Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Reason WHY . . . Part II

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico on Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

The photo opening this post is from my current “yard.” I'm writing this from the beach of the Gulf of Mexico on the Padre Island (Texas) National Seashore. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and slept last night to the sound of the surf. Today, my background inspiration, as I compose this article, is the surf (it's low tide), the breeze and the occasional sounds of a variety of birds on a beautiful sunny day with blue skies and a few puffy white clouds. I'm sitting comfortably at my desk in My McVansion. You won't read this until sometime after I've left this beautiful location since I don't have any wireless phone or Internet connection here. Another respite to enjoy.

You also see a photo of the My McVansion galley. I enjoyed a couple cups of Chai tea, a banana, some cantaloupe and I made myself a bagel sandwich flavored with maple syrup and an egg seasoned the way I like it, with melted cheese and smoked sausage to top it off. It was a magnificent breakfast and will probably carry me to dinner time, with, perhaps, a light snack to carry me over. Does it sound like I'm enjoying my life? Indeed! The big question in my mind is why (there's that word again) I didn't do this a lot sooner . . . or maybe for my entire life.

Here's a thought for you. If you are asking yourself 'why' about a lot of things in your past and current life, you likely have some serious, unresolved issues. It's my personal intention to reach the “final destination” (the same one we all arrive at, ultimately) with the greatest memories of all I did during my brief lifespan and not regretting all the things I never did, but always wanted to. Too many people end up bitter, if they live long enough, because they feel they were robbed or deprived of so many things they always wanted to do. But, in fact, they were neither robbed nor deprived. They made conscious choices to do and accept what their life turned out to be.

Why Do You Live Where You Live?

Beach front property for My McVansion -
another dream realized
There are lots of reasons why most of us live where we live. Many people remain living in the town or city they were born in or in very close proximity to it. Many moved to a location because of their college education or possibly military service. Others moved to accept a job and career requirements. Still others found a place they fell in love with as they were traveling. And, some people actually had a dream of living someplace and moved there to fulfill that dream. And there are all kinds of crossovers of these reasons. You may have additional reasons.

They are all valid reasons for living where you live. Perhaps, proximity to family was important to you. Certainly career opportunities may have played a part in your decision. Maybe you grew up in a very rural area and wanted to enjoy the amenities of a large city or the surrounding suburbs. Perhaps, the opposite was true and you grew up in a city or suburban area and found the congestion confining or restricting and you moved to a rural area where you had more “breathing space.” And, of course, you may have been fulfilling a spouse's wishes to live somewhere that would not have been your choice. Ultimately, you know why you live where you live.

Do you feel free where you live? Or, do you feel limited, restricted or confined by neighbors, population density, local or state government laws, codes and ordinances, home owner association rules and covenants, etc. If you don't feel free to live and express yourself and your life as you wish to, then you're likely not happy. If you feel free then, the chances are you are happy in your living experience.

Do you own your own home, townhouse or condo or do your rent. Do you live in a van, larger RV or movable tiny house? I have owned homes. I have rented homes and I now live in a van (a tiny house I can move on a moment's notice). I initially believed owning a home was one of the ultimate fulfillments of the American Dream (along with driving luxury cars, lots of nice clothes, being well fed, dining out at nice restaurants and staying in luxury hotels – I'm had and done all of them). What I found, for me, of course, was that none of what I just said made me freer and certainly not happier.

The Galley/Kitchen in My McVansion preparing breakfast
Owning a home was like a prison to me. There was always something to do to keep the house up. Things would break and had to be repaired, lawns and landscaping had to be cut, trimmed and maintained. Running my own businesses kept me busy enough, busier than the traditional 40 hour worker, but when I wasn't working on my businesses, I had to work on my house (and maintain the other things I mentioned).

Ultimately, I learned how to lease beautiful homes in places I wanted to live, often out of my price range to purchase. I saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and lived extremely well. And, when it was time to move on, I simply gave appropriate notice, packed up and moved to my next living adventure. I lived virtually all my dreams. I never could have afforded to live the lifestyle I've enjoyed had I owned. I would have ended up staying much longer and possibly never moving on. Once again, this was a personal choice and preference. It may not work for you, but it sure did for me. Some of the places I lived included in a beautiful house on a mountain top, a chalet on a lake with my own dock to boat, fish or swim from and a 50 acre horse ranch, complete with boarded horses I didn't have to take care of and an abundance of nature and wildlife all around me. Not bad for a city kid.

It may not seem like it, but you live where you live – love it, like it, dislike it or hate it – because you made a conscious choice to live there. If you don't feel free and aren't happy for any of the reasons (or others) I mentioned, then what are you going to do about it? You still have the ability to make choices. Make them because you choose to live freer and happier, not because of economics, career, family pressure, spousal pressure or any other reason. There is always a way to make a choice and make it happen.

Why You Married The Person(s) You Married 

Maple flavored bagel, fried egg seasoned to taste,
 melted cheese and smoked sausage - Ummm!
This is always a touchy subject. When we decide to marry someone, regardless pf whether you're a man or a woman, you seldom know the other person. Perhaps, if you've been a couple for a number of years and maybe lived together for several years before tying the knot, you might know one another better than many who marry after only a year or so of courtship. But, in my opinion, most marriages are driven by hormones, a nesting desire, societal pressure and a certain need for co-dependence on another person.

Maybe I'm being unfair. But, I definitely believe there is a difference between falling and being in love, loving and a connection of convenience. People fall in and out of love (though they are loathe to admit it) like when you buy a new car. Think about it. When you fall in love, both parties are typically on their best behavior. They put on masks or facades. They want the other person to believe they are the ideal partner. That same mask is used to hide reality from parents, potential step children, each others' friends, etc. But, once the contractual, marital knot is tied and the big party is over, little by little the facades, of both parties, begin to fall away and the real you and he or she becomes exposed.

If you think I'm kidding, think about all the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus type books in the bookstores. Consider all the movies about relationships. Some are comedies and exaggerations, yet we can relate to them. Some are dramas and we can relate to them, too. But, the worst ones are the nightmare or horror stories about abusive relationships and relationships dealing with addictive behaviors and infidelity. What happened to that guy or gal we fell in love with? Well, as time passes, we find they aren't the person we thought they were and fell in love with. Does that mean you can't still love that person. Of course it doesn't mean that. But, loving someone is very different than the feelings one has when they are in love with someone.

Too often marriages are the result of peer pressure, family pressure and societal pressure. But, as life passes, very often one or both members of the partnership grow weary of the relationship and tolerating the other person who has grown and changed (which we all do throughout our lives). Often the partners grow apart. Often, if there are children, the children control the dynamics of the family. When they leave the nest, there is little left for the original couple who spawned the family. They are so different and neither realized they were growing apart because the children kept them together.

Occasionally, two people are fortunate enough to find their true soulmates. It's my feeling that such relationships are the exception, not the rule. So, a married couple stay together, tolerating each other, perhaps faking love, even though they really have little left in common. They have different interests. They have different social lives. They may have different circles of friends. They begin sleeping in separate bedrooms for a variety of reasons. The man has his “man cave” and the woman has her “her nest.” The bottom line is that they have become codependent. They stay together, more often than not, for convenience and/or economic reasons. They are in a comfort zone and fear not being together will be worse, the “unknown.” This is sad because, both of them may enjoy freer and happier lives if they were to recognize this and simply move on.

I will never suggest any couple simply break up. But, staying together or separating and moving on with life, once again, is a choice. Like all choices, it requires considerable communication and processing. Hopefully, each party will feel they are freeing himself and herself from a self-made prison. The best part is when the two parties can remain friends and still enjoy visiting and sharing some time together. They have surely created joint memories. Interestingly, I find men often have the more difficult time moving into a “brave new world.”

So, think about it! If you're single, divorced already or widowed, how important is your freedom and are you happy being free? If you're in a marriage that feels more like it's for convenience or economic stability, are you feeling free and happy? If not, what are you going to do about enjoying whatever years you have left in your short life?

Why You Chose The Lifestyle You're Living Today

A walk on the beach -
so much domain to explore
Once again, I don't suggest you judge your lifestyle by the lifestyle I've chosen for myself. Many people say they envy me. But, in reality, I don't think they actually envy me and my lifestyle. What people envy is that I made a very difficult choice.

What they envy is that I eliminated 80% of my monthly overhead overnight between October 31, 2008 and November 1, 2008. I have pared down my “stuff” from way too much for any one person to what some consider almost nothing (and believe it or not, I still have too much). I chose to eliminate the responsibility of maintaining a home (even though I leased it for a long term, there were still responsibilities). I've eliminated conformity to local laws, ordinances, codes, dealing with home owner associations, neighbors to tolerate, congestion, too much mail (I receive almost none currently) and a pile of monthly bills to pay. I don''t have to keep up appearances. And, I don't have the economic chains of debt and maintaining that lifestyle I had.

So, how about you? Remember, the lifestyle you are living today is what you chose. It may have been influenced or the choice of a spouse. It may be that you're living in an area with a certain caliber of schools and social acceptance for your children. Why are you living your lifestyle? Have you ever actually sat down to think about it? Are you free or do you feel imprisoned? Are you happy? If not, precisely, what about your lifestyle is not allowing you the happiness you so much deserve?

Here's a reality. Kids are adaptable. If you lived in a cabin on a mountain top, they would adapt. If they lived in a 5th wheel trailer and you home schooled them, they would adapt. If you lived in a foreign country and home schooled them and they learned the culture of the country, they would adapt. There are people living those and other lifestyles today and feel free and happy living out their dreams and sharing those dreams with their children. Reality, you are not living the lifestyle you're living if you're doing it for your kids. You living that lifestyle because YOU think you're doing the best for your kids.

Remember, life is very short. We don't know anything from “ before we were born and we don't factually know there is anything after we die. The only thing we know for sure (and we don't know for how long) is that period between when we are born and when we die. I define the purpose of life – and the only purpose – is simply to just “be.” We are called human “beings.” Each day we should focus on “being.” It's also my firm belief that every human being was born to live as personally free as is possible in this very complicated world humans have created. And, ultimately, being happy is the reward of being free.

Consider your lifestyle. What and/or who is really the driving force behind how you are living today? If you don't feel the personal freedom I continually write about and you're not truly happy most of the time, then something isn't gelling in your life. Maybe it's time to pull out those dusty old dreams that you shelved years or decades ago and reevaluate and consider them. Once again, I'm not telling you to change anything. And for goodness sake, I'm not suggesting you use my lifestyle as a model for your life, unless my lifestyle just happens to be similar to your dreams. But, don't reach old age regretting all the things you never did. Focus on a life that will have you remembering and celebrating all the things you actually experienced.

Why You Are Exactly Where You Are In Life – Right Now

A formation of pelicans flying overhead
So, here you are. It's still early in the year 2017 (at this writing, but what I'm writing is timeless). Why are you where you are in your life today? Don't tell me you don't know the answer. You know you do.

You are exactly where you are because this is exactly where you choose to be. Your parents, spouse, children, friends, employer(s), relatives, neighbors, the government . . . absolutely no one chose where you are today except yourself. Sure, all of the above and maybe some others may have influenced some of your choices. But, unless you live in some extremely oppressive society where your family or the government or the religion you belong to literally controls your life, you made these choices all on your own.

Yes! Even if your parents wanted you to be a doctor, lawyer, religious professional, college professor, engineer or any number of other careers. You had a choice to agree and do what they wanted you to do or not to go down that path and do what you wanted to do instead. I was trained as an Industrial Arts teacher. My father pretty much demanded I attend college. I had a choice, agree and go or disagree and not go. He could afford to send me to a state college in New Jersey, a teacher training institution. I didn't want to be a teacher. He knew that.

It was my choice. I went. I already told you the results of my choice in Part I of this article. It turned out to be the best move I could have made. However, I never taught Industrial Arts in any school system. But, I found my passion because of the choice I made to go to that state college. I found opportunities to expand myself and my horizons. I have used virtually everything I learned in my Industrial Arts curriculum. Ultimately, it turned out to be one of the best choices I have made in my life. But, my father didn't make the choice. He guided me and opened doors of opportunities for me. I, ultimately, made the choice.

If you're not happy with your life currently. If you feel like a slave or prisoner, it's because it's where you choose to be and how you choose to live your life. It doesn't have to be this way. You can make some extremely tough decisions and choices and pursue the life you feel will set you free and make you happier than you've ever been. It may require moving to another location. It may require changing your kids lives and schools. It may require you to move to a new town, city, the country, a mountain top, a new state or even a different country. It may require you to separate from your spouse and move on if you're spouse is not in accord with your life choice.

All of these are possibilities. I know people who had to make a choice between their marriage and a future that allowed them to pursue their dreams. That may sound drastic or even traumatic. But, think about it, if you're not happy, is your spouse going to ultimately be happy? Chances are, if your marriage isn't already one of convenience or based on economics, it will become that in the future. So, it's up to you. What choices will you make?

Why You Didn't End Up Where You Dreamed You Would

The afternoon shadows grow long as I sit in
my chair and watch the waves roll in.
This is the last “Why” in this series. There are, of course, many more “Why's” you can think of and explore. That's up to you. But, ultimately, most people don't end up where they dreamed they would. You certainly aren't alone in that, if that may be what you're thinking right now. I said it in the beginning, “Life Happens.”

Most of us, hopefully, all of us, have dreams. We start as children and as we learn about the world around us we are inspired and influenced by our environment. Once upon a time there were many times more opportunities for men than women. We sometimes still hear the term “women's work.” Over time, especially, over the last century, both men's and women's roles have evolved.

There are many new career fields and opportunities for both men and women. Once, boys dreamed of becoming cowboys, soldiers, police officers, firemen and such. Women were mainly destined to be homemakers and mothers, teachers, telephone operators, nurses, waitresses, seamstresses and retail sales clerks to mention most of their choices. Today, it seems the sky is the limit.

Traditional marriage is, in many ways, a thing of the past. Both the husband and wife have careers. Families are more stressed and children are also raised by grandparents, nannies, daycare centers and such. A woman may find herself in a combat zone overseas while her spouse is at home tending to his career and taking care of the family. A man may find himself as an emergency room nurse. It's all changed. And those changes have also changed the life choices we make. Thus, as life unfolds and happens, it may not remotely resemble our dreams and aspirations.

That's why we have to keep asking the Why questions. And, we need to listen to our hearts and minds when they aren't in accord with where our lives have led us. Remember, you only have from the moment you're born until the moment you die to live. It's the only time we actually know we have. Do you want to die regretting your life or celebrating your life? Only you can make that choice and I hope you make the choice for living your dreams, enjoying personal freedom and being a happy person. Are there any questions about my reasons WHY?

The end of another perfect day as the sun sets behind the dunes -
time for another restful night in my world
Remember to live free and be happy. EH

3 comments:

Bob said...

"Why Part II" hit home for me, I'm widowed for 3 years, and ready to go spare some minor details. Big problem is selling my home. Years ago I had thought this was my nest egg turns out it has a crack or two. Now do I sell considerably below appraisal and go or fix and stay who knows how much longer. Time is important but so is money. Right now I'm leaning towards time over money.
Maybe I'll see you on the road! Peace!

Richard Rosen said...

In thinking about the cultural reasons you point out Ed, not to mention mere sex attraction, that draw people into marriage, I'll share a thought on "love at first sight" and how it may happen.

The phrase "kindred spirits" is well known. "Kindred minds," although similar, is not. Men and women may be attracted by similar genetics, which results in a shared mind-space, simpatico minds that run in similar channels. They may even overlap the same mind-space as in the case of identical twins where one picks up the thought of another.

So when two kindred minds meet, there's mutual recognition and attraction to the degree their mind energy constructs are alike. This also explains why some working groups develop such harmony and excel.

I know these thoughts are bit up there, but thought to share them nonetheless.

Dan Cordray said...

Thanks Ed, for confirming what I figured out a while back. It's the "why" in life that's important. Not the what, not the where, not even the who (though I'm thankful Brenda and I met in the desert without any "masks" on) what's important is the WHY. The why IS what dictates the outcome.

"Because all the right things, for all the wrong reasons, can turn a man into a rock that's cold..." to steal lyrics from one of my songs. ;-)

We both hope to see you again soon somewhere chasing the sun.
Dan