I should’ve been fasting these past 10 days out in the hinterlands of Tennessee. All alone in my trusty tent starving myself of sustenance in order to achieve some greater clarity, understanding and context that occasionally is lost to me. Heck I was packed up and ready to head out and then something stopped me. Can’t say what for sure – but the cascade of events set in motion since have been nothing short of metamorphic.
Recently, I met a man who showed me another way and for the past two weeks I’ve been doing some serious transcendental shit; acupuncture, chanting, Reiki and sensory deprivation (not like Altered States – I’m already a beast of a man but more internal, intrinsic). If I didn’t know better I’d think I’d been smoking some serious Humboldt county style Boo-Ya. Yes, yes I got a PhD in weed on the west coast.
Sure, I’ve acknowledged the possibility and potential of and even dabbled in these Eastern type practices but never personally, truly, and profoundly have I explored them. And now I’m down in it.
So where is it going to take me? What’s the endpoint of it all? To this, I am as yet uncertain. But here’s what I have learned thus far on this new path.
The Fallacy of ‘What Should Happen Should Happen’
I was never any good at Logic – not the concept or application of it – but in the scholastic sense and as a subset of philosophy. So in attempting to make sense of the sequence of events that led me here to this time and place – I made up this fallacy which is basically the basis of flawed logic.
People often ask me why did you walk those thousands of miles. Oh sure, I’ve got a pocket full of reasons. The fun, flippant one – everything is bigger in Texas and when we lose a dog to cancer down there we don’t walk around a park, we walk cross country. Then I’ve got the media sound bite version – sharing Malcolm and Murphy’s story from town to town to raise awareness of the epidemic of canine cancer. I’ve got many more but you get the point.
Perhaps they are all truths or variations of the same one but for me it’s because I believed walking from Austin to Boston would help heal my loss of Malcolm, to soothe my savage heart. And then within weeks of the final mile, Murphy was diagnosed and, well, most of you know the rest of that story.
And so I walked another 1,700 miles doubling down on the belief that THAT would heal me.
You see the fallacy in this logic? That because I believed it should, it should’ve. But it didn’t.
You know, it’s commonly thought that the origin of my name is ‘light giving’ and the best known example of it is the apostle Paul’s traveling companion and doctor. This proverb – I had to look that up since, um, well I usually skipped Bible study in search of less pious pursuits shall we say – in Latin reads cura te ipsum - ‘Physician heal thyself’ something that’s been a bit of an impossibility for me it seems.
I suppose my post-facto rationalization has always been – I never spare myself any emotion for Malcolm and Murphy no matter how painful. I can endure it. Just like so many nights on the road and asea, I can weather this storm. But I have suffered so.
Self-imposed or not.
Back to this newfound friend of mine, whom I barely even know. He showed me that pain can be a way to separate yourself from others. To disconnect from them. Furthermore, he said that people like me unknowingly use tragedy to spare themselves from the need and necessity of love and letting others in.
I’m not sure if I believe all of his bullshit yet – but hey, I’m listening. You see, it’s one thing to turn tragedy into action – oh, I’ve done that and then some. It’s quite another thing to allow that experience to truly transform you. And it’s here I find myself at this intersection.
Life Off Road
Not to put too fine a point on it but I’ve become a bit of an expert on backpacking the byways, highways, back roads and farm roads of this incredible land of ours. But take me off and away from it and I tend to fall apart. Perhaps it’s because I’m always in pursuit of an idea, a belief, a cause – our cause – that remains elusive to me. Or maybe it’s as simple as finding sedentary existence unsettling and like Carthamus I’m damned to a life of wandering and wondering.
And while I have been pretty good at chronicling and sharing my journeys on the road with you, I’ve been decidedly deficit in talking about it off, especially post west coast. From now on, that will change. I won’t let fear, doubt, uncertainty, darkness or utter despair disconnect me from you again.
In part because some of you have said to me you find the latter much more inspiring and relatable if not essential than the former. And in part because my new friend tells me to.
That and I need a simpler formula for existence. I live. I learn. I write. Something like that… just less cheesy and Julia Roberts sounding.
Two blogs in draft right now (1) On Turning 36 – My travels and adventurin’ have taken their toll on Yer Big Dog so I lick my wounds and tell tales about it; (2) The Theory of Cancer – lately my thinking has gotten so abstract and theoretical about the evolution of cancer. Where is it going and how can that affect our thinking about the future of therapeutics? On societal and civil re-engineering? Reflections on my conversations with thought leaders and a whole host of other ideas – this will definitely be a multi-part project.
There are more… lots more but I’m attempting to do a better job of prioritizing my crazy.
YBD’s Notes 1: The name of this blog has a special meaning to me. Back when I was a businessman in Texas I would often take Malcolm up to my office in the evenings and that inspired a series of writings I entitled Midnight with Malcolm. Dunno what the change denotes quite yet…
YBD’s Notes 2: I stuff hyperlinks in my blogs if’n anyone wants to learn more about things that fascinate me but be forewarned – logic will make yer eyes water.
YBD’s Notes 3: Upon further reflection ‘What Should Happen Should Happen’ SHOULD be a fallacy. Oh boy.
YBD’s Notes 4: Coincidentally, whilst recently consolidating all of my scant worldly possessions from around the country, I found this photo of me taken at the blessing of my childhood home. I’ve seen too much of this world in this life to believe in coincidences. Thanks to my sister-in-law Linda for preserving it. Nice bowl cut, Mom
YBD’s Notes 5: I should choose a name for my new friend – he’s not imaginary. I Promise. At least in my mind. In this room. That’s white. And padded.
YBD’s Notes 6: Perhaps it’s still too early for me to write – no, I’m always doing that – to publish about these transcendental, metaphysical experiences and experiments. But hey, at least I’m rounding again.