This blog is a work in progress, just as I’m a work in progress. It seems to me this life is a balancing act, a delicate one, at that. Considering that I registered this domain name, www.LivingfromConscience.org, a few years ago, and did absolutely nothing with it until January, 2016, this “About Me” might as well begin with a bit of history.
I had a grand plan when I chose the domain name, to encourage everyone to listen to their conscience and to keep the Golden Rule in mind at all times. That may sound fairly tame and reasonable, knowing that people will actually do as they please. However, imagine that I can be so arrogant as to think that I could write with such eloquence and passion that people would agree that consulting with me before big decisions are made would make the world more sane, safe, civilized, balanced, and just. In the world of my creation, there would be less inequality, prejudice, fear, violence, starvation, and misunderstanding.
My plan was to begin by writing about hospice care in the United States. By overwhelming accounts, hospice is a win/win for everyone. The dying usually prefer to remain in the familiar surroundings of home, families and friends can enrich the experience for all by coming and going without the restrictions imposed by hospitals and nursing homes, in-home care is usually available around the clock, the needs of the patient and family are served by nurse’s aides, nurses, doctors, social workers, and chaplains, as needed and requested.
The fact remains that, in my opinion, even though there are hundreds of hospice organizations around the country, and even though the vast majority of patients and families have only high praise about their experiences with hospice care, it’s still vastly underutilized. My vote is for increased education and awareness for everyone, including the medical professionals who lay out the options for patients and their families.
Likewise, in my opinion, mediation is vastly underutilized. I’ll save the discussion for a “Ramblings” post on another day. After hospice and mediation, I planned to enlighten everyone about other topics that might be more controversial. However, I never mustered the courage to distill my thoughts, ideas, and strongly-held opinions and transfer them from the yellow pad to the blog screen.
Is it possible for a guy who was born in 1950 to still be “growing up?” I think so, since my goal of changing the world has been tabled in favor of a travel blog, poetry, and miscellaneous thoughts and ideas, etc. The fact is, I’m often late arriving… at events, for example. even though I usually wish I’d arrived on time, I usually enjoy myself, and often am among the last to leave. Growing up late is better than never growing up at all.
The “late arriving” aspect brings me to something else that’s central to “About Me.” It’s the naming of my life companion, fear. Perhaps oddly, fear has brought me several gifts, ones that I might rather have gotten by some other, happier, means. Compassion, sensitivity, understanding, a spiritual life that I treasure, and even something that has generated income. While serving as a hospice volunteer in the 1980’s, I began to get requests to work with seniors as a paid home health attendant and companion. Because I knew fear in my own life, I could easily sense and strive to allay their fears, sometimes by offering an arm to hold, other times by verbal assurance that, together, we could handle whatever might confront us. As an advocate, protector, (of sorts), and life enrichment specialist for someone else, I often assertively created opportunities that weren’t “on the menu.” At times, I enjoyed being relatively fearless.
Of course, the effects of fear haven’t generally seemed positive or welcome. A few minutes ago I did a quick Internet search: “describe the character Walter Mitty.” All I remember about James Thurber’s character is that he has grand fantasies of doing great things, but none of them become reality. I don’t remember if Walter’s pattern was like mine, excitedly filling journal pages late into the night with ideas of a new business I could create, a marketing plan for my therapeutic massage practice, a workshop that I could facilitate, or a book that I could write. Fear rose with me, late those next mornings, and my enthusiasm and energy would fade. The behavior pattern, the delightful, exhilarating creativity of those late nights, however, left me with the foul taste of feeling deficient and incapable of fully living my own life. When I know what I would love to try, if it weren’t for the shackles of fear, procrastination and avoidance have a bitter taste.
One of the books I might have written, perhaps not surprisingly, had the working title, It’s About Time…for me to step up to the plate, to put the fear that holds me back on a shelf and move forward, fear be damned. Over and over I called up the courage that would demand that I act upon my belief that I’m not willing to sit on the sidelines of my life any longer and live with the nausea of watching others take big risks and learn from their failures on the way to achieving excellence. But fear is like the wind, it can’t actually be seen, but its power can be devastating.
I notice, that it’s often true, that I do well when I apply myself to a task. It isn’t that I haven’t done anything that’s bold and courageous. My three months of work in Alaska in 1980 was something of a leap into the unknown. I was the welterweight among a gang of heavies. Following that, my departure for Mexico in 1981 was a stretch. (More on that trip later, probably, in Ramblings.). Clearly, actions that require boldness and courage are different for each of us.
Today, as I write these words in San Jose, Costa Rica, I’m 3 1/2 weeks into an open-ended adventure that will soon take me round-trip to Cuba, then on to Panama, Colombia, and several other countries in South America. If all goes as well as I hope, and expect, I may well not return to the States for two or three years. (To those of you who’ve always known me as “Drew,” that’s still me. In Latin America, Andrew translates to “Andrés” more easily.)
I envisioned beginning this blog as I was moving out of my shared house and putting the car and all of my possessions into storage, but that didn’t happen. You see, I have this companion who recommends against self-disclosure, who tells me I should seek everyone’s approval…baaahhh! No thank you.
Someone said, “We’re as sick as our secrets.” I don’t know how this blog will unfold or how personal and revealing it may be. I can say that, with this travel adventure and my Living from Conscience blog, I feel as if I’m stepping up to the plate.
It’s about time…