There is something to losing all your worldly possessions… it brings (or can bring) a level of humility unique, in that it causes an awareness of just how temporary material possessions are, and if you reflect on it a bit, Life, similarly.
My “ex” and I separated in September of 2008, and the only possession of “value” that I got was the car. She kept the dog, the house (note: I didn’t say home), all but 8 books of our Library of 100s, and a few clothes I was able to swap/change/wash on the weekends, supervised (more or less). Immediately following my departure from where she lived, two or our “mutual” Friends moved in with her, and the very night I left, there was another man sleeping in “my” bed.
I was vainly attempting to be a salesman, and failing miserably. I was selling (what I believe to be, and with good reason) the best product in the world, and am Blessed that my Life didn’t depend upon it, or I’d not be here today. My monetary status did depend on it however, and regardless of 12-16 hour days in the attempt thereof, I couldn’t sell “them” at all. If memory serves, over the course of the next 7 months, I sold a total of eight, and the profit I gained from that was not enough to survive on.
Through the kindness and generosity of my Boss, the owner of the franchise, I was able to get gas money usually by being a driver for a crew, and a few odd-ends jobs. I lived on a dollar a day diet, usually Taco Bell’s dollar menu. Occasionally I’d splurge and get a “Blue” Mt. Dew on refill, but it was usually too late for that, the dining room was closed (…the other reason it was usually Taco Bell, they were the only ones in proximity to where I worked and the location of where I parked the car and slept, and still open). Those long hours were 6 days a week sometimes, 7 days a week mostly, and despite my passion about/for the product, it wasn’t selling. At least not for me.
To be fair, the economy had tanked, and at that time Illinois had the worst unemployment rate in the nation (this is a key note…), so it wasn’t just me, though it felt like it at times. Bottom line, I’m no salesman. LOL
So, towards the end of those first 7 months, I was having a conversation with my brother, and my living situation came up. He, at the time, was still in the Air Force, stationed in Albuquerque, and I, if not sleeping in my car, was “living” (existing, really) out of it, staying on a temporary basis with various Friends. To them (they know who they are), I again wish to express my gratitude! If not for them, my situation would have/could have been much worse. They tolerated my presence (in most cases) more than many would, and I consider every night of their grace a Blessing!
He (Walter, “Walt” for short) was at some point in the conversation Inspired to invite me to come stay with him (and at the time, his wife, and our Mom) rent free, and even offered to wire me some money for the trip. I considered my options (few), and my situation (bleak, at best), and humbly accepted the offer. A few days later, I made the 18 hour drive, stopping only once for a couple hours -literally- of rest.
And so marked a major turning point in my Life. I was out of the state where my “ex” lived, freed from the pull of what had become (for me) a “black hole”. I said adieu to the Friends I still had (and would like to think I still do have… I remain in touch with most of them), and drove off into the proverbial sunset.
Here is where my Life would take a drastic turn, and set me upon a path I continue today. A journey of a thousand miles was but the first step… The growth, primarily Spiritual in nature (but not solely) has been monumental, but costly. And, if I’m honest about it, worth it. In spite of the challenges, the losses, the Spiritual and mental growths have magnified exponentially! I’ve always considered myself to be a “man” of Faith, but the Faith which I gained during that Journey made it seem as though I’d had none before! So great were the Blessings during that 75 day trek, and the quantity and richness of the Blessings received have only increased since then!
And yes, I include the last 7 years (minus a couple months and change) of incarceration in that statement as well! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Here is where (when) I walked from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Woodland, California. Here is where I suffered the greatest lost I’ve ever known. Before the walk actually began, a year before in fact, I had attempted (only briefly) the Journey of a thousand miles, and knew within hours my effort(s) at that time would be futile, and quite likely fatal. I was ill prepared, and lacked the fortitude (mentally as well as physically, though it would be a few more months before I was aware of the mental “issues” from which I still suffered…) necessary to survive the journey, and the mental strength to fully “be me” in the desired/expected relationship(s).
I had a lot of baggage still, left over from the separation, shadows of me I didn’t yet know needed to be excised. Bad habits and ideas that I knew didn’t belong in my repertoire, but hung around after 13 + years of not great marriage. And thusly, upon my first “attempt” at my journey (for context, JUL2009), though I got there, it was not under the pretext it should have been (completing the Journey of a Thousand Miles), and though I had the three best months of my Life, it was just that… short lived, and it did not at all become what was (had been) intended to be. After the miscarriage of our twins, what threads had bound us together seemed now to be frayed and withered away.
The following year, in the same month, I began the Journey in earnest! It was, and remains to be a major highlight in my Life, one of the most significant events, and stories I have to tell! At that moment in my Life, I had nearly nothing. Most of what I considered “my” possessions, remained in Illinois. The anticipated divorce was finalized 3 days after my Journey began (the “beginning” of the journey was 20JUL2010, I received notification of the finalized divorce 23JUL2010), and what I had in my 80 litre pack was the majority of what was now “legally” mine. Many many pairs of socks, a small variety of shirts/cargo-shorts, 4 three-litre CamelBak®’s for my water supply, which (if rationed properly) would (and did) give me 4 days worth of water (the greatest distance between locations where I could refill them), about 60% of my food supply(ies) (Clif Bars®), a tent, a sleeping bag, and the will to succeed.
Though it began as a journey for Love, it ended up becoming a journey of Love! I had just about given up on people, on Life (not in a suicidal manner), on relationships. The drive to be, to remain a “man of my word” however pushed me forward, and over the course of those 75 days, Miraculously, if I had spoken with anyone, they were the kindest, most sincere people one could ever Hope/Pray to meet, and I met them randomly, spread across 3 states and 1200+ miles.
And so I changed. I grew. Spiritually above all else, mentally through experience, and now I found I had a more clear vision of Life, of Love, of who I was, and wanted to be. Of where I saw my Life going, and I began to enjoy more fully the freedom my homelessness now presented. My heart still ached. It still does. But it no longer consumed(s) me. My loneliness is more a point of reference, rather than an all-consuming tragedy. Life, when Lived, provides a myriad of countless, beautiful points of Light, from within, from without, under hill and over dale, it bursts from and through every point of reference! Expression becomes difficult, if not impossible, for there is so much to be shared! I was seeing it now, every day, around every corner, through amazing people, and amazing circumstances. Materiality was fading away, and Spirituality and the Love of and for Life was growing immeasurably!
To be continued…