I can’t recall precisely what caused me to run to my mountain, and then to my farm. I believed then, and believe more strongly now, in pursuing dreams and considering life. Every day I ask myself how I wish to spend the rest of my life, how eager I am not to waste my life, or live in the fears and expectations of others. I understand now that I was running away from things as well as towards them, yet our self-awareness is bounded sometimes by our own narrow visions of ourselves. I set out to learn more and this particular journey has brought me closer to an understanding of my life.
As I have aged, of course, and experienced great and powerful things, I am learning, and I have moved towards a balanced view of life. Understanding what I can and cannot have, worked to be authentic and also more responsible. For me, living responsibly has changed my view of money, love and choice. It has not altered my determination to free the inner spirits that are sometimes trapped within us. I will no longer lead a loveless life, or diminish my expectations for it in response to the fear, greed and submission to corporatism and new technology. I look for balance in all of these things.
Responsibility for me has involved balance with money. I buy what I can afford. Nothing is free. I do not ask other people to live my life or to pay for it. It has taught me that my life is not an argument, but a choice. This has involved drama, it is not in my world, and the people who feed off it are not in my world either. It involves animals, not exploiting them, emotionalizing them or using them as a shield or hiding place or substitute for human contact and community. It involves aging, and balancing growing older with the denigration of aging by the health care system and a world that has no respect for death. It involves love, and the rejection of society’s view of aging only through the prism of entitlement, diminishment and health.
I have learned that we all struggle, and I am leaving behind the struggle stories and laments that are the currency of our times. We all suffer, we all despair. My troubles are no worse than yours, and I do not need to burden you with them, or wallow on them, nor trade them for yours. Every day, the world creates new victims, new love, new opportunity for life. That is the nature of our lives. We live where we choose to live.
I am forming my own ideas of health and health care and they are serving me well.
I have pursued a spiritual life as long as I can remember, from the day I wandered into a Quaker Meeting House when I was 14. I am getting there. Thomas Merton was correct when he wrote that one cannot live a meaningful life without faith of some sort. My spiritual practice has helped put to rest decades of panic and anger, depression and resentment, although all of these will be elements in my life, I suspect to the end. My spiritual work has calmed me, grounded me, opened my mind to peace and joyous reflection. To love, too, I think. I am grateful I pursued a spiritual life as much as a loving relationship.
I am learning to respect death, to accept it, prepare for it in a world where it is denied, despised and hidden away. It is life’s partner, for me, for the people I know, for the animals I love. My hospice work has taught me so much about it.
Much of this involves being a man, and what that means. A desire for change and a more meaningful life is not a mid-life crisis, but an awakening It involves help, asking for it and listening to it. Real men listen to women and learn from them. A real man is a loving and supportive man, generous and wise. He helps where he can, when he is asked. And he is an open man. Therapists, analysts, doctors, pastors, rabbis, spiritual counselors, shamans and hypno-therapists have been telling me things I do not wish to hear for years now, but I have listened, and am listening, and will continue to listen. My wife Maria has become a great teacher for me, she is showing me how to open up and love. It is hard, challenging. It is wonderful.
All of my spiritual teachers have helped me, each in their own way, as has my deepening community on the Internet. I am moving forward into another year of change, hope, crisis and mystery. Working on my first podcast, preparing my new e-books, changing my notions of what a writer is.
I dedicate myself to the next chapter, seeking meaning, and living a life of balance and responsibility.