Walking, thinking into happiness
Originally posted 8/16/2020
I went walking in San Francisco again this Saturday, not quite as long as my last two walks, just a couple of hours. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my retirement, where I’ll live, how I’ll live. It’s likely, almost exactly four years away now, and so it’s both far enough away to establish some long range plans, but close enough that those plans need to be very practical as retirement is feeling all to real. I do some of my best thinking walking and one of my favorite things about walking is the ability to let my mind wander and explore all of the thoughts that we far too often relegate to the corners of our brain.
Today’s walk very much had me contemplating time and life. I’m a fortunate man in many ways. Let me be very clear, I didn’t start out in life with much, my youngest years were hard, my young adult years were a bloody disaster. I for a time was an alcoholic and addict, I failed out of college, I did so many stupid things that could of, and maybe should of, killed me or landed me in jail that it’s fairly amazing I made it to 1986. That was a fateful year, it was the year I made the conscious choice to get my shit together. It was the year I got clean and sober, it was the year I started the process of creating the person I am today.
Make no mistake, everything I am, everything I have and have become was gained by hard work. Nothing has ever been given to me. But I’m a fortunate man, and that was driven home to me today. What do I mean specifically by that? Well, although I grew up with little I had something. We were working class poor, at times dipping a bit below that, but I didn’t grow up in full on poverty. There was always a roof over my head. I’m grateful for something else as well. Although I have dealt with severe depression, and have never been what anyone would describe as a model of mental stability and health, I’m not actually crazy. What I mean by that is that I don’t have an extreme mental illness that precludes me from functioning in society. I can hold a job, support myself, keep a roof over my head.
These things were on my mind today as I walked through some of the worst sections of San Francisco. Today, as I walked by a junky heating up her heroine, I was grateful for having the good fortune and the strength to overcome my substance abuse issues. As I passed so many people living on the street, people living in serious poverty, I was grateful for my education, my abilities and all that has led to for me. As I went by truly crazy people I was grateful that although I have had mental health struggles, never every was I near a place where some of the people I saw today are at. There was one poor man who was picking up and holding garbage from the street like it was his child. He was bewildered and not operating on the same plane of reality as the rest of us. There were so many mumbling, incoherent folks it truly broke my heart and made me thankful for my faculties and sanity.
These people also helped me solidify my decision making process on where I will live in my retirement years. I’d already decided to move back east, to be near my brother and his family. They live in Brooklyn and I want to provide them with an opportunity to have someplace to vacation and summer outside of the city when able. I have played with the idea of living in a smaller city but today really made me realize I don’t want to ever live in a city again. I’ve loved my time here in the San Francisco area for the last year or so, and I’ll be here for at least another couple of years and possibly even the full four until I retire. But after that I’m done. I can no longer conceive of living anywhere people have metal cages across their front doors. Where sirens are a regular sound. Yes, I love the availability of cultural attractions and restaurants and experiences you can only get in cities. But I’ve been fortunate, I’ve seen a lot in my life, done a lot, more than most honestly. And I’m ready to call it quits with society in general. I want some land, I want to be back in nature, I want a small swimming pool to lounge in. I really want to live on a lake or the ocean. I want to live very simply, and to a decent extent to live a good deal off of the land.
I will never stop traveling, I fully expect to spend my winters in Oaxaca City, Mexico. I expect to spend my spring and early summer months on hiking trails around the world. But I need out of our society, I can no longer handle the lack of caring for our fellow man, for systems that keep people down generation after generation, for our societies quiet acceptance with all that is wrong in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for ourselves. I don’t believe myself to be above these failings, just tragically aware of them in myself and my fellow Americans. I’ve built a life that will allow me to escape, and that in itself may be selfish, but it’s what’s needed to help me live out the rest of my life in happiness.
So tonight I would put the question to you my friends. What will it take to live out your life in happiness? And what are you doing to make it happen? Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane