I HAD TO LAUGH
I’m leaving tomorrow for Ocean Shores. Talking about that with a friend, she said “it’s a shame you can’t get the key to the house where you are staying, so you could go to the bathroom inside rather than in the bus and have access to heat if you get cold.”
I laughed. I probably shouldn’t have. She was being concerned for me, and she genuinely didn’t know how I rock and roll. I had to explain to her that it bothers me not one iota to go to the “bathroom” in the bus. I’ve been doing it now for nine months and somehow, I’ve survived. I did explain to my friend that perhaps I’m wired just a bit differently from “normal” people, that I really don’t need, nor do I particularly want, many of the modern conveniences.
I seek simplicity. I have spent far too long living a complicated life, and I believe living that type of life comes from a complicated mind, and a constipated psyche, and emotional diarrhea, and I’m done with all of that nonsense. Picture, if you will, a giant scale above my head, and that scale measures energy. When my energy is positive, I smile, and I create more positive energy. When my energy is negative, I rarely smile, those around me rarely smile in my presence, and my energy is depressing. And, now pay attention, this is key, my energy is much more positive when my life is simpler.
That may not be true of everyone. In fact, I am not trying to convince anyone of all this energy stuff. I’m just telling you how it is with yours truly. You can go out and get your own scale and measure whatever the heck you want to measure.
This morning was spent preparing to move, and then moving, to Ocean Shores, Washington, where I will be property-sitting for the foreseeable future. The preparation went smoothly, as did the drive, almost two hours of driving through the Black Hills, stretches of flat farmland, and finally through the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam, twin-cities twenty miles inland from Ocean Shores.
Now I mention those twin-cities for a reason, and here comes that reason.
As one enters Aberdeen, one is greeted by a large billboard which says “Welcome to Aberdeen, the Lumber Capital of the World.” Two miles further and another billboard says “Welcome to Aberdeen, the Gateway to Olympic National Park.”
Three miles beyond that you enter the city of Hoquiam, and a billboard greets you with this message: “Welcome to Hoquiam, the Friendliest City.”
All three billboards are, to a visitor’s eyes, welcoming and reasonably interesting. I mean come on, the lumber capital of the world? That’s some serious bragging rights. The friendliest city? Fantastic! Gateway to a National Park? How cool is that? But there is one small problem with all three billboards: they are a bit, if not a great deal, false! They are nothing more than clever little taglines designed to entice and lure the unsuspecting tourists into thinking they are about to enter a really fantastic area, an area filled with superlatives, the best in the world in some things, and as long as the tourists believe those things, the visiting will continue and the tourist dollars will be spent.
Aberdeen and Hoquiam, at one time, thrived because of lumber. Lumber was king as the 20th Century was ushered in, and the Pacific Northwest laid claim to having the Douglas Fir, tens of thousands of square miles of Douglas Fir forests, one of the best trees for construction ever devised by the gods, and in cities like Aberdeen and Hoquiam, it was almost impossible to keep up with the demand for quality lumber.
Today, both cities are tired. The lumber industry ain’t what it used to be, and cities like Aberdeen and Hoquiam look very much like former GQ models who are now balding and supporting potbellies, delinquent in their child support payments and not one bright spot on the horizon.
All of this had me thinking as I steered Puddle Walker through both cities as quickly as possible, no tourist, I, but a stone-cold realist who knows the score.
We see the same thing, times a thousand, on social media daily, the amazing claims, the air-brushed images, the squeaky-clean self-promotions, the discolored perspectives, and the self-aggrandizing which will hopefully net us a few more followers and some much-needed adoration. How many of us present one image, to the world, and live another one in private? Put another way, are we living our marketing campaign?
Truth is, we all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted. We have all secretly dreamed of the day when we would be invited to sit at the Big Kids’ table, or the Cool Kids’ table, and we are convinced that if the truth be known, we would be lucky if we were just allowed to breathe the same air as the others, forget about ever being embraced by the pack.
Self-reflection here, folks, and not pointing fingers at anyone else, but I am convinced that I am not all that different from your average Facebook or Instagram participant, so maybe some of you reading this can relate.
Anyway, Aberdeen is in no way the Lumber Capital of the World, it certainly is not the Gateway to Olympic National Park, and nary a friendly person can be found in Hoquiam.
TELL ME, DID YOU SAIL ACROSS THE SUN?
My first day in Ocean Shores, no kidding, the weather forecast is calling for inches of rain and gale force winds, for the next few days, effectively eliminating any chance of walking Maggie along the beach (yes, I’m a wimp) or taking the kayak out on the canal for a Fall adventure.
In fact, at this moment, 5:12 on the 24th of September, as the sun sets behind a sea of gray, and gulls defy the laws of physics, I am listening, from the safe confines of Puddle Walker, to “Drops of Jupiter,” the 2001 smash hit by the rock group Train.
I’m going to get heavy in this chapter, so skip ahead for lighthearted, or buckle up for a bumpy ride through the stratosphere of my psyche.
The song is about the lead singer’s loss of his mother, and how he believes we never really die, and he is speaking to his deceased mother, asking her if she sailed across the sun, and made it to the Milky Way, and did she return to him with drops of Jupiter in her hair. However, besides a message of loss, and dealing with that loss, it is also a statement of his belief that we never really die; in effect, he is saying our energy continually swirls throughout the universe.
It’s a beautiful song of hope, of undying love, and of the belief in the eternal power of energy, and it resonates so strongly within me for that final message of energy.
I find great comfort in the belief that we never really die, that our energy is constant, that our loved ones never really leave us. On nights like this, alone, a man and his dog, my mind always retreats to the one question: why me? Why am I the last man standing in my family? In my circle of friends from youth? Why me? And, because I have a dark corner within me, I can flick on the depression in a heartbeat if I allow it to happen, wishing just one of them remained, how I wish I was not alone, blah, blah, and more blah, but at those moments the blah is real, and it weighs me down . . .
But songs like Drops of Jupiter, and beliefs like eternal energy, transform the depression into sweet melancholy, and that is fine . . .
And, while I’m waxing poetic about eternal energy, others are dreaming of angels and heavenly hosts, eternal life behind the Pearly Gates, and that is fine, as well, if it provides strength for them, I’m all for it. If you think about it, we, the species, have been looking for similar answers to similar questions since the first caveman painted a picture on a rock wall, a picture of a Great Being, watching over all of us, and that picture reminded Mister Caveman that he was not alone, never truly alone, as he stumbled through his life.
And I’m just one person, and this too I think about as I pass through towns filled with people, all similar in so many ways, all who have suffered loss, and I wonder how they view that loss? Where do they find the strength? The answers? Or are we all just grasping at straws, unable to look at the other possibility, as valid as any of the others, that death is the final act, no subsequent energy, no heavenly hosts singing Hallelujah, no nothing, excuse the double negative.
“and did you miss me, while you were looking for yourself out there?”