LAKE MACBRIDE— Snapping a photo with my handheld device reduces automobile search time. When I learned about willing suspension of disbelief in high school, I took it to heart, and applied the concept to much of what I do in public. So much so, I forget where the car is parked after an event… more often than I would like. A photo helps.
This morning the moon was a yellow crescent, refracted by the atmosphere on the horizon. I was taking the recycling bin to the curb. From above, ancient starlight fell on me through the darkness. It was cold, the cold and starlight and crescent moon were invigorating on a groggy morning.
Two months in, my jobs as newspaper correspondent and warehouse worker seem to have taken. That’s good news. A stable financial platform is important to sustaining this errant life of writing. While the two don’t produce a living wage, they get me closer than I was last year— a footing upon which to leverage aspiration’s ascent.
I understand ranges: of potential pay for each part time job; and of the time investment required to produce it. I’m entering into the period we called stability operations in the military. Settling in, and working toward other important goals.
In the news stream of images, articles and recordings that is social media, I came upon a list of the 20 most popular TED talks. After watching a few of them, it occurred to me that a very small percentage of my time has been spent answering the question why? I’m not talking about the lengthy intellectual excursions taken during my undergraduate dalliance with western philosophy. Rather, what motivates me to eschew the six figure job I left for doing what I love? There are three things.
My outlook on life in society was formed after being an altar boy at our local convent. Rising early, I walked to our elementary school, where the nuns lived on the top floor, and assisted the priest with morning Mass. It was in Latin. After Mass, I had an hour or so at home before returning to school for classes. I read pulp magazines bought at the corner drug store. An epiphany that morning was the nature of intellect and language.
We are separate from language, and everything else perceived by the senses. Language is a medium for communication, and our faith is that there is another reality outside sensory perceptions to perceive us, and if we are lucky, to communicate with us. Just as the starlight traveled for years to illuminate my morning walk from the curb, so too is everything our senses perceive: light, not stars. This epiphany remains with me, grounded in experience, not in the ideas of others.
Secondly, money is a means to an end. Founded on a life of sensory perceptions, in which we know not the existence or motivation of others, life becomes a quest for truth and meaning. Such a quest is to rid our consciousness of utter alone-ness. Accumulation of wealth is simply not that important. While raising our daughter, we were able to get through it all financially: buying a house, securing food and clothing, transportation, and formal education. While I made some progress over a 25 year career in transportation, other than addressing an occasional abstraction about needing more money, we used money to live as best we could.
The final point: the necessity of self-realization. The signs that I needed to leave my long career were everywhere. The conventional wisdom was to continue working as I had until reaching full retirement at age 68. What I also knew was life expectancy was such that if healthy, I would have another 20 years to work. It became a compelling enterprise to shift away from work I felt was unsustainable to something that would see me through the years 60-80. Something less reliant upon a single source of income. Once I realized this and accepted it, my days as a transportation worker were numbered, leading me here.
The photo of the parking ramp was taken last week. It was a brief step toward finding a way. Now that I’m on a path, it is proving much easier to follow it.