Circuitous Routes

Back and in Manhattan

A circuitous route for sure. A brief layover/experiment gone awry in Springfield Missouri, I found myself with one of my dearest and closest of friends, Moon, in New York. I had a very small window of time to decide what city to fly to from Springfield, and realizing that further thought and preparation were necessary to implement my plan (both for aggressively maintaining sobriety and for rebuilding a new life), I chose to ask if I could come to Manhattan for a week to sort out my next step and city.

Thankfully, she agreed and it has been both refreshment to my body and mind, and helped me get clarity on next steps, and also on the city I suspected upon being asked to leave Springfield, was my real destination: Portland, Oregon.

I am a non-asshole (when I am not drinking) Christian and a practicing Buddhist. I find that God, in Jesus, has taken on all the really big issues like sin and death and also invites us to live in community as a “Body” if we so allow. Buddhist practice is about today, right now. Enjoying the blackberry sage tea (I have switched from coffee), writing about experiences and adventures and also being thankful at this moment for a calm morning under the same roof with one of my closest friends.

I like how the two dovetail in many practical ways, and I do admit to seeing Buddhism as a sort of inoculation shot to Western commercialized Christendom. It has also been instrumental is enabling me to “let go” of so many material possessions without bitterness or undue longing.

So, why Portland?

Well, first of all I sort of fell in love with it when I visited my friend Tabitha, went to worship with she, her husband and a band of othr 20-somethings a few years back. We went to Imago, a church that in many ways I have dreamed of.

Second is my friend Luke, a young pastor (he is not quite a month older than my eldest son Sean), who I started talking and praying with a few years back for reasons I think neither of us forsaw. Like my son, I view him as a peer, and quite easily as a pastor I can respect and learn from. And we have become friends.

Third is how progressive Oregon is on most all issues, but especially social ones. I will be able to network quickly, find some place to stay, get a regular low-payng job that is simple and then find a good roommate. Rents are cheaper, it is not far from the Pacific ocean and my mother lives hours away, and at 80 can use some help here and there.

There is also an extensive transit system, so once I sell my bike (and buy a used one here) I can get anywhere I need to efficiently. I can pursue the simplicity my soul has wanted and my sobriety demands.

Portland is like to wide doors that are open and inviting as an adventure and also a safe haven. I have to do all the work, but having touched bottom finally, this is not a problem.

Other cities I considered: Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego, hell…even L.A. (how desperate is that?!) all seemed sealed shut, the Holy Spirit within saying “No.”

It was when the Buddha was almost starving in his austerity that he received the wisdom to form the “Middle Way”…a place of balance. I have never had such a place. Some of that I now know is genetic…in my DNA. I am Type II bi-polar, which simply means the swings are less violent and different. But that condition has kick started every relapse I have had. Now on Depokote, I am “even”…in a physical “Middle Path” that keeps me from burning too hot, and also from hitting the dreaded “wall” that so invites self-medication.

I have yet to hit that wall. But what of my mistake in going to Springfield?

Well, a few critics suggested I was “running away” from the Bay Area and my issues. They were correct on the former and incorrect on the later. I was absolutely running away…from certain death (which is what you are supposed to do when it comes after you). Thus, escape to Springfield was a wise gamble that landed me two days later in New York where I could see the whole country and its possibilities, have time to listen to the Spirit, talk with friends, parents and Moon and get their wisdom, and make a clear-headed a deliberate decision with a future.

It was the right choice, and made under incredible pressure. But I also was not tempted to drink, nor did I. This was also something I needed to see: myself calm and direct while under extreme duress.

Do I miss the Bay Area? Yes. I miss my daughter and son. I miss my old friends Larry and Rod, and my new friends Joshua and Eric. I will miss meeting up with Joseph at Ritter House and not being able, once in recovery a good long while, being of service there.

But other than that I don’t miss it at all.

When I reach Portland on Saturday at midnight I start a new adventure. I will be homeless (hopefully having setup a place ahead of time to stay. I will follow “The Plan” in its simplicity, getting a job and living simply.

Like hitting rock bottom, thee is something freeing about rebuilding from near nothing. You can choose to NOT include or purchase anything you don’t really need or wish to store. You have no “junk” at all, and you know where everything is. Yu have o be very mindful of what you purchase. I am also changing my diet, which in time will change me as well.

And in my new job I can choose to work with integrity and compassion and avoid the high stress of some of the jobs I can do, but choose now not to do.

I am looking forward to Saturday. Any longer here and I would get to use to it (and Moon would get sick of me being around…I am still annoying).


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joel J Miller
    Aug 19, 2010 @ 17:52:43


    Have you ever considered Eastern Orthodoxy? There are several churches in Portland and even a monastery up the road:



  2. Martha
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 01:13:35

    Safe flight to Oregon on Saturday

    Best of luck in the new digs!


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