Finally Finding Time to Reflect on My Life Thus Far
Before succumbing to cancer in 2003, one of acclaimed singer-songwriter Warren Zevon’s (Werewolves of London and Keep Me in Your Heart For a While fame) final public appearances was on an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman. On that episode, Zevon and Letterman spoke candidly about about his diagnosis and how it was (or wasn’t) changing his outlook on life. At one point during the interview, Letterman asked Zevon “From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death I don’t know?” After a brief pause and a little thought, Zevon gave a bemused and now often quoted answer,
“Not unless I know now how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”
This exchange has always stuck with me. Over the years I’ve discovered multiple meanings in this. But, it was also interesting to listen and watch an interview with someone who, for all intents and purposes, understood their time would not go on for much longer. I appreciated the reflection Zevon was able to offer. While I might not be dying of cancer, this interview gave me an idea about the power of introspection.
As I mentioned in my first blog post, part of why I’m writing about and sharing details of my past travels, dealings with family and what inspires me is because I’m trying to make sense of my life thus far, trying to understand what inspired to take the path of a writer/poet. However, I’m also discovering this endeavor is allowing me to dive deeply into myself and learn the recipe that makes me… well, me.
But, in order to do this, I’ve needed time to reflect. Writing in this specific blog silo has allowed me that time, especially in these last several months. For those who know me, and even those that only sometimes peruse my IG or Facebook pages it may come as a bit of a shock to learn that, despite the easy breezy hippie spirit traveling poetry person portrayed on those profiles, I do not have all my shit together. Not only that, but the whole 100% truth is I haven’t allowed myself much time for introspection. That might sound kinda weird coming from a poet and writer, where the very nature of such a pursuit, one assumes, might invoke a certain amount of those elements. However, poetry, at least for me and how I wield its power, is more of a spontaneous feeling rather than something that involves self-reflection and introspection. Sure, there is some of that in my new book of poetry (available now through Amazon), but again those poems are still just a grab-bag of spontaneous thoughts and emotions I was lucky enough to capture on a page. Those thoughts aren’t fleshed out.
The goddess and I (if you’re wondering why I call my girlfriend the goddess, there’s a specific IG post that explains everything) were recently talking about how both of us haven’t taken much time to reflect and even slow down. We’ve been jumping from place to place for a few years now. And sure, in some ways this traveling around has created indelible, lasting memories and stories to share. But, by the same token, all that traveling hasn’t exactly allowed for a lot of time to chill in mellow melodies of relaxing space and reflect on life.
Fun fact: It’s tough to reflect when constantly looking forward to the next journey.
You see, for a long while, I was famished for adventure. It was around high school when these wanderlusting cravings of travel began aching in my being. I was able to satiate these cravings here and there, but there was always regiment due to school and then later a job. After I was let go from my job did I decide it was time to stuff my face and brain with an all you can eat buffet of traveling. But, after a while, it began to feel like maybe I shouldn’t just be scarfing down these memories and experiences as if I were starving.
Ok, I’ll try to explain it without so many food metaphors.
I just got back from my second, much more brief visit from Toronto in 2015. A month later my grandmother died (which was also the impetus for what little was left of my family to fall apart, save for contact with my brother). Then, the goddess and I met in person the next year (2016) and went to a work exchange at a farm in Indiana. When things got weird and uncomfortable there, we went to my mother’s house to help her move out of her house until we left to go to another work exchange in New Mexico in 2017. When things got weird and uncomfortable there, we left and got real jobs at a ski valley literally at the very beginning of 2018. It was during this time the goddess imparted a great epiphany over me. Finally, in April of 2018, the goddess and I left New Mexico and arrived in Texas, where we spent the first month looking for jobs and a place to rest our weary bones. Luckily we did, and ever since, the two of us are continuing to adjust to life not on the road. And that brings us up to the present.
See what I mean? There’s been lots moving around. In the last four years I’ve moved roughly six times.
And that’s not even counting my individual journeys, independent and before the goddess, when I lived in Egypt in 2013 and Canada in 2014. This isn’t to say there has been 0% percent introspection during these times, just that in those times I wasn’t necessarily focused too much on looking back to get perspective. Instead, I was looking forward to create space and distance.
Somewhere in all this beautiful chaos of traveling around, I was honored to be given a deck of Native American Animal Medicine Cards by an ex-girlfriend in 2014. At another time, I will get into the optics of cultural appropriation and/or the whole idea of someone being “spiritual but not religious,” but to do so now would totally derail the point I’m attempting to make. I mentioned these cards because, at that time in my (sometimes ignorant) #spiritjourney, they were extremely fascinating to me. Ironically enough, very often when I pulled cards for myself, I often pulled cards that symbolized self-reflection and introspection. Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something!
Now, I’m in a space both physically and mentally that allows me to put some pieces of my life together like a jigsaw puzzle (but not in the unhealthy Punisher season 2 villain kind of way). That is what a lot of this blog writing means to me; giving myself time to look back and at least attempt to see some semblance of a story.
The funny thing is, while I’ve met other traveling artistic Yogi gypsy renegades and misfits on my journeys, I was usually the one listening to their stories. Very rarely did I actually share much about my backstory, just little snippets and a few poems here and there. I don’t know why it happened this way. I guess part of me wondered who I was to share these things about myself when I could just be present with others and listen to their stories. But now, I suppose part of me feels a certain calling to start sharing these insights and stories about my past; so the people that know me can really know me, and also the occasional friends can learn a little bit about the recipe that make me me as well.
But this isn’t just about so my friends can learn who I am. Recently, after reading several of these blog posts/medium articles, the goddess rightfully pointed out that this is also an attempt for me to know myself as well. Since I started writing these posts, several epiphanies have emblazoned themselves in my mind, lighting up corners that has allowed me to connect some dots about how certain aspects of my childhood have affected me to this day. At the very least, it’s given me a profound respect for what has and continues to inspire my being and my writing.
This brings me back to that Warren Zevon interview and what he said about enjoying every sandwich. I realized that, at least in my mind, part of what it means to enjoy every sandwich also means allowing time to digest every sandwich.
I’ve come to realize that I haven’t necessarily allowed myself time to digest these feasts (and occasional morsels) of experience. I’ve been learning that time which allows one to think and reflect, is an extremely useful tool in a writer’s toolbox. I seem to remember mentioning something about taking time for myself during the holiday season.
Now, I’m grateful to finally have the time and the means to share this part of myself with others, taking time to look back and digest the wanderlust sandwiches I’ve enjoyed in my life thus far.
If you enjoyed this reflection, consider taking a gander at other reflections and spontaneous emotions on my website or throw a few claps my way.