like everything on it agitated me. I went on a rather long winded rant about some online course I have no actual dealings with but saw an ad in my feed. I post angry things on my own feed, and sarcastic mean spirited things on others. I re-enabled for a few hours today just to try and comment on my groups D&D page, but even then I found myself on a rant about nothing of importance because I found myself embarrassed about a minor mistake and angry about the games rules. I’ve even spoken tersely to my family and a few friends for no real reason, which is completely unfair and likely to alienate me even further. Every stupid thing bothers me, and it feels like I’m back tracking. When I was much younger I was somewhat quick to anger as well, but then later in my life I managed to overcome a large amount of that due to philosophy and I suppose just general contentment with life. I didn’t care what people thought and I felt pretty removed from day to day annoyances. Now I can hardly hold a conversation with people without feeling irked. I’m really hoping this is just a symptom of my general anxiety that will resolve when stresses are taken care of, but time will tell.

So anyway, with that I’ll probably try to see about getting some sleep… lets hope I still have a dog and a job in the morning.

Average

Like an archaeologist unearthing long forgotten ruins, bit by bit I’m uncovering truths about myself. Some I had a general idea the shape of, others are new to me. As I’ve posted about a large part of this journey is me attempting to find the source of my general dissatisfaction despite having everything a person could reasonably ask for. Something that is becoming clear to me now is that, I want and always have wanted more than is reasonable. I never was content with being average, I always wanted to be exceptional, at everything I did. If I couldn’t be great, I didn’t want to do it all.

When I was younger, as an only child in a fairly aged neighborhood I often found myself attempting to get attention from adults. My parents were and are caring, loving, wonderful people who never neglected me. Still to really earn praise and admiration that I so desired I had to DO something impressive. I remember when they would have friends over I would attempt to create the most impressive Lego spaceships and structures I could to try and earn accolades not only from my parents but from their friends. This is something I did of my own volition because I liked the recognition not some kind of latch key kid struggling for attention. As I got older I continued to try and find ways to ‘be impressive’ usually through ability to converse at levels that were considered well beyond my years. I continued to excel at computer activities and was always quick to show off my newest creations. I remember at one points calling my dad to show him that a program I had written had crashed the computer just because I thought it was cool that I had that much power over it. I mean, you can’t break something if you aren’t more powerful than it. For better or worse I was naturally ‘good’ at many things. Advanced topics and ideas came easily to me and there wasn’t much I couldn’t at least make a showing at. This combination of my desire for attention and natural gifts together weave what I currently feel is my primary rope that holds me down. You see when things come easily and naturally for you, you don’t learn discipline. If enough things come to without having to work for them, you stick to those and don’t work much at all and never develop the skill to endure the struggle.

As I continued to delve into intellectual pursuits, and with little interest in sports I began gaining weight. I had always been a bit bigger I suppose, but in my teens I really adopted the idea that I was a nerd and my body started reflecting that. Sports and exercise were for jocks; those kids I despised. I refused to have anything to do with them or their superficial, vapid, vain world. The cycle continued and at my worst I was pushing probably 200 pounds which is quite a bit on a 5’7″ frame. Secretly of course I wanted to be strong, I wanted to be fit and to excel in the physical world but I had no idea how and it seemed so very daunting and the company not overly welcoming. Eventually through the guidance of a good friend I and playing a shitload of DDR I managed to lose weight and gain a decent amount of muscle mass forging myself into a frame that was at least acceptable. Even with this progress I was still unhappy. It wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t impressive, I just wasn’t terrible. It felt hollow. This is a theme that follows me to this day. Nothing I achieve is ever good enough. It constantly feels as though every accomplishment is hardly note worthy and every failure is a true reflection of what I am.

The years kept coming and my world kept expanding. While I was young I was impressive and above average just by virtue of conversational skills, basic understanding of science, math, space, history, etc it quickly became the norm. I was no longer special for knowing these things, I was surrounded by people just like me. In college I was forced to admit that the people who knew more about computers weren’t just figments on the internet, they were real living breathing people sitting next to me. Some even my age, though I had managed to enter college 2 years early. I had never felt so small and useless. If I couldn’t define myself by imagined image of superiority what was I? I know this all sounds very arrogant and I do cringe when I think about a lot of these things but that is part of growing up. Figuring out your place in the world. I was never outwardly arrogant. I generally carried myself in a humble manner, after all I was always more afraid of letting someone down, or being a disappointment than I wanted recognition. I worked quietly and often teachers were the only ones who saw what my efforts could produce. Thankfully school continued to come easily for me, well aside from math.

Life continued that way for me, reality slowly chipping away at the image that I was somehow special or above average. I continued to meet people who dwarfed my feeble intellect, out-shown me in every physical endeavor, destroyed me in video games, and continued to enforce the idea I really am just normal. I kept telling myself that one day I’d become better. That I would be able to be proud of myself finally, which I suppose is what I really wanted. After the separation from my then fiance` which was in large part caused by the existential depression and dissatisfaction which I wrongly projected onto her, I definitely bottomed out for a while. My work suffered, I drank myself into a stupor on a near nightly basis and frequently contemplated suicide. If not for my friends I do not think I would be here writing this today. You know who you are, thank you. Slowly but surly I managed to put myself back together enough to function. I built my home gym, started competitive coding, started dating again. Around 25 I think I came as close to my ideal self as I ever may. That’s when my golden age was really in full swing. I was training martial arts and lifting hard. I was winning programming competitions. My cooking and billiards skills had excelled far beyond what they ever were. Sure I wasn’t amazing at any one particular thing but I made due with the fact that I was pretty good at a lot of stuff, among the best I knew personally in nearly every category I cared about. However such things do not last and after the deep depression that gripped me in the wake of the separation from my long term girlfriend I started to crumble again.

So that brings me to now. I’ve always told myself there was more time, that my prime was still in front of me. I could still be a multiple black belt, parkour athlete, who can debate advanced philosophy, writes software nobody else can, and runs a 5 star restaurant while winning pool championships on the weekend and can bench press a small car while playing grand master level chess. Certainly impossible but it seemed for a very long time to be the only way I’d ever be happy. It doesn’t help that I don’t actually like practicing and I simply don’t have the discipline to achieve most of these things. Most of the time after training in any capacity I feel intense disappointment and loathing for my performance which furthers my distaste for it. When I attempt to learn via reading I feel like I forget 95% of the content. When I encounter something I can’t do instead of the normal positive attitude of ‘I’ll get it next time’ I just mentally berate myself for being a failure. This of course has not boded well for my progress or mental health over the years. Anything kinder just feels like making excuses and insincere. It’s what ultimately drove me away from martial arts and much of my strength training.

Also I’m quickly approaching 30, many of these doors are closing for me especially since I have not laid the foundation that would be required. It’s a hard pill to swallow. To understand you are average. You are going to be average, you are going to die average. Being exceptional is just not in the cards for me. I’m learning to become okay with that. When you’ve spent your entire life building on the idea that the only way you be acceptable is to be amazing it’s difficult to reverse that thought. Tonight I stared into the star lit sky with a renewed understanding of the smallness of it all. It’s really not going to matter what I did with my life, only if I enjoyed it. Being amazing isn’t going to make people love me. It isn’t going to build memories that I hold dear. It’s simply just a crutch to try and make myself feel better from compliments while I inwardly am constantly disappointed that I didn’t do more. If I hope to have any chance of being happy in this life I’m going to need to stop living for accolades and start living for what makes me truly happy, whatever that may be.

Curiosities in the Forest

This evening I decided to head out. I wanted to explore what the night had to offer and perhaps do a bit of meditating in the forest during the dark, thinking that perhaps the different perspective might yield different result. It was also a bit of a test of courage in a way, this area is known for bears and most people don’t venture into the woods alone especially at night. Still I mounted my sword in belt, grabbed my thick leather jacket and gloves and decided to head out for a walk. I left the door open for Hiei to follow, he was quite content to nap.

There is a pond not far from my cabin which I have much enjoyed reflecting at. It also is near the boundary of the ranch property line if I understand correctly. Beyond there the land extends into national forest which transgresses the national border well into Canada. A small dirt path leads up a winding hill from my cabin, past a wood barn, the trash receptacle, a few assorted shacks of unknown purpose and finally near a fire pit and some rough carved tree trunk stools which overlook the pond. Beyond that the path becomes narrow dirt and leads deeper into the forest, from which the sound of a waterfall can be heard. Nothing bars the way, yet it still seems foreboding. After spending some time in the darkness on one of the stumps near the pit I decided to venture a bit deeper. I’m not sure it was a good idea.

Not 100 yards in did I discover the beginnings of  a building of some kind. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it seems to be being built with a large amount of windows and insulation. My first inclination is some kind of grow op building, likely not but still it’s an odd thing to stumble across in the dark. Nobody on the property has made mention of this building.

 

With sword drawn I investigated a bit. Really nothing beyond basic construction supplies. Still I have to wonder what the building is, being so far back in the woods. It’s well off the normal ranch property at least a quarter mile from the nearest other structure. Feeling brave and curious I continued walking down the path. The forest gave way to an clearing, something like a prairie a few hundred feet in all directions. It was well overgrown with all manner of crab grass, thorns and something I’m told is called Indian Tobacco. About a hundred feet past the construction site I come across another oddity. Perhaps a car boneyard? Just a bunch of vehicles, seemingly parked there for quite some time, maybe around a dozen of them. I imagine it’s just a junk yard for the ranch, nothing sinister, still in the dark, alone in the forest it was rather off putting. I was white knuckle grasping my sword hilt at this point.

Still I carried on and looked around some. Again nothing to indicate anything more than a simple place to ditch old broken vehicles. I calmed myself and returned to the path, walking back to the seating area near the pond. I spent some time reflecting on why I was driven to explore, what I hoped to accomplish, and what I would have actually done if I encountered danger. After nearly a half hour of contemplation in the complete silence of the night forest, aside from the brook sputtering nearby I decided to head back. I was glad to see Hiei laying in the grass just outside the door anxiously awaiting my return. It’s nice to have a reason to come back.

Rippled Tranquility

It is a Zen Buddhist principle that all things are transient, nothing is permanent. So then I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the internal changes I am noticing, though the profound nature of the shift is catching me by surprise. Over the last week or so a majority of my feelings and writings had a rather melancholy vibe to them, seeming like this entire endeavor may end up being a failed experiment. Today I find myself in an almost enlightened state of being where the thoughts that held me tangled seem to be fading away and of no consequence. I can only think it may have perhaps been some soft of ‘withdrawal’ over my previous life. My mind was rebelling against this new environment it found itself in after the honeymoon period, and unsure what to do, it tended toward self destructive behaviors in an attempt to make me give up and go home.

I’ve been rereading a biography of Miyamoto Musashi, a fascinating individual who was a legendary swordsmen, painter, calligrapher, and philosopher in his own right who lived in Japan in the late 1500’s until 1645. He was the antithesis of everything Japanese culture valued at that time and yet stands as one of it’s most important historic figures. He was a vagrant who abandoned his family at a young age, claimed no master and no style, never married and often used psychological tactics as well as incredible natural ability to win over 60 duels and survive 6 battles. Much of his writing and philosophy focuses on finding ‘your own way’. He obviously shunned many of the trappings of traditional Japanese society but still embraced the roots and made them his own. While I would never compare myself to such a larger than life figure, while rereading his story his teachings are resonating with me more than they ever have.

He spoke much of ‘walking alone’ and never once accepted a position that would inhibit his freedom of movement. He did adopt two children over the course of his life but even then he never ‘settled down’. his lifestyle as a wanderer is something that I’ve always romanticized about. At young age when people wanted to be astronauts or firefighters I wanted to be a travelling hero in the vein of Hercules or or Xena (yeah I wanted too much TV, so sue me). Somewhere along the line I seemed to have lost that desire to travel and be free. My practical side eventually developed enough to understand that such a life was obviously a fantasy. So instead I setup shop in Minnesota and was content thinking I’d live the rest of my life there. Maybe get married, spend lots of time with friends and family get a good job, all that stuff. Recently though, probably in large part to this move of my mine I’m finding that desire to walk alone being renewed. I think the fear  that acted as chains on me for so long are perhaps finally loosening. Sure I’ll never be a wandering swordsman but perhaps I can at least be confident in my ability to be alone and embrace it, instead of trying to hide from it.

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Okay, so I’m not walking totally alone 😛

In my childhood due to numerous issues I lost all confidence in myself to do anything but operate a computer. For so many years I thought that was my lot in life. A computer guy, nothing more. Maybe I could dabble in cooking, or pretend to be a martial artist, play pool a little bit but that was just me faking it. I wasn’t actually good at any of those things,  I just had everyone fooled, or so I told myself. Due to this fear of failure, embarrassment, and boxing myself into this single focus identity I’ve neglected so many parts of myself. I used to draw, build, create various kinds of art and I wasn’t afraid to suck. I’ve become so afraid of failure that I’ve just stopped growing, and I’ve made a million excuses along the way. ‘I don’t like playing music, I’m not artistic, ah I’d never be good enough to be an actual fighter’. So much of my life wasted because I was so afraid of failure. Instead I filled my time with computers, video games, friends and passing fad hobbies here and there. Even then I knew there was something missing which I tried and failed to fill with significant others, obviously a losing bet. When those relationships ended and I couldn’t find another to take the place instead I use(d) booze to try and numb the feeling. I suppose you can only do that so long before the stagnation catches up with you. That stagnation is part of the reason I had to leave and I’m glad to finally be starting to understand why it was happening. I can’t say I have a plan as of yet. Years of convincing myself I wasn’t capable did remove lot of the natural enjoyment from activities. I want to get into art, I don’t know how. I have instruments to play but I feel like I just play the same few notes over and over again and feel embarrassed. Even training with sword and fist feels just like going trough to motions. I can only hope that if I keep it up the ugly veil that I developed from years of excuses will fade, and I can find enjoyment and personal development in these things again. If nothing else at least I suppose I’m writing again.

I realize much of this post is sort of a meandering maelstrom of thoughts and ideas but that’s kind of where I am at right now. I’m moving between a peaceful letting go of past trappings, indecision about how to progress, shame over wasted time and excuses, and concern that even though I’ve made these realizations I may be powerless to do anything about them. Still, transience is in action and at least the issues I find myself facing today are different than the ones I had last week, and the nightmares have stopped which in my book is progress.

Futility

I moved half across the country to get a fresh start, but it seems memories aren’t left behind as easily as lives. Every night I don’t drink myself into oblivion I dream of her and every morning I lose her again. This morning the feelings were so jarring and tangible, I broke down and cried. Nothing I do seems to make it any better. I just want to move on, start over but it seems my disobedient mind has other ideas. I now find myself unsure of what to do, because nothing I’ve done so far has worked and I’m about out of backup plans. I suppose it’s fitting that it’s raining today.

sky

Now I find myself in this haze, like ‘now what?’. My mind decided I needed to relive that entire roller-coaster of emotions all over again and then I’m just plunked back into reality. Just getting up and brewing some coffee, attending my meetings, writing some more financial software seems so detached. It’s like watching a dog get hit by a car shrugging your shoulders, then just going back to mowing your yard. Obviously the dream wasn’t real, none of them are. Nor do I actually believe they tell an accurate story, predict a possible future or highlight a way to happiness. The only purpose they seem to serve is to torment me and rub in my face everything that I’ve lost. It’s just the brutal frame by frame reply of the worse feelings of my life played on repeat seemingly nightly. The funny thing is, before this I very rarely dreamt. I guess my mind for whatever reason has decided that re-experiencing this weight is important enough to do on the regular. I hope it is kind enough to at least reveal the purpose for this aimless suffering at it’s earliest convenience.

Reality

I’m having a hard time accepting this is all real. I keep expecting to wake up. I keep thinking eventually the vacation will have to end and I’ll have to go back. Some mental limiter, some system in my brain keeps is continually nudging at me that this cannot last. I don’t know what to think about that. Is this a vacation that is so good that my brain thinks is has to end, or am I suffering and I am comforting myself thinking relief is just around the corner? What does it mean that I cannot even tell the difference between the two? At this moment I don’t have any answers. This feels a bit like a purgatory where I make up for my sins until I atone for them. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s just distant. It feels like a version of limbo where I relive parts of my life until I find what I was doing wrong and rectify it. I feel like I have every opportunity in front of me and I don’t quite know what to do with it. Everything just feels like going through the motions. Is this the best life has to offer? Not bad. What else you got?IMAG0054