A couple of readers have chastised me for the tone and substance of my recent posts, and I realized that, since most of my readers aren’t aware of my day-to-day life, relationships and activities it’s not surprising that I may come across sometimes as narcissistic, selfish, arrogant, ungrateful, self-indulgent and/or hermitic.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t write about my private life beyond what’s going on in my own head. The first is out of respect for the privacy of the people I spend my time with — they mostly aren’t used to having details of their lives and interactions with me aired in a public space like this blog, and wouldn’t be comfortable with it. On the occasions I have divulged personal details about my life it has sometimes created problems.

The second reason is that, without the context of the reader knowing the history of these relationships and how I came to do these activities, such disclosures would be confusing, meaningless and/or boring to the casual reader.

So I’d like to express my appreciation to those who have written me, publicly and privately, to tell me how badly I sometimes come across as a result of this absence of context. Sorry, readers.

And therefore with some trepidation, I’m going to tell you a bit about my undisclosed life, in the hopes that it may change the perspective with which you see me and the writing I offer here.

I spend about 1/3 of my days off-island visiting one or the other of two amazing women in my life. Since my marriage ended, amicably, six years ago (my ex has two children and I am proud and honoured to be their father and “grandpa” to their kids), I’ve been up front about not wanting another monogamous partnership, and my relationships with these two wonderful women — one an extraordinary Teacher and the other an extraordinary Healer — bring me immense joy. They are both survivors of trauma whose unfailing optimism about the world has enabled my growth, learning, ‘joyful pessimism’ and appreciation for the awesomeness of this world. I sometimes think my real purpose in the world is to make them happy. I am humbled by their wisdom, their resilience, their generosity to others, their example. It is hard keeping up with them, and as much as I love their company and my visits with them, after my visits I need some alone-time to digest and recharge.

Here on Bowen Island, about another 1/3 of my time is taken up with a host of mostly-local projects I’ve been working on since retiring from paid work four years ago. I do a lot of work with the local Transition initiative, with the fledgling co-housing group, with the group of exceptional facilitators who produced the Group Works deck and pattern language, and with a group coalescing around the Sharing Economy, which is where my book, Finding the Sweet Spot, is now starting to find its intended place. And I have, finally, started to build a true community of local friends here on the island.

While I will acknowledge living in a rented house that is too big for one person, a house with an extraordinarily beautiful hilltop rainforest setting, it is extensively used by the aforementioned groups and by others for meetings and workshops and overnight stays. I don’t self-identify as being generous, but the people around me keep telling me I am — with my time, my energies, my money, my home and my heart.

The last 1/3 of my time is my solitary healing time. I spend it in exercise, in meditation, in walks in the woods and on the beach, and in writing. I am still, I think, in recovery from too many years of living in fear, for much of my childhood, and living up to others’ expectations of me, and being who I’m not, as an adult. Gabor Maté would probably attribute my struggle-to-reconnect, my inability to handle stress, and my incredibly slow pace of learning about myself and my emotions, to a lack of childhood attachment. All I know is that I need this reflective time, and that my writing on this blog, which occurs during this time, is often, now, about that self-learning, and probably gives a distorted view of who I am and what I do.

But I am tremendously grateful for the incredible good fortune of my life. I’ve been working a lot, of late, on my family genealogy and have discovered, from the stories of my 19th century pioneer ancestors, how hard their lives and struggles were. I’m also meeting, now, a lot of people who are homeless, ill, damaged and lost to a degree that makes my ‘problems’ seem trivial. I often tell people that I am the world’s most blessed agnostic. I guess I should say that more.

So if I don’t say all this often enough on these pages, if I don’t give you, dear readers, the context of my daily life and passions and activities, so that you can get some perspective on what is absorbing most of my time, energy and affection when I’m not blogging, and if I therefore come across in these sum-up-the-situation blog posts as self-absorbed or lazy or cold-hearted or indifferent or self-satisfied, I’m sorry. I’m not. I’ll try to do better.

A few words about the last two posts. The poem was the start of a daily practice of trying to write ‘small’, short compositions that meet TS Eliot’s criteria: “Poetry has to give pleasure… [and] the communication of some new experience, or some fresh understanding of the familiar, or the expression of something we have experienced but have no words for, which enlarges our consciousness or refines our sensibility… We all understand I think both the kind of pleasure that poetry can give and the kind of difference, beyond the pleasure, which it makes to our lives. Without producing these two effects it is simply not poetry.” My poem was trying to be evocative. And playful. And ambiguous, not in a mean way, but in a way that would allow people to draw meaning from it in some personal way. It was not meant as self-pitying, and I’m sorry if some of you took it that way. It was not really about me, at all.

My last post was, as much of my writing is, especially at times of summing-up that often occur at the beginning and end of the year, an exercise in thinking out loud. I often have to write down my thoughts and learnings and feelings (or lack thereof), and keep revising them until they are clearer to me, in order to make sense of them — I’m not able to just figure it out in my head. And talking with others about these things is hard for me — I’m really unpracticed and incompetent at it. So if it comes across as self-indulgent that’s not really surprising, but it’s not intended. With the poem I was trying to evoke something (not about me), but with the last post I was just working stuff out in my head, getting it down. The question I posed in the middle of the post (which several people responded to specifically, and in a couple of cases critically) was rhetorical; it was a question I was asking myself. When I found myself writing the conclusion to this post in the second person as a means to self-justify publishing it on the blog, and when I realized that the post didn’t fit any of my post categories, I should have clued in that it wasn’t meant to be published it at all, just kept as internal noodling using WordPress’ “private” setting.

That’s all I had to say, I guess. For those I annoyed, I hope this helps. For those who sprang to my defence, perhaps because they ‘know’ me better, thanks. Now back to regularly unscheduled programming.

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1 Response to Appreciation

  1. bart raguso says:

    Dear Dave,
    I have been following you for quite a while and I have posted a few times, and I am quite sure I have been relegated to the segment of your highly refined categories that include those that have it worse and also those who are not privy to all the info that you have (i.e.-those who do not see the whole picture and are not up to speed on how truly tragic our real situation is).
    And one reason my home page is set to your site is that on many levels I concur, feel an affinity with you, and am impressed with your intelligence and the depth and breath of your vision.

    I guess saving the world was somewhat of a naive and leftover vision of the sixties or the perennial habitat of the young and idealistic. Anyhow they say if you are not a liberal when young, you have no heart, and if you are not a conservative when old, you have no head. I would like to think I am still pretty liberal and progressive, but just as in the song refrain by Cream called ‘The Politician’-“I support the left but I’m movin,movin to the right”, I have come to a different place in my head and my heart about the facility or possibility of changing the trajectory of human affairs, either politically or socially.
    The corollary idea would be to what extent the fate of other people and the world should affect us. We are only capable of so much. And each of us deserves to spend most of our time taking care of ourselves and our kith and kin.
    I do think you are doing a great thing by focusing our attention on the needs oa all humans in the context of our deteriorating ‘physical plant’, to steal a term from our business and economic mind-set. The valance change many have worked for, to remedy the ills of Man may be a much more subtle and invisible process than we can envision. There has been some progress.

    Certainly many things have ameliorated since the rampant pollution of the pre EPA era; however, we are still assailed with continuing catastrophes beyond belief. The latest in Charlestown, W. Va., where no one can use the water except for flushing the toilet, is indicative of the real state of our mental-set as humans and the state of consciousness that still predominates culture-wide, not to mention the whole world.
    My particular axe to grind is about how difficult it is to escape our anthropomorphic outlook and to see ourselves in our true context, just another species in an incredibly complex matrix of interwoven life-forms. I know it is simplistic, but I have come to see everything as a function of our essential NPD, our narcissistic personality disorder, both individually and collectively. It explains everything. The fact that we are saddened and affected by the behaviors of the entire human race speaks well of our best human qualities. So it cuts both ways; we affect others and others affect us. Basically, we are all in it together. Unfortunately, most of us do not hold that belief in our minds and hearts at all times. If everyone had the mind of a collaspe-nik, and the heart of Joan of Arc, perhaps we could actually begin to rectify the fall-out from the worst abuses of our rampart ‘civilization’.
    I would like to point out the most obvious disconnect that jumps out to me due to my particular upbringing and experience. The fact that the best and brightest, on the right and on the left, are locked in a war of definitions and diametrically opposed concepts is central to the stasis that has gripped our current culture-wide mind-set. For those progressives on the left of the spectrum, it is necessary to negate the beliefs of those on the right, for example, God. For those conservatives on the right, who are in denial of global warming, for example, it is necessary to negate any of the ‘liberal’ beliefs of the tree-huggers. Both positions are factually incorrect, but must be maintained for one to have an affliation with their like minded brethren. Until both sides realize we are falling prey and manipulated by the old Roman adage of “Divide and Conquer”, and agree to see themselves (OURSELVES) as part of the same holy and sacred world as all the rest of Creation, we will continue to follow our terminal trajectory.

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