lessons i can’t teach you

some lessons that can only be learned firsthand, not taught:

1. being ‘part of the solution’ doesn’t come with preference settings. it generally involves other people with their own established goals and lifestyle that differ dramatically from your own. i.e. they get to call the shots or lay down the terms on what constitutes a solution, and it probably won’t be convenient or simple. it may even be messy and disturbing. that comes with the territory, and you just have to adapt to meet the challenge. sometimes it won’t turn out as horrible as you imagined it. usually everyone survives. unless they were terminal anyway. you’re only one person, and will never get it all right, whether they ‘get it’ or not. the bottom line is to stick it out, and not back down because you’re afraid you won’t be adequate to the responsibility. you might even learn more adaptation skills.

2.’ keeping it simple’ isn’t a concept that people naturally grasp or gravitate to. life is complex and complicated, and whether your choices and decisions are intentional, necessary, or unconscious, the consequences will pile up and complicate and limit your options. at some point, you’re at the point of no return, and can’t easily undo the layers, without doing some damage. only you will know when you have reached that crossroads at which you realize which parts of your life are just complicated hindrances that need to go, and which are essential elements of a conscious decision or direction. the trick is in getting the priorities sorted, then eliminating the nonessential, one piece at a time, ruthlessly. your own experience will signal you when the important must be salvaged from the superfluous, and the latter let go of. no one else can determine that for you, but they can help you manage it once you’ve reached that point.

3. this one seems so obvious that i hesitate to even bring it up, but it bears repeating, if only to myself. remembering how it was at various stages of your life, and then being patient with people who are coming up behind you going through their own versions, is essential to maturing. it can be so natural and tempting to just block out and try to forget those difficult passages you survived, and then turn around and be insensitive and critical of others struggling through their own changes. many people grow up and simply shut off their childhood experiences, especially trauma. this is understandable and natural. but then they inadvertently superimpose their own fractured world views on those they care about, forgetting that these are unique individuals with different experiences and hopes. in fact, these younger folks may be the ones to accomplish some healing in this world that we were unable to, with all our damage and dysfunction, if we just give them the chance.

i might add that if any of the above sounds familiar or even borrowed, i am simply affirming ideas that are not unique to me, although i am learning them for myself. ironically, i often learn them from the experiences of younger people. you know who you are! is that a contradiction in terms? a paradox? you tell me. i just call it as i see it. you’ll have to find out for yourself!

daydream postscript

i just wanted to add a clarification to my last post, in case it sounds presumptuous.  aside from the obvious fact that it is just a fun fantasy that i don’t realistically see happening, i want to express why it came up in the first place.  i guess the reason is twofold:  

in my role as family caregiver, i’ve been in a position to observe or experience the various strategies in place (or lack thereof) for aging in this country.  i don’t think this major stage of life is being adequately or appropriately addressed in our society.  i see a great deal of frustration, stress, confusion, depression, isolation, and waste in our system.  i don’t see many workable or accessible alternatives being created, or different attitudes being modeled.  so in my mind, i keep trying to visualize alternative models that promote a more holistic extended family/communal approach.  obviously i have a personal stake or interest in this subject, but it’s philosophical as well.  also i’m a hopeless hippie at heart, marooned in the very mainstream conventional world i sought to separate myself from all those decades ago.    

in my role as mother, i’ve observed the progress and sometimes, the frustration of my son in his quest to find a work/family/life model that makes sense and fulfills their dreams and goals.  it’s the eternal dilemma of how to balance the work necessary to provide family security with the need to be there for your young growing family, only in a non-conventional, more freelance and independent format.  it’s an intention i admire and want to support in any way an inadequate (and remotely located) mother can.  i understand how frustrating it can be, when you’re stretched thin, and adequate resources are not yet in sight.  so, having no tangible solutions to offer, i try to imagine scenarios  by which to make their lives easier.  if it also happens to benefit me in the process, maybe mutual benefit is the point of creating alternative communities.  and again, it’s only thoughts in my head. i’m not planning to stalk anyone to the ends of the earth with my crazy ideas!  (or so i have them think!  bwahaha!)

i just have a lot of empty time on my hands.  i have to do something with the few brain cells left.     

daydream part 2

ok, never mind about the writing trend that lasted all of two days. which is why i said i don’t make resolutions. the truth is, when i can’t think of something worthwhile to say, which is usually, it’s better to shut up.

meanwhile, if you’ll bear with me and keep your disbelief suspended a little longer, here is part 2 of my daydream [disclaimer, don’t panic, feel free to sleep through it, blah blah blah…]:

ok, so you’ll recall in our last episode, we had the proverbial hippie farm on the mountain, with my outlier music/arts venue, etc. (home-built airship tethered to the mooring mast, scotch and martinis at the bar, jamming all evening on the porch, and so on…).

in this daydream, by day my little place features a fully tech-stocked office/studio, with all the necessary and not-so-necessary hook-ups for computer or electronic work projects or creative tasks. a certain person who knows who they are would set it up and be able to work in it whenever they chose, without distraction or interruption. they could come and go as they please. they would be close to the family when needed, but could get away to concentrate and get work done. time spent in there would be sacred, i.e. not to be disturbed by anyone, including me, except by permission. sort of a work chapel.

meanwhile, back at the ranch, so-to-speak, the rest of the gang could enlist my humble services to help out with things there, thereby freeing up the remote work that needs to be done to pay the bills. or i would get a job and help support the cause.

but in the evening, the work stops and the hanging out/ jams begin, over at the outlier outpost. people can use the studio to create/record music, watch movies, play video games, whatever.

yes, this is a daydream that extends into the evening; just go with it.

do i have ulterior motives in my daydream? sure! it’s an imaginary evil plan to be part of a possible solution for all of us. i could think of worse ideas. i see them being perpetrated around me, every day. by contrast, i’d say my little scheme is clever and resourceful, if not too practical. and best of all, it’s all in my head, where it can’t hurt anyone.

i do have one little condition: sometimes i will just need to go crash, while others party on. i’m an OLD hippie, after all. and being an old hippie, i may reserve the right to have a deadfest every so often; live with it!

stay tuned for the next zany episode.

dead words

like i said, you just never know…

two days in a row, it might be a trend. or maybe i’m under the influence of dead jams. that can do strange things to your head, man…

moving right along (‘further’, to stay with the theme) i’ve been shut down for over a year now, here in VOE exile. a relentless diet of d-words: dementia, decay, disintegration, death, despair, shall i go on? not very motivational. i got to the point where i just assumed there was nothing to look forward to, so why delude myself? just grit my teeth, put up with the endless grind, and try not to think. if you’ve never been here, in this situation, you have no idea how debilitating –another d-word–it can be. so don’t even talk, until you have.

but this isn’t about feeling sorry for myself. (though g-d knows i do it enough.) this is a faltering attempt to recapture some vision of life after nothingness that i lost track of somehow. as if there might be a brief window of life left between death-management of others, and my own.

‘…one more day i find myself alive
tomorrow maybe go beneath the ground
see here how everything led up to this day
and it’s just like any other day that’s ever been
sun going up and then the sun going down
shine through my window and my friends they come around
come around…’

an artist friend reminded me through music and art that it’s not over yet, so i have to give credit where it’s due. maybe this lowly writing attempt is my way of not conceding defeat.

daydream of the day

i know if i set out to write something every day, just to hone my so-called writing skills, it will never happen, so i won’t resolve to do it.  but you never know, stranger things have happened…

today’s daydream is….(brought to you by the grateful dead):

[DISCLAIMER ALERT!  (you knew that would be in here.)   let me preface by reassuring anyone happening to read this that it is ONLY a daydream, not a threat!  it has no real probability of actually happening, even if the intended parties were partial to the idea.  of course there is always the slim chance that it may go to the proposal stage one day.  so just humor me, and DON’T PANIC IN BIG FRIENDLY LETTERS!]

having said that….somehow i scrounge up enough money to contribute the down payment for that proverbial piece of land out in the mountains of nowhere.  in exchange, i get a small corner of it to live on out at the edges of it.  (they can eventually pay me back, if they insist, in goods and services such as produce and tech support!  no strings attached.)  i’ll be close enough to offer child-care or other services, and far away enough not to get on their nerves.  i’d probably need to get an actual job, to keep from being a parasite.  or i can work in the garden or maintain the animals.  but those are just the mundane details.  here’s the real crux of the matter:

my home is a music and arts venue, open to anyone, anytime, to just hang out and jam into the night, or get away to do art or think.  (repeat:  i’m at the far side of the property, including far from annoyed neighbors.)  i am the old hippie patron of alternative arts!  oh yeah, there WILL be a big porch to jam on.  there are impromptu live jams whenever people with instruments get together, from bluegrass to drum circles to trance to you-name-it.  it’s open house (and open bar, needless to say) much of the time.  kid-friendly.  there’s a tree-house.  you can camp out if inebriated.  (maybe not up in the tree-house!)  of course there will be cats.  and not much else, just space to think/meditate and do music and get away.  oh, and speaking of space, for an educational science project, we can build an airship.  launch it from the mountain.  a certain mechanically-inclined grandson could supervise.  with me so far?

good, because i haven’t thought this through beyond this point, so feel free to fill in the details yourself.  it’s just a daydream in progress.  one can dream, right?

hey, it’s better than wallowing in existential despair ALL the time.