Sunday, September 7, 2014

What's the Plan? Or, Is It Not Enough to Just Keep Breathing?

Dying is easy; It's living that's a challenge. A recent conversation with good friends put me on the spot in a way that I had not anticipated, and I'm grateful that it offered a different perspective of the path that I'm on. They asked: What was I doing with my life? Why won't I get a new job and try to make more money and advance in my career? Why won't I start doing all the things I say that I should do, and live up to the goals I've set for myself? Haven't you had enough time to heal, or is that a crutch and a cop-out? These are all valid questions, and rather than choosing to be hurt or offended, I saw it as a chance to answer those questions to myself. I love my friends and I've grateful that they care enough about me to challenge me with such counterpoint.

What am I doing with my life? Well, to plainly put it, I AM still healing. I am still adjusting to being alive at all. And to be honest, I haven't quite come back to this reality and I probably never will completely. After hovering for weeks over the gaping abyss of death, only to be pulled back in at the last possible second, I find that this temporal world we've built up around our souls to be nothing more that an educational workbook. A landscape that God has painted for himself to experience through each one of his senses, as every living creature serves as a receptor to the source. To imply that God and man are separate is a delusion. We are all but nodes of the one source, experiencing and processing information all in one instant. We ARE Gnosis. And, to acknowledge this connection is the most beautiful recognition of the love that pervades existence. "We" are not alone, because there is no "we". Only the one true God.

That said, what we put into this life is indeed what we get out of it. I treat each soul I encounter along the way with kindness, patience, and understanding. I really do. If there's one positive thing I can say about myself, it's that. I try to be open to what life has to teach me. I give of my time and energy to help others through volunteer causes that I believe in. And I know that I'm still here because I do have things to do. And I know what those things are. But I haven't quite landed yet. It's not just as easy as getting out of a hospital bed and deciding you can conquer the world. I certainly thought so then. The enlightened samadhi state one achieves while dying, and the raw chemical rush of vitality one experiences after beating death are merely temporary. I didn't know that then, and I thought that energy could sustain me. But almost immediately, life started to happen again. My wife needed a change from her role as constant caregiver. She saw me through my very worst, and was ready for a less grim existence. And who can blame her? I love her no less. But life since transplant has been ever-changing. The world has not slowed down one bit, when all I needed to do was heal for a moment. Divorce, moving, dealing with family and financial crises have rendered me sufficiently breathless. So forgive me if I take a moment, just a moment, to slow down and heal myself, both physically and psychologically. The war I've been through was traumatizing, and I haven't quite come home yet.

On to the next question: Career. To answer this, a bit of context. The town that I moved to was a much slower place, a place where one could make a good day's wage, live comfortably and enjoy the ruggedly beautiful oasis that we called Austin. This is NOT meant to be another "Things were better when the Armadillo was here..." statement. This is simply to say that I've seen the mindset of this town change. Even my closest friends are hypnotized by dollar signs as they look to profit off of this city's growth, which is completely understandable. Good for you if you got in while the getting was good. But the climate of "grab it while you still can" has left many of us out in the cold with a bitter taste in our mouths. The air of constant competition is akin to watching ants scurry to the top of a mound, jockeying for the best real estate, as the mound itself is surrounding by rising water. In Austin's case, oddly enough, it'll be the opposite problem.

Is it not enough, at least for awhile, to enjoy one's work? To exist in the moment and adopt the Zen Buddhist koan of meditation through work? I will have been at KVUE for eight years in October. When I first got the job, I told myself it was a temporary solution as I looked for other work. As my illness progressed, it became a buoy as I struggled to stay afloat. And throughout eight years, it has been the one consistent thing in my life where I know I can get up, go to work, be greeted by good friends, and do something that I really enjoy doing and that I believe provides a valuable service to the community we live in. I make just enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle, travel, and put a little money away for the future. I could work harder to get access to better stuff. To have access to more grand surroundings. But guess what? I've been there. I've had all that. I've been around wealth and luxury for much of my life. And I've never seen it make anyone happier. Not one damn time.

About a year ago I panicked with the prospect of impending divorce. With a changing financial situation, I figured I'd better hurry and start looking for a better paying job. And then something happened. I really, really started enjoying my work. With so much loss and change in my life, I started to come to work every day and feel true gratitude for the wonderful family I work with. These people care deeply about me, as I them. And we care about the work that we do, and love doing it.

Many ask what I actually do with KVUE. That's kind of a tough one to answer, as my position is one that is constantly changing and morphing as the way people consume media changes as well. News no longer exists solely on television. To say that it is a dying media would be inaccurate. It is simply evolving, as synthesis will soon occur to fuse it with the social sphere. My job is to get KVUE ahead of that wave. To be on the very forefront of that change. And my co-workers have trusted me to produce the content that will lead us there. It's creatively challenging on every level. And I really, really love it. Perhaps someday I will look for another job. Or perhaps I will see where this evolving position leads me. Either way, I'm where I need to be right at this moment, and I'm with the people I need to be with.

This may all sound like a justification. I suppose it is. But it's also a chance for me to check in and assess where I am in this moment in time. And where I am is fine. I'm okay. I just need five minutes.

This old image of one of my faves, Nick Drake,  sums it up pretty well:

Do you feel like a remnant
Of something that’s past?
Do you find things are moving
Just a little too fast? 

Thanks for reading, and for joining me on this journey. Love to you all.

Until God say different, I'm still:

Pat Buchta