Friday, October 14, 2011

Pilgrim in Paradise #3

   Waiting, waiting, planning, revising the plan, going to sleep with no other thought bouncing around, excpet the plan,  only to wake up in mid conversation about how this could all go wrong, and, how it all could go so massively right.
  Unable to take another step forward because of government bureaucracy there seemed to be a new path layed out in the apartment every day as boxes and bins started to fill the space where furniture had once sat, given gladly away to anyone who would brave the three flights and forty stairs to retrieve it - what would come, what would go and what could stay, at least for the time being
  An essential question started to be bandied about - jokingly at first, then as each day passed the answers took on more urgency, more introspection, more stress but the rationale offered were no less any clearer:
  What does one REALLY need in order to make an apartment feel more like a home than a vacation rental? How far is the trip to the nearest big box store and how much toilet paper should be used as stuffing against the fragile items placed in the bins?
  Heated arguments spilled over into unsuspecting conversation where it became apparent that asking the question felt more like a critique - a judgement then simple physics.
  There's only so much room to ship, to store and to display; how can one make a decision based on a space sight unseen?
  Certainly comfort is not too much to ask for when one senses that the job at hand will require much mental and physical effort but really - what is important - non negotiable?
  A great pair of shoes, check
  Monkey Butt Talcum Powder - how does one survive a kitchen shift in the tropics, neat the equator without it?
  Iron, spray starch - purely mechanics; what about something that feeds the head - art, music, incense, yoga mats - how are they any less necessary than your favorite fruit mix or pictures of family and friends?
  In the end, I felt like having a good old fashion bon-fire because once the flames consume old menus, song lyrics that don't make sense any more or reams of notepads, calculations, inspiration and solutions - surely they worked once, couldn't they be counted on again in the another, yet unforeseen crisis -there would be nowhere to go but forward, the fire having consumed the past.
  Or was it all just clutter?
  Maybe the real treasure, the one worth keeping, feeding and building was what resided in my mind, my spirit - my soul, all of which could be counted on to come up with a new solution, to a new problem, in a new age.
  Boxes were unpacked and rearranged - some begrudgingly, even bordering on the bitter - some because it didn't make sense to fight over one more box of memorabilia. There would be battles ahead that would require much more effort than this - this was, after all, not really important.
  Our health - now that was important
  Our spiritual quest, our daily sharpening of the saw - that was really important
  Nourishing our body and our spirit - at last compromise was met
  The path through the apartment changed daily, really confusing the cat - me, I just wanted to make it to the bathroom without a minor mistake occurring.
  That's how time was spent, waiting.
  And then came the call; several really - one right after the other along with blazing scenes of deja vu; so strong I had to turn my head in the moment and question whether I was imagining it or not - but I knew better.
  And then, there was no more waiting; time, it seemed, was a premium - and one not to be wasted on trivialities - now I had to get moving..
  After a month on I got an email from someone making an offer on the Vibe
  My first response of any kind - email, phone call - or shout over the back fence for the entire time it was listed
  My trusty blue 2005 Pontiac Viberator GT, who had sat dormant  - unheeded and uninspired in the want ads for a month with nary a bite, nothing, zitch, bubkuss - suddenly had become a hot property.
  It sold in a day.
  I had three payments left
  6 years and 16% interest and suddenly - it was gone
  And so was my last key

 Those of you who have been following my progress as a Pilgrim in Paradise know that, by now, I have winnowed down my possessions to a single key.
  One last key remained of my attachments to the life I had previously known, and lived and now when  I had given it away, willingly I might add at my asking price, I felt...
  Relieved, at the reality of no more car payments - no, I had gotten good at budgeting
  Jubilant at the end of 6 years of usury - not exactly, I had signed on the bottom line after all

  Mainly I just felt......
  That's what I felt, completely and utterly naked -
  Not the nakedness of someone stripped and laid bare without their consent; this was a freeing nudeness - one taken on willingly, joyously, one to be celebrated with a romp, a dance and maybe even a song
  Well maybe not yet - I have one or two steps left before I jump this rock and emigrate to a new and exciting land - one where an apartment awaits although I have no idea what it looks like or what's in it.
One where a car awaits for me, although I have no idea what make and it didn't seem too important to ask; I, after all, now need a car - and right now, any that works will do
  I have a job waiting for me to fill with enthusiasm, intelligence, good humor and the energy of a novice.
  Yes, this time, I'm going in celebrating that which I do not know, reveling in that fact that there is much to learn and I am an eager student.
  All that awaits me but for now I have several more days to love my friends and family up and make the most of the moments I have left here.
  Stay Tuned my Friends - tomorrow I promise to tell you where I am going - your gonna love it!
  Tall & Frosty now
  Yes - all my love

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pilgrim in Paradise #2

"I fare well in stormy weather"

Fact: I've spent nearly my adult life in the Hospitality business, working mostly as a Chef
Fiction: I am what I do for a living
Fact: I've been let go twice in my career
Fiction: Neither time was for "unsatisfactory work performance"
Fact: Each time kicked me in the gut and had me foundering for some sense of 'why'
Fiction: I was lessened by my loss

Quite to the contrary, each loss has fortified, steeled me to myself in a way that all my successes couldn't

Fact: I have 1 key left on my key chain

It's for my 2005 Pontiac Vibe GT, which I have faithfully paid despite a vicious interest rate and some lean earning months.
I have 3 payments left.

In a sense it is the only thing I really "own" at this time.
I have some books, tools, pictures, tapes, DATS, albums, a 500 G hard drive, some clothes and a box that contains one monogrammed Chef coat from every job I have ever held.

In the past month I have had to leave a job, that although paid well, asked much and took even more.
I gave up my key card, Pcard, access codes and keys

Ended the lease on my apartment in a city I once questioned why anyone would go
Gave away or left behind most of the furniture, fixtures, and anything that wasn't nailed down
I gave up my key card, apartment key, storage key.

Moved what little was left to my girlfriend's parents house, interspersed in closets, unused bedrooms and the garage.

So, now I have 1 key left to give away.
Carmax will have that soon enough when it's time, and time is getting very short now.

I've been offered a job off this rock, on a British Protectorate that requires a very vigorous Work Visa application process.
There is a one bedroom apartment waiting for me to bed down in
There is a car waiting for me to drive on the left side of the road
There is work waiting worthy of the sum total of my experience, skills and all the guile that my mind can conjure
There are other keys to gain
New perspectives to witness
New opportunities to capture
New gains to be made in this new, quite radical, chapter of my life
And yet -
I feel that there is a deeper process at work, a more profound change than merely latitudes and attitudes

I'm not quite clear on what exactly it is; it's something near enough to grasp but far enough way to elude articulation but my intuition is calling it out for me to pay attention to.

I'll let you in on it when I make sense of it but for now, know that I place my face into the wind and one foot in front of the other because the past is dead and standing still is not an option; entropy is an ugly way to go.

Stand Tall & Frosty my Brothers & Sisters - Jonathon Livingstone Seagull is on the job

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pilgrim in Paradise #1

A dear friend asked me just the other day, 'So, Adam, what would it look like, feel like to not judge yourself?'
The question dumbfounded me, primarily because I've spent my life and career, as a judgement machine. Sometimes because our particular craft continually intrigues, beguiles and bewitches us with time lines, best practices, hot young upstarts, crafty masters and the daily dance of getting through the day successfully and with some form of, if not self satisfaction then at least the esprit of a job well done.

So "Judgement" always seemed valid and indeed necessary.
But when that judgement extends into the darker recesses of our self  assessment, self perspective and self esteem then that can lead one to some lonely, and stark assumptions of one's self.
And sometimes the places where those thoughts can lead, plant a hook so deep that no amount of pep talk is gonna dislodge it from the place where the pain emanates.

But what I think really think my friend meant was that we are our own worse enemy when it comes to "Judgement"; Jungian philosophy has always held that, in our own hearts and minds, there are the ever present specters of the Judge, Jury and Accused, as expressed by the id or our own egos.

The First is always quickest to Judge any particular thought, action or consequence
The Second is always ready to pronounce judgement, and
The Third is always ready, willing even to embody and internalize the Guilty verdict - almost as if it knew it was guilty from the start and wanted, needed, to be punished which only perpetuates the cycle again and again until any real self confidence or self reliability has been worn down and one is left with the only real thing that they know for sure:

That they suck
That I, in particular, suck

But I mean that in the most affectionate manner because at any time, in a moment's notice - that can all be changed and be free of the bondage of 'Judgement"

I know, because I've lived it.

My mother just recently wrote me an email where she told me that she knew that since I hadn't been in touch with her that I was living in the past and not yet looking forward, into my future.
I was still stuck with feelings of guilt, anger, betrayal and, more often than not - sorrow about how my last employment ended.
Try as I might, I just couldn't shake off the feeling that I had let everyone down, my associates, my family and not to mention myself.

Dont'cha just hate it when Mom is right?

So you see this email from a friend suggesting a different way of looking, no strike that, feeling hit me in my head like a hammer and after pondering this particular way of viewing myself in my world I've come to the conclusion that she has given me a precious gift.

One which I will not squander.

So, as a preamble, I'm about done.
Over the next several months I'm going to be taking some time and letting you in the metamorphosis that is occurring within me as I shed my place of residence, most of my belongings and most of all my internal baggage because the "Me" that is forming inside is already feeling a bit more free, especially from the doubt and - and here I have to be careful to be clear and honest without any heavy handiness - self hate; c'mon you the kind I'm talking about - the one the "Accused" in our head loves to feel when the 'Guilty' verdict is handed down, and, with which gives him license for all kinds of self destructive behavior. 

Poster Child for Bad Behavior?
Nope, not me - I've got finer places to fly

Getting what you wish for is sometimes the straightest path to finding out what you really want because as Abraham says, when you get what you don't want you're already setting up your intentions for what you do want; remember - nature abhors a vacuum (my words, not his).

Stand Tall & Frosty my brothers & sisters; next time the particulars of our shared journey.