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Meanderings

College daze – where I ended up a happy failure

Some say your college days are supposed to be one of the best times in your life.

I guess I was an anomaly. I was dazed through my college days and not in a pleasant way.

It’s odd because I thrived in high school — honor society, near the top of my class, quite popular, and so on. For some reason it didn’t translate to college.

I first went to New College down in Sarasota. I thought it would be a great fit – small (like my high school), unorthodox education methods that stressed independence, and students that were generally rebels and misfits outside of mainstream society.

That’s me.

It didn’t work. I had no passion — it was as if a switch had turned off and I was done. Doubly odd because I’m a passionate learner.

After less than a year I petitioned to withdraw. I was surprised when the New College folk encouraged me to stay and keep trying.

Surprised because by then I was slacking with classes and homework. My grades merited probationary status, the campus police had issues with me (too many friends sleeping over in my dorm, roomies rats escaping from pet snake, a friend drove drunk across campus into a ditch, etc., etc.).

Maybe they wanted me to stay because I was being a true rebel.

Still, I declined.

Thinking I needed to go to a college with a strong computer program to stoke my passion (once a computer nerd, always a computer nerd), I gave the University of Florida a try next.

Things didn’t go any better there.

Once again I was skipping classes (but not Gator football games!) and homework, had dorm issues (mostly from having a military brat as a roomie — baaaad fit), girlfriend problems (I couldn’t decide if I loved her or not), I was annoyed with professors insisting I learn outdated computer languages, etc. etc.

Somehow I managed to accrue nearly two years worth of credits but by then I was a goner — I bolted out of my dorm early into my own place, my grades were riddled with the letter “I” (incomplete, which is exactly how I felt), and I was thoroughly burnt out from anything to do with education.

One day I simply stopped showing up. I was done.

A silly decision in retrospect, perhaps. But solid for me at the time. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore and it didn’t make sense to keep throwing money away doing nothing.

Thinking back, what I remember acutely was very much feeling like an alien on campus. I never fit in as much as I tried. Was it my deafness? I don’t think so – it’s never been an issue. I simply was a fish out of water gasping for relevance and passion.

The whole thing was living a repetitive dream I couldn’t wake out of. I’d keep repeating shit over and over and nothing worked.

Not long after I walked away, I found my passion again by finding a good job with my computer experience (although I was eventually passed over for a promotion because of my deafness — that’s another story for later).

I started thriving again and even bootstraped a computer consulting business on the side.

The fog went away.

Because I was happy.

That was the crux of it all: I just was not a happy camper in college.

I guess it’s not for everyone, even a computer geek like me.

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Meanderings

Melancholy

Every few weeks I get a regular visitor named Melancholy. At first she slips in ever so subtly until I begin to feel her weight in my body.

I used to fight her presence, running from her or doing whatever it took to keep her from taking ahold of me. I didn’t like the way I felt when she was around.

No matter what I did, she held steadfast.

I eventually learned to open the door for her when she came knocking.

Through her heaviness she slows life down and quietens it. Her weight prods me to plumb the depth of my feelings and soul. To stop and listen and feel deeper. Like the moon, her tides pull me within.

She enriches me in those depths, sinking me deeper into myself. Soulful creativity emerges in a manner of expression — poetry, writing, art, and so forth.

She is the ocean and resisting the ocean is futile. Acceptance is letting her tides ebb and flow into and out of me, allowing her wake to bring gifts of deeper insight as it scrubs raw.

She is also life, the way it breathes in and out of you and the way it is full circle in all things whether you like them or not.

I remember to open the door on the other side so that she eventually leaves before bogging the soul down.

Like the exhale of a grateful, deep breath.

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Meanderings

Re-learning the language of limits

A lesson I’ve learned from Mr. Lyme is knowing my limits.

I’ve been a rebel since my childhood days where I have a propensity to push boundaries as far as I can to see what would happen.

Constantly pushing and probing has been the modus operandi of my life — I didn’t know how not to push because I feared being limited, a lack of expansion in mind or body. To push is to survive and thrive. To not push would be to die and stagnate (esp. growing up deaf in a world that didn’t think I accounted to much or could do what ordinary hearing people did).

These days I can’t push like I used to, thanks to Mr. Lyme taking over my body. When I pushed I’d crash hard and knock back my recovery progress.

I had to re-learn the art of listening to my body’s limits — correction — honoring my body because in the past I’d ignore and push anyway. Subtle signals heard within are now clearer.

I’ve also learned that there is a value to having some limits. Literal healthy boundaries, you might say.

Nowadays when my body feels tired or weak, I’ll back off even as I want to keep going, to feel like I’m healing via movement. Stopping, resting, and doing nothing is also an act of healing.

In some ways, Mr. Lyme helped forge a deeper intimacy between myself and my body.

It’s hard to stop after a lifetime of pushing and powering past limits. Maybe I’ll be able to do that again (and knowing me, I probably will).

At least I’ve found the language of limits within to help guide us now and in the future.

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Meanderings

Dreams of running

These days I often have dreams of running. I haven’t been able to run for a good while since being knocked down by Mr. Lyme. The last time I ran was the day I crashed hard afterwards and knew something was seriously wrong.

The running dreams are usually beautiful. I’m running effortlessly with unlimited energy and I’m just running and running, landscape flying by.

I dream of it because I loved running in real life. I don’t seem the running type and I never thought I’d run on a regular basis, I just didn’t like it well enough.

One day I decided to try running a trail in the woods. That was a game changer — there’s something special about bounding around amongst trees and other things of nature.

Then I decided to go barefoot. After some adjustment, it became bliss. The feel of raw earth under my feet was ancient, a harkening to our past when bare feet were all we had. It felt so familiar and so grounding, connecting directly to Mother Earth in her essence.

It’s a meditation but of a more alert kind because one has to be aware of where their feet is landing when going bare. I’ve still bloodied my toes once or twice on hidden roots and it was a surefire way of bringing me back to reality.

(When on rough (or unfamiliar) trails or when I really want to zone out I’ll throw on a pair of old boat shoes. They’re thin, flat, and have a couple holes — as close as it gets to being barefooted.)

Nature and/or barefoot running sold me and I started doing it on a regular basis, really looking forward to it at the end of long days. It makes me breathe deeper, not just in the lungs but also in my soul.

I also started feeling even better and stronger over time, old pains and issues falling away as my body became more lean and agile. It was further motivation to keep going.

In my last dream, I ran and ran until there was nothing left of me, body gone, just my soul floating away.

As I walked a trail this afternoon, that’s what I thought about — how I missed running, the feeling of flying over the ground. Running until there’s nothing left but the purest essence who we are in spirit.

That’s what keeps me going, slowly climbing the recovery hill until I can run again, soul free once again. It’s my goal to get back into the best shape of my life and stay there.

Maybe after all, I was born to run… in the woods.

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Meanderings

Bad days

I didn’t feel so hot when I woke up this morning so I knew I was in for a long day.

My acupuncture physician has reminded me even though I’ve turned a major corner in my healing process, that there will always be an occasional bad day due to the nature of the beast.

It was a refrain I’m intimately familiar with from my Meniere’s disease days. Although those are a distant memory, due to damage to my vestibular system, I’l have what I call off-balance days now and then.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with bad days in your own worlds.

This was one of those days.

When it happens, the world becomes a distant, foreign place to me. Hostile even, as I want to retreat into a cocoon to minimize all extra-sensory input and just quietly recuperate. My balance system has to work extra hard to make up for what it’s lost so it’s more of a toll on the body, esp one yet at peak efficiency.

It’s even more a drag mentally and it piles on top the physical. I try to stay positive, meditate and do little things to keep my mind away from my body. It’s not always successful because when your body isn’t all there, you’re not all there.

Yet I have to function in the world — get food, keep medical appointments, do the stuff that keeps life going. It’s like plodding through a not-so-great dream where you wished you could just wake up and it’d be over. I’d wish the day would speed up and be over so I could go back to sleep and hit the reset button for a new, better day.

At the end of a weary day I sat out at the lake to feel better and it wasn’t easy to sink into the beauty like I usually do. There’s a pale glaze over everything, a heaviness upon all you see with your eyes. Being too tired to feel good, in so many words.

Fortunately those days lately seem to be fewer and further apart as I continue to heal so there is always tomorrow to look forward to.

I share this because I want to write about both the good and bad, to share a reflection of a life lived in all dimensions.

And writing is therapy for me — I almost always feel a bit better whenever I put words to what I’m feeling on paper, as if turning it over to a higher power.

Here’s to a better tomorrow, not just for me but also for you.

Rest you gentle, sleep you sound.

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Meanderings

Lesson from the egret and the wind

The other evening I was sitting at the edge of Newnans lake soaking in what was left of the light. The wind was blowing harder than usual, whipping waves out of the surface.

A solitary white Egret came into view, flying into the wind as it tried to cross the lake. For a few seconds it wasn’t going anywhere, held still by a force of nature even as wings flapped.

Rather than struggle the Egret changed tack, veering sideways and utilized the wind to push it across the lake in a roundabout way. Much like sailboats do that zig-zag thing when going against the wind.

Newnans lake is big and it was a long way across. I watched the Egret until it became a tiny white speck nearing its destination on the other side.

The whole thing piqued my curiousity because it was nature (the wind) within nature (the Egret) existing seamlessly within conflict. The bird could have kept on struggling into the wind until exhaustion, but it knew to change tack.

Witnessing this was a reminder of one of nature’s maxims: Know when to go with the flow.