Friday, September 29, 2006

Moving: More Notes From The Road

I am sitting in Eastern Oregon, having travelled 2000 miles across the country.

As I look outside, I see mountains, and the air is cool.

The journey to here has been very long, very exhausting, and very "overstimulating," in that way HSPs tend to experience the world. Moving is basically for the birds; moving yourself across the country even moreso.

And yet, I sense the beginnings of a sort of inner peace spreading through my consciousness.

Change is a funny thing. For many HSPs, change means upheaval and disturbance... and yet, change is also something that that can work as an invitation to pursue something better. Most HSPs I have met don't seem to like change very much. Well, maybe that's not entirely true-- they like the effects of change, once it has happened, but dread the overstimulation that often goes with the actual change process. As a result, they often allow themselves to get stuck in situations-- jobs, relationships, locations-- that don't honor their authentic inner needs. Change becomes "too much of a hassle to deal with," and thus is avoided.

Change does take courage, because it often requires us to abandon old ideas and situations that have become familiar to us. Not because they are "right," merely because they are "familiar." With time, we simply get used to the small irritating rock in our shoe... it would be relatively easy to stop and remove the rock, but instead we choose to walk on, telling ourselves that we have learned how to "deal with" our discomfort.

However, sometimes the only right thing to do is stop, and get the rock out of our shoe.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Moving: Feeling Tired (Notes From The Road)

The last few days have gone by in a blur.

I am sitting here, typing this, on my portable computer... inside a school bus that has been converted to an RV (and quite comfortable, at that, not just a "hippie bus"), parked at Brady Lake State Park, no more than 100 miles from what once used to be "my house."

I cannot even begin to explain the amount of work it is-- even with willing friends and neighbors to help-- to pack a 28-foot semi trailer with household goods, in 90-degree Texas late summer heat. I had to keep reminding myself that the trailer self-move was costing $5,000 and the cheapest moving company estimate was $16,000.

A part of me feels slightly guilty about the fact that I am not "missing" what used to be my home. But I am not. I just feel a lot of relief that a large phase of the process is over. I feel relief that I no longer have to worry about a $2,000-a-month mortgage payment, and $700-a-month electric bills to keep myself cool enough that I don't go insane.

(Yes, the bus is airconditioned. It's like an RV. You plug it in, and it becomes like a portable living room.)

Although I don't feel a sense of loss, am occasionally gripped by brief panic feelings along the lines of "What have I DONE???" As I sit here, I realize that a lot of planning and effort went into the process to this point, but much of what lies ahead is open and unknown. Let's face it, I didn't even have an address to give the company in charge of renting out and driving the trailer to the Puget Sound area. That's right, I am moving to a new place without even having a destination. In a sense, that's part of the joy of doing your move with an RV. I highly recommend it. It removes part of the stress of deadlines, finding hotels and worrying about finding housing by specific dates. If I had to do this again (God forbid!) I would definitely rent an RV and tow my car-- it's also great if you are moving with pets; they are less freaked out by having a "house-like" device to travel in.

What I realized, earlier today, is that there has been a subtle change. I am no longer talking about wanting to change my life. I have changed my life.

That's both exciting, and scary.

And for what it's worth, I am not a "High Sensation Seeker" HSP.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Moving: From Beginning to Ending to Beginning...

The room around me is mostly empty; a few packing boxes for "decoration," a desk with a few books and papers, a phone, a computer from where I write this. Actually, I'm writing this from the portable; the regular desktop machine is in a box.

A phase of my life is at the verge of coming to an end. I arrived in Austin on January 9th, 1981. Now I am leaving. Within a couple of days, I will leave this chapter, closing the book on more than a quarter-century of existence.

I have lived in five different residences, while here-- not counting a couple of previous attempts to move away. I started out in a tiny 1940's efficiency apartment that hadn't been updated since the 60's. I didn't really expect to stay, so I never viewed it as much more than a glorified hotel room. It was "furnished," meaning that it had the bare-bones necessities you find in inexpensive living spaces. But it was cheap, and within walking distance of Safeway and the municipal golf course. It had lovely orange shag carpet. It reminded me of the description of "living in digs" sometimes found in English literature.

Once I'd accepted the fact that I was going to "be here for a while," I moved into a new condo project down the same street-- with K, my girlfriend-later-wife. It was a nice space, and not too horribly expensive-- unfortunately, it was bought near the top of the 80's real estate boom in Texas. A few years later, aformentioned wife said "I can't stand living in this little box," so we moved to a house, still within the city-- a "nice" house, in a "nice" neighborhood. Bigger than I would have wanted, smaller than she wanted, more expensive than we could really afford. We lived there for quite a few years, and I stayed on there, even after she moved to Dallas.... but we ended up selling it after she took a job in Oregon, and "the writing was on the wall," as far as the marriage was concerned. I developed a "bad" relationship with real estate-- selling the condo for $30,000 less than the original price, and selling the house for about $15,000 less. Not out of "hardship," or needing to "fire sale," but simply because they had been bought at two market tops and sold near two market bottoms.

After that, I moved into a swank one-bedroom apartment in the booming northwest growth corridor of town-- in many ways, those years were my happiest, as my "load" felt lightest. It was weird. Everyone I knew sympathized with me about "how awful" it must be for me to be living in a 680 square foot apartment rather than a house-- yet, I loved it. I started to become "me," rather than a reflection of someone else. In a sense, it marked a starting point in my awareness (which many HSPs share) that life feels best when it is fairly simple.

Then I met A, and eventually we moved into this house, in 1998. And now, that house has been sold. I am glad to say, for more than it originally cost-- although it feels crazy that in the 20 years I've owned real estate in this otherwise booming Sunbelt city, the general average market price has gone up by 230%, while the properties I have owned (on a net basis) have about allowed me to break even. Adjusting for inflation, I have about 30% of the value I started out with, in current-day-dollars. What once was $100 is now $30.

Interestingly enough, this is also the story of two "migrations." One migration is the journey to myself-- with each subsequent move, I left a little of my cluelessness and "false self" behind, and found a few more nuggets of authenticity. And, with each sequential move, I went from living virtually in the downtown core, to close-in city, to near suburbia, to edge city, to out in the sticks. And there's an odd dichotomy in that-- with each move I got closer to myself, but further away from "being in the world." I have learned (for the second time, actually) that the further I get from a city, the more "disconnected" I feel from the essential energy of the world.

It's an odd thing-- I'm basically a nature nerd, a solitary soul and an HSP introvert, yet I need the energy of the "hive" (city) to help me feel connected to life. But some part of me is aware that maybe I needed to "disconnect," in order to truly get in touch with my introspective self. The process of "finding ourselves," is perhaps more difficult when we are surrounded by too many other voices, telling us what we "should" be. And now, as a more grounded human being, I feel more able to reconnect with the stuff of life.

Of course, there's a third "migration," too. The migration that will take me from the city of Round Rock, TX (basically a northern suburb of Austin) to the city of Port Townsend, WA (roughly across the Puget Sound, northwest of Seattle). Although this migration is happening "now," it actually began in the fall of 1987-- the first time I went on vacation in the Puget Sound area and "felt" something; a sense of "belonging"

It's a very long story which I won't share here (if you care, you can read it here on my web site), but as I sit and write this I have a feeling that I have finally completed my training in "something," and am about to go forth into uncharted territory.

I feel very quiet. There is a great silence in my soul. There's a tiny seed somewhere, "trying" to feel sadness, or loss, at this point of closure. That same tiny seed showed itself when I graduated from college, when I shut down my business, and when I left the courthouse after the final divorce papers were filed. I am vaguely troubled by the fact that these watershed moments only seem to offer a profound sense of relief, not loss, nor sadness or regret. A part of me examines the possibility that I was never "invested" enough in any of these life events to feel sadness when they passed-- leading to the deeper implication that I have "observed" most of my life, rather than "lived" it. Then again, maybe it's normal human nature to not be deeply invested in situations where you largely feel like a fish out of water. Ultimately, it leaves me with an unpleasant aftertaste, questioning why I have spent my life so ready to "just accept" many things that have fallen so short of my expectations and genuine wants and desires.

Sometimes I think I am nuts.

And I wonder why I am doing this.

But some part of my essence understands that I have never really had any "good old days," and this whole process is about creating something that can become my "good old days."

Some part of my essence understands that-- possibly for the first time in my life-- I am doing something (major) because it represents what I truly want, not just some "accident thrown my way."

Wayne Dyer calls it "living with intent."

Some part of my essence understands the rightness of the new chapter that's about to start-- a chapter based in intuition and gut feel, rather than intellect and logical thought.

My common sense hasn't always served me well, maybe intuition will serve me better.

Now I am going to toss the last few things in my office into a box, and dismantle the bookshelves. Tomorrow-- or the day after-- the truck will be fully loaded.

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