It’s Me Again

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Early tomorrow morning we are up for a road trip to Dallas. It’s about a sixteen hour drive from here, so we’ll be staying over in Amarillo, Texas, a town which I never expected to see. Life seems to be teasing me lately with constant surprises. At least none of them are bad. I can’t help thinking about how miserable I was only a few months ago

Last October, only a little over a month after Eunie died, I took this self portrait of a man overcome by grief and loss:

When I looked at it, I kept seeing the expression as “pensive”. Now it looks terribly sad. A great deal has changed since then. Though I still grieve for Eunie every day, I’ve traveled half way around the world staying with wonderful friends along the way who have helped me to heal and see that there is a future for me. I’ll never get over the loss of my wife and best friend of forty-seven years, but I’ve been given a vision of a future in which life can be good again. Whereas death once seemed a total loss, it now feels more to me as a change of condition. In my present situation, staying with Grace, Eunie’s life-long best friend, She is not physically present, but nevertheless alive in our memories. She seems close to me now, whereas before I could not even unlock the treasure chest of memories.

So, as life unfolded day by day and month by month, I was guided to a place where I could find peace, comfort and healing. It feels very strange that only three years ago Eunie and I were here together visiting Grace. I remember being stunned by the incredible landscape. Nothing has changed my impressions of it. Here is Bell Rock. I see it every day when running mundane errands to buy groceries or post letters:

Every place you look here you find some outlandish display of handiwork. Here is the view from the parking lot of the local hardware store:

Ridiculous, eh?

Still skeptical? How about this:

Really, it sometimes gives me the giggles.

It appears that I’ve traded fish for birds. There are precious few fish around here. This is a pair of European Collared Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) resting high at the top of a huge pine tree in back of Grace’s house:

I can’t account for all that’s happening to me. It seems as chaotic a process as that which put me into the depths of despair less than a year ago. There is no explanation or rational for it. Grace says that the universe is being nice to me. I suppose that’s as good a summary as any. I tend not to blame things on God. It’s a useless notion. What I do believe is that everything of significance which “happens” is really part of some big plan, the details of which I am not privy to. Things which do happen are somehow necessary to keep the big plan on track. Being born and dying are critical events in the plan and we humans have little control over the timing. We do have a lot of control over many of the details of our lives, so it pays to live wisely, otherwise we waste what we are given.

I could not understand the plan if it were explained to me. God operates on some higher plane than my intellect can envision. I’m reminded of the old Simon and Grafunkel song, Slip Sliding Away:

God only knows
God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable
To the mortal man
We work our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away

All I can do is play my part with as much patience an good humor as I can muster. I think that I’m finally doing that again. I don’t think I’m slip sliding away any more. I think it shows in my face:

This is no longer the face of a sad man.

It’s the face of a man who has stopped trying to figure things out so much and is just enjoying the ride. I’ll eventually get to where I’m supposed to be.

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21 Responses to “It’s Me Again”

  1. Brenda Says:

    And I could not be happier for you… Not only do you not look so desperately sad Jan… you also look 10 years younger and glow with happiness. I am glad your journey of life has led you in a different direction… Eunice will forever live in the hearts of all of us who knew here but no one more than you. HUGS and safe journey!! Look forward to pictures from Texas =)

  2. Jill Says:

    Awesome pictures – especially that last one of you. So glad that you have had this time among those you love to see that you also are loved by many!

    Continuing to pray for your journey,


  3. David Bryan Lile Says:

    Jan…I don’t hardly even know you, except through our internet communications, but I was profoundly touched by your blog thoughts, and the unwanted, yet beautiful and wonderous journey that you have taken, this past year. I was also touched by the difference in your two images. I too, agree with your assesment of yourself. You’ve seen the work of people and friends, the Lord, and yourself, within your heart, soul, body, mind and spirit, to help you see the light of life come back into your presence. Continued blessings in your journey Jan. Do take care my internet friend.

  4. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Brenda. I remember how miserable I was during my recent visit with you and Ron. I don’t think I was much fun to be around. Now I am back to my old self, not exactly the life of the party, but not a sourpuss either. Getting happy did wonders for my looks, eh? Gosh, I look sixty again!

    Eunie was a grand lady and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I am very happy that Grace and I keep her very much alive in this house. Eunie is here with her adoring husband and her best friend. What could be better. She visits us whenever she likes. It’s very Melanesian. If II had not lived in PNG for so long I would probably not be able to tap into that feeling.

    I remember flying a small helicopter between Chicago and Phoenix many years ago. As I recall, the landscape along the way was not very spectacular unless you like desert. I’ll take a book. I’ll snap some pictures if I see anything interesting.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Jill. What amazes me about the blessings I’ve received from friends is that there was never any pity factor. Nothing happened because someone “felt sorry” for me. I have a lot of very generous and loving friends. I don’t know if that says anything about me except that I’m pretty good at choosing my friends, eh?

  6. CarolBeth Says:

    What a wonderful entry! I’m so happy for you. The first picture reminded me of a portrait of Hemingway…
    …but better looking. Life is strange, isn’t it. But I’m glad that THIS bit of life is turning out so well! {{{hug}}}

  7. MadDog Says:

    Hi David. I am certain that I am experiencing the most important and spirit guided journey of my life. I’ve traveled for months half way around the world and experienced everything from despair to ecstasy. It’s a very interesting ride. I was shocked at the differences between the two self portraits. There is not an aspect of my life which has not been touched by God over the last few months is very obvious and dramatic ways. I should write a book, eh?

  8. Lakotah Says:

    I’ve been looking at your site for some time now and have enjoyed your sense of humor and your captivating photo’s. You are a very rich man to have friends that have stood along side you through these trying times.

  9. Colin Huggins Says:

    NYC – this!
    “Goodbye to Sedona – For a While I have to get on a plane to NYC in a couple of hours, but I wanted to do another post on Sedona’s scenery before I tear apart all my gear and put it in my backpack. Yesterday evening we did one last swing around Sedona to get some images…. ”

    Nah! I tried the big, naughty “M” a couple of times – Carrolton, Ga and I managed to lose the bag of the stuff when on a river raft trip just outside Atlanta, I was not the flavour of the month with my colleagues. I might add that kayaking over rapids was tried once, got very wet, was most unpopular and was battered and bruised.
    End of the big “M” thing and kayaking – all done in one day! Brilliant effort I say. I might add that having never been over rapids in a kayak, I cannot understand why the big, naughty “M” and the booze was in my kayak. My kayak mate at the rear was besides himself with rage at my incompetence – it was a blame game as we endeavoured to dry ourselves out.
    Still when we all came to our senses we did find a good bar to laugh all about the “terrible criminal offence” that was committed!

    I am told that Amarillo has some really great sights to see. Have fun – next thing you will be doing the “Route 66” routine!

  10. Shana Says:

    I love, love, love reading your blog! It’s so honest, real, human and insightful. You are such a great writer–I especially like the last lines! I read from it to my friends as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  11. Steve Bennett Says:

    Wow, what a self portrait to finish a fine collection of images.

  12. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Steve. I just had a look at your blog. You have some very nice bird shots in your post of the 27th of July. I also noticed the words and images you posted on the day after Eunie died in “For Eunie”. I want to thank you again for that.

  13. MadDog Says:

    Shana, one of the things which keep me journaling on line is comments such as yours. Thanks very much.

  14. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Lakotah, for the kind remarks. You are right about my wealth. It’s not the kind which languishes in a bank vault or withers in fantasy investments. Friends are wealth which nourishes and enriches our lives day by day in ways that material wealth has no value. I would not be alive today if I had not had such friends.

  15. L. Witham Says:

    I didn’t look back to your last post – these are AZ pics, aren’t they? I love the moon snap especially. I took a trip 3 years ago with my family to Arizona and I saw potential pictures everywhere! The color and light is so amazing. My 3 siblings and I were all snapping shots of the desert and hills.

    On another note, I restarted my blog a few days ago. Be grateful for the many comments on your blog, Jan. For some reason rarely does anyone comment on mine, or maybe one person occasionally. They reply more often on Facebook and I don’t understand why. Go figure. Anyway, thanks for your good post.

  16. Susan Messersmith Says:

    Oh Jan, you do look so much happier. You have a twinkle in your eye that hasn’t been there inquite some time. I am sure that Eunie and others are looking down and smiling. I take it that Grace is going back with you. I hope you two have a great trip and I hope to hear something about some other things soon? I hope to meet Grace sometime in the near future.
    Love to you both.

  17. L. Witham Says:

    Oops – sorry, my wrong. My family took a trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico, not Arizona. But it was similar beauty.

  18. MadDog Says:

    I carry my camera everywhere here. Even a trip to the grocery store is a photographic expedition. Do you link your WordPress blog to your Facebook account like I do? That helps get more traffic and more comments. People will still reply sometimes on Facebook, but some will leave comments on the blog. It doesn’t hurt to mention in an occasional post that you like to get comments. I left one today on your blog.

  19. MadDog Says:

    Susan, all I can say for now is that Grace won’t be going back to Madang with me. Stay tuned. Things are about to get very interesting. Yes, I’m sure that Eunie is grinning ear-to-ear.

  20. Tracey Says:

    You look down right handsome – are you wearing smiling contact lenses??? So nice to see the change. Yes, Eunie would be very pleased indeed. xx trace

  21. MadDog Says:

    Thank you, Tracey. No contacts, just Coke-bottle glasses. I think Eunie is engineering all this.