Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Place to Be


I am quite certain for most of my life I have been searching for a "place to be".  Although I have been able to succeed in finding places (physical and mental), and groups of people which feel like home, I find myself always slightly restless for what may be around the bend.  Sometimes I consider myself a rectangular peg trying to fit into a square hole.  Many places, again mental and physical, have been a really close fit and yet there's usually something that just doesn't feel right.  I am a virgo through and through.  It is in my blood to find a place to why do I get restless every time my ass makes a dent in the couch cushion?

Since settling in Madison ten years ago, I now move around mostly in groups of people, since I haven't had a physical move to a different location in quite some time.  Please understand, by no means am I searching for perfection--I know it doesn't exist, or should I say everything is perfect in its own right--and I'm not one of those "the grass is always greener" folks either.  I'm guessing it may be my desire to learn about everything and experience as much as I can in my short time here.  Often I view staying in one place (mentally and physically) as being stagnant.  I get depressed when I'm not learning something new.  I certainly don't feel the need to be busy all the time--I love sitting watching the clouds or squirrels--but I do need to be, as my friend Josiah frequently says, moving "always forward" in the big picture.

This past week, I was forced to deal with the fact we are all mortal multiple times.  I'll be honest, it sucked the big one. It was as if my brakes were locked down suddenly while I was flying 50mph down a hill.  Then, when I thought I had picked myself up off the ground, I was slammed down a few more times.  I do not fear death like Woody Allen (although I love him, I find his fear of death ridiculous), instead I take a view on death similar to Atul Gawande.  We are all mortal, we are all dying little by little at this very moment, and yet we must all face this fact and choose to savor being alive while we are here.

For a few days, I did no such savoring.  I self medicated, wallowed and shut the world out.  Food didn't taste good and yet I ate too much, being outside in the wind hurt my senses, I wanted to sleep for hours upon hours and my bikes sat unridden.  I couldn't console my friends, I couldn't console myself.  And then I forced myself to do two things.  First, I rode out in the cold wind with sprinkles falling, to see baby goats.  I heard their bleating before I ever saw them.  I crawled into their pen and inhaled their barnyardy sweet/sour scent deeply.  I picked them up and held them to me, feeling their warmth, feeling their heart beat against my chest and feeling them squirm with abandon all while they licked the sweat off my face, hands and arms.  I began to smile, laugh out loud, and quite possibly squeal without being aware I was doing so until I heard myself several minutes later.  I felt alive holding these furry little beings and knew I was going to be okay.

The other thing I did was plan a long day on the bike.  I didn't really "want" to ride for hours upon hours in freezing temps but I knew it was the right thing to do.  It would bring me back to that simple place of survival.  I could choose to stop pedaling and sit down to become hypothermic on the side of the road, but I knew I wouldn't.  Consider it a slap in the face to an out of control loved one.  This ride was meant to snap me out of a deep funk by putting me into not so pleasant conditions.  As I closed in on my destination of Milwaukee, my heart filled with warmth being, in what I would consider, my second home--third if you count Minneapolis.  I love Milwaukee and I love my friends who reside there.  It was, at this time, the perfect place to be.

Thankfully my two choices of moving forward, the goat ride and the ride to Milwaukee, brought me back to a near normal state.  More importantly, I learned quite a bit about myself and how I should be dealing with living and dying in a healthy way.  L'chaim!

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