Showing posts with label focus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label focus. Show all posts

10 October, 2017

Perpetual pilgrim, Part 1: introduction to the off-the-road edition

God is at home, it's we who have gone out for a walk.~ Meister Eckhart

Home life is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Lately my goal has been to try and apply the basic rules of the road to my everyday life.

It's not that I'm going to be out and about anytime soon... work and other responsibilities make this impossible... but it occurs to me that I've been living like the things I did out on the road had no relation to how I was living my life now. The problem is that in my most natural state, my mindset is that of a permanent traveler. It's not that I don't love the home I have with Amanda and Stella and Will; but I also know that as much as I love home... home as family, home as a place I'm comfortable... I'm not, in my natural state, much of a homebody. Yes, I like to maintain my space a certain way. When I travel I'm a tediously organized packer, too. So really, it's less about being domesticated and more about the aforementioned particularness ... whether home is on my back or four walls and a roof that needs to be re-shingled.

But I think part of my problem has been that I've still been trying to tackle this domestic bliss stuff the way I was socialized to by small town culture, by television, by mentors and heroes -- none of whom ever suggested, even remotely, that I orta do things the way they do things.**

In trying to figure out how to do this stuff  My Way, the only conclusion I've come to is that I have to live at home the way I live out on the road. Certainly there are some modifications. But overall, it's more about spacial awareness than a shift in awareness. Or, that's what I'm going with now.

My road rules went through multiple drafts and notions, but they boil down to something like this:

  1. Read and write everyday.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings.
  3. Leave things as nice or nicer than you found them.
  4. Etiquette makes society, not the other way around.
  5. Be grateful when things are good. They won't always be.
  6. Keep your head up when things are bad. They will be more often than not.Show appreciation and articulate love. Daily.
This isn't always easy, though I often think it should be. With four adults, three dogs, and two cats living under one roof, sometimes it feels like it's a little hard breathe. And I LOVE these people. But generally, if I keep my art at the center*** and tether myself to being essentially humane and focus on trying to be the best husband, father, and father-in-law that I can be, I believe I'm doing my part in helping maintain our conglomerated family unit.

Even if it's not altogether natural feeling sometimes.

* No less than every girlfriend I've ever had and two ex-wives have pointed out/accused that I have an antagonistic relationship with the world. But clearly, the world started it.
**All of them actually said the contrary, on multiple times. A wise mentor will never tell you to do what they do, exactly how they do it. That's how you tell the difference between a mentor who has your best interests at heart and a megalomaniac who's interested in feeding his ego.
*** There's a reason why "Read and write everyday" is the first rule.

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17 October, 2016

Notes from the Bunket #6: the grand experiment resumes

Lord give me a job of work to do. - Tom Paxton

Back to the work force for me. After nearly 6 months of drawing unemployment and trying to find work in a field for which I have ample training and massive experience, I have, at the tender age of 43, entered an industry where I have hardly any expertise at all.

Getting a job in catering means signing yourself into an insane asylum, regardless of how sane you actually are.* It moves fast and for the most part -- even in a good shop, like where I work -- what you don't know you pretty much have to pick up on yourself. It means asking a lot of questions, sometimes to the point of annoying people who would rather work around you to get the job done instead of trying to teach a newbie how things work. While I have tended bar and worked around food, there is a mountain's worth of difference between serving in a sports bar or bowling alley working in fine dining. There are expectations. There are particular ways of doing things so customers feel like they got their money's worth out of the thousands of dollars they spent in hiring us.**

Catering is the kind of work with long and irregular work schedules. 12 hour days are not only common, they are pretty much the norm. With the holiday season fast approaching, I know there are long days and even longer weeks ahead.  It's the nature of the thing and you have to be willing to embrace the tidal wave even attempt it. People at the shop have been asking me if I've gotten used to the long days. To be honest, it's not been the schedule that bothers me. I could tell them about teaching at 3 or 4 different universities at once, sometimes leaving home at 6 am and not getting back until after 10 or 11, depending on where and how many classes I was teaching.  Most everyone at the shop knows I used to teach, but I like to think I approach work with enough tenacity and fearlessness that they are also figuring out that I don't think my past career has any bearing on my position in the shop. I'm a grunt. I like being a grunt. When I'm done with my work, I clock out and leave, and I leave work at work. When you teach, you can never leave work at work. You carry it with you, even when you're supposed to be relaxing.

I plan on working in catering for the next couple of years as move onto some other new possibilities, and I plan on learning as much about it as I can.

Being back in the work force also means that the grand experiment resumes: the quest to balance my creative life and my family life with the world of work. This is a challenge with any job, but I have too many things in the works to pull up my creative stakes and shrink away from all my projects.

The Kentucky Muck Podcast will resume on an irregular schedule, and Alidade: an audio map, will launch later this week. I also have other writing projects to work on, and I'm really looking forward to what being back in the work force will do for my writing.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed the link to a Pantheon page. This gives you the opportunity to help support the writing. Yes, I'm back in the work force, but your monthly patronage, at one of several levels (with accompanying perks!) will maybe someday enable me to return to writing and podcasting full time.

I'm pleased to announce that the blog has it's first patron, Ernest Gordon Taulbee. Thanks, Ernest! Look for your patron-only post later this week as well!

*I commented to my wife how strange it is that I would end up in a field that attracts so many quirky personalities. She simply patted my arm and said "Well, you did enter it on your own."
**It's crazy how much people spend on food. But then again, it's why I have a job, so...

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