The time between time is our time to reflect and gather ourselves, right? Sure. Let’s go with it. It seems to be a thing I do every year around this time.
Where do I stand, now, between times? I stand on shifting sand by the feel and yet I think I might finally have found the solid rock beneath. Over the last few years, most of the old life has been stripped away. I find, now, that I can move freely once again and while the realization is frightening in its implications it is also profound.
Let me back up.
Those who have followed the story here for the last few years have been able to watch he progression in real time. You saw nearly two years ago when the first real breaks started to occur. I went through a series of what can only be termed small breakdowns at work and in the last shreds of my personal life. I lost time. I lost memories. I lost faith in myself and in the people around me. As the situation progressed over several months I very nearly lost my job. I decided to leave it anyway after realizing just what was going on. I lost most of my friends. I lost the future I thought I wanted. In some strange way, I died.
It took a long time. Months and months of watching my career, my friends, my support network, my finances, my future all slip out of my control. If you’ve been watching, you could probably read between the lines and realize just how bad it got for a while.
Until one day, about a year ago now, I made a decision that has changed the course of my life- as melodramatic as that sounds. I did two things. Well, I did one thing that immediately led into another. I finally looked up at the gods who were watching this whole process and said “Alright. I get it. What do you want?” The first thing they did was send me to a therapist- they even managed to drop the right person into my path to get me to a pagan friendly therapist.
The next thing they did was start stripping all the material trappings of the old world away from me. I even lost the apartment and the fast paced modern feeling lifestyle that I was enjoying so much. I lost the respect of the people I worked with. Of everything, that is what hurt the most. I lost sleep, I lost confidence and I lost hope. The only things I still have from the previous path are some fighting skills and a single weapon that I paid for myself instead of having issued to me. The rest of it is gone. All of it- even the retirement fund, unfortunately. I could argue that I retain the unusual awareness of other people that you only learn from that world. That awareness may have been the point.
Most of my life fits in a camper. A small, tow behind camper, at that. Total footprint 7’x13′. I do have the CPR training equipment in a different shed for storage and some of the kitchen and altar stuff spend most of their time outside but they do have places in the camper. The rest of it lives in my truck which is by far the most valuable thing I still own.
Let me say right now- it has been worth it. Whether or not I will continue to feel that way as things continue to change I do not know but as of right now, it was worth it.
I’m writing this while I sit in one of the few places to which I have access that has reliable internet connectivity- the middle school at which I have an unofficial position as “That One Sub That All The Kids and Some of the Teachers Fear.” It pays me $65 per day before taxes. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. (I’m only getting a class or two a month at the other business and they aren’t full classes, so while it’s not a total flop, it’s not what I need it to be) I’m thinking about how I’m going to work tomorrow’s gig at the church (funny story, that) because they pay me too- $20 to show up for each rehearsal and service. It puts gas in the truck. It also keeps my voice and flute fingers in shape which is more valuable than I realized. I will go home to a camper that has no heat, no plumbing, and leaks. I’m building a small cabin/glorified shed in which to actually live but it’s slow and expensive. Last night the temperature was -1oC and I woke up curled up in the pile of blankets and cat (she thinks it is her sacred duty to curl up with me when its cold- I’m OK with it.) to find ice in the wash basin inside the camper. I’m seriously considering sleeping in the barn with the goats because it’s warmer in there. I had to take care of the small goat herd- including a sick baby buck who is finally (praise be) getting better but when I went out I saw that the tomatoes and peppers and late squash were all dead. Fortunately I already had large quantities of each stored. The kale is still very happy and will be until about February or so. I’m not broke- not with about $200 a week coming in- but I have nothing that is not already earmarked for something. Oh and if I have any spare minutes of daylight I need to go scouting for deadfall to cook with in the firepit.
And life is actually… pretty damned great.
I have the life I wished for years ago. If I’d known then what it would be like to get to it, would I have still wished for it? Well, probably. I live every day with my hands in- not metaphorically but tangibly IN- the earth and water and blood and fur of this life. My life is primally real in a way that, rather than distracting me from my spirituality, supports and feeds it. I can feel the earth beneath my feet supporting me- and I can feel its heartbeat. I find that I wake and sleep with the sun and sleep much better for it. I know the stars and the dance of moon and tide better than ever before. Because I live with so little between the world and I, I can see just how alive the world really is. Paganism is not an intellectual exercise anymore. It’s real. Deeply, viscerally, profoundly real.
Emotionally, psychologically and magically I had hit “reset” and now it is beginning to grow again, and grow properly. You see, they didn’t answer my question right away when I asked them what they wanted. Recently a series of clues have got me looking in a different direction- a very old one, actually. Here’s what happened.
I found an old book of mine while cleaning out the piles and piles of stuff that have had to go as this process went along. It was one of those “All About Me” things that we sometimes get talked into filling in when we are small children. I think I was five or six when I filled this one out. I said that when I grew up I wanted to be a priest. I was very specific about it too, not a nun which would have been the only female religious figure I had encountered at that point, a priest. I tossed the book along with a bunch of other old things that I couldn’t keep, but the memory of those words on the page in my five year old scrawl (yes I could read and write by the time I was five) stuck in my head.
I started having those dreams again. The ones where I can change my shape and fly up to some mysterious place and bring back some mysterious thing. They are kind of random but it’s always the same dream and they started up once the clutter of the old life had clearly started to diminish.
I am apparently a source of more conversation than I realized in my local area. People have actually called up the places I am known to frequent and asked if I was there because they wanted a reading or a conversation or had questions or sometimes they didn’t really know what they wanted but they wanted to talk to me. Me! Wanted! I’m pretty sure I’m not actually qualified for that. The other business, which I am actively promoting, is not gaining much ground. It’s enough for me to be able to keep my hand in, as it were, but not enough to live off of. This other stuff, which I do not promote actively, is spreading.
I mentioned this pattern to a friend of mine and his response was quite simply “We don’t choose to be spiritual leaders. The gods choose us.” It was a far more direct answer than I had anticipated and probably just the one I needed.
Last week I mentioned all of this- the whole story from collapse to the reset point to the slow growth of some other position that I do not feel qualified for in the slightest- to a couple of people who are among my closest friends. They also happen to be family. We talked it over and decided that while it was certainly an interesting series of events and probably something I should look into, I had neither the time nor the money right now. I said half jokingly that while time would remain a premium until the cabin was done, I would know for sure if I came into any more money in the near future.
The next day. The. Next. Day. I was asked by the school to accept a long term sub position and the pay raise that comes with it.
It’s still not a lot of money- about $85 a day instead of $65- but it will make a difference in my finances for sure. My expenses are minimal (phone, fuel, car insurance, the groceries I can’t raise, emergency fund) so it’s a bigger help than it seems.
The. Next. Day. I still can’t get over that.
I think they answered my question. The question now is… how?