Notes from the Broken Heartland (Part One)

Ink memories from the life before this life that ended

Resistance is Futile

The office in my apartment is my last refuge from the reality that my life is steadily crawling into boxes. My room and my closets are all now empty and everything in the living room is sequestered into ‘stuff I need to get rid of’ and ‘stuff that I am going to attempt to fit in my truck’. I am juggling the need for my cat to have access to water and a litter box while also holding space in my luggage for all the accessories associated with her food/waste cycle.

I woke up Monday realizing that I will be driving my green truck west in seven day… and, in the course of those seven days, I am flying to Portland for two nights to take Fortuna. I return Saturday to load the truck and aim the wheels toward California (en route to Oregon) on Monday. I drove a green truck west in the fall of 2000 on a trip that set the course of my life for the next eight years. I am cautiously eager to see what this trip holds in store.

Last night I met with some friends to meditate and exchange blessings. I talked about ‘surrender’ and realized that relinquishing defines my last year here in the Broken Heartland: surrendering my career, my intellectual control, my emotional rigidity, my financial security (almost a full year without any substantive paid work), my heart (which, when it was returned to me, was in pieces), my cat (to live next door for a year… and, while my dear friend Autumn was a wonderful ‘long-term cat sitter’, seeing one’s animal familiar for 20-30 minutes a day barely counts as connecting), and my spiritual skepticism. I’ve chronicled much of this part of my time in the Broken Heartland in the essay ‘Losing Control‘.

While I strongly recommend surrendering and choosing to lose control, I also confess that it has made me so very weary. I’m infamous for my patience and I said to my friends last night that my patience with constantly surrendering has worn thin. I’m also infamous for my temper… which explodes when the patience runs out. My intention as I roll west is to transform my impatience with surrendering into creative, not destructive, energy.

The Year of Living Dangerously Midwestern

I do appreciate the irony of leaving Portland, Oregon for Kansas City, Missouri in order to connect to my new-age, metaphysical, spiritual-smorgasbord potential. I do appreciate the irony of asking for a life in two places, having that intention honored by the universe, and then realizing how untenable that balance (imbalance?) really is.

Do I wander in and out of community so that I can maintain some sort of distance and self-control? Do I live this transient life so that I can be truly committed to my non-commitment to any one community?

Today we share our lives through short-attention-span mediums like Facebook (where, in the last week, I learned of two pregnancies and one engagement) that fool us into thinking that we are deeply connected. We create communities in the ether and then pretend that they are as substantive as a relationship that you experience in person every day. Since my dearest friends are spread across the world, I know that emails, Facebook, Skype calls, and messaging amidst iPhone games are the only ways we will ever be ‘all in the same place’ again. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a tenuous link.

I thought that the arsenal of virtual tools would suffice to live, work, and connect in two places. Now I’m not so sure.

Surrendering the Future

Losing control and surrendering to that which is greater than me and my diminishing ego was, in my mind, something to do with my past and present. I now realize that I must also surrender my future… the one I planned and raved about just one month ago. Surrendering that future–and accepting the disappointment, the dashed hopes, and the ‘wasted’ energy it took to start the process–fucking sucks.

I refer to talking and thinking of what lies ahead for an amorous relationships as ‘futurecasting’. I’ve learned three times now that–even in the most ‘committed’ of relationships–futurecasting is a dangerous, dangerous diversion. After my divorce in 2008, I was on a huge ‘being present’ kick: my past was painful, my future unclear. All I could do was live in the moment right? While one could be crushed to death under the weight of spiritual texts that espouse ‘presentness’ (an ironic way to go), I realized that being firmly entrenched in the present was an anesthetizer, an avoidance technique. Why worry about the future? Why make any plans?

Futurecasting in love is dangerous as it implies trust in others to hold up their end of the bargain. Yet we are social creatures who also need to have something to look forward to. Where then is the balance? Can you trust and futurecast without committing fully to the experience, an ardent belief that leaves you open to hurt? After three tries–which means ‘striking out’–I know that these are the questions I must face. I’m again reminded of a message from the de-motivational calendar we had at Idealist.org: ‘Failure: The only commonality in all your failed relationships is you.’

I intend to find answers as I drive west into the sunset.

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5 Replies to “Notes from the Broken Heartland (Part One)”

  1. Steven, thanks for opening the curtains to allow a deeper glimpse into your soul. I can relate so well to the need to give unconditional love, unconditionally, especially to oneself. I think I’ve talked with you about the book, Abba’s Child, by Brennan Manning, in which he encourages us to admit, name, and ultimately embrace our Impostor. Someday I’m going to post an essay entitled “Meet Dick Lessman,” but for now, here is an excerpt:

    “My unwillingness to embrace Dick Lessman, the dickless man, was a refusal of unconditional love. I realized that if I would not open my arms to my Impostor, I would not open my arms to a fellow, fallen human being. And I would never come to know my True Self.”

    When a Jewish leader asked Jesus to name the greatest commandments, He replied: “There are two. The 1st is this: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The 2nd is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” We tend to forget the importance of the “as yourself” clause, don’t we?

    As you continue to relinquish your spiritual skepticism, my prayer is that God will make His presence undeniably known to you, especially during the windshield time on the road these next several days. May He open the eyes of your heart to see how your Impostor tries desperately to protect you, but unwittingly ends up keeping you from experiencing the unconditional love for which you were created (aka “intimate relationships”). May He cause you to open your arms to embrace your Impostor, for he is you are him and the same. May God wrap His arms around you in your brokenness, hold you in the incomprehensible mystery of His unconditional, irrational love. And may you come to know and love your True Self as you never have before.

    Safe travel my friend… let’s stay in touch.

  2. Steven,

    So sorry to hear of your setback. You and I broke bread at my home a few short months ago when the vision was different. This is a hard time, you may travel through the steps of grief. Work through to acceptance. Remember so one day you will help another.

    Peace
    Floyd

    1. Time have indeed changed haven’t they? What a difference a few short months can bring, no?

      Many thanks for the kind reminder Floyd… sage words to be sure. Oh, and I do want to add that the aforementioned breaking of bread at your house was one wonderful evening (and a delicious meal). I look forward to the next time it happens.

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