Sitting on my front porch in Livermore, contemplating Thailand

It’s turning into Spring in Livermore.  The nights are finally warm enough for me to sit on my front porch in Livermore and type a few words into my computer.  I’ve had a few glasses of bourbon and there is no way this blog post can possibly serve my readership, which means it will never see the light of day.  I’m smoking a thankfully rare cigarette and staring out onto the peaceful empty street.  Livermore is quiet, and the street is a typically wide, empty Livermore street.  In the far distance, I hear traffic on the freeway.

My roses are starting to bloom.  My yard is a dirt wasteland, with a single tall cactus planted long ago as its single distinguishing prize.  Soon I will sell all this and move away.  I’ll take my car, my backpack and a few belongings, and start on a new adventure into a life designed to impress only me.  I’ve earned and saved, studied and explored the life of a single man in Livermore.  I’ve looked for love and really failed to find what I want.

My life is unspectacular to describe, at least by my lights.  I finish my cigarette and think, what a shame to sleep when I have this warm feeling of something.  I can’t even describe to my own satisfaction the things of my heart right now.  A single car drives by at low speed, looking for a driveway to pull into, careful not to hurt any pedestrians that by unlikely chance might dart into the street.  America is so cautious, so safe, so unambitious.  There is really nothing to fear, but everyone is optimizing their safety.  People feel daring by having a bit of small fun, perhaps yelling their happiness, but quickly shushing themselves.

 

 

Too Much Resistance From Within

I’ve got much to do to prepare for moving out of this house and striking out.  I need to sell my possessions, clean my house, get it ready for sale, and sell it.  This needs to be done in 6 weeks and 2 days, according to the schedule which I have set for myself.  But I’m hiding from it!

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I’ve already resigned myself to being late.  I’m procrastinating brilliantly.  I am studying computer science, learning German and Thai.  I take long walks and play volleyball every day.  I listen to Dan Carlin podcasts, binge watch Vikings, and go out to drink with friends.  I drink alone, too.  Oh, and occasionally I move forward with my plans.  But the pace is slow.

What is wrong with me, God damn it?  I wonder, is there anything I could seek after that will bring me to decisive and consistent action?  I remember being in college, as an undergraduate, and I worked diligently.  Same as a graduate student.  But somewhere, some of the life has gone out, some of the radiant hope has been replaced with apathy and bad habits have crept in.

What is the purpose of all of this?  I am seeking to find adventure and at first blush I’m only meeting resistance.  It reminds me of “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, wherein he talks about Resistance with a Big R that artists must fight in order to discover their muse.  I also think of the saying that the muse will only find a man when he is working.  I’m thinking of how I’m supposed to find my passion by dropping the pretense of the rat race.  By simplifying my life, I will uncover my true desires.  Or at least, that’s my working premise at the moment.

Right now, I have only to report that it’s slow going.  It’s too late to turn back, thankfully;  I have thrown my hat over the wall and must now get to the other side to retrieve it.  But by every measure at the moment, my destiny is to cultivate my lazy nature.  I feel like I’m hiding from the path I’ve set out for myself.  I know this is going to be epic, but no Hero’s Journey can be had without some slogging.  In all this resistance, my current goal is to get a few hours’ work done per day.

I fear none of this post will make much sense to the reader.  Perhaps it just sounds like a bunch of self-absorbed musings from a confused and uncertain man letting an ordinary midlife crisis drive him into a foolish dream.  Well, so be it.  I apologize to anyone reading this.  I hope the story gets more interesting as time goes along.  THAT is truly the goal!

Are there stars in Bangkok? I don’t remember

I stood tonight in the street where I live, smoking a cigarette and staring down the street reflectively.  I saw the wide, clean streets, the careful drivers, the clear skies with stars in them.  I looked up and thought, when I live in Bangkok, will I see the stars?  Will the haze of the high humidity and hot environment obscure them?  Will I care?  What will be my concern?

I have 55 day, 19 hours and 2 minutes until 5pm on June 1, 2016, when I quit my job at 50 years old and start a new life.  At that point, I will have sold much of my belongings, and on my way to selling my home of 15 years.  I have engaged in an intense process of expatriation, for the sake of adventure and whatever is beyond my event horizon.

This is where I am tonight.  I’m afraid and alone.  I have friends who understand, friends who do not understand.  But I have friends and that is quite remarkable.  I have plans that make sense, plans that are instinctive, plans that will change, and plans that are inspired and fundamentally unchangeable.  I know that being fully who I am is the passport to my adventure, and yet I cannot fully admit that to the world, or even to myself.

We are all just evolved monkeys.  I feel that clever monkeys want to see the mess that other monkeys have made so they can avoid their own messes. This is the motivation for the maxim “if it bleeds, it leads,” in the modern press.  We strive to learn from each others’ mistakes.  But there is also the risk versus reward paradigm, where the greatest riches are available to the monkey willing to swing to the farthest branch, not knowing if it will give way to the waiting tigers in the jungle below.  Some monkeys learn to display their risk and the other monkeys gawk at the spectacle.  There is no optimum, all are necessary for a functional human society.

And in each of us, there is a risk taker, a watcher, a fearful monkey.  Do you want to collect the bananas, or do you want to find another tribe of monkeys?  I see that my passion lies with discovery, even if it involves risk.  I think the current environment favors risk takers.  As Warren Buffet says, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”  Look around.  What do you see?  I see fear.  And I’m making a bet that therein lies my opportunity.

But as Ragnar in the Vikings series says, “Rule with your brain, and not your heart.”  I take counsel with my heart, to tell me what I fear.  I then ask my brain, is this what others fear?  If so, I do the opposite.  I have not done the math, but I suspect this leads to a good result.  And of course, I ask, is this what others find comfort in?  If so, I do the opposite.  I bid you choose counsel of your heart but let your brain rule you as well.  What strategy do  you follow?  I’d love to hear your comments!