Lately, I have begun to notice that many disparate elements of my life are coming together, so to speak, which are providing a more clear idea of who I am, what my essence is. Does it sound weird to say this, that I am only recently beginning to unearth who I am after more than 40 years of life?
I live in Montana and as I mentioned in my last post, I am fond of libertarian socialism and craft beer. But that’s neither here nor there, it’s just one element of political orientation and beverage preference. This idea of making craft beer, however, of the art that goes into making it, the thought required, the process that unfolds, the hands-on nature of it, I am very fond of.
I am grateful for the 25 year career in the fire service I worked, knowing that I worked with my hands and my brain to make a tangible and often visible difference in a person’s life. There is an objective quality to firefighting, the fire goes out and property is saved, perhaps lives are saved, or they are not. This, and no two calls are the same. Each required a mental response, a thinking through the problem and solving the problem.
I’ve been working with stones the past three days, bringing life to my yard. I am watering plants, planting new seasonal plants, and working in the dirt. I moved a 250 lb boulder, rolling it, by myself yesterday- to my youngest son’s amazement. I told him it was “old man strength.”
I, our family, has three dogs. I am with them all day long, as I am now on summer break from my teaching job. I walk the dogs, they help me in the yard, we play. I sit on the patio and read and the dogs sit at my feet. When I have food near, I have their undivided attention.
Because I enjoyed it so much, I read a book in two days last week, Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis. At present, I am reading Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing.
Last night, because my wife is still teaching and has not yet finished her semester, I made dinner. I cook often, I enjoy cooking, as it’s a creative process to me. Recipes are simply guidelines to be glanced at, I will adjust on the fly. Last night I cooked six steaks, because they were on sale, along with mashed potatoes. I added fresh rosemary and thyme to my mashed potatoes, along with red onion and green onion.
I spent an hour or more looking at images of landscape design last night, thinking of creative ways to work within a small budget but enhance the appearance of my yard.
Tomorrow, I will go down to the local soup kitchen and serve soup to the homeless. The soup kitchen is run by self-admitted and proclaimed communists (I am being serious), and after serving soup we usually end up sitting and talking about life. It’s a good group, and yes, they are normal people.
We have three children in college now, one studying bio-systems engineering, another landscape design, and the third, soon starting, is undecided.
Here is the weirdest thing, I have no faith orientation. Oh sure, I meditate each day- almost every day- and I consider meditation my prayer. I often repeat the Five Ethical precepts of Buddhism, but even so, I am not a Buddhist. I’m not a Christian. I do hold to stoic beliefs and there’s something of self-reliance in my belief system.
All of the above, taken together, and converged into oneness, is something, at least for this moment or season of life, is a little picture of me, of who I am and what I am about.