Why

Why do I keep trying to understand the list of many things that I do not.  I carry around a fifty-one year old scroll of weathered paper inked with a variety of unknowns.  Some once understood – now not.  Many new, others ever-changing.  The list grows…

If “Life is what happens when you are making other plans” – why plan

Why do traits that attract – become reasons to leave

How is walking in rain therapy to some – yet loathed by many

How does a special animal change a person’s life – what do you do when they go

Why does pain remain when the damage is long gone

How do butterflies know to show up when you need them

If writing can be an antidote for Depression – can it help with Understanding

Destiny, Obligation, Calling (words that are larger than life) – can you really see them coming

Herman Hesse wrote, “I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”

Was there an event that opened his eyes to this realization or is it the wisdom of a tired traveler?  When is it okay to let go of questions and simply embrace?

The surprises never end.  Perhaps it’d be healthier to lean back: let the bad be curses and the good magic.

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As always I learned while enjoying my day at the “Write to Understand” writing workshop on December 10th 2016.

Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.

Beach House

Sarrah delighted in all aspects of going to the Peninsula.  She usually sat up and looked out the windows the entire way there, to watch the world as it went on by.  The journey from where we live starts with on average an hour of ‘freeway hell’, racing with the self absorbed rats on the paved necessary ugliness, known as Interstate 5.  Then off onto Highway 101 where it gradually devolves from too much civilization and overpopulation into a sort of peaceful time travel back through the woods and near a few old small towns, too tough to die.  This leg of the journey is packed with many little things that busy people miss or find “boring”.  These things like mountains, forested land, rivers, cattle, wildlife; deer, coyotes, porcupines, elk, eagles, hawks and even bears were all noticed and points of interest mentally noted by my road wise companion.

Another perk around this area is the constant salted air and its medicinal affects.  We knew it when we first explored Ocean Park and what remains of the historic town of Oysterville at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula, this was the place.  We came back a couple of times and narrowed the search to a community named Surfside Estates with a few rules (Covenants, Codes & Restrictions) to protect values from individual expressions.  This little development of Two Thousand Eight Hundred subdivided lots is comprised of; about one-third with houses (mostly vacation, several retirement), one-quarter “seasonal camper lots” and the rest vacant, overgrown with dune grass and coastal pines.  The community has approximately three miles of beachfront and a small lake (pond) with long canals that run the length of it.  There are walking trails running East to West with foot bridges over the canals, creating easy access for all “members and guests” to the beach which extends as far as the eye can see… to the South and North.

We quickly found the one, close enough to the ocean to hear its methodical constant mumbling and an easy walk away.  It was new enough to not only become a dreaded nest of repair projects.  A cozy little two-bedroom house that would be greatly appreciated as-is, customized over time into “our place” and enjoyed along the journey through time.

September Two Thousand Five Nissa closed the deal, and we came out for our first three-day weekend and camped with Sarrah, in the empty one-year-old house.  On this stay we personalized it by painting the garage floor, making it into more of a warm multipurpose room.  This tan coating also has its share of the ever-present small black and white hairs permanently sealed into it.

Sarrah instantly liked the new little house and it quickly became her preferred home.  She was delighted with being able to roam the whole place and sleep closer to me.  Upon each arrival and inspection of the Beach House, her toys and the yard she would relax on her overstuffed bed and smile.

As a group we decided that the best spot for Sarrah’s bed was next to the sliding glass door, on the east end of the Great room.  This gave a comfortable vantage point to guard the front door, see all that went on in the house and watch out for wildlife trespassers as they regularly strolled through ‘her yard’.  One of the best perks of this spot was the morning sunshine, perfect for soaking up a little bright warmth.

Time = Money

As Albert Einstein is said to have deduced, “Time = Money”.  I had a growing accumulation of funds in the traditional retirement accounts and contributed regularly, a nice chunk in an investment club that I founded and presided over, as well as other unconventional small hoards of cash for rainy days and holy crap moments.  Altogether, these investments brought a hedged, strong sense of a secure fourth quarter, in the game of my life.

Having more than enough money and the assumed promise of a financially comfortable future brings many things; the best being the most important resource, Time.  More time to do what you want and how you want, became the winner in my balance of the scales.

My favorite part of how I earned a living was the lack of time structure.  If properly managed, I was in control of it.  This control (or illusion of) my time combined with more money than was required, created opportunities to take some off, the easiest and often best escapes coming in the form of long weekends, sneaking away for mini-vacations in which to escape normal life.

Our little family took many weekend trips to explore new areas.  These short getaway escapes to smaller, quieter places, reaped big rewards and brought us closer together.  Sarrah, well, as you can imagine loved the jaunts into the unknown.  Packing the car (even) was full of pacing and squeaks of excitement.  Sarrah knew when we were loading the car for a road trip.  She would pace, pant, bark, twirl, howl and run around the yard with overflowing exuberance like a happy kid at Christmas time.

Nissa and I began to daydream, out loud.  We began to wonder about having a little place of our own, for more personal escapes.  So we tailored our long weekends toward a search for a vacation property.  We pondered over the idea of a second home for many months and found the mental exercise to be a daily life sweetener.  If nothing else, the experience of looking and dreaming was a set of nice excuses to explore our state’s rural areas.  Despite spending most of my life in Washington, there are many interesting places I do not recall hearing about, let alone visiting.  Several I had been to in my youth, some of these favorites deserved another look.

Our part-time explorations came in many forms.  Some treks were one-day whirlwinds: Lake Cushman (100 year leasehold only), Twisp (too far away), Leavenworth (a possibility) and Roslyn (recently too popular).  Others were simple stopovers’ along our way: Leavenworth (still a possibility), Astoria (more populated), Ocean Shores (too quickly populated, without a sense of soul).

The best of our adventure trips being long weekends, three to four day getaways’.  We stayed at Pacific Beach (remote possibility), Leavenworth (yet still a possibility), Moses Lake (too far East) and a few other unmemorable places.  Sarrah wasn’t really much help, as she loved going anywhere; any road trip (except over the bridge to the vet) was good and fraught with potential for greatness!  As with many worthwhile life experiences, the exploration and pursuit is valuable to setting the stage for the goal.  Our adventures were enjoyed, by all of us.

Road Trip’n

When Sarrah was around eighteen months old I made an investment, mostly out of vehicular protective necessity; I got a divider for my Blazer so Sarrah could ride along, in the back.  This was a Big Adjustment as she was used to riding up front, sitting on the passenger side of the bench seat in Leah’s old mini-pickup truck, but it was better than staying behind.  I began taking her on many errands and to visit some parks in the area, but too far to walk.  These parks were places that I had driven by countless times, but never stopped to experience.  Sarrah gave me the motivation to redirect some time and go experience taxpayer sponsored gifts to the community.  She delighted in the hunt for parks and recognized the roads that led back to them; vocal anticipation and occasional disappointment turned these stops into regular habits.

A few months later I started taking her with me to construction jobsites (most of which have rules against dogs so she stayed inside my vehicle), usually coordinated into Friday daylong trips.  She loved joining me.   Her company became ‘a perk’ of how I worked, many days the best part.  Some days the perks are all that there is.  Sarrah would rail with barks and then heart crushing howls of disappointment when she assumed or figured out the rare occasion that she would have to stay behind, at home.  On these lone trips I’d look into my empty rearview mirror and for a moment, dread the day…

Around then our routine had evolved to where Sarrah rode with me in ‘the car’ everywhere, almost every time.  Sarrah was always up for a ride, to anywhere.  She sat up and looked around most of the time.  When I was out of the car; taking care of something, working, whatever, she would mostly stand guard or occasionally just snooze in the back.  When we were out on a day trip I would take breaks to walk a few times, usually at a park or a trail, both of us enjoying the escape from daily routine.  Obviously, a day of riding around running errands was better than solo guard duty at home.

After a year plus of driving around with the ugly penal enforcement looking device, Sarrah proved worthy of not needing it (‘cept for the time that she stealthily devoured the sandwich I absent mindedly left on the dash and returned to her area, had she eaten All of the wrapping paper I may have chalked it up to an unknown mystery or simply forgotten about it).