The Future (Ain’t What it Used to Be)

            I find myself thinking about racing strategies, for example: situations where we might want to risk flying the spinnaker, the course in relation to currents, winds, shoals, our competitors’ positions, and such.  It’s all very complicated, and this is very pleasurable.  Before, I was focussed on boat maintenance and improvement.  Also challenging.  Also all about acquiring new knowledge and skills, and practicing. 

I want to know: am I learning how to live?  How would I test this, how could I know?  And sometimes I wonder: could I learn anything truly useful if I had no sense of time?  No awareness of my finitude?  I’m not likely to get twenty more sailing seasons.  I’d be eighty-seven.  This morning on our power walk, my wife, who’s younger than me—she walks faster!  She works for the government and was hyper-excited about the possibility of being offered a job here.  Like, soon, and this just came up.  It would turn life upside-down, having to move in a month, at most two.  Huge list of things to do.  I doubt she’ll want to take this one, but we need to be ready for the next opportunity.  We’re going to move here, leave the city.  I wish I could frame these changes to make them feel less daunting.

            This waterfront trail is paradise.  A blue heron spreads its wings into silent flight, mist on water, great flocks of geese and ducks staging for their migrations.  The red sun burning autumn.  Suddenly a deer, a silhouette a ways up the path, huge ears, we can see it turn its head toward us, we’re stopped too, in stillness, deer and us staring.  And then the white tail, the flag flying as she bounds away and into the forest.  Which she enchants.  Every morning lately there’s been a pair of trumpeter swans, and when we see them we walk for a while holding hands.  The only other person today, this one cyclist we see every day, everybody says: “Good-day!”  And that’s all we do but it seems we really like each other—for heaven’s sake!

            My head spins trying to be numerate running budgets for this move’s most likely scenarios.  I offer to look into the costs of buying a vehicle, and also update the chart of our living expenses, which I religiously record every day every single item, in my typically annoying fashion.  After an hour walking fast, trying to keep up with my wife on foot and in my head, I’m getting headache.  My feet ache anyway, I have planter’s fasciitis.  I have arthritis in the toe I broke on a toke in a slippery bathroom.  I also have arthritis in one hip.  I don’t care about these old hurts.  But the last time I was extremely proficient with finances was when I was egregiously stealing from everything and everyone around me, and from the future, to buy drugs.  After decades of being financially smart and responsible.  And so now, you know, that part of my brain: it still pains my heart.

            Time, time to get through that.  I’m just lucky to have come into a situation where I can practice.  Walk a spiritual path.  And don’t we know it, eh?

            Last night was movie night—the three of us eat dinner in front of the TV on Tuesday nights—and my mother-in-law chose A Star is Born with Lady Gaga.  Who, I did not know, is such a beautifully expressive singer.  A certain level of popularity and there’s a class of listener ignores you.  So I reckon I was a snob; my loss, she’s wonderful.  But this movie: such a sad, sad story.  A romance, and the principal male hangs himself, with his dog pawing at the driveway and crying for him as he swings from the garage ceiling.  He’s just got through a residential rehab, where he’d gone after embarrassing everyone, so drunk and stoned he peed himself on stage beside his Grammy-winning wife.

            “It’s a disease, Jack.”  She loves him and she wants him to go get treatment and then come home, and be well.  In my experience I have found that the homecoming wish will be dropped.  Eventually, after some number of rehabs and relapses, family stops wanting you back.  But the belief in addiction as a disease too often persists.  Better if it were the other way around: they love you, they want you home, and they don’t know what to think except that probably you’re just being a selfish asshole.  But in the movie the new star’s manager drills down on the disease model, minus the love, nurturing the seeds of Jack’s self-destruction.  Recovery can be a death zone, for sure.  Especially for people who are led to believe that they’re permanently flawed and therefore will forever be harmful to their loved ones.  Built on a Friday, can’t be fixed. As if only God could be safe in their company.  I wish that were just incorrect.  It is incorrect but worse than that because no matter what you believe, it’s just the saddest sad thought.

            Maybe I wish somebody would make a movie of my true experience of uncovery.  My book, that epic work of speculative non-fiction I spend ten years writing, is about circuitous recovery followed by endless iterations and ramifications of transformation—ohmygod, it all takes such a long time.  Movies are short stories.  The uncovering of my non-story would have to be one of those six-season serials: Breaking Good. Maybe.

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