Happy Thanksgiving, world.
I find myself in remarkably different circumstances than the last Thanksgiving, an unforgettable night of storm dragging anchor off Bahia Tortugas; this on the tail of a clouded, wild night of a different kind: sailing under total loss of power (read: no GPS, no running lights). Was it “fun”? Uh, no, but was invigorating and challenging and did I feel as though I were in concrete pursuit of a purpose? Hell yes.
But my reality today has me not exactly rooted, though certainly intertwining my toes with Oregon’s superficie. My once-brief pandemic-retreat has bloomed into a full-scale pause, and I’m caught braving winery(s) and not rogue waves on the high seas. First with two jobs; now, thankfully, down to one, and with a late-January termination in sight.
Yes, I could have written many posts detailing these past months but why would I write?
I don’t mean this as some sort of rhetorical resignation, instead a very literal examination. I started this blog as an opportunity to express myself and document what was to be both a literal journey and an figurative arc of learning and self-reflection. The literal journey, yes, may be reprised but what of those limitless possibilities on the horizon? I no longer feel those so vividly.
This past year has been eventful, to be sure. For a brief time, my explorations endowed me with the promise of newness. Quite quickly, however, familiar patterns began to manifest. Aloofness–either self-propagated or as defined by the rebuffs of others–defines my life, no matter the shapes and shades it takes.
The slow, persistent creep towards the epiphany that I will never entirely fit in has taken many forms over the years. I am not normal. I never was normal, but it took years to begin to grapple with that fact. At first (and, unfortunately, at length) I felt I was better-than-normal. Then I conceded abnormality, but bought the line that with “work” I could walk a path to be in-step with normal. Now, though, I understand that even a lifetime of work promises–at best–a lifetime of being, at best, a pale imitation of normal.
Yes, I am a white male, so understand that, indeed, it does give me chagrin to posture as an “outsider.” I register (or at least grasp the concept…I acknowledge that I have a lot to learn, here) that these aspects of my self tie me intrinsically to a dominant privilege within this country’s purported identity. I concede that there are many who would be justified to arch an eyebrow at my feelings of otherness.
But, still, I know no other way to reconcile the daily feedback of my experiences.
Optimistically, I imagined that a re-insertion into “normal” societal experiences (living in a fixed domicile, commuting to a job, ect) might offer me a precious recharge in that tenuous spirit of commonality that I maintain with my ostensible peer group, but lamentably, these past few months have served to the opposite effect. I have truly never felt more at odds with the world-at-large, and it has me quite flummoxed as to what path forward I should pursue.
One of the effects of intermittent-employment, of not subscribing to such normalities as consistency and longevity (read: sustainability), is that I can pose as a remarkable creature. I launch for Mars knowing full-well that I will not and cannot return; yes, inevitably I perish en route, but I also it must be recognized that I, like few others, know the bliss of inhabiting zero-gravity, having broken free from the forces of repetitive orbit.
There was once an era in my life when this phenomenon created an immensely-pleasurable feedback loop of high performance and high praise. Now, experience suggests that my plug-and-play all-or-nothing workstyle has evolved into a remarkably ungratifying tug-of-war between how it is and how I view that it should be.
Am I too old, do I know too much, and do I work too damn hard to willfully tolerate the bullshit of those who aspire to less? That would certainly be a charitable way of interpreting it.
Alternatively, can one surmise that after exasperation with literally dozens of employers over the years even the blindest of squirrels amongst us can start to grasp that the common denominator is more probably the culprit.
I find it unendingly disorienting to grapple with these disparate truths: I work harder, I lead more thoughtfully, and I care more about the job-at-hand (whatever it may be) than nearly anyone I’ve ever met but also, I seem utterly incapable of fostering long-term success (or even, any more, mid-term) in an organization. These are problems for one’s teens and twenties, aren’t they? What conclusions are to be drawn from someone in their late-thirties enduring such episodes? Nothing good, I suspect.
So, too, in this past year have I endeavored to more-diligently participate inter-personally. It has not gone well.
I understand that “dating is a minefield” and whatever other clichee you might prefer, but I find myself feeling as though I have confirmed my own ineligibility, each time further beyond doubt.
It can be assured that I am wont to wallow in problems where there are none, but conversely my predilection to openly engage and grapple with issues of mental health seems to want to lead me to feel inappropriately-comfortable when presented with urgent-warning signs in others. To illustrate, I have found myself far away at anchor with an individual whose volatility of mental health made me doubt very much the possibility of our safe return (here I would never exaggerate).
Further, on two distinct occasions, I have shared this blog with women of no-small interest to me only to shortly thereafter never hear peep from those corners again.
Do I blame those women? Hell no! Would I continue to correspond with an individual after being so unabashedly exposed to their experience of mental illness? I mean probably, yes, but again, I’m mentally ill. However, at the same time, their understandable-reaction gives me no shortage of self-doubt when I sit down at the keyboard. Sure, if there were good that came of my open ramblings maybe it could be justified, but really though, is scratching the itch of my own smug gratification in feeling evolved (if deficient) worth prematurely bursting their bubbles?
Similarly motivated, and similarly ill-conceived it would seem, I have dedicated countless hours (not literally, I just choose not to tabulate) pursuing the writing of a novel which, in evidence, is not merely unpublishable but also uncompelling. Does this mean that I feel inadequate as a writer? No. Hahah good lord no. But I do have cause to lament that perhaps my greatest talent (don’t laugh so hard, please) has to carry the baggage of my own sick mind’s fixations.
So what is the purpose of this blog post, you ask. Trust me, I ask the same question. What I can say is that I’ve written it and unwritten it and written it again so many times over the previous weeks that I’ve come to the terms with the hypothesis that perhaps I just need to spend these lines decrying my current self and then I’ll move on.
Move on to what? Back to the boat, presumably, although I’ll confess to not currently feeling the strong pull of adventure. Back to Mexico, certainly. But I want to work; I need to feel validated. I spend no small amount of time browsing tierras en venta in central Mexico (I also routinely browse Portuguese quintas, 1st gen-era 4runners, and sailing dinghys though, so take pause before drawing conclusions…)
On this day of Thanksgiving, however, let it not go unsaid that I am grateful for so very many, many things. My family. The fact that even though I feel as though I’ve botched every real opportunity afforded in this life me I still have a pretty enviable existence. The glorious Momo. A remarkable collection of friends (remarkable not only for their own inherent excellence but for my having attracted them often in spite of my own best efforts as a socially-anxious depressive.)
So I encourage you all to take a moment to reflect on your thanks, those elements of life which you may cherish or even may covet. After all, in many senses, possessing a goal is every bit as rewarding as achieving it.
One thought on “Gobble Gobble”
I have never read a more balanced approach between a building and a culling of the self. You are amazing and I am envious of your path and so grateful that you share it. Your strength, vulnerability and honesty are the gifts you give to your friends. You allow me to look at myself with more acceptance.
Keep writing. As much as you love the sea, you are grounded in adventure as you search of the self.