There is the impact upon self, and then there is the impact upon others. Obviously there are crossovers and consequences.
I think generally that it’s healthier to meld all the different experiences we have. We are the same people after all, unless we have successfully managed split personalities. (I know that at times my best friend has considered this a possibility for me.)
How could I be so focused in one area, and so lost in other’s? It’s a mystery, but very irritating to say the least.
What about this recent trip? It’s true that it resembles my early experiences of wandering the West. Back then I was in my Twenties, mostly ignorant and feeling immortal. This time I’m in my Sixties and terrified out of my skin. Hmm, on the surface it doesn’t seem similar.
There is the commonality of risk and spontaneity. And maybe just a little “normal people don’t do this!” Am I normal? What wrong with normal? It’s steady, reliable, dependable! I want to be those things, in fact, I work very hard to meet those goals. It’s just that it isn’t quite who I am, or at least who I want to be.
In someways this trip has reignited some thoughts about who I am in terms of “core” values. I am a husband, I know what a husband does, and how his actions need to match his values. I am a parent, I have five children and I love them all. I know what is required of a loving parent and how the actions need to be aligned with the responsibilities.
I am an artist. I create, and I have a deep connection to the need to express the hidden, for purposes of sharing and enlightening myself and others.
I was dedicated to my career, and now that I am retired, I keep my work actions in a protected and valued spot. I was once a soldier, that to, is protected.
I was an observer of the open road. I slept and lived outside for months at a time, for several years. I treasure what I learned then, and I try to apply what I learned to things today.
All this is good, and maybe in a perfect personality it could even be amazing. The problem is that I’m terribly flawed. I haven’t been able to stitch all these experiences and lessons into one single core. And unfortunately there have been some glaring failures in the various roles and responsibilities. And yet I can dutifully wear a POW bracelet for 45 years. Dedicated and scattered at the same time. It makes me dizzy.
I’m not saying I have split personalities, but it sure can seem like that. When I’m in one role, I’m barely conscious of the others. I’m processing the best I can, but weakly, because I can’t seem to reference the other experiences of my roles.
And where in all this mix is the spiritual sense of who God made me to be? That’s there too, not separately as a stand alone, but perhaps not as well intergrated as I think it should be. Do I have expectations? Yes, I believe that the spiritual sense is the unifier, the stitching that creates the quilt. I would like my next few years to be spent binding the disparate aspects of my self into a constructive “oneness”. Gosh, it sounds so contrived when I write it down. I must be missing something. Still working on how all this connects.
What about the effects of this trip on others? Well, it certainly was a surprise for those that thought I would be dead, or at least in the hospital. I’m sorta in that camp myself. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get smacked.
In terms of Matthew and I? I am his father, but his mother and I divorced when he was quite young and I did not do a very good job of keeping connected. I blamed distance and a scattered lifestyle for awhile, but that was only true for a short time. Yes, communication is often difficult with ex- wIves, but many parents rise above this. I shrank below and never met the responsibilities that were mine.
It’s years later now, and we meet as damaged goods, repentant of the mistakes, but we haven’t yet created the fun of our potential relationship. Well, until now… what a phenomenal road partner I had/have! More importantly, we have begun to establish what it means to “stand in the gap” for each other. That is huge!! Much work is still to be done, but there is a future, and a time for many things to be resolved, strengthened and enjoyed.
And on a personal note, the relationship between my best friend, my wife, and the mother of my children has been strengthened. I’m still a challenged (and flawed) person, but I’m getting more aware of how I take things for granted. The small and the large things. I see what is in front of me pretty well, but I’m distracted by noise and bright shiny objects. And good Lord there is nothing more shiny than a fully chromed Harley trike. Not very mature of me, in fact, that’s pretty much the characteristics of a two year old child. (This is another work that is progressing.)
Yes, there is hope for the hopeless, and there is growth for the stunted. With patience and love, the coming months and years are going to be fantastic!