The World Is Not Ending unless I’m a Kastanza

So much of my life has been built on the suggestions of others. Not the least of which (actually, almost the greatest of which) was that the world as we know it was going to come crashing down. I’m naive and gullible. I believe it when people I love or respect say things – even … Continue reading “The World Is Not Ending unless I’m a Kastanza”

So much of my life has been built on the suggestions of others. Not the least of which (actually, almost the greatest of which) was that the world as we know it was going to come crashing down. I’m naive and gullible. I believe it when people I love or respect say things – even when I should know better. Things like the big California earthquake is going to destroy us all (1975-1979) nuclear war is going to destroy us all (1980-1988) AIDS/HIV is going to kill everyone (1984-1994) there is going to be a huge race war (1976-1988) the Russians are going to invade like Red Dawn (1984-1988) Saddam Hussein is going to use chemical weapons and WMDs and destroy the world starting with the Middle East (1990-2003) Al Queda/ISIS is going to destroy America (2001-present), Y2k is going to destroy the world economy and create chaos (2000) Ebola (1994 &2011) Zika (2016), the Mayan Prophecy is going to destroy the world (2012) Obama is going to get assassinated by right wing hate-holes and a race war will rip apart the USA (2008-2012) and now Donald Trump is going to turn the USA into Nazi Germany or start a nuclear war with North Korea. I realize I’m late getting to the party, but I’ve finally reached the conclusion that the world is not going to end in my lifetime or any time soon. So I’m sharing it with you.

The problem is that in my naïveté, I was so sure that the world was going to end that I didn’t bother making preparations in case the world didn’t come to an end. I’ve lived my life in such a way that I could feel good about making the most of the time I have been alive and not worry about what will happen when I become old and unable to take care of myself. Oops.

Of course, I might just be a George Kastanza in which case now that I am preparing for a world that won’t end – it might just.

The Problem with Van Living Today

You can still do it – I’m sure of that. I’m not doing it though. I’m glad that I lived in VW vans back in the 1990s before there were 80 million retirees downsizing into their $100k RVs. As with most things, I blame the baby boomers. Huge numbers of them decided to stop living in houses and in typical baby boomer fashion, they screwed up living in vehicles for everyone else. They ruined the campgrounds with their RVs and generators and satellite TV noise, they drove up the prices in the campgrounds, they took up all the free parking and necessitated municipalities putting up ‘No Overnight Parking’ signs, and since most of them kept their home while they were doing it (just taking a break) they helped drive up the cost of renting or buying a home. I’m glad I was able to live in a VW in the 1990s – that may not have been as sweet a time to do it as back in the 1960s and 1970s – but it was pretty sweet. There were still lots of free campgrounds, the National Parks weren’t very expensive yet, the community of van-dwellers was small enough to be inclusive and large enough to be anonymous but not large enough to make people nervous about vehicles parked on the streets in residential neighborhoods. Unless I have to, my days of Rough Living are behind me. It’s been a long time since I lived in a VW – and I sincerely hope that all the van living I will do in the future will be for short term camping trips with my family. The solution is not to move into a vehicle any longer – if it ever was at all.

The Weight of Stuff

These past few weeks have been difficult. Winter won’t seem to end in Oregon this year – while the weather has never been a big issue for me in the past – this year it has been torture. Last week we had our first run of three sunny days since last October and it was like heaven, but then it began to rain again, and hail, and the temperature dropped, and then it began to pour, and that awful grey light wrapped itself around everything and to tell the truth, the sense of despair was worse than it had been before the sunshine – I felt like one of those poor souls in movies who are tortured and tortured and then they are sure they are going to escape and be free, but in fact, that was just a way of the torturer to push them past the edge. That’s where I was. The sun is shining now, there are patches of blue, I feel okay – but the weather is not done and I know that I am no longer suited for the Pacific Northwest. I am fifth generation born here, but the time I’ve spent in tropical places has ruined me for a winter like this.

And now on to the title of the post – the burden of stuff. My god, when I am depressed, the weight of all this stuff is like that of a planet crushing me beneath it. I am selling what I can when I can. I am using craigslist, Let Go, EBay, and retail. I am going to shows and will be having a big garage sale in a few weeks. What doesn’t sell at the sale will go to the dump or the charity shops. We are trying to sell our antique shop, so it makes no sense to give away the quality inventory yet, but soon I will either sell the shop and everything in it or hang up the “Going out of business, Everything must go” sign. I can’t carry this much stuff any longer.

Obstacles and Obstructions

I have a huge amount of empathy for President Obama. No one let him get anything done. It must have been terribly frustrating. Eight years of not being able to pursue the plan you were elected to pursue. By the same token, I have no sympathy or empathy towards the current CEO of America Corp. – he is facing the same obstacles and obstructionism – but the big difference is that rather than trying to build something and lift people up – he is focused on demolition and tearing people down. I, like everyone, am facing obstacles and obstructions of my own. I had a plan, I thought everyone was on board for it, I started to put it into action and the first obstacle arose – it was the chink in my armor – it allowed those I had to have with me to start second guessing and then the obstructionists came along and started putting up road blocks. Now, my grand idea is in danger of dying.

Since the early 2000’s – my motto has been “All there is to it, is to do it” – it is what has allowed me to travel all over the world, write books, start business from scratch, and survive. It doesn’t work with a group of people that aren’t all in. It’s easy when you are the only one making the decision – you just do it. Marriage, in particular for me, my marriage doesn’t allow that kind of shoot for the moon and damn the consequences action. Maybe every marriage is like that, I don’t know – this is the only one I have and the only one I’m planning to have.

I might have to change my motto.

The sad part is – the only time that I’ve ever really achieved anything – has been when I turned my back on the expectations of life and took a blind step towards an unknown future while trusting my instincts – so the fear is, if I can’t do that, this awful mediocrity that surrounds me is all that I have to look forward to. And of course, the fear of my wife is “What if things aren’t as good as they are right now, what if our quality of life moves backwards?” – even though, the quality of life as it exists right now is nothing to feel very good about – and holds the potential to become worse if drastic changes are not made. Catch-22

I wish I were the type who could simply “Let it go and let god go” but I hear that as more of ‘Let it go and status quo” and I’ve always been partial to the story of one of the Prophet Mohammads followers who lost his camel and went to complain of it to the Prophet “Did you tie your camel?” the Prophet asked. “No, I trusted God” said the follower. “Tie your camel AND trust God” was the answer from the Prophet.

So, once again, here I am stuck in purgatory. I can force my decision to say fuck it and travel the world on my wife and I will have to drag around a resentful obstructionist or I can say fuck it, this plan isn’t going to work after all and keep things as they are. As a Buddhist, I’m pretty sure there must be a third path, a middle way – the hard part is steering past my budding resentment and keeping a sharp eye out for the right trail-head. Because frankly, the two options above both sound fucking horrible.

The plan that sounded good was a united family get rid of everything, leave their jobs, and travel the world playing ukuleles and working with non-profits to make the world a better place and find the best possible place to live the rest of our lives. It only works if the family is united in the desire to make the moves necessary. And that is not the case, as much as I want it to be.

Time for a new motto and a new plan.

The new motto is “Tie Your Camel and Trust God” and the new plan is to do as much of the old plan as possible while keeping my eyes open for a new plan.