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Friday, April 5, 2013

CHRONICLES: The Pain of Beauty, The Fragility of Sorrow

I have seen and personally witnessed some pretty horrible things in life.  I've had friends pass away far too long before their time.  I've received frantic phone calls in the middle of the night from people who I wouldn't expect to hear from, describing scenes of blood and razor blades and shock.  I've tried to convince a man who did everything he could that the death of my son was not his fault before I even got a chance to see his body.

And while I don't suffer from a diagnosed mental illness like depression or an anxiety disorder, I realize that a large part of that is simply due to the fact that I haven't had the ability, time, or personal motivation to address that, because, like everyone else, I have my days.

But I don't have them regularly.  I'm blessed to have positive people in my life, to be generally happy in my place in life, my job, my relationships, my family.  None of it is perfect, but some of it is life-changing and positive in its own right, and I cherish it sincerely.

A few days ago, I had a chance to help some friends of mine set up their exhibit, La Folie Circulaire, at the Main Street Gallery of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council.  The pictures weren't all hung yet, but still, walking into that room, a wave of hope, joy, suffering, self-loathing, despair, depression, love, so much love, SO MUCH LOVE, that painful love that you give or receive when someone you know is hurting and all you can do is hold them.

It brought me to tears.  Not heaving, doubled-over crying, but tears, my subconscious and it's tiny, salty, wet tributes to those who are fighting a battle every day in their heads.

The exhibit features graphic images depicting the struggle with bipolar disorder.  It has shocking and beautiful portrayals of being at the highest highs, the lowest lows, the fall out of both, and the ever-present feeling of desperately wishing for an easier path, whether that be a change in meds or the pull of a trigger.

The shocking reality of the struggle that people who have bipolar disorder is something I am relatively familiar with, having spent years with people who are diagnosed, so I'm very familiar with the effects that the ups and downs can produce in life.  However, seeing it up on the walls here in such a way.... it's powerful.

So, if you get a chance to check out the opening, swing by their website, stream the opening tonight at 5:00 Alaska Daylight Time, you will be doing yourself a huge favor in sharing in this very difficult voyage.  I hope you take the time.  It's just... amazing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

CHRONICLES: The Struggle, The Comeback

These days, not much can be done except trying to cover your ass from all of the shenanigans that go wrong in life.  That's how it feels to me.  I often wonder if my cell phone will still have service at the end of the day, if my lights will be on when I get home.  It's a weird and difficult time.

The sun is trying to fall asleep.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I started this blog.  It was my intention to show people why they don't have to be scared of being different.  I wanted to live in a van.  I wanted to push the envelope and take the extra money I had and travel around the country.  I did some of those things.  I travelled.  I pushed the envelope.  I went on climbing trips in Utah that many people dream of.  I bought gear.  I had passes to ski areas that I wanted to ride at, and I could always afford to ride at a place I wasn't covered at.  I went as far east as Orlando, Florida and wound up as far west as Ketchikan, Alaska.  That's kind of where I dropped.

I was lucky enough to have spent some time in some stellar places, cool and trendy apartments in the cool neighborhoods, cozy dwellings, like where I am now, in a beautiful spot on the map.

I've fallen in love with this spot on the map, and some of the people that have come along with it.  But these people are also the ones reminding me that my lifestyle isn't as simple as it should be.  A wonderful and inspiring family I've met, they're moving up north so they can more/less homestead, raise chickens and goats and have a garden and live simply.  My own to-do list has "ministry" and "yurt" on it.
The fire keeps us warm as we tuck the sun in.

But getting there... I've been putting in so much unnecessary bullshit into the ideas that there has to be a certain lifestyle that one has to lead to be considered successful, when really, I never met quite as many great people as I did when I lived in a van, even when I never went anywhere.

The comeback lies in the Pacific Ocean.  Specifically, the Tongass Narrows, or even more precise, Thomas Basin harbor.  Next month, if everything goes to plan, I will be moving onto a 32 foot sailboat, and the adventure will continue.  It won't be the same, but it will continue.

Part of the reason I wanted to share this with you all, is because I was at the beach yesterday.  I had to decompress, and I wound up just looking at the sunset.  I just looked at it.  I remembered the sunset from the deck of the cabin a couple of summers ago.  I remembered the sunsets in Moab, in Salida, in Clarksville, in Kansas City and Yakima, on the M/V Malaspina, and I remembered how free I felt.

Freedom, I've missed you.  I'm coming home, and I'm bringing friends.

I'm coming home.  I'm free.