Refuge

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of refuge – what does it mean; is there really such a thing as refuge; if so, what does it look like?  Of course, it’s a huge psychological “tell” to acknowledge that the idea of refuge has become very important to me.  I’m a 60 year-old man who has dealt with a series of challenges – some of my own making or weakness, some largely outside my control.  And now, as the security and warmth of my marriage is becoming history, of course I’m thinking about what’s next and whether I will ever feel safe and tranquil again.  And the problem is, I really have no idea. No idea whether the future offers security and satisfaction, and, no idea what the heck a “safe” refuge might even look like.

There’s a line from the Eagles’ song, “Lyin Eyes,” that I absolutely love.  It goes like this: “I guess every form of refuge has its price”.  Zing! Simple and clear.  And ain’t it the truth?  When it comes down to it, we never really get something (especially something we really want) for nothing.  Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that this wonderful thing we are enjoying was really a gift; ours to enjoy just because we deserve it or are simply fortunate – but we ARE fooling ourselves if we think that way.  It was paid for or acquired at some sort of cost, guaranteed.

I am writing this while sitting at the Seattle airport, on my way to the town to which I’m about to move.  My feelings are a bit jumbled.  On the one hand I am grateful for the opportunity presented by my new job: a fresh start, the chance to do something meaningful in more than merely a financial way (I’ve been hired to run a non-profit that is doing good, important work); the means to move to a fresh, attractive place I hope will be good to live in; the many new people I will meet and with whom I can build new relationships.  Simultaneously, I am nervous, even scared; not sure what my daily life will look or feel like and whether I can get used to it; uncertain that I will succeed, professionally and personally, as I’d like.  Oh, and I’ll miss the places and people that became the backbone of my life over the last 34 years.  You get it.

I know, I need to stop being a baby and embrace the future.  And I will, but it’s a process. That brings me back to the “refuge” concept.  Of course it has a price.  But in this case I wonder: Has the price for my refuge already been paid – it’s been a tough last 10 years or so – or, is there more, in form(s) I don’t know about, to be paid in the future?  Yes, yes, yes, obviously I am completely adept at driving myself crazy with this stuff.  I am blessed and cursed with a good, active mind.  But change is always challenging – and this monologue is clarifying for me just how big this change is for me.  I AM embracing this new life and opportunity, but it’s a huge change, with lots at stake.  A little certainty, some clear refuge (with a known price tag) sure would be nice.  Or maybe I just need to get better at dealing with uncertainty.

Thanks for listening.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Ciao…

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Ashamed To Admit It…

But this is how I have felt throughout much of the personal odyssey I’ve been through over the last year: childlike, as in the poem I share below.  Thanks for reading…

Childlike

His fears were like those of a child

Vague, ill defined; lacking logic

But pervasive and unshakable,

Preying on his insecurity

 

A child has a blanket or toy to clutch,

Can call on his family for aid;

Be held by his father,

Reassured by his mother

Maybe distracted by siblings;

Loved ones piercing fear’s veil

 

But he was no child

A grown man now on his own

Torn from his loved ones

And striking out alone,

Solitary despite his desires

 

It was new ground,

A landscape he did not know;

A path he could not see,

Reducing his outlook to a state

Of juvenile discomfort

A vast, overwhelming fear

He couldn’t comprehend

 

But he was no child

To be rescued by loving family,

No childish talisman to hold

His only choice: step forward,

Confront his fears,

Hope they lack substance

Mere apparitions

From childish dreams

What Will They Say When I’m Gone?

I’ve been wondering lately if my self image is at all aligned with how others – in particular my loved ones – see me.  Wrote a poem about it I’d like to share with you.  Here it is….

Eulogy

Death has been on my mind of late

My age, mood and circumstances

All seem to point in one direction

Causing me to wonder about my fate

And what happens after

It’s not the hereafter that concerns me

That’s just too big a puzzle;

Completely out of my control

I think instead about those left behind

How they will feel

What they will say

The legacy I will leave

When attending a funeral

I listen carefully to what is said

About the deceased

The impact he had

The feelings she evoked

I’m often amazed by the sentiments expressed

And the emotions that are shown

Inevitably I wonder,

How will I shape up?

Will my loved ones

Speak so glowingly

And feel such loss?

More important,

Will I leave them with memories

That offer comfort and peace?

I once cared how the world perceived me

Was I successful, respected and notable?

But the world won’t speak at my funeral

That will fall to the ones I know and love best

So that has become my measure:

What will my loved ones say,

How have I impacted them?

For my sake and theirs

I pray I leave

A legacy of love and hope

Because that’s how I want it to be

And it’s all that really matters

 

Fading Away

Here’s another poem for you.  Yes, a little grim.  Oh well….

 

Faded Image

What does she see when she looks at me?

Is the image complete and true

Or does it lack detail and definition?

 

I imagine it’s like an old photo

Once clear and sharp

Now ravaged by time and neglect,

It has faded,

Losing color and clarity

Past splendor lost, irretrievable

 

Is this faded picture what she sees?

Does she remember the details

That have been altered over time,

So they are no longer obvious

But are still critical to understanding?

Or does she accept the image as true and complete,

Ignoring important parts,

Missing the context and texture of the picture?

 

I sense it’s the latter that’s true

Now when I’m with her

I feel incomplete and barely seen

An image, not flesh and blood

Familiar but very old

And badly faded

Hard for her to see

Unworthy of her embrace