It’s been years since I took a flight…as I sit in the airport here in Portland – I remember suddenly how droll travel really is. And it’s worse than ever while having improved at the same time. The check-ins, the lines, the airport waiting rooms, the airport food – but – at least in Portland, that is something that appears to have gotten much better. I’ve just ordered breakfast at the Rogue Ales Public House and much to my amazement – a full breakfast is the same price or less than I’m used to paying at Denny’s or any roadside diner and the food is actually of better quality. Because I was thinking of international flights and lines of the past – I checked in way too early….three hours is too much – but the airport is a comfortable place to be. Free wi-fi, restaurants, comfy chairs, plenty of plugs for all my electronic devices….but the waiter has left my breakfast sitting in the window for at least five minutes…but here it comes now…maybe…he seems to be just ignoring it.
The flight itself was alright. But flying Hawaiian Airlines and every other airline has changed in the past ten years. Seats were so cramped that I couldn’t use the armrests on either side without hitting the guys to either side of me and when the lady in front of me put her seat back, I had no choice but to put mine back and I was unable to reach my carry-on bag under her seat for the rest of the flight without using my feet to grab it. There are no longer free in flight movies on this 5-6 hour flight – instead you can buy movies or games on the in seat entertainment console for $7.99 each or watch the Hawaiian Airlines show – which was pretty good but which probably doesn’t change for frequent fliers. Hawaiian is the last American airline that gives a complimentary meal with your expensive ticket – and what a feast…3 grapes and four squares of fruit, a tiny cookie, and an egg and cheese biscuit not unlike those from McDonalds which cost around a dollar. Plus coffee and water and a complimentary cup of juice at the end (the juice that costs $1.50 per 6 pack in Hawaiian grocery stores.
The car rental company did their damnedest to get me to buy extra insurance and the hotel I thought I got a deal on hit me with a $45 per night resort fee (just like Vegas, thanks Vegas) and of course, parking the rental is an extra $25 per day…which in this case isn’t a big deal. Milk and gas seem to no longer be obscenely expensive on Oahu, but all the local favorites that used to be cheap now cost big bucks….strangely bananas are cheaper on the Oregon Coast than in Hawai’i which probably makes sense because there are no banana plantations thriving here…
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.
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.
Third Beach at Umpqua Dunes in Winchester Bay.