End-of-Coffee Ponderings

The sun is shining. It’s disconcerting. A tease. More rain lands on Sunday, if not before.

Vancouver’s in the throes of one of its wettest, coldest, greyest springs in recent history. I’ve not worn shorts once this year. I haven’t even entertained the thought of planting basil yet.

Today, most of the tech community will convene at Northern Voice 2011, at UBC, and I’m now realising how disappointed I am to not be going, given the recent turn of events and the loss of Derek K. Miller. Perspective took a turn of late.

I’ve always caught on in the end, but I’m often a late addition to reason.

Then, eventually, whomp, it hits me: The lesson.

Even if I had tickets, my financial situation would require that I work through the conference. That’s the way the dollar-cookie crumbles. It’s “meant to be” and in a way is providing mental spark-power on ideas I’m churning through.

It’s the end of the world as we know it & I feel “meh”

It feels as though life as a whole has been a struggle his year. Maybe the Doomsdayists and their “May 21,2011” end-of-times prognostications have a little oomph behind them. All the “end-of-times” prep I’m doing is holding off on my Costco visit until May 22. Why die with full cupboards?

For now, a man is mowing the lawn, sunlight is streaming in, and distant tires patter up busy roadways.

That’s the world. Beyond that, something else awaits. That’s for me, a train, and a bike to discover.

I have a pretty short list of what I want in life right now. One is to have the joy of regular paycheque-after-paycheque comfort, and to feel good in body and mind whilst pursuing steady, fulfilling work. The other is, a little sunshine. Everything else in life, that’s bonus.

In a way, my friend’s death has been giving me clarity about what’s important. I knew, once.

Keep it simple, stupid

There’s nothing like somersaulting off a scooter at 45 km/hr or so, landing on your head, and surviving with only silly things like a head injury for waking you up to what’s important in life.

So, for a while there, I had it figured out.

Live for today. Enjoy the moment. Celebrate friends. Be a part of it. Whatever “it” is to you, be a part of it. Celebrate what you have, try to get more, but don’t pin your happiness on that which isn’t in your hands, because then you’ll never have happiness. See how that works?

I had it figured out.

But life is like a vacuum.

Far enough away, you’re fine, unaffected. Get too close, unsettled, you may get sucked up into that vacuum. Caught inside too long, you can suffocate.

I’ve never been good at vacuum-proximity. My life balance, well, it’s like a bad day on a boat sometimes.

Cause/Effect: The Long Game?

Today, I’d like to do Northern Voice. If I did, it’d hurt my bank account, stress me out on the time-management-money-making fronts, and would probably be hard on my back. I’d overdo things, wouldn’t prioritize myself, and the fallout would probably continue for another couple weeks.

Not doing Northern Voice, I earn money, get exercise I need daily, can do all the right things for my back, will get the sunshine my soul desperately requires, will be freed up for my friend’s memorial Sunday, get to earn me a soul-day Monday, and will have balance I need throughout my week so I can spend important time with my family next weekend, before my dad and stepmom do a gruelling six-week cross-country roadtrip — the last of which didn’t end particularly well when my father wound up in critical care 2,000 kilometres from home.

It reminds me of a favourite flick about writing, The Wonder Boys, based on Michael Chabon’s novel. It’s not a perfect movie but it’s far better than the box-office, and title, suggests. In it, Michael Douglas plays a writing/English professor, and he teaches that “writers make choices.”

Choices, they’re harder than we think. It means acknowledging we can’t have it both ways. The heart wants what it wants and sometimes it wants both.

Years ago, I stopped writing fiction for my inability to create tenable conflict that had a beginning/middle/end. A friend surmised I’d had enough conflict in my life, that generating more in my recreational time was probably not what my soul had in mind.

Do whatcha gotta so you can do whatcha wanna

Days like these, where I’m torn between what my heart wants (to spend time with awesome people talking about fascinating things) and what my soul needs (head down, steady progress in work and rehab, daily balance so I can have the summer I want), I try hard to make the right choice.

Then I remember that my friend was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer at the exact age I am now, and would be dead before his 42nd birthday, and I get confused: What’s the right choice again?

Fortunately, my body seems to think it knows, so I can ignore my brain and heart, and listen to my bones, which seem to long for a seaside bike ride and a quiet day of not carrying a backpack and bustling from uncomfortable seat to uncomfortable seat, followed by ungainly bus rides.

And that’s all we can do. Guess. Listen to something, anything, and interpret. Among Derek’s last words were a cautioning that we can make plans but they often will never come to pass, and all we can do is be in the moment.

I thought I’d be at Northern Voice this year. Instead, I have the gift of getting well enough that I can return to something I love, sunny day cycling.

That’s a moment I can be in, that I must be in, because it’s the only moment I have available to me, the best this day has to offer.

Sounds like the right choice after all.