Posts Tagged ‘life’

Unregretted decisions

Historically I have a difficult time making decisions because I too easily see the other side of an argument. Which is an unusual problem, because too often people are unable or unwilling to consider the other side of an issue! But there have been two decisions I have never regretted, never looked back on, never had second thoughts about.

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The first was a decision to surrender my appointment to a service academy. I was appointed out of high school, and went through the bulk of that first summer. Truth be told, I was admitted by virtue of mind and test tacking abilities, and the body was never, EVER, as good or good enough. The decision to leave was difficult, mostly because of the reaction I would face back home and the need to get into school someplace that fall so I wouldn’t be trapped at home. But although it was difficult, I have never, in all the years, regretted the decision. I still think I could have made a good military officer (more Al Haig than David Petraeus), but I’ve never wished I had stayed, never was sorry I hadn’t pursued that path.

The second decision that I never looked back on was the decision to have a family. Alright, it was a very small family, just one child, but the decision to do it was a long time coming. It took me years to get to “yes”. In fact, I think my then-wife despaired of ever having a child because of my reticence. And yet, once she arrived in our life, I never regretted, never looked back.

It’s interesting that these are the two decisions I have the most confidence in, because they have had very different outcomes.  The decision to leave the academy meant I ended up in a school that would take me rather than one I had selected.  It meant my major was decided through a certain randomness of taking copious ‘introduction’ classes in my freshman year rather than the history/political science/oceanography major I to which I had aspired.  And the major lead to all sorts of ramifications in my career path when an accident (TMI) and politics (Reagan recession) substantially altered my planned paths.  But all has turned out acceptably, as I have found a passion for environmental sustainability and planning that I would not have expected.

The decision to have a family….ah, now that’s a different outcome.  The divorce and subsequent estrangement from my progeny has produced years of sadness and pain, and even a nervous breakdown. That’s just from my side of the divide, from my perspective. I have to imagine it’s at least as bad from the other side, to grow up in half a family, to have life so dramatically changed.  And yet….and yet. I still don’t regret the decision.  Even through the emotional distance and disconnect, the love, pride, joy, hope that I feel for her outweighs the pain I’ve felt.

Two decisions.  Two turning points in life.  Neither regretted.  I suppose that is something  for which I should be grateful.

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Lives Lived

I took a trip this weekend with a friend of mine.  She was going to the retirement party for an influential college professor from her undergraduate days.  I was along for the ride and to keep her company during the trip.  We had a fair amount of time to talk (driving in a car has a tendency to give you that) and I learned reams about her that I didn’t know before.

I’ve always known her as a very, very bright (impressively so), technologically oriented scientist. What I didn’t know was the path she took to get there.  Actually, while I say path, the reality was that roads had ended and there was no path.  She created a path through obstacles that would have each thwarted lesser motivated, lesser determined people.  In doing so, she became the person I’ve known, and yet the one who hides scars and wounds and damage that most won’t ever see or guess.

During the trip we visited her childhood best friend, one that has been friends with her through all of this.  Down bucolic tree-lined old-style streets we drove until we arrived at a quaint 1920’s bungalow with the biggest, most magnificent ginkgo tree I’ve ever seen.  Her friend, as it turns out, is taking care of a parent who is slowly and painfully dying mentally and physically.  It was a scene of caring, of compassion, of struggle that I have not been witness to in recent years.  My friend helps out where she can, emotionally and financially, despite her own continued problems and challenges.  A friendship of that many years does, I suspect, lends itself to that but it still takes intentionality and commitment.

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It struck me how little we know of the struggles that others have gone through, or are going through. It has made me grateful for what I have in a way I haven’t been for a while. Despite what I view/viewed as a life ending divorce and apparent estrangement from progeny, despite never having had a plan or a goal in life–I’ve had it very easy compared to many and done well despite myself.  Too often I fail to appreciate the good, and over emphasize the bad. And while I have become better at giving, at sharing, at empathizing, I could do better. I think, sometimes, that if I can’t give as much as I think I should, I shouldn’t bother.  It’s a perfectionist trap because it creates a lose-lose situation.  What I need to do is continue to slowly stretch the giving muscles, gradually build the overcoming tendons, build the life-endurance strength in me.

Maybe this trip will help me help my friend when she needs it. And whoever else I see that needs help.  Thank God for the eye-opening of the trip.

 

 

 

 

Light observation

It occurred to me the other week that I have lived in my apartment for a long time.  In fact, I have lived in my 900 sq ft longer than any other single location in my life.  I moved into the apt as part of the “out of the house” separation prior to the divorce.  That means it has been my domicile for ten years.  It has been my home for only four, because it wasn’t until a serious, weeks long illness in 2012 that I “bonded” with the place and learned to be okay, comfortable, even happy (gasp!) with it.  In one sense I’m surprised it has been so long.  In another…..I’ve forgotten much of what other places were like.

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With that as background, I had a light thought the other morning.  I was getting ready for work when I noticed that one of the five lights over the vanity was burned out.  Not an unusual thing –except that it was.  You see, in the ten years that I have been in the apt, this is the FIRST time that a light in the bathroom has burned out.  How can I be sure?  Because it is a non-standard bulb, and it’s one I know I have never had to buy before.  In fact, it is such an odd bulb I’m going to ask building management to replace it.

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How did this happen?  I have to wonder, because that light is ALWAYS used!  Every morning it comes on while I shower, shave, get dressed.  Every evening I turn it on when I wash and brush.  Any time during the day when I’m home from work, it is on when I use the bathroom.  For ten years.  And now….the first one goes.   What made these so resilient?  Why did they last so long when the lamp bulbs in the living room and the bedroom get changed out every couple of years?

Just something light to think about 🙂

Lost Direction

It happened while I was out walking this past week. Walking helps me with my thoughts and stirs my creative energies for writing and more….for however creative I am when writing. But at some point on my walk, it struck me.
I’m lost.

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It was a bit of a shock when I realized it. To a fair degree, it snuck up on me and surprised me. I thought I’d had a good plan and direction but…..well, apparently not.

I’ve become lost and direction-less, in life.

In both my work life and my personal life, I’ve lost my bearings. Again. The first time I lost my bearings was in the divorce. The things that I had always assumed would be there in a usual life– home, wife, child, love, connection, growing old — all disappeared. As thought the loss of the marriage wasn’t severe enough, but there was the loss of fatherhood as well. It was quite a shock, and at least one bout of severe depression (nay, nervous breakdown) was the result.

I rebuilt, and up until this past week thought things were going well. I had realized that sustainability was a passion. I was engaged in that at work, driving the vision forward, and doing it as a volunteer at the Robinson Nature Center as well. Add in the blog, walking, and (recently) the cat, and I felt that perhaps I was setting forward on a new path.

Yeah……no.

The effort at work seems to have slid away. The word has come down that I’m not promoteable, and the sustainability work I’ve been doing has been  usurped , taken over, assumed by a different group that has very different ideas on both what to do with it and how to do it.  Instead of directing the effort that I’ve been leading and championing for a decade, I’m now told that I can help them but that they are setting the course….despite having neither the skill set nor the passion.

The volunteer work on this has also dried up. While the Nature Center is going great guns, there is no longer much interest in the green building portion of it.  The LEED Platinum building is now an only-occasionally considered aspect, and my time as a volunteer is dwindled to almost nothing.

I have become totally unmoored, now drifting along without benefit of goal, direction or guidance. This is quite a shock to me.  I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly resilient person; the breakdown in 2010 was proof of that!  Interestingly, when I think of resiliency in my friends, it is a quality that I think of in a couple of the women that I know — Jen and Jess in particular.

At this point I don’t know what I’ll do.  It is, most likely, a measure of growth to even realize what has happened, to put label to it.  There is a certain degree of comfort in being able to label it, to recognize it.  That recognition has at least caused me to start considering things in a new light.  Are there classes I want to take for which I now could have time?  Is there a degree, another Master’s or a PhD, that I desire?  Or a certification?  Perhaps a new volunteer opportunity.  Or explore writing in greater detail, and act on the children’s books, the technical books, the contemplative book, or the historical books that I have been tossing around in my head for a dozen years.

Meanwhile, I bob along in the waves.  Moor to come 🙂 I hope.

 

Never. Will. Happen.

Things I want, won’t ever be

Will not happen, not for me.

Time has passed, seasons have gone

life moves on, a fading song.

Love won’t arrive, no joyous spring

No rush of warmth or hearts love sing.

Longing for family, hearth; lost and shattered

Pieces and shard, jagged wounds no matter.

Each new change, day, event

Bleeds afresh, new pain is sent.

Joy, hope, love, heart,

Lost now, forever dark.