Time and Distance

40                                                                      50

The distance between 40 and 50 is more than a decade more than the number 10, more than

                      1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

It’s more than 5+5 or 5×2. It’s more than 3650 days.

It’s the distance between having a healthy father and having no father at all. It’s the distance between sharing life with a loving partner and being single. It’s the unimportant stuff like more grey hair and deeper wrinkles, hair growing places it isn’t supposed to and skin that’s starting to look like crepe.

It’s giving a shit about this upcoming birthday, when 40 came and went like it was no big deal.

40 was a cake walk, so I didn’t think I’d experience this existential stuff as I look down the barrel of the “Big 5-0.” I’ve always told myself, “Age is just a number. What matters is how you feel inside.” Well, that’s the difference between 40 and 50 too – this time I do feel different. Maybe it’s because I’m half an orphan now or maybe it’s something else. It feels kinda like it’s a genetic thing – that a switch has flipped and my genes have decided that I’m supposed to start feeling my age now. My mortality is more tangible in a very unsettling and heavy way that I’ve never felt before.

As dictated by the law of attraction, every time I turn around there’s another reference to death, dying, and grief. The other day I turned on CBC Radio and learned about a smartphone application called “WeCroak.” The developer of the app was inspired by the Bhutanese belief that “contemplating death five times a day brings happiness.” I downloaded it before the show was half over. The first friend I told about it looked at me like I was crazy. “That’s morbid,” he said, a tinge of disgust and mild curiosity in his voice.

WeCroak pings me randomly, five times a day with the message, “Don’t forget, you’re doing to die.“ If you click on the reminder, a quote comes up related to death and dying.

Here’s the one I got just a few minutes ago:

But every moment of life is the last;
every poem is a death poem.
Why then should I write one at this time.
In my last hours, I have no poem.

                                                              Matsuo Basho

Some of the quotes, like the one above, strike me as rather fatalistic – they are more of a downer than inspiring. Yet others are effective in lighting a fire under me and give me the desire to get things done before it’s too late. It’s too early to say whether these five daily reminders will actually make me happier, but I’m willing to give it a try.

30                                                                        50

30 and 50? Well yeah, they’re even further apart.

                            20

years that led me to divorce, Costa Rica and the end of a scientific career so I could move to Mexico…almost 20 years following my dream to learn to surf.

It’s

                                            33

The age of my friend and colleague who was killed in an avalanche in April 1998. His death shook me hard out of a deep sleep of complacency because I mistakenly believed I had all the time in the world to do the things that I dreamed of doing. I realized that it was NOW or NEVER or life would pass me by, or worse get cut short before I had the chance to take those trips to see the world, be in a loving supportive relationship…with myself (and maybe one day with a man).

I’m not sure why, but I used to regard the “Bucket List” phenomenon with some disdain. Contemplating turning 50 has given rise to some serious contemplation about what I have and haven’t accomplished yet in this life. I mean, I still haven’t been to France, Italy or Spain! Seriously? I shake my head and consider why that is. Life, I suppose…life getting in the way of living. I never seem to have the money or freedom to make those big trips. That’s going to change. It must change.

Perhaps that’s what these big decadal birthdays are for – to induce the kind of consideration about where we are at in life in comparison with where we want to be. I wonder what I’ll write about in the coming 10 years. Will I finally get my book done? Will it be published? Will I ride a bigger wave? Rent a little house in the country in France where I’ll write poetry and edit my book? Maybe I’ll finally learn the secret to happiness…five contemplations of death at a time.

Emily’s story needs to be written

Effin Artist is a project that I’m involved with and it was through that organization that I met Mike Green, Emily’s husband. We hope you’ll read her story as it unfolds and get involved by contributing to her or another cancer patient’s care and needs.

EFFinArtist

Effin Artist exists for a single reason: To elevate great stories that inspire change.

Emily Green has such a story. And we’re committed to helping her tell it for a simple reason: Her unique approach to surviving cancer represents a serious shift in healthy recovery. Her story represents a sea change in treatment paths chosen by the millions stricken with this disease. This is inspired change at the root, right where it can do the most good for the most people.

Emily is the mother of three, ages 16, 5, and 4. She is the hearbeat of a family that has endured its share of challenges and trials over the years before she learned that she had late-stage breast cancer.  Her story may sound too familiar in an age when cancer plagues so many of us, but it is utterly unique in its message of hope for those afflicted.

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Fowl Play

I hope that in the absence of new material, you’ll enjoy this post I wrote back in 2010.

Dawn Revealed

Our caretaker Felipe bought a rooster a while back. I first saw the animal tied by one leg to Felipe’s outdoor table. I asked him what he intended to do with it and he replied that he was going to make a caldo (Spanish for soup). The next day, I found Felipe sitting on the stoop outside his house, the rooster cradled gently in his arms. He was stroking it. I asked him when he was going to make his soup and in reply he said something about someone named “Enrique.” Felipe is shy and mumbles a lot. Even my Mexican friends have trouble understanding his garbled speech. So I asked, “Enrique? Enrique who?” He looked at me like I was daft. “The rooster!” he shot back, holding the bird out with both hands in emphasis. I shook my head and pronounced, “I doubt you’ll eat him now that you’ve…

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Long odds pay off with release of ‘Fixed’

Doug Piotter is a writer I respect and work with in a writers group. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Doug’s book, edited by another great writer/editor and friend A. Scot Bolsinger, founder of our writers group. Doug’s book is funny and honest, just like him!

EFFinArtist

Doug Piotter beat long odds in life. He continues to do so, as the release of his comedic memoir attests. A guy who lived the life that my friend Doug has, shouldn’t be breathing, let alone publishing books. But here he is, as of today, a published author.

I’m honored to introduce to you, Fixed: Dope sacks, dye packs, and the long welcome back, by Doug Piotter.

Doug’s story is compelling. The Seattle native’s unique perspective and gratitude for the life he has helps also make it funny. Very funny, which comes through in his quirky writing style.

doug2

It’s staggering to think Doug came out the other side of harsh addiction, a bottom-feeding, crime-riddled youth and a decade in prison. It’s literally miraculous that he came out the person he is, enthusiastic, positive, driven, successful and still, after more than a 22 years of sobriety, giving back in service…

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Latest on the East Cape Blog

Showing the kids in Cabo Pulmo a sea cucumber.

Ten years ago tomorrow, I arrived in a tiny village on the Sea of Cortez with dreams of learning to surf and working to protect the most important hard coral reef in the Northeastern Pacific. I’d never have guessed where that move would take me. In my latest post on the Baja.com website I provide some background and information about Cabo Pulmo: The Jewel of Mexico. Click on over and check it out!

Well Well

It’s not just about what you say, it’s how you say it. I’m always on the look out for ways to make life more positive. Here’s one…

Be well and watch this link of Amanda Gore’s wellness seminar to learn about living positively! (She is no relation to Mr. Global Warming if that’s what you’re thinking).

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The Times, They Are a Changin’

An amazing thing happened today. I was the first one to arrive at a party. I am never the first one anywhere. I am usually the last. My friends have learned to tell me to arrive an hour earlier than the intended time. However, living in Mexico now means that I fit in well where it is common practice to show up to a party two hours later than the stated arrival time. And still there are people who arrive later. Today the clocks went forward one hour and that always screws up at least half the population, including me.

Many of you will be wondering if I am not posting something that happened several weeks ago, three weeks ago to be exact, as Daylight Savings Time begins on the second Sunday in March in most of North America. Arizona is one exception in the United States. They do not observe Daylight Savings Time.

However, here in Mexico, Daylight Savings Time begins on the first Sunday in April. This invariably causes much confusion for anyone from the rest of North America traveling to and from Mexico or particularly for North Americans living here. For three weeks in spring and fall, we in Baja California Sur, Mexico are on the same time as California and British Columbia. The rest of time we are on the same time as Alberta and Colorado.

So today, forgetting that most people would have forgotten the time change, particularly because I have managed to remember, I arrived at a baby shower at the stated time of arrival, 11:00am sharp. The hosts were still preparing the food. No one else was there. Now it is important to point out as well that the hosts are American. And several of the guests are American. But the guest of honor is Mexican. So there is no knowing what time we are working on. American Time? Mexican Time? Daylight Savings Time in Mexico or no? Very confusing.

No one else arrived for another two hours.

The hosts were assisted in making preparations. Plates and dishes of food arranged. Food tested. Lemonade made. And still no other guests. One of the host departs to buy ice and some food items. Returns. Still no one else.

It was thought to open the champagne that was brought and to forget the whole thing. Lose time altogether. But no, that wouldn’t be polite and it was obvious no one else was going to join in on getting drunk. No one else was there to join!

More food was eaten. Lovely food, crepes, spicy bread and dip, fresh fruit including the favored raspberries, and croissant. A huge spread. Slowly the guests being to trickle in. It is 12:15. But still no guest of honor.

Finally she arrived with a large entourage, explaining that they thought it was only 11:30. The last guest arrived at 1:10pm. The watch was examined many times wondering when gifts would be opened and home retreated to, because now all desire to be social had dissolved and all the blood was in the stomach digesting the excessive amounts of food. Gifts were opened at 1:20pm. Photos made of the happy mother-to-be. Oooing and ahhing at the many gifts received. Departure made at 2:00pm sharp.

It is decided that this being on time is for the birds. Next time I intend to be late!

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For additional information on Daylight Savings Time, including its origins, click HERE.