Hello on a rainy, foggy, and unseasonably cold Mother’s Day Night,
Yesterday the weather was sunny and through two outdoor graduations, I managed to get a significantly sunburned face. With the wearing of sunglasses a good part of the day, I look like a raccoon, but as a negative or reversed color order. It is the time of year where the weather can change drastically more than once in a day or two, or even on the same day. . . . As is often the case a week has passed and I am just getting back to this. The beginning of the week was taken up by both grading and getting my students to JFK on this past Tuesday. As I write this I am back in NYC working on getting my visa to visit Russia in June. I am at an agency, but there seems to be little rhyme nor reason to the process. I might be the only native English speaking person and I am not sure my Polish is going to be of much help. Russian language is certainly the order of the day, at least in Suite 703 on 7th Avenue.
The past week had been a bit of an exercise in health management and solitude, of which both were needed. As I drove into the city, after getting up a 3:00 a.m., it still took almost 4 hours to get into the city (50 minutes in the Lincoln Tunnel alone). I am continually stunned by how busy my life seems even though school is complete. A pending book review, hopefully receiving an R&R of a book chapter, working on a summer incomplete for a student, managing daily chores both on the Acre and in life in general. What I have realized is that I seem to go in a sort of fits and starts manner. I think there is more to a struggle and diagnosis once given than I would care to admit. Yet another blog post. The long story short is a diagnosis that vexed my sister and petrified me. Yet, while it seems to be the diagnosis du jour, there might be more to it than I want to admit, or certainly face that reality.
Yet I often seem to have times of incredible productivity and then a period of a week or three where I seem paralyzed and manage to accomplish little or nothing. However, when my back is in the corner, the discipline that was part of my Marine Corps training comes alive and things get done. It has always been that way, though I think my sense of obligation is much more attuned to avoiding failure or embarrassment now than earlier in my life. It is an interesting time for me. While there are changes on the horizon, I am not feeling that I need to rush anything. I am pretty content to manage life as it presents itself. I think the idea that we need to develop some momentous plan to get ready for the next phase of life is not realistic. That is not to say we should have no plan nor should we fly by our proverbial seats. Yet, if we need to plan every aspect to the most minuscule detail, do we fail to experience other possibilities. I think that is the case, but where is the balance or the line to maintain a semblance of order? I am a person who seems to float (and I use that word intentionally) between working on the big picture and then rotating toward the specifics. I am not particularly strong in doing both simultaneously. When I move to the details I can get caught up, overwhelmed, and somewhat paralyzed. I do have colleagues who seem equally adept at both as well as simultaneously doing them. I am in awe of that.
At this point I am on a road trip and visiting friends and spaces from my past. Over the weekend, I surprised a wonderful young lady, and friend’s daughter at a graduation party. This morning a student I met my first year of teaching at Suomi College. He eventually went to Dana and Luther and is now a parish pastor. Somehow, I think I had some influence on some of that. Certainly the Dana part. As I type this, I am waiting to meet three individuals from my past here in Houghton. The most common denominator is restaurants and food. Yet, one was also in a technical communication class as a non-traditional undergraduate student when I was a GTI at Michigan Tech. She has the most astounding giving spirit of most anyone I have ever met. The second was my boss and owner of two restaurants I was blessed work work at when I lived here. She is an incredibly talented person in so many ways. Someone I admired more than she really ever fathomed. The third met through the second when I first returned to Houghton in 2000. She is simply one of the most elegant and beautiful individuals I have ever met. I was fortunate enough to get to know her when I worked at a restaurant called Steamers. I think she is often misjudged because of her beauty: one of the simple (and unfortunate) truths of the mistreatment of and our society’s attitude toward females. As I read much of what she posts and the photography she creates, she is beautiful in so many ways that most fail to take the time to consider. It will be a wonderful lunch. . . . And so it was. What a nice chance to hear and listen to each of them and to catch up on some things that were an important part of my life when I lived in Hancock and Houghton. Even now as I write this, little incidences from the recess of my memories come to the fore. It is less than 24 hours later and about 6:45 a.m. I am back in Menomonie, staying once again with my most gracious former neighbors where I can sit, look out the window, and from my seat, I can see my former bedroom window and most of Lydia’s second and third floors. Again the memories and the reality of the changes that 10 years have brought. It will be early this August ￼when I mark 10 years ago I left Menomonie as a permanent resident. Up to that point, living in this little town on the Red Cedar was the longest I had lived in one place since high school. Now that place is Bloomsburg. My blog has been full of Lydia and memories of her. I think the more important thing to note currently is no matter how central people are in your life, our lives move on.
Some of that need to move on comes as a rite of passage and that is what occurs in my life every May as students graduate. Some of the impetus to move on can occur because our life situation changes. I spoke with a friend, colleague, and incredible woman this morning who is planning to do some of that sort of closing of a chapter and attempting to create something new. Not in any sort of French-Revolution-baby-with-the-bath-water manner, but as a way to establish who she is as the single individual after the loss of a larger than life spouse. I listened to the need to do this and the wistfulness of living life on the other side of a long life together. Managing change is central to our human identity because as our circumstances are altered, so is our understanding of self. I have noted that change in the following statement. Things I believed significant when I was 30 somehow seem less so and then I imagined unimportant at that age seem to be rather paramount now. I would like to believe some of that is merely growing a bit wiser, but some of it was stupidity, arrogance, or selfishness if I am to be more circumspect. An example has confronted me a number of times just today. It is a magnificent late spring/semi- summer afternoon now in almost mid-June. Yes, it has taken me a month to get this written. A 3,700 mile road trip, other work, and again (in the spirit of accountability) some simple laziness has affected my writing process.
Today the number of motorcycles cruising past the house probably is equal to the number of fingers and toes I have, but I have not felt more than a passing wistfulness for the Streetglide. The decision to become a person who is post-owning was a good one. It was both a financial and a health decision . . . And more one of health. A cortisone shot in my hip told me that trying to manage 900+ pounds was no longer a smart thing. $120.00+/month for insurance when I put less than 3,000 miles in 24 months was also a determining factor. On my recent road trip I got similar mileage in the car I would have gotten on the Harley. All those things confirm this was a good choice. I did find riding both relaxing and freeing, but I am also relaxed as I sit on my deck or hangout on my patio. Hence, focusing on my health seems to be a good plan. That has been the central focus in a variety of ways, especially the last two to three years. Again changes from the Crohn’s and as a consequence of aging have compelled me to pay closer attention. Those are changes and they certainly require some continuous managing, thoughtful moderating, and intentional modifying. Some have asked me if the rather profound changes are difficult. My general answer is a simple not really. There are moments, but when considering the other option without the changes, the answer is still not really, or more accurately NO. As I move into the summer, there will be changes and yet some of the same. I will see a former student, but in a new place. I will return to Poland, but have new possibilities and new planning to undertake. I will consider what the next two years will bring and how reaching the age of 65 will affect me should that happen. Life is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes the changes are minuscule and seem to be unimportant or inconsequential. However, that is seldom the case. They accumulate and the sort of concentric rings can provide an undoubtedly altered reality if we analyze their cumulative impact carefully. Sometimes we are confronted by profound changes and we are overwhelmed by the prospect of their consequence. Yet life continues and new norms are created. Again, surprisingly, we find there is more constant than change. Perhaps the names, faces, and places are changed, but we are still fundamentally consistent and uniform. The significant element in all of this is ourselves. How will we manage the new opportunities? That is what they are. Too often we focus on the abrogating nature of something different. We, too often, focus on our fear of the unknown rather than believing in our personal resilience. Change is part of our humanity; it is what can offer hope. It is what can allow for growth. It is what provides for our own metamorphosis into a more successful and fulfilled life. Here’s to embracing the change.
Thank you for reading,